Diabetes prevention is essential for maintaining good health and avoiding serious complications. According to the World Health Organization, diabetes is a major health issue affecting millions of people worldwide. However, with a few simple steps, you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. In this article, we will discuss five steps you can take to prevent diabetes and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Losing weight is a significant step in reducing the risk of developing diabetes. By making changes to exercise and diet, participants in a large study were able to reduce their risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60% after losing about 7% of their weight. People with prediabetes are recommended by the American Diabetes Association to lose weight by at least 7-10% to prevent the disease from progressing. Setting a weight loss goal based on your current weight and talking to your doctor about short-term goals and achievable expectations can be helpful.
Do more physical activity
Regular physical activity has numerous benefits, including weight loss, lowering blood sugar, and increasing sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep blood sugar within a normal range. To promote weight loss and maintain a healthy weight, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercises like brisk walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging, most days of the week. Resistance exercises like weight lifting, yoga, and gymnastics can be done at least 2 to 3 times per week to increase strength, balance, and the ability to lead an active life. Additionally, limiting idle time such as sitting in front of a computer and spending a few minutes standing, walking around, or doing some light activity every 30 minutes can help control blood sugar levels.
Eat healthy plant foods
Plant foods provide the body with vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates contain sugars and starch, which are the two sources of energy for the body, as well as fiber. Also known as roughage or bulk, dietary fiber includes particles of plant foods that the body cannot digest or absorb.
It is noteworthy that foods rich in fiber help in weight loss and reduce the risk of diabetes. Make sure to eat a variety of healthy foods rich in fiber, including:
- Fruits such as tomatoes, peppers, and fruits that bear fruit on trees
- Non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower
- Legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils
- Whole grains, such as whole-wheat pasta and bread, whole-grain rice, whole-grain oats, and quinoa
Among the benefits of fiber
- Slow down the absorption of sugars and reduce blood sugar levels
- Impeding the absorption of fatty foods and cholesterol
- Manage other risk factors that affect heart health, such as blood pressure and inflammation
- Reducing the amount of food, as foods rich in fiber are more satiating than others and are rich in elements that provide the body with energy
Avoid foods that contain “bad carbs,” which are foods high in sugar and low in fiber or nutrients: white bread and pastries, pasta made with white flour, fruit juices, and processed foods that contain sugars or high-fructose corn syrup.
Eat healthy fats
Fatty foods contain high levels of calories and should be eaten in moderation. To help with weight loss and control, your diet should include a variety of foods that contain unsaturated fats, sometimes called “good fats.”
Unsaturated fats, both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, promote healthy cholesterol levels and good cardiovascular health. Sources of good fats include:
- Olive, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and canola oils
- Nuts and grains, such as almonds, peanuts, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds
- Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and cod
As for saturated fats, or what is called “bad fats”, they are found in dairy products and meat. Your diet should contain a small amount of these fats. You can limit the amount of saturated fat in your diet by eating low-fat dairy products, chicken, and lean red meat.
Avoid fad diets and make healthy choices
While fad diets such as the glycemic index, paleo, or keto diets may help you lose weight, there is little research on their long-term benefits or effectiveness in preventing diabetes. Your diet should aim to help you lose weight and then maintain a healthy weight. To achieve this, it’s important to adopt a strategy that you can follow throughout your life, making healthy choices that include some of your favorite foods and habits.
One simple strategy for promoting healthy nutrition is portioning your meals. You can achieve this by dividing your meal into three sections: half of the meal should be fruits and non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of the meal should be whole grains, and the remaining quarter should be foods rich in protein, such as legumes, fish, or lean meat.
It’s important to know when to visit your doctor for diabetes screening. The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening with diagnostic tests for type 2 diabetes for all adults aged 45 and older, as well as for people under 45 who are overweight or obese and have one or more risk factors for diabetes.
Women with gestational diabetes, people diagnosed with prediabetes, and children who are overweight or obese, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, or other risk factors should also be screened. If you have any questions about diabetes prevention, be sure to ask your doctor. Your doctor will appreciate your efforts to prevent diabetes and may make additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.
Preventing diabetes requires a commitment to making healthy lifestyle choices, including eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular physical activity. By adopting these five steps, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its associated health complications.
Remember that it’s never too late to make changes to your lifestyle, and every step you take towards a healthier lifestyle can make a difference. Talk to your doctor about how to incorporate these lifestyle changes into your daily routine and get on the path to preventing diabetes.