Metabolic Health

Top 5 Methods to Prevent Diabetes

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

‘Prevention is better than cure’ is a saying that goes perfectly well in the context of diabetes. World over diabetic patients have been on the rise compared to a few decades back. It is certain that lifestyle changes and diet play an important role in the onset of this condition.

Diabetes can be of Two Major Types

  1. Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)
  2. Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). 

T1D can occur at any particular age although the outset is more common in childhood and it occurs due to the lack of production of insulin via the islet cells in the pancreas.

T2D on the other hand is more of a lifestyle disorder that occurs primarily after the age of 40 (there is a lowering in this age level in recent times). This happens due to insufficient production of insulin in the body. This condition is largely irreversible and the affected individuals often have to spend a lot of time, effort, energy, and money to learn the nuances of the diabetic diet and its effective management techniques. Even then, the erratic nature of the blood sugar levels and other stressors that may affect them may not be helpful. 

Therefore, how to prevent diabetes would be a question that might run in the minds of predisposed individuals. Keeping a check on the blood sugar levels is important. Endocrinologists recommend getting the HbA1c levels tested at least once a year to be on the lookout for prediabetes. This is a condition wherein the blood sugar levels are higher than the normal baseline level but not enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Keeping a lookout for certain symptoms like:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive hunger and cravings
  • Blurry vision
  • Trembling hands
  • Anxiety and palpitations etc

It  would be helpful to keep a tab on the above indicators, so that they can be your alarm to indicate the signs of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. 

There are several ways in which you can imbibe effective prevention techniques for this condition. Doctors often educate their patients on how to prevent diabetes if they are at risk. There can be many ways in which this can be done, however, there are a few standard methods that anyone can follow to ensure that they can lead a majorly healthy lifestyle even in the latter part of their life. 

1. Exercise Regularly 

This is one of the most effective techniques to prevent the onset of diabetes. When larger groups of muscles are involved in physical activities, they take up the glucose present in the bloodstream for energy. This helps in regulating the overall blood sugar levels. Additionally, the appropriate exercise for diabetes also helps with the maintenance of body weight which reduces the risk of T2D among adults. Exercises like brisk walking, yoga, jogging, and any other movements that might involve larger muscle groups like squats (involves the muscles in the thigh, glutes, and calves) help in the regulation of sugar levels. As a beginner, starting with even 15 minutes per day should be a good idea. Gradually increasing it up to 40-50 minutes would be ideal. 

Tip: If you have T1D or T2D, ensure that you are not hypoglycemic before you start your workout. Also, if the sugar levels are more than 300 mg/dl, do not do any high-intensity movements. It is always a good idea to check pre-and post-workout sugar levels. 

2.Eat Healthy

T2D is primarily a lifestyle condition. Adult-onset diabetes is caused due to an unhealthy lifestyle and eating habits that contain a lot of junk food, carbs, sugar, and other types of sweeteners, refined wheat flour (maida), starch, etc. A diabetic diet before the onset of diabetes would not only prevent this particular condition but would also help you maintain an overall healthy and comfortable lifestyle. A diet that is rich in vitamins and fiber would be ideal for a healthy diet. Tomatoes, green leafy vegetables, beans, chickpeas, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, etc would be the best options. This does not mean that one deprives themselves completely of sugar – once a week or in moderation, the body does require glucose and carbs. 

Tip: There is a difference between dieting and diet control. Aim for diet control and food in moderation to be able to continue and sustain a healthy lifestyle and eating habits. 

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3. Control your Weight

The more the weight, the greater the risk for developing this condition. The primary reason behind this is that the visceral fat (fat near the abdomen) is linked to higher chances of insulin resistance, development of prediabetes, and T2D. Exercise for diabetes can help the excess weight go down. A reduction by even 5-7% would significantly reduce the risk. Weight loss may not be a one-track approach – you can use an amalgamation of different strategies like – planned diet, frequent workouts, healthy habits like no binge drinking, lesser stress, etc

Tip: If you are trying and but unable to lose weight, it would be a good idea to get blood tests done like – thyroid panel or sonography for PCOS/PCOD

4. Quit Smoking

Smoking is linked to several conditions like – heart conditions, lung cancer or throat cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc. Another underrated but significantly damaging issue that smoking can lead to is high levels of cholesterol – this, in turn, can also cause type 2 diabetes. Therefore, reduction in smoking habits or quitting entirely would be very preferable. This is one of the first tips that doctors give their patients in terms of how to prevent diabetes. Smoking also increases insulin resistance. Quitting, of course, isn’t easy. Nicotine patches, fighting the urge, finding motivating factors, reliance on family and friends, stress-management techniques, etc could be useful tips to help with this.

Tip: Just as any habit is formed gradually, it can also be unlearned slowly. Quitting smoking works the same way. Set targets and give appropriate rewards for achieving them in terms of quitting cigarettes. 

5. Drink more water

With the ease of access to food and beverages, eating unhealthy and consumption of sugary drinks like Pepsi, Coke, etc has increased in recent times. Sticking to water would not only meet the requirements to quench thirst but would also reduce the intake of excess sugar in the form of cold /aerated drinks. Higher water intake is also linked to weight loss and effective weight management. 

Tip: For a non-diabetic person about 8 glasses or 1.5 liters should be sufficient, however a person with T1D or T2D is advised at least 2-3 liters to be able to flush out all toxins, keep ketones in check and also regulate blood glucose. 

Bottom Line

Prevention of diabetes is a highly underrated aspect. However, the benefits of doing so are now coming to light. Effective control of blood sugar levels also mitigates the risk of other lifestyle conditions linked with diabetes like kidney or liver-related issues. It is important to identify people at risk and help them manage these factors to be able to effectively prevent them from developing this deadly and highly-consequential condition. Use these methods to keep your blood sugar levels in check and get regular assessments done in case of any symptoms. 

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