However, by making the following lifestyle changes, you can decrease the likelihood that you will develop type 2 diabetes or reduce the chance of complications if you have it.
1.) Improve Your Diet
First, avoid overindulging in sugar (or carbohydrate-rich foods that turn into sugar). While eating sugar is not the sole cause of type 2 diabetes, reducing your sugar intake can cut your risk for developing it.
Poor diet contributes to weight gain, and eating sugary or heavy carbohydrate foods causes blood sugar (blood glucose) to rise very quickly. When this spike happens, the body releases insulin to handle the flood of sugar in the bloodstream. Any sugar not needed by the body right away is stored as fat. After the initial rise in blood sugar, the levels drop. This may result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). A dramatic rise and fall of sugar levels in the blood is harmful and can cause changes in the body that lead to type 2 diabetes. Your body requires glucose, but a healthy diet is needed to provide the proper balance.
- Replace unhealthy snacks with whole fruits, avoid sugary drinks and limit other processed foods, which also have added sugar.
Think of your body as a home continuously being updated. Good nutrition supplies the best building materials for the strongest structure, while bad fats, excess salt and sugar actually weaken the structure. Plan your meals with this in mind. Vegetables are nutrient-packed, low in calories and fat. Protein is important, but not all protein sources are created equal, so strive for balance.
- Grains like quinoa, for example, contain protein and can be used in place of meat for some meals.
Don’t skip breakfast but avoid loading up on carbohydrates at this meal. Doing so causes a blood sugar spike that can affect your whole day.
- Adding protein in the morning will help keep blood sugar more even for many hours.
A serving of eggs, lean meat or broiled fish are good substitutes for high-carbohydrate choices, as are low-fat dairy products like yogurt or cottage cheese.
2.) Lose Weight
A strong link exists between carrying excess fat and developing diabetes. One reason is that the chemicals released due to extra weight disrupt normal metabolism. If you are overweight, losing weight can significantly reduce your chances of developing diabetes. If you are already pre-diabetic, it may help you avoid full-blown diabetes.
3.) Increase Physical Activity
In addition to strengthening your body, exercise helps regulate your blood sugar. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, start small by adding a brisk five to ten minute walk or bike ride and gradually increase your activity. You don’t need to train as if for a triathlon. The key is to get your circulation moving, your muscles working and to move around at least half an hour a day, five days per week or more. If you have a hard time getting motivated, choose something you find enjoyable, such as dancing to your favorite music or walking your dog around a park.
Making these changes may give you a better chance at preventing type 2 diabetes. If you think you have symptoms related to diabetes or that you need to make some of these kinds of changes to your lifestyle, talk to you doctor. Some may seem overwhelming at first, but all are doable. Often, when faced with big lifestyle changes, it is best to take small steps, avoiding the temptation to give up. Know that each positive step you take is movement toward a healthier life.
Want to know more? Find helpful information and tips by visiting our “Lifestyle” section.