Considering the rapid rise in diabetes cases, the killer disease may soon become epidemic. Among the various underlying causes of driving diabetes among the young and middle-aged, unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle are the key culprits. In many cases it gives rise to diabesity (diabetes and obesity) which significantly affects life and longevity. Diabetes with its many complications can lower quality of life and increase one’s stress because of the need to constantly check blood sugar levels, eating restricted diet and daily medication. As it is said that prevention is better than cure, a certain lifestyle and eating modifications can substantially lower the risk of getting diabetes. (Also read: Diabetes: Expert reveals easy 6M formula to manage blood sugar this Diwali)
“Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes eating, can largely be prevented by making lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and becoming more physically active. Prevention is especially important if you are overweight or obese, have high, or have a family history of diabetes.
If you have prediabetes, which means blood sugar higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, you can take simple lifestyle changes to help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes,” says Dr Ranjit Unnikrishnan – Vice Chairman & Consultant, Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre.
Making a few changes, such as incorporating simple exercise and diet modifications into your routine, may help you avoid serious health complications of diabetes. Nerve, eyes, kidney and heart problems are just some of the consequences that may occur when you refuse to make lifestyle changes. The earlier you start making adjustments, the less likely these complications will happen.
Dr Unnikrishnan suggests 5 natural ways to prevent diabetes before it starts:
1. Keep your weight down: It is possible to cut your risk of diabetes by almost 60 per cent just by losing about 7 per cent of your body weight through changes in diet and exercise. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with prediabetes lose 7 per cent to 10 per cent of their weight to prevent the progression of the disease. More weight lost will have an even greater impact on health. Determine your weight-loss goal based on the weight you currently are. Make sure you talk to your doctor about the goals expected, such as losing 1-2 pounds of weight a week.
2. Being physically active: It has been proven that being more active can lead to a higher quality of life. Just being a little more physically active every day can have significant benefits for your health and wellness. There are many benefits to exercising on a regular basis. Exercise has been shown to help people lose weight, and control blood sugars by boosting sensitivity to insulin. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for adults of all ages. However, most people set goals to focus on weight loss – not just weight maintenance.
3. Eat healthy: The importance of plants in your diet is that they provide essential vitamins and minerals, plus carbohydrates. Carbohydrates include sugars, starches and fiber. Dietary fiber or roughage is what your body can’t digest or absorb. Fiber-rich foods can help you lose weight and lower your risk of diabetes. Some examples of healthy, fiber-rich food options include fruits and non-starchy vegetables, such as leafy greens and broccoli. Legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils and whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, oats, and quinoa. You can substitute refined sugar in your diet with sucralose, a sugar substitute and sweetener that provides the benefits of low-calorie and low-carb while slowing the absorption of sugars and lowering blood sugar levels.
4. Concentrate on healthy fats: Eating healthy fats can have a positive impact on your weight and overall health. Foods with high levels of fat should be eaten in moderation to help you lose weight. Unsaturated fats, often called “good fats,” are going to provide the benefits you need to manage your weight. You can get health benefits from both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The best sources of these types of fat are Olive, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed and canola oils. Nuts and seeds are an easy way to add some variety to your diet. Almonds, peanuts, flaxseed and other varieties offer their own unique benefits. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and cod are good. Saturated fats can be found in dairy products and meats. These “bad fats” should only be consumed in small amounts, otherwise you risk getting clogged arteries and other health issues. Try eating low-fat dairy and reduce your intake of red meat and high-fat poultry.
5. Avoid fad diets and focus on healthier choices: In keeping with the philosophy that, “you are what you eat,” many fad diets, such as the paleo, or keto diets, will help you lose weight. The long-term benefits of these diets are unclear and there is very little research on the diabetes prevention effects due to their limited time frame.
One of the most important dietary goals is to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle going into the future. To do that, it’s important to make decisions that you can commit to for life. That means mixing things up with some healthy decisions and some food preferences, like taking time each day in the kitchen to prepare your favorite foods without guilt.
One strategy that can help you make better food choices and eat healthier portions is to divide your plate. There are three divisions on the plate that promote healthy eating: One-half: primarily vegetables, One quarter: whole grains, One-quarter, or 25%, of your diet should consist of protein-rich foods, like legumes, fish, or lean meats.
The American Diabetes Association recommends routine screening with diagnostic tests for type 2 diabetes for all adults age 40 or older and the following groups: People younger than 40 who are overweight or obese and have one of more risk factors associated with diabetes and pregnant women who have had gestational diabetes.
“If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, there are many treatment options that may help. If your child is overweight or obese and has a family history of type 2 diabetes or other risk factors, then your child may be at a greater risk for developing The same health problem. It’s important to speak openly about your concerns with preventing diabetes with your doctor. He or she will show appreciation for your efforts, and may offer suggestions based on your medical history or other factors,” says Dr Unnikrishnan.
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