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What You Can Do to Prevent Diabetes


FRIDAY, Nov. 23, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Type 2 diabetes has reached alarming numbers in the United States. But you can prevent or delay it through healthy eating and active living, an expert suggests.

Diabetes affects more than 30 million Americans, and type 2 is the most common form. As many as one-third of Americans have prediabetes, but most don't know it, according to the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Small lifestyle changes, like signing up for a morning exercise class, can help protect you from type 2 diabetes and its complications, according to association spokesperson Kathleen Stanley of Lexington, Ky.

Here, she shares some other tips:

Determine your personal risk. Find out if your family has a history of diabetes, because that puts you at increased risk. Men have a higher risk than women. Your ethnic background is also important. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Assess your lifestyle and make any necessary changes. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week -- about a half-hour most days of the week. Plan three 10-minute walks during the day to get away from your desk. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator.

Watch your plate. Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and whole, nourishing foods. Vegetables and fruit should occupy half your plate.

Maintain a healthy weight. Your body mass index (BMI) should be lower than 25, or lower than 23 for Asian American Pacific Islanders. BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight. Research shows that losing just 5 percent to 7 percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by more than half.

Talk to your doctor. Ask how to safely get more active and have a healthier diet. Get support for your lifestyle changes. Find out if there's a National Diabetes Prevention Program in your neighborhood. If there isn't an in-person program, check online. Other options include joining an exercise group, fitness facility, yoga or dance studio, or senior center.

Get tested. A simple blood test (fasting glucose) can reveal if you have prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar is consistently higher than normal. Discuss your risk of type 2 diabetes with your doctor.

Diabetes can cause serious health complications, such as stroke, heart disease, vision loss and foot problems.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on diabetes prevention.

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