Diabetes affects approximately 3 million people in the UK, according to the NHS. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the cells that normally produce insulin are damaged. While this form of the condition cannot be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes, Type 2 diabetes, which affects around 90 per cent of those with diabetes, can be avoided.
While there are a number of factors that lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes, they can be prevented by taking steps to live a healthier lifestyle. The most common risk factors include high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Use these tips to avoid these risk factors and lower your chances of developing the condition.
The benefits of exercise are endless, positively affecting both the physical and mental aspects of health. When it comes to preventing diabetes, physical activity is particularly essential. It tackles nearly all of the risk factors of diabetes.
Exercising regularly will help people lose weight and reduce their risk of obesity. Exercise is also known to help with problems related to insulin production, increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin. It also helps lower cholesterol and prevents blood pressure levels from rising. Physical activity, even if it's just taking your dog or yourself for a brisk 30-minute walk, is known to relieve stress. This is important because high stress and anxiety trigger high blood pressure.
2. Eat well
Age UK says that maintaining a diet that's low in sugar, salt and fat is key to reducing your chances of developing diabetes. Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables will help you control your cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. If you're used to eating unhealthily, start small by replacing your favourite junk food with nutritious alternatives. For example, instead of eating a bag of crisps with your meals, enjoy a juicy apple or carrot sticks.
Cutting as much red and processed meat from your diet as possible will also help you to get your health on track. Recent research has found that eating processed meats can increase your diabetes risk by 40 per cent, according to Age UK. Try to reduce your intake of foods that are high in saturated fat and simple carbohydrates, such as pastries, white bread and white flour as well.
"Smoking can also cause diabetes."
3. Stop smoking
Most people understand that smoking can lead to various forms of cancer and heart disease. However, smoking can also cause diabetes. High blood pressure is a common side effect of smoking and is one of the leading causes of Type 2 diabetes. If you or a loved one is having a difficult time quitting, talk to local support groups for extra guidance and motivation. It can also help to seek advice from a doctor.
4. Cut down on alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can have serious long-term effects on the body, from weight gain to increased blood pressure levels. Age UK says that drinking one pint of beer is the equivalent of eating one bar of chocolate, filling the body with empty calories. While drinking in moderation won't have any harmful effects, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to chronic pancreatitis, a common side effect of diabetes.
5. Visit your GP regularly
Going for regular checkups with your GP will ensure that everything from your weight to your cholesterol and blood pressure levels are healthy. Your doctor can also familiarise you with the symptoms of diabetes so you know exactly what to look out for. If you're having trouble eating more healthily or exercising, your GP may also have a few suggestions.
At Gracewell care homes, we ensure residents have a variety of opportunities to stay active and eat more healthily on a daily basis. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.