The habits to add and avoid to help prevent diabetes
More than one in three Americans have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Having prediabetes can put you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The good news is, small lifestyle changes can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and other chronic health problems. Here's a look at five habits to add to your day and three to avoid in order to help prevent or even delay prediabetes.
Habits to Add to Your Day
1. Eat More Beans
"Long term consumption of about 5 cups of beans per week can yield consistently lower blood sugar levels as well as a reduction in the risk for cardiovascular disease which is a significant issue in people with prediabetes and diabetes," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., RDN, founder of NutritionStarringYOU.com and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.
Harris-Pincus explains that this is likely due to the high fiber content of beans which can increase satiety (or the feeling of fullness). Feeling more full can help you reduce your overall food intake which can help with weight loss. "This combo can improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of progression to diabetes from prediabetes."
2. Increase Physical Activity
According to Lorena Drago, M.S., RDN, C.D.N., C.D.C.E.S. certified diabetes care and education specialist, physical activity is an important habit to develop. Work your way up to the World Health Organization recommendation of 150 minutes per week, which is about 30 minutes five days a week. A combination of cardio and weight training is recommended. Always ask your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
3. Keep a Food Journal
Rather than calorie counting (which can be confusing and ineffective), try taking stock of your overall eating pattern through journaling the foods you eat throughout the day. Drago also recommends to "Take an inventory of your plate through food journaling. Food journaling will help you assess what and why you are eating and help you achieve your health goals. The results from the Diabetes Prevention Program demonstrated that lifestyle changes focusing on healthy eating and physical activity can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%."
4. Eat More Vegetables
Only 10 percent of Americans eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Vegetables are filled with nutrients like fiber and antioxidants, and provide phytonutrients which are natural plant compounds that can help prevent and fight disease. Replacing foods that are high in saturated fat or added sugar with nutrient-dense vegetables can help improve your overall health, cardiovascular health and can also help with weight loss efforts. Check out these five easy ways to eat more vegetables if you need help getting started.