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5 simple steps to lower your risk1 of diabetes

Manage your weight

Being overweight is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes. A modest weight loss of 5% to 10% of initial body weight can substantially improve your blood sugar control.

Be active

Inactivity promotes type 2 diabetes. Moving your muscles more often and making them work harder helps your body to use insulin better and absorb glucose. Each week, it’s recommended to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity such as walking, bicycling or jogging, and at least 2 sessions of resistance exercises (using weights, weight-machines, resistance bands or one’s own bodyweight (e.g. pushups)).

Follow these basic recommendations when making food choices:

  • Choose whole grains and whole grain products (e.g. whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal) over highly processed carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, white rice, and mashed potatoes).
  • Choose water or lightly sweetened coffee or tea over sugary drinks, like regular pop, fruit drinks and juices.
  • Choose polyunsaturated fats (e.g. sunflower seeds, flax seeds or flax oil) instead of trans fats (e.g. margarine, fried fast foods). Fats from fish, nuts and seeds are more healthful choices than sweets. However, be careful of eating too much. Fat, regardless of type, has a lot of calories.
  • Limit red meat and avoid processed meat; choose healthier protein sources, such as nuts, whole grains, poultry, or fish. Eating even small amounts of processed red meat each day such as two slices of bacon, one hot dog, or the like – has been shown to increase diabetes risk.

If you smoke, quit

Type 2 diabetes is one of many health problems linked to smoking. Smokers are more likely to develop diabetes. Smoking can also increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.

Keep a food diary

Monitor your blood glucose and learn how your body reacts to carbohydrates, exercise, stress, and medication.

1. Canadian Diabetes Association 2013 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. Can J Diabetes 2013;37(suppl 1):S1-S212.