It’s not an exaggeration to say that type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in this country. Some 37 million Americans live with the disease, and 90-95% have this type. The remainder have type 1 diabetes, which is diagnosed more often in childhood.
In the past, most who were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were adults over age 45, but children, teenagers, and young adults are increasingly being diagnosed. Dr. Gurprit Sekhon and the Nu Wave Medical Center team treat individuals living with type 2 diabetes kindly and responsibly.
They also help people who are at risk for developing diabetes prevent it — sometimes a type 2 diabetes diagnosis isn’t inevitable. There are steps you can take to turn the situation around.
Why does diabetes develop?
The development of diabetes has to do with your pancreas’ ability to produce insulin, the hormone that’s key to enabling your cells to “admit” the blood sugar from the food you eat into them, so your body can use it as fuel.
Type 2 diabetes causes your cells to respond to insulin abnormally — a condition known as insulin resistance. Then a cycle begins where your pancreas produces more insulin in an effort to make your cells respond. When your pancreas simply can’t keep this up any longer, your blood sugar goes up, setting you up first for prediabetes and then type 2 diabetes.
High blood sugar hurts your body in many ways, from causing vision loss and heart disease to kidney disease and nerve damage.
How do I know I’m at risk for diabetes?
Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms that indicate you may be moving toward a type 2 diabetes diagnosis may be overlooked, so damage is done before you ever receive a diagnosis. You may notice symptoms like increased thirst, more frequent urination, blurred vision, and a tingling sensation in your hands or feet, as type 2 diabetes progresses.
Since symptoms can be subtle and overlooked, you need to know the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Being over age 45
- Living with prediabetes (1 in 3 Americans are affected but over 80% are unaware)
- Having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Having low HDL, or “good” cholesterol
- Eating a diet high in fat and carbohydrates
- Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant
- Giving birth to a baby who weighed over nine pounds
- Living with high blood pressure or heart disease
- Being Black, Latino, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian, or an Alaska Native
It’s also important to be aware that members of the LGBTQ+ community are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. The thinking is that the stresses of living as a marginalized person may increase the likelihood that these individuals will be overweight or drink alcohol, smoke, and use drugs.
Can I do anything to mitigate my type 2 diabetes risk?
Yes, you absolutely can! The great news is that committing to lifestyle changes can put the brakes on type 2 diabetes. Set these goals:
1. Get moving
Physical exercise is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. You don’t have to be Olympian in your efforts either — simply walking for 30 minutes each day has been found to cut your risk by an impressive 30%. Upping your time spent exercising and your intensity helps lower your risk even more.
2. Keep your weight in check
You can lose pounds by making some dietary changes that combat type 2 diabetes as well.
Concentrate on ingesting healthy fats such as those found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds; opt for whole grains over refined ones; limit your consumption of red meat and processed meat like deli meats; and ditch the sugary drinks. Choose water with a slice of lemon instead.
3. Avoid tobacco
We know how bad smoking is for us in so many ways, and avoiding type 2 diabetes is another excellent reason for either quitting if you do smoke, or avoiding tobacco altogether. Smoking increases your diabetes risk by a startling 50%.
Watch your alcohol intake
Excessive imbibing isn’t good for your diabetes risk. Aim for up to one drink per day if you’re a woman, up to two drinks per day if you’re a man, or simply abstain from drinking.
Dr. Sekhon is here to monitor your progress, whether you’re living with diabetes now or trying to avoid it. If you’re struggling with losing weight, she also offers medically supervised weight loss.
Dr. Sekhon is dedicated to supporting you fully and enthusiastically as you make healthy changes to your lifestyle that slash your risk for diabetes.
Call our Panama Beach City office at 850-493-6948, or request an appointment with Dr. Sekhon online.