Nearly 1 in 10 Americans has diabetes 1 and 1.4 million more are diagnosed with diabetes every year.2 Suffice it to say, diabetes is an epidemic that affects many of us. In this month’s post, we discuss diabetes prevention and myths as well as explaining various stages of diabetes.
Prevention & Myths
Many factors may contribute to someone receiving a diabetes diagnosis including genetics and factors such as excess weight and inactivity.3 While genetics is one factor, studies have shown that making healthy lifestyle choices, such as maintaining a healthy weight and diet as well as excising at least 30 minutes a day, can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.4
There are also many myths about diabetes which cloud people’s understanding of how serious the disease is and also how making simple changes can help manage the disease. Many people believe that diabetics must follow a specific diet. The truth is that people with diabetes should stick to the same healthy diet as everyone else — that means lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and limiting fat and refined sugar. Additionally, it is a common misconception that if you are overweight or obese you will develop type 2 diabetes. As we mentioned earlier, while being overweight can increase the chances of developing diabetes there are many factors, such as diet and exercise that also contribute to a type 2 diagnosis.5
There are a few ways to test for diabetes. You may have heard of the A1C test which measures your average blood glucose for the past 2-3 months — this means you do not have to fast or drink anything special in preparation for the test.4 Other tests include:
- Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG)
Before having the FPG test patients must fast for at least 8 hours to accurately check blood glucose levels, as a result the test is typically preformed in the morning prior to breakfast
- Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT)
The OGTT checks your blood glucose levels twice, once two hours before you consume a special drink and once two hours after. This tells your doctor how your body process glucose.
- Random/Casual Plasma Glucose Test
This is a blood test at any time of day. It is typically used on patients showing severe diabetes symptoms.
Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they typically are diagnosed with prediabetes. This means that a patient’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but no high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.6 Those with prediabetes are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes as well as cardiovascular disease. A prediabetes diagnosis does not mean you will definitely develop type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet and consistent moderate exercise has been shown to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease that affects many Americans but is it also a disease that can be tackled through simply lifestyle changes. It can’t be said enough, healthy eating and exercise are the key to both preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.