For some of us, losing weight and eating healthy is all about looking good. We want to fit into our favorite jeans, tighten up the belly and be happy with what we see in the mirror. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy concern for looks. However, we have to remember that looking good is not the only benefit of a healthy diet. Carrying too much weight has implications that go WAY beyond not looking good. Besides its effect on appearance, being overweight can have serious complications on our body, specifically type 2 diabetes.
Over the past decade, the number of Americans with diabetes has increased to nearly 17 million, and unfortunately it shows no signs of slowing down. It’s no coincidence that there has also been a rise in obesity rates. That’s not to say obesity is the root cause of diabetes, but it is a huge contributing factor. It’s a complicated disease, but what isn’t complicated is the fact that those who are overweight and inactive have a significantly higher chance of getting diabetes than those who exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Think of diabetes like a monster we slowly build inside of bodies that, if unchecked, will eventually get loose and wreck havoc.
We create this monster slowly and steadily each day through unhealthy eating habits and little to no exercise. If unhealthy eating habits aren’t corrected, then it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a proper blood sugar level. Our body uses insulin to let cells know that there is glucose – a fancy word for sugar – coming into the blood stream and that they should get ready to process it.
When our bodies are filled with fatty cells, two things happen. First, fat cells send out a hormone that causes cells to resist the insulin signals. Then, our body increases the amount of insulin to counteract the resistance of the cells. Over time, the insulin starts to lose the battle of maintaining proper blood sugar levels until our body succumbs to type 2 diabetes. Again, obesity is not the only factor in developing diabetes, but there is a strong correlation. That said, once insulin stops being effective, the monster is set free and we can’t do anything to put it back in its cage. At this point, the only option is to control our blood sugar levels manually or suffer the consequences. Uncontrolled sugar levels in the blood cause eye, kidney, nerve, and blood vessel damage. Blindness, loss of feeling in the extremities and tightening of the blood vessels are just a few of the consequences of unchecked diabetes.
Luckily for us, the ways we can manage our diabetes or avoid it altogether. Since being overweight and inactive are contributing causes of diabetes, what we need to do is get off the couch, put down the triple chili cheeseburger and do something ACTIVE. Something as simple as walking twenty minutes a day has been shown to decrease or halt weight gain and lower the chances of developing diabetes. Imagine how much healthier we would be if we worked up a sweat.
While exercise is important, the foods we eat play the largest role in our health. We are intelligent people. We KNOW when we are eating something healthy and when we are eating unnecessary fats, salts, sugars, preservatives and toxins. The problem is we don’t do enough to prevent ourselves from overeating unhealthy foods. Simple things like getting a side salad instead of french fries, ordering grilled chicken instead of fried and limiting our portion sizes go a long way towards a healthier body. If we work hard at eating right, we can lose weight, feel better and avoid diabetes altogether.
It’s easy to add parts to the diabetes monster inside us, but it’s not as simple to take them away. We have to be diligent everyday to take care of our bodies by being careful about the foods we eat and how much we exercise. The biology of diabetes may be complicated, but the battle to control or prevent it is not. We KNOW what to do! We just need to have the discipline to follow through everyday because if we don’t, one day that monster will be set loose. Our choice is simple – we can work now towards a healthier lifestyle to prevent diabetes from affecting us, or we can wait until diabetes makes the decision for us.
Find out more about health effects of diabetes and how to prevent it:
• Frequently Asked Questions on diabetes
from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health
• National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) – Diabetes Overview
today to support your body while dieting.