When we talk about preventing diabetes, we are usually talking about preventing type 2 diabetes. Safe and effective ways to prevent type 1 diabetes have not yet been identified, despite the amount of research in this area.
Type 2 diabetes, however, can be prevented or delayed for many people, which is great news if you think being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is inevitable for you.
Reduce your risk
Decreasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes involves making lifestyles changes. Eating healthy, moving more, and losing weight if you are overweight are the most effective things you can do to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Even if you've already been told that you have prediabetes or that you have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, you still have the chance to make changes that can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.
Start by looking at your food choices. Diet is the most important part of lifestyle change. Small changes can make a big difference and help you take those first few steps to reduce your risk.
A good first step is to cut out highly processed foods, refined grains such as white bread, sugary food and sugary drinks. Plan your meals around vegetables, more plant-based proteins, whole grains, dairy, lean meats, oily fish, nuts and healthy oils such as olive oil.
Following the DASH diet or Mediterranean diet can help you plan healthy meals and snacks to reduce your risk. A low-carbohydrate version of the Mediterranean diet may have additional cardiovascular benefits for people who are overweight and have type 2 diabetes.
Moving more will help you prevent diabetes. Just a little extra activity each day can go a long way.
Start with limiting the amount of time spent sitting. Interrupt your sitting time by standing up and moving around briefly every 20 to 30 minutes.
Another goal should be to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (like walking, bicycling or jogging). Smaller amounts of activity can still have some health benefits.
If you have pre-diabetes, an eating and exercise plan that helps you lose just 5% of your initial body weight can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. Make an action plan and stick with it. Try not to get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results.
It can be hard to stay motivated, but reducing your risk of developing diabetes will help you live a longer, healthier life.
You don’t need to do it alone. Talk to your health-care team or contact Diabetes Canada for information about services and support available in your community.
Start with changing only one thing at a time. It can be overwhelming to try and change too many things at once, and you are less likely to stick with them. Set goals which are realistic and doable. Over time any change you make will become part of your everyday routine.
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