“Eat right and stay active” is a message we hear a lot these days. But what you might not be aware of is that there is evidence to prove that making healthier choices helps prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
About type 2 diabetes
Your body gets energy by converting glucose (sugar) from the food you eat. To use this glucose, your body needs insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps control the level of glucose in your blood. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Presently, there are 2.4 million Canadians with diabetes. About 90 per cent of these Canadians have type 2 diabetes.
Are you at risk?
If you are aged 40 or over, you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and should be tested at least every three years by your doctor. If any of the following risk factors apply, you should be tested earlier and more often.
–A member of a high-risk group (Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent)
–Overweight (especially if you carry most of your weight around your middle)
–A parent, brother or sister with diabetes
–Health complications that are associated with diabetes
–Given birth to a baby that weighed more than 4kg (9 lbs)
–Had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
–Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
–High blood pressure
–High cholesterol or other fats in the blood
Left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a variety of serious complications including: heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage.
The good news
Whether you are at risk or not, adjusting your eating habits and increasing your physical activity can help you improve your quality of life. Canada’s Food Guide, found on the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca provides guidelines for good nutrition. A few tips include:
Eat at least three out of four key food groups at each meal; grain products, vegetables and fruits, milk products, meat and alternatives.
Watch portion sizes.
Limit high fat food. For example use 1% milk, enjoy reduced fat yogurt, switch from cream to milk in your coffee and use herbs to season foods.
Incorporating physical activity into your life doesn’t need to be a chore. Make small changes to start and build up to 150 minutes a week, which amounts to only 20 minutes a day. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Park the car further from the store.
Take the stairs, instead of the elevator.
Spend active time with your family – turn off the television and walk, hike or play a high-energy game instead.
Run – don’t walk – to make these changes. They can change your life for the better.
To obtain further resources from the Canadian Diabetes Association, visit www.diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).
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