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Reducing Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Even if you have risk factors for diabetes, you can do a lot to lower your chances of actually getting diabetes. Exercising regularly, reducing your calorie intake, and losing weight if you need to can all help you reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Making big changes in your life is hard, especially if you are faced with more than one change to make. You can make it easier for yourself by taking small steps toward your goal and by making a plan-and a commitment-to change your behavior.  Your doctor, a dietitian, or other healthcare professionals can help, but don't overlook the important supportive role of friends and family members.  

Step 1:  Reach and Maintain a Reasonable Body Weight

Your weight affects your health in many ways. Being overweight can keep your body from making and using insulin properly. It can also cause high blood pressure. If you are significantly overweight, losing only 5 to 7% of your body weight can help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

There is plenty of information available on how to lose weight.  For starters, however, I recommend focusing on what you drink as well as what you eat.  Be sure to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day.  If you substitute water for sugar-containing soda or juice, you'll be eliminating a substantial number of calories per day right there! 

Be careful not only about what you eat, but how much.  Remember, a serving size is NOT how much you can eat at one sitting, but a small portion of that!

Step 2:  Be physically active every day

I wish I could write a prescription for the "I love to exercise" pill!  Regular exercise tackles several risk factors at once. It may help you lose weight, can help control your cholesterol and blood pressure, and can help your body use insulin properly. Ideally, we want people to aim to be physically active 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  But adding a short brisk walk each day to your schedule is better than nothing.  Do what you can to do something each day, even if it's just taking the stairs rather than the elevator.

For those who already have Type 2 diabetes, taking prescription medication may be an important part of your daily routine.  Many patients, however, have trouble remembering to take their medication daily.  This is very important.  If you don't care for taking medication, be aware that many patients with Type 2 diabetes have been able to successfully get off medication after making significant lifestyle changes.  If this is your goal, speak to your doctor. 

Created: 11/4/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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