A person with diabetes must pay attention throughout his or her life: blood values must be measured regularly, attention must be paid to what is eaten and in some cases it is necessary to inject insulin oneself. There are several factors that can increase the risk of developing diabetes. Heredity can play a role, but also a person's lifestyle can influence the development of diabetes.
How can you prevent diabetes? Whether you are young or old, thin or fat: everyone can be affected by diabetes. However, there are things you can watch out for to reduce the risk of getting diabetes. These measures can differ for each type of diabetes. On this page you can read about the things you can take into account to reduce the risk of getting diabetes.
Unavoidable: Type 1 diabetes
The causes of getting diabetes differ per type. Unfortunately, we don't know enough at the moment to be able to say exactly what the causes are. What we do know is that insulin is not produced in the body of people with type 1 diabetes. How does this happen? Cells in the pancreas are responsible for the production of this hormone. The immune system of a person with type 1 diabetes has seen these cells as diseased cells.
Just as diseases are targeted by the immune system, in this case, unfortunately, good cells are also broken down. The lack of insulin means that the sugars in the blood cannot be broken down. The excess sugars can cause several diseases such as cardiovascular disease. If type 1 diabetes runs in your family, you have a slightly higher chance of also being affected by this condition. Unfortunately, we don't yet know how to prevent this form of diabetes. Research is currently being conducted into how the risk can be reduced, for example by having children take extra vitamin D or breastfeeding them until the age of one.
Preventing Type 2 diabetes
Your health is valuable. There is a reason why a healthy life reduces the risk of all kinds of diseases. Unfortunately, a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee a life without disease. Yet it is important to take your health very seriously: by living healthily you reduce the chance of getting type 2 diabetes by 50%.
Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. Fortunately, for type 2 diabetes there are things you can watch out for to reduce your chances of becoming a patient. The causes of this variant lie, in many cases, in an unhealthy lifestyle. The chance of getting type 2 diabetes is greater if you: are overweight, smoke, do not exercise enough, have too high blood pressure or cholesterol, and if an immediate family member has diabetes. Not only these causes increase the chance. More causes can be found on the page causes type 2 diabetes. If you want to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, you can pay attention to the following measures:
Eating healthy foods is good for everyone. In principle, someone with diabetes can eat almost anything. However, there are some meals that are just a bit more suitable than others. A number of tips and tricks concerning food:
- Eat lots of vegetables. They are full of vitamins. Note: legumes such as beans, peas and corn raise blood sugar levels. Therefore, keep these types of vegetables in mind.
- Fast carbohydrates such as sugar, jam, honey, white flour or rice raise blood sugar levels.
- Do you like bread, pasta and rice? Choose whole grain varieties and brown rice. The high fiber content in these products makes sugar levels rise slowly instead of skyrocketing quickly.
- The sugars in alcohol raise blood sugar levels. A few hours after the consumption of alcohol, the blood sugar decreases again. Therefore, pay attention when consuming alcoholic beverages. Fruit juice also contains a lot of sugar. You can always drink water, tea and coffee without sugar.
- Avoid saturated fats. Choose unsaturated fats for baking, such as oil and liquid margarine. So do not use butter and hard margarine. Good fats are obtained from nuts, avocado or fish. Take low-fat varieties of yogurt, meat, cheese and milk.
- Salt is not good for your blood pressure. So season your meals with spices, herbs or vinegar.
- Foods containing naringenin like grapefruit can help prevent diabetes.
Adequate exercise is also healthy for every person. Someone who is overweight can burn excess fat through exercise. This is an advantage, because being overweight is one of the possible causes of developing diabetes. It is also important for people without excess weight to exercise. Make sure you get at least half an hour a day of exercise that makes you breathe fast. This will make your heart beat faster. Do you like sports? Then go for a brisk walk, bike ride or swim. Is the gym not for you? Shopping, walking or vacuum cleaning are also ways to get enough exercise. If your body has difficulty moving, contact your physiotherapist or doctor.
Smokers are more likely to get diabetes: the risk of diabetes is increased by 30% to 40% when you smoke. The body of someone who smokes no longer responds properly to the hormone insulin. As a result, the body can no longer break down excess sugars and the blood sugar rises. The weight of a smoker is on average lower than the weight of a non-smoker: the fat of someone who smokes is stored differently. This is because the fat is mainly stored around the organs in the abdomen. Because of this abdominal fat, the body can no longer respond properly to insulin. Do you want to stop smoking? And do you need help with this? Your family doctor can advise you.