November is National Diabetes Month; a great time to bring awareness to the chronic disease that affects over 30 million Americans. Before it can be properly diagnosed, the body goes through a period where blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This period is known as prediabetes. More than one in three adults have prediabetes and many don’t even know they have it. Prediabetes inevitably develops into type 2 diabetes in as little as ten years or less and uncontrolled cases can cause complications such as kidney failure, heart disease and other dangerous conditions.
How to Prevent Diabetes
While there are several factors you can’t change like genetics or age, you can adjust your lifestyle to reduce the risk of diabetes. Below are some simple changes you can start incorporating today.
Limit time spent sitting and get active. Experts suggest at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Regular exercise helps to increase the insulin sensitivity of your cells. When you start moving, your blood sugar lowers because less insulin is required to keep your levels under control.
Limit sugar and refined carbs from your diet.
When planning your meals, limit foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Your body quickly breaks down these foods into smaller sugar molecules, which are immediately absorbed into your bloodstream. The rapid rise in blood sugar signals your pancreas to produce more insulin to bring your blood sugar down. Over time, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Drink more water.
Soda and juices often contain large amounts of sugar. Opting for water over these sugary beverages can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Water has various benefits for the body, including helping your body eliminate excess glucose, which leads to better blood sugar levels.
Visit your doctor regularly.
How often you get your heart checked relies heavily on if you’re prediabetic or have diabetes. These individuals have a greater risk of developing heart disease and it’s the number one cause of death among people with type 2 diabetes. Scheduling regular visits with your doctor at least once a year can help you keep track of your health and limit your risk of developing many life-threatening conditions.
Smoking has been linked to several diseases, including diabetes. When you smoke, your chance of developing diabetes goes up about 30-40% compared to someone who doesn’t smoke. Studies show that nicotine can raise blood sugar levels, so it’s best to avoid smoking.
Eat a healthy diet.
A low carb, high fiber diet can help prevent prediabetes by lowering insulin and blood sugar levels. Minimize eating processed food, like chips, sugary cereals and lunch meat as they can all cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
Watch portion sizes.
Eating smaller portions has been shown to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consuming a large amount of food at one time can cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike.
Increase vitamin D levels.
People who have prediabetes should consider incorporating more vitamin D into their diet. Research suggests that vitamin D can positively affect blood sugar levels and insulin production. Foods that contain high levels of vitamin D are fatty fish, dairy products, and dark leafy greens.