Don't ignore the diet.
America's waist is bigger than it's ever been, at least according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says that nearly 40 percent of American adults and almost 20 percent of adolescents are considered obese. That's the highest figure ever recorded, and it has public health experts scrambling to spread messages about lifestyle changes and prevention. Not only is obesity the largest contributor to heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases, but it's responsible for all-time highs in type 2 diabetes. Currently, the disease affects about 29 million American adults, and accounts for approximately $245 billion in medical costs and lost productivity annually. In fact, the CDC says that if the trend continues, one in three Americans could have diabetes by 2050. So with that said, there are ways to prevent becoming part of that statistic -- and if you already are
, it's still worthwhile to make lifestyle changes.
Where to begin? Let's start with the seemingly obvious: stop smoking. While smoking is bad for anyone, it's especially bad for people who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Not only does it increase the risk of complications with your heart, kidneys, and lungs, but it can actually make your body more resistant to insulin. Nicotine also constricts your blood vessels, which means that if you already have poor blood flow to certain areas of the body, smoking could make the constriction even worse, leading to infection and possible amputation.
Next, start to exercise more. One of the main contributors to obesity is the sedentary lifestyle that many Americans choose to live. The Mayo Clinic says you should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day (more if you're trying to lose weight), and if it helps you get away from your electronic devices, you could see a boost in your mental health, too.
Then, couple that with a Mediterranean-style diet -- or a diet that's naturally rich in nutrients, low in fat, and that focuses on vegetables and whole grains. When you go for foods high in fat and calories, your body responds by creating a rise in your blood glucose level. Sure, you may have access to insulin, but regular bingeing makes managing glucose levels difficult, and over time could cause nerve, kidney, and heart damage.
Lastly, get more sleep. Despite increases in physical activity among Americans, obesity continues to rise. Some experts say that beyond eating highly processed, high fat foods, sleep deprivation may also be a major contributor. Study after study shows that chemical imbalances related to sleep deprivation can lead to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, weight gain, and issues with insulin production. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is seven to nine hours per night.
What are your thoughts, people? Have you made any lifestyle changes, and has it helped you? If so, let us know in the comments below!