How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

There are a few risk factors that can make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. These factors include being overweight or obese, or having a parent, brother or sister that has type 2 diabetes.

Also, if you are a woman who had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant, you may also have an increased risk for developing diabetes. However, it is important to note that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even completely prevented if you make certain healthy changes to your lifestyle.

Get Screened

Initially, one of the most important steps that you can take is to get tested for diabetes. Whether you are experiencing any symptoms of diabetes or not, you may have diabetes or pre diabetes, which is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be considered diabetes. If you do have diabetes, it is crucial that you begin taking the medications and/or insulin treatments that your physician recommends because serious health problems can occur if your diabetes goes untreated.

If you get screened and determine that you do not have diabetes, but you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, you can make certain adjustments to your lifestyle, including diet and exercise, which can greatly reduce your chances of developing diabetes.

Lose Weight

One of the best ways to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes is to lose between 5 to 7 percent of your current body weight if you are overweight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds are considered medically overweight, you could greatly reduce your chances of developing diabetes by losing around 10 to 14 pounds. Keep in mind that if you do lose the weight, you need to also keep that weight off in order to continue preventing diabetes.

Keep in mind losing weight is generally only recommended if you are currently overweight. It is important to speak with your doctor about what a healthy weight range is for your body type and whether or not he or she recommends that you lose any weight at all. There are certainly people that are not overweight that have type 2 diabetes, although being overweight is one of the biggest factors for developing the disease.

Exercise

You can greatly improve your health and decrease your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week. The physical activity that you engage in each week should be at least moderate level aerobic activity. Aerobic activity is also commonly referred to as “cardio” and is any exercise that stimulates your heart rate and breathing to increase in a way that can be continued throughout the exercise session. A few examples of moderate intensity aerobic activity include:

  • Bicycling at slower than 10 miles per hour.
  • Water aerobics.
  • Ballroom dancing.
  • Gardening and yardwork.
  • General housework.
  • Walking quickly, at least 3 miles per hour.
  • Playing doubles tennis.

If you are not normally very active, it can be a good idea to speak with your health care professional about what physical activities he or she recommends that you start with. He or she may suggest that you start slow by incorporating more movement into your everyday routine. For example, parking further away from the building entrance or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Even making just a few simple changes each day can help you to get moving more.

Also, you may find that after a while of doing moderate intensity physical activities that you want to increase to more vigorous intensity exercise. A few examples of vigorous intensity aerobic activity include:

  • Bicycling at 10 miles per hour or faster.
  • Swimming laps.
  • Aerobic dancing.
  • Jumping rope.
  • Uphill hiking.
  • Race walking, jogging or running.
  • Playing singles tennis.

It is very important to find activities that you enjoy doing, or activities that you can do with a partner or friend because if you enjoy the exercise that you are doing, you are much more likely to get into the habit of doing it frequently. If you can commit to around 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Diet

In addition to losing weight and exercising, you can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes by eating healthier foods that can help you to control your weight and nourish your body. When eating healthier, it is important to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods. These healthy options include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products such as milks, cheeses and yogurts
  • Whole grains
  • High-protein foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, eggs, lean meats and poultry

While working to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet, you should also learn to limit certain ingredients and eat certain items in moderation. For example, limiting your consumption of sodium (salt), added sugars, saturated fats, and refined grains and starches can make a big difference in your health. One way to do this is to try avoiding most processed and packaged foods, and instead use fresh ingredients to cook meals at home.

When you eat healthier foods, you greatly reduce your risk for becoming obese and developing a chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes. Plus, you are likely to find that after eating healthier foods you experience other benefits such as having more energy and getting sick less often.

Long-Term Lifestyle Changes

It is important to note that in order to effectively prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, the changes that you make for your health must be lifestyle changes that are going to be implemented for the long-term. Speak with your doctor about what weight loss, exercise and diet changes are healthy for you, and then get to work on implementing them. You may find that making changes slowly and getting support from family members and friends can help you to ease into your healthier lifestyle for the long-term. Just keep in mind that with every healthy change, you are protecting yourself from developing numerous diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

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