Even though there are more than 400 million people who suffer from diabetes, it is an illness that, in 80% of cases, can easily be prevented. How? A healthier lifestyle.
In 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared November 14th as World Diabetes Day. According to the UN, diabetes is the major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation.
Every year, this date gives awareness to people all around the world about a disease that affects more than 400 million people. This means that 8.5% of the population suffers from diabetes. November 14th works as a wake up call to have better and healthier habits.
Out of those 400 million people with diabetes, 360.000.000 have type 2 diabetes. And, according to the American Diabetes Association, 80% of those 360 million could’ve been avoided. This means that almost 290 million people could’ve prevented this disease.
In this World Diabetes Day, we give 5 tips to prevent type 2 diabetes. And trust us when we say this: it’s not that hard.
So keep reading!
What is diabetes?
Before we get into the tips, it’s better to understand what diabetes is. In the most general concept, diabetes occurs when there is too much sugar or glucose in the bloodstream. It is also important to know what insulin is and what its function is in the human body.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It’s main function is to get carbohydrates present in the food we eat and transform it into sugar (glucose) for energy for our body. Insulin levels should also be balanced in order to prevent blood sugar levels from getting too low, which is called hypoglycemia. It also keeps blood sugar levels from getting to high (hyperglycemia). This occurs when the body cannot produce any or enough insulin.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s briefly explain type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes occurs because of an autoimmune reaction. The immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin. For this reason, the body produces too little or no insulin at all.
Research on this subject say it is a result of several factors, both internal and external. It could be a genetic condition, or it could also be produced by environmental conditions such as viral infections, toxins or even and irregular diet.
Type 2 Diabetes
Different from type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is not produced by an issue in the immune system. Type 2 diabetes occurs because the body is not able to respond to or doesn’t produce enough insulin.
This type of diabetes is most common in older adults, but is progressively increasing in children, adolescents and young adults due to obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet.
5 tips to prevent diabetes
Like we said before, type 2 diabetes can easily be prevented. How? By having a healthy lifestyle. Here are 5 tips to prevent diabetes:
1. Veggies, fruits and whole grains: your new best palls
A healthy diet is the first thing you should have in mind if you want to prevent diabetes. You should always include vegetables and fruits in your daily diet.
But most importantly, doctors always recommend whole grains. Try eating brown rice instead of white rice. Oats are also really good for preventing diabetes because they contains beta-glucan, which is a fiber with the awesome power of lowering cholesterol levels. Also, give quinoa a chance! It’s a pretty complete protein and it’s also really easy to cook.
Another good thing to do is to avoid sugary drinks. Instead try drinking more water. Coffee and tea are really good for preventing diabetes. But please don’t add any sugar or milk. Please don’t!
Finally, limit red and definitely avoid processed meats like bacon. We know it’s hard to resist that bacon smell in the morning, but there are a bunch of healthier alternatives.
- Keep that body moving!
A good diet is very important, but you shouldn’t stop there. Regular exercise is as important as eating healthy food. Obesity is one of the most common causes of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight can increase 20 to 40 times your chances of diabetes. On the other hand, reducing 7%-10% of your current body fat can reduce the risk in half.
Body fat can increase the body’s resistance to insulin, which can easily lead to diabetes.
So try to exercise at least 3 days a week, for 30 to 45 minutes. This will keep your body weight in control, reduce blood glucose levels and improve blood pressure and cholesterol. Win, win, win.
- Quit smoking!
According to Harvard University, smokers are “roughly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk”. And if you already embrace tips 1 and 2, smoking doesn’t really go with your current lifestyle.
- A drink a day keeps the doctors away. Really?!
Yes, but don’t rush to the nearest bar yet. Studies indicate that a “moderate amounts of alcohol can increase the efficiency of insulin at getting glucose inside cells”. But what is considered “moderate amounts of alcohol”? According to these studies, up to a drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. This decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes. But if you’re not a drinker there’s no reason to begin.
However, if you do have your drinks from time to time, don’t exceed. Higher amounts of alcohol definitely increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- But… don’t keep the doctor too far away
Even if you have a healthy diet and exercise every day, a visit to the doctor two times a year won’t hurt you. Check your blood glucose, pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels. If you have accomplished all of the tips above, this one won’t be hard at all.
Diabetes can be prevented
According to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), in the 2017 report, North America and the Caribbean is one of the regions with the highest number of people with diabetes (46 million).
Although China is the country with the most adults diagnosed with diabetes, United States is the country with the most number of children and adolescents diagnosed with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be avoided. And as you can see, it’s not that hard to do it. Eating healthier and regular exercise are not that hard to accomplish. And taking into account that 80% of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented, it’s worth it.