How to prevent type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes at a glance
1. What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, is an incurable chronic disease, but it can be controlled.
For people in good health, controlling their blood sugar level can be done adequately with insulin, a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas.
Those with type 2 diabetes don’t have a balanced blood sugar level because their body doesn’t produce or use the insulin adequately. The result: Above normal levels of sugar in the body, i.e. hyperglycemia.
2. Who is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes?
Normally, adults aged 40 and over who often fall under one or more of the following categories can develop the disease:
- Overweight, especially with excessive belly fat
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol or other types of lipids in their bloodstream
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor eating habits
Affects more men than women.
Genetics play a role in type 2 diabetes. Those with family members with the disease are more likely to develop it.
Women with gestational diabetes or who give birth to a baby weighing over 4.1 kg (9 lbs) are at risk.
Lastly, type 2 diabetes is becoming more common among obese people under 40.
3. What are the symptoms of type 2 diabetes?
The usual symptoms are:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Unexplained weight loss
These symptoms increase gradually.
Some people have no symptoms. They only learn they have the disease after a blood test.
4. What types of health problems can type 2 diabetes cause?
Type 2 diabetes can cause the following problems:
- Heart disease
- Decrease of blood flow to the limbs, which can lead to amputation
- Nervous system conditions
- Erectile dysfunction
How to prevent type 2 diabetes
To prevent type 2 diabetes, or delay the onset if you are at risk, adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Everyone knows that exercising is good for you. Moving regularly reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two factors that can trigger the onset of diabetes.
Plus, physical activity:
- Helps with weight management
- Improves heart health
- Helps to cope with stress and anxiety
- Provides a sense of well-being, improves self-confidence and the quality of life
For best results, exercise regularly and change up your physical activities.
According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, adults between age 18 and 64 should engage in the following weekly exercise regimen:
- 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise – swimming, biking, walking, running, dancing, etc.
- 2 or 3 strength training sessions – strength training using free weights, hydraulic machines, etc.
Not into physical activity?
- Start slowly.
- Make your workouts more fun.
- Add variety to your training activities.
- Try different types of exercises.
2. Adopt a healthy diet and good eating habits at meal time
Three balanced meals per day with healthy snacks when you feel hungry – that’s how you set the tone for a healthy diet.
Plan your meals. If you don’t have time or feel like cooking every day, prepare your meals in advance.
Hungry? Drink water. You may just be thirsty.
Listen to your hunger cues:
- Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive the cue that you are full.
- Take small bites and savour each one.
- Drink a lot of water during meals.
- Take a break after you have eaten ¾ of your meal and ask yourself if you’re really still hungry.
- Avoid watching TV, looking at your tablet or reading a book during meals. Turn off your electronic devices and put away your book if you’re tempted to use them. You could end up overeating if you’re focusing on something else other than your meal, since you won’t be listening to your hunger cues.
3. Learn to manage your weight
Adopting a healthy diet and good eating habits at meal time doesn’t mean you’ll shed the weight instantly.
To get there, you’ll need willpower.
Ask yourself the important questions:
- Why do you want to lose weight? To have more energy to play with your children? To simply feel better?
- What are your objectives? Eating more fruits and vegetables? Eating less red meat? Eating more whole grains?
Don’t think about how many pounds you want to lose. Focus instead on the good habits you should be adopting for the long term.
Consult a nutritionist for tips and support along the way.
4. Pay attention to stress
Even though stress is not one of the main risk factors in the onset of type 2 diabetes, it can contribute to its development in the long term.
When you’re stressed, your body releases certain hormones, namely cortisol, which causes an increase in your blood sugar level, which returns to normal on its own.
However, if these increased blood sugar levels become more significant and regular, they can cause insulin resistance in the long run.
Then there’s the phenomenon known as “emotional eating”.
5. Avoid tobacco and alcohol
Much like stress, smoking and drinking are not considered among the primary risk factors for the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Studies have shown, however, that smokers are more likely to develop diabetes than non-smokers or ex-smokers.
Drinking alcohol regularly can cause weight gain, which in turn can lead to type 2 diabetes. So be careful with your consumption and consult a healthcare professional if necessary.