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The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is steadily increasing everywhere. Striking an ever-growing number of young adults, experts estimate the number of new cases worldwide will rise from 285 million in 2010 to 439 million in the year 2030. In Malaysia, almost one in five adults are currently diabetic1.
The signs and symptoms of diabetes in both men and women can often go undiagnosed for many years. Classic symptoms can include increased thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision. If left untreated, it can cause serious complications from blindness and kidney failure to nerve damage and circulation problems.
The good news is that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. By taking several simple lifestyle steps, you can dramatically reduce your risk and see a significant improvement in your overall physical and mental health.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Medical experts know that excess weight is a primary risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Being overweight (having a body mass index of 30 or greater) increases the chances of developing the disease up to 80 times more than those who maintain a healthy weight (a body mass index less than 24.9)2. As we gain weight, especially around the abdomen, our cells become increasingly resistant to the hormone that controls the sugar level in our blood. In response, our body needs to work harder and harder to compensate until it can no longer sustain production. Once this occurs, blood sugar levels progressively rise, and the disease may occur.
Losing excess weight can significantly cut your chances of developing diabetes, and will have beneficial effects on your overall health. You will look and feel better too. Surely, a win-win situation.
2. Eat a nutrient-rich diet
To actively prevent diabetes and maintain a healthy weight, the key is to eat a nutrient-rich diet that favors colorful fruits and vegetables and whole grains over highly processed foods that are often loaded with excess sugar and fat.
Consuming refined carbohydrates such as white rice, noodles, bread and many breakfast cereals—staples of the typical Asian diet—can cause sustained spikes in blood sugar levels, which in turn may lead to increase diabetes risk. On the other hand, diets rich in whole grains and complex carbohydrates leads to lower, slower increases in blood sugar.
To have a healthy, balanced diet, reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and eat more whole grains such as quinoa, barley, brown rice and millet. Reserve sugary beverages and fast food meals for special occasions. Fill up on fiber and eat plenty of beautiful antioxidant-rich fruits and green leafy vegetables to get the best benefits.
3. Plenty of exercise
Doctors around the world have long been telling patients that the age-old secret to basic health is simple—eat less, move more. This is especially true for those at risk of developing diabetes. Working your muscles more often and making them work harder with weight and resistance training improves their ability to use the hormone that regulates the storage of glycogen in the liver and absorb glucose. This puts less stress on your hormone-making cells.
In today’s modern, fast-paced world, it can be hard to find adequate time to get your heart rate up for sustained periods. However, it only takes a few brisk 30-minute walks during the week to bring tremendous benefits to the mind and body. Even greater health advantages can be attained by more, and more intense, exercise such as running, swimming and cycling. The less extended time you spend sitting, whether it is at your desk or in front of the television, the better.
4. A balanced lifestyle
Getting a good night’s sleep is vital. Recent studies show that night owls can develop a higher risk of diabetes. When we repeatedly fail to get adequate sleep, we disrupt our hormones and prevent them from effectively regulating a large number of the body’s processes, such as appetite, weight control and the immune system. In addition, those who regularly lack quality sleep and feel more tired through the day are more likely to consume fatty comfort foods and sugary snacks to boost sluggish energy levels.
Make simple and important changes to your bedtime habits to guarantee a good night’s sleep including limiting exposure to backlit devices such as smartphones and tablets before lights out, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, and saying no to late-night television. Strive for a good work-life balance to reduce stress and boost overall happiness.
5. Monitor your progress
By taking these lifestyle tips to staying healthy, you will be well on your way to a healthier body. Continue to improve your lifestyle by monitoring your progress.
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