About 29.1 million Americans have diabetes – and one in four people don’t know they have it. Are you at risk? Your Keck Medicine of USC physician can help you assess and reduce your personal risk factors.
Diabetes has two variants: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is primarily genetic – if someone in your family has Type 1 Diabetes, you are 15 times more likely to develop it.
Type 2 diabetes is linked to lifestyle factors. Your risk of Type 2 diabetes increases if you:
- Are overweight or obese
- Have high blood pressure, measuring 140/90 or greater
- Live a sedentary lifestyle, exercising fewer than three times per week
- Have abnormal cholesterol, with HDL (“good”) cholesterol below 35 or triglycerides higher than 250
- Developed gestational diabetes during pregnancy
- Are 40 years or older, or of African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander or Hispanic/Latino heritage
While you can’t replace your genes, you can take steps to minimize your risk. About 90 percent of diabetes cases can be prevented by keeping your weight in check, staying active, exercising and not smoking. Your physician will recommend that you:
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Get more physical activity
Just 30 minutes of exercise, five days every week reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Even a daily brisk walk can cut your risk by 30 percent.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables, with fewer processed and sugary foods, can help you lose weight and reduce your diabetes risk. Choose whole grains instead of highly processed “white” foods like white bread, white rice, breakfast cereals, mashed potatoes or bagels. Cut sugary drinks, especially soda and fruit drinks.
Smokers are about 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes, and diabetics who smoke can have more serious complications.