How To Prevent Diabetes And Avoid Complications That Can Kill You

Graphic Illustrating The Many Complications Of Diabetes

The complications of diabetes. Source: Sanofi Diabetes

Diabetes, and especially type 2 diabetes, is a major global health problem. Therefore, it is extremely important for everyone to learn how to prevent diabetes so you don’t become just another statistic.

The good news is, diabetes can be prevented and/or delayed by adopting a healthy lifestyle. If your weight, diet, lifestyle, or other factors put you at risk of diabetes, it’s never too late to start correcting them.

The Role Of Diet And Lifestyle In Diabetes

What role do diet and lifestyle play in the onset of diabetes? One way to answer that question is by looking to science.

For example, several different studies published in PubMed attempted to find out if diet and lifestyle play a role in a person’s risk of developing diabetes. The findings are quite interesting.

One study was conducted between 1980 and 1996 on 84,941 female nurses. At the start of the study, these candidates had no serious health issues. Their diet and lifestyle were periodically observed and recorded.

By the time the study ended, 3300 of them had type 2 diabetes. The researchers analyzed their Body Mass Index (BMI), their diet, and lifestyle to see if they could identify common risk factors for diabetes.

The results clearly showed that obesity was the most important factor putting women at risk. Smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor dietary choices further increased their chances of getting diabetes. Of the diabetic cases, 95% had at least one of these risk factors.

The results of another study, which did a similar analysis on 42,504 American male health workers between the ages of 40 and 75, was published in 2002. At the start of the study, none of the men had diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or cancer.

Information about their diet was periodically collected by using questionnaires. During the 12 year study period, 1321 participants developed type 2 diabetes.

An analysis showed most of the men who developed diabetes consumed what can best be described as the “typical American diet”: a diet rich in red meats, processed meats, fried foods, refined grains, high-fat dairy products, and sugary desserts. On the other hand, those who ate more fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, and poultry products showed a marked reduction in risk.

The conclusion for those wanting to prevent diabetes is obvious: if you don’t eat and live healthy, you invite diabetes.

You can reduce your risks by making the necessary diet and lifestyle changes. Based on an article by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, here are four tips for preventing diabetes.

1. Exercise

If you currently lead a sedentary life, it’s time to start exercising regularly. A combination of cardiovascular exercises and strength training works best.

If you are overweight, you can start with cardio aerobics, skipping, and power walking because they promote weight loss. After you have lost excess weight, you can do cardio and strength training on alternate days. Always check with your doctor before you begin any new exercise or fitness program.

Exercise helps you burn calories and eliminate excess weight, one of the main risk factors of diabetes. It also increases the sensitivity of your muscles to insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels and maintain them within normal limits.

2. Maintain A Healthy, Diabetic-Friendly Diet

Ensure your body gets a good supply of fiber. Your body needs between 20 and 35 grams of fiber every day. Unfortunately, the average American diet contains just half of this daily requirement.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study which found people with type 2 diabetes who ate over 50 grams of fiber, especially soluble fiber, every day had better control over their blood glucose levels.

Eat whole grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables rich in fiber. Replace refined grain products like white bread and white rice with whole grain products like brown bread and brown rice. Whole grain should be the main ingredient in any grain based food that you eat.

3. Keep Your Weight Under Control

If you are overweight or obese, lose those extra pounds. Even a small reduction in weight can cut your risk of diabetes significantly. If you exercise regularly, eat healthy, and control your portions, weight loss becomes automatic.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a 7% reduction in weight reduces the risk of diabetes by almost 60%. When it comes to weight loss, a little goes a long way toward preventing diabetes.

4. Avoid Fad Diets That Promote Rapid Weight Loss

Fancy fad diets designed for rapid weight loss appear in the market with alarming regularity. It is best to steer clear of these. Their effectiveness is questionable, and rapid weight loss is neither healthy, nor sustainable long-term.

Also, the effect of rapid weight loss on blood sugar and diabetes is still not adequately understood. Stick to weight loss programs like the Salvation Diet which promotes overall wellness and provides healthy eating habits for long-term success.

Everyone should understand how to prevent diabetes because it is a widespread global problem. The risk for everyone is very real, but the good news is, you have a lot of control when it comes to preventing diabetes. Make the right choices from today forward, and you’ll never have to worry about diabetic complications that are actually capable of killing you.

The American Diabetes Association recommends getting checked for diabetes periodically if you are above 45 or have one or more risk factors.