Firstly, a bit of background: type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that causes a person’s blood glucose (sugar) level to become too high. Let’s look at some ways you can reduce your risk of developing it.
Some of the long term effects of diabetes type 2 can include:
- Sight problems including blindness.
- Circulatory and nerve problems that can lead to amputation.
- Heart disease.
- Kidney damage.
There’s a number of risk factors that indicate an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Some of them are within our control and others aren’t but it’s good to be aware of them all. They include:
- Being overweight.
- Fat distribution. If you’re an apple shape and store fat around your middle, you’re at greater risk. This risk rises for women with a greater waist circumference of 35 inches and men with 40 inches plus.
- Inactivity. Movement uses up glucose as energy and the less active we are, the greater our risk is.
- Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. If unaddressed it can progress to type 2 diabetes.
- Family history. Your risk rises if an immediate member of your family (parent/sibling) has the condition.
- Race. Some racial/ethnic groups are at increased risk though it’s unclear why. These include Black, African and South Asian (Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi) people.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (POS). A common condition for women characterised by irregular periods, excess hair growth and weight gain.
We can change some of the factors to lower our chances of developing the condition by looking at our diet, staying active and reducing your alcohol intake.
Having a BMI of over 30 is the biggest modifiable factor and a healthy, balanced diet will help us reduce our weight. Try to eat a diet rich in:
- Fruit and veg – aim for at least 5 portions a day.
- Whole grains and legumes.
- Lean proteins like chicken and fish.
- Healthy fats from foods like avocados, nuts and oily fish.
Complex carbohydrates that have a low GI (glycaemic index) will slowly break down into glucose, avoiding spikes in blood sugars.
Being physically active helps our bodies use insulin, reducing the amount of glucose in our bloodstream. It also improves our blood cholesterol, builds muscle which burns more calories than fat and increases cardiovascular fitness. This all aids weight loss. A healthy BMI and waist circumference lowers our risk.
Excessive alcohol can increase our risk of the condition. NHS guidelines suggest drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol at week for both men and women. For help with cutting down or cutting out alcohol, why not cut calories by switching to low cal beers?
Take time for self-care and managing your stress levels. Making sure you get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation can really lower your stress levels. You’ll be more likely to stick to a healthy lifestyle when you’re energised and feeling good.