Lifestyle plays the greatest role in how to prevent diabetes naturally
My father passed on to me many wonderful things: a strong work ethic, a sense of humor, and dimples, to name a few. He also passed on to me the genetics for type 2 diabetes. Thanks, Dad. A shrewd card player, my dad would say, “A card laid is a card played.” But is that the case in life’s game of type 2 diabetes risk? You may get dealt the hand that includes the type 2 diabetes gene. How you play that hand with lifestyle choices can determine whether or not, and how soon in life, it plays itself out. Yes, you can prevent or delay diabetes naturally with lifestyle.
Impacting millions of people worldwide, type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. The disease can affect a person’s quality of life. With type 2 diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin from the pancreas, and/or there is insulin resistance. This resistance occurs when the mechanism that allows insulin into the body’s cells breaks down.
Insulin is vital to our bodies. We cannot live without it because it transports the sugar and starch from food into the body cells for fuel. When diabetes is uncontrolled, the glucose (sugar) builds up in the blood. The body does not like high blood glucose, and a cascade of reactions occur when the body tries to compensate. This can lead to health complications, including poor blood circulation, vision impairment, and fatigue.
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has many risk factors. Some we can change, some we cannot.
Unchangeable major risk factors:
- Age > 45 years
- Having a close relative (parent or sibling) with type 2 diabetes
- African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander family background
- History of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or delivering a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- History of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a female reproductive condition
Changeable major risk factors:
- Sedentary lifestyle (a.k.a. “couch potato”)
- Being overweight with a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25. (Asian American with BMI ≥23.)
Also worth noting, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol (the good type of cholesterol), and high triglycerides (blood fats) are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
How to prevent type 2 diabetes naturally
Strong evidence exists to support the positive impact of a healthy lifestyle preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes progression. The Diabetes Prevention Program studied overweight people who were at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The study showed that losing 5-7% of body weight and becoming more physically active decreased the risk of getting diabetes by 58%. Most people in the study chose to walk 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week. So, a card laid may not be a card played if you are dealt the type 2 diabetes gene. To a large extent, you determine how you play your hand. The tricks to winning the game are being physically active and achieving a healthy body weight.