November is Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2015, 0.3 million Americans, or 9.4% of the population, had diabetes. This number is continually rising. Of the 30.3 million adults with diabetes, 23.1 million were diagnosed, and 7.2 million were undiagnosed. $327 billion was the total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the United States in 2017.
The good news is that we can all use this month to raise awareness about diabetes risk factors and encourage people to make healthy changes to improve their lifestyle and lower their risk factors. The following are ways to lower your risk of diabetes:
- Lose excess body fat. Being overweight is one of the largest risk factor for diabetes. In contrast, every kilogram of weight lost can reduce diabetes risk by 16%.
- Follow a high protein diet. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables—a dietary pattern studies show reduces diabetes risk. Foods to avoid are those rich in carbs and sugar.
- Drink water. Studies link sugar-sweetened beverages with diabetes and obesity. Cut back on these in your diet and the risk of both conditions decreases.
- Move. Physical inactivity raises the risk of diabetes. Exercise renders cells more sensitive to insulin. The aforementioned 2006 study had volunteers exercising moderately 150 minutes a week.
- Stress less. The stress response triggers the release of several hormones that increase blood sugar. Studies show that mindfulness meditation improves the ability to cope with stress. Cortisol, a stress hormone, can increase insulin levels.
- Sleep well. Chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk for diabetes and obesity. If you have continued problems sleeping, contact your doctor.
- Keep medical appointments. You may be unaware of rising risks for diabetes. Have labs drawn annually and discuss your risk with your doctor.