Chances are your life will be affected by diabetes. One in three Americans are projected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, meaning that you or someone you love will more than likely have to battle the health complications that accompany the disease.
Although most commonly seen in adults over the age of 45, the choices you make during your younger years have a direct effect on whether or not you develop type 2 diabetes later on. This is why it’s important for you to start taking your future into your own hands now. Diabetes prevention starts with making healthy lifestyle choices.
What is Diabetes?
In order to prevent diabetes, you must first have an understanding of what diabetes is and how it affects the body. Diabetes is categorized by having unnaturally high blood glucose levels. Most of the time when people are referring to the disease they’re talking about type 2— although it does exist in other forms— which is caused by the body becoming insensitive to the insulin it produces, making it difficult for your body to get rid of the sugar in your blood.
The complications from diabetes are severe and can even be life-threatening. Those living with the disease can potentially experience vision damage, loss of limbs, and heart and kidney failure. It’s also a chronic disease, meaning once you’ve got it there’s no getting rid of it. This is why it’s crucial that you prevent developing the disease in the first place. Below are a few ways that you can keep diabetes out of your future.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
One of the most effective ways in preventing diabetes is to eat a well-balanced diet. This consists of consuming fiber-rich whole grains, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods will help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance.
Something to keep in mind is that just because a diet is trending online or in your community does not mean that it’s effective in preventing type 2. Diets that encourage the elimination of carbohydrates or other food groups from your diet are not only ineffective, they also can increase your chances of developing an insensitivity to insulin. You should always consult with starting any new dieting trend or program to ensure that it is a safe decision.
Eating a healthy diet can sometimes feel like a chore, especially when you’re living a fast-paced life. Instead of trying to do a complete overhaul of your eating habits, try limiting your intake of unhealthy foods and replace them with healthier options. Try avoiding foods that are high in sugar and simple carbs. For example, choose wheat bread instead of white, or poultry instead of red meat. When done correctly, these replacements will leave you less room for unhealthy choices and prevent you from eating foods that can cause insulin insensitivity.
Drink More Water
Another great habit you can develop to help prevent type 2 is to make water your drink of choice. Beverages like soda, juice, and coffee drinks often contain high levels of sugar and have a direct link to the development of diabetes later in life. Those who regularly consume these drinks are 25 percent more likely to develop diabetes than their counterparts who primarily drink water. While diet sodas and low-sugar beverages are marketed as healthier options, these options can also increase your chances of developing T2D and other diseases. The best thing for you to do is avoid these drinks altogether.
Conversely, increasing your water intake can naturally regulate your blood glucose levels, which can prevent your body from becoming resistant to insulin. If you’re struggling with making the switch to water, try keeping a reusable water bottle on hand for when you’re thirsty, rather than facing the temptation to buy a sugary drink when you’re on the go.
Avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle
While a sugar-heavy diet is the main culprit for developing type 2 diabetes, living a sedentary lifestyle can also raise your chances of facing a diagnosis. One study found that each hour spent sitting down increased the chances of developing diabetes by 2.5 percent.
When your body is active, it burns the sugar in your blood to use as energy. This process helps to naturally control your blood glucose levels and prevents your body from becoming resistant to insulin. The CDC recommends that adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate to intense exercise per week, of which should include a mix of aerobic activity and strength training. Although that number might seem unattainable to those who spend most of their time working in an office, this number equates to about 30 minutes of exercise daily, five days a week.
If this number still feels unattainable to you, remember that any sort of movement is better than no movement at all. Simply adding 10 minutes of exercise to your week can add years to your life. Try to incorporate simple things, like a brisk walk during lunch or a morning yoga routine, to help naturally add physical activity to your life.
Get Regular Doctor’s Visits
Regular check-ups with your primary care physician can provide insight into your personal risk factors for developing diabetes. They’ll also be able to give you advice as to what changes you need to make and how drastic these changes need to be.
In order for you to effectively prevent T2D, you first need to know how susceptible you are to develop the disease in the first place. However, it can be difficult to know how to bring the topic up to your doctor, so taking an online diabetes risk assessment can help provide a guide for addressing concerns you may have with your doctor.
If you are experiencing any of the early symptoms of diabetes, such as frequent thirst and urination, unintentional weight loss, or blurry vision, then alert your primary care physician as soon as possible so that they can test you for high blood sugar levels. Early treatment of diabetes is crucial in preventing future health complications that come with the disease.
Type 2 diabetes prevention begins with making healthier lifestyle choices. The best way to keep this disease out of your future is to adopt these changes, and make them your new normal.