November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and, as a healthcare professional, I’d like to take the opportunity to highlight a few lifestyle risks that can contribute to diabetes. First off, there are different types of the disease. Type 1 is where the body is unable to produce insulin for oneself and relies on prescribed insulin to manage blood sugars. Type 1 is often diagnosed in children and cannot be prevented by lifestyle modifications, but can be better managed by lifestyle modifications. Gestational diabetes, which occurs toward the end of pregnancy in some women, generally goes away once the baby is born. However, having gestational diabetes can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes in the future. Type 2 is where the body produces insulin, but cannot keep up with the demand needed by the body due to insulin resistance. There are some genetics that play into the development of Type 2 diabetes, but a growing concern is the lifestyle factors that contribute to the development of this particular type.
There are many changes that have occurred throughout the last century. Industrial advances, technological advances, changes in our food systems and so forth. With our advances in certain areas, it has allowed the population to move further away from physical labor careers and closer to the desk job environment. Meals once prepared with individual ingredients and time have morphed into drive throughs, take-out, and frozen convenience foods. Dual income households, increased extra curricular activities, and booked schedules have taken away time from the traditional dinner table meals. These meals are often replaced with eating between meetings, on the road, on the couch, or sometimes missing them all together. So, why are we seeing an increase in diabetes? Decreased physical activity, increase in calorie rich foods, and increased stress can affect our overall health. We often see an increase in weight as a result of this combination. Increased weight places folks at risk for developing diseases such as diabetes.
But, fear not! By finding ways to modify one or several of these lifestyle factors listed above can help reduce your chance of developing diabetes. Decreasing your weight by 5-7%, for example, can decrease your risk of developing diabetes by over 50% according to a Diabetes Prevention study. Unsure of how to start? We recommend establishing care with a healthcare provider to help navigate you through your health needs, whether it is for prevention or management of disease.
Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season.