"I want people to care about their blood sugar as much as they do about their retirement accounts. Your health is your greatest wealth." -- Dr. Sara Gottfried
Recently I reposted this quote by Dr. Sara Gottfried on Instagram. I mean come on...that's exactly how I feel. Teaching clients to balance their blood sugar is one of my passions. I'm all about empowering my clients to be proactive with their health.
The CDC's latest estimates say 84.1 million American adults (1 in 3) have prediabetes and another 30.3 million people have diabetes.
With numbers like this, understanding your risk for developing diabetes is more important now than ever.
Factors that increase your risk of developing diabetes are:
Age - Being over 45
Sex - Females develop diabetes 50% more often
Ethnicity - African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders are at greater risk
Weight/Visceral Weight - Being overweight or having excess weight around the middle
PCOS - Women diagnosed with PCOS are twice as likely to develop diabetes
Gestational Diabetes - About 50% of women with gestational diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 5-10 years
Hypertension - High blood pressure increases risk
Cholesterol - HDL < 35 or Triglycerides >250
Lack of Exercise - Being inactive increases risk
Genetics - Parents or siblings with type 2 diabetes
Sleep Issues - People with sleep apnea are twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes
Understanding Your Risk Factors
Knowing how many risk factors you have is helpful because you can take action before you ever receive the diagnosis of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
When someone is diagnosed with prediabetes they typically fall into one of two camps. Some people ignore this early warning sign and go about their business because it's "just prediabetes". Others feel like the progression to type 2 is inevitable based on their family history and there is nothing they can do about it.
We now know that your genetics are only part of the equation. Your environment also plays a big role. Diet, lifestyle factors, and toxins are all part of the environment. It's important to know your risk factors, but also know they are not a diagnosis.
If you or someone you know is in the first camp, I urge you to take action. Don't ignore the blessing in disguise of the prediabetes diagnosis.
What Action Should I Take?
You obviously can't change some of the risk factors on this list like genetics, ethnicity, or a previous diagnosis. However, there are many factors listed above that you can control. Start here.
I always recommend starting with one small thing that resonates with you. Once that is locked into your routine or has become habit, then move on to the next.
If you have a higher risk for developing type 2, make sure your doctor is checking your fasting blood glucose and/or hemoglobin A1c during your annual blood work.
Even if you're in the clear now, it'll be important to monitor them from year to year to see if they are gradually increasing.
When it comes to your health you should never expect your doctor to steer the ship. You know your body best and know when something is "off" or doesn't feel right. You don't have to be a doctor to educate yourself.
Take the wheel. Understanding your risk factors for diabetes is just one way to do that, but it's an important one.
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