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Posted Jan 29 2010 12:00am

            Type 2 diabetes is also referred to as adult onset diabetes.  Unfortunately, it is striking people at younger ages, and the rates are on the rise as the population grows heavier and gets less physical exercise.  Keeping a watch on your weight and being physically active can help prevent most cases of the disease.  If one chooses a diet rich in whole grains and healthy fats, it will add even more protection.  Adult onset diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the US; it’s a disappointing figure, but 90% of these diabetics can cure their disease with maintaining ideal weight and practicing healthy living and eating habits. 

             Type 2 diabetes is the most common from and is responsible for 90 – 95% of the 21 million people afflicted with the disease.  People over forty are at higher risk of the condition, as are people with a large waist or family history of the disease.  This type of diabetes is also the form linked to poor exercise and diet.  The number of obese people will increase in the coming decades, putting people at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer.  Finally, this form of diabetes can be undetected for a decade or longer and many already have complications by the time it is diagnosed.  These complications include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation. 

            In general, diabetes is a disorder of the body’s sugar-regulation abilities.  Most of the time it goes undiagnosed because the symptoms are not very clear.  The symptoms that are clear (but not in all cases) include frequent urination, constant thirstiness, weight loss, a feeling of tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, which heightens at night.  Further, blurred vision is not uncommon and some patients experience pain in the legs while walking and a constant itchy feeling.  Early on, still others will find increased hunger, tiredness, recurrent yeast infections and slow healing wounds. 

            There are five simple steps to prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Put exercise first.  Regular exercise by itself can cut diabetes risk.  It also helps keep weight in check which adds even more benefit.
  • Try to keep weight in check.  Being a healthy weight is the best thing you can do to lower your risk of diabetes.  Need to lose weight?  Getting active and eating smaller portions s-l-o-w-l-y are your best bets.
  • Choose healthy fats.  Sure, they’ve got long names, but a diet rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats can help lower you risk for diabetes and heart disease.  Canola oil and olive oil are great choices, as are the fats in avocados, nuts and seeds.
  • Focus on plant foods.  A diet high in whole grains can help lower the risk of diabetes and keep appetite in check.  Choose a good variety of whole grain foods prepared in interesting ways, such as Mollie Katzen’s recipe for couscous-quinoa tabouli.
  • Cut back on refined carbs and sugary drinks.  White bread, white rice, white pasta and potatoes cause fast and furious increases in blood sugar, as do sugary soft drinks, fruit punch, and fruit juice.  Over time, eating lots of these refined carbohydrates and sugar may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.  To lower your risk – switch to whole grains and skip the sugar. 

            It is of utmost importance that you minimize your risk of this complicated disease.  Type 2 diabetes is on the rise because of the weight issue and lack of exercise.  Pay particular attention to the signs and symptoms that can be displayed with the disease and be sure to follow the 5 simple tips listed above.  Bottom line, keeping weight in check, being active and eating a healthy diet can prevent most cases of type 2 diabetes.


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