More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and 1 in 4 of them don't even know it.1 Though researchers are still working to gain a full understanding of Type 2 diabetes, certain factors are known to increase one’s risk of developing this potentially harmful condition. Some of these factors are out of your control, like your family history, age and where you carry extra weight,2 but some factors you may be able to control by changing some lifestyle behaviors.
The primary risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is obesity—something that can be controlled with education and the right support system.3 The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin, the hormone that helps your body absorb and utilize sugar.2 With insulin resistance, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, ultimately wreaking havoc on all your body’s systems.2 So what can you do about it? Here are four natural ways to potentially reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
1. Eat Well
You likely already know that a healthy, balanced diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. And, as it turns out, the nutritional guidelines4 for people with a high risk of developing or currently living with Type 2 diabetes include recommendations that basically benefit everyone. So what’s the secret for healthy eating?
The American Diabetes Association recommends the majority of an individual’s carbohydrate intake should come from vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes and dairy products.3 Trans and saturated fats should be limited or avoided, while good fats (found in foods like olive oil and nuts) can be enjoyed in small amounts.3 In addition, added sugars should be limited, and an individual’s sodium intake should fall under 2300 mg per day.3
All of Jenny Craig’s menus, including our Type 2 diabetes menu, follow expert guidelines and are also suitable for those with Type 1 diabetes and pre-diabetes.
Keeping active is another component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle—regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, control your weight, tone your muscles, prevent bone loss, and improve your mood—to list a few of the benefits.5 But did you know: staying active could also help lower your blood glucose levels?6 When your muscles contract during physical activity, your cells can more efficiently absorb glucose and use it for energy—with benefits that can last up to 24 hours following each period of activity.7
3. Stress Less
You may associate stress with an increased heart rate, so it feels like exercise—but it’s actually having the opposite effect on your body. When your brain signals stress, your body reacts by releasing the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream.8 A holdover from our caveman days, cortisol is released during a “fight-or-flight” situation—and can slow other systems that aren’t needed during a crisis—including digestion.9 What’s more, cortisol can provide the body with glucose, which may lead to increased blood sugar levels over time.10 By finding ways to de-stress, you may be able to decrease your cortisol levels, potentially reducing your risk for developing diabetes.
4. Catch More Z’s and Follow Your Rhythm
Researchers around the world have long understood that lack of sleep can contribute to poor nutritional choices—which may, in turn, lead to weight gain.11 But recent studies have uncovered even more information: lack of sleep may disrupt your natural circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock, which can cause further health consequences, including a potential risk for developing diabetes.12
A recent study13 found that sleep disruption from rotating shifts, overnight work, artificial light and erratic eating patterns can affect our body’s internal clock mechanisms—and ultimately have an adverse effect on the way our bodies metabolize blood glucose. Further aggravation was caused by inconsistent bedtimes and eating just before bed—contributing to obesity, increased insulin resistance, reduction in lean muscle mass and a higher concentration of body fat.13
So how can you follow your natural rhythm? Start by trying to integrate a daylight nutrition strategy into your routine. Focus on eating during a 12-hour time period (for example, from 7a.m. – 7 p.m.) followed by a 12-hour break from the consumption of food or caloric beverages (this time includes sleep). During this rest period, your body has time to rejuvenate and “clean house”—repairing and regenerating cells so your body can optimally function the next day.14 Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, incorporates this science-based daylight nutrition strategy.
For more information on how to lose weight and potentially reduce your risk for diabetes, book your free appointment today.
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple.
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and reviewed by certified professionals.
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