Diabetes contributes to many other serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and stroke. It is also the leading cause of new cases of adult blindness in the United States.
Type 1 diabetes is currently not preventable. Therefore, this article focuses on how to prevent type 2 diabetes.
A nutritious diet is an important part of diabetes prevention. Research shows that one of the most effective ways to prevent diabetes in overweight people is to lose weight, which is possible by making the right food choices and reducing calories.
In addition to eating less to reduce calories in general, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends eating whole grain foods rather than processed foods. Whole grains contain essential vitamins and fiber that your body needs, but also have a lower glycemic index, which helps stabilize blood sugar. Non-starchy vegetables and fresh fruit may also be beneficial.
Additionally, it is important to try to limit fruit juices and drinks with added sugar. A 2019 study found that drinking sugary drinks or artificially sweetened drinks increases the risk of developing diabetes. Replacing a sugary drink with coffee, tea or water each day can reduce your risk of diabetes by 2-10%.
It helps to understand the difference between healthy and harmful fats. It’s best to avoid or limit trans fats — the type of fried foods and many packaged baked goods — and saturated fats, which are found in fatty meat, processed meat, and whole dairy products. You can check for trans fats in foods by looking for “partially hydrogenated” fats on product labels.
On the other hand, fats from nuts and seeds and polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils may protect cardiovascular health.
Limiting the amount of red meat you eat and focusing on leaner proteins can also be beneficial. Researchers have found that people who follow a vegetarian diet reduce their risk of developing diabetes by 74% compared to those who eat meat every week.
Physical activity can help you manage your blood sugar levels, which can help prevent type 2 diabetes. It also provides various other benefits, such as:
- reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol
- blood pressure control
- improve sleep
- weight loss aid
- mood improvement
- helps maintain weight
The CDC recommends aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week. It helps to choose an activity that you enjoy so that you are more likely to stick with it. There are many options to choose from, including:
- walk briskly
- to mow the lawn
- cycling or indoor cycling
- playing team sports, such as basketball or tennis
- do weight training
Before starting a new exercise plan, consult your doctor to determine if the exercise you have in mind is safe for you. Then schedule it daily or a few times a week to make it a habit. You may find it easier to stick to your goals if you train with friends.
Although a multifaceted approach is the best way to prevent diabetes, weight reduction is often a key factor. For people who are overweight, a small percentage of weight loss – 5-7% of body weight – goes a long way in preventing diabetes. For someone weighing 200 pounds (lbs), that means aiming for a weight loss of 10 to 14 pounds. Weight loss helps your body control blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and lower high blood pressure, which helps prevent diabetes.
It’s easy to underestimate food portion sizes, which is why experts recommend using the plate method to control portions. For example, imagine a medium-sized 9-inch dinner plate. Half should contain non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots. The remaining half should include equal amounts of healthy carbohydrates, such as starchy vegetables or whole grains, and lean proteins, such as tofu, beans, chicken, or turkey.
Another way to help prevent diabetes is to quit smoking. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people who smoke are 30-40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. When you quit smoking, you also significantly reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and heart disease. other serious illnesses.
The CDC also lists stress management and getting enough sleep as important factors in reversing or preventing insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes.
If you have known risk factors for type 2 diabetes, you may want to speak with a doctor about the drug metformin. A 2018 review of several studies concluded that metformin may help prevent diabetes in people who:
- have impaired glucose tolerance or fasting blood sugar
- are under 60
- are overweight or have obesity
- have a history of gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that develops during pregnancy
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about diabetes prevention. Dr. Kelly Wood reviewed the responses.
Can walking help prevent diabetes?
Yes, brisk walking can play a role in preventing diabetes. The CDC recommends getting about 150 minutes of exercise per week. This could involve walking or other moderately strenuous activities, such as swimming or bicycling.
How can I check if I have diabetes?
To check for diabetes, doctors usually use blood tests to assess your blood sugar levels. They may also ask you questions about your medical history and whether you have any symptoms. Common symptoms of diabetes include increased urination, fatigue, excessive thirst or hunger, and unexplained weight loss.
Making gradual changes to your lifestyle can help prevent diabetes. A nutritious, well-balanced diet will help control blood sugar and maintain a moderate weight. Whole grains, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables are all good choices to include in your diet.
Additionally, regular exercise can play a role in preventing diabetes. Not only can it help you lose weight, if needed, but it can also help you manage your stress levels.
And finally, quitting smoking can significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes. It may also reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and other conditions.
If you need help, consider contacting a registered dietitian or fitness professional to help you create a plan that’s right for you.