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Healthy lifestyle can reduce risk, impact of diabetes

Family at the farm cultivating things
Man gardening in vegetable patch

One in three adults have prediabetes

GALVESTON COUNTY – An estimated 88 million – that is more than one in three adults – have prediabetes, and more than 84 percent of them do not even know it.

But there is good news. Those at risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes can lower their chances if they make lifestyle changes including adopting a healthy diet, being physically active and losing weight.

November marks National Diabetes Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about prediabetes, diabetes, risk factors and the important role a healthy lifestyle can play.

“The good news is making healthy changes to your lifestyle can delay or even prevent prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, as well as other health problems, even if you are at high risk,” said Ami Cotharn, RN, Galveston County Health District community health services manager.

Risk factors for prediabetes include being overweight, family history, being physically inactive and being 45 years and older. Early treatment, in addition to small lifestyle changes, can help return blood sugar levels to a normal range, effectively delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes.

“You may not notice any symptoms so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk,” Cotharn said.

More than 34 million people have diabetes. That is about 1 in every 10 people. You can manage diabetes by working with a health care provider, eating healthy and staying active. There are three main types of diabetes – type 1, type 2 and gestational.

Type 1 accounts for roughly 5-10 percent of all diagnosed cases in adults and can develop at any age. There is no known way to prevent it. It is usually diagnosed in children, teens and young adults.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common, accounting for roughly 90-95 percent of adults who have diabetes. Type 2 affects a body’s ability to use insulin well and makes it unable to regulate blood sugar levels. It develops over many years and is usually diagnosed in adults.

“Diabetes can cause blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal, which can have serious long-term complications like


heart disease, nerve damage and kidney damage,” Cotharn said. Early detection and treatment are key. They can decrease your risks of developing complications. Working with your health care provider and diabetes health team is vitally important to controlling the disease.”

Small changes make a difference. Fuel your body with foods that help you feel better, stabilize your blood sugar and makes you feel happy and fed. Moving your body just 30 minutes a day can make a positive difference.

“Start slow. You don’t have to run a 5K on your first day. Take a walk around the block, go for a bike ride. Find something that you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it,” Cotharn said. “And involve your family. They are part of your support system.

Uncontrolled, diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease and other health problems and affects many.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes may include urinating often, feeling very thirsty or hungry – even though you are eating, extreme fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal and tingling, pain or numbness in hands and feet.

Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include:

·         Being overweight;

·         Being 45 years old or older;

·         Having a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes;

·         Being physically active less than three times a week; and

·         Ever having gestational diabetes or giving a birth to a baby who weight more than nine pounds

Those who show any risk signs should contact their health care provider to see if they should be tested for type 2 diabetes. Race and ethnicity also matter. African Americans, Hispanic/ Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and some Asian Americans are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

“There is not a cure for diabetes, but you can manage it,” Cotharn said. “The sooner you find out if you have diabetes, the sooner you can start making changes that will benefit you now and in the future.”

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