What You Can Do to Prevent Diabetes: Simple Changes to Improve Your Life

What You Can Do to Prevent Diabetes: Simple Changes to Improve Your Life


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620456989
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 01/31/2000
Pages: 158
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

ANNETTE MAGGI, M.S., R.D., and JACKIE BOUCHER, M.S., R.D., C.D.E., are nutrition educators who provide practical approaches and real solutions for consumers nutritional concerns. They are coauthors of Weight Management for Type 2 Diabetes.

Read an Excerpt


Rate Your Risk for
Developing Diabetes

Most likely, we all have at least one family member, friend, or co-worker who has diabetes. Do we really understand what it means to have diabetes? Are there people who are more prone to getting this disease? Could you be one of them? Although we can't change our parents, our race, our age, or our sex, the good news is we can make lifestyle changes that can prevent us from getting diabetes.

Will You Get Diabetes?

Have you ever really thought about diabetes? Have you seriously thought that you could develop this disease? Most people think about cancer and heart disease-- and how to prevent them-- but what about diabetes? If you've never thought about it before now, you're not alone. In fact, three-quarters of those over the age of 45 don't know whether they have diabetes. Yet more than 16 million of us have the disease. So how can you tell if you're likely to be one of the people who get it? The key is to look at factors that increase your chances of getting diabetes-- the risk factors. Read the following statements and circle those that apply to you:

Risk Factors for Diabetes
  • I'm over the age of 45.
  • One of my parents, brothers, or sisters has diabetes.
  • I'm a woman who gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds at birth, or I have a history of gestational diabetes.
  • My doctor has told me that I have impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance.
  • My heritage is African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.
  • I have high blood pressure.
  • I have a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the "good" cholesterol) level or a high triglyceride level.
  • My weight is 20 percent or more above the recommended weight for my height.
  • I don't exercise much or I'm not very active on a day-to-day basis.

Now look back over the list. The more statements you've circled, the greater your chances of developing diabetes during your life.

When you look over the list, you may notice that some of the risk factors are beyond your control, such as age, having a family history of diabetes, giving birth to a large baby, or your heritage. This could make you feel like there's no chance of preventing diabetes. But look at the list again and notice all of the factors you can work to control, like your weight and activity level.

Although having several uncontrollable risk factors significantly increases your chances of developing diabetes, changing those factors that are within your control, like weight and exercise, can increase the likelihood that you'll live into your golden years without ever getting this chronic disease.

Understanding Diabetes

Without having a reason to do something, most of us won't take any action. At this point, you may know you're at risk for developing diabetes, but what does that really mean? What is this disease called diabetes anyway?

Simply put, diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body can't properly use the food we eat; the body doesn't make enough insulin or can't use it properly to change food into energy. Normally, the digestive system changes most food into glucose-- the body's preferred energy source. Once the food is digested, glucose enters the bloodstream, causing blood glucose levels to rise. Glucose is carried in the blood cells to be used as fuel, but insulin needs to be available for the glucose to be absorbed into the cells. Insulin is a hormone made and secreted by the pancreas, a gland near the stomach. In response to the rising blood glucose level, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream, causing the glucose to enter the cells so blood glucose levels return to normal.

If we have diabetes, however, our body doesn't work like it should. There are problems with how much insulin our pancreas makes and how well our cells use the available insulin. They've become insulin resistant. As a result, the glucose can't get into our cells to provide energy and our blood glucose levels remain high. Eventually, because our body isn't getting the fuel it needs, we start to feel tired and hungry. These problems in our body's handling of glucose occur gradually over time. In fact, most people diagnosed with diabetes have had it for a while-- often up to seven years-- without even knowing it!

This kind of diabetes, in which the body makes some insulin but can't use it properly, is called type 2 diabetes. About 90 to 95 percent of people with diabetes have this type. It most often occurs in overweight adults and some overweight teens. Managing type 2 diabetes involves losing weight, leading an active lifestyle, and sometimes taking oral medications or insulin injections.

The other type of diabetes-- type 1-- usually occurs in people under age 20, affecting only 5 to 10 percent of all people who are diagnosed with diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes still make insulin, but those with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin and require daily injections to survive. Scientists are still working to determine if type 1 diabetes is preventable.

Both types of diabetes are serious, requiring long-term lifestyle changes to treat the disease and to prevent complications of the disease that can occur, such as eye, kidney, nerve, and heart damage. So, knowing that you could prevent a disease that could cause you health problems in the not-so-distant future, aren't you ready to take action?

Diabetes Develops Over Time

Many illnesses-- a virus, food poisoning, or chicken pox-- strike suddenly. We wake up one morning and find that we are sick. But this isn't true of diabetes. It doesn't just happen overnight or over a few days. We can actually have diabetes for years before really feeling sick or before our health care provider diagnoses it.

But how can this be? How can we walk around for years feeling okay, not knowing we're sick? Here's how.

Although no one knows the exact cause, it is known that age, genetics, and lifestyle habits can affect whether or not you develop type 2 diabetes. Over a period of years, these factors can slowly contribute to your body's inability to produce or to use insulin. When this happens, a doctor may diagnose you with either impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance-- meaning you're having problems using insulin the right way. These are the first steps leading up to a diabetes diagnosis. A simple test called a fasting glucose test, which is administered at a health care provider's office, can tell you if you have either one of these initial stages of diabetes.

So when does full-blown diabetes happen? How will you know when you have it? Some of the symptoms you may experience are weakness, fatigue, excessive hunger, extreme thirst, frequent urination, changes in vision, or persistent infections. At this point, because your body's ability to produce insulin or to use it appropriately becomes even more impaired, you start to feel sick. Often, however, you may not even know you have diabetes until you go to see your doctor for a routine physical. Many individuals don't experience any of the common symptoms.

So what can you do? If you know you are at risk for getting diabetes, or if you are already in the initial stages, visit your health care provider regularly. If you're 45 years of age or older and have risk factors for diabetes, have a fasting glucose test every three years to make sure you haven't developed diabetes. At the same time, focus on what you can do to prevent diabetes or to reverse the initial stages, such as impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. The key is starting now, not later. By managing your weight, leading an active lifestyle, and following healthy eating patterns, you can turn back time and prevent diabetes.

Stack the Odds in Your Favor

With the fast pace of life today, it's common for us to take chances. For instance, the weather might be bad, but we venture out into a storm because we have so much to do at work that we can't afford to miss a day. We don't think about staying home even though it may be safer. We don't consider the odds that something could happen to us or to our cars.

Our decision about whether to work to prevent diabetes may follow a similar unfortunate path. We may decide to take our chances and to deal with the consequences of diabetes, instead of trying to change our lifestyle right now to prevent it. "It won't happen to me," right? Yet every minute, one person is diagnosed with diabetes, and you could be next-- depending on the number of risk factors you have. If you're a betting person, you'd be smart to stack the odds against developing diabetes in your favor now because there's no cure for this disease once you get it. The best chance to live your life without diabetes is to work to prevent it.

Once you get diabetes, the odds for additional complications also work against you. If blood glucose levels are uncontrolled over the years, you can develop eye disease, heart and blood vessel disease that can lead to a heart attack or a stroke, kidney disease, and nerve disease. Skin, feet, and dental problems are also common complications of diabetes.

Although you might be betting on the fact that diabetes won't happen to you, you are probably unaware of your chances for getting long-term complications from diabetes. But the following statistics may change your mind:

  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in people 20 to 74 years of age. Each year 12,000 to 24,000 people with diabetes lose their sight.
  • About 10 to 20 percent of people with diabetes develop kidney problems.
  • People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease . . . and their rates of death from heart disease are two to four times higher than in adults without diabetes. People with diabetes are also two to four times more likely to have a stroke.
  • Approximately 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of nerve damage, which, in severe forms, can lead to lower-limb amputation. Each year more than 56,000 people with diabetes lose a foot or a leg.

So given the numbers, do you still want to roll the dice without putting the odds in your favor? It's not only diabetes you'll be preventing but also all the health complications this disease can bring. Once you've got the facts, the choice between getting this chronic and sometimes debilitating disease and not getting it is very clear. Remember these frightening statistics, and change the odds in your favor.

Preventing Diabetes
Doesn't Have to Be a Mystery

Everyone loves mysteries. Who did it? Why? Where? How? There have been hundreds, probably thousands, of mystery books written. There have been successful television shows, such as Murder She Wrote or Unsolved Mysteries. There are even murder mystery games.

So what is it about mysteries that we love? Most likely, it's finding the trail of clues that lead to solving the puzzle. Discovering the facts that lead you to preventing diabetes is no different. Once you see the facts and understand how they fit together, the mystery is solved. The only difference is that at the end of your detective work, you're the one who needs to act to prevent diabetes from happening.

Just what are the facts? Well for starters, people who lead an active lifestyle can decrease their chances of getting diabetes by 30 to 50 percent. At least 27 percent of the people diagnosed with diabetes might have been able to prevent it if they had avoided gaining weight. So managing your weight and increasing your level of physical activity are two crucial steps in your diabetes prevention efforts. What you eat also matters. If you eat more calories than you expend in exercise and day-to-day activities, you gain weight.

So, mystery solved. The facts show that our activity level, the way we manage our weight, and what we eat can and will make a difference in our plan to prevent diabetes. The detective work may be done, but the action is just beginning. It's up to you to change your lifestyle for the better.


What can you do today to better understand
your chances of getting diabetes?

What can you do this week to better understand
your chances of getting diabetes?

What can you do this month to better understand
your chances of getting diabetes?

Table of Contents

Part 1Rate Your Risk for Developing Diabetes3
1.Will You Get Diabetes?5
2.Understanding Diabetes7
3.Diabetes Develops over Time9
4.Stack the Odds in Your Favor11
5.Preventing Diabetes Doesn't Have to Be a Mystery13
Simple Changes Journal14
Part 2Make Lifestyle Changes That Last15
6.How Ready Are You to Change?17
7.Learn from Past Successes20
8.Overcome Obstacles on the Road to Change21
9.Chart Your Course23
10.Plan for Setbacks25
11.Celebrate Milestones27
Simple Changes Journal28
Part 3Manage Your Weight29
12.The Weight-Diabetes Connection31
13.Weight Gain Doesn't Happen Overnight32
14.Find Your Motivation34
15.What Does a Healthy Weight Look Like, Anyway?36
16.Factor in Body Shape to Your Health Equation38
17.Inch Your Way to Success40
18.Skip the Pills--for Now42
19.Binge Eating May Be Doing You In44
Simple Changes Journal46
Part 4Real Nutrition for Real People47
20.Follow the 80/20 Rule49
21.The Skinny on Fat50
22.Make Your Goal Consistent Eating Habits52
23.The Calorie Comeback54
24.No Room for Supersizing56
25.Assess Your Hunger58
26.The Clean Plate Club60
27.Take a Lesson from a Child and Eat Intuitively61
28.Find Your Food Triggers63
29.Strive for Five66
Simple Changes Journal68
Part 5Get Moving, Get Fit69
30.The Benefits of an Active Lifestyle71
31.A Few Minutes of Activity, Here or There73
32.Find Ways to Be Less Efficient75
33.Pick Up the Pace with Exercise77
34.Strengthen Your Exercise Routine79
35.Juggle Your Exercise Program81
36.Mind over Matter82
37.Map Out Your Exercise Program84
Simple Changes Journal86
Part 6Balance Your Lifestyle87
38.Focus on the Whole You--Body, Mind, and Spirit89
39.Monitor Your Stress91
40.Lighten Your Stress Load93
41.Who Supports Your Efforts?95
42.Find the Support You Need97
43.Help Your Support System Help You99
44.Talk Yourself into Healthier Habits101
45.Visualize Success104
Simple Changes Journal106
Part 7Make Diabetes Prevention A Family Affair107
46.Turn Your Family On to Health109
47.Plant Your Family Health Tree111
48.Use Body Silhouettes to Track History in the Making114
49.Individuals Make Up the Family Team116
50.Kids: They're Never Too Young to Get Involved118
51.Write a Health Contract120
Simple Changes Journal122
Part 8Staying on Track with Your Diabetes Prevention Plan123
52.Adapt to Change125
53.Develop a Maintenance Contract126
54.Know Your Limits128
55.Plan ... Do ... Check ... Act130
56.Keep the End in Mind132
57.Even the Best-Laid Plan Isn't Foolproof134
Simple Changes Journal136

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