There is strong evidence that lifestyle changes including nutrition, exercise and weight loss can prevent the progression of diabetes. In addition, these same lifestyle changes can help to lower cholesterol, high blood pressure and risk of heart disease. One of the most important aspects of preventing and/or treating diabetes is self care. In other words, the individual monitors his or her own health and makes the necessary changes to enhance daily well being and prevent development of disease. Here we provide you with a few tips to help you lower your risk and improve your health.

  1. Losing Weight and Lowering Risks of DiabetesLose weight if you are overweight. Weight loss of just 7% cuts your risk of developing diabetes in half and helps to manage it if you already have it.
  2. Exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Activity helps to control blood sugar and helps contribute to weight loss. Exercise should be a mix of cardiovascular, strength training and flexibility exercises for optimal results.
  3. Decrease calorie intake. Lowering calories helps improve glucose control and helps contribute to weight loss. Cutting calorie intake by just 500 kcal a day makes a difference. Start with sugar sweetened beverages, this is a great place to cut calories you didn’t even know were there.
  4. Decrease saturated fat intake to <7% of total calories. Limiting intake of fatty meats, butter, and cream based foods, will also help to decrease your risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
  5. Keep blood glucose levels in recommended range. Having a health care team is critical for the management of diabetes, they will establish your blood glucose goals. Having your blood sugar checked regularly will aide in the prevention of diabetes.
  6. Have cholesterol checked regularly and keep in the recommended range. People with diabetes are at increased risk for heart disease and often also have high cholesterol, have your cholesterol checked on a schedule established with your primary care physician.
  7. Keep blood pressure in recommended range. High blood pressure often has no symptoms therefore it is critical that everyone have their blood pressure checked regularly.
  8. Consume a healthy balanced diet: There is no one diet that has been identified as ideal for everyone in controlling or preventing diabetes. There is strong evidence that following a Mediterranean diet cuts  risk of developing diabetes in half and improves control for those diagnosed with diabetes. There is also strong evidence to support following a plant based diet (vegan or vegetarian). By following a plant based Mediterranean diet you not only prevent or control diabetes, you also improve cholesterol, help lower blood pressure, and decrease risk of heart disease.
  9. Control carbohydrate intake: While there is no distribution of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that works for everyone, there is evidence that decreasing carbohydrate intake especially simple refined carbs is beneficial in helping to prevent and control diabetes. The debate is regarding how much to decrease it and the answer is that it is different for everyone and needs to be individualized based on blood sugar and other health parameters. It is wise for everyone to distribute carbohydrate intake for the day evenly across meals and snacks so that you are not eating all of your daily carbohydrates at one or two meals.
  10. Always have a plan. Don’t leave home without meals and snacks planned and or prepared. This is good advice for everyone but is particularly helpful in preventing low blood sugar in people with diagnosed or borderline diabetes.

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