Diabetes is a silent epidemic that affects many Americans, especially older adults. Here are a few simple steps to lower your risk of diabetes.
These alarming statistics highlight the need to raise awareness and control the rise in diabetes, both at an individual and collective level. Thus, we bring you this comprehensive guide to help you lower the risk of diabetes to lead a healthy life.
What are the Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes?
There exists a diverse variety of factors (both genetic and lifestyle-based) that put you at risk for getting Type 2 diabetes. But, identifying these factors will allow you to manage them better, get ahead of the disease in the long run and stop progression in its initial tracks.
The risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes that you cannot control:
- Family history: Having any blood relatives with diabetes automatically translates to a higher risk of diabetes.
- Race/Ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups like African American, Latino/Hispanic, Pacific Islander, Asian- American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian are more prone to developing diabetes as they tend to have deficient potassium levels and a body type that stores excess fat easily. Also, the dietary habits of some regions in the world encourage the risk of diabetes more than others.
- Age: Aging is one of the most common risk factors for prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder mainly found among children and adolescents. Type 2 Diabetes usually is prevalent among those aged 40 and above.
- Gestational diabetes refers to the type of diabetes that happens to several first-time mothers and is known to go away after the baby’s birth. However, women who have experienced the same are at an increased risk of getting diabetes in their middle to old ages. Even their kids are more likely to develop diabetes.
- Women suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
The risk factors that you can control:
- Weight: A BMI (Body Mass Index) higher than 30 is a sign of obesity, and obesity increases the risk of diabetes.
- A poor diet and sedentary lifestyle
- A history of high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and cholesterol can stimulate dangerously high blood sugar levels, as seen in cases of diabetes.
Thus, one must try to maintain stable blood pressure, less than 130/80 mm Hg.
- Alcohol: As we all know, heavy alcohol use causes significant pancreas inflammation, hinders its ability to create insulin, and increases the risk of diabetes.
- Stress: The inability to cope with overwhelming stress in our lives can negatively impact our physical and mental health, and this poor health leads to diseases like diabetes and blood pressure. At times, stress can prevent us from getting eight hours of sleep, and the lack of sleep is connected with high A1C in Type 2 diabetes patients. Thus, you must find out and deal with what’s causing you stress by going to a therapist if needed.
How to Lower the Risk of Diabetes?
Diabetes is closely associated with severe health complications like eye degeneration, stroke, foot mobility loss, nerve problems, and increased mortality rates.
But on the bright side of things, the onset of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or even delayed by putting in adequate efforts. Here is how you can lower the risk of diabetes:
A higher fatty tissue presence is linked to higher insulin resistance. Thus, weight management is one of the most effective ways to lower the risk or delay the onset of diabetes.
You must make losing a minimum of 7-10% weight an immediate priority. Set reasonable weight-loss goals based on your current body weight.
Make sure never to skip meals and evenly distribute your main meals and snacks throughout the day to prevent binge eating that can easily cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
There would be no point in losing weight if you gain it all back soon. It’s best to stay away from unrealistic weight management diets like paleo and keto that promise quick results. If you want long-term and permanent change, sustainably lower your calorie intake.
Now, you should formulate a healthy diet plan with the aid of a certified dietician to fast-track your weight loss progress. Herein, you must cut off foods high in sugar and bad carbohydrates such as potatoes, items with high-fructose corn syrup, white bread, and other baked goods.
Throw out all the sweetened beverages and drink at least 8 glasses of water to sufficiently flush out all toxins.
To satisfy all the vitamins, minerals, fat requirements of your body, eat foods from all the food groups in moderation. Include unsaturated fats in the form of olive, sunflower oil, various nuts and seeds, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon in your diet for good heart health.
Since meats and dairy products are full of bad fats, limit your intake of processed red meats and eat lean chicken and pork. Turn to the consumption of smaller portion sizes to keep your blood sugar levels in check and lower the risk of diabetes.
Fiber-rich foods significantly reduce the risk of diabetes by slowing down the absorption of sugar, cholesterol and ensuring that you do not feel hungry at regular intervals due to their filling nature.
Receiving plenty of fiber through fruits, non-starchy vegetables like cauliflower, legumes – lentils and beans, and whole grains such as quinoa and oats will actively promote weight loss and improve your gut health.
Considering the endless health benefits of exercise, the American Diabetes Association recommends approximately 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
If you find that a gym membership feels daunting, start your journey with cardio and easy resistance exercises like yoga and weight training at home. Moderately intense aerobic activity such as swimming and biking for at least 30 minutes can lower the risk of diabetes by 30%.
Even small changes in your daily lifestyle can matter a lot. Take the stairs instead of the lift, do brisk walking whenever you have a call to attend, park your vehicle as far from your workplace to get as much movement as possible.
Reaching the milestone of 10,000 steps for five days per week can point to significant headway. Students and working professionals who spend most of their time sitting should also indulge in light stretching to break long stretches of inactivity.
Smoking is known to trigger insulin resistance on a large scale, leading to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The only way to combat this resistance is by quitting smoking.
As a current tobacco user, consult with your doctor at length to decide which counseling medication or products will be instrumental in getting rid of your nicotine addiction. Do not make any impulsive choices that can cause more harm than good.
Diabetes and Cancer
A fact unknown to most is that Cancer and Diabetes are similar- both disrupt the body’s normal metabolism. Naturally, they share risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, obesity, and an unhealthy diet.
Studies conducted by researchers from the John Hopkins University and the University of Oxford confirmed that type 1 and type 2 diabetes increase the risk of acquiring certain cancers like pancreatic, liver, kidney, colon, breast, and endometrial cancers.
Inversely, cancer and especially its treatment methods like radiation and immunotherapies increase the incidence of diabetes by six times than in people without cancer.
The radiation meant to attack cancer cells may end up killing cells responsible for insulin production as well. The risk for developing diabetes is at its highest two years after completing all cancer treatments.
When Should You See Your Doctor
You should get in touch with your healthcare provider to discuss the next course of action as soon as you notice any of these symptoms :
- Frequent urination
- Being more thirsty than normal
- Feeling fatigued all the time
- Blurry vision
- Wounds that go through a slow healing process
- Recurring yeast infections
Often, the diagnosis is delayed as people have no symptoms or misidentification of symptoms. Due to this, if you are aged 45 or older, you should partake in routine screening with diagnostic fasting and random glucose tests.
It’s essential to keep the bigger picture in mind, as it can take up to 10 years from the initial showing up of diabetic signs to a complete diagnosis. Adopting healthy food habits and increasing your daily physical activity can go a long way in lowering the risk of diabetes.
We must shatter the myth that eating healthy means punishing yourself for your past poor choices. You can make the conscious choice of eating healthy and enjoying it by adding your personal touch to recipes. Shift your focus to making the best of the food resources you have with you.
If you are used to eating an English muffin and coffee for breakfast, switch to a whole-grain bagel with unsweetened peanut butter and less sugar in the coffee.
If you have any more questions about diabetes prevention, feel free to drop us a word, and we will get back to you soon. If our content was of any help to you, please spread the word with others looking for similar guides.