How to prevent diabetes?
Did you know that more than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented? So that means by making some changes to your lifestyle you could avoid developing a disease that comes with extensive complications including increased risk of:
- Heart attack/heart failure
- Limb amputation
It’s an illness that shouldn’t be taken lightly but what actually is it? And how do you know if you’re at risk of developing it? Well luckily, we’re here to give you all the answers you need, plus some advice on how to adapt your lifestyle to safeguard yourself against type 2 diabetes as much as possible!
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes in a condition in which your pancreas cannot create enough insulin or the insulin it’s producing can’t work properly meaning you have too much sugar in your blood. Type 2 is different to type 1 diabetes as it typically develops later in life and can be prevented whereas people are generally born with type 1 diabetes and are diagnosed early on in life.
What are the risk factors?
You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if:
- You have a family member with type 2 diabetes
- You are over the age of 40
- You have a waist measurement over 35 inches
- You are overweight
- You have a history of high blood pressure
What are the symptoms?
Even before you develop type 2 diabetes it can show its symptoms in a number of ways such as:
- Needing to pee more
- Increased thirst
- Feeling more tired
- Blurry vision
- Cuts taking a long time to heal
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, then you may be prediabetic – this is the stage before diabetes where the blood glucose levels in your body are raised but not yet to the point of being diagnosed. Finding out you’re a prediabetic doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you can see it as the perfect time to start making a change!
What can I do?
Now the important stuff…how can you stop it? There’s a lot of simple things you can do to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes whether you’ve been diagnosed a prediabetic or not.
Eat a rainbow
Not a literal one, that wouldn’t be very easy or nutritious. We all get told we should eat healthier and being overweight is the highest risk factor of diabetes but losing weight is much easier said than done. Have you tried thinking about it visually? By looking at your plate and the colours that are there, you can see easily if you’re getting enough fruit and veg in your diet and all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. This is also a great way of trying new foods and keeping your meals different and interesting. Remember the colours must be natural to count – brightly colour sweets and drinks do not count!
Start moving more
You don’t need to sign up to a gym or start running every day, but you do need to reduce your sedentary time as much as possible. We should be aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, and every little counts – here’s some easy tips to get you moving more, and you’ll barely notice it:
- Take the stairs or walk on the escalator
- Walk around the room when you take a phone call
- Set a timer every hour to walk and fetch a cup of tea or water
- Take a walk around the room or do some star jumps during the breaks in TV shows
- Get off the bus or tube one stop early and have a longer walk to work
When we’re stressed there are hormones that are released into our blood stream that makes it harder for insulin to work properly, this mean that you blood sugar levels rise. Often stress comes with lack of sleep, overeating and moving less as you just want to slump on the sofa after a hard day! Try to de-stress by looking at your schedule and making sure you have at least 30 minutes to yourself everyday – go for a walk, listen to some music or try a breathing exercise. This tiny bit of daily you time will make a huge difference.
Cut down on the booze
It is common knowledge that drinking alcohol isn’t good for us and our bodies. When it comes to diabetes, drinking alcohol to excess can increase your risk due to the number of calories alcoholic beverages contain. This will make it much harder for you to maintain a healthy weight. We’re not saying don’t drink at all – you still need to do the things you enjoy but try to stick to government guidelines of 14 units a week. Spread your drinks out and try and find a soft drink you enjoy alternating between on nights out so you can still enjoy socialising – you’ll be grateful for the absence of a hangover the next day too!
The main thing to consider is that reducing your risk of diabetes means changing your lifestyle. Make realistic sustainable changes that will help you live a healthier life for longer. Losing weight is challenging and at Doctors Clinic Group, we have a dietitian lead weight management programme that can help you in achieving your goals. If you have any concerns around your risk of type 2 diabetes, we have tests available to help you understand your glucose levels and our GP’s can support you in making the right changes.