Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high, since your body can’t regulate it properly. The insulin hormone regulates blood sugar, but people with diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or have a resistance to insulin. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common, and is caused by a decreased sensitivity to insulin. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is mostly preventable. Since it’s often linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes can have serious health consequences, including stroke and heart disease. Thankfully, you can lower your risk of diabetes by making healthy lifestyle changes. Here are 15 simple steps to help prevent type 2 diabetes!
15 Steps to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
1. Maintain a healthy weight
The most important way to lower your risk of diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss is hard and takes time, so make sure any weight-loss program you try is sustainable. Avoid crash diets and opt for a lifestyle change instead.
2. Get active
We asked Dr. Lina Velikova for her professional advice on how to prevent type 2 diabetes with exercise. She had this to say:
The current recommendation is to have 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week (or 2.5 hours a week) of moderate physical activity to prevent type 2 diabetes.”
It could be as simple as walking your dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing crunches or squats while watching TV. Check out our beginner workouts, and get moving!
3. Eat plenty of fiber
Fiber is crucial for stabilizing your blood sugar. A high-fiber diet also helps you lose weight, since high-fiber foods keep you full for hours. Add ingredients like these 31 high-fiber foods to your diet. Dr. Velikova added,
Some of the most beneficial foods are the ones that are rich in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and beans.”
4. Switch to whole grains
Whole grains are naturally high in fiber, and contain tons of vitamins and minerals that are important for your overall health. Dr. Velikova mentioned,
Whole grains are especially beneficial for diabetes type 2 prevention, as they can help with blood sugar levels.”
Whole grain doesn’t just mean whole wheat, either! Foods including: Farro, brown rice, and quinoa are all delicious and versatile options.
5. Eat healthy fats
Healthy fats, like the ones found in salmon, avocado, and coconut oil, can help your body burn fat. They can also help lower your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Try these 7 healthy fats that promote weight loss.
6. Spice it up
Add spices to your meals to add flavor, antioxidants, and fiber. Many spices, including cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger, can even help improve insulin sensitivity.
7. Cook your own meals
One of the best ways to eat and live healthier is to cook your own meals. When you prepare your food, you know what’s in it. Many packaged foods and restaurant dishes are loaded with sugar, sodium, and calories, all of which increase your risk of diabetes.
Drink lots of water to improve your digestion, your metabolism, and your energy levels. Here are 10 ways drinking water can help you lose weight.
9. Skip the soda
Cutting out soda will greatly reduce your sugar and calorie intake, which is excellent for your overall health. Diet soda is no better! Fake sugar is just as bad for you as real sugar.
10. Quit smoking
Smokers are at a higher risk for diabetes. It’s incredibly difficult to quit smoking, but it will do wonders for your health.
11. Limit alcohol
Moderate drinking (one glass a day for women, two for men) may not be so bad for you, but heavy drinking increases your risk of diabetes.
12. Get enough sleep
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do! Not getting enough sleep can cause your metabolism to slow down, your body to store fat, and you to crave a midnight snack. If you have trouble sleeping, take a look at these 9 tips to get better sleep.
13. Work standing up
If you have the option of using a standing desk at work, use it! You can even build a treadmill desk! Studies have shown that people with more sedentary lifestyles have shorter life expectancy. If you don’t have the option of standing at work, get up regularly to take a quick walk around the office or stretch. SkinnyMs. Co-Founder, Gale Compton, works and walks on her Treadmill Desk. She reports that on a typical day, she burns between 2K -3K calories while working and walking.
14. Turn off the TV
The hours spent in front of the TV every day could be spent in an active, productive way. Turn off the tube and go for a walk, take a yoga class, or play with your kids. It’s a great way to find time for your daily physical activity!
According to Functional Medicine Physician Assistant, Jon Mitchell, turning off the TV can provide additional benefits:
Research shows that exposure to blue light at night time will increase your risk for insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes. In order to combat this, it is best to avoid all blue light 2 hours before bed time (cell phones, T.V.’s, computers, and LED lights). Another effective strategy is to wear blue light blocking glasses 2 hours before bed.”
Stress has been linked to weight gain. Take some time for yourself every day to do something calming and centering. That could be meditation, exercise, reading, a nap, or anything else that makes you feel good. Dr. Velikova finished with this:
Reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes isn’t about quick weight loss, but consistent change in lifestyle habits and diet. Adopting a healthy lifestyle without smoking, processed food, sugar, and alcohol is a good way to prevent type 2 diabetes.”