1 November 2020

5 ways to stop Diabetes before it starts


Making some simple, early changes in your lifestyle can go a long way to help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. In fact, you don’t need lots of “health hacks” or pricey supplements to manage your risk. The basics of a healthy lifestyle are the best defense against the disease. Here’s what you can do:

1) Maintain your right body weight
Maintaining the optimal weight for your height is one of the two most important things you can do to prevent and delay the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to Dr Raymond Tso, medical director at Sun Life Financial. Body Mass Index or BMI is the most common tool for measuring ideal body weight. There are plenty of free BMI calculators online that will tell you if you are in a risk group, and how much weight you should aim to lose.

2) Get moving with regular exercise
Regular exercise, says Dr Tso, is another key way to prevent type 2 diabetes. Adults should do a minimum of 30 minutes, four to five times per week. Exercise should be cardiovascular in nature – vigorous activity that makes you pant and sweat.

Walking is the easiest form of cardio and much better than doing nothing at all while cycling is perfect for anyone new to exercise or overweight. Swimming and rowing will give you the full-body workout everyone needs.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest new exercise trend for 2020 has been working out at home – and its popularity has not altogether waned even after lockdowns. There are now thousands of apps and live-stream exercise classes available online that can give you a cardio fix without opening your front door. Dr Tso says evidence suggests COVID-19 may have reversed the diabetes trend in developed countries. “People spend more time at home and cooking more and caring for their health,” he says.

 3) Eat more greens
According to the MyHealth Portal by the Ministry of Health, “everyone should eat more non-starchy vegetables such as leafy ones, cabbage, and beans for the nutrients they provide with only very small amounts of carbohydrate. A healthy diabetes meal plan should consist of balance portions of carbohydrate, protein and good fat that can help to manage blood glucose levels better.”

Along with fats and dairy foods, proteins are a key part of a balanced diet. Kidney beans, chickpeas, tofu, lentils, edamame and quinoa are excellent sources of plant-based protein. They are also rich in B12, the vitamin you need for a healthy nervous system and blood cells. And there's an ever-expanding repartee of high-tech plant-based proteins coming to market, including beef-style burgers made from soybeans that have the taste, texture and aroma of grilled meat.

4) Get enough sleep
Sleeping “less than five hours a night is another risk factor,” according to Asian Diabetes Prevention Initiative, a joint research program by the University of Singapore and the Harvard School of Public Health. “Working night shifts, which disrupts sleep rhythms, has also been associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes,” the initiative says. Sleep apnea, where breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you sleep, “may further increase risk of type 2 diabetes.”

To improve your sleep, set your alarm for the same time every day to synchronise your internal clock. Avoid electronic devices like phones and laptops before bed. They emit blue light, which also plays around with your internal clock. Keep your bedroom at around 20°c and use fewer blankets. And try your best not to use alcohol or sleeping pills to help you doze off. These may help in the short run but as your body becomes more tolerant, you'll spend more time tossing and turning in bed.

 5) Be proactive with regular health checks
It is advisable to get health checks if there are symptoms of diabetes (lethargy, polydipsia, polyuria, loss of weight, itchiness of skin, according to MyHealth portal by the Ministry of Health Malaysia. It also recommends screening to be carried out every year while those without risk factors, should start at the age of 30 onwards. For those who exhibit higher than average random blood glucose levels at more than 5.6 mmol/l, further tests are required for confirmation by consulting with a family doctor or the nearest government/private health clinic.

Start early to reduce the risk of diabetes with more tips here. It’s never too late to make these simple changes in your lifestyle.

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