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Behavior and lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing Diabetes.

As the obesity rates continue to climb we are faced with increasing numbers of Americans developing type 2 diabetes. Elderly, middle aged, right on down to our children are developing this disease at alarmingly high rates. According to the Center for Disease Control (Oct. 2010) 1 in 10 Americans had diabetes. This number is expected to double or triple by 2050. If current trends continue as many as 1 in 3 adults could have diabetes by 2050. Unfortunately, it’s the choices that we make from poor eating habits to lack of exercise that has led us to these alarming numbers.

Our bodies use the food that we eat for energy and growth. Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose ( a form of sugar in the blood that is our main source of fuel ) and makes its way into our bloodstream. Insulin ( a hormone produced by the pancreas ) makes it possible for our cells to take in the glucose. After eating, the pancreas automatically releases an adequate amount of insulin to move the glucose present in our blood into the cells thus lowering our blood sugar level. In type 2 diabetes, blood sugar remains high because of insulin resistance. In this case, an individual has trouble effectively using the insulin they do produce because their cells are resistance to insulin’s effects. Glucose cannot be properly transported into cells, and it remains in our bloodstream. As the body perceives an excess of glucose, it attempts to produce more insulin in order to manage high glucose levels. Thus, insulin resistant people end up with both high blood sugar and insulin, which can then also result in elevated triglycerides and LDL “ bad cholesterol” and decreased HDL “ good cholesterol.

CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE to reduce your risk of developing diabetes include :

– Maintain a healthy body fat percentage ( average of 15% for men and 25% for women , although age does change these numbers somewhat )

– Space meals evenly ( every 3-4 hours is ideal )

– Avoid or minimize alcohol intake ( fewer than 5 drinks per week )

– Eat 1-2 servings of vegetables or fruit with every meal ( 5-10 servings /day )

– Eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day from a variety of food sources

– Eat lean protein at most (if not all ) meals. 20-30g per meal for women and 40-60g for men

– Avoid trans fat consumption ( aim for 0 trans fats per day )

– Exercise at least 3-5 hours per week, using a combination of resistance exercise and aerobic exercise

– Minimize refined and high-sugar carbohydrates ( except after exercise )

– Eat/supplement with foods containing omega-3 fats, including fish oil supplements

Everyday we are faced with CHOICES. Stop choosing the cupcake and start choosing the things that will make you a healthier and much happier you!

Written by: Karen O’Donnell

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