Smart ways to lower your risk of diabetes

Wright control

More than 2.7 million people are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the UK - whilst a further 750,000 people are believed to have the symptoms but are yet to be diagnosed with the disease. A number of factors can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These include: being overweight or obese, having a waist size of 31.5 inches or more (women) or more than 37 inches (men), eating an unhealthy diet, not being active enough and smoking.

Some 80 per cent of diabetes cases could be prevented, or at the very least delayed, by making a few smart lifestyle changes.

Lose weight
According to Diabetes UK, if you are overweight, every kilogram you lose could reduce your risk by up to 15 per cent. Most people are well aware if they are overweight or obese, but pay particular attention to tummy fat, which research has shown to be linked to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes. If your waist is more than 31.5 inches for women or 37 inches for men, it's time to think about shifting some of those excess pounds.

Eat well
Cut back on fat, sugar and salt to help reduce cholesterol levels, and bump up your portions of fresh fruit and veg. A 2009 study revealed that eating processed meats increased the risk of diabetes by 40 per cent, so it's advisable to keep those to a minimum in your diet. On the other side of the coin, a Harvard study suggested that consuming two more portions of fibre each week reduced the risk of the condition by 11 per cent.

Eat more fibre
A Harvard study of healthcare professionals linked a higher intake of cereal fibre to a lower incidence of type 2 diabetes, while a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine claimed that two more weekly servings of fibre reduced the risk of developing the condition by 11 per cent. And since it slows down the flow of glucose into the bloodstream, you're less likely to get those sugar spikes after a meal.

Get your omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to provide an increasing number of health benefits, including protection against type 2. In 2011, an international study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, found that a diet high in omega-3s enables the body to better burn off glucose and fat. And these helpful little substances are thought to stimulate a process called "insulin signalling cascade", which improves the way in which blood sugar is used in the body. Tuck into two portions of oily fish a week and you'll be giving your body a type 2-preventing boost.

Go nuts for nuts
Recent research suggests that a small portion of walnuts two or three times a week could significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a US study of nearly 140,000 women, those who consumed a 28g pack of fatty acid-rich walnuts at least twice a week were 24 per cent less likely to develop the condition than those who rarely ate them.

Try weight training
No matter what your age, exercise is key to preventing a whole host of long-term health conditions, of which type 2 diabetes is one. According to Age UK, research has shown that regular exercise could cut your chances of developing the condition by as much as 64 per cent. And a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism revealed that weight training could significantly reduce the risk, so mix your cardio with a little resistance training.

Cigarettes and alcohol
Stop the former, and cut down on the latter. Smoking is known to increase blood pressure levels, in turn a major cause of diabetes, while overdoing the booze is likely to lead to weight gain and boost your chances of type 2.

Among the many mental and physical health problems it can cause, stress increases your risk of type 2 diabetes. This is because the body reacts to stress by increasing blood sugar and blood pressure - the changes in blood sugar levels associated with continued stress over time mean the body is eventually unable to regulate levels efficiently. Try deep breathing, yoga or meditation to help manage your stress and relax.

Have you made changes to your lifestyle after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Leave your comments below...

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