Diabetes prevention is in your control
Just because you have a family history of diabetes doesn’t mean you’re destined to the disease. A close family relative with diabetes is a risk factor, and the closer the relative the greater your risk, according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). But diabetes is one of the “lifestyle” diseases, so called because it’s tied directly to how you live, meaning prevention is completely under your control.
Large-scale studies, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program, prove that people with prediabetes reduced their risk of developing diabetes during the study by 58 percent by losing 5 to 7 percent (just 10 to 15 pounds) of their body weight through simple eating and activity changes.
Being overweight and eating a diet high in sugar, fat and junk food is one of the primary risk factors for diabetes. In fact, the more overweight you are with fat around your middle, the more you’re at risk of developing diabetes, according to the IDF risk factor test. Grab a tape measure to see if your waist is larger than 40 inches around for men or 35 inches for women, which indicates a high risk for diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Reduce your risk
The low-fat DASH Diet was originally developed to lower blood pressure without medication in research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Since then, it has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and improve reduced insulin sensitivity (a hallmark of diabetes) and is recommended by The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and The American Heart Association. It also jives with eating guidelines from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
In comparing this diet to a plant-based, whole-food vegan diet (no animal protein or dairy), one large review of all the literature on the subject found that while a semi-vegetarian diet that includes dairy and eggs decreased total cholesterol by 10 to 15 percent, a vegan diet with added fiber, soy and nuts reduced total cholesterol by a whopping 20 to 35 percent. Going vegan can make a faster, more substantial difference in preventing diabetes, and you can follow a sound plan based on research funded by the National institutes of Health and described by the founder and director of the Physican’s Committee for Responsible Health in his book, Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes.
Risk factor: Inactive lifestyle
Do you spend most of the day sitting at work and then sit down to a meal and TV at night? This type of daily inactive lifestyle is another diabetes risk factor, because regular exercise helps regulate your weight, helps your body use up glucose as energy, and improves unhealthy sleeping patterns that lead to diabetes, according to the IDF risk test.
Reduce your risk
A review of 10 studies by the National Institutes of Health found that even just walking 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 70 percent. Start small: Get up and walk around the block, no matter how often you have to rest or how tiring it is. Increase your distance each day as you get stronger.
Risk factor: Prediabetes diagnosis
If you are overweight and already have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, you’re greatly at risk. These conditions, if unchecked, lead directly to a diabetes diagnosis, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you have already been diagnosed with prediabetes (medically called impaired glucose tolerance), your blood sugar is already out of the normal, healthy range, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes … yet.
Reduce your risk
The ADA has found that 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within five years, but that doesn’t have to be you. Proven diabetes prevention is achieved simply by learning more about it and changing up your diet and exercise routine.