Written by Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Unmanaged diabetes may lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and other serious conditions.
Before diagnosis, your blood sugar levels may be high — but not high enough to indicate diabetes. This is known as prediabetes. Taking a test like this oneTrusted Source can help you figure out your risk factors for this condition.
It’s estimated that up to 37% of people with untreated prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes within 4 years (1Trusted Source).
Progressing from prediabetes to diabetes isn’t inevitable. Although you can’t change certain factors like your genes or age, several lifestyle and dietary modifications may reduce your risk.
Here are 11 ways to lower your risk of getting diabetes.
The quantity and quality of your carb intake are both important factors to consider when making dietary changes to help prevent diabetes.
Your body breaks down carbs into small sugar molecules, which are absorbed into your bloodstream. The resulting rise in blood sugar stimulates your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that helps sugar move from your bloodstream into your cells.
In people with prediabetes, the body’s cells are resistant to insulin, so blood sugar remains high. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin, attempting to bring blood sugar down.
Over time, this can lead to progressively higher blood sugar and insulin levels until the condition turns into type 2 diabetes.
Many studies link frequent added sugar or refined carb intake and diabetes risk. What’s more, replacing these items with foods that have less of an effect on blood sugar may reduce your risk (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
However, all carb sources — not just sugar and refined carbs — stimulate the release of insulin. Although refined carbs are digested more rapidly than complex carbs, there’s mixed evidence that a food’s blood sugar increase is correlated with diabetes risk (5Trusted Source).
Therefore, managing overall carb intake and choosing carbs that are high in fiber are likely better solutions for preventing diabetes than just limiting highly processed carbs.
Examples of foods and drinks high in added sugars or refined carbs include soda, candy, dessert, white bread, pasta, and sweetened breakfast cereal.
Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and mushrooms, whole fruit, oatmeal, and whole grain bread and pasta are healthier swaps. These options are higher in fiber, which helps mitigate spikes in blood sugar.
Lean proteins like fish and healthy fats from olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds also have less of an effect on blood sugar. They’re great additions to your diet to help prevent type 2 diabetes (4Trusted Source).
Doing physical activity regularly may help prevent diabetes.
People with prediabetes often have reduced insulin sensitivity, also known as insulin resistance. In this state, your pancreas has to make more insulin to get sugar out of your blood and into cells (6Trusted Source).
Exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of your cells, meaning that you need less insulin to manage your blood sugar levels (7Trusted Source).
Many types of physical activity have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar in adults with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. These include aerobic exercise, high intensity interval training (HIIT), and strength training (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
One study in 29 people with type 2 diabetes found that HIIT, which involves bursts of intense activity followed by brief recoveries, led to improved blood sugar management and longer sessions of endurance training (8Trusted Source).
However, you don’t need to do HIIT to reap benefits. Short exercise bouts that last as little as 10 minutes, such as brisk walking, are great options. If you’re just beginning an exercise routine, start with short workouts and work up to 150 minutes per week (12).
Click Here To Read More https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/prevent-diabetes#2.-Exercise-regularly