Diabetes Prevention Tips

Around 50 million Americans between the ages of 40 and 74 have what is known as pre-diabetes – which is a condition that is a potentially reversible stage in the development of type II diabetes. Pre-diabetes is also known as impaired glucose tolerance, in that the individual’s blood sugar is slightly higher than that of a normal person, but not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. Those with pre-diabetes have a far higher chance of developing full blown type II diabetes if they are to continue with their lifestyle, but luckily, if they make some simple changes they can prevent their pre-diabetes from turning into diabetes.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

To understand how to prevent diabetes, you need to understand what the main risk factors for diabetes are. The risk of developing diabetes really depends on where you live – things like your environment and what food is readily available to you all play their part. The percentage of women expected to develop diabetes that were born in the year 2000 stands at 39%, whereas the percentage of men expected to develop diabetes stands at 33%.

Genetics play a big part in diabetes. If you have a close relative with the disease, you’re more likely to develop it yourself. Your ethnic background also plays a part as it’s thought that African Americans are more likely to develop diabetes than Caucasian Americans. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors and luckily, it’s something that you can change.

You’re also more at risk of type II diabetes if you suffered with gestational diabetes. Around 40% of women who have gestational diabetes will go on to develop type II diabetes, with the number rising to 50% if obesity is present. However, some preliminary research shows that treating gestational diabetes with lifestyle changes and medication could significantly reduce your change of developing type II diabetes later on.

Preventing Diabetes

One of the best ways of reducing your risk of diabetes is to up your exercise. Research shows that for every 500 calories burned off weekly through exercise, your risk of developing diabetes drops by 6%. That’s a huge amount and really, burning 500 calories off a week through exercise is not that difficult. That equals to half an hour a day of moderate exercise such as walking or dancing.

Also, by increasing your exercise levels you are helping your body to use insulin more efficiently – in fact, insulin will still be being used up to 70 hours after you’ve stopped exercising. These benefits are seen in both impaired glucose tolerance patients and diabetes type II patients. It should be noted that many of the benefits of exercise in preventing diabetes are independent of weight loss. However, when exercise is combined with weight loss, the benefits increase substantially.

Weight loss improves insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetes patients and it can even totally prevent progression to type II diabetes. In fact, one study showed that with both diet and exercise being used together as tools against diabetes, glucose tolerance improved by 76% compared to a deterioration of 67% in a control group that didn’t improve their diet or increase the amount of exercise they did.

Quitting smoking can also substantially reduce your risk of diabetes. Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day increases your risk of diabetes to three times that of a person who doesn’t smoke and who has never smoked. Smoking also increases your blood sugar and is thought to cause body fat to distribute into an ‘apple’  shape – which has been noted in being a key factor in type II diabetes.

Eating nuts is thought to have some preventative effect – women who ate five portions of nuts per week in one study were thought to reduce their risk of developing diabetes.

For more tips on diabetes prevention, speak to your doctor.