21 Days, 21 Ways: Lower Your Risk of Diabetes

While many people think diseases are fought with medications, the first line of defense is usually education. This is especially true for one of the most common diseases facing Michiganders – diabetes.  Diabetes is often preventable, and armed with the proper knowledge to identify your own risk factors, you may avoid becoming one of the roughly 725,000 people in Michigan with this disease.

Over the next 21 days, Blue Care Network will share 21 ways to help you identify your risk, understand the disease and learn simple steps you can take to decrease your risk or manage your diabetes. Follow Blue Care Real ways to cut diabetes riskNetwork on Facebook to make sure you catch everything and share the knowledge with your loved ones.

While a subject like diabetes is something medical experts study for a lifetime, think of the following as a very basic primer to start your education.

  1. Diabetes isn’t caused by just eating a lot of candy. Yes, Type 2 diabetes (which is the most common form of the disease) happens when blood sugar levels are too high, but the causes go way beyond having a sweet tooth. The elevated blood sugar levels are caused by an issue with insulin—your body can’t make enough of it to keep your blood sugar levels in check. That’s why many diabetics have to take insulin shots and monitor their blood sugar levels closely. While an unhealthy diet, like if you consume too many calories or drink too much soda, is a risk factor, so is having a family history of diabetes and being overweight.
  2. You can catch diabetes early by testing for prediabetes. Having your doctor check your blood glucose levels can alert you if there is an issue before you develop diabetes. Prediabetes is when your blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Knowing if you have prediabetes is important because you can take steps to lower your risk of the disease progressing. Early treatment and lifestyle changes, like losing weight and exercising for 30 minutes five days a week, can get your blood sugar levels back down to the normal range.
  3. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, there’s a lot you can do to manage the disease. In fact, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help you avoid complications that can affect your feet, skin, kidneys, eyes and more. Other important ways to manage diabetes include keeping your cholesterol and blood pressure levels down. You also need to be on top of your health—making sure to follow your doctor’s advice and, if prescribed, checking your blood glucose levels regularly and taking medication on time.

Want to set your own goals to improve your diabetes risk? Join HealthyMe, our health and wellness community that helps you set and track goals, get access to personalized content and support others with their health and wellness goals.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning about diabetes. For more in-depth information, check out these blogs:

Photo credit: Foam via Flickr (feature), David Rowe (inset)

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