With diabetes rates on the rise as Americans have struggled with poor dieting and a lack of exercise in recent decades, it is becoming more and more important to make the proper dietary and lifestyle changes so that you don’t become one of the millions of people with the condition.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is no longer able to produce or process the chemical insulin properly. In healthy people, blood cells transfer glucose (sugars) to the parts of the body that need them to survive with the help of insulin, which is produced in the pancreas. Over time, a variety of factors—such as family history, poor diet, and obesity—can cause the body to lose its ability to use insulin properly. Without the proper interaction of insulin and the sugars carried by blood cells, blood-sugar levels can increase to dangerous levels, leading to serious health problems. The disease is a common first step toward worse conditions, and it can put serious strains on a person’s physical health and finances.
Here are some ways to improve your health and physical fitness and protect yourself from getting the disease.
Saying No to Obesity
There are a variety of causes for type 2 diabetes, but there is a very strong correlation between obesity and diabetes. Obesity is a common precursor to diabetes because in addition to causing weight gain, a poor diet puts excessive strains on the body’s ability to process food properly. Eventually, permanent and very dangerous changes take place in the body.
Thus, avoiding becoming overweight or obese is extremely important for preventing type 2 diabetes. There are two key components to this: physical activity and a healthy diet.
Doctors recommend that people exercise for 30 minutes per day five days a week. The ideal workout routine includes a variety of exercises so that multiple parts of the body are challenged and strengthened. In addition to encouraging weight loss, this type of exercise helps the body process sugars more effectively, preventing the issues associated with type 2 diabetes.
Diet is also a very significant part of avoiding obesity and type 2 diabetes, and there are certain dietary decisions that can be especially effective from preventing the onset of diabetes.
Choosing a diet that is low in fat and calories is important, and it can be helpful to try to include more whole grains and healthy sources of protein. Whereas simple carbohydrates and red meat tend to increase the risk for diabetes, opting for complex carbohydrates (like in brown rice) and lower-calorie protein sources (like soy or fish) can help decrease that risk.
Other Steps to Take
Weight loss can be a helpful goal for those focused on preventing diabetes, but it is not always an absolute necessity, and taking other steps can also have a significant impact on the likelihood of getting diabetes.
The same health factors that are important for maintaining overall healthy living are especially important for preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. High blood pressure and cholesterol, for example, have a strong correlation with the incidence of type 2 diabetes, and making dietary adjustments to address those issues can be helpful. Smoking also significantly increases the risk for getting diabetes.
It’s also important to remember that not all changes have to be as major as introducing a totally new exercise routine into your daily schedule. Those whose schedules preclude them from doing half an hour of exercise can find other small ways of adding more physical activity into their daily lives, such as by taking the stairs or walking to nearby places instead of driving.
Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.