Diabetes affects nearly 21 million people in the United States. And that number is on the rise. Experts at the Center for Disease Control expect diabetes to affect more than 48 million people in the United States by 2050. You don’t need to become a statistic. It’s never too late to make some small lifestyle changes that could be a big step towards preventing diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening for everyone at age 45. If you’re overweight with one or more additional risk factors for type 2 diabetes-such as sedentary lifestyle or a family history of diabetes-ask your doctor about earlier testing. Also share your concerns about diabetes prevention. Your doctor will applaud your efforts to keep diabetes at bay, and perhaps offer additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.
Check Your Weight
If you are overweight, weight loss is crucial for diabetes prevention. Every pound that you lose can improve your health. Overweight adults who lose a modest amount of weight-5 percent to 10 percent of initial body weight-and exercise regularly can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent over three years.
Think variety and portion control as part of an overall healthy eating plan. Watching the size of your food portion is essential to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Remember that a serving of food is defined on most products in cups, ounces or pieces. A portion of food is how much you chose to eat and is usually greater than one serving.
With your doctor’s okay, aim to be physically active at least 30 minutes a day. Take a brisk walk, ride your bike or swim laps. Physical activity lowers blood sugar and boosts your sensitivity to insulin. This helps to keep your blood sugar within normal range. If you can’t fit a long workout into your day, break the 30 minutes into shorter sessions throughout the day.
Eat Whole Grains
Whole grains are another important piece in preventing diabetes. They are the widely varied seeds of grasses that are cultivated for food. All types of grains are good sources of complex carbohydrates. They are also naturally low in fat. However, grains that haven’t been refined are better sources of fiber and other important nutrients. Rice, bread, cereal, flour and pasta are all grains or grain products. Eat whole grain versions-rather than refined grains-as often as possible.
The best time to address type 2 diabetes is before it has developed. Research has shown that a high fiber diet can help prevent this form of diabetes. A recent study reported that eating a fiber enriched bread for only three days improved insulin sensitivity in overweight women by 8%. Fiber is an essential part of everyone’s diet. Soluble fiber, found in oats, beans, apples, bananas, barley and berries, has been found to produce significant reductions in blood sugar.
Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber a day. It can reduce the risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control. It can even promote weight loss by helping you feel full longer. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.