Nearly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. With medical care costs for diabetics running more than twice of those without, there’s more reason than ever to take preventive measures.1 Nearly 95% of diabetes cases in the U.S. are Type 2: although someone's body can produce insulin, they are either not producing enough, or their body isn’t using it effectively.2 While there is evidence that heredity plays a part, lifestyle is also a key contributor. With this in mind, a healthy diet and exercise are two of the most important Type 2 diabetes prevention strategies.
Weight loss & Type 2 diabetes prevention
Obesity is one of the most common causes for developing diabetes, and implementing a lifestyle change like losing weight is one of is one of the best ways to help prevent this disease. Smart eating is a key factor in weight loss, and if you’re in the midst of your Jenny Craig weight loss journey, you’re already taking steps to help prevent Type 2 diabetes! Better still, the foods that may support healthy weight loss are also foods that may help reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Making lifestyle changes are especially important if you were diagnosed with prediabetes, an early warning sign of Type 2 diabetes, but one which can be reversed.3
Ways to prevent diabetes
Make healthy food choices & stick to a weight loss plan
If your doctor has recently advised that you are on the verge of developing Type 2 diabetes or it runs in your family, you may want to consider making changes to your diet and eating habits. In fact, John Hopkins Medicine found that you can significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent if you reduce your body weight by 5-10 percent.4
In addition, a recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that healthy eating can reduce diabetes risk in women from 32-55%, depending on their background.5 The study concluded that for every 1,000 women, these dietary changes may prevent Type 2 diabetes in 5-8 women.
If you are diabetic, losing weight is equally important to manage your diabetes. If you’re a Jenny Craig member, our clinically proven diabetic weight loss plan is specifically tailored to help you manage your diabetes and lose weight.
Pay attention to portion sizes
To help support your weight loss, monitor your portion sizes. This is one of the easiest ways to cut back on caloric intake. When it comes to a healthier diet, try to stay away from food items that are high in fat and sugar. These two culprits may increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Instead of choosing a candy bar or sugary beverage, try substituting it for more wholesome and nutritious options like nuts, a piece of fruit or sparkling water. Following a low-fat diet and incorporating a balanced diet not only will keep your body’s blood glucose levels in check, but it may also help you feel more full and satisfied for a longer period of time.
Exercise to prevent diabetes
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent Type 2 diabetes and the lack of physical activity is a risk factor for this disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity to help maintain weight loss.6 With so many different types of exercises to choose from, finding the one you enjoy doing will help keep you motivated and more likely to stick to a routine. Try anything from walking, strength and resistance training like lifting weights, using machines at the gym, high-intensity interval training, to flexibility exercises. Dancing is a great aerobic exercise that is fun and gets your body moving. All you need is to break a sweat a few times a week to help reduce the risk of diabetes.
Aside from its weight loss benefits, regular physical activity may increase your body’s sensitivity to insulin if you have insulin resistance.7 Daily physical activity may also help lower your glucose levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure.8
“Skeletal muscle [the muscles of movement] is your body’s biggest consumer of blood sugar,” says Timothy Church, MD, MPH, PhD, Professor of Preventive Medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. “The immediate effect of exercise is to help control blood sugar for 24 to 48 hours post-workout as muscle cells pull glucose from your blood to replenish spent stores.”
As you continue to exercise regularly, adds Church, your muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, meaning less insulin is required to usher glucose into those cells. In addition, research has found that during exercise, your muscles take glucose out of your blood through a second pathway that does not require insulin. And, if that’s still not enough, being active has also proven to improve your mood and energy!
Ready to get started?
Consult your physician first. It’s essential to have their approval before you begin an exercise program, but you also need to talk about strategies to prevent low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, during exercise, especially if you are taking insulin or medications that increase insulin secretion. Remember, physical activity burns glucose and lowers blood sugar. Most likely, your doctor will suggest an approach that includes monitoring your glucose levels and timing your exercise and eating to keep blood sugar levels within a steady range. They may also suggest carrying a snack with you during exercise sessions in case you begin to have symptoms of low blood sugar.
Exercise and weight loss may improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin and its ability to manage glucose, so if you see your blood sugar levels dropping over time, as you begin to increase your physical activity and/or lose more weight, meet with your doctor to discuss whether your medication needs to be reduced.4
In addition to learning how to help prevent Type 2 diabetes with a healthy diet and exercise routine, it’s important to know the symptoms and risk factors to spot the warning signs early. Call us today to learn more about reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease with a Jenny Craig meal plan. Book your free appointment today!