10 Ways to Reduce the Risks of Diabetes

Diabetes is the fastest growing disease in the world, affecting over four million people in the UK alone and costing the NHS around £10 billion a year. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is something that people are born with and is a result of insulin-producing cells being damaged for reasons that are yet to be understood. Type 2 diabetes – the most common of the two – is caused for the most part by being overweight and leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

Approximately 85% to 95%[1] of those diagnosed with diabetes are Type 2 suffers; increasing their risk of kidney damage, heart disease and strokes, and blindness – yet the condition is almost entirely preventable. To ensure you do not fall victim to the silent killer, here are 10 ways to help you reduce the risk of diabetes.

1. Exercise

Physical activity is one of the best ways to prevent and manage diabetes, and you do not have to enrol at a gym to get moving. According to research from the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, home-based exercise programmes are as affective as the gym, and walking, cycling, golfing, and gardening all helping to lower the risk of diabetes, as well.

2. Get the Right Amount of Sleep

A study by the University of Buffalo in New York found that getting less than six hours sleep a night could increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Tiredness makes it harder to exercise and eat correctly, so try to get around eight hours of shut-eye a night.

3. Eat More Fresh Fruit

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health in the US recently published findings in the British Medical Journal that revealed just a few portions of fresh fruit a week can slash the risk of developing diabetes by more than 25%.

For example, regularly eating fair amounts of blueberries, grapes, apples, and pears significantly reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes. A large-scale study showed that three standard servings of blueberries per week reduced the chance of developing the disease by 26%. The rate of reduction for grapes (and raisins) was 12%, while the risk dropped by 7% for those who ate regular servings of apples and pears. Even prunes seem to help, reducing the risk by 11%.

The secret to fresh fruit in relation to Type 2 diabetes is the fact that it is very high in soluble fibre. How does this help? By slowing down the absorption of glucose from food and, as a result, naturally regulating blood sugar levels.

It should be noted that fruit juice is not the same thing as fresh fruit when it comes to Type 2 diabetes. Fruit

4. Eat Fish

Studies show that people whose bodies have high levels of vitamin D could reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 55%. Salmon and tuna are both great sources of vitamin D and contain omega-3s, which can help lower cholesterol.

5. Keep an Eye on Your Waistline

If you are overweight, you are 100 times more likely to develop diabetes. According to Diabetes.co.uk, your waistline should measure no more than 37-inches (35 inches for Asian ethnicities) for men and 31.5 inches for women.

6. Swap White Bread for Wholemeal

Studies conducted by Tufts University in the United States revealed that the more whole grain foods a person consumes, the lower their diabetes risk. Ditch the white bread and start enjoying some wholemeal and granary instead.

7. Drink Coffee

A study published by Diabetes Care confirms what many researchers have believed about coffee for some time: moderate consumption can reduce the risk of diabetes. Studies show that consuming 6 cups per day, whether caffeinated or decaffeinated, was linked to 33% reduction[2] in the risk of Type 2 diabetes. However, individuals still need to be cautious about adding sugar and milk/cream.

8. Control Your Blood Pressure

Uncontrolled blood pressure can result in a doubling of the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. What's more, high blood pressure can lead to other conditions brought on by diabetes and, in some cases, make those conditions worse. It is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly by your GP simply because high blood pressure often has no outward symptoms. Having it checked regularly is the only way to really know how you are doing.

9. Approach Sugar with Caution

One of the biggest dietary concerns relating to Type 2 diabetes is sugar. It is well documented that excess weight, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets all contribute to our risk of developing this disease. Sugar simply exacerbates the problem. Consuming just one can of non-diet fizzy drink per day can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 22%, according to a study published in the Diabetologia journal. A team of researchers from Imperial College London concluded from their study that the impact of sugary soft drinks is more directly related to developing the disease than simply influencing body weight.

10. Enjoy a Daily Dose of Yogurt

Scientists from Cambridge University's Medical Research Council (MRC) recently found that regular helpings of yogurt reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by almost a third. The study also revealed that people with the highest consumption of low-fat fermented products were more than a fifth less likely to develop diabetes than non-consumers were. The carbohydrates and protein in low-fat yogurt seem to be what provide the most benefit. Both do a great job of preventing or reducing the likelihood of an unhealthy rise in blood glucose levels.

1. Diabetes UK – http://www.diabetes.org.uk/Guide-to-diabetes/What-is-diabetes/What-is-Type-2-Diabetes/
2. Medscape News – http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/819816