Chronic Disease & Prevention · Diabetes

Diabetes: Risk Factors and Prevention

Continuing the series on chronic diseases. Maybe. If I can commit to writing regularly. Like, ever.

As I wrote in the last post, being diagnosed with diabetes is depending on a combination of multiples risk factors:

  • Genetics
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • Weight–> BMI (body mass index) over 25
  • Race–> African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk
  • Age–> over the age of 45 years
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Presence of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Some of these factors cannot be controlled. We are born with some of them and that cannot be changed. However, providing better management of the factors we CAN control will decrease the risk of Diabetes Mellitus becoming a prominent part of our everyday lives.

How do we do that?

1. Decrease your BMI or maintain it below 25. See what yours is here: BMI Calculator

How? See the next two steps…

2. Maintain an active lifestyle

Be active at least 3 days each week, for about 45 minutes each day. This could be through a variety of activities, but the most important thing is to increase your HR for the duration of the activity. If you are just starting out, this may be a 1-2 mile walk at a fast pace. If you are a bit more seasoned, ramp it up a bit to running, swimming, intense yoga or a kick-boxing class.

Add resistance training 2 days a week. This can be body-weight exercises, lifting weights or using resistance bands. Do a few push-ups or planks. Do a few squats. This counts. Start small and add more time as you go with a goal of 20-30 minutes of resistance training 2x/week. BONUS: This also wards of osteoporosis!!

Try to avoid sitting/laying for more than 90 minutes at a time. That means if you have a desk job, you gotta get the blood flowing a few times a day. Stand up at your desk and do some stretches. Park your car farther away. Go for a quick walk at lunch.

I will try to post more activity ideas in the coming posts, too!

3. Eat a well-rounded diet

Ensure you get a protein, healthy fat and vegetable at every meal. Amount of carbohydrates required for each person varies, but my recommendation is somewhere around 75-100g/day. What I do recommend is to ensure you are getting healthy options when choosing carbohydrate sources:

  • whole grain pastas and rice (check the serving size! most recommend about 1/2 cup)
  • fruits and veggies (sweet potatoes, squash, white potatoes, carrots)
  • ancient grains/ sprouted grains (oats, quinoa, sourdough)
  • PLUS eat a variety of greens/berries to add more nutrients to your body

Avoid carbohydrate sources like white breads and pastas, ice cream, candies, soda, fruit juice, cookies and cakes. I’m sure I missed a few….

4. Fortunately, doing these three things may also have an impact on your cholesterol levels and blood pressure, decreasing risk of Diabetes Mellitus even further. 

In addition, you should be seeing a primary care physician at least annually to check for blood levels of:

  • fasting glucose
  • Hemoglobn A1C (to give a 3 month picture of your average blood glucose level)
  • cholesterol levels

Getting these levels checked regularly will give you and your provider an idea of your risk of developing Diabetes Mellitus, if you are currently developing it and need further medication assistance to manage it appropriately, and if your current efforts to reduce risk are working!


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