According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), 34 million Americans live with diabetes. Additionally, 88 million Americans have prediabetes, which leads to diabetes but can be reversible if caught in time.
These numbers show how common diabetes is. But did you know that certain habits can contribute to developing diabetes? You have the power to break these habits, take charge of your health, and slow down or entirely prevent a diabetes diagnosis.
Read on to learn more about these unhealthy habits.
Habits That Can Lead to Diabetes
Let’s take a look at the habits that are most often related to diabetes:
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the leading risk factors for diabetes. If you have high blood pressure, your heart has to work harder than usual, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and even death.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), most people with high blood pressure don’t experience symptoms, which is why hypertension is often called “the silent killer.”
The data shows that about one in three Americans has high blood pressure. Unfortunately, around 20% of people aren’t even aware they have it, which shows why regular checkups are essential for preventing and controlling it.
In addition to visiting your doctor regularly, here’s how you can prevent high blood pressure:
- Reduce salt intake.
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking and try not to expose yourself to second-hand smoke.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
Having a High BMI
Body mass index (BMI) is a value that uses your height and weight to calculate your body fat percentage. If your BMI is 30 or more, it’s within the obesity range.
Obesity is known to be a major risk factor for diabetes. If you’re obese, the cells in your body become less resistant to insulin, leading to diabetes. According to the CDC, 89% of people diagnosed with diabetes are overweight, proving a significant connection between the two.
Experts say weight control plays a vital part in diabetes prevention. Typically, it’s advisable for people with obesity to lose 5-10% of their total weight and be careful not to gain it back. To do this, they should:
- Eat healthy foods.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Eat less junk food and consume less sugary drinks.
- Be physically active
- Quit smoking.
Not Eating Healthy
Having an unhealthy diet is often related to a high BMI. But skinny people can also be at risk of developing diabetes, especially if they aren’t paying attention to what food they’re consuming.
A poor diet can cause many health conditions, so it’s essential to correct it as soon as possible.
- Processed meat
- White bread
Instead, base your diet on:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fiber- and protein-rich foods
Additionally, increase your water intake. Since water doesn’t contain any calories, it helps you lose weight and keeps your body hydrated.
According to the CDC, staying active can help you prevent or control diabetes. Exercising makes your body more sensitive to insulin, manages your blood sugar levels, and lowers your risk of developing heart disease.
Of course, being physically active has other benefits such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Feeling healthier, both mentally and physically
- Feeling happier
- Managing stress
- Improving your quality of sleep
The CDC recommends getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. That doesn’t mean you have to run marathons or lift weights in the gym. Moderate activities such as walking, jogging, riding a bike, or even mowing the lawn and doing housework are just as good.
According to the FDA, smokers are 30-40% more likely to develop diabetes than non-smokers. The chemicals from cigarettes damage our cells and jeopardize their ability to function. This can trigger inflammation and impact the effectiveness of insulin. Additionally, the chemicals from cigarettes can cause oxidative stress, which is also related to diabetes.
If you have diabetes, be aware that smoking makes regulating blood sugar levels much more difficult because it affects insulin in this way. As a result, smokers will need much more insulin than non-smokers.
Be Persistent in Battling Diabetes
Although diabetes is incurable, adjusting your lifestyle can make it much more manageable. Pay attention to your habits and modify them as necessary. Also, don’t forget to keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels. If you notice any symptoms that seem suspicious, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor.