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Published on October 15, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention

October 15, 2013

8 Steps to Lower your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Step 1: Take more steps. Exercise is very important for overall health. Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight, helps your body use insulin better, and reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease. The recommendation for exercise is 30 minutes most days (or about 150 minutes a week).

  • Walking is a great way to increase physical activity.  If you are not active now, start slowly and gradually increase your pace and duration. Add steps by parking in the far lot, getting off the bus one stop early, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. 
  • Consider finding an active hobby that you enjoy, such as dancing, playing a sport, or swimming. Making exercise a social activity keeps it fun and keeps you motivated.

Step 2: Focus on food and shop smartly.  Healthy eating decreases your risk for diabetes, along with heart disease, some cancers, and many other conditions. Eat a “colorful diet” that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Plan healthy snacks and drink enough water. Healthy eating can include all foods in moderation. Follow portion size guidelines for sweets, fried foods, and your other favorite treats.

A great way to shop smart is to learn the important parts of the food label and compare your options. Also, if you feel too busy to prepare healthy meals every day, pick one day a week to cook large amounts. Refrigerate or freeze individual portions for the rest of the week.

Step 3: Shed a few pounds. Extra body fat can cause insulin resistance and increases your risk for developing diabetes. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can improve blood sugar levels and lower your risk. Follow steps 1 & 2 to help with your weight loss goals. Talk to your health care provider about the best way for you to achieve a healthy weight.

Step 4: Pick a quit date. If you smoke, plan to quit. It increases the risk of problems related to diabetes, like heart disease and stroke. Talk to your health care provider about a plan to quit smoking that will work for you. Ask your friends and family for support.

Step 5: Know your risk. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you know what to do. Risk factors for diabetes include being over age 45 and having a close family member with diabetes, being African American, American Indian, Latino, Asian American, Alaska Native, or Pacific Islander, being overweight, and being inactive.

Step 6: Sleep tight. Feel right. It’s no surprise that getting a good night’s sleep is an important part of a healthy life. Recent studies have shown several potential links between quality of sleep and Type 2 diabetes.

Step 7: Get your levels checked. A Vitamin D deficiency can decrease insulin production and secretion as well as decrease insulin sensitivity. Ask your doctor to consider checking your Vitamin D level.

Step 8: Take control. Talk to your health care provider about your risk and about the lifestyle changes that will help you lower it. Ask about screening for pre-diabetes or diabetes if you have any of the risk factors listed above.


Melissa Romano, RD, LDN
Certified Diabetes Educator

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