With the prevalence of diabetes on the rise in the US, we’ve been asked one question many times: can you prevent diabetes?

Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes

A person who has the genetic predisposition for type 1 diabetes may or may not develop diabetes in his/her lifetime. It often develops after a viral infection of some type (e.g. influenza), but can develop at any time in childhood or adulthood without rhyme or reason. Some research suggests that being vitamin D deficient is associated with developing diabetes, as well as early introduction of cow’s milk in infancy (e.g. before 4 months of age). We really do not have any solid answers on how to prevent type 1 diabetes. Type 2 is a totally different story!

Type 2 diabetes

Risk factors include having a family history of type 2 diabetes, being of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander ethnicity, as well as being overweight, or having a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy, and goes away after the baby is born). You cannot change you ethnicity or what has happened in the past, but there is a lot you can do right now to decrease risk of diabetes.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

  • Do everything you can to keep your weight within a healthy range (check out some of the posts on this site under “weight management”)
  • Eat a diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, lean protein sources, legumes and whole grains, and low in “added sugars” (sweets/soda pop/fruit juice….) and refined starches (foods made with white flour, white rice, potatoes without skin….) and fats (deep fried foods, sausages, bologna, chips…).
  • Exercise every single day—that sounds difficult, but just by moving your body for 5-10 minutes right after each meal, getting up and moving for a couple minutes every hour, as well as walking or doing some other activity that keeps you moving for at least 10 minutes you can help prevent diabetes. Exercise, even without any weight loss helps prevent type 2 diabetes!