Most steps in diabetes prevention don’t go far beyond limiting your sugar intake and keeping your weight down but there are a number of factors that can reduce your diabetes risk that have nothing to do with sugar or exercise.
These lifestyle factors can affect the way your body processes nutrients, spikes in your blood sugar level, and insulin resistance. Lowering your diabetes risk may be more surprisingly easy than you thought . . .
1. Cut Back on the Red Meat
According to a study of more than 100,000 people published in JAMA Internal Medicine, eating an average of 3.5 or more servings a week of red meat over just a four-year period can raise your diabetes risk as much as 48%. Meanwhile, those with lower than average red meat consumption actually saw their risk drop by 14%.
According to researcher Dr. JoAnn Manson, this is likely because of the high iron content, the level of nitrates found in deli meat, and artery-clogging saturated fat found in red meat. You don’t have to eliminate red meat from your diet but cutting back to one or two servings a week can go a long way.
2. Take More Walks
According to a study published in Diabetes Care, taking a 15-minute walk after a meal is more effective at lowering your diabetes risk than 45-minutes of sustained walking or exercise. Of course, 45-minutes of sustained walking is still much better than no physical activity at all. Short post-meal walks were found to have a very positive effect on glucose levels and blood sugar levels throughout the day.
3. Sleep In
You don’t have to tell us twice! Researchers at UCLA Medical Center have found that six or less hours of sleep causes decreased insulin sensitivity or ability to clear blood sugar from the blood stream. Instead, sleeping seven to eight hours each day leads to an optimal insulin sensitivity throughout the following day. While they say you can’t catch up on sleep, the study found that wasn’t the case with insulin sensitivity. Instead, study participants who missed sleep during the workweek but caught up with 10 hours of sleep on weekend days saw they insulin sensitivity return to healthy levels. In other words, try to get enough sleep but if you can’t, make sure you sleep in over the weekend.
4. Don’t Skip Breakfast
When you wake up, your body has usually gone over 10 hours without food. It starts to sense starvation and slows down the metabolism. According to a study at the University of Colorado, skipping breakfast leads to temporary insulin resistance which means your body needs more insulin than normal to regulate blood sugar levels. Regularly putting your body in a state of insulin resistance can lead to permanent diabetes so make sure to eat every morning. Of course, if you’re eating bacon and syrupy pancakes each day, you aren’t helping your cause either.
Diet and physical activity will always be key to preventing diabetes but your daily habits can lower or increase your diabetes risk significantly.