Small Steps—Big Benefits
November is National Diabetes Month, an annual observance set aside to raise awareness about diabetes, pre-diabetes, and diabetes prevention. It’s a perfect time to take stock and think about ways to stay healthy throughout the upcoming holiday season and beyond.
Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, which is a hormone that allows glucose to enter the body's cells to provide energy. Diabetes is characterized by abnormally high glucose levels. Prediabetes is a serious health condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes.
According to the CDC, more than 34 million people in the U.S. are currently living with diabetes. An additional 88 million Americans have pre-diabetes—and 84% of them don’t even know they have it. In the last 20 years, the number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled.
Tips for Prevention
While diabetes and pre-diabetes are serious conditions, there are steps that can be taken to help manage and/or prevent the illness. According to the CDC, type-2 diabetes (the most common variety) can often be prevented or delayed by making simple lifestyle changes, including:
- Making healthier food choices: Emphasize non-starchy vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and whole grains
- Thinking ahead: Planning meals ahead of time can be extremely beneficial in helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Try planning a week’s worth of meals before going grocery shopping.
- Adding more physical activity: Find an exercise routine that you enjoy and schedule it into your day. Consider partnering with a friend to stay motivated.
- Getting enough sleep: Try to get sufficient sleep on a consistent basis. Adding an extra hour or even 30 minutes a night can be beneficial to blood-sugar levels.
- Prioritizing mental health: According to the CDC, untreated mental health issues can worsen diabetes. If you have any mental health concerns, be sure to let your doctor know right away.
Small, Manageable Steps
One of the key messages of National Diabetes Month is that making doable, incremental changes on a consistent basis can go a long way in helping to manage diabetes and/or helping to reduce the risk of developing the condition. Remember—starting small is key—because taking simple, manageable steps today can lead to significant health benefits than can be both significant and long-lasting.
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