Reduce your risk of diabetes
World Diabetes Day, on the 14th November, has become a globally-celebrated event to increase awareness about diabetes. It’s estimated that over 347 million people worldwide, including three million people in the UK, are diagnosed with the condition. It’s thought that over half a million more people may have type 2 diabetes and not know it.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body can’t deal properly with glucose (sugar) in food. There are two main types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body produces no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body does produce insulin but not enough, or the insulin it does produce doesn’t work properly.
Type 1 is not linked to being overweight. Instead, the cells that produce insulin in the body are damaged for reasons that aren’t yet fully understood. There are no lifestyle changes that can lower your risk of type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 is the most common type. Around 90 per cent of people diagnosed with the condition have type 2 diabetes. The good news is that we can all make small changes to help reduce our risk of developing it. Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthily, becoming more physically active and losing a few extra pounds. It’s never too late to start.
When it comes to type 2 diabetes, prevention is important especially if you’re at an increased risk, for example if you’re overweight or have a family history of the disease. Small steps can make a big difference. If you are overweight, losing about five per cent of your body weight can greatly reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Every kilogram you lose can reduce your risk by up to 15 per cent.
Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle now can help avoid the serious health complications of diabetes down the road, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage.
Here are three tips to help reduce your risk:
Tip 1: Exercise more
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:
- Lose weight
- Lower your blood sugar
- Boost your sensitivity to insulin – which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range
- Research shows that both aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes, but the greater benefit comes from a fitness programme that includes both.
Tip 2: Eat foods high in fibre
It’s rough, it’s tough — and it may help you:
- Reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Promote weight loss by helping you feel full
- Foods high in fibre include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Tip 3: Go for whole grains
Although it’s not clear why, whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes and help maintain blood sugar levels. Try to make at least half your grains whole grains. Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including various breads, pasta products and many cereals. Look for the word ‘whole’ on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list.