In recognition of Diabetes Alert Day, Tennova Healthcare is reminding the community about the seriousness of diabetes, particularly when the disease is left undiagnosed or untreated. Diabetes Alert Day, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, is Tuesday, March 28.
“Diabetes affects nearly 30 million people in the United States—a stunning 10 percent of the overall population,” said Cheri Johnston, M.D., a family medicine physician with Tennova Primary Care – Farragut. “And recent research reveals that diabetes is now the third leading cause of death and not the seventh, as was previously thought. Perhaps the most alarming statistic is that one in four people living with diabetes is unaware that he or she even has the disease.”
The incidence of type 2 diabetes in this country has tripled in the past 20 years. The surge in sugary diets and the adoption of sedentary lifestyles have combined to drive this disease to epidemic proportions. Researchers estimate that, if current trends continue, one-third of Americans will have diabetes by the year 2050. Untreated, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, limb amputations, and even death.
“On the positive side, diabetes is almost always avoidable—even reversible—with appropriate lifestyle changes,” Dr. Johnston said. “Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to preventing significant damage to your health and longevity. Awareness and access to quality medical care are key.”
Here are five strategies for keeping blood sugar at healthy levels and reducing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
- Get more physical activity. You don’t have to run marathons for physical activity to be beneficial. Thirty minutes of intentional activity, five days per week, can make a profound difference for insulin resistance. A mix of aerobic, heart-pumping exercise and strength training is the best plan.
- Eat plenty of fiber. Fiber has many benefits, including improving blood sugar management. Sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.
- Choose whole grains. Make sure at least half of your grain intake is “whole grains.” Whole grain foods, or products made from them, contain all three parts of the seed plant (bran, endosperm and germ) in their original proportions. Look for labels that say “whole grains,” and opt for organic when possible.
- Lose a little weight. Losing just 5 or 10 pounds appears to have an impact on reducing blood sugar levels and improving insulin resistance. Don’t focus on huge goals. Instead, celebrate the small victories.
- Skip the fad diet. The yo-yo effect and fad diets are hard on your heart and other organs. Focus on making healthy food choices 80 percent of the time, and your body will work the way it was designed.
If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, you are at increased risk for developing the disease. The condition is more prevalent among Native Americans, African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans than it is among other populations. Above-average body weight increases diabetes risk for people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Providing the community with reliable information is the aim of Diabetes Alert Day. However, only a doctor can tell for sure if you have diabetes or prediabetes. “As part of your annual physical, talk to your doctor about the results of your fasting blood sugar test and A1C test, which provides information about your average glucose levels over a three-month period,” Dr. Johnston said. “If your numbers are heading in the wrong direction, acting quickly may get things back on the right track.”
For more information or to find a doctor, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit Tennova.com.