Lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes

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Do you have further questions about diabetes prevention or treatment? (Photo provided by Intermountain Healthcare)

One in three adults – about 84 million Americans – have prediabetes. This means an individual might be on the path to type 2 diabetes, a condition where a person's body can't control the level of sugar in their blood.

"Diabetes is very common," said Elizabeth Joy, MD, medical director for Intermountain Healthcare's Office of Health Promotion and Wellness. "Diabetes can feel like a foregone conclusion to some, but it doesn't have to be. If you know your risk and work to make lifestyle changes, you can postpone or even eliminate onset of disease."

Dr. Joy suggests everyone should go to the online screening tool "It will run you through a few questions about your health and lifestyle. If you score five or higher, you are at greater risk and should see your primary care provider to develop a prevention plan."

Dr. Joy said lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on your risk. Losing only five percent of your body weight can decrease your risk of diabetes by about 60 percent, and a 10 percent weight loss can reduce your risk by 85 percent.

Diabetes can increase an individual's risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. "You also have increased risk for non-healing foot ulcers and foot nerve damage as well as increased risk of cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye problems," said Dr. Joy. "We're talking about not only lifespan issues, but more importantly 'healthspan' or quality of life. And the more control over your blood sugar and avoidance of diabetes, the better your outcomes."

Dr. Joy suggests increased physical activity to help lower risk. "They say sitting is the new smoking," she said. "Regular physical activity is incredibly important. Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity, like a brisk walk."

"Most people can also benefit from adopting a Mediterranean style diet. Lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, less processed foods, and avoiding sugary drinks all can go a long way. Genetics may load the gun for your risk of diabetes, but your environment pulls the trigger," she said.

Do you have further questions about diabetes prevention or treatment? Tune in to hear from Intermountain Healthcare experts on Tuesday, June 11th as they discuss diabetes, provide tips, and offer suggestions on KUTV and Intermountain Healthcare's Ask the Expert. Nurses, doctors, and other medical experts will provide interviews during the news and other broadcasts throughout the day. If you have your own questions, experts will be answering your phone calls from noon to 5:30 p.m. at 1-877-908-0680. You can also submit questions via Facebook and Twitter using #kutvasktheexpert.

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