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Steps to Take to Prevent Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Month, a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 U.S. adults have prediabetes, and the majority don’t even know they have it. The good news is that by making some lifestyle changes, it is possible to prevent type 2 diabetes and even reverse prediabetes. We want to do our part this National Diabetes Month by sharing some tips to help manage prediabetes and prevent diabetes.

Cut Sugar and Refined Carbs from Your Diet

Eating sugary foods and refined carbs can put at-risk individuals on the fast track to developing diabetes. Your body rapidly breaks down these foods down into small sugar molecules, which are absorbed into your bloodstream. The resulting rise in blood sugar stimulates your pancreas to produce insulin, a hormone that helps sugar get out of the bloodstream and into your body’s cells. Many studies have shown a link between the frequent consumption of sugar or refined carbs and the risk of diabetes. What’s more, replacing them with foods that have less of an effect on blood sugar may help reduce your risk.

Work Out Regularly

Performing physical activity on a regular basis may help prevent diabetes. Exercise increases the insulin sensitivity of your cells. So when you exercise, less insulin is required to keep your blood sugar level under control. Many types of physical activity have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar in overweight, obese and prediabetic adults. These include aerobic exercise, high-intensity interval training and strength training.

Drink Water as Your Primary Beverage

Water is by far the most natural beverage you can drink. What’s more, sticking with water most of the time helps you avoid beverages that are high in sugar, preservatives, and other questionable ingredients. One 24-week study showed that overweight adults who replaced diet sodas with water while following a weight loss program experienced a decrease in insulin resistance and lower fasting blood sugar and insulin levels.

Lose Weight if You’re Overweight or Obese

Although not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight or obese, the majority are. What’s more, those with prediabetes tend to carry excess weight in their midsection and around abdominal organs like the liver. This is known as visceral fat. Excess visceral fat promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, which significantly increase the risk of diabetes. Losing even a small amount of weight can help reduce this risk, studies show that the more you lose, the more benefits you’ll experience.

Quit Smoking

Smoking has been shown to cause or contribute to many serious health conditions, including heart disease, emphysema and cancers of the lung, breast, prostate, and digestive tract. There’s also research linking smoking and second-hand smoke exposure to type 2 diabetes. In an analysis of several studies totaling over one million people, smoking was found to increase the risk of diabetes by 44% in average smokers and 61% in people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes daily.

The Bottom Line

You have control over many of the factors that influence diabetes. Rather than viewing prediabetes as a stepping stone to diabetes, it may be helpful to see it as a motivator for making changes that can help reduce your risk. Eating the right foods and adopting other lifestyle behaviors that promote healthy blood sugar and insulin levels will give you the best chance at avoiding diabetes.

Download the HealthLynked app to help you keep track of your progress. You can share your medical records so your doctor can determine your risk level of getting diabetes. You’ll also find more informational health articles to help you live a healthier lifestyle to prevent diabetes and other diseases.

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