Diabetes is a chronic disease, in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that controls the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Diabetes leads to high blood sugar levels, which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. There are majorly two types of diabetes, type I and type II. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and kills the beta cells of the pancreas. Whereas, type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can’t properly use the insulin that is released or does not make enough insulin for the body.
The following lifestyle changes which involve achieving a healthy body weight and moderate physical activity can help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.So, try to follow them:
1. Choose the right food
The first step towards reducing the risk of diabetes is to tune up your diet.
Skip the foods rich in fat and opt for healthier choices like fiber and whole grains. Foods rich in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Women who consume 2 to 3 servings of whole grains each day are 30% less likely to develop diabetes over those who did not. Many ready-made foods made from whole grains are available in the stores such as bread, cereals, pasta products, etc. Do not consume the refined carbohydrates such as white bread, donuts, white rice, etc. which increase your risk for diabetes. Avoid packaged and processed foods as well.
2. Skip the sugary drinks and beverages
Similar to the refined grains, sugary drinks cause a high glycemic load and thus a higher diabetes risk. Instead, switch to unsweetened beverages like water, and tea to prevent excess weight gain.
3. Exercise Regularly!
The next step one should take is to exercise as inactivity promotes type II diabetes. Workout your muscles to increase their ability to use insulin, thus facilitate glucose absorption. This does not mean that you need to sweat to reap the benefit. Walking is the best exercise to prevent and control diabetes. Several studies found that the risk of contracting diabetes is lowered by nearly 30% in those people who walked for 30 minutes per day. The other activities you may opt for include dancing, cycling, swimming, aerobics, etc.
Watching TV for hours together increases your risk for obesity and thus diabetes. So turn off the TV if it is exceeds the limit.
Try shedding the extra weight and you will be surprised to see the significant effect on your sugar levels with every pound you lose. Physical activity helps you to reduce your weight which indirectly controls your condition.
4. Quit smoking
You can avoid a long list of medical complications by not smoking. The risk of diabetes in smokers is nearly 50% higher over the non-smokers. Although quitting is not easy, you can gradually decrease the extent to which you smoke. There are several support groups which help people to successfully quit smoking.
5. Cut down the consumption of liquor
It is a known fact that excess alcohol consumption can lead to an increased risk of diabetes. Consume alcohol in limited quantity and not in excess quantities. Moderate consumption is helpful: for women, the daily intake should not exceed one drink while for men not more than 2 drinks.
When should you consult a doctor?
Prevention of diabetes is more important for those who are overweight or have a family history of the disease. It is advisable to consult a doctor, to check if you have diabetes in any of the following cases:
- If you are above 45 years and overweight,
- If you are less than 45 years, overweight and also have other risk factors such as a family history or a sedentary lifestyle, etc.
Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to prevent diabetes based on your medical and family history.
Your genes take a back seat to the lifestyle and behavioral changes when it comes to diabetes. While you are in the pre-diabetic stage (very slightly elevated glucose levels), you should nurture some healthy habits to prevent diabetes. It is never late to start, so begin from today!
- Hu FB et al. Walking compared with vigorous physical activity and risk of type 2 diabetes in women: a prospective study. 20 Oct 1999; 282(15): 1433-9.
- de Munter JS et al. Whole grain, bran, and germ intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospectivecohort study and systematic review. PLoS Med.Aug 2007; 4(8): e261.
- Willi C et al. Active smoking and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 12 Dec 2007; 298(22): 2654-64.