You’re young, hip and relatively healthy (save for holiday, birthday, wedding and Friday snacking, you know when to put the spoon, fork or bowl down), right? And, with a good amount of searching, you’ll find a gym card in your wallet somewhere.
Well, we hate to break it to you, but having a gym membership and a l’aissez faire attitude doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t get diabetes.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, more than nine million Canadians are currently living with diabetes or pre-diabetes (when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be considered diabetes), and a whopping 20 new people are diagnosed every hour.
What does that mean exactly? Simply, if you are diagnosed with the disease, your pancreas is either not producing enough insulin (Type 1) or, more commonly, your body cannot properly use the insulin the pancreas produces (Type 2, or adult onset diabetes). A third type of diabetes, gestational diabetes, can occur during pregnancy.
We need insulin to break down glucose, or sugar, in our blood and convert it to energy. Without insulin, glucose just builds up and could lead to a whole whack of other problems, like chronic kidney disease, heart attack and stroke, among others.
So, how do we help ensure that we’re not at risk? Some factors, such as genetics and race are beyond our control. Others, like smoking, obesity, poor diet and consuming artificial sweeteners are things we already know are factors to consider. The good news is, there are several surprising things you can do to increase your chances of a diabetes-free life. Behold, the mistakes you could be making:
Avoiding your doctor?
Getting to your yearly physical is a big one. Not only does your doc check your blood pressure (high blood pressure puts you at greater risk), but he or she will also order blood work — an easy and potentially early way to detect whether the blood glucose levels in your body are off.
Not drinking coffee
If you don’t sip on java to begin with, this doesn’t mean you have to start, but according to a study at the Harvard School of Public Research, people who increased their daily coffee consumption by a cup had an 11 per cent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Before you go ordering extra large double doubles in jubilation, be warned: a cup here means your standard eight ounces.
Speaking of coffee, a solo cup in the morning is not breakfast. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who tend to skip breakfast (raise your hand if you’re one of them) could also have a 20 per cent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. So, do yourself a favour and eat that “most important meal of the day.” Start your morning right with a warm bowl of oatmeal, or wake up early and have some eggs and toast.
Not getting enough shuteye
Sure, we all know that looking like a zombie isn’t the most fun during crazed workweeks, but it could be wreaking havoc on your health, too. People who clock less than five hours per night are at a higher risk of developing the disease than those whose sleeping habits involved seven or eight hours per night. However, you also don’t want to be in the position where you’re…
Getting too much sleep
Proud that you got a full nine hours of sleep last night? Sure, your body may need it once in a while, but don’t make it a habit. The same study from above indicated that clocking nine or more hours per night could also be putting you at risk.
Stress is bad for our bodies, period. Chronic stress has been linked to skyrocketing blood sugar levels. So, the next time you decide to take on that extra project or agree to help a friend when you really have no time, sit back and think about the potential long-term effects. Having a particularly rough week or going through a stress-inducing personal situation? Try meditation, yoga or even a hot bath at the end of the day. Even sex has proven to relieve stress, so, do that.
Eating fast food
Who doesn’t love the drive-through? It’s quick, convenient and super easy—especially when you’re on the go. While it’s fine to indulge once in a while, a study at the University of Minnesota found that people who consumed fast food more than twice a week doubled their rate of insulin resistance and (surprise!) gained more weight. Add them together and you have two of the leading factors that can put you at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Eating too much red meat
Fancy yourself a steak-and-potatoes kind of girl? Love yourself a good, juicy burger every now and then? Then enjoy it. Just don’t enjoy it more than once a week. According to a study at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, women who consumed red meat five times per week had a 29 per cent higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Piling on the bacon
Believe us, we get it: everything tastes better with bacon. But as we all know, that doesn’t make it better for us. In the same study noted above, women who ate processed meats five times per week had a 43 per cent greater chance of developing diabetes than those who indulged just once per week. The bottom line? Maybe you should just stick to bacon at Sunday brunch.
Using vinegar just to clean
Do you ever stare blindly at the malt vinegar on the table beside your fries, or wonder who buys it for anything other than cleaning the floors or eating fish and chips? Turns out there are some health benefits to downing a couple tablespoons of the stuff, especially if you’re about to indulge in a carb-heavy meal like pasta, according to a study at the Arizona State University. This is because the vinegar can help to activate certain starch-digesting enzymes, which slow carbohydrate digestion and therefore help lower blood sugar levels.
This one is a little more dicey, but according to Diabetes Care, women who live alone are more likely to develop diabetes. Why is that dicey? Because the thought is that women who live alone are more likely to develop bad habits like smoking, drinking too much booze or eating poorly.