Never before have people faced as many diseases as we are facing today. Technology has made sure that our jobs are predominantly sedentary and modern medicine has enabled lifespans longer than ever before. Owing to a lack of exercise and a healthy diet, diabetes has become a widespread disease across the world. It is a chronic disease that afflicts the majority of the human population and can give rise to other serious conditions like blindness, heart failure, and kidney disease.
Can Diabetes Be Prevented?
Diabetes is classified into type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is triggered when the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed and cannot produce insulin anymore. It was formerly known as juvenile diabetes because it was most commonly seen in children. Preventing type 1 diabetes is not possible, and there is no sure method of predicting who will be afflicted.
Type 2 diabetes refers to when your pancreas does not produce adequate insulin, or when your body is unable to utilise the insulin produced properly. This is recognised as insulin resistance. People with a genetic predisposition to diabetes are at a higher risk of developing the disease. There are other factors like your age, weight, ethnicity, or having other illnesses that can make you vulnerable to developing diabetes.
Being prediabetic also means that you are at a higher risk of eventually developing diabetes. Prediabetes is a phase when the blood sugar is high but not enough to be classified as diabetes. An approximate of 70% of people who are prediabetic develop diabetes over time. The good news is that graduating from prediabetes to diabetes can be prevented.
15 Ways to Prevent Developing Diabetes
Prevention or a delay of onset of diabetes is mostly about a change in lifestyle to accommodate healthier food and more activity. If you are at high risk of developing diabetes, then you can prevent or delay it by incorporating these measures to prevent diabetes into your lifestyle.
1. Remove Refined Carbohydrates from Your Diet and Reduce the Intake of Sugar
Refined carbs are broken down the fastest into sugar molecules for absorption by the body. This requires the body to increase insulin production immediately. When resistance to insulin begins, the pancreas increases the production of insulin to mitigate the blood sugar levels. In the long run, this causes the pancreas to eventually break down from constantly overworking to meet insulin requirements. Reducing refined carbs and replacing them with nutritious food can delay the onset of diabetes.
2. Drink As Much Water As You Can in a Day
Drinking more water helps you remain hydrated while staying calorie-free. Water helps flush out toxins from the body, and it helps to remove waste from the body through urine and sweat. If you replace water with other beverages, your risk of developing diabetes increases because colas and other juices are artificially sweetened and contain loads of sugar. Water, however, has been known to improve insulin response and lead to better sugar control in blood; a study conducted on overweight adults showed that replacing soda with water during a weight-loss program led to a decrease in insulin resistance.
3. Exercise Regularly and Be Active
Having an active lifestyle is a crucial part of preventing the occurrence of diabetes. When individuals exercise regularly, the muscles use the excess sugar from the blood to create required energy, and therefore, the sugars are not further converted to fat cells. Regular exercise is crucial to lose weight as well as maintain optimum body weight. Exercising also betters insulin sensitivity, and it sharply improves glycaemic control in the body. This drastically reduces the risk of becoming diabetic.
4. Shed Those Extra Pounds If You are Overweight or Obese
Fat cells are known to be the most resistant to insulin absorption in the body. While muscles absorb insulin readily, fat cells block absorption of available insulin, allowing the sugars to remain in the blood for much longer. This spike in sugar requires more insulin production which stresses the pancreas. It is important to lose the fat in particular areas of the body, especially the abdomen region. Fat around the waist is very stubborn, and it puts pressure on the pancreas by increasing insulin resistance.
5. Control Your Intake of Processed Foods and Take-Out
To avoid an increase in your blood sugar, you must avoid or reduce your intake of processed foods. Processed foods have very little nutritional value, but are high in refined carbohydrates that are quick to break down into sugars. Food from restaurants is also high in unhealthy fat (like hydrogenated fats) which lower your HDL and increase your LDL. The chances are that such foods are also high in salt content, putting you at risk for high blood pressure.
6. Watch Your Blood Pressure Closely
Global studies have confirmed that having high blood pressure can increase your risk of developing diabetes by 60%. Having high blood pressure increases your risk for heart diseases as well as obesity too. Obesity is directly linked to type 2 diabetes. It is important, therefore, to maintain optimum blood pressure and keep obesity and diabetes at bay for longer.
7. Do Not Smoke
Smoking contributes to the development of several acute health conditions like heart and lung diseases, cancers, emphysema, and other conditions. An analysis of numerous studies showed that smoking increased the risk of diabetes by 44%- 61% in regular smokers. It clearly indicated that middle-aged smokers who had quit had a 13% reduced risk of developing diabetes.
8. Limit Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol leads to the addition of empty calories. These calories have no nutritional value but definitely lead to an increase in weight. Alcohol is also known to elevate blood pressure and increase the triglycerides in the body. Regulate your alcohol consumption and eat a healthy meal while having a drink, instead of snacking on fried food.
9. Eat Fibrous Food and Reduced Carbs
Foods that are high in fibre help in controlling your body weight. It improves digestion and controls blood sugar. Fibres can be classified into soluble fibres and insoluble fibres. Soluble fibres absorb water and become gel-like in the digestive tract. This helps slow down the absorption rate of food. Blood sugar gradually rises when food is absorbed in a regulated manner. Insoluble fibres help by preventing weight gain.
10. Don’t Get Swayed by Trending Fads in Dieting
Diets like the ketogenic diet, low-carb diets, or glycaemic index diet might help with instant weight loss, but maintaining this in the long run may be difficult. Going on a diet and starving your body of certain food groups can put you at the risk of contracting other diseases and making your body vulnerable. Diets are also very hard to follow through in the long run, and you may end up binge-eating sweets or carbohydrates to satiate your cravings. This can be more harmful than eating a little chocolate or having small portions of carbs on a regular basis.
11. Consume Whole Grains
One of the best foods to eat to avoid diabetes is whole grains and cereals. This is because whole grains are less processed. It takes more time to break down whole grains and release the sugars into your bloodstream. Ensure that at least half of your daily intake consists of whole grains like rice, quinoa, corn, sorghum, or oats.
12. Control Your Portion Sizes at Mealtimes
Avoid eating large portions at mealtimes. This is especially important if you are overweight or obese. Eating too much food can cause a steep increase in your blood sugar and the production of insulin. Reduced production of insulin and reduced blood sugars were found several weeks after controlling portion sizes in a study on weight loss methods.
13. Optimise Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is known to have a direct effect on blood sugar control. People with low vitamin D levels are more prone to contracting diabetes. The islets of Langerhans produce insulin more efficiently and normalise blood sugar levels when vitamin D is sufficiently available to the body.
14. Include Natural Herbs in Your Diet
A good way to prevent diabetes naturally is by including many naturally available herbs in your diet. Progression of diabetes can be stalled by curcumin, a component found in turmeric. This herb is known to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. It increases insulin sensitivity and improves the functioning of the pancreas.
Berberine found in several herbs also helps to fight cholesterol accumulation and reduces heart disease markers in the body.
15. Have Regular Medical Check-Ups
Be regular to medical check-ups. Get yourself tested for prediabetes and diabetes on a regular basis. If you are genetically predisposed to having diabetes, ask your doctor what you can do to avoid or delay it.
Answered below are some frequently asked questions about diabetes:
1. Can You Prevent Diabetes If It Runs in Your Family?
Although genetics play a large part in a person developing diabetes, you can avoid diabetes or delay its onset with regular exercise, healthy food habits, and regular medical check-ups. If you have family members with type 2 diabetes, it is prudent to check your blood sugar regularly, as people with a family history of the disease are at a higher risk. Thirty minutes of regular exercise is recommended for weight maintenance while 90 minutes of rigorous exercise is required to lose weight.
2. Does Eating a Lot of Sugar Cause Diabetes?
Eating sugar isn’t directly related to diabetes. While high consumption of sugar isn’t a cause for diabetes, it does increase the propensity to gain weight, which is directly related to the onset of type 2 diabetes.
It is important to remember that consistency pays in the fight against diabetes. Exercise needs to be a regular inclusion in your day. Choose an active lifestyle by walking to close by destinations, taking the stairs whenever possible, and choosing an exercise that you like so that you remain active. Eat healthy and fight diabetes the right way.