You’re at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you have a close relative who has it. Fortunately, your genes don’t have the final say when it comes to whether you’ll develop type 2 diabetes during your lifetime. There are steps you can take to lower your risk, even if it runs in your family.
Internal medicine and endocrinology specialist Sam Morayati, MD, and the team at Burlington Medical Center in Burlington, North Carolina, want patients to feel empowered to make beneficial, health promoting changes.
Having a family history of type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to develop it, but it does mean that you need to take some steps to reduce your risk.
Genes and your environment
Having a family history of type 2 diabetes means that you have a genetic predisposition toward developing it. However, genes alone don’t cause type 2 diabetes. Your environment and lifestyle play a role, which is where you have the control to make changes. In fact, chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes are considered almost entirely preventable.
A combination of five lifestyle factors lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 84%, even if a family history increases your risk, according to a National Institutes of Health analysis. Let’s discuss those factors in detail.
Maintain a healthy weight
When NIH researchers analyzed data collected from over 200,000 adults, they found that keeping your weight within a healthy range has the greatest impact on protecting against type 2 diabetes.
This means getting to a healthy weight if you’re overweight should be your number one priority. Fortunately, making the combination of changes that leads to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes also leads to better weight management.
If you’ve tried to lose weight in the past without success, talk to your primary care provider about tools and resources to help you shed the extra weight. The goal is to achieve a healthy body mass index (BMI). A normal BMI is between 18.5 to 24.9. You’re considered obese if you have a BMI of 30 or above, and that’s where the real risk starts.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, know that losing even a modest amount of weight – 10 to 20 pounds – reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes. You’ll start to reap protective benefits that can fuel you toward your goal.
What’s more, the NIH analysis found that overweight and obese individuals who had several of the beneficial lifestyle factors had a lower risk of developing diabetes. This means that you benefit the most from adopting an overall healthy lifestyle.
Adopt a healthy diet
Drinking sugary beverages, eating a diet high in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates, and not eating enough fiber, have the strongest link with increasing type 2 diabetes risk.
Knowing this gives you a good place to start in overhauling your eating habits. You don’t have to radically change your diet overnight, in fact, radical changes rarely stick. Making small, healthy changes can go a long way toward cutting your diabetes risk.
This might look like replacing sodas with fruit-infused water, swapping out fatty cuts of meat for fish like salmon, and swapping out white rice for brown rice.
Get the recommended amount of physical activity
A sedentary lifestyle is extremely harmful to your health. It increases your risk for several chronic diseases, not just diabetes. It’s recommended that everyone get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. This may look like 30 minutes a day for five days out of the week. You can even break your daily activity into 10 minutes of movement 3 times a day.
Once you’re acclimated to exercising regularly, you can increase your exercise, but it’s important to focus on getting at least the minimum recommended amount of physical activity.
Avoid smoking and moderate alcohol intake
Smoking damages blood vessels and not only increases the risk of heart disease, but also type 2 diabetes. Quitting smoking is a must to protect your overall health and slash your risk of diabetes.
Alcohol intake is another lifestyle factor that impacts your diabetes risk. If you do drink, moderate your alcohol intake to one drink or less for women and two drinks or less for men to lower your risk of diabetes.
You have the power to make changes that can help you live a long, full life. If you’re concerned about your diabetes risk, and for all of your internal medicine and endocrinology needs, call our team today to schedule a visit. Another option is to book online.