Diabetes continues to be at the forefront of health news — and for good reason. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults have diabetes in the U.S. alone. Why the epidemic? It has a lot to do with lifestyle choices. In fact, a recent study has found that living a healthy lifestyle could cut your risk of diabetes by as much as 80%.
Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health have of course known for some time that diet, exercise, smoking and drinking have an impact on whether someone is likely to develop type 2 diabetes. What they didn’t know was how each individual factor affects the risk.
So they devised a clinical trial that looked at physical activity, healthy diet, body weight, alcohol consumption, and smoking. The team collected data on 114,996 men and 92,483 women, 50 to 71 years of age, who took part in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. None of these individuals had diabetes, cancer or heart disease at the start of the study.
Over 10 years of follow-up, 9.6% of the men and 7.5% of the women developed diabetes, the researchers found. They then looked at each risk factor individually. They determined that, for each additional healthy lifestyle factor, the risk of developing diabetes was reduced 31% for men and 39% for women. Having a normal weight by itself, for example, reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 60% to 70%. And eating a healthy diet reduced the risk by about 15%, while not smoking lowered the risk by about 20%.
The bottom line? The more healthy lifestyle factors you have, the more you could lower the risk for developing diabetes. In fact, you could reduce your chances of developing the disease by 80%.
The researchers concluded by saying that, even in middle age, you can reap the benefits of healthy lifestyle. In other words, it’s never too late!
To help you out, here are eight tips for staying diabetes-free. Use this health advice to remind you what you should be doing to lower your risk:
–Exercise. Anything will do. Walk, bike, swim, use weight machines, play a sport.
–Stick to one alcoholic drink (for women) or two (for men) alcoholic drinks per day.
–Eat fruits and vegetables every day.
–Eat whole grains and avoid carbs made with refined white flour.
–Eat lean meats in moderation.
–Use healthy fats, such as olive oil, and keep your cholesterol in check.
–Stay away from refined sugar as much as possible. Reach for natural sweeteners such as a little maple syrup or honey instead.
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