Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Eat Well and Exercise
You may be able to prevent type 2 diabetes. Even if you have several of the risk factors and even if you’ve been told you have pre-diabetes, you can take action and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Don’t delay: if you’ve been told that you’re at risk of developing diabetes, get started as soon as possible. Your healthcare provider can help you develop a plan, but it should include:
- Getting to—and staying at—a healthy weight: Being overweight (BMI greater than 25) increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so if you’re overweight, you should take steps to lose weight. By losing 5% to 10% of your body weight, you can reduce your risk. You can do this by eating smaller portions and being more physically active, which, conveniently enough, are two other ways to prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce portions and eat healthier: You should choose healthier food choices by reducing portions and limiting added fat and sugar. Choose more whole grains, vegetables, and lean meats and dairy products. Seek out new, healthy recipes; there are many cookbooks that offer lower-fat and healthier recipes.
A terrific rule to follow is: everything in moderation. Reduce portion sizes overall. Limit your intake of alcohol; you don’t have to entirely avoid it. Eat small, well-balanced meals spread throughout the day; larger meals can make it more difficult to keep your blood glucose level in a healthy range.
- Exercising: Exercise is important to help prevent type 2 diabetes because it has so many benefits. It can help you lose weight, and if you’re insulin resistant, it can help your body increase its sensitivity to insulin (exercise can help you use insulin better). Plus, exercise keeps your heart strong, makes you sleep better, and can even put you in a better mood.
With all those benefits, why wouldn’t you want to exercise? Because starting—and sticking with—an exercise plan can be tough.
Start slow, and take into account your overall health. Build up an exercise plan that works for you and keeps you motivated.
You should aim for a goal of at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days of the week. If you think that you can’t find 30 minutes, you can break up the exercise into chunks—10 minutes throughout the day.
Once you are able to reach your goal of 30 minutes of aerobic activity, you can then add strength training to build muscle mass. Lifting weights for 20-30 minutes two or three times a week is sufficient to get the full benefits of strength training.
Remember to always get your doctor’s approval before you start exercising.
Lifestyle changes are the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes, and if you’ve been told that you’re at a higher risk for diabetes—or that you already have pre-diabetes—you should get started right away on your prevention plan.
- American Diabetes Association. Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2009. Diabetes Care. 2009;32:S13-61.
- Becker G. Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the newly Diagnosed. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Marlowe & Company; 2007.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. January 30, 2009. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~n0K0MIfI1iZs.&selectedTitle=5~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.
- McCulloch D. Patient information: Diabetes mellitus type 2: Overview. UpToDate Web site. December 4, 2008. Available at: http://www.uptodate.com/patients/content/topic.do?topicKey=~X0jjLnBn4._ko&selectedTitle=4~150&source=search_result. Accessed April 20, 2009.