More than 25% of adults are at risk for type 2 diabetes – and most of us have no idea. A poor diet, not exercising enough, even aging raise our likelihood. Fortunately, simple efforts to improve your health can make a big difference.
Read on for the latest studies and expert-recommended guidelines on how to stop this disease before it starts.
1. Get moving
Physical activity lowers blood sugar and boosts your sensitivity to insulin. Research shows both aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes, but you’ll get the best benefits if you do various types of exercise.
It is recommended a half-hour of mild aerobic activity (like dancing or tennis) five times per week, based on results from a landmark, 16-year study by the Harvard School of Public Health, which found that even brisk daily walking reduces risk of type 2 diabetes by 30%.
2. Go for whole grains
White bread, white rice and potatoes aren’t just bad for our waistlines: They all have a high glycemic index, which can cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels.
There’s no question that refined carbs, like white flour and sugar, increase your risk of diabetes.
3. Pour a spoonful of vinegar
Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day lowers the blood sugar surge you get eating from eating carbs, thereby lowering your blood sugar.
4. Spice it up
In an often-quoted 2003 study, Pakistani researchers along with Richard Anderson, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found even 1 gram of cinnamon daily reduces blood sugar.
Subsequent U.S. studies haven’t confirmed the benefits of the spice or cinnamon supplements, but diabetes experts still recommend adding it to your diet.
5. Drink more coffee
Hold on to your mugs: An 18-year, 125,000-participant study (84,276 were women) by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who drank six or more cups of coffee per day reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by nearly 30% – although that much coffee can pose other health risks.
Coffee has lots of antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid and magnesium (which can improve sensitivity to insulin), and was found to be better than decaffeinated coffee, though decaf also had some positive effects.
6. Eat your veggies
Experts differ on the best diet to keep diabetes at bay, but all agree you should eat vegetables – and some fruits, beans, nuts and seeds too.
It is suggested to trail an anti-inflammatory diet – whole grains, fruits and vegetables – and avoiding trans fats, chemicals and processed foods.
7. Trade meat for soy
If red meat is your main source of protein, replace some of your standbys with soy-based foods, like tofu dishes and soy burgers.
Soy protein helps regulate glucose and insulin levels, promotes weight loss because it’s low calorie, has no saturated fat and lowers high cholesterol.
8. Skip the sweet drinks
Drinking large quantities of sugar in a few quick gulps creates a blast your body may not be able to handle.
In a Harvard study following 90,000 female nurses over eight years, those who had one or more servings a day of sugar-sweetened soft drinks or fruit punch were twice as likely to develop diabetes. (Weight gain from the drinks was a factor too.)
Diet soda can make you hungrier and leave you craving sugar.
9. Reduce stress
Although research is underway to determine if stress raises blood sugars, many experts believe it does.
Encourage prayer, meditation, yoga and any kind of emotional healing.
10. Soak up some sun
Vitamin D, which we get from sun exposure, plays a role in insulin sensitivity and secretion, leading researchers at Loyola University Chicago to conclude it may prevent or delay the onset of diabetes – and reduce complications for those already diagnosed.
If you’re reducing sun time, other good sources are low-fat dairy, milk and fish.