Poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to type 2 diabetes if you aren’t careful. When you have type 2 diabetes, which is the kind of diabetes that results from diet and lifestyle, you deal with high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. High circulating blood sugar and excessive insulin comes with a lot of risk that you’d probably rather not deal with.
If a doctor has told you that you have pre-diabetes or your blood sugar is on the higher side, but you’re not diagnosed with diabetes, it’s still possible to prevent full-on Type 2 diabetes by making some changes. In fact, people have seen improved symptoms and have put their diabetes into remission by changing their lifestyle and food choices.
Understanding diabetes, how it works, and how you can prevent it is the key to changing course and reducing your risk of developing diabetes.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
If you have Type 2 diabetes, two things are at play. First is insulin resistance, where your cells don’t respond to insulin like they should. To combat this issue, your pancreas may try making more insulin, but this can’t go on forever.
As your pancreas becomes unable to produce keep up with more and more insulin, your body’s blood sugar levels increase to much higher levels than it should. Not only can high blood sugar cause diabetes, but you can suffer from other issues including heart disease, kidney disease, and even vision issues.
The good news is you can prevent Type 2 diabetes with proper lifestyle choices. Here’s what you should consider.
Lifestyle Choices that can Cause Diabetes
Eating an Excess of Sugar, Carbohydrates, or Processed Foods
A diet rich in processed and convenience foods can pave the way for diabetes. Foods low in fiber, high in sugar, and other additives can cause increased blood sugar levels and eventual insulin resistance.
How to fix it: Eat the right foods including foods high in fiber, low in sugar, high in good fats, and limit processed foods as much as possible, opting for fresh, whole foods instead.
Not Exercising Enough
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to diabetes. When you work out, you help your muscles use the glucose in your blood, which helps keep your blood glucose levels lower. The harder you work, the more your body absorbs glucose.
Taking a walk or lifting a few kettlebells right after you eat can help keep you blood sugar in check.
How to fix it: You don’t need to be a bodybuilder or do extensive exercises to prevent Type 2 diabetes. Instead, find what you love. It could be brisk walks, cardio workouts, or light weightlifting. The best routine is one that includes all of these throughout the week.
Smoking is bad for your body for a long, long list of reasons. Did you know that smokers have a 30-40% higher chance of developing diabetes than non-smokers?
How to fix it: If you smoke, work with your doctor to find the best way to quit. While some people can successfully quit cold turkey and never look back, it’s more common to need back-up. Work with a medical professional to find the best way for you.
Alcohol is processed in your liver into sugar and water. So, excessive drinking can cause your blood sugar levels to increase. If you drink occasionally, you probably aren’t at risk because of your drinking. However, if you drink often, it may be time to think about cutting back.
How to fix it: If you are a female drinking more than one drink a day or a male drinking more than two drinks daily, talk to your medical professional about ways to cut back or quit to reduce your risk of diabetes.
Obesity is the largest risk of Type 2 diabetes. The more you weigh, the harder it is for your body to absorb insulin, which leads to insulin resistance and diabetes. If you have a predisposition to diabetes because of genetics, obesity can make it even worse.
How to fix it: If you’re obese, make small, gradual changes your lifestyle. Eat more vegetables, and add some movement to your day. Diet and exercise are the two main ways to lose weight. When you give your body the nutrients it needs, it’s less likely to put you at risk of diabetes, and as a bonus, you may lose weight too.
If you have a family history of diabetes, it’s important to take care of yourself to prevent these issues. Fortunately, you can do most of the things yourself including changing your diet and exercise routines.
If you smoke or drink, do what you can to stop or limit your habits and if you’re overweight, work with a professional to see what you can do about losing weight and maintaining it so that you don’t put yourself at risk for Type 2 diabetes whether or not you have a family history of it.