According to Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health, an estimated 24 million Americans currently suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Of those, approximately six million are not yet aware they have Type 2 diabetes.
But even worse, by the year 2050, these estimates predict that a whopping 48 million Americans will have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is currently the 7th most common cause of death (United States), resulting in around 70,000 deaths annually.
For this reason, it is critical to understand what causes Type 2 diabetes and the steps you can begin to take now to ensure you never contract this life-limiting and often deadly disease.
Step 1: Stay active.
Here, the focus is on physical activity. Exercise, sports or any kind of fun physical activity you like such as biking, walking, hiking, swimming, frisbee or even bouncing on a trampoline can help your body stave off the start of Type 2 diabetes. Simply taking a brisk walk (one that raises your heart rate) each day can lower your risk.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can accomplish the following:
- Keep your weight down.
- Balance and lower your blood sugar.
Step 2: Slim and trim.
Losing weight is one of the strongest defenses your body has against Type 2 diabetes. According to Everyday Health, every 2.2 pounds lost gives you a 16 percent reduction in risk of diabetes.
Here, the recommendations include the following:
- Drink plenty of water so your body stays hydrated.
- Reduce trans fats (sugar, saturated fat).
- Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
Step 3: Sleep well and sufficiently.
Getting not just sufficient rest but good quality rest is essential to limiting your overall risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), allowing yourself to get into a state where you rarely get enough hours of sleep or good enough quality of sleep can raise your risk of two already interlinked health issues: obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Currently, an average of 33 percent of American adults don't get enough or good enough sleep at night. Getting sufficient, good quality sleep can become easier by following these tips:
- Begin lowering the lights 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
- Keep media (phones, television, computers) out of the bedroom.
- Be sure the room is cool enough so your body can relax and fall into sleep.
- Stick to a regular sleep/waking schedule.
- Stop caffeine several hours and alcohol intake a few hours before bedtime.
Step 4: Reduce stress.
Every time you feel stress, your body takes that as a signal to start the fight-or-flight response by releasing cortisol, "the stress hormone," into your bloodstream.
As WebMD points out, a continually elevated stress state can lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. This is because stress elevates blood sugar levels to provide extra energy to the cells.
Over time, the body becomes less well able to self-manage its blood sugar levels, which increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes as well as other serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease.
Step 5: See your doctor regularly.
The more regularly you go for physical health checkups, the earlier your doctor is likely to spot warning signs that could lead to pre-diabetes or even full-blown diabetes.
Seeing your doctor regularly is key to getting symptoms under control and, for some, can make the difference between ever getting diagnosed with diabetes or not.
Step 6: Know the link between diabetes and headaches.
According to Diabetes Self Management, the onset of headaches can be a warning sign of onset of Type 2 diabetes. The primary reason for this is blood sugar imbalances.
If you head starts to hurt more than usual, it is a good idea to make an appointment to check your blood sugar.
By making these six steps a part of your regular daily life from here forward, you can reduce your risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes, a disease that will otherwise require rigorous management for the rest of your life.