Changes in diet and lifestyle can reduce risk of illness
Every year diabetes leads to more than 20,000 premature deaths in the UK and many thousands more people endure devastating health complications such as amputation, kidney failure and blindness. Worryingly, we are seeing the number of people with Type 2 diabetes rocket.
However the good news is that for most people Type 2 diabetes is not inevitable. In fact, unlike Type 1 diabetes, which cannot be prevented, a staggering 80 per cent of cases could be delayed or prevented if everyone who is at risk made a few simple lifestyle changes.
While some risk factors for Type 2 such as age, family history and ethnicity cannot be changed, we know that the most important risk factor is being overweight.
This means that maintaining a healthy weight by doing regular physical activity and eating a healthy, balanced diet is the key to reducing your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.
The power to cut the chances of developing this serious health condition really is in our own hands and it is so important that we take action now, as not doing so can lead to devastating complications that are a huge price to pay.
Beyond that, of the staggering £10billion the NHS spends on diabetes, 80 per cent is spent on these often-avoidable complications.
If the prospect of trying to maintain a healthy weight through doing regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet seems daunting or overwhelming, don’t worry.
By following the simple but essential steps outlined in our 10-Step Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Plan, you can transform the outlook of your long-term health, potentially avoiding Type 2 diabetes and living a longer and healthier life.
Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week
1. STEP UP TO THE MARK
Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week. Any activity that increases your heart rate, makes you breathe faster and feel warmer counts.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise you can do and increasing the number of steps we take every day can make a huge difference to our long-term health. Did you know that a 45-year-old man weighing 70kg can burn an extra 400 calories a day just by walking 10,000 steps?
Using a pedometer to track your steps is a good idea because it tells you when you have reached your target. Diabetes UK is giving away 10,000 pedometers to Daily Express readers. See right for details on how to claim yours.
If you don’t walk much at present, perhaps start with a daily goal of 4,000 steps and build up gradually until you are walking 10,000 steps (roughly the equivalent of five miles) a day. There are many ways to increase your daily steps and even small changes to your routines, such as getting off the bus a stop earlier or using the stairs instead of the lift, can make a big difference.
Use your imagination and come up with your own list.
2. TONE IT UP
Try to do activities that strengthen your muscles two or more times a week. This will help you burn more energy as well as maintaining bone density, improving balance and reducing joint pain. You can include everyday tasks such as carrying groceries and gardening.
two or more times a week. This will help you burn more energy as well as maintaining bone density, improving balance and reducing joint pain. You can include everyday tasks such as carrying groceries and gardening.
3. DON’T GO IT ALONE
Getting fit with others can be motivating and fun. Rather than just meeting friends for a coffee, why not go for a walk first or join a fitness class together?
4. TRY SOMETHING
NEW From aerobics to Zumba, there is a type of exercise to suit everyone. If you find something that you enjoy doing you will be much more likely to keep it up.
Remember, if you have any medical conditions it is important you speak to your doctor before starting a new activity.
5. EAT REGULAR MEALS
Space your breakfast, lunch and evening meals evenly over the course of the day and don’t be tempted to skip meals as this makes it more likely that you will succumb to unhealthy snacks such as chocolate, sweets or crisps.
6. PERFECT YOUR PORTION SIZES
It’s not just what’s on your plate that counts but how much. Many of us find it hard to judge what a ‘normal’ portion size is so using measuring cups or scales to weigh out food can help.
A standard-sized serving may look inadequate on a larger plate, making you feel dissatisfied, so try using a smaller plate instead.
7. BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR CARBS
Choosing a good source of carbohydrates such as multigrain bread, wholewheat pasta, oats, fruits and vegetables or pulses (such as lentils or beans) will keep you feeling fuller for longer and contain more nutrients than highly processed, refined carbs such as white bread, cakes, crisps or biscuits.
8. AVOID A FAT ATTACK
Cut down on saturated fats. Instead of cooking with butter or ghee, use unsaturated fats such as olive, sunflower or rapeseed oils instead. Swap to semiskimmed or skimmed milk for coffee or tea and choose a tomatobased sauce for pasta rather than a creamy one.
Oily fish such as mackerel, sardines or salmon are an important source of good fats which are great for your health. Aim to eat at least two portions a week.
Swapping your usual dessert for a bowl of strawberries has its health benefits
9. CUT DOWN ON SALT
Lowering the amount of salt you eat could help you maintain a healthy blood pressure and lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Choose low, reduced or no-added salt products. Add flavour with herbs and spices instead of salt when you are cooking.
10. GET YOUR FIVE A DAY
Try to increase your intake of fruit and vegetables as they are naturally low in fat and calories and packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Fresh, frozen, tinned or dried varieties all count. Why not try adding grated courgette or carrot to your pasta or chilli? You probably won’t notice much difference in the taste but it will bump up your vitamin and fibre intake. You could also swap your usual dessert for a fruit salad or a bowl of strawberries. Visit diabetes.org.uk/enjoyfood for more healthy eating ideas and recipes.
To get you started on the road to better health, Diabetes UK is giving away 10,000 pedometers to Daily Express readers. These will be accompanied by a pocket-sized guide to the condition. To claim your FREE pedometer, text GUIDE to 70555.
This is a charity service for Diabetes UK. Texts cost your standard network rate. We may contact you again in the future. If you would prefer we didn’t, text NOCOMMS DUK to 70060. Diabetes UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (no. 215199) and Scotland (no. SC039136).