Facts About Diabetes

Take a look at the typical American diet, and you'll discover that people eat a lot of junk food. In fact, the average adult consumes 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream, and 11 pounds of chocolate, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. That's a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates that your body rapidly turns to glucose after you eat this stuff. It's one of the primary reasons nearly 70 percent of all adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And it's also a key factor in the rise of diabetes in America.

About 26 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes. And another  79 million are at risk for diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. When you consume large amounts of foods loaded with sugar or foods made from refined grains like white rice, sugary cereal, and white bread and pasta, these foods are rapidly converted to glucose in your blood. Your pancreas responds to high levels of glucose by pumping out more and more insulin to regulate glucose levels. But over time, your pancreas may stop producing insulin or be unable to produce enough insulin to regulate glucose properly.

When this happens, diabetes is the result. It's a chronic disease measured by elevated levels of glucose with a simple blood test. And it's a condition that can lead to poor circulation and amputation, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and even death. Diabetes is among the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it's frequently the cause of disability. Yet type 2 diabetes is largely preventable by following a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

If you don't have diabetes, do everything you can to prevent it. Eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, lean meats, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy or soy products. And avoid or limit sugar-sweetened beverages and complex carbohydrates. If you need help planning healthy meals, check out MagicKitchen.com's diabetic-friendly meals where you can find a large selection of pre-made meals created specifically to help you watch what you eat. You can also  prevent or control diabetes, by getting 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day and maintaining a healthy weight. And even if you already have diabetes, following a healthy diet, controlling your weight, and exercising can help prevent many of the complications associated with this disease.

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