A study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that the majority of new cases of diabetes in those over 65 could be prevented by modest changes in lifestyle. We've always known that type 2 diabetes is a disease that can largely be prevented by doing things like eating right and exercising regularly. But this study demonstrates that there are 5 lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk by as much as 90%.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, type 2 diabetes affects 24 million Americans, many of them being older adults. This study tracked participants over a period of 10 years and collected data through questionnaires and physical exams. From there they were grouped into a high-risk or low-risk group based on each factor. The lifestyle factors that were examined in the study included physical activity, diet, smoking habits, alcohol use, and amount of body fat. Researchers found that the risk of diabetes was 35 percent lower for each one additional lifestyle factor in the low-risk group. That means that you don't have to be perfect in every area to reap the benefits- even small changes can positively affect your risk.
Participants were only divided into 2 groups, so someone who did any kind of physical activity, for example, would have been in the low risk group. It doesn't mean they spent hours at the gym compared to the high risk participants, but could just mean they took light walks on a regular basis compared to someone who did no exercise. Again, this is reinforcement that small changes can make a big difference.
Here's a recap of the 5 changes you can make today to significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
1. Physical activity- Something is better than nothing. You don't have to be a gym rat to reap the benefits of regular exercise.
2. Diet- Make sure you're getting enough fiber and healthy fat in your diet. Limit your consumption of processed foods and sweets.
3. Smoking- Don't start, but if you are a smoker, work on quitting today.
4. Alcohol use- Aim for less than 2 alcoholic drinks per day.
5. Body fat- Work on getting your BMI into the healthy range and a healthy waist-to-hip ratio.
What do you think? Are you surprised that these changes could have such significant results?
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