Diabetes Prevention: 5 Tips for Taking Control of the Situation

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Diabetes is a relatively common disease in life. Lifestyle changes are especially important to prevent diabetes and to avoid serious health-threatening complications of diabetes in the future, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage. It's never too late to start.

1. Lose excess weight

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with prediabetes lose at least 7 to 10 percent of their body weight to prevent disease progression. The more weight you lose, the greater the benefits.

You can set a weight loss goal based on your current weight. Talk to your doctor about reasonable short-term goals and expectations, such as losing 1 to 2 pounds (about 0.5 to 1 kilogram) per week.


2. Be active

Regular physical activity has many benefits. Exercise can help you:

  • Lose weight
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Improve your sensitivity to insulin, which helps keep blood sugar in a normal range

Goals for most adults to lose and maintain a healthy weight include:

  • Aerobic exercise. Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, swimming, biking, or running, on most days, for a total of at least 150 minutes a week.
  • Resistance exercise. Doing resistance exercise at least 2 to 3 times a week can help build your strength, balance, and ability to maintain an active life. Resistance training includes weightlifting, yoga, and aerobics.
  • Reduce inactivity. Breaking up long periods of inactivity, such as sitting in front of a computer, can help control blood sugar levels. Every 30 minutes, take a few minutes to stand up, walk around or do some light activity.


3. Eat healthy plant-based foods

Plants provide vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates in the diet. Carbohydrates include sugars and starches (the body's energy source) and fiber. Dietary fiber, also known as coarse grains or bulky fibrous substances, is the part of plant food that cannot be digested or absorbed by the human body.

Fiber-rich foods can promote weight loss and reduce the risk of diabetes. Eat a variety of healthy, fiber-rich foods, including:

  • Fruits, such as tomatoes, peppers, and fruit from trees
  • Nonstarchy vegetables, such as leafy greens, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Legumes, such as soybeans, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Whole grains, such as whole-grain pasta and bread, whole-grain rice, whole oats, and quinoa

Fiber benefits include:

  • Slows sugar absorption and lowers blood sugar levels
  • Interfering with the absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol
  • Control other risk factors that affect heart health, such as blood pressure and inflammation
  • Helps reduce food intake, as fiber-rich foods are more filling and provide more energy

Avoid "bad carbs" foods (high in sugar and low in fiber or nutrients): white bread and pastries, pasta made with white flour, fruit juices, and processed foods that contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup.


4. Eat healthy fats

High-fat foods are high in calories and should be eaten in moderation. To help lose and manage weight, include a variety of foods in your diet that contain unsaturated fats, sometimes called "good fats."

Unsaturated fats include monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which can help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels and maintain heart and blood vessel health. Sources of good fats include:

  • Olive, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and canola oils
  • Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, and cod

Saturated fat, also known as "bad fat," is found in dairy and meat. These should only constitute a small portion of your diet. You can limit your saturated fat intake by eating low-fat dairy products and lean chicken and pork.


5. Ditch fad diets for healthier choices

Many fad diets (such as glycemic index diets, Paleo diets, or ketogenic diets) may help with weight loss. However, little research has been done on the long-term benefits of these diets or their benefits in preventing diabetes.

Your dietary goal should be to lose weight and then continue to maintain a healthier weight. Therefore, strategies that help maintain lifelong habits need to be included in making healthy eating decisions. Making health decisions that reflect your own food and habit preferences may benefit you in the long run.

A simple strategy to help you make the right food choices and eat the right portion sizes is to divide your plate into portions. Dividing food on your plate into these three parts can help you maintain a healthy diet:

  • Half: Fruits and nonstarchy vegetables
  • Quarter: whole grains
  • Quarter: Protein-rich foods such as beans, fish, or lean meats

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