While having a slender stature and staying physically active can help reduce your chances of developing diabetes, there may be additional steps you need to take.
Diabetes prevention depends on several lifestyle factors, including what you eat. Talk with your physician about your concerns, especially if you have a family history of diabetes. Let him know if you decide to make any changes to your exercise regimen or diet.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas does not produce the hormone insulin, or produces inadequate amounts of insulin.
The primary job of insulin is to pull sugar, or glucose, into cells to use as fuel. Without insulin, blood glucose soars, minimizing cell functions all over your body.
Chances of having Type 1 diabetes are 1 in 10 or higher if an immediate family member also has the disease, says the Joslin Diabetes Center.
Since Type 1 diabetes can be genetic, you might not be able to prevent the disorder. Type 2 diabetes, or insulin resistance, is different. In this form, your body produces insulin, but it does not work with your cells. While Type 2 diabetes may be partially genetic, it is highly preventable based on lifestyle factors.
Minimize Alcohol Consumption
Moderate drinking, one drink per day for women and two for men, can help improve the efficacy of insulin. Negative effects stem from binge drinking or having more than one to two drinks per day.
Carbohydrates from alcohol digest rapidly in your gut. Similar to refined grains, alcohol also causes your blood glucose levels to soar. If you typically have several alcoholic drinks each night, cutting back helps stabilize your blood sugar and can aid in diabetes prevention.
Eat Whole Grains
Having a diet high in sugar and refined white flour causes sudden spikes and low dips in your blood glucose levels. This occurs since refined grains digest in one quick step in your small intestine. Over time, this may lead to unstable blood sugar levels.
Whole grains break down differently than refined grains. When a grain is whole, it contains all three parts of the kernel: germ, endosperm and bran. Your digestive system has to work hard to digest whole grains, so your blood sugar will not go through a sudden surge. Two to three servings of whole-grain foods daily can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 30 percent, says the Harvard School of Public Health.
Choose Healthy Fats
Fats are an essential part of your diet. They help absorb and store fat-soluble vitamins, aid in hormone production and insulate your body.
Eating the right types of fats may lessen your chances of developing diabetes. Look for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, or MUFAs and PUFAs, on nutrition facts labels.
MUFAs and PUFAs benefit your body by stabilizing blood cholesterol levels, thus minimizing plaque and blockages in your veins. These healthy fats, found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish and avocados, can lessen your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and can keep your heart healthy.