According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost 1 million Australian adults have had type 2 diabetes in 2017-18. This number can be even higher considering the fact that many more people may have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed yet. Type 2 diabetes is a medical condition characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance and a relative lack of insulin. While there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, there are ways to prevent it.
According to research, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program, there are many things a person can do to reduce their chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Here is what you can do to lower your risk.
Experts say that one effective way to reduce your chances of getting diabetes is shedding some kilos. They explain that 80% of people who have this medical condition are overweight. If you are overweight or obese, it might be time to consider cutting back. A good way to determine that you really need to cut back is by measuring your waist. More than 80 cm for a woman and 94 cm for a man, is a sign that you should change your diet.
Cut Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates From Your Diet
Eating foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates increases blood sugar and insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes over time. Examples of refined carbohydrates include white bread, potatoes and various types of cereal. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, oatmeal and whole grains. And instead of table sugar, use natural sugar substitutes.
Wondering what is the best natural sugar substitute? There are several sugar alternatives available on the market that you can switch to if you have predispositions to diabetes. Here are some good natural sugar substitutes that have a milder effect on blood sugar than traditional sugar:
Similar in sweetness to sugar, xylitol is a sugar alcohol compound commonly found in many fruits and vegetables, this natural sweetener contains 40% fewer calories than sugar (2.4 calories per gram). Thanks to a lack of fructose, xylitol has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin.
Also a sugar alcohol, this natural sweetener has been praised for its sweetness while having little to no calories. It’s extracted from fermented wheat or starch. Erythritol contains 70% of the sweetness of sugar and just 6% of the calories (0.24 calories per gram).
Monk Fruit Extract
Extracted from a dried melon, this natural sweetener is a diabetes-safe sugar alternative. It contains zero carbs, zero calories and it about 150 times sweeter than table sugar. Monk fruit is considered safe for all people with no side effects.
Extracted from the leaves of the Stevia plant, this natural sweetener has 3 grams of carbs per packet and a glycemic index of 0. While it has a characteristic aftertaste, it is well-tolerated by most people.
Yacon syrup is extracted from the roots of the yacon plant. It’s a fibre-rich sweetener known to help balance glucose levels. With a look and taste a bit like molasses, this sweetener makes a great addition to baking goods, desserts and sauces.
Increase Your Physical Active Level
Minimizing the time you spend in front of the TV and increasing the amount of time you spend outdoors doing some kind of physical activity will make you feel better and help towards losing weight. It’s backed up by science that regular exercise cand reduce your risk of developing diabetes by up to 60%. Ask your GP to recommend some suitable exercises for you.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Drinking alcohol is a habit that can contribute to the conditions that cause diabetes. And because booze is essentially empty calories, it can also increase your chances of putting on weight. Plus, heavy drinking can result in conditions such as chronic pancreatitis, which is a side-effect of diabetes. While there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol in moderation, like drinking a glass of vegan wine once in a while, excessive drinking can definitely lead to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Drink Lots of Water
It’s no secret that water is the most natural beverage you can drink. Drinking water as your primary beverage can help you avoid beverages high in sugar, preservatives and other questionable ingredients. Sugary beverages, such as sodas, have been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies have found that increased water consumption can lead to better blood sugar control and insulin response.
When to See Your Doctor
Experts recommend blood glucose screening if you’re:
- 45 years or older
- An overweight adult of any age, with one or more additional risk factors for diabetes such as a family history of diabetes or a personal history of prediabetes
- Have an inactive lifestyle
Share your concerns about diabetes prevention with your doctor. He/she will appreciate your efforts to prevent the condition and may offer additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.