Diabetes is a life-long disease that affects the way the body handles glucose sugar in your blood. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled. In addition, it is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States.

One in ten Americans have diabetes, and another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes, people do make insulin, but their cells don’t use it as well as they should. Doctors call this insulin resistance. The good news is that people who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk by more than half if they make healthy life changes.

The best way to reduce the chances of getting a type 2 diabetes

Your first line of defense against type 2 diabetes is lowering your weight, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise. Eating better, becoming more active, and losing extra pounds are some of the most important steps you can take.

Eating better

When you have diabetes, it’s important to avoid eating many processed snacks such as cookies, chips, cake, granola bars, and the like. Instead replace them with fresh, whole foods, like fiber-rich fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Eating foods high in fiber can help keep blood sugar levels steady while filling you up to promote weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity.

More exercise

Exercise makes it easier to control diabetes. Exercise can reduce glucose in the blood. Muscles can use glucose without insulin when you’re exercising. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re insulin resistant or if you don’t have enough insulin: when you exercise, your muscles get the glucose they need, and in turn, your blood glucose level goes down. If you’re insulin resistant, exercise actually makes your insulin more effective. Your insulin resistance goes down when you exercise, and your cells can use the glucose more effectively.

Weight management

Sticking with an exercise plan will help you achieve the weight loss goal. Make a commitment to exercise and make it a priority. Your long-term health depends on it. It may be hard to find the time or to motivate yourself but keep at it. It will help you lose weight, and it will make your body more efficient at using insulin and glucose appropriately.

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