Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Uncontrolled cases of diabetes 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 prediabetes.
It’s estimated that up to 70% of people with prediabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Although there are certain factors you can’t change such as your genes, age or past behaviours, there are many actions you can take to reduce the risk of diabetes. Here are 9 ways to avoid getting diabetes:
- Cut sugar from your diet
Eating sugary foods & 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 prediabetes, 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. So next time you take a bit into your favourite dessert, ask yourself whether it is worth the risk.
- Work out regularly
Performing physical activity on a regular basis may help prevent diabetes. Exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of your cells. When you exercise, less insulin is required to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Many types of physical activity have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar in overweight, obese and prediabetic adults. These include aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training and strength training. It is always best to choose a physical activity that you enjoy, can engage in regularly and feel you can do it long-term. Performing physical activity on a regular basis can increase insulin secretion and sensitivity, which may help prevent the progression from prediabetes to diabetes.
- Make water your favourite drink
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 cold-drinks and artificial juices have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Drinking water instead of other beverages may help control blood sugar and insulin levels, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.
- Lose that extra weight
Although not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese, studies have shown that a majority of them are. Those with prediabetes 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, clinical research has proven that the more you lose, the more benefits you’ll experience
- Quit Smoking
Smoking has been shown to cause or contribute to many serious health conditions, including heart disease, cancers of the lung, breast, prostate and digestive tract. There’s also research linking smoking and second-hand smoke exposure to type 2 diabetes. Quitting smoking has been shown to reduce this risk over time.
- Avoid Sedentary LifeStyle
If you get no or very little physical activity, and you sit during most of your day, then you lead a sedentary lifestyle. It’s important to avoid being sedentary if you want to prevent diabetes. Changing sedentary behaviour can be as simple as standing up from your desk and walking around for a few minutes every hour. Unfortunately, it can be hard to reverse firmly entrenched habits. Set realistic and achievable goals, such as standing whitaking the stairs instead of the elevator. Committing to these easy, concrete actions may be the best way to reverse sedentary tendencies.
- Eat A High-Fiber Diet
Getting plenty of fiber is beneficial for gut health and weight management. Most unprocessed plant foods contain fiber, although some have more than others. Consuming a good fiber source at each meal can help prevent spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which may help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
- Minimize Your Intake of Processed Foods
One clear step you can take to improve your health is to minimize your consumption of processed foods.
They are linked to all sorts of health problems, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Studies suggest that cutting back on packaged foods that are high in vegetable oils, refined grains and additives may help reduce the risk of diabetes, this may be partly due to the protective effects of whole foods like nuts, vegetables, fruits and other plant foods. Minimizing processed foods and focusing on whole foods with protective effects on health may help decrease the risk of diabetes.
- Consider Taking These Natural herbs
There are a few herbs that may help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the likelihood of diabetes progression. One of the natural herbs is Curcumin which is a component of the bright gold spice turmeric, which is one of the main ingredients in curries. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has been used in India for centuries as part of Ayurvedic medicine. Research has shown it can be very effective against arthritis and may help reduce inflammatory markers in people with prediabetes. There’s also impressive evidence that it may decrease insulin resistance and reduce the risk of diabetes progression. In addition, the curcumin group experienced an increase in insulin sensitivity and improved functioning of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Always remember, you have control over many of the factors that influence diabetes. 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. Eating the right foods and adopting other lifestyle behaviours that promote healthy blood sugar and insulin levels will give you the best chance at avoiding diabetes.