4 Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

September 21, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:

Are you at risk for type 2 diabetes? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 84 million American adults currently have pre-diabetes (and may not know it) and are likely to develop diabetes during their lifetime.

What Is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to keep your blood glucose (blood sugar) within normal, healthy levels. According to Dragana Jokic, M.D., board certified in endocrinology, diabetes, metabolism and internal medicine, it’s a serious medical condition that can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, loss of vision and even amputation.

While it’s best known for occurring during middle age or older, it also occurs sometimes in pregnant women and children. While obesity is one well-known factor, you might be surprised that others include being inactive, some illnesses and infections, medications you take, changes in your hormone levels, stress, and even your individual characteristics like race, age, gender and family history.

What You Can Do to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

  1. TAKE YOUR WEIGHT SERIOUSLY: Research published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that obesity stresses insulin receptors, which leads to insulin resistance and oftentimes type 2 diabetes. To prevent that, maintain a healthy weight with a balanced diet. A good diet will also help you avoid high blood pressure and cholesterol, also risk factors for diabetes. Need help? Your physician can help or refer you to a nutritionist.
  1. WALK: If you spend a lot of your time sitting in front of a computer or television, you are making it hard for your body to maintain a healthy insulin balance. Commit to a schedule of regular activities. (If you have a disabling condition, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.) Walks are an easy way to get into an exercise habit. Walk your dog, discover nearby trails or join a walking club. Not only can this help your body avoid type 2 diabetes, but walking is a proven mood enhancer.
  1. MANAGE ILLNESSES: Sickness, such as the flu, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as lack of eating or drinking can alter the way your body handles insulin balance. In addition, an illness or infection will cause your pancreas to release extra glucose to help your body fight the problem. If you know you are already prediabetic, contact your physician if you become too ill to eat and drink.
  1. STRESS LESS: Everyone lives with stress; the way you manage it can make a huge difference in your health. Healthy ways to control your stress level include exercise, getting together with friends and meditation. Better yet, a study done in Japan and published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health showed that walking in a park or forest can be better at relieving stress than regular walking or even heavy exercise!

“Your family health history and genetic predisposition for diabetes is a very important risk factor for developing diabetes in the future,” explains Dr. Jokic. “We do not have much control over hereditary factors that increase our risk for developing this disease; however, we can chose to live a healthy life and stay active.”

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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