Diabetes affects nearly 30 million people in the United States — a stunning 10 percent of the overall population. And recent research reveals that diabetes is now the third leading cause of death, not the seventh, as was previously thought. Perhaps the most concerning statistic is that one in four persons living with diabetes is unaware that they have the disease.
The American Diabetes Association sponsors Diabetes Alert Day to serve as an annual wake-up call. The organization wants to remind Americans about the seriousness and prevalence of diabetes, particularly when the disease is left undiagnosed or untreated. This year, Diabetes Alert Day is Tuesday.
Researchers estimate that, if current trends continue, one in three Americans will have diabetes by the year 2050. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to kidney failure, limb amputations, blindness and even death. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to preventing irreversible damage to your health and longevity, so awareness and access to care are the key areas of focus.
Here are the top five ways to keep blood sugar at healthy levels, and to keep Type 2 diabetes from impacting you and your loved ones:
1. Get more physical activity. You don’t have to run marathons for physical activity to add years to your life. Just 30 minutes of intentional activity, at least five times per week, can make a huge difference for insulin resistance. A mix of aerobic, heart-pumping activity with some resistance training is the best plan.
2. Get plenty of fiber. Fiber has many benefits, including improving blood sugar management. Sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts.
3. Choose whole grains. Make sure at least half of your grain intake is whole grains. Whole grains are prepared as close to the source from the Earth as possible. Look for labels that say “whole grains,” and opt for organic when possible.
4. Lose a little weight. Losing even 5 or 10…