Health & Fitness

Ways to Prevent Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Uncontrolled cases can cause blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and other serious conditions. Before diabetes is diagnosed, there is a period where blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This is known as pre-diabetes. It’s estimated that up to 70% of people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, progressing from pre-diabetes to diabetes isn’t inevitable.

Although there are certain factors you can’t change — such as your genes, age or past behaviors — there are many actions you can take to reduce the risk of diabetes.

1. Cut Sugar and Refined Carbs From Your Diet

 

Eating sugary foods and refined carbs can put at-risk individuals on the fast track to developing diabetes. Your body rapidly breaks these foods down into small sugar molecules, which are absorbed into your bloodstream. The resulting rise in blood sugar stimulates your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that helps sugar get out of the bloodstream and into your body’s cells.

In people with pre-diabetes, the body’s cells are resistant to insulin’s action, so sugar remains high in the blood. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin, attempting to bring blood sugar down to a healthy level. Over time, this can lead to progressively higher blood sugar and insulin levels, until the condition eventually turns into type 2 diabetes.

Many studies have shown a link between the frequent consumption of sugar or refined carbs and the risk of diabetes. What’s more, replacing them with foods that have less of an effect on blood sugar may help reduce your risk

A detailed analysis of 37 studies found that people with the highest intakes of fast-digesting carbs were 40% more likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest intakes.

2. Work Out Regularly

 Performing physical activity on a regular basis may help prevent diabetes. Exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of your cells. So when you exercise, less insulin is required to keep your blood sugar levels under control. One study in people with pre-diabetes found that moderate-intensity exercise increased insulin sensitivity by 51% and high-intensity exercise increased it by 85%. However, this effect only occurred on workout days.

Many types of physical activity have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar in overweight, obese and pre-diabetic adults. These include aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training and strength training.

Working out more frequently seems to lead to improvements in insulin response and function. One study in people at risk of diabetes found that burning more than 2,000 calories weekly via exercise was required to achieve these benefits (14).

Therefore, it’s best to choose physical activity that you enjoy, can engage in regularly and feel you can stick with long-term.

image of Millicent Melamu; Wellness coach

3. Drink Water as Your Primary Beverage

Water is by far the most natural beverage you can drink. What’s more, sticking with water most of the time helps you avoid beverages that are high in sugar, preservatives and other questionable ingredients.        Sugary beverages like soda and punch have been linked to an increased risk of both type 2 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA). LADA is a form of type 1 diabetes that occurs in people over 18 years of age. Unlike the acute symptoms seen with type 1 diabetes in childhood, LADA develops slowly, requiring more treatment as the disease progresses.

One large observational study looked at the diabetes risk of 2,800 people. Those who consumed more than two servings of sugar-sweetened beverages per day had a 99% increased risk of developing LADA and a 20% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers of one study on the effects of sweet drinks on diabetes stated that neither artificially sweetened beverages nor fruit juice were good beverages for diabetes prevention.

By contrast, consuming water may provide benefits. Some studies have found that increased water consumption may lead to better blood sugar control and insulin response. One 24-week study showed that overweight adults who replaced diet sodas with water while following a weight loss program experienced a decrease in insulin resistance and lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels.

Drinking water instead of other beverages may help control blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.

4. Lose Weight If You’re Overweight or Obese

 Although not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese, the majority are.What’s more, those with pre-diabetes tend to carry excess weight in their midsection and around abdominal organs like the liver. This is known as visceral fat. Excess visceral fat promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, which significantly increase the risk of diabetes. Although losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce this risk, studies show that the more you lose, the more benefits you’ll experience.

One study of more than 1,000 people with pre-diabetes found that for every kilogram (2.2 lbs) of weight participants lost, their risk of diabetes reduced by 16%, up to a maximum reduction of 96%.

There are many healthy options for losing weight, including low-carb, Mediterranean, paleo and vegetarian diets. However, choosing a way of eating you can stick with long-term is key to helping you maintain the weight loss. One study found that obese people whose blood sugar and insulin levels decreased after losing weight experienced elevations in these values after gaining back all or a portion of the weight they lost

Carrying excess weight, particularly in the abdominal area, increases the likelihood of developing diabetes. Losing weight may significantly reduce the risk of diabetes.

 

5. Quit Smoking

 Smoking has been shown to cause or contribute to many serious health conditions, including heart disease, emphysema and cancers of the lung, breast, prostate and digestive tract. There’s also research linking smoking and second-hand smoke exposure to type 2 diabetes. In an analysis of several studies totaling over one million people, smoking was found to increase the risk of diabetes by 44% in average smokers and 61% in people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily.
One study followed the risk of diabetes in middle-aged male smokers after they quit. After five years their risk had reduced by 13%, and after 20 years they had the same risk as people who had never smoked.

Researchers stated that even though many of the men gained weight after quitting, after several smoke-free years, their risk of diabetes was lower than if they’d continued smoking.

Smoking is strongly linked to the risk of diabetes, especially in heavy smokers. Quitting has been shown to reduce this risk over time.

Rather than viewing prediabetes as a stepping stone to diabetes, it may be helpful to see it as a motivator for making changes that can help reduce your risk. …. Continue later…

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