If you’ve found out you’re at risk of Type 2 diabetes, you’re probably worried about your long-term health. The good news is that it is possible to delay or even prevent Type 2 diabetes. Whether you have pre-diabetes, you’re at risk because of your weight or you have a genetic predisposition, you should be looking for ways to minimize your chances of getting the disease.
Diabetes in all its forms is one of the main causes of premature deaths in the U.S. However, experts claim that over 60 percent of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle and diet changes. This means that taking care of your health now can make all the difference to your health when you’re older. With this in mind, here are 8 ways you can prevent Type 2 diabetes and take better care of your body.
Check Your Risk
If you suspect you might be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it’s important to have your blood glucose levels tested regularly, especially if you’re pregnant. Most doctors will perform a risk assessment test to find out if you fall into a “low risk” or “high risk” category, and then do a simple blood test to check your diabetes status.
Women who are at risk through genetic factors sometimes develop gestational diabetes in pregnancy, which can be a warning sign of diabetes risk later in life. Gestational diabetes can cause problems in pregnancy, but it is usually well managed through diet, blood sugar testing kits and sometimes insulin medication if it is detected early. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after you give birth.
Manage Your Weight
Type 2 diabetes is caused by high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia), not excess weight. However, almost 90% of people living with the condition are either overweight or obese, which is why you’re more at risk if you have a high BMI. This is because being overweight puts extra strain on the body’s ability to use insulin properly, which then causes insulin resistance.
The best thing you can do to minimize your risk of developing diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise. A shake diet, such as those produced by Shake that Weight, combined with healthy foods can kick-start your weight loss while still providing adequate nutrition to give you energy throughout the day.
You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week to prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes, even if it’s just walking. Being physically active on a consistent basis will help you manage your weight, reduce your blood glucose levels and keep your blood pressure in check, so it’s important to make time for it. The key is to find an exercise you love and make working out fun, so you’re less likely to skip your session.
Adopt a Low GI Diet
Some cases of Type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet alone, typically by keeping blood sugar under control with a low glycemic diet. However, some people are advised to follow this same diet to minimize their risk of developing the disease, and recent studies show that higher GI diets can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 8-40%. Adopting a low GI diet means swapping high GI foods such as white bread, baked goods and breakfast cereals with low GI alternatives, such as starchy vegetables, oatmeal and multigrain breads. You can check the glycemic index for more information.
Cut Back On Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and triglyceride (blood fat) levels, putting you at higher risk for weight gain and Type 2 diabetes. As a rule of thumb, it’s OK to enjoy alcohol in moderation (men should have no more than two standard drinks a day and women should have no more than one) but heavy drinking should be avoided by those who have pre-diabetes or think they could develop Type 2 diabetes in the future.
Smoking tobacco can increase blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance. This means that heavy smokers who have more than 20 cigarettes per day are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than non-smokers. What’s more, people who smoke are more likely to have trouble with insulin dosage, diet and exercising, which makes it more difficult for them to manage the condition once it develops.
Smoking can also lead to respiratory diseases, cardiovascular distress and cancer, so it’s best to give up anyway, even if you’re not at risk of diabetes. Talk to your doctor about switching to nicotine patches or e-cigarettes to help you quit — there is plenty of support out there, so you don’t need to do it alone.
Keep Your Blood Pressure In Check
High blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes go hand-in-hand, so it’s important to keep yours under control. The best way to lower your blood pressure is to exercise on a daily basis, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight. There is also evidence to suggest that stress can raise blood pressure, so be sure to look after your mind as well as your body.
You should also get your blood pressure checked regularly by your doctor, as high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) can lead to other health complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and even brain damage. Pregnant women and their babies are particularly at risk from high blood pressure, which is why it is checked so often during the gestational period.
Improve Your Cardiovascular Health
Again, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are often linked, so it’s important to look after your heart to lower your risk. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes have many factors in common, such as obesity, physical activity and high blood pressure, so you can lower your risk of all of these health conditions by remaining active and following a healthy diet.
If you think you might be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, you should act now to delay the onset of the disease. Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort to make sure your body remains in good health.