About 24 million Americans have diabetes, about half of whom are women. Diabetes means that your blood glucose (sugar) is too high. Your blood always has some glucose in it because the body uses glucose for energy; it's the fuel that keeps you going. But too much glucose in the blood is not good for your health. If not controlled, diabetes can lead to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations and nerve damage.
Pre-diabetes means that your blood glucose is higher than normal but lower than the diabetes range. It also means you are at risk of getting type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The good news is that you can reduce the risk of getting diabetes and even return to normal blood glucose levels with modest weight loss and moderate exercise.
The best way to prevent diabetes is to make some lifestyle changes.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight raises your risk for diabetes. Start making small changes to your eating habits by adding more whole grain foods (such as whole wheat or rye bread, whole grain cereal, or brown rice), fruits and vegetables. Choose foods low in fat and cholesterol. Read food labels. If you eat 2,000 calories per day, you should eat no more than 56 grams of fat each day. Limit your sweets intake. Eat often---three small meals and one to three snacks every day.
Keeping a food diary of what, when, where and how you eat will give you an insight of what you are doing right now. Be willing to change those habits that are preventing you from living a healthy lifestyle. Decide which habits you will change now and which ones you will change later.
If you are overweight, losing as little as 10 – 20 pounds can help lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. There will be less stress on your joints and you will feel better too.
Try to be active for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week. If you haven't been active in the past, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can suggest activities to keep your blood glucose on track.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:
* 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity
* 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity
* A combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity and muscle strengthening activities on three days.
Some suggestions for fitting activity into your everyday life include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, take a brisk walk on your lunch break, park at the far end of the parking lot and walk, or walk or bicycle whenever you can.
For more information on diabetes, call the womenshealth.gov Call Center at 1-800-994-9662 or visit their website at www.womenshealth.gov.
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