Diabetes is a serious and costly disease which has increased 40 percent in the last 10 years. Based on research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), new estimates suggest that as many as one in three people born recently will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
Here are the estimates for people born after 2000:
• Men, 32.8% will develop diabetes in their lifetime
• Women, 38.5%
• Hispanic males, 45.4%
• Hispanic females, 52.5%
The odds of being diagnosed with diabetes is high and the complications of diabetes are serious:
- coronary heart disease,
- kidney failure,
- increased risk of cancer, infections, and dementia.
The CDC implemented a Diabetes Prevention Program that took a large group of people who were already pre-diabetics and put them on a lifestyle change program for one year. This included a healthy eating plan (lower calories and saturated fat, and a higher fiber intake), plus 150 minutes of exercise weekly. On this program they lost five to seven percent of their body weight. They also reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent compared to a control group that made no changes.
The Harvard University Nurses’ Health Study found that about nine out of 10 cases of diabetes could be avoided by taking these seven simple steps:
- Control your weight. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes sevenfold. Losing just 10 to 15 pounds (if you’re overweight) can significantly reduce your chances of getting diabetes.
- Be more physically active. Limit TV viewing and other sedentary pursuits. Harvard found that walking briskly for even 30 minutes daily cut the risk of type-2 diabetes by 30 percent, even without weight loss. They also found that for every two hours of TV a person watched daily, the risk of diabetes increased by 20 percent. By choosing more active leisure time activities you greatly improve your health. Try riding a stationary bike when watching your favorite TV program.
- Choose whole grains over white bread and other refined grains. When Harvard combined the research from both the Nurses’ Health Study and the men’s Health Professional Follow-up Study (a total of 160,000 people) they found that those who chose more whole grains (at least two to three servings daily) were 30 percent less likely to develop type-2 diabetes during the 18-year study compared to those who ate primarily white bread, white rice, and other refined cereals.
- Skip sugary drinks. Sugar is a high glycemic food that causes the blood sugar to rise rapidly. French fries, white bread, white rice, and refined grains were all linked to higher risks of developing diabetes. For example, in the Nurses’ Health Study, women who had one or more sugar-sweetened drink daily had an 83 percent higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes compared to women who seldom drank sugar-sweetened beverages. Go for water instead of a soft drink.
- Choose good fats. Harvard found that as saturated fat went up in the diet, so did the risk of diabetes. On the other hand, those who chose healthy polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, nut butters, and seeds actually had a lower risk of developing diabetes. Be sure to avoid all trans fats. These very unhealthy fats are found in many solid margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any products that list “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label.
- Limit red meat and avoid processed meat. Red meat and other foods high in cholesterol raise the risk of type-2 diabetes. In a study of over 440,00 people, Harvard found that eating just three ounces of red meat daily (a serving about the size of a deck of cards) raised the risk of type-2 diabetes by 20 percent. Eating processed meats had an even greater risk. Eating just two slices of bacon, or one hot dog daily raised the risk of diabetes by 51 percent. In the Adventist Health Study that including nearly 90,000 people, researchers found that those who ate a healthy, plant-based diet had only one-fourth the prevalence of diabetes compared to those who ate meat regularly.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes.
You can help prevent diabetes or minimize the complications of this disease. Here’s how: Stay lean and be active. Choose healthy meals that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Make it a goal to eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And choose foods that are low in sugar and other refined carbohydrates.
The Journal of the American Medical Association; 290(14):1884-1890.
National Diabetes Prevention Program. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wellsource Newsletter, February 2012
Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health.
Take Control of Your Health
Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.