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Type 2 Diabetes – Four Ways To Decrease Your Risk

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide and it is estimated that more than 5 million people will have diabetes by 2025 if left unchanged.

Prior to a diabetes diagnosis, there is a stage where your blood sugar is high, known as prediabetes. While not everyone with prediabetes goes on to develop diabetes, a high percentage do. Thankfully, this progression can be avoided in many cases. Below are a few tips to help you reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

Stress Less

When you are stressed, your body releases a number of hormones such as cortisol and glucagon in response to this fight or flight state. These hormones require energy and cause stored glucose to be released back into your bloodstream which increases blood glucose levels. Constant stress will continue this process and keep blood glucose levels elevated. There are a number of methods to help cope with stress including mindfulness, counselling and social support.

Fibre

Fibre is a carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. It is not absorbed or digested by the gut, however, still plays a key role in sustaining good health. Fibre can lessen the effects of blood glucose levels and has been seen to increase insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients. Adults over 16 years old should be aiming for approximately 30g of fibre daily. However, in the UK on average, adults consume around 19g a day. Examples of fibre containing foods include wholegrain cereals, wholegrain bread, nuts, seeds, pulses and some fruit and vegetables.

Get Moving

Muscle contraction stimulates a pathway in the body that is not reliant on insulin. This allows glucose to be used for energy which can reduce blood glucose levels. Also, movement can help with managing stress levels which we have seen influences blood glucose. It is worth noting that moving more does not mean you need to go out and get a gym membership or exercise excessively.  Find something that you enjoy or would like to try out; so if the treadmill is not your thing, there are many other things you can explore. Find a sport, group class or active hobby that interests you and see what works best for you.

Mindful Eating

Consistent overeating can potentially result in elevated blood sugar levels due to the amount of carbohydrates eaten in one sitting. The key is to get to a stage where you can bring awareness to your eating patterns versus eating on autopilot. Before you reach for a food item out of habit, take a moment to assess yourself and how you are feeling – are you hungry? If so, how hungry? Are you bored? Is it that you are thirsty? Questions such as these will steer you toward becoming more mindful of your eating behaviour and identify any unhelpful habits.

References:

Health Matters: Preventing Type 2 Diabetes. (2018) Available at: http://scholar.aci.info/view/14ad98fe52c00150009/163919d27df0001542caba2

Nathan, D.M., Davidson, M.B., DeFronzo, R.A., Heine, R.J., Henry, R.R., Pratley, R. & Zinman, B. (2007) Impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance: Implications for care. Diabetes Care. 30(3) pp.753-759.

Naufahu, J., Elliott, B., Markiv, A., Dunning-Foreman, P., McGrady, M., Howard, D., Watt, P. & Mackenzie, R.W. (2018) High-intensity exercise decreases IP6K1 muscle content and improves insulin sensitivity (SI2) in glucose-intolerant individuals. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 103(4) pp.1479-1490.

Scientific Advisory Committee on Health (SACN). Carbohydrates and Health. London, The Stationery Office; 2015.

Ylönen, K., Saloranta, C., Kronberg-Kippilä, C., Groop, L., Aro, A. & Virtanen, S.M. (2003) Associations of dietary fiber with glucose metabolism in nondiabetic relatives of subjects with type 2 diabetes: The botnia dietary study. Diabetes Care. 26(7) pp.1979-1985.

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