Do you consider diabetes a serious matter? It certainly is for the 26 million Americans who live with it on a daily basis. November is American Diabetes Month, shining a spotlight on a terrible problem which–in many cases–is almost entirely preventable. And prevention has never been more vital.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes.
- Diabetes kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
- At the rate we’re going, as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes by 2050.
Would you be willing to change at least one aspect of your life–such as improving your diet or exercising more–if you knew it would lower your odds of developing type 2 diabetes? If so, would you tackle two, three or even five lifestyle changes if you could slash your risk to almost zero?
A recent study1 found that committing to even one out of five healthy lifestyle changes reduces your likelihood of developing diabetes in middle age by approximately one–third. And the more of these five changes you embrace ongoing, the lower your risk falls–even if you have a family history of diabetes. These strategies are:
Maintain a normal weight: Though there are many ways to determine this, the study used a body mass index below 25.
Stay tobacco free: Study subjects with the least risk had never been regular smokers, or they’d been smoke-free for at least 10 years.
Exercise regularly: That means a minimum of 20 minutes of sweat–inducing exercise at least three times per week.
Eat a healthy diet: Study guidelines: a diet high in fiber, low in trans fats, with minimal refined/sugary carbs, and a high ratio of “good” fats to “bad” fats.
Drink in moderation
The subjects least inclined to diabetes drank alcohol in moderation: two drinks or less a day for men, and one or less for women.
It turned out that each additional strategy was associated with 31% reduced risk for men and 39% for women. Those who met all five standards had about 80% lower risk of diabetes than people from similar demographics who did not meet them.
Of the five lifestyle components, being overweight was most strongly linked to diabetes risk. However, if you struggle with extra pounds, you can still reduce your risk measurably by concentrating on the other 4 factors, and in doing so, you’re likely to lose fat and boost overall wellness too.
So, now that you have this exciting information, what will you do with it?
1 Ann Intern Med. 2011 Sep 6;155(5):292-9