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Keys to preventing Type-2 diabetes

Keys to preventing Type-2 diabetes

Monday, November 1, 2021


Experts agree a healthy diet, regular exercise and weight management can prevent Type 2 Diabetes. This sounds easy, yet more than 25 million Americans suffer from some form of Type 2 Diabetes, and nearly 80 million are considered prediabetic, according to John Muir Health.  


First, it’s important not to confuse Type 2 with Type 1 diabetes.

“Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and there is no prevention,” said M. Tufail Ijaz, M.D., FACE, FRCP, fellowship-trained and board-certified endocrinologist with Genesis Endocrinology. “Type 2 Diabetes is due to insulin resistance or decreased insulin production from the pancreas. Type 2 Diabetes is preventable through a healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining the appropriate weight.” 


What is a healthy diet?

“Avoid simple starches such as ice cream, pop, desserts, juices and white bread,” Dr. Ijaz said. “Eat vegetables, salads, grilled chicken, grilled fish and brown bread.” The T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health encourages limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat. Instead, choose nuts, beans, whole grains, poultry or fish. In addition, smokers are roughly 50% more likely to develop diabetes than non-smokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk. 


How much exercise is enough?

“The best exercise for prevention is running and brisk walking. Thirty minutes of brisk walking at least five days a week is recommended,” Dr. Ijaz said. Similarly, the American Diabetes Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. Beginners should consult their doctor before beginning any exercise program and then consider 10 to 15 minutes per day of moderate exercise and increase the duration as ability allows.  


So, what is a healthy body weight?

“People should aim for a body mass index of less than 25,” Dr. Ijaz said. “A body mass of 25-29.9 is overweight, and more than 30 is obese.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines body mass index, or BMI, as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. BMI is an inexpensive and easy screening method to determine if you are underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight or obese. 


“People concerned with Type 2 Diabetes should consult a doctor when he or she experiences increased thirst, frequent urination, increase in appetite, (unintentional) weight loss, blurry vision or fatigue,” Dr. Ijaz said. “If they have symptoms or if fasting sugar is greater than 125 or random blood sugar is more than 200, they should see a doctor.”


The doctor will likely recommend an A1C test or a simple blood test to measure a patient’s average blood sugar levels during the past three months. According to the CDC, it’s the main test to help patients manage diabetes. An A1C result of less than 5.7 percent is considered normal. A patient whose A1C result is 6.5 percent or greater is diabetic. Patients whose results are between 5.7 and 6.4 percent are prediabetic.  


“Prediabetes can progress to Type 2 Diabetes,” Dr. Ijaz said. “Again, exercise, diet and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent Type 2 Diabetes in prediabetic patients. Sometimes a medication called Metformin can be used in prediabetes to prevent Type 2.” The American Diabetes Association assures early treatment, and moderate lifestyle changes can return prediabetic blood sugar levels to a normal range. 


Even small changes in diet, exercise and weight can have a huge impact on preventing diabetes. Anyone concerned about Type 2 Diabetes should talk to their primary care doctor to create a plan to avoid becoming diabetic. 


Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.