Diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle diseases in the world. India is among the top three countries with about 64.5 million people affected by diabetes till last year. Moreover, it has been predicted that diabetes will be the 7th largest killer in the world by 2030. Diabetes is a chronic disease with no known cure and the medication available only helps in keeping the blood sugar levels as close to normal to avoid other health complications. But you should know that you can reduce the risk of diabetes by taking certain preventive measures.
A large proportion of diabetes cases are preventable. Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. Maintaining normal body weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a healthy diet can reduce the risk of diabetes.
Through lifestyle behavioural changes and healthier choices made early in life, diabetes can be prevented. Here are 7 tips to help reduce your risk:
1. Lose excess body fat: Being overweight is a big risk factor for diabetes. In contrast, every kilogram of weight lost reduces the risk of diabetes by 16 percent. Adopt a healthier lifestyle as opposed to going on diets or starving the body. Small lifestyle choices go a long way in controlling weight and maintaining long term health.
2. Follow a balanced diet with complex carbs: Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and good sources of fat. Foods to avoid are those rich in trans fats (also called hydrogenated fat), processed food, and sugar. Complex carbohydrates are rich in fiber and are not highly processed like refined carbohydrates. They take longer to digest and hence provide a sustained source of energy for a longer duration.
3. Keep yourself hydrated: Studies link sugar-sweetened beverages with obesity and diabetes. Cut them out of your diet and the risk of both ailments falls. Drink at least 7-8 glasses of water every day. Eat lots of fruits and sip decaffeinated herbal tea to keep yourself getting dehydrated.
4. Move your body: Physical inactivity raises the risk of diabetes. Exercise renders cells more sensitive to insulin. Brisk walking does the trick. Low intensity exercise done consistently over a period of at least 35-40 minutes, five times a week, should be more than enough to keep your body in shape. Over exercising on high intensity comes with its own problems, like joint issues, lower protein mass in the body as well as muscle fatigue especially when you are overweight. Once you drop some of the pounds, you can begin introducing strength, flexibility and endurance training. Make sure you do that with a trained and certified coach.
5. Stress less: The stress response triggers the release of several hormones that increase blood sugar. Studies show that mindfulness meditation improves the ability to cope with stress. Physical activity and social support also help relieve stress.
6. Sleep well: Chronic sleep deprivation and poor quality sleep increase the risk for diabetes and obesity. Try to establish regular bedtimes. Make sure you get enough sleep. 7-8 hours is ideal. Not getting enough rest not only affects your body – it influences how well you work and how much you enjoy life.
7. Get regular check-ups: The most common warning signs of type 2 diabetes are less dramatic than those of type 1 diabetes. Keep an eye on them. Even though diabetes can’t be cured, it can be controlled effectively; only that one needs to take certain precautions. With regular check-ups, you will not only be able to recognize any symptoms lurking around the corner, but also be able to take remedial measures sooner. A few lifestyle changes can help us in the long run.
The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author.