Spring Cleaning: Defeat Diabetes

Spring has sprung and it's the time of year where everyone jumps on to the spring cleaning bandwagon. Deep clean the house? Check. Organize the closet? Check. Shred old bills? Check.

Well, how about spring cleaning for your health? April is Defeat Diabetes Month and with nearly 29 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes and another staggering 89 million diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it's important to understand what it is and the steps you can take to prevent it.

According to the National of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn't make enough-or any-insulin or doesn't use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn't reach your cells."

Type 1 diabetes is the pancreas' inability to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterized the insulin resistance, where the cells fail to respond to insulin. The vast majority of cases are Type 2 diabetes, and the good news is that it is largely preventable.

Diabetes has been linked to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, loss of vision, and amputation of extremities.

While there is no cure for diabetes, there are several things that you can do to prevent or manage the disease:

  • Lose weight. Having excess body fat can be a huge risk factor for diabetes.  For every 2 pounds lost, your risk is reduced by 16%.
  • Eat a low calorie diet with lots of fruits and veggies. Also try to avoid trans fats (a.k.a. hydrogenated fat), saturated fat, and sugar.
  • Drink water. Studies have shown that beverages high in sugar increase risk for both obesity and diabetes.
  • Get active. Being physically inactive increases your risk for diabetes. Exercise will increase your cells receptivity to insulin. Start simple: a brisk walk will do the trick.
  • Reduce stress. High levels of stress increase the production of hormones that can raise sugar in the blood. Try meditation, seeking out social support, and physical activity to reduce stress levels.
  • Sleep well. Getting a quality 8 hours of sleep every night can greatly reduce your risk. Try getting on a schedule and blocking out all lights and noise.
  • Have your spine checked regularly. Nerve interference from the spine can directly affect the function of both your pancreas and liver, thus resulting in improper insulin production.

So, while you're cleaning out your house this spring, make a few changes to clean up your health habits for a better sense of well-being.