Take Charge of Your Diabetes

Early diagnosis or awareness of risk can help put you in command of the disease.
Dr. Steven Edelman, a diabetic who is an endocrinologist and a medical professor at the University of California San Diego and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, says that, diabetes is one of the most treatable diseases in the world, especially if it’s treated early.

Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The cause continues to be a mystery; scientists believe that autoimmune, genetic and environmental factors are involved in the development of the disease. However, doctors believe that diabetes can usually be delayed or even halted through weight control, exercise and medication.

The ADA offers the following recommendations to prevent or delay diabetes and minimize the risk of complications:

Control your weight.

“You don’t have to lose that much weight to get fantastic effects,” Edelman says, noting that a weight loss of 5 percent to 7 percent can bring down glucose blood levels significantly.

Monitor your carbohydrate and sugar intake, especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

“You don’t have to go on a strict diet or cut out all carbohydrates (just the refined ones). Eat two to three well-balanced meals a day and avoid sweets and fats as much as possible,” Edelman says.

Get tested if you’re at risk. If there’s a family history of diabetes, get a glucose blood test early and frequently.

Get moving.

Dr. James McCallum of Scripps Clinic has three words of advice for people with a predisposition to diabetes: “Exercise, exercise, exercise,” he says. “Exercise not only helps manage weight, but it also helps the body be more efficient at using fuels and makes you less insulin-resistant.”

The ADA recommends exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week.

“You don’t have to run marathons, just do something physical every day,” McCallum says.

Be diligent about testing and taking your prescribed medication if you’re diabetic.

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