Today the American Diabetes Association is promoting Diabetes Alert Day, which is a special day to sound the alarm about the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is when the body cannot use insulin properly, which causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal.  It is extremely common in today’s world. Around 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, roughly 1 out of every 11 adults, and 86 million have pre-diabetes, which is about 1 in 3 adults.

Unfortunately, many people don’t know they have it. Around 1 in 4 people are unaware that they have diabetes, and 9 out of 10 are unaware that they have pre-diabetes. With these statistics, it is important to get informed about diabetes, know your risk, and learn the steps to prevent it.

Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes?

Since type 2 diabetes can generally be prevented, there are certain risk factors that should be known. These include:

  • Unhealthy eating
  • Being overweight
  • Having a family history
  • Having diabetes while pregnant

Here is a handy tool you can use to calculate your personal risk.

What are the complications of type 2 diabetes?

A little extra sugar in your blood might not sound like such a bad thing, but it’s important to understand what’s going on inside your body. Out of control blood sugar levels put you at a higher risk of going blind, kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, and loss of toes, feet, or legs. The good news is that there are things you can do to manage your blood sugars, which in turn reduces your risk of complications from type 2 diabetes.

What can I do to prevent or manage diabetes?

There are several lifestyle changes that you can implement that both decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and reduce your risk of complications if you’ve been diagnosed.

One of the most important lifestyle changes is healthy eating. A healthy plate translates into a healthier body. It’s part of what you eat – the right balance of fresh produce, whole grains, nonfat dairy items, healthy fats, and lean meats – and how much you eat – not eating too much food and spacing out your meals evenly throughout the day. Skipping meals is never a part of a healthy diet. You can find more suggestions on how to eat healthy here.

Physical activity is another great way to prevent type 2 diabetes. Adding simple exercises to your everyday routine lowers your chances of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. A complete exercise routine includes daily activity, aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercise, but if this seems daunting, it’s okay to start small. A Health Advisor can help you set achievable goals and track your fitness to keep yourself motivated and on target.

Where do I start?

For more information on diabetes awareness and management, you can talk to your doctor, talk with your Health Advisor, and visit the American Diabetes Association.

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, you’re also eligible to get one-on-one support from a personal Health Advisor. Click here to become a member today.