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Preventing diabetes

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.

Reduce your risk

Decreasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes involves making lifestyles changes. Eating healthy, moving more, and losing weight if you live with overweight or obesity 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 can still make changes that can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

A healthy eating plan

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 of developing type 2 diabetes

A good first step is to include more vegetables, more plant-based protein such as beans and lentils, whole grains, dairy, lean meat, oily fish, nuts and healthy oils such as olive oil. You can also reduce consumption of highly processed foods, refined grains such as white bread, sugary food and sugary drinks.

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 or obese, and have type 2 diabetes.

Movement and exercise

Movement and exercise can also 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 could be to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (like walking, bicycling or jogging). Smaller amounts of activity can still have  health benefits.

Weight management

If you have pre-diabetes, an eating and exercise plan that helps with weight management can help to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. Research shows that if you live with obesity, losing just 5% of your initial body weight can prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. Speak to your healthcare provider about a plan that can work for you.

Get support

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.

You can create an action plan that works for you.

Start by changing one thing at a time, and try to set realistic goals. Too many changes can be overwhelming, and small changes can build lasting habits over time. If you have prediabetes or are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes, you may be eligible for the Canadian Diabetes Prevention Program at no cost to you.

Diabetes Canada is a proud partner in the Canadian Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is a personalized, wellness program with health-care professionals that empowers you to lead a healthier life and may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. To find out if you’re eligible join the program today.

Helpful resources

Use the following information to stay healthy and help prevent diabetes.

Get more information

To learn more about diabetes, our support services or how we can help, contact us.

Information and support services

1-800-BANTING (226-8464)

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