Diabetes is one of the leading health concerns in the Western world. Type II diabetes, the “lifestyle” disease that we most commonly associate with the phrase, can result in heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and countless other symptoms that can drastically reduce the quality of life or lead to early death.
The good news? Type II diabetes is preventable with diet and lifestyle changes. Even if you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you can follow these suggestions to turn your health around!
1. Exercise Regularly
Moderate physical activity to the tune of half an hour four or five days a week can cut your diabetes risk by half! Plus, if you get moving, you can also lose weight, increase strength of muscle and bone, and improve your cardiovascular health.
You don’t have to become a gym buff or elite athlete, either. Just half an hour of brisk walking will suffice. Just starting out? Try to complete this 7-minute workout.
2. Eat More Fiber
This is a simple one: switch out refined carbohydrates for whole grains and fill up on fiber-rich fruits and vegetables! Eating lots of fiber can lower your blood glucose and ease the strain of high blood sugar on your body. A fiber-rich diet can also help you maintain a feeling of fullness, so you snack less on unhealthy items like chips or baked goods in between meals.
3. Quit Smoking
Smokers are 50% more likely than non-smokers to develop diabetes, so quitting now is important to preserving your health later – in more ways than one.
Perhaps this lifestyle change doesn’t fall into the “easy” category, but smoking is an extremely important diabetes risk factor and not one to be overlooked.
4. Switch to Healthier Meats
Consumption of red meat – and especially processed red meat like sausage, hot dogs, and bacon – is linked with higher incidence of type II diabetes. While occasionally indulging in high-quality, unprocessed, grass-fed red meat is certainly okay, consider making leaner options, like chicken, turkey, and fish, your staples.
5. Lose Weight – Healthfully
Being overweight or obese is the most important risk factor when it comes to diabetes. Multiple studies have shown, however, that individuals at risk for diabetes can dramatically lower their risk just by losing a few pounds. The key is to do so in a healthy manner.
Rather than trying the crash diets that celebrities swear by, try to make long-term, small changes, one step at a time. Reach for a piece of fruit instead of a cookie; make a healthy dinner at home instead of stopping for takeout. These small decisions can go a very long way in helping you lose weight.
6. Have a Drink
This one really is easy – it turns out that moderate consumption of alcohol may actually lower your risk of developing diabetes. Moderate is the key word, of course: consuming a lot of alcohol can raise your risk.
That said, a glass of wine with dinner every now and then is an enjoyable indulgence and might just improve your health in the long run.
Are you actively working to prevent diabetes? What is your routine like?