Published on November 07, 2016

The 101 on Type 2 Diabetes

By Jane Wynne, Hunter College Nutrition Student, and Lisa Zarny, MS, RD, CD-N, Clinical Nutrition Manager

Diabetes Self-Management Education Program

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It's important for Americans to be aware of the risk of developing diabetes and what can be done to prevent or treat this disease.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, or one’s body’s inability to use insulin properly. It is associated with increased age, obesity, family history of diabetes, gestational diabetes, and physical inactivity. However, type 2 diabetes can be avoided, treated, and even controlled by adapting to good health practices. Below are some helpful tips to help decrease the risk of diabetes and be kind to your body.

Elderly couple outdoors 1. Eat your greens. By making some small adjustments to your meal options, diet can make a significant difference in type 2 diabetes. Limiting refined carbohydrates and focusing on high-fiber complex carbohydrates are important in treating and preventing diabetes. These two carbohydrate choices slowly release in the body, maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing the production of too much insulin. For example, substituting brown rice or whole grain bread instead of white, bran flakes instead of cornflakes, and leafy greens instead of corn can easily improve your blood sugar.

2. Move. Exercising has a surplus of health benefits, including improvement in our heart health, bone density, muscle strength, skin complexion, immune function, sleep patterns, and of course, prevention of diabetes. 

3. Check the scale. After increasing your fruit and vegetable intake and exercising more, you may be tightening your belt instead of loosening it this Thanksgiving! Since being overweight or obese is a major risk factor of developing diabetes, losing even a small amount of weight (5 to 7 percent of total body weight) can protect against the disease. Although the holiday months are a hard time to think about losing weight, they are a great time to think about everything you would gain by leading a healthier life and preventing diabetes. Your family and body will thank you!

Information adapted from:

  • http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pdfs/data/2014-report-estimates-of-diabetes-and-its-burden-in-the-united-states.pdf
  • http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes-type2/index.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prevention.html
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