Over 57 million Americans have pre-diabetes, a condition which places them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With just a few small changes, you can keep your family from joining this growing group of Americans by lowering your risk for diabetes. These changes could also help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure, the two most important steps in avoiding diabetes.
Celebrate Diabetes Awareness Month by choosing one or more of these small and simple changes to lower your risk.
- Kick the soda habit. Skip sugary beverages like soda, juice, punches or sweetened teas. Women who drank one or more of these sodas had an 83 percent higher risk of diabetes. New studies are suggesting that diet sodas may not help lower your risk for diabetes, so it is best to give up sodas altogether. Choose less sugary beverages such as black coffee, unsweetened tea, water and milk.
- Take part in Meatless Mondays. Red meats and processed meats (such as deli meats, ground meats, hot dogs or bologna) can increase your risk for diabetes by 20 percent. Start to lower how much meat you eat by celebrating Meatless Mondays, a day when you get all the protein and healthy fats you need from vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes or beans. Try to get your protein from healthier meats such as poultry or fish during the rest of the week.
- Switch to whole grains. Instead of eating white bread, pasta, rice and crackers, switch to whole grain versions of these foods. Make sure they are whole grain products by checking to see if the first ingredient is whole wheat flour or another whole grain like oats, brown rice, barley or quinoa. Studies show that two additional servings of whole grains instead of enriched grains reduced the risk for diabetes by 21 percent.
- Skip a sit-com. Instead of spending 30 minutes sitting and watching a television show, go for a brisk 30-minute walk every day. Studies have show than this can reduce the risk for diabetes by up to 30 percent.
These changes only lower your risk if you are ready to use them for a long time. Avoiding soda for a month will only lower your risk during that month, not for your whole life.
Your primary care physician is your teammate in preventing conditions like diabetes. Talk with your primary care physician to learn more about how you can lower your risk.
+ If you are concerned you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, take this free online risk assessment from the American Diabetes Association.