5 Easy Lifestyle Changes to Control & Prevent Diabetes

by Jessica Von Duerring, Senior Copywriter & Certified Pilates Instructor

Diabetes is a serious, irreversible disease, and a global epidemic. In the next 40 years, the number of U.S. adults with diabetes is estimated to double or triple, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1 A startling statistic means that about 1 in 9 adults currently has diabetes. While type 1 diabetes, also known as “juvenile diabetes”, cannot be prevented, many risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes can be easily controlled. As Diabetes Awareness Month is observed throughout November, now is an important time to provide you with five important steps to help prevent or manage diabetes, which can lower the risk of complications and help improve your quality of life:

1.  Reach or maintain a healthy weight. While people with type 2 diabetes aren’t always overweight, it is a major risk factor. If you’re overweight, losing 7-10 percent of your current weight can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.2 To learn whether you are at a healthy weight, check your body mass index (BMI) with the CDC’s online calculator. If your BMI is 25-29.9, you are considered overweight, and if 30 or above, you are classified as obese.

2.  Get physically active. Plan for 2.5 hours each week of moderate physical activity – which can include brisk walking, swimming, and household chores – or 1.5 hours each week of vigorous exercise, such as running or partaking in a group fitness class. Exercise can help you control your weight, blood glucose and blood pressure, as well as raise your "good" cholesterol and lower your "bad" cholesterol.

3.  Improve your diet. If you already have pre-diabetes or diabetes, you may feel discouraged this time of year. With all the Thanksgiving starchy side dishes and sweet treats staring at you in the face, managing blood sugar can be a major challenge. A simple way to tune up your nutrition habits year-round is to consume a diet rich in omega-3s and fiber, choose whole grains and whole grain products over highly processed carbohydrates, limit red meat (embrace the turkey!) and drink water or unsweetened beverages instead of sugary drinks such as soda and juices.3

4.  Quit smoking and do not use any other tobacco products. Smoking is greatly linked to the development of type 2 diabetes, and can be even more hazardous to the health of someone that already has the condition.

5.  Get a flu vaccine. People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing serious complications or dying from influenza, according to the CDC. For those with diabetes, type 1 and type 2, ask for the "shot" version vs. the nasal spray. Also, talk to your doctor about a pneumonia (pneumococcal) shot.

For optimal diabetes prevention or management, keep these five steps in mind and identify the area(s) that need the most improvement. By taking control of diabetes, you'll help ensure that the disease doesn’t control you.


1 www.cdc.gov (October 2011) Stay Healthy With Diabetes and Prevent Type 2

2 The Nutrition Source: Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes

3 Everyday Health: 7 New Diabetes Superfoods You Should Try