When people talk about prevention of diabetes, it is usually about preventing type 2 diabetes. In the majority of cases, type 2 diabetes is brought on by lifestyle factors which can often be prevented.

These include an unbalanced diet, lack of activity, lack of sleep, stress, smoking and alcohol.

By making lifestyles changes, you can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes prevention overview

Leading doctors and researchers point to excessive levels of insulin as the likely reason why insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes develops.

Strategies such as low-carb diets and exercise help to reduce levels of insulin and are therefore effective for preventing type 2 diabetes from developing.

There are a number of risk factors for diabetes, some of which are preventable, such as weight gain around the middle (central obesity ), high cholesterol/triglyceride levels and high blood pressure

Losing weight, adopting more activity into your day, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol intake can also help towards lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus and improving your all-round health.

Diet and preventing type 2 diabetes

Diet is the most important part of lifestyle change. The adage that you can’t outrun a bad diet is true.

It is much easier to lose weight on a good diet even if you are struggling to do exercise, than it is through exercise if you’re eating a poor diet.

Effective diets to prevent type 2 diabetes are those that do not cause your body to produce a lot of insulin. Carbohydrate has the biggest demand on insulin and so any diet that helps reduce carbohydrate intake will help towards reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Cutting out sugary food and drink and refined grains such as white bread and white rice is a good first step.

Modern research has shown that low-fat diets are not as healthy as they were once believed to be. It is more important to avoid processed food rather than trying to avoid fat in foods such as dairy.

Aim to have a balanced diet by basing meals around vegetables and include healthy sources of fat such as unsalted tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts), olive oil, avocado, oily fish, meat and full fat dairy.

For help with following a healthy diet that will help keep type 2 diabetes at bay, join the Low Carb Program endorsed by Dr David Unwin and trusted by the NHS.

Exercise to prevent type 2 diabetes

Whilst a good diet is the foundation of good health, exercise is the next important step.

Exercise can help to prevent diabetes in a number of ways.

During exercise, our muscles use any excess sugar in the blood and the sugar, known as glycoge, that is stored in the muscles and liver.

After exercise is completed, the muscles will gradually replenish their sugar stores by taking in sugar from the blood. This helps lower blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity.

Regular exercise, along with a good diet, can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and can help reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

Even a little extra activity each day can help. Some basic steps can really help to make a difference if they become a regular habit, such as walking to the shops rather using the car or getting off the bus a stop early.

Medication to help prevent diabetes

Whilst medication, such as metformin, has been shown to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes amongst particularly high-risk cases where lifestyles interventions alone may not be enough.

In the UK, medication is not routinely prescribed to prevent type 2 diabetes, however, it may be prescribed on a case-by-case basis by doctors. [270]

Prevention of pre-diabetes

Pre-diabetes, as the name suggests, is a precursor to type 2 diabetes and therefore the same prevention strategies for preventing type 2 diabetes are applicable for prediabetes.

Prevention of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune condition and there is currently no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes from occurring.

Whilst some trials have shown some evidence of risk reductio, these have been smaller trials and larger scale studies are required to confirm and substantiate the findings.

The area researchers have been looking into include:

  • Gluteen free diets
  • Avoiding cow’s milk

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