November, the month we start ringing in the holidays. The weather gets a little chillier and there seems to be a bit of magic in the air with the festivities, shopping and of course Thanksgiving. Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? A day filled with family, friends and filling our bellies full of the best comfort foods. November is also National Diabetes Month. Diabetes affects nearly 10% of the US population and continues to rise. The CDC reports that 29 million Americans are living with the disease and 8 million of those people don’t even know they have it. Diabetes has become the seventh leading cause of death in the US.
With those alarming statistics, support and education are very important. Diabetes affects your health, but it also can affect your life insurance rates. Type 1 diabetes typically appears in your childhood and is an inherited condition. Type 2 accounts for 90% of all types of diabetes and is referred to as adult onset diabetes. For the majority, type 2 diabetes is preventable. How can it be prevented? You can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by making healthier lifestyle choices.
Let’s talk about ways you can reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Lose excess body weight
Those that maintain a healthy body weight or lose excess weight are at a lower risk at developing diabetes. Obesity is a contributing factor to many chronic illnesses including diabetes. According to a study at the Mayo Clinic, if you are overweight and lose even a modest amount of weight (7%) and exercise regularly you can reduce the risk of diabetes by almost 60%.
Move your body
Being sedentary raises the risk of diabetes. Regular exercise not only helps to maintain a healthy body weight, but it also lowers your blood sugar and helps your body’s ability to use insulin. If you aren’t currently incorporating exercise into your lifestyle, start by walking 30 minutes three days per week. Work your way up to 150 minutes of exercise weekly. Both aerobic and strength training can help to control diabetes, but you will see the greatest benefit when you are including both types of activity.
Stress can affect many areas of your life including your health. When you are feeling stress, your body tends to go enter a fight-or-flight response. This response raises hormones in your body which can alter your blood glucose levels causing an excess of glucose in the blood. Everyone copes with stress differently and the way that you cope can impact how much it affects your well-being. The American Diabetes Association offers tips on how to fight stress:
- Start a new hobby or learn a new craft
- Try relaxation techniques (breathing exercise, meditation, yoga)
- Start an exercise program or join a sports league
Choose your carbs wisely
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. One of the best choices you can make in your effort to reduce your risk for diabetes is to reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbs. White bread, white rice, soda, sugary candy, mashed potatoes, and many breakfast cereals carry a high glycemic index, which means they cause spikes in your blood sugar and insulin levels. Eating foods like these every day can lead to increased diabetes risk. However, complex carbohydrates have the opposite effect. A diet rich in whole grains like bran and fiber slow the digestive process making it harder to convert starches to glucose (aka sugar). Eating whole grains, or complex carbs at every meal keeps your blood sugar even throughout the day and reduces your risk for diabetes.
Eat the right fats
Not all fats are bad. In fact, some fats help to reduce inflammation in the body and can help reduce your body’s risk of insulin resistance. Healthy fats include polyunsaturated fats (found in liquid oils such as sunflower oil), nuts and seeds. Stay away from saturated fats and trans fats. These fats produce inflammation in the body which causes insulin resistance. You can find trans fats in margarine, fried foods, pastries, or anything that contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Keep up with regular doctor visits
Get a compete checkup at least once per year. Seeing your doctor regularly will keep you aware of your health situation. Health conditions can sneak up on you, but if you are proactive about healthcare, you can stay ahead of the game or address conditions when you need to.
As we noted earlier, diabetes not only impacts your health and lifestyle, but it can be more difficult for a diabetic to find life insurance coverage than someone who doesn’t have a health condition. At Quotacy, we understand the importance of protecting your family from a financial struggle in the event of premature death and will work to get you affordable life insurance coverage. We have years of experience getting clients coverage, including diabetics. For more information on life insurance for diabetics, read our Ask an Underwriter blog. Or, if you’re ready to see how much life insurance could cost, use our term life insurance quoting tool. It’s fast, it’s free and provides instant pricing options.