How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are an estimated 422 million people worldwide with diabetes. Each year 1.6 million deaths associated with the disease are reported. Although there are no known ways to avoid type 1 diabetes, certain habits have been associated that can prevent type 2 diabetes (which is the most common).
Life changes can be included at any age, although they’re more effective the earlier you decide to assimilate them. Contrary to what many people think, you don’t have to make big commitments to reduce risks. In general, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and giving up harmful habits have a positive impact on prevention. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.
Prevent type 2 diabetes with diet
Studies and research indicate that nutritional changes are the first step you should take to prevent type 2 diabetes. There are many things you can do on a dietary level to reduce risk factors for the disease. Harvard TH Chan points out the following as the most important:
- Include only healthy fats in your diet: These include polyunsaturated fats, present in liquid vegetable oils from seeds (sunflower, for example), nuts, and fish. Avoid trans fats, whose effect is the opposite for your body.
- Cut back on sugary drinks: Evidence strongly suggests that drinking sugary drinks increases the risk of diabetes. Choose to drink water; tea and coffee (without sugar) are good options too. Some studies even point out that moderate coffee consumption can prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Opt for whole grains over refined ones: Barley, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and other foods have a low glycemic index. The effect is the opposite in highly processed carbohydrates.
- Avoid red meat: Replace them with white meats, such as chicken and fish. You can also try other sources of protein, such as whole grains, low-fat dairy, walnuts, almonds, and many others. Researchers have associated red meat, especially processed meat, with an increased risk of diabetes.
As you can see, you don’t have to make big changes to your diet, just prioritize one group over others. You have to make the change gradually, so you can better assimilate your new eating habits. For further reference, consult a nutrition professional.
Lifestyle to prevent type 2 diabetes
In addition to including nutritional modifications, you can also explore some lifestyle changes that will bring you positive benefits. Among the most important that you can do, we highlight the following.
As the American Diabetes Association points out, obesity is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Although the exact mechanisms of the link are still unknown, studies agree that weight loss helps prevent the disease.
The association between body weight and diabetes is so strong that some circles have promoted the term diabesity. Experts use this word to describe the complications that together can lead to obesity and diabetes.
To avoid this you should try to lose those extra kilos. The body mass index (BMI) will be your reference here. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the BMI for a healthy person should be between 18.5 and 24.9. If you’re between 25.0 and 29.9 then you’re considered an overweight patient. Figures of over 30 means obesity.
Diabetes Canada encourages all those who want to prevent the disease to exercise regularly. You don’t have to become a high-performance athlete to benefit; just include physical activity several times a week. You can take into account the WHO recommendations for each age group, on average about 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week.
This you have to complement by giving up sedentary habits. If you work a long time sitting down, plan sessions every one to two hours where you get up and do some kind of movement. If you watch television for a long time, reduce the time limit in front of the screen to two hours. Of course, do this gradually to ease the change in pace.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco
Studies and research have shown that excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol is related to a higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Reducing your intake, or eliminating it completely, provides benefits not only for this disease, but also to prevent dozens of directly generated conditions for both habits.
Consult with a specialist on the subject, have the support of family and friends, and be aware of the risks to which you expose yourself by maintaining your consumption. The good news is that the benefits are perceived in the short term – one more incentive to give up these habits.
Get regular preventive exams
If you have a family history of the disease or have been diagnosed with prediabetes, the best thing to do, while applying the above, is to test your blood glucose regularly. Ideally, you should do them once a year. However, the frequency may be higher according to your health, age, weight, and underlying conditions.
These days, you can easily purchase glucose meters, and these allow you to safely monitor your levels from home. If you can’t afford one, then you can still choose to take the tests in a laboratory.
Other methods that you can include in your routine are drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding stress, and avoiding recreational drugs. Together, all these initiatives promote a healthy lifestyle, which helps prevent type 2 diabetes. Remember that young people can develop it too, so they should follow these tips from a young age.
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