More than 20 million Americans have diabetes, and millions more are at risk for this serious condition, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Type 2 diabetes, which results from cells not properly using insulin, is the most common form. Pre-diabetes, which almost always precedes a diabetes diagnosis, occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet diabetes.
But it’s possible to delay or prevent type 2 diabetes. A recent study showed that changes in diet and increased activity could reduce diabetes by almost 60 percent. Follow these guidelines from the ADA and improve your chances of living a longer and healthier life:
- Lose weight. Nearly nine in 10 people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes are overweight. Losing weight and keeping it off is a challenge, but shedding just 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight can reduce your risk of developing diabetes and other serious conditions.
- Eat smart. A diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods, fish and lean meats, nonfat dairy products and plenty of water is a healthful way to start. Cutting back on desserts and high-calorie snacks, avoiding saturated and trans fats and watching portion sizes are also key.
- Get moving. A complete exercise routine includes three kinds of activities: aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching. Aim for 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise such as walking. If you haven’t been active, start slowly. Leave the car at home when possible and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Lifting weights twice a week helps build strong bones and muscles, and muscle is active tissue that burns more calories than fat. Stretching helps keep joints flexible and reduces the chance of injury.