The 411 on Diabetes Prevention


 Happy Diabetes Alert Day!

March 22, 2016 has been proclaimed Diabetes Alert Day. This is a day to call attention to diabetes and prediabetes and encourage people to find out if they have either of these conditions.

Eighty-six million American adults (more than 1 in 3) have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough yet to be classified as type 2 diabetes. In Minnesota alone, more than 35% of people have prediabetes. While many are familiar with type 2 diabetes, nearly 90 percent of people with prediabetes are not aware they have the condition. People with prediabetes have increased risks to their long-term health, including developing type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

You may be at risk for prediabetes and diabetes if you are over 45 years old, have a family history of diabetes, are obese, are physically inactive, have high blood pressure, or have a personal history of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. It is important to find out if you have prediabetes because you CAN prevent diabetes by making changes to your eating habits and activity level. Making successful lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of progressing from prediabetes to diabetes by 58%. Modest weight loss of 5-7% of body weight (10-14 pounds for a person weighing 200 pounds) through a combined program of reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity constitutes a successful change.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you should work closely with your health care team to treat the condition. While diabetes is not curable, it is manageable and treatable. Your health care team will talk with you about nutrition, activity, monitoring, and medications which can help you avoid the long-term complications of diabetes.

SO…what can you do to prevent diabetes? Here’s an action list for you to start today:

1. Healthy Eating is Key

Most people know that sweets such as bakery items and candy are not good for them. However, people with prediabetes and diabetes should also avoid other foods high in carbohydrates. This includes bread, bagels, tortillas, white rice and pasta. If you do choose to eat these foods, choose 100% whole wheat options and eat in moderation. Many people eat a fairly healthy diet but eat TOO much! Remember a portion size of pasta is about the size of your fist…not the size of the whole plate. Avoid liquid calories such as pop, coffee drinks and other sugary drinks. Eating the whole fruit is much healthier than drinking fruit juice

2. Get Regular Physical Activity

The recommendation from the American Heart Association  is 150 minutes per week of physical activity. Pick any activity which you enjoy and increases your heart rate. Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories! You should be active to the point that you are a little out of breath if you are trying to carry on a conversation with your work out buddy

3. Find out if You’re at Risk

It takes less than 1 minute to see if you are at risk for prediabetes. Take a Risk Assesment Test  today, if it shows you are at risk, visit your health care provider to get tested.

4. Tips & Tricks for Prevention

Visit the Minneapolis Department of Health website to learn more about how to prevent diabetes.

Remember, diabetes is a preventable and treatable disease!

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Kacey Justesen, MD

Assistant professor in the University of Minnesota Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and faculty at the North Memorial Family Medicine residency program. In addition, she is serving as the Twin Cities Medical Society representative on the City of Minneapolis Diabetes Prevention Network.