Even though type 2 Diabetes is not an infectious disease, we’re in in the midst of an epidemic. Once called as adult-onset diabetes, this difficult disease is striking an ever-growing number of teens and adults alike. More than 24 million Americans have diabetes; of those, about 6 million don’t know they have the disease. Yes, the numbers are alarming. And this leads us to an importance question: Can diabetes be prevented?
But the good news is that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. More than half the cases could be avoided by taking several simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy LCHF diet, quit smoking, improve sleep pattern and quality, taking a few dietary supplements can all go a long way towards preventing Diabetes Type 2.
This is even more important if you are genetically predisposition to risk of diabetes type 2 or are already pre-diabetic. Here are a few simple tips that can help you prevent diabetes. Changing the habits of a lifetime isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.
Before we tell you how to prevent type 2 diabetes, it’s important to understand Diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes. There are 3 main kinds of diabetes:
- Diabetes Type 1 – The body attacks beta cells in the pancreas until they can no longer produce insulin. Type 1 diabetics are insulin dependent.
- Diabetes Type 2 – Associated with insulin resistance, where the body is making insulin but it’s not enough. Diabetes Type 2 is preventable as well as reversible with simple lifestyle changes.
- Gestational Diabetes – Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition, marked by elevated blood sugar levels during the course of pregnancy. However, gestational diabetes increases risk of type 2 diabetes post pregnancy.
It’s worth discussing the fourth kind at this point – what is commonly known as Prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes doesn’t usually appear all of a sudden. Many people have a long, slow, invisible lead-in to it called prediabetes. Prediabetes only differs from Diabetes Type 2 in degree — You have pre-diabetes if your fasting blood sugar level is 100-125 mg/dl, or HbA1C level of 5.7-6.4%. You’re diabetic is your fasting blood sugar level is 126mg/dl or more, and HbA1C level of 6.5% or over. As you can see, the difference is slight.
Truth is; damage from diabetes begins deep in your body years before the disease is diagnosed. Studies suggest that even within the “normal” range, higher blood glucose and HbA1C levels increase risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, kidney damage has begun in prediabetes, so it is not waiting for a magic number to be crossed. A study published in 2012 in Oxford Academic found that glomerular hyper-filtration is a marker of early renal damage in pre-diabetes and pre-hypertension. Another Australian study found that renal damage, which is common among patients with established diabetes, is present even before the onset of diabetes and becomes more prevalent with worsening glucose tolerance. You need to take action today! Understanding your risk factors and taking early preventive action is the best way to prevent diabetes and the damage associated with this chronic disease.
Risk Factors for Diabetes Type 2
Understanding your risk factors for type 2 diabetes is the first step towards diabetes prevention. Experts recommend routine blood sugar testing in people at high risk for developing diabetes. You are at high-risk towards developing type 2 diabetes if:
- You lead an inactive lifestyle
- You are overweight
- You are over the age of 40 and are carrying excess belly fat
- You have a family history of diabetes
- You have high blood pressure or high cholesterol
- You have been previously diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
- You have been previously diagnosed with cardiovascular disease
- You were diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy or delivered a baby weighing more than nine pounds
Diabetes Type 2 Can Be Prevented
While your inherited genes make you more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes, they take a back seat to behavioral and lifestyle factors. Diabetes, Pre Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome can be prevented by taking simple steps, like — eating the right foods, losing weight, getting some exercise, identifying and learning to manage stress, and getting enough sleep.
A Harvard School of Public Health study found that a vast majority of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by the adoption of a healthier lifestyle. While this study focused only on women, similar factors were found true for men in a follow-up study. It indicated a “Western” diet, combined with lack of physical activity and excess weight, dramatically increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes in men.
The Diabetes Prevention Program, George Washington University examined the effect of weight loss and increased exercise and found that there’s a reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention, and that it’s a more effective treatment in high-risk individuals when compared to early treatment with metformin. This was further ascertained in the 10-year follow up study conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program. Similar results were seen in a Finnish study of weight loss, exercise, and dietary change.
To conclude, several clinical trials strongly support the idea that type 2 diabetes is preventable. It all starts with understanding the various risk factors of type 2 diabetes, and subsequently making lifestyle changes to manage these risks.