Diabetes Prevention is no small feat. If given a choice, it is safe to say that most people would rather prevent diabetes than get the disease. This, of course, is mastering the obvious.
The good news with diabetes is that awareness of the condition is rising and in many instances it is avoidable. So, how to prevent diabetes? Let’s take a look.
Most commonly, people associate the prevention of diabetes with type 2 diabetes. The onset of type 2 diabetes is slower and can provide more advance notice, namely in the form of a pre-diabetes diagnosis.
Staggeringly, studies show that as much as 40% of adults between the ages of 40 and 74 may have pre-diabetes. Unfortunately, this number is expected to grow. This advance notice has been shown to allow a person time to take steps to prevent the disease.
Gestational diabetes is essentially a temporary condition during pregnancy and is not viewed as a preventable condition. That being said, proper diet, weight management and exercise may be a factor in prevention. Regardless, gestational diabetes can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes thus, like pre-diabetes, the condition serves as a warning sign to begin prevention.
In contrast, type 1 diabetes tends to occur quickly, with little notice, and may involve a triggering virus that is not possible to prevent. Thus, it is not fully understood if diabetes prevention is possible for type 1 diabetes.
Research has shown that certain lifestyle changes significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, one landmark study found that lifestyle changes lowered the risk of diabetes by 58% in high risk adults, and by a staggering 71% in adults over 60 years old. Need more motivation to get started preventing diabetes? Check out – Can You Die From Diabetes?
Probably not coincidentally, these same lifestyle changes are significant in minimizing diabetes’ impact regardless of which type you may have, or develop. Another study in Spain found that by following a Mediterranean diet, people were able to lower their risk by 83%!
Research has known that high risk people who lose only 5%-7% of their weight (if overweight) can significantly reduce their risk of developing diabetes. This is only 10-14 pounds for a 200 pound person!!! So, check out our weight loss and diabetes resources, Right Now!
By following the guidelines for eating and exercise below, accomplishing this goal should be fairly straightforward. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), sponsored by the National Institute of Health, published the following suggested weight guide.
The DPP recommends 30 minutes of moderately intensive physical exercise 5 days a week. Start slow here. Walking, swimming, biking and even dancing are all good ways to get started. If you have been inactive for a long time, build up to the 30 minutes, or even break it up into smaller increments throughout the day, such as three ten minute walks. The law of inertia say that bodies at rest tend to stay at rest. Correspondingly, bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. The important thing is to start moving!!
A recent series of studies also promote yoga for diabetes as a proven way of treating and preventing the disease.
The key components to a proper diabetes diet and losing weight are to limit caloric intake (take in less calories than you burn) and eat less fat. Try focusing on the following food types:
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat (or fat free) milk, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts. Limit alcohol and foods with saturated and trans fat.
Many diet experts are now claiming that traditional diabetic diets are unhealthy and that carbohydrate intake should be limited, particularly for diabetes prevention. Take a look at their findings: South Beach Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Zone Diet, and Atkins Diet.
Clearly, these three items are not overly taxing. In fact, whether you have diabetes, pre-diabetes or are just at risk, you should be losing weight, exercising and eating right.
So, now you know more about how to prevent diabetes. Talk with your doctor to see if you need to get going on your prevention plan!
National Institute of Health Publication No. 06-5334, Small Steps Big Rewards, October 2006 (Accessed December 2008).
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed March 2013.