In honour of Diabetes Week Lumity is looking at the ways you can reduce your risk of diabetes in more ways than just cutting down on sugar.
When people think about their risk of diabetes their mind instinctively leaps to the sweet stuff and how they can remove or reduce it from their diet. While this is a very important factor it’s far from the only thing you can do to lessen your chances of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Although you can’t change your genes, your age or your past you can take action now to reduce your risk and better your health all at the same time.
Type 2 diabetes is an issue which causes your body’s blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. The pancreas produces the hormone insulin which is responsible for controlling the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood.
When you have type 2 diabetes your pancreas either isn’t producing enough insulin or the cells in the body aren’t reacting to it.
The glucose then stays in the blood and isn’t used as fuel.
You may feel very thirsty, tired and be needing to urinate more often especially at night. Wounds may take longer to heal and your vision can become blurry too.
If left untreated type 2 diabetes can have a devastating effect on your body and can lead to heart disease, nerve damage, stroke, foot problems, kidney disease and loss of vision.
Smoking makes it much harder for your body to control blood sugar levels. It changes the way you process and regulate glucose which is why it increases the risk of developing diabetes. It won’t be easy but since the link between smokers and the disease is so strong it will be worth it.
Being active really is amazing medicine for your body, your brain and your overall wellbeing. Regular exercise can also help prevent diabetes.
When you workout insulin sensitivity increases in your cells which means you don’t need as much to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Exercising once or twice a month won’t make an impact but if you make it a regular thing you will reap the rewards in the long run. Find something you enjoy and you’re far more likely to stick with it too.
This ties nicely in with the point about exercise. If you’re overweight you likely carry excess weight around your tummy and abdominal organs, which includes the liver.
This is called visceral fat and too much of it promotes insulin resistance. By losing weight – even a small amount – you can significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and will improve your overall health as well.
Pack your diet with fibre to help prevent spikes in insulin and blood sugar levels. It’s also great for your gut and for keeping your weight on track. Healthy high fibre foods include whole grains, broccoli, carrots, fruit, such as pears, melons and berries. Potatoes with the skin on, pulses, nuts and seeds are also great options.
Regardless of whether you’re concerned about diabetes, cutting back on processed foods is a good idea. Eating a balanced and healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, rather than living off packaged and processed meat, sweets and ready meals will trim your waistline and reduce your risk of diabetes.
Processed foods are often high in additives, vegetable oils and sugars which negatively impact your health.
Low-carb foods are sugar friendly where as the likes of white bread, pasta and potatoes can cause blood sugar levels to spike. You don’t have to feel deprived cutting back on the carbohydrates though. There are plenty of healthy alternatives and recipes which will leave you feeling just as satisfied as a big bowl of carbonara!
It’s all very well saying you eat a healthy diet but if your portions sizes are too big you’re ruining your hard work and risking gaining weight and getting diabetes. Too much food can cause your blood sugar levels to rise so it pays to be mindful about how much you’re putting on your plate.
If you’re keen to improve your health and reduce your risk of diabetes you might also like to read how you can squeeze a little more exercise into your life and discover more about the low-carb ketogenic diet.