How to Reduce Your Risk
Overview: Steps to Prevention and Managing Your Weight
Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable by making healthy lifestyle choices, including the following:
Eat a healthy diet. Taking in more calories than you expend leads to weight gain, which in turn is a driving factor of type 2 diabetes. However, the quality of one’s diet, especially the quality of fats and carbohydrates, can affect your diabetes risk as well.1 Below are some general guidelines for a better quality diet:
|Cut down on:||Instead, have more:|
|white rice and carbohydrates||brown rice or other whole grains|
|palm and coconut oil, partially hydrogenated oils||olive oil, canola oil, or other vegetable oils|
|processed meat, red meat||chicken, fish, beans, tofu|
|sugary drinks and juice||water, unsweetened coffee or tea|
|processed snack foods||whole fruits or vegetables, nuts|
Optionally, you can also include:
•moderate amounts of dairy
•moderate amounts of alcohol (up to two drinks a day for men, up to one drink a day for women)
Take at look at the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which provides detailed guidance to help people make the best eating choices at a glance.
Get plenty of exercise. A good target is 30 minutes of brisk walking or some equivalent cardiovascular exercise each day. If you have a busy schedule, you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine. For example, walking or biking to work and taking the stairs instead of the elevator can help you maintain a more active lifestyle. If you have time, try more intense forms of exercise such as yoga, tai-chi, jogging, or resistance training.2 Finding a type of exercise you enjoy doing is a great way to maintain your health and your weight.
Don’t smoke: in addition to being bad for your heart and lungs, smoking is associated with a 45 percent increased risk of developing diabetes.1
Get enough sleep (7-8 hours a night): sleep deprivation is associated with diabetes risk factors such as obesity. Getting too much sleep (over 9 hours a night) can also increase your risk.
Be mindful about how you interact with your environment, whether it is eating or exercising. Stress and multi-tasking can lead you to develop unhealthy lifestyle habits, which can exacerbate diabetes risk factors.
One randomized trial in China showed that changes in dietary and exercise habits reduced diabetes risk by 31 percent to 46 percent in people with impaired glucose tolerance,3 and similar results have been found in India, Japan, Europe, and the U.S.4 Keeping these risk factors in check is important for preventing type 2 diabetes. You can take charge to lower your risk of developing diabetes and improve your health.
1 Hu, FB. Globalization of diabetes: The role of diet, lifestyle, and genes. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(6):1249-1257.
2 Grøntved A, Pan A, Mekary RA, et al. Muscle-Strengthening and Conditioning Activities and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study in Two Cohorts of US Women. PLoS Medicine. 2014;11(1):e1001587.
3 Pan XR, Li GW, Hu YH, et al. Effects of diet and exercise in preventing NIDDM in people with impaired glucose tolerance: the Da Qing IGT and Diabetes Study. Diabetes Care. 1997;20(4):537-544.
4 Chan JCN, Malik V, Jia W, et al. Diabetes in Asia: Epidemiology, Risk Factors, and Pathophysiology. JAMA. 2009;301(20):2129-2140.