5 Surprising Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

By on September 19, 2017

By Bottom Line, Inc.

It’s not news that diabetes is epidemic in the United States…and it’s not news that staying fit and eating right are key ways to minimize your risk of ever developing this dreaded—and often debilitating and even deadly—disease. 

But here are five ways to prevent type 2 diabetes that you probably don’t already know…

  1. Stay cool. Being in cool temperatures helps activate the body’s brown fat, which is more active (generating up to 300 times more heat) than any other tissue in the body. And that means you burn more calories. George L. King, MD, chief scientific officer at the Boston-based Joslin Diabetes Center, recommends exercising in cool temperatures—64 degrees or lower—and keeping your home’s thermostat set to the mid-60s. (Of course, this is easier, and less expensive, to do in the winter than in the summer.) Dress as lightly as possible in cool weather, especially on top, since brown fat is concentrated around the neck, collarbone and shoulders. 
  2. Eat slowly. Study participants who said they ate “faster” were two-and-a-half times more likely than “slower” eaters to have type 2 diabetes, according to a study by researchers at Lithuanian University of Health Science. The faster you eat, the more food you are likely to consume—since it takes the body about 20 minutes to send you signals telling you “I’m full!”…and the more you consume, the more likely you are to become obese, a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Overeating also triggers the production of more insulin, which further increases diabetes risk. These risks of eating too quickly magnify with age, as your metabolism slows down.
  3. Purge your personal care products. Look out for phthalates in your toiletries and cosmetics. Researchers at Uppsala University (Sweden) found that the higher study participants’ phthalate levels, the higher their risk of type 2 diabetes. These chemicals are commonly used in makeup, lotions and other personal care products as well as in the manufacture of many other types of products, including furniture, toys and detergents. Read labels to avoid anything that contains phthalates, but beware—phthalates can be a hidden ingredient in added fragrances. To be safe, also stay away from any product with “fragrance” in its ingredient list. 
  4. Eat walnuts. Having just two ounces of walnuts a week (four halves a day!) can have a big impact on your health. In a Harvard Medical School study, women who ate this amount or more lowered their risk of type 2 diabetes by 24%. Why walnuts? They are high in polyunsaturated fats, which help the body use insulin more effectively, are high in fiber and protein, and help lower “bad” cholesterol. 
  5. Solve your sleep problems. Having sleep apnea—when breathing repeatedly stops while you sleep—increases the risk of diabetes (as well as the risk of having a heart attack or stroke). In fact, a Yale study found that risk of diabetes was two-and-a-half times greater in patients with sleep apnea. If you think you might have sleep apnea, get yourself to a sleep center to find out for sure. There are various ways to treat sleep apnea, including losing excess weight and wearing a special mouthpiece or using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to keep your airway open while you sleep. Sleeping on your side rather than your back and avoiding alcohol can also reduce sleep apnea episodes.

Excerpted from Aging Well with Diabetes: 146 Eye-Opening Secrets That Prevent and Control Diabetes by the editors of Bottom Line Inc.

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5 Surprising Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes