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3 Ways to Prevent Diabetes, Change Your Life

3 Ways to Prevent Diabetes, Change Your Life

Are you on the highway to diabetes? A major tip-off is buying ever-bigger belts. The bigger your waist line, the higher your chances are of developing metabolic syndrome and prediabetes—two blood sugar problems that are rising faster than gas prices. Don't brush 'em off as "not my problem." Instead, take the proactive route by asking your doctor for a fasting blood sugar test.

The Power to Change
Finding out you have prediabetes or metabolic syndrome can be a shocker. But there's an upside: You can still make lifestyle changes to prevent full-blown diabetes and its devastating consequences: heart attack, stroke, nerve damage, vision loss, kidney failure, and even limb amputation. (Diabetes affects circulation, so small injuries may refuse to heal.)

These three steps will lower your risk and could even reverse your chances of developing type 2 diabetes:

  1. Become a regular at the local farmers market. This alone can prevent diabetes! Eating produce cuts your diabetes risk by 24% or more, thanks in part to all that fiber, which steadies blood sugar levels. New evidence shows that just having some tangy arugula, crunchy baby spinach, or tender bok choy daily could lower your odds by 14%. The magnesium and polyphenols in leafy greens also help you stay sensitive to insulin, essential for blood sugar absorption. Buy citrus year-round, too: Tangerines and grapefruit contain helpful compounds called naringenin and nobiletin.
  2. Trade your fancy coffee drink for sugarless, nonfat chai latte. Drinking just one sugar-loaded drink a day increases diabetes risk 26% and metabolic syndrome risk 20%. Substituting a glass of fat-free milk does the opposite: cuts your risk 12%. Fat-free yogurt and cheese count, too. The calcium, vitamin D, and minerals in dairy help your body process blood sugar. 
  3. Go for more bliss, less stress. Don't wait for vacations to tame tension. Both high anxiety and lack of sleep mess with the absorption of blood sugar. Getting less than 6 hours of sleep a night doubles diabetes risk, as does a high-stress job. Ease your angst by turning in early, exercising to blow off steam, and finding a stress-reduction technique, such as meditation or yoga, you love.

Wondering if you might have prediabetes? Get your blood sugar checked.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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