In recent years, the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus has sky-rocketed, and our lifestyles are largely to blame. We’d like to provide you some tips to improve your lifestyle and in turn avoid type 2 diabetes.

 

Type 2 diabetes. Causes.

 

Diabetes is a metabolic disease, in which glucose is not able to enter cells to be used as energy, instead staying in the blood. This can be due to insufficient insulin being produced, or because this insulin is not efficient, or because our bodies have become resistant to it. High blood sugar levels sustained over a long period of time produce many health problems.

 

Type 2 diabetes was known until recently as adult diabetes, as it was more common in people aged between 40 and 60. Nowadays however, there are thousands of cases in teenagers and young adults. The reasons for this can be found in our lifestyles and eating habits, which have changed a lot over recent decades. The following are therefore important risk factors for type 2 diabetes:

 

  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Hyperlipidaemia
  • Arterial hypertension
  • High calorie diets rich in saturated fats and simple sugars
  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Metabolic syndrome, which features 3 or more cardiovascular risk factors

 

There is also a genetic element which means that children of people with diabetes are predisposed to developing the disease.

 

Type 2 diabetes symptoms

 

In the initial stages this illness has no symptoms and is usually diagnosed by chance through routine blood tests that register high blood sugar levels. Later on the following may present:

  • Fatigue
  • Eyesight problems
  • Constant thirst
  • Hunger at unusual times
  • More frequent urination
  • Repeat infection processes
  • Wounds that heal slowly

 

How to prevent type 2 diabetes

 

A good diet and active lifestyle, avoiding unhealthy habits, is key to preventing this type of diabetes. Heed the following:

 

  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle. The best type of exercise is cardiovascular, in which you increase energy expenditure because of breathing faster and your heart beating faster, as well you moving your entire body. However any sport or discipline will do. The important thing is to perform the activity for at least 30 minutes, and to do so regularly – 3 or 4 times a week.

 

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ensure your body mass index does not exceed 24. Note: BMI = weight/ height2. A balanced diet and exercise can help you to achieve this.

 

  • Avoid hyperlipidaemia, whether cholesterol or triglycerides.

 

  • Drink sufficient fluids, around 8 glasses of water a day. Avoid sugary drinks and alcohol, and don’t overdo it with stimulating drinks which increase blood pressure.

 

  • Stop smoking. A meta-analysis carried out with studies on tobacco use over the last 40 years confirmed that smoking tobacco increases the risk of suffering from diabetes, up to 60% in those who smoke more than one packet of cigarettes per day.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Rest helps to maintain an active metabolism and to control blood sugar levels.

 

 

Diet for type 2 diabetes.

 

  • Increase your intake of fibre, which aids intestinal transit. Wholegrain foods such as rice, wheat, quinoa, oats, etc. can prevent spikes in glucose levels and help to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

 

  • Eat more often throughout the day. Six or seven times. In this way you eat less overall and will avoid sharp rises in sugar levels.

 

  • Increase your intake of plant proteins: pulses, wholegrains, nuts, seaweed, seeds…

 

  • Reduce your consumption of red meat and increase that of poultry and oily fish.

 

  • Always cook with olive oil.

 

  • Watch the amount of salt you use and substitute it with spices to add flavour. Many spices have metabolic effects which can help to regulate blood sugar levels (oregano, cinnamon, ginger, garlic…)

 

  • Opt for fat-free dairy products.

 

  • The best eating pattern to adopt is without doubt the Mediterranean diet, rich in fresh produce and low in processed foods.

 

  • Strictly limit your consumption of sugary foods. Pastries, sweets, dairy desserts, ice cream, sauces…

 

 

Don’t forget to have regular check-ups and always consult your doctor if you have any worries.

 

References:

  • Content revised by Dr. Trallero.
  • The diabetes.org foundation. Prevention of type 2 diabetes.
  • Sanitas.es. Healthcare medical group. Insurance and hospital services. Diabetes mellitus or type 2: what it is, causes and symptoms.
  • ©NetDoctor-Justesen. Tobacco and Diabetes.