Chances are you know someone with type 2 diabetes. In fact, 29 million Americans suffer from it, and if current trends continue, one in three adults will have type 2 diabetes by 2050. It’s one of the most dreaded chronic diseases we face. It results in elevated blood sugar because the body does not use insulin properly. Over time this elevated blood sugar can damage the eyes, kidneys, heart, nerves, and brain and even lead to amputations. Unfortunately, once you have type 2 diabetes you have it for life. It can be treated and well-controlled, but many people find that difficult.
Luckily, there’s a way to tell if you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes and change course before you get the disease. It’s called prediabetes and, unlike diabetes, it can be reversed. One in three Americans reading this may already have it and not even know it.
Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. If you have it and don’t make changes, prediabetes can turn into type 2 diabetes, but the good news is, it can also be used as a tool for prevention.
Figuring out if you have prediabetes is quite simple. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Diabetes Association, the American Medical Association, and the Ad Council joined me on our show to show everyone a new a test they developed that you can do at home, right now, to see if you are at risk for prediabetes. That’s right. You don’t even have to sit in a waiting room. The online test asks seven simple questions and takes less than a minute. You can find it at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. It focuses on risk factors like being overweight or physically inactive, having a history of high blood pressure or a family history of diabetes, gender, age, and ethnicity. If the online tool shows your risk as high, you should follow up with your doctor to get a simple test to confirm your results.
If you know you have prediabetes you also know you’re at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, so, its time to take action and reverse it.
Here’s some simple steps you can take to do just that:
Lose weight – Studies show that losing just 5-7% of your body weight can reverse prediabetes.
Move more – Get at least 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of light aerobic activity every week. This could be as simple as going for a brisk 30-minute walk 5 days per week. Even 10 minutes at a time adds up.
Eat smart – Fill up on vegetables and remember to read food labels — the more you know about what goes into your food, the better decisions you’ll be able to make.
Don’t smoke – Smoking increases the risk of serious health problems associated with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Making these changes doesn’t have to be difficult and you don’t have to do it alone, because there is another great tool that can help. It’s the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program, and studies show that it can actually help you cut your risk of diabetes in half. This customizable program helps show you how to make living a healthy lifestyle easy. The best part is you get a coach that works with you the entire time to serve as both guide and motivator. In addition to your coach, you are connected with other people in the program just like you, so you can discuss challenges and their solutions with other people going through the same things. There is probably a program right near where you live and you can find a list at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. If there isn’t one in your area, you can also do the entire program online. So if you have diabetes be sure to check it out.
Having type 2 diabetes is hard, but fortunately its turns out that preventing it doesn’t have to be.