One of the most common worldwide chronic diseases affecting millions of people is diabetes. If diabetes is not controlled or poorly controlled, that can cause other medical complications like blindness, heart disease, kidney failure etc.
Before the occurrence of diabetes the blood glucose levels in the human body are high even though not to that extent to be considered diabetes. Therefore, this period is called pre-diabetes.
As estimated, around 70% of people diagnosed with pre-diabetes are likely to develop type II diabetes. However, the progression of pre-diabetes and occurrence of diabetes can be avoided.
Although there are certain factors of risk which can not be controlled for example the person’s genes, past behavior or age, there are still many things which can be done to prevent the occurrence of diabetes. Here is a list of some of the things a person could do to reduce the risk of diabetes.
• Reducing the consumption of sugar and refined carbs
Sugars and refined carbonhydrates are the most common risk elements because they increase the blood glucose levels as well as the insulin ones. Therefore, it is very important to avoid them since that leads to reducing the risk of developing diabetes.
Many research studies prove this to be true. For example, such analysis based on 37 studies shows that persons with highest fast-digesting carb consumption have 40% bigger chances of developing diabetes compared to those persons who have lowest intake.
• Regular exercise
Regular physical activity is another way of lowering the risk of diabetes. Exercising increases the sensitivity of the cells to insulin which means that when we do exercise the blood glucose levels are easier to be maintained and the amount of required insulin is less.
A significant discovery regarding pre-diabetes was made by one particular study i.e. persons who do moderate exercise increase the sensitivity to insulin by 51% whereas those who do more exercise increase it by 85%. However, bear in mind that this research was conducted mainly on workout days.
Doing activities which reduce the levels of blood sugar and increase insulin resistance can help people successfully fight against pre-diabetes even overweight. Exercises which are recommended as most effective are strength training, short and intense exercises and aerobic workouts.
The benefits of these frequent workouts refer to improvement of function and insulin response. As shown in another study, if one wants to reach these benefits the best way is by burning over 2000 calories per week through doing exercise.
Most importantly, it is advised to choose activities which the person enjoys doing and is able to do them on regular basis without quitting.
• Water consumption
It is generally known that water is the healthiest and most natural drink. Therefore, making water your primary beverage is a must since all other unhealthy beverages contain sugar more than anything else without mentioning the preservatives they include.
It is believed that beverages like soda and punch have direct connection with the development of type 2 diabetes as well as LADA i.e. latent autoimmune diabetes in adults. One study which supports this, observed the risk of type II diabetes in 2800 persons and therefore, it should be carefully taken into consideration.
Another research focuses on the bad effects of fruit juice and other artificially sweetened beverages which eventually lead to non-prevention of diabetes. The last study which can be mentioned in this context comprises a 24-week observation of overweight adults who as part of their weight-loss regime replaced diet soda with water. As a result, the insulin levels decreased as well as the blood glucose levels enabling bigger insulin resistance.
• Losing weight if obese or overweight
The largest percent of diagnosed type II diabetes persons are those who are overweight. Also, people with pre-diabetes in most cases have too much fat around their abdominal area called visceral fat. This type of fat increases the risk of diabetes considerably by promoting both insulin resistance and inflammation.
A study conducted on 1000 persons has proven that the more weight you lose, the bigger your chances of avoiding diabetes. Of course, you do not need to starve yourself in order to lose weight. There are plenty of healthier methods to choose from like vegetarian and Mediterranean diets.
Another study discovered that people who lost weight and reached satisfactory levels of insulin and blood glucose, faced increase in the same levels after gaining back their weight even though it might have been a small portion of the entire weight.
• Stop smoking
Smoking has always been connected with a large number of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer (usually breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and the like), emphysema etc. Your health and body would immediately feel the benefits of you quitting smoking.
Even second-hand smoking is not excluded and can be a reason for development of type II diabetes. Another study which concentrated on the risk in adult male smokers concluded that five years after quitting their risk was decreased by 13%. But in a period of 20 years, their risk was equivalent to the risk of those who had never smoked before.
• Low- carb diet
Ketogenic diet or low-carb diet has shown very effective results in decreasing the risk of diabetes even to larger extent. There is also a lot of scientific evidence supporting this type of diet and its effects. A 12-week study proved that people had increase in insulin sensitivity and decrease in insulin and blood glucose levels.
Ketogenic diets have also shown to be very beneficial in reducing the fasting blood sugar. Therefore, it is commonly acknowledged that by limiting the carbonhydrate intake the blood sugar levels will not rise.
• Size matters
Besides limiting your carb intake you should also limit your portion size. Eating large portions at once leads to significantly higher insulin and blood sugar levels as opposed to smaller portions. This is especially important for overweight people since cutting the size of the portion is a certain precondition for reduced diabetes risk.
A 2-year study on men with pre-diabetes shows that those who combined healthy nutrition with small portions faced 46% decrease in diabetes risk. Another study proved the same for people who controlled their portion sizes thus lowering their insulin and blood sugar levels in a period of 12 weeks and eventually their chances of getting diabetes.
• Minimal sedentary lifestyle
Doing little or no physical activity is being described as sedentary lifestyle. Plenty of studies confirmed the link between this lifestyle and the bigger risk of developing diabetes. 47 studies claim that people who spend most of their days passively i.e. sitting down have had increase of 91% of diabetes risk. Extreme changes are not needed but short walks or moving around is enough.
This is especially recommended to people who do desk jobs – a couple of minutes every hour would be enough to do your health some good. Even though we are all aware that it is difficult to make lifestyle changes since we all know that old habits die hard, you should aim to improvements and set achievable and realistic objectives.
For example, instead of using the elevator you can use the stairs to get to your office or stand up while talking on the phone. Even though this seems as a good start for getting rid of your sitting habit, the researchers in one study noticed that after the study ended, the participants got back to their old habits and did not decrease their sitting time.
• High-fiber diet
Studies have also shown that fiber is essential for proper weight management and healthy gut by keeping the insulin and blood glucose levels low. Fiber can be soluble and insoluble. The soluble kind absorbs water whereas the insoluble doesn’t.
When in the digestive tract and mixed with water the soluble fiber forms a kind of gel which slows the food absorption rate. On the other hand, insoluble fiber has no connection with lower blood sugars and decreased risk of diabetes.
• Vitamin D
When controlling the blood sugar it is important to take into consideration the effect of Vitamin D. A lot of studies proved that people who are deficient in Vitamin D have much higher risk of getting diabetes. The recommended Vitamin D level is at least 30ng/ml.
The chances for getting diabetes decrease by 43% for those who have high levels of Vitamin D in their blood. A Finish study revealed astonishing results in observing children who were given Vitamin D supplements.
There are also other controlled studies which have successfully proven that people who are deficient in this vitamin and as a result take supplements show normalization of their insulin and blood glucose levels.
Good and in the same time natural ways in which you can avoid supplements but still get Vitamin D are eating food rich with this vitamin like fatty fish or cod liver oil and of course exposure to sun.
If these natural resources are not enough then you will need to go back to supplements in order to maintain the adequate amounts of Vitamin D in your body.
• Less processed food intake
This should be taken as advise by everyone not just people facing the above mentioned health problems. Processed food is never good for your body and thus your health. Its consumption may lead to problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
This food should be totally avoided and if you find avoiding it hard then the best way is to try and at least limit its intake. The bad effects of eating packaged food which is full with additives, refined grains or vegetable oil has been a matter of interest in numerous studies and therefore, instead, people should include other healthy alternatives such as plant-based foods, nuts, fruits and vegetables in order to get nothing but positive effects for their body. Another study shows that the risk of diabetes is increased by 30% if consuming poor quality or high-processed foods.
• Tea or coffee
Adding tea or coffee to your daily consumption of water can lower the potential of diabetes development. If you consume coffee on a regular daily basis the risk will be reduced by 8-54%. This is probably a result of the polyphenol content of both tea and coffee.
They are very strong antioxidants and can protect your body against diabetes. In particular, green tea has a special antioxidant ingredient called epigallocatechin gallate whose features are praised for increasing insulin sensitivity and for reduction of liver blood glucose release.
• Natural herbs
The following are some of the many herbs which have incredibly positive results in the reduction of diabetes risk:
– Curcumin: even though primarily used in India this herb has gained its popularity in the western world as well. It is known for its anti-inflammatory characteristics which have very big effects against many diseases not just pre-diabetes.
– Berberine: it has been used in Chinese medicine for many years. It does not only have anti-inflammation properties but it also lowers the cholesterol and any other signs of heart disease. It is especially effective in aiding people with type II diabetes.
Many studies speak in favor of berberine especially in lowering the blood glucose levels. There have been some studies about its effects regarding pre-diabetes but more research needs to be done in this aspect. People need to be very cautious when taking berberine i.e. it is not wise to take berberine in combination with other diabetes medications unless the doctor agrees.
• Good fats
The type of fats you consume is also very important when it comes to developing diabetes. What you should avoid is trans fats which can be found in fast food, fried food and packaged baked products, and instead consume polyunsaturated fats which can be found in seeds, nuts , liquid vegetable oil and fish.
However, it has been suggested that the polyunsaturated fats in fish can protect you from heart disease but not from diabetes. This does not mean that you should exclude fish because there is a big percentage of diabetics who have cardiovascular issues.
• Moderate alcohol consumption
High alcohol amounts increase the risk of developing diabetes but we do not suggest cutting alcohol consumption completely or for those who do not drink we do not suggest that they should start drinking now.
Moderate consumption is helpful when it comes to protecting yourself from disease i.e. one drink a day or if you are non-drinker then other ways can help you reach the same result.
In conclusion, we can say that there are many scientifically-proven ways to prevent or manage diabetes. Pre-diabetes should not be pessimistically viewed instead, it should be a motivator for making positive lifestyle changes and in that way be able to stand up against diabetes.