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Type 1 diabetes is currently not preventable, though research focused on what causes it may one day lead to preventative measures. For type 2 and gestational diabetes, however, many of the treatment options involving lifestyle changes can help delay or even prevent diabetes. Here, we offer four lifestyle tips on how to avoid diabetes.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
In this day and age, we now have sensible diets designed for those dealing with diabetes. We have snacks for diabetics, diabetic breakfasts, and diabetic desserts. Even though there are more choices, we still need to eat a balanced, healthy diet that helps you maintain an appropriate weight or body mass index. It’s one of the most critical measures you can take to delay or prevent diabetes.
A large-scale, national study called the Diabetes Prevention Program concluded that people can delay or potentially prevent type 2 diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. (See No. 2 below.)
Reducing high-sugar, high-fat, and processed foods and increasing your intake of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is a great way to start a healthy eating plan. Keeping track of your portion size and total caloric intake is also very important. Consulting with a registered dietician who can help you create easy, healthy meal plans can be very helpful.
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2. Exercise regularly
Increasing your physical activity can help you maintain an ideal body weight in addition to decreasing your risk of many other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Finding a form of exercise that you can easily fit into your daily routine and that you enjoy will increase your chances of making it a lifelong habit.
If you have other health problems, you will want to consult your healthcare provider about an exercise plan that’s safe for you. (See also our post “Get Moving Before Symptoms of Diabetes Appear.”)
3. Know your risk factors
Knowing what risk factors you might have for diabetes is another key factor. If you know that you have a higher chance of developing the disease, making lifestyle changes early on will be afford you the best chances of delaying or even preventing diabetes. (See also our post “How Do You Get Diabetes?“)
4. Get regular check-ups
Seeing your healthcare provider on a regular basis will allow him or her to monitor for warning signs, essentially showing you how to avoid diabetes. The sooner these signs are detected, the sooner preventative and therapeutic measures can be taken.
For more on diabetes, see these University Health News posts:
- “What Is Diabetes?“
- “Prediabetes Diet: Advice That Can Keep You Healthy“
- “The Sugar-Free Diet and Diabetes: Setting the Record Straight“
Originally published in May 2016 and updated.