The number of seniors diagnosed with diabetes has reached epidemic proportions. The American Diabetes Association estimates that 11.8 million individuals over age 65 have some form of diabetes, whether it is Type 1 or Type 2. That accounts for almost 25 percent of the population of people in the United States over age 65.
Just because this disease has reached an epidemic level doesn’t mean you have to accept that someday you will get it, too. There are a number of steps you can take to help decrease your chances of receiving a diabetes diagnosis.
Try to Increase Your Daily Amount of Exercise
Aches and pains, health problems and busy schedules often result in people starting to slow down as they age. Unfortunately, this is the worst thing you can do if you are trying to prevent diabetes.
Exercise reduces your risk of diabetes by not only lowering blood sugar levels, but by helping you lose weight. Both high blood sugar levels and being overweight has been proven to increase an individual’s risk of developing diabetes.
Many seniors are unsure of where to start when it comes to increasing exercise, especially if there has been a decrease in mobility. Luckily, there are a number of ways seniors can get their daily amount of exercise without having to run a marathon or lift weights at the gym.
Some exercise recommendations include:
- Walking at a moderate to brisk pace
- Seated or chair aerobics
- Lightweight strength-building exercise
It is recommended that seniors try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day, but it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Exercise routines can be broken up into 5-minute or 10-minute increments. This makes exercise goals easier to reach, as it seems less intimidating.
Start Making Healthy Choices when it Comes to the Food You Eat
The food and drinks you consume on a daily basis dramatically increase or decrease your risk of diabetes. If you wish to reduce the risk of developing this disease, it is important to start making healthy food choices.
Some healthy food choice recommendations for seniors include:
- Try to eliminate or reduce your intake of foods that are high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
- Reduce the amount of juices and sodas you drink and replace them with water.
- Watch the amount of carbs that are consumed every meal, as carbs can increase blood sugar levels.
- Reduce portion sizes.
- Consider eating several small meals throughout the day, as opposed to two or three big meals.
- Choose healthier snacks, such as nuts, fruits and vegetables.
Making dietary changes can be difficult, which is why there is help available. Many nutritionists offer group classes or individual sessions that focus on making healthy lifestyle choices that can help reduce your risk for diabetes.
Maintain a Healthy Weight or Work to Lose Weight
Excessive weight gain can increase your risk for diabetes because the body is unable to produce the natural insulin needed to break down glucose. It is important to either maintain your weight, if you are at a healthy weight, or lose weight if you wish to prevent Type 2 diabetes.
If you are overweight, losing anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds could dramatically decrease your risk for diabetes. The amount of weight you will need to lose will vary depending upon your unique situation. Speak with your doctor or health care provider to determine how much weight, if any, should be lost. He or she may be able to provide you with recommendations on how you can lose weight.
While following these recommendations may lessen your chances of getting diabetes, it may not completely stop it from happening. Some factors — such as other health problems, genetics and race — increase the possibility of diabetes. Unfortunately, these factors are uncontrollable and/or cannot be changed.
Even though there are some risk factors of diabetes that cannot be controlled, you can still dramatically minimize your risk of getting this disease by incorporating some, if not all, of these recommendations into your daily life.
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