If you’re one of the 115 million people in the U.S. living with prediabetes or diabetes, then it’s time to perk up your ears and settle in for a quick read. (1)
Diabetes is a harsh disease that can lead to fatigue, weight gain, and loss of vision.
Not only that, but as the blood vessels deteriorate, you can even lose limbs.
I don’t mean to be grim, but there’s a 1-in-3 chance of becoming prediabetic at some point in your life.
But the good news is that there’s a lot you can do to work towards preventing and reversing it.
It’s no secret that diet and diabetes are closely linked, but as it turns out, lifestyle and diabetes are joined at the hip too.
In fact, inactivity is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes, right up there with the food you eat.
- Here are the top seven lifestyle factors that affect diabetes:
- Weight loss
- Environmental toxins
Are you ready to transform your habits and tell diabetes to take a hike?
Let’s dive in!
What Is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease where blood sugar levels are too high, and it occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or doesn’t use insulin very well.
Insulin, by the way, is a hormone made in the pancreas that processes sugar.
Types of Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is a genetic autoimmune disease that attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, but it only accounts for roughly 2% of total cases.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is something that almost anyone can get, and the more you smoke, drink, and gain weight, the higher your chances are. (2)
7 Powerful Diabetes Lifestyle Factors
Normal blood sugar levels are maintained through regular exercise, stress reduction, and other healthy habits.
In fact, even small changes can greatly reduce the risk of diabetes.
Here are some of the best ways to get your blood sugar back on track:
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that exercise has health benefits, but it’s one of your best weapons in the fight against diabetes.
For starters, exercise improves blood circulation, reduces stress, and improves glucose levels throughout the body.
On a deeper level, exercise can improve the mechanisms that release glucose in the skeletal muscles. (3)
To top it all off, exercise reduces stress and improves metabolism, so it hits the underlying causes of diabetes from multiple angles.
Here are a few low-inflammation, diabetes-friendly exercises:
- Exercise bands
In fact, doing about 30-60 minutes of exercise 3-4 days a week is all it takes to improve insulin sensitivity. (4)
One of the most important benefits of exercise, though, is weight loss…
#2. Weight Loss
In addition to lack of exercise, several studies show that obesity is a major risk factor of type 2 diabetes. (5)
For example, a recent Swedish study found that moderate weight loss reduces the occurrence of type 2 diabetes by 50 percent in middle-aged men. (6)
However, when participants combined weight loss with exercise and other lifestyle changes, rates dropped by a full 58 percent!
Smoking is the single worst lifestyle habit for inflammation.
But it does more than just inflame the lungs, it also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 30-40 percent. (7)
However, no matter which type of diabetes you have, smoking can make it harder to control.
The effects are exponential too, so the more cigarettes you smoke, the higher the risk.
Heavy alcohol consumption of three or more drinks a day can increase the risk of diabetes by up to 43 percent. (8)
But even in moderate doses alcohol can boost blood sugar, reduce insulin sensitivity, and cause liver toxicity.
Beer and cocktails are the worst because of the high sugar content.
If you you want to reverse diabetes, make sure to get plenty of rest.
Any lifestyle activity that balances hormone levels is important for diabetes, but sleep is the big one.
Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to support insulin production.
A lack of sleep can reduce insulin and testosterone production and boost stress hormones.
When you’re stressed, whether it’s from lack of sleep or a hectic life, stress hormones like cortisol and ghrelin increase.
And when they do, they’re going to make you hungry.
This not only interferes with how the body uses insulin, but it also makes is harder to avoid sugary foods.
Not only that, but cortisol can even trigger a direct rise in blood sugar levels. (9)
People who are stressed tend to drink more caffeine, which only further spikes cortisol and adds to the vicious cycle.
If this sounds like you, then it might be time to adopt new lifestyle habits like yoga, meditation, and float therapy, or to experiment with essential oils like lavender and frankincense.
#7. Environmental Toxins
Environmental toxins are everywhere. They can sneak into the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat.
If you want to reverse diabetes, then you should try to avoid these 9 diabetes triggers:
- PCBS (Polychlorinated biphenyls)
- BPA (Bisphenol A)
- PAHS (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
Some of these, like arsenic, are easy to avoid as long as you don’t live in a really old house.
Others, like BPA, is a common ingredient in food containers, plastic cups, toys, and medical devices.
According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, BPA may influence the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (10)
Some diabetes risk factors, like genetics, are outside of your control, but when it comes to lifestyle choices, the ball is in your court.
If you have any further questions about lifestyle and diabetes, our providers at Complete Care Health Centers are happy to help.
Feel free to contact us today for advice about how to prevent diabetes.