How to Lower Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Feb 05, 2024
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Are you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? It’s not inevitable. Some relatively small changes can lower your risk of developing a disease associated with kidney damage, neuropathy, blindness, heart disease, and other negative health impacts.

Experts estimate that nearly 40% of people who are diagnosed with prediabetes develop type 2 diabetes in less than 5 years. However, finding out that you’re prediabetic doesn’t mean type 2 diabetes is an inevitable part of your future. You can lower your risk.

At Northeast Florida Internal Medicine, Elyssa Blissenbach, MD, and Lea-Anne Griffis, APRN, work to help people maintain optimal health. If you have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, we can help you understand what lifestyle changes will likely have the greatest impact and guide you in making those changes. Whether it’s through weight loss management, preventive measures, or helping you quit smoking, we’re here to support your healthy lifestyle. 

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’re at an above-average risk for type 2 diabetes if you:

  • Have prediabetes
  • Are overweight
  • Are 45 years old or older
  • Have an immediate relative with type 2 diabetes
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Had gestational diabetes while pregnant 
  • Are Black, Hispanic or Latino, Native American, or Alaska Native
  • Have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

As you can see, some of these risk factors are outside your control. You can’t stop aging or change your race. However, there are others that you can influence and so lower your risk. 

Change your diet

You can begin reducing your risk by changing your diet. Eating fewer refined carbohydrates, such as cookies, cakes, crackers, white bread, and snacks like pretzels is important. Sugary beverages and highly processed foods should rarely be consumed or eliminated from your diet.

Aim instead to increase the amount of vegetables you consume, especially colorful,  non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and beets. Include whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats in your meals.  Try to replace sugary desserts with fruits. 

Add exercise to your routine

If you’re the sort of person who hates exercise, you might want to experiment with different activities to find something you enjoy. The best exercise to do is the kind you will do consistently. If you hate running, that’s not the right activity to do.

Group classes, sports leagues, or walking with friends are good options for some people. If you’re a nature lover, look for ways to exercise like gardening or hiking.

Wherever you’re starting, work toward 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. You want to breathe harder than usual and raise your heart rate for around 30 minutes five days a week. A brisk walk before work each day may be just right to meet your goal. 

Lose extra weight

If you change your diet and add exercise to your routine, you’re very likely to lose some weight, which is another way to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you’re struggling to lose weight, we can help. 

Dr. Blissenbach is certified in obesity medicine, and we can offer guidance and, if appropriate, medication to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. 

If you’d like to learn more about your personal risk of developing type 2 diabetes and guidance on lowering it, schedule an appointment at Northeast Florida Internal Medicine today.