Here’s a sobering statistic: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 10 American adults are currently living with type 2 diabetes.
What’s even more alarming, it’s estimated that that one in three American adults will develop the disease by the year 2050.1
What’s behind this looming diabetes epidemic? The spiraling rate of obesity in America plays a significant role. But even if you’re not overweight, eating a diet high in ultra-processed foods, guzzling gallons of sugary drinks, and living a sedentary lifestyle can make you vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes, especially as you age.2 This in turn can put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, amputations, and blindness.
Since November is American Diabetes Month, we thought it was important to make sure this potentially devastating disease was on your radar. But the news isn’t all bad. Read on to discover some helpful tips to help you avoid becoming one of the statistics.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes occurs when there is an impairment in the way the body regulates and uses sugar (glucose) as a fuel. Typically, this happens when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is a hormone that shuttles glucose into your cells so they can use it for energy. Making matters even worse, when you have diabetes, your cells become insulin resistant and take in less glucose than they normally would. This can lead to too much sugar circulating throughout your blood stream. Over time, these high blood sugar levels could lead to problems with your circulatory, nervous, and immune systems.
What about prediabetes? This condition simply means that your blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. That doesn’t mean it isn’t serious though. Without intervention, it’s likely to become type 2 diabetes within 10 years. But here’s the good news: progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. With lifestyle changes, weight loss, and targeted supplementation, it’s possible to bring blood sugar levels back into a normal range.
Are You at Risk?
There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to the development of pre-diabetes and diabetes. Here are the most common:
Weight. The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin. However, you don’t have to be overweight to develop type 2 diabetes.
Fat distribution. If your body stores fat primarily in your abdomen, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes becomes greater than if you store fat elsewhere, like your hips and thighs.
Inactivity. The less active you are, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes since a sedentary life can downgrade insulin sensitivity.
Family history. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases if your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
Race. Although it’s unclear why, blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Age. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases as you get older, especially after age 45.
Gestational diabetes. If you developed gestational diabetes when you were pregnant or if you gave birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds, you are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome. This common condition, which is characterized by irregular menstrual periods, excess hair growth, and obesity, increases the risk of diabetes.
6 Ways to Prevent Diabetes
Even if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, the following strategies can proactively reduce your own risk of developing the condition. As a bonus, they’ll also improve your overall metabolic health—even if you’ve already been diagnosed with full-blown diabetes.
Get tested. Because pre-diabetes and early-stage diabetes often have no symptoms, it’s smart to get an A1C test. This simple blood test provides information about a person’s average blood sugar levels over the past three months. The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher a person’s blood glucose levels have been. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent.3
Choose your food wisely. At its core, type 2 diabetes is a nutritional disease. That means what you eat can play a critical role in preventing, managing, and even reversing diabetes. The most important thing to know is that eating a diet high in refined, starchy, or sugary foods and drinks promotes high fasting blood sugar and makes you more prone to insulin resistance, weight gain, and an increased risk of diabetes. Opt instead for foods that help keep your blood sugar on an even keel. Among the best are minimally processed foods that are low on the glycemic index (GI). These include antioxidant-rich non-starchy vegetables, high quality protein, and healthy fats. To find the GI of your favorite foods, visit glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php.
Watch your weight. Studies show that losing just five to ten percent of your body weight can reduce your chances of developing the disease by nearly 60 percent.4 And if you’re already suffering from type 2 diabetes, shedding those excess pounds can make you less insulin resistant.
Get moving! When you engage in physical activity, your muscles require more energy in the form of blood sugar. This lowers the amount of glucose in your blood. Exercise also increases insulin sensitivity. But you don’t need to become a gym rat to experience the metabolic perks of physical activity. Research in the journal Diabetologia found that engaging in brief snack-sized portions of moderate- to high-intensity exercise before meals helped to control blood glucose levels better than spending an uninterrupted hour on the treadmill.5
Don’t shortchange your shuteye. Numerous studies report that sleep deprivation can have a dramatic effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels. Aim to consistently get seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.6
Add supplemental blood sugar support. While diet and exercise can go a long way towards keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range, sometimes you need a little extra support. This is especially important if you are prediabetic or otherwise at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But, be aware that not all blood sugar supplements are the same. Look for a comprehensive supplement like Kyolic Blood Sugar Balance that provides clinically studied ingredients such as Aged Garlic Extract, which has been shown to improve the uptake of glucose and help reduce diabetic complications; bitter melon, which helps make cells more sensitive—rather than resistant—to insulin; and salacia, which prevents blood sugar spikes by stabilizing glucose levels.7, 8, 9 What’s more, Kyolic Blood Sugar Balance also includes two nutrients—chromium picolinate and niacin—that not only improve blood sugar but also aid in weight management when combined with a healthy diet and exercise.10, 11
Type 2 diabetes may be heading toward epidemic territory but it doesn’t have to be part of your future. Taking steps now to support healthy insulin production and sensitivity can keep your blood sugar in check and your odds of developing diabetes low. But if you’ve already been diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes, working with your healthcare provider to develop a plan that incorporates these lifestyle changes can help you break free from this all-too-common condition.
- Number of Americans with diabetes projected to double or triple by 2050. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r101022.html
- Risk factors for type 2 diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 2022. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/risk-factors-type-2-diabetes
- Understanding A1C. American Diabetes Association. https://diabetes.org/diabetes/a1c
- Diabetes. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/endoscopic-weight-loss-program/conditions/diabetes.html
- Francois ME. ‘Exercise snacks’ before meals: a novel strategy to improve glycaemic control in individuals with insulin resistance. Diabetologia, 2014; 57:1437-1445.
- Tiwari R. Effects of sleep intervention on glucose control: A narrative review of clinical evidence. Primary Care Diabetes. 2021;15(4):635-641.
- Maeda T. Aged garlic extract ameliorates fatty liver and insulin resistance and improves the gut microbiota profile in a mouse model of insulin resistance. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 2019; 18(1): 857-866.
- Chang, C. Bitter melon extract yields multiple effects on intestinal epithelial cells and likely contributes to anti-diabetic functions. International Journal of Medical Sciences. 2021; 18(8): 1848-1856.
- Jeykodi S. Salacia extract improves postprandial glucose and insulin response: A randomized double-blind, placebo controlled, crossover study in healthy volunteers. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2016;2016:7971831.
- Willoughby D. Body composition changes in weight loss: Strategies and supplementation for maintaining lean body mass, a brief review. Nutrients. 2018; 10(12):1876.
- Fessel J. Effects of niacin upon fat expansion in HIV-positive patients who have the fat redistribution syndrome (FRS). Ninth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Seattle, abstract 703, 2002.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.