Ways to Reduce Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Mature man diabetic testing himself at home
Garry Wade/The Image Bank/Getty Images

There are many things you can do to slow or prevent the progress of this potentially life-threatening condition. Here are the first steps.

1. Understand Insulin Resistance and Watch for the Signs.

The process of Type 2 diabetes begins years or even decades before the diagnosis of diabetes, with insulin resistance. Understand the signs to watch for so you can intervene early:

2. Get Regular Screening

If you are at risk for diabetes or insulin resistance, be sure to get an annual fasting blood glucose test. If you see it rising over time, even if still in the normal range, this is a sign that your body is having more trouble processing sugar (all carbohydrate breaks down into sugar).

3. Exercise

You don't have to live your life at the gym to reap the benefits of exercise. A brisk half-hour walk 5 days per week can be enough to help improve insulin sensitivity (the opposite of insulin resistance) and prevent diabetes. Also, just being generally more active can help a lot. To motivate yourself, get a pedometer to count your steps, and gradually increase the number of steps you are taking.

4. Weight Control, With Reasonable Goals

A relatively small weight loss of 7% of body weight has been shown to help prevent diabetes.

Strive to stay at your own lowest sustainable weight, even if that is above what the charts say you should be. It is better to aim for a smaller weight loss and be able to keep that weight off than aim for an unrealistically low number, which could cause a "rebound" effect.

5. Carbohydrate Reduction

Think about it: if your body isn't processing sugar well, doesn't it make sense to stop feeding it so much food that turns into sugar?

You can eat a healthy, balanced, diet that is lower in carbohydrates. The amount of reduction that is optimal for you will depend partly on how impaired your own glucose tolerance is.

6. Consider Home Blood Glucose Testing

If you have found that your fasting blood glucose is rising over time, even if it is normal, and certainly if you "officially" have impaired glucose intolerance (prediabetes), strongly consider getting a home glucose meter and testing your own blood to see if you can determine ways of eating, exercise, supplements, etc, that help lower and stabilize your blood glucose. The only problem is that many insurance companies will not pay for this preventative step, and the test strips are admittedly expensive. Still, you might be able to afford to monitor yourself at least occasionally or find a diabetic friend who sometimes has extra strips. Tracking your blood glucose response to meals and over time can be a big help in preventing the progression of diabetes. 

Continue Reading