According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes and the vast majority of those (over 90%) have adult diabetes, commonly known as type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes develops as you grow older, typically in middle age, but more and more younger people are also being diagnosed with the condition.
Diabetes can be a debilitating disease and even life-threatening, but the good news is that lifestyle changes can help control, prevent, and even reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes. As we approach World Diabetes Day on 14 November, let’s look at 5 ways you can help reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
5 Steps to Prevent Diabetes
Step 1: Lose excess weight
There is an undeniable correlation between carrying too much bodyweight and developing type 2 diabetes. Losing even a few pounds can go a long way to reducing the possibility of getting type 2.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a drastic reduction in what you eat but does require you to understand what you eat and how much you are consuming. It is so easy to include too much sugar and bad fats in your diet and not realize it. The American Diabetes Association has a huge amount of information on its website about how to achieve weight loss as well as many other healthy tips.
Step 2: Exercise more
Reducing your food intake is not the only thing you can do to control or prevent type 2 diabetes. Increasing the amount of exercise you get regularly has massive health benefits, many of which have an effect on the likelihood of diabetes being a problem. Coupled with an improved diet, exercise can help you not just lose weight but also to lower blood sugar levels to an acceptable level (and high blood sugar is what causes type 2 diabetes).
Meaningful exercise doesn’t have to be going to the gym five days a week. Half an hour’s brisk walking every day will go a long way to making you fitter and stronger. Including some resistance exercise, whether weights, pilates, or yoga will help you build muscle and increase your metabolism. Many of us spend a large part of each working day sitting in front of a screen. Try to break this up by getting up every 30 minutes or so – this benefits your mind as well as your body.
Step 3: Cut down on (bad) fats
Too much fat in the average diet is bad news, and common in the average American diet, but a certain amount is good for you, especially unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are good fats that are not just okay to eat but have a positive effect on maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health.
Include in oils from plants (for instance, olive and sunflower), nuts and seeds, and fatty fish in your diet. Try replacing red meat with fish one day a week.
Avoid saturated fats as much as you can and be conscious when you do consume them. Dairy, fatty meats, and sugary desserts are all often serious offenders, so check the dietary labels of your food before you buy it.
Step 4: Increase your fruit and veg intake
To create more balance and get all the essential micronutrients in veggies, try to balance your meals to be 1/3-1/2 vegetables, rather than just a small portion on the side. Find the vegetables you love, experience with new ways of cooking them, and eat as much as you like guilt-free.
Step 5: Say no to processed food
Processed food may be convenient but it also almost always contains way too much sugar, salt, fats, and additives to make it onto your plate. It is always better to cook fresh produce than ready prepared food. If you really can’t make time to cook everything at least become label savvy. Look at the contents of what you’re eating and make sure they are as healthy as possible. There are healthy alternatives if you search them out.
This might all seem a huge lifestyle change but start small with achievable goals and healthy exercise and eating will soon become part of your regime. You will feel the benefits quickly, becoming fitter, stronger and you’ll have more energy. You will also be pushing the chances of developing type 2 diabetes into the long grass.
If you’re local to Prescott, Arizona, and are struggling to get your weight under control or are worried about becoming diabetic, book an appointment with one of our friendly doctors to talk you through your options and help you get back on track with your health. Find out more here.