Can you prevent diabetes if it runs in your family? Here’s how

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The diabetic population in India is predicted to surpass 80 million by the year 2030. This rising number of patients having diabetes is a significant cause for concern. Diabetes progression and its management are far more important today than ever before. But how to prevent diabetes? Well, the solution simply lies in its proper management, regular check-ups, and healthy lifestyle. So, let’s go and understand how you can reduce your risk of getting diabetes.

What is pre-diabetes?

Normal fasting blood glucose is less than 100mg/dl. Fasting blood glucose at 126mg/dl (detected two times) and above is diabetes. Fasting blood glucose between 100-125mg/dl is prediabetes which suggests an increased risk for diabetes in near future.

Switching to well-balanced meals high in healthy, fiber-rich foods, along with incorporating more physical activity, can help people with prediabetes take charge of their health. It has been well-cited in research studies such as the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program Outcome Study that incorporating healthy eating habits, weight reduction, and increased physical activity can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Additionally, lifestyle changes resulting in modest weight loss have been shown to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 34 per cent.

Here are 5 tips to reduce the risk of diabetes even if it runs in your family:

1. Stay active

Physical activity can help prevent diabetes while boosting heart health. People with prediabetes should try to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous workouts or aim for 10,000 daily steps. However, since the Indian population is at a higher risk for diabetes and other cardiometabolic diseases, it is beneficial to increase the activity to 300 minutes per week. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting exercise or leveling up your current physical activity.

For a healthier life, exercises everyday. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Lose some weight

To steer away from type 2 diabetes, men and women should try to achieve and maintain a body mass index of 25 or lower. In the Indian scenario, it’s better to keep a Body Mass Index of less than 23. Waist circumference should be under 90 cm for men and 80 cm for women, especially for Indians.

Even small amounts of weight loss can have a benefit. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that a moderate rate reduction of 5 to 10 per cent of your body weight can significantly lower your A1C level. So, for instance, for a person weighing 80 kg, a weight loss of 8-10 kg could make a difference.

3. Get enough sleep

The relationship between sleep, diabetes, and weight gain is important to understand. Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase people’s cravings for sugary foods. People with prediabetes should make sure they’re getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

Also read: World Diabetes Day: Follow these 3 biohacks to manage diabetes at home

4. Avoid excessive alcohol and all tobacco

These are modifiable lifestyle factors that can significantly lower your risk of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, vascular problems, and metabolic syndrome. Fatty liver incidence is particularly high in obese and diabetes patients, the risk further increases with alcohol consumption. Ideally, no amount of alcohol is safe for consumption but if you’re drinking then consume it in moderation.

Alcohol will increase your risk of getting diabetes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. Stay on top of your numbers

People with prediabetes or a significant family history of diabetes should be vigilant about their laboratory test results. Know your ABCs; that’s A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol. If you’re at risk or have prediabetes, make sure you follow up with your fasting blood glucose, postprandial (2hr after meal) blood glucose, and HbA1C level with a blood test at least yearly.

Is it possible to reversing prediabetes?

Yes! If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, progressing to diabetes is not a given. If you have a family history of diabetes you will not necessarily have it too. Genetics may load the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger.

Adopting a well-balanced diet, staying active, sleeping well, taking measures to reduce stress, and controlling your weight can put you in control, enabling you to arrest or even reverse the process.

There are some forms of diabetes like MODY (Maturity Onset Diabetes of Young), which is generally found in young adults and runs in families. It has a genetic basis and such individuals are at a very high risk of diabetes. However, diabetes is a manageable and reversible disease!

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