Steps to Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
The HealthCentral Editorial Team | March 26, 2012
Healthy lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise, can help you prevent type 2 diabetes. Even if diabetes runs in your family, you can prevent the disease. If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, the same healthy lifestyle choices can help you prevent potentially serious complications. This diabetes month, make focusing on lifestyle changes a priority.
Eat healthy foods
Choose fiber-rich food (whole grains, legumes, nuts) as the main source of carbohydrates, along with a high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Walnuts in particular have cholesterol-lowering properties and are a good source of antioxidants and alpha-linolenic acid.
Sedentary habits, especially TV watching, are associated with significantly higher risks for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Regular exercise, even of moderate intensity (such as brisk walking), improves insulin sensitivity and may play a significant role in preventing type 2 diabetes – regardless of weight loss. An important study reported a 58% lower risk for type 2 diabetes in adults who performed moderate exercise for as little as 2.5 hours a week.
Maintain your weight
Being overweight is the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Even modest weight loss can help prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. It can also help control or even stop progression of type 2 diabetes in people with the condition and reduce risk factors for heart disease. Patients should aim to lose weight if their body mass index (BMI) is 25 to 29 (overweight) or higher (obese).
Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked
Starting at age 18, get your blood pressure checked at least once every two years. It’s important to get your blood pressure checked often, especially if you are over 40 years old. Also, talk to a doctor about getting your cholesterol checked. Most men need their cholesterol checked at least once every five years. Women at risk for heart disease need their cholesterol checked every five years.
Talk to a doctor about your diabetes risk
Tell your doctor about your family history and your current lifestyle and be sure to ask any questions you might have so that a proper risk assessment can be made.