More than 25 million Americans have diabetes. This is a chronic condition that produces high blood sugar levels.1 Another 79 million have prediabetes, which makes them 5 to 15 times more likely to develop diabetes. But many of these people – whether they have prediabetes or diabetes – have no idea they're at risk.2 Could you be one of them?
Well, to begin, here are some questions to ask yourself. Are you:
- 45 or older
- The child or sibling of someone who has diabetes
- An African American, Hispanic/Latino Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander
- Someone who had diabetes while pregnant or gave birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds or more
- Physically active less than three times a week2
The more boxes you checked, the higher your risk for prediabetes. Talk with your doctor to see if you should have a blood test, especially if you're 45 or older and overweight.2
How else can you know if you're at risk? If diabetes develops slowly, you may not have any symptoms. But with have high levels of blood sugar, you may one or more of these symptoms:
- Extreme thirst
- Blurry vision
- Tingling in hands in feet
- Frequent peeing
- Increasing hunger
- Unexplained weight loss 3,4
Left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious problems. Blindness, serious infections, nerve or kidney damage – to name a few. And, diabetes can contribute to cardiovascular problems, making a heart attack or stroke more likely.3 That's why you should pay special attention to blood glucose levels if your blood pressure is also high.5
But I'm here to tell you not to throw your hands up in despair. You can do a lot to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes – at least the type that more often occurs in adulthood (Type 2 diabetes). Even losing just 5 percent of your weight can make a big difference. 2 For someone who weighs 180, for example, that's just 9 pounds. You can do that, now, can't you?
In case you're still skeptical, you should know that the benefits of modest weight loss is backed up by research. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) trial found that reducing fat and calories and increasing physical activity led to modest weight loss and a 58 percent reduction in type 2 diabetes in high-risk adults. Better yet? The benefits of these lifestyle changes lasted over several years. It had the biggest bang for the buck in people 60 and older.6
Other simple diet changes may make a huge difference as well. For example, blueberries and applies are tied to a lower diabetes risk.7 And, one recent study showed a strong link between white rice and diabetes, with a 10 percent increase in risk for each additional serving eaten!8 Instead, explore the world of whole grains – brown rice, barley, quinoa, or buckwheat. You may find you've been missing some nutritious – and delicious – alternatives.
Still perplexed? Not sure what to do? Remember to check out the resources at www.healthmart.com or visit Greentree Pharmacy, a HealthMart Pharmacy located in Kirkwood, MO offers programs specific to people with diabetes. Greentree Pharmacy is located at 301 S. Kirkwood Rd., Kirkwood, MO 63122 and can be reached at (314) 394-2404 or online at www.greentree-rx.com.
Paul Hueseman, Pharm.D.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
- CDC: "2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet." Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/factsheet11.htm. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- CDC: "Prediabetes: Am I at risk?" Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes.htm. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- PubMed Health: "Diabetes." Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002194/. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- WebMD: "Diabetes Testing." Available at: http://diabetes.webmd.com/guide/diagnosing-type-2-diabetes. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: "Screening for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Adults." Available at: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsdiab.htm. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- NIH News: "NIH study finds interventions to prevent type 2 diabetes give good return on investment." Available at: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2012/niddk-22.htm. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- MedlinePlus: "Blueberries and apples tied to lower diabetes risk." Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_123054.html. Accessed March 27, 2012.
- MedlinePlus: "As White Rice Intake Rises, So May Your Risk for Diabetes." Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_123031.html. Accessed March 27, 2012.