Improving your lifestyle could be a great start toward diabetes prevention — and it's never too late to start. Consider these tips.
When it comes to type 2 diabetes — the most common type of diabetes — prevention is very important. It's especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you're at increased risk of diabetes, such as if you're overweight or you have a family history of the condition or you have been diagnosed with prediabetes (also known as impaired fasting glucose).
Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully, becoming more physically active, and losing a few extra pounds. It's never too late to start. Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle now may help you avoid the severe health complications of diabetes in the future, such as nerve, kidney, and heart damage. Consider these diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association.
1. Get more physical activity
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:
Lower your blood sugar
Boost your sensitivity to insulin — which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range
Research shows that aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes. The greatest advantage comes from a fitness program that involves both.
2. Get plenty of fiber
Fiber may help you:
Reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control
Lower your risk of heart disease
Promote weight loss by helping you feel full
Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts are some foods high in fiber.
3. Go for whole grains
It's not obvious why, but whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and help manage blood sugar levels. Try to make at least half your grains whole grains.
Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including various bread, pasta products, and cereals. Look for the term "whole" on the package and amongst the first few items in the ingredient list.
4. Lose extra weight
If you're overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health, and you may be amazed by how much. Participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight — around 7 percent of initial body weight — and exercised daily reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.
5. Skip fancy diets and just make healthier choices
Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet, or other custom diets may help you lose weight at first. But their effectiveness at preventing diabetes and their long-term effects aren't known. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients and often craving such foods. Instead, make variety and portion control part of your healthy-eating plan.
When to see your doctor
The American Diabetes Association suggests blood glucose screening if:
You're age 45 or older
You're an overweight adult of any age, with one or more additional risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history of diabetes, a personal history of prediabetes, or a sedentary lifestyle
After age 45, your doctor will likely recommend screening every three years.
Share your concerns about diabetes prevention with your doctor. He or she will understand your efforts to prevent diabetes and may offer additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.