The Best Things You Can Do to Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Study finds healthy choices can cut risk by 75%
woman preparing a healthy salad to eat healthy and help prevent diabetes

Diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. But a recent study shows that choosing healthy habits can make a big difference in the long run.

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Researchers analyzed data from 14 studies that included about 1 million people.

“They found that people who had the healthiest lifestyle had a 75% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to those who had the least healthy lifestyle,” explains endocrinologist Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, MD.

Those who had the best chances of avoiding type 2 diabetes:

  • Did not smoke.
  • Did not drink alcohol.
  • Exercised regularly.
  • Ate a healthy diet.
  • Were not overweight .

More fiber, less sugar

Eating a diet that’s high in whole grains and fiber but low in refined sugars is key when it comes to dropping your diabetes risk, Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis says.

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“Fiber helps to slow down absorption,” she says. “For people who have diabetes, or even prediabetes, fiber can help keep blood sugars more stable when added to your diet.”

Consuming too many refined sugars, such as white bread, pasta, rice and sweet drinks, can cause insulin levels to spike very quickly and result in changes in blood sugar levels.

It’s not too late

If someone is diagnosed with prediabetes, that does not necessarily mean that diabetes is on the horizon, Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis says — but it does mean that they need to take action to turn things around.

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“You can definitely prevent progression to diabetes,” she says. “Importantly, we’ve found that even losing 5% to 7% of your weight can substantially reduce your risk to develop diabetes.”

It can feel overwhelming to have to make multiple changes to your lifestyle to achieve health goals. But Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis recommends taking baby steps and tackling one new healthy habit at a time.

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