One of the most common worldwide chronic diseases affecting millions of people is diabetes. If diabetes is not controlled or poorly controlled, that can cause other medical complications like blindness, heart disease, kidney failure etc.
Before the occurrence of diabetes the blood glucose levels in the human body are high even though not to that extent to be considered diabetes. Therefore, this period is called pre-diabetes.
As estimated, around 70% of people diagnosed with pre-diabetes are likely to develop type II diabetes. However, the progression of pre-diabetes and occurrence of diabetes can be avoided.
Although there are certain factors of risk which can not be controlled for example the person’s genes, past behavior or age, there are still many things which can be done to prevent the occurrence of diabetes. Here is a list of some of the things a person could do to reduce the risk of diabetes.
1. Reducing the consumption of sugar and refined carbs
Sugars and refined carbonhydrates are the most common risk elements because they increase the blood glucose levels as well as the insulin ones. Therefore, it is very important to avoid them since that leads to reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
2. Exercise More
It sounds too simple to be true, but exercise has been shown to reduce your risk of developing diabetes, whereas inactivity has been shown to drastically increase the risk.
While high-intensity exercise may offer increased benefits with regard to greater calorie expenditure and weight loss, research has shown that simply walking for 30 minutes a day may also reduce your risk.
Although walking is a great start, if at all possible you should focus mainly on high-intensity exercise and, more specifically, weight training as it can increase carbohydrate tolerance and insulin sensitivity. This is key for a diabetic as it can improve long-term blood sugar control (the key risk factor in diabetes).
Key point; Get active about 4 times per week, including high-intensity exercise and strength training.
3. Water Should Be Your Primary Beverage
We are sure we don’t need to inform you that water is by far the healthiest and most natural beverage one can drink.
After all, by sticking to water, you will avoid all those unhealthy beverages which are more sugar than anything else. Not to mention some other questionable ingredients, including preservatives.
We believe the fact that such beverages like punch and soda have been connected to the potential development of type 2 diabetes. But also LADA (latent autoimmune diabetes in adults).
One should also take this study into consideration, which observed the risk of type II diabetes in 2,800 individuals.
Another research claimed that neither fruit juice, not beverages which are artificially sweetened were proper beverages for the prevention of diabetes.
In comparison, drinking water may prove beneficial, particularly improved insulin response and blood glucose control. At least according to this study, as well as this one.
And yet another study which lasted 24 weeks observed overweight adults who, while following a weight-loss regime, replaced any diet sodas with water. The results were a decrease in their lower fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance, as well as lower insulin levels.
4. Maintain a Proper Weight & Low to Moderate Body Fat Levels
Research has shown that being overweight increases your risk of developing diabetes by over 700%, primarily because it increase insulin resistance, the primary risk factor in type 2 diabetes. Therefore, one way to decrease your risk of developing diabetes is to maintain a proper body weight which can be done through adequate diet and exercise!
5. Stop smoking
Smoking has always been connected with a large number of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer (usually breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and the like), emphysema etc. Your health and body would immediately feel the benefits of you quitting smoking.
Even second-hand smoking is not excluded and can be a reason for development of type II diabetes. Another study which concentrated on the risk in adult male smokers concluded that five years after quitting their risk was decreased by 13%. But in a period of 20 years, their risk was equivalent to the risk of those who had never smoked before.
6. Choose The Right Fats
Not all fats are bad. However, trans fats often found in baked goods, margarine and fried foods have been shown to increase your risk of developing diabetes, whereas polyunsaturated fats have been shown to decrease the risk of developing diabetes.
Here at Nutrition Solutions, our meals contain no trans fats, while some of our meals are high in natural, healthy polyunsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids – these have been shown to be also beneficial for our heart, general health, skin, hair and diabetes risk.
7. Size matters
Besides limiting your carb intake you should also limit your portion size. Eating large portions at once leads to significantly higher insulin and blood sugar levels as opposed to smaller portions. This is especially important for overweight people since cutting the size of the portion is a certain precondition for reduced diabetes risk.
A 2-year study on men with pre-diabetes shows that those who combined healthy nutrition with small portions faced 46% decrease in diabetes risk. Another study proved the same for people who controlled their portion sizes thus lowering their insulin and blood sugar levels in a period of 12 weeks and eventually their chances of getting diabetes.
8. Avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle
This is an especially important step in preventing diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle is when a person does little or no physical activity throughout their day. A number of observational studies have witnessed a clear connection between such a lifestyle and a larger risk of developing diabetes.
As many as 47 studies claim that those who spent most of their days sitting down had an increase of 91% of their diabetes risk. It’s not like you need to make some core changes. Anything as simple as taking short walks and moving around throughout the day.
Also, if you happen to have a desk job, it would do your health a world of good if you stood up and moved around for just a couple of minutes every hour. And yes, we know how hard it is to make changes in your way of life. Old habits, indeed, die hard.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to make improvements, as they will be well worth it. One 12-month study gave young adults a special program for changing their sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, after this study had ended, researchers observed that the participants did not decrease their sitting time.
That’s why it’s crucial to start off with baby steps. In other words, set achievable and realistic goals. A good example is choosing the stairs instead of the elevator and standing while chatting on the phone. This is a great start of reducing any sitting tendencies. And once again, it will be well worth the effort.
9. Eating a High-Fiber Diet
Fiber is essential for a healthy gut as well as proper weight management. Studies involving prediabetic, obese and elderly participants have proven that it helps in keeping one’s insulin and blood glucose levels low.
Fiber can be categorized into insoluble and soluble. The soluble kind absorbs water, whereas the other kind does not. Once in the digestive tract, the soluble fiber mixed with the water forms a type of gel which slows the rate at which one’s food is absorbed.
Which is great, since this also means a much slower rise in one’s blood glucose levels. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, has not been connected to lower blood sugars or any reduced diabetes risks.
10. Optimize Your Vitamin D
When controlling the blood sugar it is important to take into consideration the effect of Vitamin D. A lot of studies proved that people who are deficient in Vitamin D have much higher risk of getting diabetes. The recommended Vitamin D level is at least 30ng/ml.
The chances for getting diabetes decrease by 43% for those who have high levels of Vitamin D in their blood. A Finish study revealed astonishing results in observing children who were given Vitamin D supplements.
There are also other controlled studies which have successfully proven that people who are deficient in this vitamin and as a result take supplements show normalization of their insulin and blood glucose levels.
Good and in the same time natural ways in which you can avoid supplements but still get Vitamin D are eating food rich with this vitamin like fatty fish or cod liver oil and of course exposure to sun.
If these natural resources are not enough then you will need to go back to supplements in order to maintain the adequate amounts of Vitamin D in your body.
11. Less processed food intake
This should be taken as advise by everyone not just people facing the above mentioned health problems. Processed food is never good for your body and thus your health. Its consumption may lead to problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
This food should be totally avoided and if you find avoiding it hard then the best way is to try and at least limit its intake. The bad effects of eating packaged food which is full with additives, refined grains or vegetable oil has been a matter of interest in numerous studies and therefore, instead, people should include other healthy alternatives such as plant-based foods, nuts, fruits and vegetables in order to get nothing but positive effects for their body. Another study shows that the risk of diabetes is increased by 30% if consuming poor quality or high-processed foods.
12. Drink Tea or Coffee
We’ve already established that drinking water is the best way to go. But you can also add tea or coffee (or both) into your diet, as there is some proof of their potential in lowering your diabetes risk.
In fact, plenty of studies observed that the consumption of coffee on a regular, daily basis ended up reducing this risk by 8-54%! The greatest percentage, naturally, was in those with the highest consumption.
Similar results were seen in a review of several studies involving the consumption of coffee or caffeinated tea. Women and overweight men had achieved the best results.
This may be thanks to polyphenol content of both tea and coffee. These are powerful antioxidants which show promise in protecting one against diabetes.
Furthermore, green tea has a unique, special antioxidant compound named epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which is praised for both increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing the liver’s blood glucose release.
13. Take Some of These Natural Herbs
There are several herbs which have shown positive results in reducing our chances of diabetes (and even increasing our insulin sensitivity!).
It is the main component of the famed turmeric, which has been used for centuries in India, but has now gained popularity in the western world as well.
It’s potent anti-inflammatory properties not only work well against many different diseases such as arthritis. But they can also reduce inflammation in those with prediabetes.
A few studies reported an improvement in the progression of diabetes and a reduction in insulin resistance. The functioning of the pancreas’s insulin-producing cells also seemed to increase.
This can be found in a number of herbs and has a long history of usage in traditional Chinese medicine. It not only combats inflammation, but it also lowers one’s cholesterol and any other markers of heart disease.
A couple of studies have shown that berberine can aid those with type 2 diabetes thanks to its powerful blood sugar reducing properties.
In fact, an analysis of 14 different studies reported that berberine is just as effective as the pharmaceutical drug metformin when it comes to the effective lowering of one’s blood glucose levels.
Thanks to all this, berberine may also be useful for prediabetics in their efforts to avoid reaching diabetes. But when it comes to this, many more studies need to follow.
A word of caution. You’d be wise not to use berberine together with any other diabetes medications you may be taking. Unless your doctor says it’s all right.
14. Choose Good Fats Over Bad
The type of fats you consume is also very important when it comes to developing diabetes. What you should avoid is trans fats which can be found in fast food, fried food and packaged baked products, and instead consume polyunsaturated fats which can be found in seeds, nuts , liquid vegetable oil and fish.
However, it has been suggested that the polyunsaturated fats in fish can protect you from heart disease but not from diabetes. This does not mean that you should exclude fish because there is a big percentage of diabetics who have cardiovascular issues.
15. Moderate alcohol consumption
High alcohol amounts increase the risk of developing diabetes but we do not suggest cutting alcohol consumption completely or for those who do not drink we do not suggest that they should start drinking now.
Moderate consumption is helpful when it comes to protecting yourself from disease i.e. one drink a day or if you are non-drinker then other ways can help you reach the same result.
In conclusion, we can say that there are many scientifically-proven ways to prevent or manage diabetes. Pre-diabetes should not be pessimistically viewed instead, it should be a motivator for making positive lifestyle changes and in that way be able to stand up against diabetes.