Some people are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which is a disease in which the cells of your body are no longer sensitive to insulin, the hormone that helps metabolize glucose (a type of sugar). This causes your body to have high blood sugar levels, which leads to a bevy of complications that can often be fatal. The risk factors that predispose a patient to develop type 2 diabetes include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having a sedentary lifestyle
- Have a family member that has type 2 diabetes
- Age, as people that are over the age of 45 are more likely to develop diabetes
Before they develop type 2 diabetes, many patients will initially be diagnosed with prediabetes, which essentially means that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to qualify for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, prediabetes is reversible and therefore, you can work to stop the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. This is especially important because having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of having very serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, foot problems and eye problems. Therefore, it is important to try your hardest to stop the progression to type 2 diabetes by incorporating different lifestyle changes into your everyday life.
1. Know your risk of developing diabetes and monitor your blood sugar levels
First things first, you need to figure out your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you have any of the risk factors outlined above, then you should go check in with your family doctor who will measure your blood sugar levels. If you blood sugar levels put you in the prediabetes range, then you should buy an at-home glucose monitor and monitor your blood sugar levels consistently throughout the week. This can also tell your if your blood sugar levels are improving or getting worse. If they are getting worse, then you will know to incorporate more lifestyle changes that can reduce your blood sugar levels.
2. Lose weight
Being overweight or obese is significantly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing just five to seven percent of your current body weight. Thus, if you currently weigh 200 pounds, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by losing 10 to 15 pounds.
Furthermore, if you store your body fat around your abdomen, rather than your thighs, then you are at an even greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In this case, you should really try to lose weight and reduce the amount fat in your abdomen. Importantly, once you lose weight, you need to try your best keep it off. The best way to lose weight is a combination of exercising most days of the week and eating a reduced-calorie diet.
In a similar vein as losing weight, exercising more is also extremely beneficial when it comes to preventing the development of type 2 diabetes. You should be doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days (4-5 days) of the week. If you have never been active before, then a good way to get started to get a personal trainer who can sit down with you, design an individualized training plan and outline your goals. Even if you just do moderate physical activity, it can help you:
- Manage your weight
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Improve your blood pressure
- Improve your cholesterol levels
4. Eat healthy
One of the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is by eating healthy and eating smaller portions of your meal. By eating smaller portions, you reduce the amount of calories you consume at each meal, which can automatically help you lose weight without even realizing. Furthermore, you should try to consume less fat in order to reduce the amount of calories you take in. You should also avoid carbohydrates as carbohydrates are turned into sugar, which increases your blood sugar levels.
Additionally, try to reduce the amount of sugary snacks and drinks and opt for healthier choices such as water over pop. You should try to incorporate more fruits vegetables and high-fibers foods in your diet, and cut back on salt as that increases your cholesterol which can be very dangerous. You should limit the amount of processed foods you consume, which includes frozen dinners that are typically high in salt and fat. As much as you can, try to cook for yourself.
5. Limit alcohol and quit smoking
It is well-known that drinking too much alcohol is associated with weight gain, which increases your risk of developing diabetes, and increases your fat levels and blood pressure. Additionally, many drinks are high in sugar, which leads to an even greater increase in blood sugar levels. Men should stick to two or fewer drinks a day and women should only have one drink a day.
Smoking has also been shown to play a role in development of type 2 diabetes as studies have shown that smokers are twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to non-smokers.
It is possible to delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes as long as you follow the tips outlined above and regularly check in with your doctor.