Turning the Tide for the Fight Against Diabetes
This World Diabetes Day, we delve into the intricacies of prediabetes, a condition that affects millions worldwide, and emphasise the significance of early detection and intervention. Prediabetes is a silent alarm bell, signalling that your body is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. It's often referred to as the "grey area" between normal blood sugar and diabetes. Prediabetes can go unnoticed for years, making it a dangerous precursor to a potentially life-altering diagnosis. Taking a test can help you figure out your risk factors for this condition. In this article, we will delve into what prediabetes is, its risk factors, the importance of early detection, and steps you can take to prevent the progression to full-blown diabetes.
Following are 12 methods in lowering your risk of diabetes.
1. Reduce your total carbohydrate intake
When adopting dietary modifications to help avoid diabetes, the quantity and quality of your carb intake are both critical elements to consider. Carbohydrates are broken down by your body into little sugar molecules that are taken into your bloodstream. The ensuing rise in blood sugar encourages your pancreas to create insulin, a hormone that aids in the transport of sugar from your bloodstream into your cells.
Because the cells in patients with prediabetes are resistant to insulin, blood sugar levels remain high. To compensate, the pancreas generates more insulin in an attempt to lower blood sugar levels. This can lead to increasingly rising blood sugar and insulin levels over time, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes. Many studies have found a correlation between frequent added sugar or refined carb consumption and diabetes risk. Furthermore, replacing these foods with foods that have a lower effect on blood sugar may lower your risk.
However, all carbohydrate sources, not only sugar and refined carbs, promote insulin release. Although refined carbohydrates are digested more quickly than complex carbohydrates, there is conflicting evidence indicating a food's blood sugar increase is associated with diabetes risk. As a result, regulating overall carb intake and choosing carbs high in fibre are likely better methods for diabetes prevention than simply reducing highly processed carbs.
Soda, candy, dessert, white bread, spaghetti, and sweetened breakfast cereal are all examples of meals and drinks high in added sugars or refined carbs. Healthy substitutions include non-starchy veggies like broccoli and mushrooms, whole fruit, muesli and whole grain bread and pasta. These selections are higher in fibre, which helps to reduce blood sugar increases. Lean proteins like fish, as well as healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, almonds, and seeds, have a lower impact on blood sugar. They're excellent additions to your diet for preventing type 2 diabetes.
2. Workout regularly
Regular physical activity may aid in the prevention of diabetes. Prediabetics frequently have impaired insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance. In this state, your pancreas must produce more insulin to get sugar from your blood into your cells. Exercise boosts your cells' insulin sensitivity, which means you require less insulin to control your blood sugar levels. Many forms of physical activity have been demonstrated to improve insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in persons with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Aerobic exercise, high intensity interval training (HIIT), and strength training are examples of these. One research of 29 persons with type 2 diabetes discovered that HIIT, which consists of bursts of intensive activity followed by brief rests, improved blood sugar management and allowed for longer bouts of endurance training. However, you do not have to exercise HIIT to benefit. Short bursts of exercise, such as brisk walking, can last as short as 10 minutes. If you're just starting out, start with brief workouts and work your way up to 150 minutes per week.
3. Water should be your primary beverage
Sticking to water as your beverage of choice will help you limit sugary beverages. Sugary drinks, such as soda and sweetened fruit juice, have been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and adult-onset latent autoimmune diabetes (LADA). One large observational research of 2,800 adults discovered that those who consumed more than two sugary beverages per day had a 99% and 20% elevated risk of LADA and type 2 diabetes, respectively. Furthermore, one study discovered that drinking 1 sugar-sweetened beverage each day may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by 18%. Comparatively, increased water consumption may improve blood sugar control and insulin responsiveness. One 24-week trial found that persons who replaced diet sodas with water while on a weight loss programme had lower insulin resistance, fasting blood sugar, and insulin levels.
4. Make an effort to lose excess weight
Visceral fat, in particular, is linked to insulin resistance, inflammation, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Notably, decreasing even a small amount of weight — as little as 5-7% — may help lessen your risk of type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes, are overweight, or obese. A randomised, 2-year research of over 1,000 adults at high risk of type 2 diabetes found that exercise, nutrition, and weight loss programmes lowered the risk of the condition by 40% to 47% when compared to a control group. There are numerous healthy weight loss strategies available. It is important to prepare a balanced plate of non-starchy veggies, lean meats, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
5. Quit smoking
Many major health issues, including heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung and intestine malignancies, have been linked to smoking. It has also been linked to type 2 diabetes in studies. While the causes are unknown, smoking is thought to raise insulin resistance and impede insulin secretion. Furthermore, heavy, regular smoking is associated with a higher risk of diabetes than smoking fewer cigarettes. Importantly, research indicates that quitting smoking may lower the chance of developing diabetes. One major study of almost 53,000 Japanese individuals discovered that the risk of diabetes decreased over time after stopping smoking. Smoking quitting for 10 years or more may even reduce this risk to nearly the same amount as never smoking.
6. Portion sizes should be reduced
Eating meal sizes that are adequate for your needs may also aid in the prevention of diabetes. Consuming too much food at once has been linked to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels in diabetics. Eating smaller amounts, on the other hand, may result in lower calorie consumption and subsequent weight loss, which may lessen your risk of diabetes. While there have been few studies on the impact of portion control in adults with prediabetes, research in type 2 diabetes patients provides some insight. Following a meal plan with portion-managed meal replacements and adequate portions of other healthy foods resulted in weight loss and reductions in body fat in adults with overweight or obesity, including some with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, recommendations for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes advocate portion control as a means of assisting people in maintaining a healthy weight. Make your plate up of half non-starchy veggies, a quarter lean protein, and a quarter complex carbs like fruit or healthy grains to control your portion sizes. Choose an appetiser for your main entrée or request a half portion if you're at a restaurant that offers enormous amounts. Additionally, instead of consuming snacks straight from the bag, set an adequate amount on a separate plate.
7. Reduce your sedentary habits
To help prevent diabetes, it is critical to avoid sedentary behaviours such as very little physical activity or sitting during most of the day. Observational studies consistently relate sedentary activity to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. One research of almost 6,000 older women discovered that those with the most inactive time per day — 10 or more hours — were more than twice as likely to acquire diabetes as those with 8.3 hours or less of sedentary time. Standing up from your desk and walking about for a few minutes every half hour can help you change your sedentary lifestyle. Wearing a fitness watch or device that reminds you to walk at least 250 steps each hour may also be beneficial.
8. Consume a high-fibre diet
Eating plenty of fibre is good for intestinal health and weight management. It may also help avoid diabetes. This nutrient helps maintain blood sugar and insulin levels low in patients with prediabetes and older women with obesity, according to research. Fibre is classified into two broad categories: soluble fibre, which absorbs water, and insoluble fibre, which does not. In your digestive tract, soluble fibre and water combine to form a gel that inhibits food absorption, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood sugar. Consuming more soluble fibre may thus lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels. Insoluble fibre has also been associated with lower blood sugar levels. Discover our fibre supplement product here.
9. Increase your vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is necessary for blood sugar control. Indeed, studies have linked vitamin D insufficiency to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Some studies also demonstrate that vitamin D supplementation may enhance many aspects of blood sugar management in patients with prediabetes when compared to control groups. However, current evidence is conflicting on whether vitamin D supplementation might prevent the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. Maintaining proper vitamin D levels is still vital for your health, especially if you are low. Fatty fish and cod liver oil are excellent food sources. Sun exposure can also boost vitamin D levels. For some people, taking vitamin D supplements on a regular basis may be important to achieve and maintain adequate levels. Consult your doctor to determine your vitamin D levels.
10. Reduce your consumption of highly processed food
Reduced use of overly processed foods helps many facets of health. Many foods are processed. Thus, processed foods such as plain yoghurt and frozen veggies are not intrinsically unhealthy. However, highly processed foods have undergone substantially more processing and frequently contain additional sugars, harmful fats, and chemical preservatives such as hot dogs, chips, frozen desserts, sodas, and candy bars. Observational study links diets heavy in ultra-processed foods to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. cutting back on packaged foods heavy in vegetable oils, processed grains, and additives, on the other hand, may help minimise your risk of diabetes. This could be attributed in part to the anti-diabetes properties of whole foods including nuts, veggies, and fruits. According to one study, eating processed foods increases the risk of diabetes by 30%, whereas eating nutritious whole foods lowers the risk.
11. Drink coffee or tea
Although it is ideal to drink water as your primary beverage, evidence suggests that incorporating coffee or tea in your diet may help you avoid diabetes. According to studies, regular coffee drinking reduces type 2 diabetes risk by up to 54%, with the biggest effect shown in persons who consume the most. Another study connected regular green tea consumption to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Coffee and tea contain polyphenols antioxidants, which may help protect against diabetes. It's preferable to serve these beverages straight or with a dash of milk. Added sugars and syrups may raise blood sugar levels and reduce their protective benefits.
12. Consume Olive Leaf Extract
Olive, combined with its leaves, is a nutritious powerhouse. Recent animal studies suggest that olive leaf extract may help cure type 2 diabetes by reducing starch digestion and the conversion of simple sugars in the intestine while increasing cells' ability to use glucose from the blood. In addition, olive leaves protect healthy tissues from oxidative damage. Read more.
Parental prevention tips
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children is increasing. If your child is at risk of diabetes, practising some of the above prevention methods can be beneficial. However, some of the above suggestions, such as drinking coffee and stopping smoking, are inappropriate for young children. Here are some recommendations for diabetes prevention and management that are especially geared towards children:
- Get more active together. Encourage outside play, such as going to the park, walking the dog, or playing games with siblings. You can also organise family walks or treks so that everyone stays active together and your youngster does not feel singled out.
- Offer nutritious snacks. Provide snacks that are high in fibre and low in added sugars or refined carbohydrates. Switch out ultra-processed foods like chips and candies with fresh fruit with nut butter, veggies with bean dip, smoothies, yoghurt parfaits, or whole wheat pita pizzas.
- Limit screen time. Set a daily screen time limit for your child, including their time on the internet or watching TV. Instead, encourage other activities, like playing outside or doing arts and crafts. Instead of watching TV, eat meals together as a family.
The bottom line
There are numerous things you can take to prevent diabetes. Rather than viewing prediabetes as a precursor to diabetes, it may be more beneficial to consider it as a drive to make lifestyle changes that will help minimise your risk. You have the best chance of avoiding diabetes if you eat the correct foods and engage in other lifestyle habits that encourage good blood sugar and insulin levels.