November is National Diabetes Month, which draws awareness to the growing epidemic of diabetes in America. Diabetes affects nearly 29 million Americans, but many don’t know that they have the condition. There is no cure for diabetes, but the condition can be managed and treated. In connection with National Diabetes Month, take a look at some of the things that you need to know to avoid getting this debilitating disease.
One of the most common misconceptions about diabetes is that a diet high in sugar can lead to diabetes. But diabetes is less about sugar and more about insulin. Insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas, regulates sugar. With diabetes, your insulin levels are out of whack so sugar intake is not properly regulated.
In fact, there are several types of diabetes and each has contributing factors. One contributing factor is a poor diet. Usually a poor diet includes eating excess sugar, but excess sugar does not directly cause diabetes. It is more of an indirect cause. Eating a lot of sugar is often paired with other unhealthy eating habits that eventually contribute to obesity. An unhealthy diet with excess calories from fat and sugar coupled with a sedentary lifestyle are major factors contributing to diabetes. The other main cause of diabetes is family history or genetics along with age and ethnicity.
Eating too much sugar leads to obesity and obesity leads to a variety of health complications, such as insulin resistance, diabetes, and heart conditions. People most at-risk are those with a tendency to be overweight and with a family history of diabetes. To prevent diabetes, you don’t have to avoid all carbs, but it’s important to avoid excess sugar. Many people don’t realize it but most Americans consume the weight of a small child in excess sugar in the course of a year!
To avoid excess sugar, try eating a well-balanced diet comprised of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil and avocadoes, and proteins including lean meat, nuts, legumes, beans, soy, or dairy. Only a minimal number of calories should be consumed in sugar and fats. But keep in mind that not all overweight people will develop diabetes.
In addition to eating well, it is important to get daily exercise. The minimum recommendations for physical activity each day include 30 minutes. As a general guideline, you should be getting vigorous movement but still be able to carry on a conversation. If you are unable to speak while you exercise, back off on the level of intensity.
By eating well, exercising right, and maintaining a healthy weight, you can help avoid diabetes. Share this article with a loved one; you may be saving a life.