5 Ways to Prevent Diabetes
October 26, 2021
November is National Diabetes Month, and with cases of the disease at an all-time high in the U.S., individuals must do everything they can to stay healthy. Learn more about diabetes prevention and also how to stop prediabetes in its tracks with these five helpful tips.
Diabetes is a disease that is increasingly making its way into the public consciousness, and not in a good way. In fact, according to USA Today, diabetes has a greater health impact on Americans than heart disease, substance use disorder or COPD, with 30.3 million Americans diagnosed with the illness — and many more who are at risk for developing it.
And those with prediabetes are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes in 10 years or less, according to the Mayo Clinic. The American Medical Association notes that 4 million U.S. adults have prediabetes. Check out the American Diabetes Association’s prediabetes risk test.
The good news: There are ways to manage — and even reverse — prediabetes. Renown’s Certified Diabetes Educator Stephen Compston, RD, LD, CDE, shares five steps for managing blood sugar and also avoiding an eventual diagnosis.
How to Prevent Diabetes
- Eat healthy foods. Plan meals that limit (not eliminate) foods that contain carbohydrates, which raise your blood sugar. Carbohydrates include starches, fruits, milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes) and sweets. “Substitute more non-starchy vegetables into your meals to stay satisfied for fewer carbohydrates and calories,” Compston says.
- Exercise. Blood sugar is the body’s basic energy source. When you exercise, you are lowering your blood sugar. “People with prediabetes usually want to stay off of medication, so they must add something to their normal regimen that lowers blood sugar,” Compston says. “In this case, exercise is medicine.”
- Lose weight. A small decrease in your weight can drastically decrease your risk of developing diabetes in the future. The Diabetes Prevention Program study showed that a 7 percent decrease in body weight (14 pounds for a 200 pound person) can reduce a person’s risk of developing the disease by 58 percent.
- Get more rest. Studies link sleep issues to an increased risk of insulin resistance. It can also make it harder to lose weight. Thus, people that don’t get adequate sleep are at an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
- See your doctor regularly. Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider at least once a year so you can track your health together. “A regular check-up and lab work can help identify what your blood sugars are doing so you and your doctor can develop a good plan for delaying the onset of diabetes,” Compston says.