Diabetes is one of the top ten causes of death in America, according to the CDC, right under Alzheimer's disease and right above kidney inflammation—and if you think you're not at risk, consider your everyday habits. Do you start each lunch break with a soda in hand? Have you been on the couch a lot this pandemic year? Read on to see what everyday habits put you at risk for diabetes, from the doctors who know—Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.
Don't Drink High-Fructose Beverages
"Consuming foods and drinks (especially sodas) with high fructose corn syrup," is bad habit #1, says Dr. Deena Adimoolam, a Yale-trained endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes, food as medicine and metabolic health. "We know that high fructose corn syrup leads to worsening insulin resistance (and as a result higher blood sugars) which can fuel the development of Type 2 diabetes."
The Rx: "Read nutrition labels and choose foods/beverages without added sugars like high fructose corn syrup or better yet.. drink water!" she says. "Giving up a can of Coke at lunch and dinner can lead to tremendous health benefits, including preventing sugar overload, obesity, and diabetes," says Dr. Leo Nissola, an immunotherapy scientist and immunology researcher. "Remember that when eating, your body is looking for nutrients more than anything else. Avoid sodas, and drink sparkling water instead."
Beware of "Extra Sugar"
Added sugars can be hidden in everything from spaghetti sauce to many popular bread brands. Even "healthy" fruit juice can have added sugar; even juice without sugar is just…sugar. "It's important to the general population to understand that fruit juices are not harmless," says Dr. Nissola. "Commonly, juices offered at food venues are canned, have exorbitant levels of sugar, and are packed with preservatives."
The Rx: "Stay away from extra sugar," says Dr. Nissola. And eat your fruits, don't drink them.
Be Careful of a Lack of Activity
"Some amount of physical activity everyday may help lower one's blood sugars and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes," says Dr. Adimoolam. "Daily activity may even help with weight loss and improving your heart's health."
The Rx: "Any physical activity is important whether it's a casual stroll or run," she says.
You've Got to Destress
"Stress has many impacts on our body," says Dr. Adimoolam. "Chronic stress for months can lead to insulin resistance leading to higher blood sugars which may lead to type 2 diabetes."
The Rx: "Focus on stress reduction via meditation or exercise or music or doing an activity you enjoy!" she says.
If You Are Obsese, Please Get Down to a Normal Weight
"You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are not physically active and are overweight or obese," says the NIH. "Extra weight sometimes causes insulin resistance and is common in people with type 2 diabetes. The location of body fat also makes a difference. Extra belly fat is linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart and blood vessel disease."
The Rx: "To see if your weight puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes, check out these Body Mass Index (BMI) charts."
There May Be Some Factors Outside of Your Control
Genes, genetic mutations, medicines and other factors can all play a part in developing diabetes. "Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system, the body's system for fighting infection, attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas," says the NIH. "Scientists think type 1 diabetes is caused by genes and environmental factors, such as viruses, that might trigger the disease." Meanwhile, "Type 2 diabetes—the most common form of diabetes—is caused by several factors, including lifestyle factors and genes." Talk to a medical professional if you feel you're at risk, and to protect your health further, don't miss these Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.