Small changes can help prevent diabetes

Taking small steps in health can help prevent diabetes.

A young woman exercising indoors with small free weights.
Photo: Pexels/Mart Production.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that one in three adults — about 96 million in the United States — have prediabetes, and many are unaware of their condition.

Many adults also do not know that with simple lifestyle changes, the progression from prediabetes to diabetes can be prevented. Prediabetes is diagnosed when a person has a blood glucose (blood sugar) level higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered having diabetes. Those with prediabetes have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within five years. Prediabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The good news is that people with prediabetes may delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes and possibly return blood glucose levels to normal by incorporating healthier lifestyle changes into all areas of daily life. Various risk factors, such as family history of diabetes, age and ethnicity cannot be controlled. But taking control of risk factors like eating and physical activity can decrease the chances for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Getting started on the track to prevention can be challenging. Below are a few suggestions towards a successful transition from unhealthy habits to a healthier lifestyle:

  • Find your motivation. What is motivating you to make this change in life? Write the motivating factors down and post it where it can be seen as a reminder.
  • Start small with an eating plan. Too many big changes can create frustration and can lead to failure. Make small changes and practice the changes. If that change is not working after a week, adjust the plan until it does work. Health changes are not easy, but setting goals can help.
  • Make physical activity an important part of daily goals. Start small, working towards 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly. If time is a challenge, work this into each day in ten-minute intervals.
  • Track your progress. This helps to create a history of how the journey is advancing. Tracking allows room for making changes and adjustments to continue to move towards setting goals for a healthier lifestyle.

It may be hard to wait to feel results as long-term changes are tried, implemented and practiced. Just remember that healthy eating and physical activity can create some immediate results.  For example, one walk will lower blood glucose levels and physical activity can assist with better sleep. Small changes can generate big results and Michigan State University Extension can help with a variety of health programs.

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