17 Habits Proven to Prevent Prevent Diabetes
Keep yourself healthy with these habits that prevent type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that plagues the American population. In their 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that 30.3 million Americans were living with type 2 diabetes—which is over 9 percent of the U.S. population. Though there are inheritable factors you can't control that can increase your risk, there are still plenty of things you can do to avoid becoming part of this alarming statistic. Keep reading to learn how to prevent diabetes by adopting these simple everyday habits. And for more healthy habits you should be doing every day, don't miss these 50 Doctor-Approved Habits You Should Totally Steal.
Good news, coffee addicts: Your java obsession might just be doing you some good. One 2012 study published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that heavy coffee drinkers—or those who drank at least four cups of coffee per day—had a 50 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That's because coffee contains compounds that inhibit hIAPP, a substance that can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes. And for more ways to stay healthy, check out these 50 Doctor-Approved Habits You Should Totally Steal.
And staying away from sweetened beverages
One easy way to prevent diabetes is by replacing sugary drinks like soda with healthier ones like water. In one 2016 study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology, Swedish researchers found that every sweetened beverage a subject drank increased their type 2 diabetes risk by 20 percent.
Drinking alcohol only in moderation
You don't have to give up alcohol if you want to reduce your diabetes risk. In fact, one 2005 meta-analysis published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care found that people who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol had a 30 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Eating blueberries regularly
A delicious way to stave off diabetes is with fruits like blueberries, grapes, and apples. In 2013, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health examined data on more than 187,000 participants from three studies, they found that subjects who ate at least two servings each week of these whole fruits reduced their type 2 diabetes risk by as much as 23 percent compared to those who ate less than one serving per month. And for more tasty ways to be healthy, check out the 30 Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels.
And eating breakfast
The simple act of eating breakfast every day could help you keep your type 2 diabetes risk in check. In one meta-analysis of six studies published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2018, researchers found that skipping breakfast just once a week was associated with a 6 percent increased diabetes risk. Subjects who skipped breakfast four to five days a week saw a 55 percent elevated diabetes risk. They don't call it the most important meal of the day for nothing!
Managing your stress levels has just as big of an impact on your physical health (and your diabetes risk) as it does your mental and emotional wellbeing. One study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions conference in 2018 analyzed data from more than 22,000 women over a three-year period and found that subjects with the highest stress levels had nearly double the diabetes risk.
Watching less TV
Sedentary behavior has long been associated with an increased risk of diabetes. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that one of the ways you can avoid the disease is by limiting how much TV you watch every day. In one 2015 study of more than 3,000 subjects published in the journal Diabetologia, researchers determined that each hour spent watching TV is associated with a 3.4 percent increased risk of developing diabetes.
Limiting mouthwash use
The occasional swig of mouthwash before bed might be good for your gums, but it isn't doing the rest of your body any favors. A 2017 study published in the journal Nitric Oxide found that among 1,200 overweight individuals between the ages of 40 and 65, subjects who used mouthwash at least twice a day had a 55 percent increased risk of both pre-diabetes and diabetes compared to those who used it more sparingly.
According to the study authors, mouthwash contains antibacterial ingredients that affect the formation of nitric oxide, which can lead to metabolic disorders like diabetes.
You've probably heard it before, but it's worth reiterating: Working out is one of the best ways to stay healthy. When it comes to preventing diabetes specifically, one 2019 study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings determined that moderate muscle mass reduced subjects' type 2 diabetes risk by 32 percent. And if you want to get healthier today, check out these 30 Amazing Ways to Turn Around Your Health in One Day.
Biking to work
When it comes to your commute, a bicycle is the way to go. Sure, this transportation method might be tiring and can make you look like a bit of a mess on sweltering summer days, but one Danish study published in PLOS Medicine found that folks who commuted to work via bicycle had lower type 2 diabetes risks. Even if you don't want to make your commute more active, simply taking up cycling as a hobby can go a long way in the fight against diabetes.
Hanging out with friends
Looking for an excuse to spend more time with your friends and loved ones? That's great news for your health, too. Research published in BMC Public Health in 2017 found that for men, living alone was associated with 84 percent increased odds of diabetes. For women, meanwhile, not being an active member of groups and clubs was associated with 60 percent increased odds of pre-diabetes and 112 percent increased odds of type 2 diabetes.
Try to get all of your eating done earlier in the day if you're worried about developing diabetes. When researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham had subjects eat their meals within a six-hour timeframe that began at 8:30 a.m. and ended before 3 p.m., they found that they had better blood sugar control than those who ate within a 12-hour window. What's more, the subjects who fasted in the 2018 study also saw lower blood pressures and reduced appetites. Wellness wins all around!
Adopting a plant-based diet
Ditch those meat-heavy meals if you want to keep your diabetes risk in check. When a team of researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed nine studies that dealt with the association between dietary patterns and diabetes risk in 2019, they found that following a plant-based diet was associated with a 23 percent lower risk.
Lowering your blood pressure
You can keep your heart healthy and lower your type 2 diabetes risk in one fell swoop simply by lowering your blood pressure. What does your BP have to do with diabetes? Well, "when your heart has to work harder, your risk for heart disease and diabetes goes up," notes the American Diabetes Association.
If your blood pressure is too high to deal with naturally, talk to your doctor about taking medication to manage it. In one 2019 Canadian study, researchers determined that subjects who took angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to lower their blood pressure had a 24 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who took a placebo.
Keeping your portion sizes small
A simple way to prevent diabetes without aggressively limiting what you eat is by limiting—or at least paying attention to—how much you eat. One two-year study of pre-diabetic subjects published in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice in 2014 found that those who reduced their portion sizes in addition to limiting their carb and oil intake had a 46 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than those who made no lifestyle changes whatsoever.
Getting enough sleep
Seven hours is the sweet spot when it comes to how much sleep you should be getting for your health. One 2015 meta-analysis published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care found that every hour of sleep beyond seven hours was associated with a 14 percent increased risk of diabetes. On the other hand, those who got below seven hours of sleep also had a greater risk of developing the disease: For every hour of sleep lost under seven hours, there was a 9 percent increased risk of diabetes.
Visiting the doctor regularly
Some of the most common symptoms of type 2 diabetes—things like fatigue, blurred vision, and frequent urination—are easy to overlook. Because of this, one of the best ways to prevent diabetes and manage it if/when you get it is by seeing your doctor regularly. By checking in with your doctor at least once a year, you can make sure that your blood sugar levels are normal—and if they aren't, then you can work with your health care provider to get them back within a normal range.