March 26th 2013 is the 25th American Diabetes Association Alert Day; it is held on the fourth Tuesday in March. The alert is a wake-up call for Americans to assess their type 2 and pre-diabetes risk. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), a whopping 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and nearly seven million don’t even know they have it.
If left untreated, serious complications exist, such as kidney and heart disease, blindness, amputation and even death. It is also estimated that 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes, putting them at an even greater risk of later developing type 2. The ADA has come out with an online Diabetes Risk Test to assess your risk of type 2.
A simple blood test can determine whether or not you have pre-diabetes or type 2. Keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle, consistent exercise routine and weight loss can decrease your risk of developing either one by 60 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services (HHS).
So what else can you do to prevent type 2 diabetes?
Maintain a healthy body weight
According to the ADA, studies have shown that losing seven percent of body weight can drastically reduce a person's chance of developing type 2. So, swap out some of the junk food in your diet. Eliminating a mere 500 calories a day can result in a pound of weight loss a week. Easy swaps including choosing fat-free Greek yogurt instead of a regular yogurt, choosing egg whites instead of whole eggs with the yolk, ditching the sugary juices and colas for seltzer and good old water.
Fill up on fiber
Fiber slows the absorption of sugar, so for people with diabetes it can help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes insoluble and soluble fiber has been correlated with a reduced risk of developing type 2. Fiber can be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Plus, they are an easy way to fill up because they add bulk without adding a ton of calories to your diet.
An apple a day keeps the diabetes away!
A recent study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, funded by the National Institutes of Health found that people who ate apples five times a week decreased their risk of developing diabetes by 23 percent. So, slice up some apple for an afternoon treat with some low-fat cheese or a spoonful of peanut butter.
Take the Diabetes Risk Test
It takes just a few minutes to complete, asking simple questions on age, family history and weight, and it can tell you if you are at risk for pre-diabetes or type 2.
Enroll in an online diabetes prevention program
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Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and author of the Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber as well as the bestselling Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.