Got Sugar?

Sugar in the Morning, Sugar in the Evening, Sugar at Suppertime!

It’s alarming how much sugar there is in the modern American diet. So it’s not surprising that cases of Type 2 diabetes have grown at a staggering rate. Diabetes is one of the top 10 causes of death in the United States. That ranking may well be skewed, because diabetes also leads to increased risk of heart attack (the No. 1 cause of death) and kidney failure (another top 10 killer).

What about you? Are you at risk? Your age (if you’re over 45), ethnicity (African-American, Asian-American, Latino/Hispanic-American, Native American or Pacific Islander) and family history are all risk factors beyond your control. But there are other risk factors for Type 2 diabetes that you can control. Are you overweight? Do you live a sedentary lifestyle? Is your blood pressure or cholesterol too high?

While diabetes is a highly treatable disease, there is no cure. Here’s what’s really interesting, though — the lifestyle changes one is required to make to treat diabetes are the same lifestyle changes one should adopt to avoid getting diabetes. So you can make lifestyle adjustments now without suffering the side effects of diabetes … or you can wait until the disease takes hold and alters your lifestyle forever by damaging your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, small blood vessels, skin and extremities. Your call.

What are the lifestyle changes? You already know what they are, because it all boils down to one thing — maintain a healthy body weight. And you accomplish that in two ways — diet and exercise. The only way to do that is to toss the cupcakes and stop being a sofa lizard. Diet is your first line of defense for diabetes prevention and control. Exercising your body is a close second.

Your daily diet ultimately manages your weight, blood sugars, blood pressure, cholesterol, energy, sleep and practically every other function of your body. And let’s just forget the word “exercise” and use the word “move,” instead. Whatever you do — walk, skip, jump, twist & shout — you’ve gotta move!

A major federally funded study of 3,234 people at high risk for diabetes showed that people can delay and possibly prevent the disease by losing a small amount of weight (5 to 7 percent of total body weight) through 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week and healthier eating.

Make these five healthy changes, and reduce your risk of becoming diabetic:

  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight
  • Focus half your diet on fruits and veggies
  • Cut out all sugary drinks
  • Get moving, and stay active
  • Reduce all screen time — TV, computer and phone