Diabetes is a disease that tends to be forgotten and even unknown among a lot of people. Unfortunately, it sneaks up on people easily, and can be a pain to deal with. I interviewed my wonderful mother, Dr. Beatriz DeMoranville, who is an endocrinologist with extensive knowledge on diabetes. She informed me of the 6 most important things to do to avoid type II diabetes

1. Recognize Risk Factors

If you don't know much about diabetes, it's not as complicated as it seems. Basically, your body functions from a stable level of glucose (blood sugar). If your blood sugar levels get too high, insulin is released from the pancreas to regulate the glucose and bring it back down to a stable level. Those who have diabetes can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin that their body makes. I highly suggest doing more research, but here are some things to be aware of, now that you have an idea of what diabetes is: 

Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome 

As I described, if you are insulin resistant, your body doesn't respond normally to insulin. Over 80 million people in America are resistant, so there is no need to be insecure or afraid. However, if you don't take care of your insulin resistance, it will lead to type II diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 90% of people who are insulin resistant don't know they have it, so one way to know if you may be insulin resistant is your body shape. 

"Apple" Shape Bodies

If your body tends to hold or gain weight in the torso and upper body, you are at a higher risk of getting diabetes than those with "Pear" shapes bodies. This doesn't mean you're automatically going to get diabetes, but it does mean you have to be careful. Insulin resistance makes your body deposit fat into the trunk of the body rather than the arms or legs.

2. Know Your Genetic Background 

Once you recognize the risk factors, you need to know whether or not your genes put you at a higher risk than others. Ask your mom or dad about your family's medical history. Those who are at a higher risk for diabetes most likely have a predisposition within their family. Get to know your genes, and get to know the body you live in. The more you know, the better off you'll be.

3. Avoid Processed Foods

This may be common knowledge, but it's definitely easier said than done. Especially when it comes to diabetes, processed foods are a big no. Starches and sugars in particular require insulin to process, which promotes weight gain and increases insulin resistance. Try to avoid sodas, fried foods, and any other foods that aren't made with real, natural ingredients. Yes, cheat days are acceptable, but avoid making it a habit. There are many healthy alternatives to your favorite junk foods, and its never too late to clean up your diet. 

4. Eat Healthy 

Eating healthy doesn't simply mean avoiding processed foods, it means having a consistent nutritious diet. Dr. DeMoranville recommends the Mediterranean Diet to a lot of her patients struggling with their weight. It's nothing complicated, it just encourages you to incorporate vegetables and protein into your diet. Another popular one is the Rainbow Diet, which says that your meals should include foods that are different colors of the rainbow. The prettier the food, the better! 

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight means having healthier blood sugar levels and glucose production. The best and easiest way to keep track of your weight is by calculating your Body Mass Index.  It will ask you for your height and weight, which will calculate whether you're underweight, normal weight, or overweight. There are other ways to keep track of your health, but this is definitely a good baseline to start with. 

6. Try to Exercise Regularly

tea, coffee, kettle
Lisa DeMoranville

Yes, life can be overwhelming. It can be hard to find free time in your busy life, but Dr. DeMoranville suggests exercising for at least 30 minutes every day for 5 days a week. Being active and using your muscles regularly promotes healthy insulin and glucose levels, putting you at a lower risk for developing diabetes. This doesn't mean go on a 30-minute run every day, just take a break from your cubicle at work or your study room in the library and get your blood flowing. Do this and you'll avoid a lot of health problems in the future.

As I said, I encourage you to do some more research on diabetes. It's a lot more common than most people think, and has become more common in the younger generation due to growing obesity rates. The earlier you know the predispositions and prevention tactics, the healthier you will be in the future. Trust me, mother's always know best.