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World Diabetes Day: reduce your risk of diabetes by making these small changes

Did you know that 80% of cases of Type 2 Diabetes are preventable through the adoption of a healthy lifestyle?  

And with 12.3million Brits currently at an increased risk of becoming diabetic – that’s a whopping 9.8 million people that could potentially avoid this life changing condition through making a few tweaks to their diet and physical activity levels. 

Today is World Diabetes Day, a day that aims to raise awareness and promote prevention of this life-changing condition. So, we’re looking at the simple differences you can make to your lifestyle to reduce yours and your family’s risk of Type 2 diabetes. 

Who suffers from diabetes? 

Unfortunately, diabetes is on the rise in the UK; cases have more than doubled in the last twenty years and it’s now predicted that more than 1 in 11 adults suffer from the condition worldwide. Type 2 diabetes previously mainly affected adults, and until recently was known as ‘adult-onset diabetes’. This term was dropped in recent years, as diagnoses in children increases at an alarming rate in correlation with the obesity crisis.  

What is type 2 diabetes?  

90% of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes; a condition that prevents the body from effectively using the energy from food, and can result in feeling tired and sluggish. If left untreated, symptoms can be more serious and even life-threatening. Whilst Type 1 diabetes is unpreventable and not linked to lifestyle, Type 2 is linked to poor diet, physical inactivity and being overweight, but the good news is that you can take steps to prevent it! 

How can I reduce my risk of developing type 2 diabetes? 

1. MAKE HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES

Eating a healthier diet will significantly reduce your risk of diabetes. A ‘quick fix’ diet won’t work, you need to embrace a healthy, balanced diet long-term – but it’s not as scary as it sounds. Just follow these simple guidelines.  

  • Get your 5 a day: A top tip from one of our BeeZee nutritionists, Katie, is to aim for 2 portions of fruit and 3 portions of veg to avoid consuming too much sugar. And if you can up the veg even more, go for it!
  • Refer to the Eatwell Guide: Use the Public Health England Eatwell Guide when plating up your meals – it shows how much of each food group you should be eating to ensure a balanced diet. Katie says “The foods within the circle are what we call ‘positive nutrition’ – they have a function in the body. These foods help us to fell full and satisfied, as well as keeping everything working properly! Foods outside the circle are high in fat, salt and sugar. They might be particularly tasty, but because they don’t play a function in the body they should be enjoyed only occasionally as a treat, and not every day”  

  • Control your portion sizes: As a nation, we are eating too much. If your portion sizes are too big, it is difficult to control your weight and blood-sugar levels. The British Heart Foundation provide useful portion size guidelines – the only tools you need are your hands!

2. MOVE MORE

Katie says “exercise helps to keep blood sugar levels under control, because the muscles need to use carbohydrates for energy”. In other words, by getting active, you can help your body to get better at using the energy in food.  

National guidelines suggest clocking up 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week – but this doesn’t mean you have to spend hours in the gym. Any activity that raises your heart rate will do the trick – whether that’s getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way, or taking the stairs instead of the lift.  

Find an activity that you enjoy and actually want to do! Whether it’s pole dancing, rock climbing or dog agility training – think outside of the box and try new things in your local area to discover the thing that inspires you to get moving.  

 

3. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT

90% of people living with diabetes are overweight or obese. It’s a key risk factor, so by reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, you’ll minimise your risk of developing type 2 diabetes (or even reverse the course of the condition, according to a new study).  

By eating well and being active, you’ll increase your chances of maintaining a healthy BMI. If you’re overweight, you’ll need to reduce your calorie intake a little bit more in order to drop those extra pounds that could contribute to future health issues. 

A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy, whilst anything over 25 might put you at risk. Use our quick and easy BMI calculator to check whether you need to focus on maintaining or losing weight.  


It is important for everybody to take preventative measures against diabetes; with diagnoses on the rise amongst adults and children, embracing a healthy lifestyle will help to reduce yours and your family’s risk of diabetes (as well as other health complications )

But don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone. We understand that sometimes you need a bit of support making these changes. That’s why we run a variety of programmes, designed to fit around all different lifestyles, to help you settle into your own long-term healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re 2 or 72, we have a group to suit you.  

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