Five Steps to Take for Diabetes Prevention
A person is more likely to develop diabetes during their lifetime based on factors such as genetics, age and diet. Fortunately, there are steps to take that can help delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and potentially prevent it. Lifestyle changes are most beneficial in diabetes prevention. Here is a list of five steps to take towards a healthier, diabetes-free lifestyle:
For those at risk of diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight is extremely effective for decreasing the likelihood or slowing the progression of the disease. Obesity is a huge risk factor in developing diabetes so even a small amount of weight loss is beneficial in prevention. Losing and then maintaining weight will continue to decrease the risk of disease and increase quality of life and overall health and well-being.
Regularly participating in physical activity can also reduce the risk of developing diabetes. When exercising, the insulin sensitivity of cells increases which means less insulin is needed to keep a person’s blood sugar at a stable level. Increasing physical activity from zero to any amount is a good start and exercising three or more days a week is shown to be most effective. The goal is to be active at least 30 minutes a day. Any type of physical activity is beneficial, but the best is aerobic exercise such as walking, running or swimming. Along with participating in physical activity, it is important to limit the amount of inactivity in a day. Taking breaks from long periods of sitting at a desk or couch can make a difference. Stand up, walk around the room or yard, do light physical activities – moving your body, even a little throughout the day, will make a difference.
Foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates lead to an increase in blood sugar resulting in the pancreas producing more insulin. A diet high in these types of foods can add to the risk of developing diabetes. Reducing the consumption of processed foods and replacing them with healthier alternatives is a great start to diabetes prevention. Consider switching to more whole foods such as nuts, fruits and vegetables. This is a good step towards a healthier diet. Eating more plant-based foods and adding foods that are high in fiber will also help to provide energy, promote weight loss and aid in diabetes prevention. Some examples of foods high in fiber include whole grains, leafy greens and beans. Striving to eat a healthier diet is a better track to diabetes prevention than fad diets. Although these diets may work for weight loss in the short run, long term lifestyle changes are more effective in maintaining a healthy weight.
Watch portion sizes
Along with the choice of foods being consumed, the quantity of food someone consumes throughout the day is also a factor. Not only can eating large portion sizes lead to weight gain, but it can also increase blood sugar and insulin levels specifically in those at high risk for diabetes. Controlling portions to suggested amounts will help maintain more consistent levels in both blood sugar and insulin.
Kick risky habits
Making the decision to quit smoking is one way to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Smoking is shown to increase the risk for developing diabetes. Smoking decreases the body’s ability to use insulin, and after smoking, blood sugar levels rise. Alcohol consumption is another habit that can contribute to developing diabetes. Limiting alcoholic beverages to moderate levels can increase the efficiency of insulin, getting glucose inside cells which can decrease the risk of developing diabetes. This means no more than one drink a day for women and up to two drinks for men. Lastly, drinking more water is an easy and impactful way to improve health and assist with diabetes prevention. Drinking water helps cut sugary beverages, control blood sugar and insulin levels and keep the body hydrated.
In most cases, Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, and progression can be slowed. Choosing to make a few simple lifestyle changes will lead you on the right path to diabetes prevention. Eating a healthier diet, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight will promote an all-around healthy body with balanced blood sugar and insulin levels. The road to diabetes prevention starts with making healthy decisions early and sticking with it.