I have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes but have been told I am at risk. What does that mean? And what can I do about it?
First, I need to distinguish between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, there are no clear risk factors, not even genetics other than possibly auto immune diseases. For example, no one in my family and I mean way back has had diabetes, but my brother was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and my sister with thyroid disease, both of which are also auto immune diseases. Type 2 diabetes is a different story. If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, and are overweight, your time is coming. African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are also at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes later in life as well.It is very wise for you to consider what can be done to prevent the diagnosis of diabetes if you fall into the above categories. It is estimated that when someone is diagnosed with diabetes they may have actually had it for at least 5 years and complications may have already started. There are not a lot of signs and symptoms of pre diabetes that grab your attention. The typical signs/symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst, frequent urination and increased fatigue. But often people don’t pay much attention because they can usually attribute these symptoms to something else. Like “I am so tired” because of working hard, being stressed and overloaded…who hasn’t been there? “I am thirsty” because I ate Chinese food and I have to pee more because I was thirsty and drank more water. So you see it can be hard to see these symptoms as the beginnings of diabetes. It’s just lifeSince there’s nothing you can do about your genes, or your ethnicity, so what can you do? First if you are overweight, lose it! Get good nutritional counseling for a safe and healthy way to decrease your caloric intake. Record your food intake for a week. Evaluate this record and see where you could cut back and make low fat, whole grain choices. Second, get moving!! As I discussed a week or 2 ago, increasing your activity has a multitude of benefits including improving how your body uses its insulin, improving cardiovascular fitness, decreasing stress, improving sleep and aiding in weight loss. Remember if calories going in are greater than the calories burned you will gain weight so change that equation. Burn more calories by moving more! The American Diabetes Association has a risk test to take so that you can evaluate your risks for yourself. They also have a lot of good information on their site about what to do about your risks. To take their risk test for yourself go to: http://www.diabetes.org/risk-test.jsp. For more general information about diabetes visit: www.diabetes.org.