What is the fastest growing chronic disease in the United States? You guessed it, type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of this disease may go unnoticed for a while. Perhaps that is why approximately 1 in 3 people have prediabetes, and many don’t even know it. Once diabetes progresses, you are at a dramatically increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and nerve damage. Check out this article for more information about type 2 diabetes and how it affects the body.
The good news is that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable! In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, 9 out of 10 cases in the U.S. can be avoided by living a healthier lifestyle. Read on for ways to lower your risk factors and to help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Keep your weight in check
The single biggest risk factor in developing diabetes is carrying excess weight. Excess fat in your cells disturbs the process of clearing extra sugar out of your blood. Because being overweight increases your chances of developing diabetes seven-fold, and being obese increases your chances 20-40 times, achieving a healthy weight should take the top spot on your priority list to prevent type 2 diabetes.
If the amount of weight you would need to lose seems daunting, take comfort in the fact that losing just 7-10% of your current weight can cut your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in half. Of course, it’s easy for me to tell you to lose extra weight, but as you likely already know, losing weight can be challenging!
Check out this article for more tips on how to eat to make weight loss easier. For more help with maintaining and losing weight, consider the Shapa scale. Be sure to read this article for information about how Shapa can help you reach your weight loss goals. This unique system gives you feedback about your weight, but not in pounds. You can read more about how Shapa works here.
Did you know that two of the largest and longest studies ever done on lifestyle, the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, showed that walking briskly for half an hour every day reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30%? Yes! I hope you’re as excited as I am about this news! It means that the long, sweaty, exercise sessions you envisioned are not necessary. Instead, brisk walking can sharply lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Not into brisk walking? Studies have found that 2.5 hours per week of any moderate aerobic activity can help prevent type 2 diabetes. But what about resistance training? Other studies have shown that engaging in resistance training 2-3 times per week markedly improves insulin sensitivity, thereby lowering your risk. Many studies have found that the most effective way to reduce your risk factors is to combine both aerobic and resistance training. They work synergistically to keep type 2 diabetes at bay.
Avoid being sedentary
It’s not just enough to exercise, unfortunately. Avoiding sitting for prolonged periods of time is also extremely important to help prevent type 2 diabetes. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, every 2 hours your spend sitting in front of the television increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 14 percent. If you have to sit for prolonged periods of time, make sure to take a few minutes every hour to get up, stretch, and move around. Although these days many of us work from home and don’t have a watercooler excuse to get up and move around, set a timer or alarm as a reminder, or keep something (like your phone) in a different part of your home that requires you to get up and walk to it every so often.
Don’t smoke, and cut down on drinking
Smoking drastically increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes – by as much as 44-61%. If you smoke now, quitting will immediately begin to reduce your risk. Over time, your risk may go down to that of a non-smoker.
As far as alcohol, anything more than moderate drinking (1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men 65 and younger) can cause chronic inflammation of the pancreas – the organ that produces insulin – leading to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Stay on top of your check-ups
The early stages of type 2 diabetes often don’t come with noticeable symptoms, and prediabetes is even more silent. Getting regular check-ups can help you catch rising blood sugar in time to take action to prevent type 2 diabetes. Although ideally you wouldn’t need a doctor’s wake-up call to get serious about making lifestyle changes, the unfortunate truth is that for many, it’s not until a tangible sign, such as a lab report, that they are motivated to take action. Staying on top of your health is important to help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes prevention is largely in your hands
I hope this article has shown you that you can absolutely cut down your risks of developing type 2 diabetes, and that steps to prevent type 2 diabetes can be manageable. If you’re at a healthy weight, continue to monitor it. Tools like the Shapa scale can help you maintain a healthy weight for years to come.
If you have weight to lose, remember that just a 7-10% loss can greatly impact your risk factor. Work on improving your diet (this article is a great place to start), and get moving. You got this.
Looking to sleep better, eat a bit healthier, build a practice of self-care, or just want to feel more energetic each day? Let Shapa be your virtual coach. Shapa focuses your program based on YOUR lifestyle and YOUR goals so you can build healthy habits and achieve lasting results. Learn more about the Shapa difference.
About the author:
Sharone completed her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Education at Columbia University. Having overcome her own not-so-great relationship with food, she is passionate about helping others achieve their health and weight loss goals while finding balance. She enjoys hanging out with her two daughters, husband, giant dog, and cat, especially all together when shenanigans are involved. To learn more about scheduling a nutrition counseling session with Sharone, click here. For more tips and tricks for nutritious living, check out Sharone’s Instagram and Twitter.
Check out more of Sharone’s articles on the Shapa Blog here.