Diabetes is a chronic disease that can affect your heart, nerves, and vital organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 10% of the United States population currently has diabetes. Both your genetics and your lifestyle can contribute to the risk of developing diabetes.
The CDC also estimates that over 34% of the pollution has prediabetes. While you can’t control your genes, you can take steps to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Being overweight doesn’t always mean you will develop diabetes. Having an average body weight also doesn’t mean that you won’t develop diabetes. What you eat is more important than your body weight. Eating a healthy diet reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
Studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and PLos One show that a diet high in refined sugar and carbohydrates increased the risk for diabetes. Nutritionists recommend replacing sweets and high carbohydrate foods with protein and low carbohydrate options. Examples include:
- Replace potatoes and bread with green vegetables
- Have a small serving of nuts or cheese instead of a candy bar
- Choose whole-grain pasta and brown rice
- Get Moving
Clinical studies reported in the Journals of Gerontology and the American Journal of physiology reported that regular exercise reduces the risk for diabetes. Researchers found that different types of exercise all lower the risk, including:
- High-Intensity Interval Training
- Strength Training
In a study done by the Boston University School of Medicine, researchers found that being sedentary or not moving also increases the risk of developing diabetes. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest starting an exercise program by finding an activity you enjoy. They also state you should start by going what you can and build up to more extended exercise periods and increased intensity.
- Stop Smoking
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and diabetes. According to a study in the Diabetes and Metabolism Journal, smoking increases the risk for diabetes by an average of 44%. Talk with your doctor about ways to quit smoking. To help you quit, your doctor may recommend:
- Nicotine Replacement Aids – patches, gum, or lozenges
- Medications – to curb cravings and reduce anxiety
- Support – local or state quitline programs
- Get Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is known to help your body absorb and use calcium and other minerals. Vitamin D also reduces the risk for diabetes. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that high Vitamin D levels reduced the risk for diabetes by 43%. A study in the journal Nutrition Research found that 40% of the United States’ pollution has low Vitamin D levels. You can raise your Vitamin D levels by eating:
- Herring and Sardines
- Cod Liver Oil
- Canned Tuna
- Egg Yolks
- Fortified Foods
Foods fortified with vitamin D may include:
- Orange Juice
- Cereal and Oatmeal
- Drink More Water
Drinking more water can reduce how much soda you drink. Soda is high in sugar and empty calories that have no nutritional benefit. A randomized control trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that even replacing diet soda with water reduced the risk factors for diabetes.
Water also lowered diabetes risk more than fruit juice, coffee, or tea with lots of added sugar. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition found that drinking water resulted in better blood sugar control. Try adding a slice of fruit or using sparkling water to replace other beverages in your diet.
You can reduce your risk of diabetes by eating a healthy diet, drinking more water, getting more exercise, and increasing your Vitamin D level. Quitting smoking helps too. The healthier your lifestyle, the more you will lower your risk for diabetes.