What causes diabetes? Type 2 diabetes is often called a lifestyle disease because many of the lifestyle choices we make every day contribute to our risk. Knowing the risk factors and recognizing the symptoms can help to reverse your risk. Type 2 diabetes isn't always preventable... but even if it's not, it is possible to delay it. Why bother, you might ask? Once you have diabetes, you have it for life. There is no cure. Many people find the lifestyle changes necessary to control the disease difficult to manage, at least initially. It's worthwhile to try to do what you can to minimize your risk - and you never know if you can even prevent the disease unless you try.
Not surprisingly, since lifestyle choices greatly influence the risk of type 2 diabetes, changes in lifestyle also greatly influence whether or not you can delay or prevent it. Lifestyle changes mostly center around diet, exercise, and weight control.
Exercise is another important part of delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes. A sedentary lifestyle is known to be a risk factor for diabetes. Again, everyone should get regular exercise, but it's especially important for diabetics and for people at risk of getting the disease. Exercise helps to regulate blood sugar levels, improve cholesterol and blood pressure, increase overall fitness levels, and much more.
If you've been sedentary for a while, you may want to check with your doctor before you get started. Always start slowly and gradually do a little more every week. You want to ease yourself into an exercise program, not go all-out and burn out within a few days. Try to exercise regularly (most days of the week) rather than trying to squash all your exercise into the weekends.
Finally, weight control is important too. Being overweight contributes to insulin resistance, a pre-cursor to diabetes. Losing weight is difficult for most people... but even maintaining your weight or avoiding any further weight gain, can be helpful. Following a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine can help weight loss too.
The key is to phase in lifestyle changes that you can stick with. You want a plan for eating and exercise that will work for you long-term, not just for a short burst of time. Once you adopt a healthier lifestyle, you'll not only have a better chance of delaying or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, you'll feel better and have more energy too. Take small, sustainable steps. The good thing is that these little steps build upon one another; for instance, eating better will give you more energy, which will make it easier to exercise, which in turn will also make it easier to maintain your weight or even lose some.
Lifestyle modifications can be highly effective in reducing your risk for developing diabetes. It's better to try to figure out what stops diabetes and prevent the disease, rather than have to treat it after you develop it. If you believe you are at risk, consult with your healthcare provider. He or she may request that you take blood tests to check your blood sugar levels, in addition to assessing your risk factors, family history, and symptoms of diabetes you may be experiencing.