Diabetes affects an increasing number of adults, and with rising rates of childhood obesity, it has become more prevalent in youth, particularly among certain ethnic groups. If you have prediabetes (high blood sugar that does not meet the criteria for diabetes), lifestyle changes can help prevent or delay the onset of the disease.
Making a few lifestyle changes now may help you avoid the severe health complications of diabetes, such as nerve, kidney, and heart damage, in the future. It is never too late to begin.
How can I avoid or delay the onset of diabetes?
If you think you are at risk for diabetes, you can avoid or postpone developing it. The majority of what you need to do involves adopting a healthier lifestyle. If you make these changes, you will reap additional health benefits. You may reduce your risk of developing other diseases, and you will most likely feel better and have more energy. The lifestyle modifications are as follows:
- Losing weight and keeping it off.
Diabetes prevention begins with weight management. If you are overweight, losing a few pounds can help your body’s ability to use insulin. By losing 5 to 10% of your current weight, you may be able to prevent or delay diabetes. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds, you should aim to lose 10 to 20 pounds. And once you’ve lost the weight, you mustn’t regain it.
- Maintaining a healthy diet.
Limiting the daily calories you consume is critical to losing weight and keeping it off. To accomplish this, aim to burn more calories than you consume. To begin, try reducing your fat, sugar, and calorie intake. You should also consume foods from each food group, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats are also good ideas.
- Say No to Salt.
Reduce your salt intake. It may aid in blood pressure reduction and kidney protection. It’s possible that not salting your food isn’t enough. The majority of the salt in the American diet comes from processed foods. When possible, avoid processed foods and use fresh ingredients. When cooking, use herbs and spices instead of salt.
Adults 51 and older and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should consult their doctor about how much sodium to cut. People with diabetes should generally reduce to less than 2,300 mg per day, but your doctor may recommend lower amounts.
- Drink plenty of water.
Water, rather than other beverages, may help control blood sugar and insulin levels, lowering the risk of diabetes. Drinking water often allows you to avoid drinks high in sugar, preservatives, and other unnecessary ingredients.
- Check your blood sugar levels daily.
You’re aware that you’re supposed to check it. Monitoring your blood glucose levels can help you avoid diabetes complications like nerve pain or keep them from worsening. Checking it can also help you see how certain foods and activities affect you and whether your treatment plan is effective. Your doctor can assist you in determining a target glucose level range. The closer you are to your goal, the better you will feel.
- Moderate to light alcohol consumption
Moderate alcohol consumption has consistently been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. The same could be said for type 2 diabetes. Average alcohol consumption—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men—improves insulin’s ability to transport glucose into cells. If you already consume alcohol, the key is to keep your consumption moderate, as higher amounts of alcohol may increase your risk of diabetes.
- Get regular exercise.
Exercise has numerous health benefits, including weight loss and blood sugar control. Choose something you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, biking, or simply marching in place while on the phone. Five days a week, try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity.
Exercise can help you reduce your cardiovascular risks, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also relieves stress and may allow you to reduce your diabetes medication intake.
Most adults’ weight loss and maintenance goals include the following:
- Aerobic exercise. Aim for at least 30 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise on most days, for at least 150 minutes per week, such as brisk walking, swimming, biking, or running.
- Resistance exercise. Resistance exercise at least twice a week improves your strength, balance, and ability to live an active life. Weightlifting, yoga, and calisthenics are examples of resistance exercises.
- Limited inactivity. Long periods of inactivity, such as sitting at a computer, can be broken up to help control blood sugar levels. Every 30 minutes, take a few minutes to stand, walk around or do some light activity.
- Get Enough Sleep
Excessive or insufficient sleep can increase your appetite and cravings for high-carb foods. This can lead to weight gain, increasing your risk of heart disease complications. As a result, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Treating sleep apnea can improve your sleep and lower your blood sugar levels.
- Don’t smoke.
Tobacco use can increase insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes. If you already smoke, make an effort to stop. People with diabetes who smoke are twice as likely as those who do not die prematurely—quitting smoking benefits your heart and lungs. It reduces your risk of stroke, heart attack, nerve damage, and kidney disease by lowering your blood pressure. Inquire with your doctor about tobacco cessation assistance.
- See your doctor regularly.
Make an appointment with your primary care provider at least twice a year to track your health together. Consult your doctor to see if there is anything else you can do to delay or prevent diabetes. If you are at high risk, your doctor may advise you to take one of several types of diabetes medications. If you use insulin or require assistance in balancing your blood sugar levels, you may need to visit more frequently. Eye, nerve, and kidney damage, as well as other complications, should be evaluated.
Discuss your diabetes prevention concerns with your doctor. He or she will be grateful for your efforts to prevent diabetes and may make additional recommendations based on your medical history or other factors.