According to the National Diabetes Association, 79 million people are pre-diabetic. This number is shocking, and means that you probably have someone in your life being affected by this disease, or may be currently dealing with it yourself.
As the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure among adults, diabetes is not to be taken lightly. The most frustrating part of the disease is that it can be prevented (and often even reversed post-diagnosis) with dietary and lifestyle changes.
If you have received a pre-diabetic diagnosis, don’t give up. There are many things you can do to take control of your health, and it’s never too late to start. Below are 6 of the latest tips for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
1. Exercise is Excellent
This advice often makes the listener unhappily sigh as they imagine a future full of painful weightlifting and strenuous physical activity, but it’s actually an entirely attainable goal, no matter what your fitness level: just walk. Yes, it really is that simple.
According to a recent study, a 30 minute walk a day can reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 58%. If you can’t walk, try some gentle swimming or an easy-on-the-knees stationary bike. Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can prevent or eliminate this disease, so get moving. (Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.)
2. Sleep is Super
Being sleep-deprived raises glucose levels, and that’s exactly what you don’t want. At least 8.5 hours of sleep a night has been shown to increase glucose tolerance, so make sleep a priority. A good way to start is by getting yourself in bed a half an hour earlier than usual until your body adjusts. If you feel better throughout the day, you’ll be more productive, so don’t lament the lost work hours—consider it choosing quality over quantity.
3. Protein is Powerful
For those trying to prevent type 2 diabetes, sugar is the worst food option, with blood sugar-spiking simple carbohydrates running a close second. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates like slower-to-digest vegetables and high-fiber whole grains.
For sustained energy with the best blood sugar control, however, protein is the number one choice, allowing muscles to take in glucose. Building muscle mass can help raise metabolism and promote the maintenance of a healthy weight, so try to include protein at every meal.
4. Think Twice About That Vice
Too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, increase bad cholesterol levels and lead to weight gain. Smoking can raise blood pressure and make the smoker two times as likely to develop diabetes. While red wine and beer have been shown in studies to have health benefits, doctors generally agree that this means one drink per day for women and only two drinks for men.
5. Give Back the Bedtime Snack
Try to cease all food intake 2-3 hours before bedtime. Eating too close to sleeping can elevate your blood sugar and cause weight gain, both of which can contribute to developing type 2 diabetes.
6. Everything Zen
Keeping your blood pressure within healthy boundaries is very important, so do anything you can to lessen anxiety. Monitoring your condition closely with a doctor can lower financial stressors, for example, because some health insurance companies will offer preferred rates to diabetics who maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are also no medical exam life insurance policies available that can give anyone peace of mind. Stress makes every medical condition worse, so find serenity in nature, yoga, exercise, therapy or by reducing your workload—any way you can—and your body will thank you.
Genetics play a role in type 2 diabetes, so if it runs in your family it’s especially important for you to consider using the advice above to prevent this disease. A type 2 diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Instead, it can be the wake-up call needed to make positive changes for a longer, better quality life.
Daron Skibosh is an insurance analyst in Phoenix, Arizona. He takes pride in assisting clients in selecting the best insurance to meet their needs.