This post was written by Leeann Hoffman, MS, well-being coach, Parkview Health.
Having a better knowledge of type 2 diabetes and knowing your risk factors can help improve your quality of life and ensure a healthier future. To get started, let’s take a closer look at the chronic condition and what you can do to prevent it.
Prediabetes vs. type 2 diabetes
Prediabetes is blood glucose levels are elevated but not high enough to warrant a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Additionally, prediabetes is almost always a precursor to type 2 diabetes and as many as 1 in 3 American adults have it. However, as many as 84% do not know they are walking around with the condition. A simple blood test can help determine if someone has prediabetes. The good news? Even if you or a loved one has prediabetes, there are steps you can take to prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring.
There are several risk factors that could increase someone’s chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Individuals with the following risk factors may be at an increased risk for the chronic condition:
- 45 years of age or older
- Physically active less than three times a week
- A parent, brother, sister or first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes
- Diagnosed with gestational diabetes or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)
Early warning signs
Some early warning signs for type 2 diabetes can include:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry, even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts and bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet
Tips for prevention
Preventing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as easy as walking regularly. However, if you’re unsure how to begin, here are a few tips to get you started down the right path.
- Physical Activity: Small changes and lifestyle modifications like being more physically active through daily exercise and losing weight can reduce your risk. Losing as little as 5-7% of your body weight can make a great impact.
- Diet: Focus on eating whole foods, reduce the consumption of processed foods (anything that comes in a box or can), and drink plenty of water to get to a healthier weight. For more information or tips on how to plan a nutritious plate, visit MyPlate.gov.
- Sleep hygiene: Getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation, can also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Our bodies work hard at night to regulate hormones, heal and prepare for the next day. Getting enough quality sleep can ensure your body is working at its best. Keeping your bedroom clean, quiet and cool while also having a relaxing bedtime routine can assist in better sleep at night.
- Stress management: Chronic stress can lead to emotional eating, reduction of exercise and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Pursuing a beloved hobby, taking up mindfulness or meditation, scheduling some “you” time or even taking one minute to do a breathing exercise when stressed can do wonders for your overall health and wellbeing.
- Know your numbers: Routine blood work is essential for the early detection of abnormalities while also helping promote long-term health. Knowing your numbers can also help you determine what to do next. For more information, begin by speaking with your primary care physician or attending a Check-up Day hosted by the Center for Healthy Living, for an assortment of screenings and discounted lab work.
Where to turn for help
If you are faced with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes diagnosis and do well with accountability and lifestyle changes when in a group setting, a Diabetes Prevention Program may be a good fit for you. This is a program through the Greater Fort Wayne YMCA and lasts one full year. It is a community-based program where participants work in small groups with a trained Lifestyle coach over 25 sessions to incorporate healthier eating, moderate physical activity, problem-solving and coping skills into their daily lives. To register, contact the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 260-755-4940.
Additionally, specially trained and board-certified clinicians with Parkview Diabetes Services can help you control your blood sugar by sharing ways to eat healthily, exercise regularly, manage stress effectively and take your medication correctly. The center also offers one-on-one counseling, workshops and other resources to help you set and monitor your goals for managing your diabetes. For more information, contact the Diabetes Services team at 260-373-4280 to be connected to the Parkview location nearest you.