Type 2 diabetes is on the rise, afflicting almost 30 million people in the United States. Luckily, much of the risk of developing this life-threatening condition can be mitigated with lifestyle changes. Here are 8 ways you can help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Get and Stay Active
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help decrease your risk of diabetes in a few ways. These include:
- Helping you lose weight
- Increasing your body's insulin sensitivity
- Lowering your blood sugar levels
Start a fitness program that you can stick to, and make sure it contains aerobic and resistance activities. Join a program at your local gym that combines, for instance, weight training and cycling. Carry weights while you go for your walk. Go to the gym and use the treadmill, then move to the weight-lifting machines.
Eat Whole Grains
Research shows that consuming whole grains routinely lowers your risk of diabetes. When evaluating products, look for 100% whole grain because sometimes the whole grain label will be used when it is only a minority of the product's grain content.
Increase Your Fiber Intake
Increasing the fiber in your diet helps your body regulate blood sugar and lowers your risk of diabetes. It helps you feel full, improving your weight loss effort. Whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables are all good sources of fiber. Learn more: "Fiber for Weight Loss."
Decrease or Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet
Sugar and refined carbs that quickly break down into sugar, causing your body to release insulin. Over time, your body becomes more resistant to insulin, and your pancreas must produce more to keep your blood sugar normal. This insulin resistance worsens until your blood sugar can no longer be brought down to normal by your body.
Learn practical tips for drastically reducing or removing sugar from your diet: "How to Give up Sugar: A Step-by-Step Guide."
Focus on Water
As much as you can, focus on water as your main drink. Not only does doing so reduce the sugary drinks you might be consuming, but it can also help you feel full longer and aid your weight loss efforts. Being dehydrated can actually cause sugar cravings, so maintaining good hydration may help you avoid extra sugar intake. Not only that but drinking plenty of water also has tons of other health benefits.
Consider Which Supplements Might Be Right for You
Some supplements have properties that help lower the risk of diabetes in those who take them. Some examples include:
Remember not to start any supplement without talking to your doctor first.
Smoking increases your risk for many health problems, including heart disease and several types of cancer. It may also increase your risk of diabetes, though more research needs to be done to determine whether this link is the result of correlation to other risk factors or if it is causative.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Studies indicate that people with high blood levels of vitamin D are less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than those with low levels (J Mitri, 2011). You can get vitamin D from the sun in some geographic areas at certain times of the year.
You can also get some vitamin D in your diet. It's present in wild caught fish, beef, egg yolks, dairy, orange juice, fortified cereal, and oatmeal.
Many people are directed by their doctor to take a vitamin D supplement, and the amount necessary may vary throughout the year. Check with your doctor to have your blood vitamin D level checked and for supplement recommendations.
Why Try to Avoid Diabetes?
Diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis for a person, who, once diagnosed, will have to take daily medication and possibly insulin injections. Diabetes increases the risk of many other serious conditions, as well, including damage to the following body systems:
- Peripheral nerves
- J Mitri, M. D. (2011, July 6). Vitamin D and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. Retrieved from nature.com.
- Wannamethee SG1, S. A. (2001, Sept.). Smoking as a modifiable risk factor for type 2 diabetes in middle-aged men. Retrieved from pubmed.gov.