Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. Approximately 90% of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2, which was formerly known as adult onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin as it should. Certain risk factors for the disease cannot be avoided. These include a family history of the disease, age, gender, and ethnicity. However, prevention is possible by making a few healthy lifestyle choices such as losing excess weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.
The number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese. Losing excess body weight can decrease a person’s risk level significantly. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a key component. Dietary changes, including eating foods that are low in fat and high in fiber, can help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Adding whole grains to the diet is important because the fiber in whole grains makes it more difficult for the body to break down starch into glucose. Maintaining a lower glycemic index puts less stress on the body’s ability to produce insulin. Eating refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, and foods that are high in sugar can cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels, which may increase the risk for diabetes. Limiting trans fats in the diet may also help prevent diabetes.
Leading an active lifestyle may help prevent type 2 diabetes. Increased physical activity can also help with weight loss. Exercise should be a part of daily life. Following a regular exercise program five days a week for 30 minutes each day improves cardiovascular health and blood pressure while increasing the body’s ability to use insulin. Even people who have led inactive lifestyles can benefit from brisk walking for 30 minutes a day. Moderate exercise could include water aerobics, swimming laps, riding a bike, or gardening. The goal is to stay active while doing something enjoyable.
Smoking increases the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Smoking also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Smokers should challenge themselves to quit. A physician can advise on successful ways to kick the habit.
Diabetes testing may be appropriate for people who are age 45 and older and overweight. Screening may be appropriate for overweight people younger than age 45 if they have other risk factors for diabetes including family history, inactive lifestyle, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high triglyceride levels. A health care professional can advise.