Preventing Diabetes: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Lower Your Risk

Diabetes has become an increasingly common health condition around the world. According to the World Health Organization, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes nearly quadrupled between 1980 and 2014. Most concerning, the rate of increase shows no signs of slowing down. In the UK alone, over 3 million adults now have diabetes, with obesity and poor diet being major contributing factors.

The good news is that for the most common form, type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes can significantly lower your chances of developing it. Here are 5 effective ways you can help prevent diabetes.

1. Cut Down on Sugary Foods

Eating too much sugar and processed foods greatly increases your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. To lower your risk, avoid high sugar content foods such as fizzy pop, candy, cakes and sugary cereals. Instead base your diet on fresh whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and lean meat.

Ensure to read through the nutrition information on food packages while shopping and go for products with very little or no added sugar. Going easy on condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce can help too. Moderating your sugar intake, rather than eliminating it completely, is key for long-term success.

2. Stay Active with Regular Exercise

Living a sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Make getting regular physical activity a priority. The Department of Health advises that adults engage in brisk walking, swimming and gardening for at least 150 minutes per week. This will ensure that one’s body weight is checked and there is improved insulin sensitivity.

Besides aerobic exercises, regular resistance training should be done two or three times a week. It increases muscle mass which accelerates the rate of metabolism leading to weight loss. Team sport, cycling, hiking and dancing are other enjoyable ways of staying active. If you are new to exercise start slowly and increase gradually with time.

3. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Extra body fat mainly around the abdomen has been associated with higher levels of insulin resistance hence increased risk for diabetes (McAuley et al., 2007). In case you are currently overweight, losing just a small quantity of your current weight can assist. Cut calories and increase your level of physical activities aiming for slow but steady weight loss.

Following structured diet and exercise program such as NHS 12-weeks weight loss plan is one way to achieve this safely. Remember, starvation diets and quick weight losses eventually give no result; focus instead on fostering healthier habits in the long-term.

4. Limit Alcohol and Quit Smoking

Drinking alcohol excessively can contribute to weight gain and affect blood sugar control. While moderate drinking (1 drink or less per day for women, 2 for men) is unlikely to increase risk, quitting or cutting back as much as possible is best.

Smoking also directly impacts insulin resistance and diabetes risk. Quitting smoking brings huge benefits like improved blood sugar control, reduced risk for diabetes complications, and better overall health. Talk to your doctor about stop-smoking aids and support programs.

5. Get Checked Regularly as You Age

Monitoring your health through checkups is very necessary as you advance in age. High blood sugar, cholesterol and other red flags can be detected from blood tests. Screening identifies problems such as prediabetes before type 2 diabetes occurs, enabling them to be managed with lifestyle changes.

Screening should kick off for those between 45-75 years every three years according to experts. And if you are overweight or hypertensive, then the right move is to start earlier and conduct more repeat screenings. Remember, even small adjustments to your way of life made at an advanced age could still reduce the chance of having diabetes. Consult with a physician about when one might best get screened.

The main point here is that most cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles like eating a balanced diet, being active and maintaining healthy body weights . Try focusing on making small changes that will improve the way you feel without affecting any risk factors that are there. Through persistence and positive practices it is possible for people to decrease their risks of contracting diabetes significantly.

Photo “Diabetes” by Anthony Cunningham for Zoom Health

Zoom Health is a leading UK supplier of Home Health Tests and Earplugs

You May Also Like: