Get your blood glucose levels checked: Before patients develop diabetes, they can have high blood sugar levels or ‘pre-diabetes’, and at this stage, the condition could be reversed through lifestyle changes. If you are aged 45 or older, or are in any of the risk categories such as being overweight, or having a family history of diabetes type 2 or past diagnoses of gestational diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), see your doctor for blood tests, and be sure to go back for any follow-up tests indicated.
Exercise regularly: Exercise can lower your blood sugar levels, help you lose weight, and boost your insulin sensitivity, which can keep your blood sugar at an acceptable level. Aim for a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity – or 15 to 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity – on most days. Take a brisk daily walk, ride a bike, or swim laps. If you can't fit in a long, single workout, spread shorter periods of exercise throughout the day.
Add resistance training to your exercise programme: Try supplementing your aerobic exercise activities with yoga, weightlifting or other types of resistance training two to three times a week. This will help you to maintain a generally active lifestyle as it increases your strength, stamina and balance.
Avoid long periods of inactivity: Being active throughout the day will help control blood sugar levels, so break up long periods of sitting with some stretching exercises, standing or walking around every 30 minutes.
Lose excess weight: If you are overweight, losing just 7 per cent of your body weight can reduce your risk of diabetes. To keep your weight in a healthy range, focus on permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits. Motivate yourself by remembering the benefits of losing weight, such as a healthier heart and having more energy and improved self-esteem.
Avoid fad diets: Diet crazes are unsustainable as they usually exclude food groups or are unnecessarily strict and otherwise restrictive. Instead, focus on finding a sustainable weight-loss plan that works for you. Your doctor or a dietitian will be able to work with you to find a solution if you are unsure where to start.
Eat lots of fibre: High-fibre foods such as non-starchy vegetables and whole grains help to manage inflammation and a variety of other diseases, and they lower blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugars. They are more filling than other foods, encouraging weight loss, which is also beneficial for reducing blood sugar levels.
Avoid simple carbohydrates: These foods, including white bread and white pasta, pastries, highly processed foods and foods with high-fructose corn syrup, spike blood sugar levels and should be avoided as far as possible.
Choose beverages wisely: Avoid fruit juices, sodas and the like as these are high in sugar and can cause blood sugar to rise quickly. Water is an excellent choice for quenching your thirst, and you can add extra flavour with a slice of lime or lemon.
Quit smoking: According to the American Centres for Disease (CDC), smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-smokers, and smokers are also at greater risk. Nicotine affects your cells’ ability to respond to insulin, which is exacerbated by the effect of chemicals in cigarettes in creating inflammation. In addition, smokers have a higher risk of belly fat, which in turn increases diabetes risk.