Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tweaking your lifestyle could be a big step toward diabetes prevention — and it's never too late to start.
When it comes to type 2 diabetes — the most common type of diabetes — prevention is a big deal. It's especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you're at increased risk of diabetes, for example, if you're overweight or have a family history of the disease. In the United States alone, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect diabetes to affect more than 48 million people by 2050.
Tweaking your lifestyle could be a big step toward diabetes prevention — and it's never too late to start. Diabetes prevention is as basic as losing extra weight and eating more healthfully. Consider the latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association.
Get more physical activity
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. It can help you lose weight but even if it doesn't, it's still important to get off the couch. Whether you lose weight or not, physical activity lowers blood sugar and boosts 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 greatest benefits come from a fitness program that includes both.
Get plenty of fiber
It's rough, it's tough — and it may reduce the risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control. Fiber intake is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease. It may even promote weight loss by helping you feel full. Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
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 ready-to-eat cereals. Look for the word "whole" on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list.
Lose extra weight
If you're overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health. And you may be surprised by how much. In one study, overweight adults who lost a modest amount of weight — 5 percent to 10 percent of initial body weight — and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent over three years.
Skip fad diets and make healthier choices
Low-carb, low-glycemic load or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first, but their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn't known; nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, think variety and portion control as part of an overall healthy-eating plan.