By Dr. Christian Raigosa, MD Kaiser Permanente
More than 1-in-3 Americans have prediabetes — and 90 percent of them don’t even know it. The good news is that most cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable — healthy lifestyle changes can help you avoid, control or even reverse the disease.
Most of the food we eat is turned into a type of sugar called glucose, and the body uses this glucose as energy. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas gland, which makes insulin to help absorb glucose into the body’s cells, doesn’t make enough insulin or isn’t using it in the right way.
There are 3 types of diabetes that we look for:
Type 1 diabetes: Your body does not produce enough insulin. This is naturally occurring, and often diagnosed in childhood.
Type 2 diabetes: Your body does not produce and use insulin properly. Most people with diabetes have type 2, and this can be prevented, controlled and sometimes reversed with proper care and nutrition.
Gestational diabetes: A type of diabetes that develops in about 4 percent of pregnant women during the second half of pregnancy. Women who have never had diabetes before can develop gestational diabetes, and it’s important to note that women who have gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.
Some people don’t have symptoms, and some show common symptoms of high blood sugar that include feeling unquenchably thirsty, urinating more often than usual, feeling very hungry, and having blurred vision.
If you’re already on medication for diabetes, watch out for low blood sugar with symptoms that include sweating and feeling weak, shaky and very hungry.
Remember that type 2 diabetes can be prevented and following these tips can help get you on the right track.
Keep your weight in check
Excess weight is the primary cause of type 2 diabetes. If you’re overweight, losing just 7 to 10% of your current weight can cut your risk in half. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent other health problems, too — including heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice. Focus on high-fiber, whole-grain complex carbohydrates — they’re digested more slowly, which helps keep your blood sugar steady.
Stay active to stay healthy
Inactivity promotes type 2 diabetes, so regular exercise is essential. You don’t have to spend hours sweating in the gym to get the benefits — just walking briskly for a half-hour every day can reduce your risk by up to 30 percent.
For more ways to prevent or manage diabetes, visit kp.org/diabetes. Christian Raigosa, MD, physician-in-charge, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clarita Medical Offices 1.