Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Uncontrolled cases can cause blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and other serious conditions.
It happens when a person’s body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin well (this is called insulin resistance). If you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, you might be able to prevent or delay developing it.
Before diabetes is diagnosed, there is a period where blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. This is known as prediabetes.
It’s estimated that up to 70% of people with prediabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, progressing from prediabetes to diabetes isn’t inevitable.
What are the risk factors?
There are a number of risk that can increase the risk of diabetes in a person.
- Having prediabetes
- Being overweight or having obesity
- Being age 45 or older
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Having high blood pressure
- An inactive lifestyle
- A history of heart disease or stroke
How can I prevent or delay getting type 2 diabetes?
If you are at risk for diabetes, you may be able to prevent or delay getting it. Most of the things that you need to do involve having a healthier lifestyle. So if you make these changes, you will get other health benefits as well. You may lower your risk of other diseases, and you will probably feel better and have more energy. The changes are:
- Losing weight and keeping it off. Weight control is an important part of diabetes prevention. You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 10 percent of your current weight.
- Following a healthy eating plan. It is important to reduce the amount of calories you eat and drink each day, so you can lose weight and keep it off. To do that, your diet should include smaller portions and less fat and sugar. You should also eat a variety of foods from each food group, including plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It’s also a good idea to limit red meat, and avoid processed meats.
- Get regular exercise. Exercise has many health benefits, including helping you to lose weight and lower your blood sugar levels. These both lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional to figure out which types of exercise are best for you. You can start slowly and work up to your goal.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can contribute to insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. If you already smoke, try to quit.
- Talk to your health care provider to see whether there is anything else you can do to delay or to prevent type 2 diabetes. If you are at high risk, your provider may suggest that you take one of a few types of diabetes medicines.