Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control
Changing your lifestyle could be a big step toward diabetes prevention — and it's never too late to start. Consider these tips.- By Mayo Clinic staff
When it comes to type 2 diabetes — the most common type of diabetes — prevention is a big deal. It's especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you're at increased risk of diabetes, for example, if you're overweight or have a family history of the disease.
Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully, becoming more physically active and losing a few extra pounds — and it's never too late to start. Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle now may help you avoid the serious health complications of diabetes down the road, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage. Consider the latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association.
Tip 1: Get more physical activity
- Lose weight
- Lower your blood sugar
- Boosts your sensitivity to insulin — which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range
Research shows that both aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes, but the greatest benefit comes from a fitness program that includes both.
Tip 2: Get plenty of fiber
- Reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Promote weight loss by helping you feel full
Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Tip 3: Go for whole grains
Tip 4: Lose extra weight
If you're overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health. And you may be surprised by how much. In one study, overweight adults reduced their diabetes risk by 16 percent for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of weight lost. Also, those who lost a modest amount of weight — at least 5 to 10 percent of initial body weight — and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent over three years.
Tip 5: Skip fad diets and make healthier choices
Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first, but their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn't known nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, think variety and portion control as part of an overall healthy-eating plan.
When to see your doctor
If you're older than age 45 and your weight is normal, ask your doctor if diabetes testing is appropriate for you. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening if:
- You're age 45 or older and overweight
- You're younger than age 45 and overweight with one or more additional risk factors for type 2 diabetes — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a family history of diabetes
Share your concerns about diabetes prevention with your doctor. He or she will applaud your efforts to keep diabetes at bay, and perhaps offer additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.
Top 10 Tips to Control Diabetes
The following are helpful tips to help you stay in control of managing diabetes.
1. It's not about your diabetes — It's about your life
- What do I love to do?
- What things about diabetes keep me from doing it?
- What are some solutions?
- How can making an action plan help?
2. It's not just about blood sugarHeart disease and stroke are the big killers for people with diabetes. Here's how to lower your chances:
- If you use tobacco, quit.
- Keep your blood pressure at or below 129/79.
- Consider taking a statin drug.
- Ask your doctor about ACE-inhibitors.
- Talk to your doctor about whether a daily aspirin is right for you.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices.
3. Stress makes everything worse
Stress can get in the way of taking care of yourself and managing your diabetes.
- Find out what's causing stress in your life.
- Learn ways to reduce or cope with daily stressors.
- Schedule something fun for yourself on a regular basis.
4. Exercise makes everything betterExercise is good for everybody. It gives you more energy, reduces stress, helps you relax, and makes it easier to fall asleep.
- Work towards doing at least 30 minutes every day.
- Make it fun, not a chore.
- Try a pedometer.
5. Don't diet — Make healthier food choicesFind a healthier way of eating that you can stick with for life.
- Instead of thinking about food as either "good" or "bad," think about which foods support good health.
- Eat a variety of foods to make sure you're getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
- Talk to your dietitian to find a meal plan that works for you.
6. Be smart and use your "flashlight"Your blood sugar monitor helps you see in the dark, like a flashlight. Test your blood sugar to get information you can use, for example:
- When you first wake up in the morning.
- Before or after meals.
- Before, during, and after exercising.
- Whenever you feel "odd."
7. Get regular checkupsKeeping regular appointments with your doctor and getting tests and screenings on time, helps you be an active partner with your health care team.
- Know what questions to ask.
- Write them down ahead of time.
- Let your doctor know at the beginning of each visit what specific things you want to talk about.
8. Make sure you're not depressedIt's often hard for people to know when they're depressed. Here are some common signs:
- Feeling down, blue, hopeless, sad, or irritable
- Not enjoying activities that used to be enjoyable
- Feeling as though you're letting other people down
- Trouble concentrating
- Tired all the time, no energy
- No interest in food
- Trouble falling asleep
- Feeling like life isn't worth living
9. Write down your care planWork with your doctor to design a diabetes care plan that's right for you. Be sure to include:
- What drugs you're taking and why you're taking them.
- Your daily targets for the numbers you can control.
- The goals you want to achieve.
- Who you should call and when.
10. Join a groupGroups work magic!
- A problem shared is a problem solved.
- You'll be amazed at how much you have to offer others.
- Check out in-person and online Living Well With Chronic Conditions workshops.
Clinical review by David McCulloch, MD