November 14 is World Diabetes Day.
While diabetes is a growing world-wide epidemic, a recent study shows choosing healthy habits can make a difference in the long run.
Researchers analyzed data from 14 studies which included about one million people.
“What they found was that people who had the healthiest lifestyle, had a 75 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who had the least healthiest lifestyle,” said Mary Vouyiouklis Kellis, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.
Results showed those who did not smoke, did not drink alcohol, exercised, had a healthy diet and were not overweight, had the best chances of avoiding type two diabetes.
According to Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis, when it comes to diabetes risk, it’s important to look at our diets.
She said eating a diet that is high in whole grains and fiber, while low in refined sugars is key.
“Fiber helps to slow down absorption,” said Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis. “For people who have diabetes, or even pre-diabetes, fiber can help keep blood sugars more stable when added to your diet.”
Consuming too many refined sugars, such as white breads, pastas, rice and sweet drinks, can cause insulin levels to spike very quickly and result in changes in blood sugar levels.
Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis said if a person has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it doesn’t always mean they will get diabetes – but lifestyle changes are necessary to turn things around.
“You can definitely prevent progression to diabetes,” she said. “Importantly, we found that even losing 5-7 percent of your weight can substantially reduce your risk to develop diabetes.”
Dr. Vouyiouklis Kellis admits it can feel overwhelming to have to make multiple lifestyle changes to achieve health goals. She recommends taking baby steps and tackling one new healthy habit at a time.
Complete results of the study can be found in Diabetologia.