You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a trending epidemic with about one out of every 11 people in the United States diagnosed with diabetes. But let’s focus on our own state - Did you know that nearly one in every four seniors in Oklahoma has been diagnosed with diabetes? This ranks Oklahoma ninth for percentage of adults with diabetes in the nation.
Two very big contributing factors to diabetes are obesity and inactivity. Oklahoma ranks sixth in the U.S. for the percentage of adults who are obese and ranks eighth for the percentage of adults that lack physical activity. These are all numbers to think about because people with diabetes are at higher risk of serious health complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and the loss of toes, feet or legs. Sadly, in 2010 diabetes was the sixth leading cause of death in Oklahoma.
Now that you have the facts, let’s talk about simple steps you can take to help prevent diabetes. Here are four things you can do year-round to help reduce your risk of developing diabetes:
1. Eat five to nine- servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Make your plate colorful! Each lunch and dinner plate should have at least three different, bold colors on it. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are best. Look for produce that is in season for the lowest cost and be sure to try out local farmers markets for the best flavor!
2. Eat three servings of whole grains daily. The darker the grain, the better it is for you. Look for 100 percent whole wheat/whole grain in bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal and cereal. Whole grains are very heart healthy and also help with satiety, which means they will keep you feeling full longer.
3. Get 30-60 minutes of physical activity five times per week. Move more! This doesn’t always have to include a trip to the gym or running on the treadmill. Do what you enjoy and just get moving. Ideas include taking a walk or a hiking with your best friend or dog, or at work finding the stairs or a bathroom that is further from your desk. While out and about save your car from dents or dings in the parking lot and find that very last space making you walk a bit further in the process. Any movement is good movement! Work your way up to the 30-60 minutes if you’re not quite there yet.
4. If you are overweight, work towards losing 5-10 percent of your body weight. If you start doing steps one through three, then step four will probably happen organically. Successful weight loss comes from eating less and moving more. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and whole grains fill us up, helping us eat fewer calories. Opt for cooking at home instead of eating out and always get at least 64 oz. of water each day. And of course, don’t forget to move!
With Defeat Diabetes Month being in April, now is the perfect time for Oklahomans to start making healthy changes. The weather is improving and the fruits and vegetables are growing!
For more information on diabetes or to visit with a Certified Diabetes Educator, contact the Hillcrest Center for Diabetes Management by calling 918-579-3385.