Sherman family physician offers tips lowering your risk for Type 2 diabetes
When you look at your family history, you may be genetically predisposed to certain health conditions such as diabetes. But before you throw in the towel on a healthy lifestyle, you should know that there may be some risk factors you can control to prevent chronic health conditions -- despite your genetic risk.
A recent study shows that higher levels of total physical activity, especially moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, are strongly associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The research notes that this is true even for people with a family history of the disease.
"There are fixed factors that can increase your risk for Type 2 diabetes including family history, being over the age of 45, having an Asian, African, Native American, or Latino racial or ethnic background, and gestational diabetes," says Dr. Frank Tran, family medicine physician at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill.
Being overweight, obese or extremely inactive can also increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
The good news is, unlike fixed factors such as family history, you can work to change your weight and activity level.
"Simple changes maintained over the long term are the best way to do it," explains Dr. Tran. "Do the physical activity you can and slowly increase it on a weekly basis. Not only can this help reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, but it also provides a way to relieve stress and improves your overall well-being."
Incorporating exercise into your daily routine is crucial because it can help manage blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and control blood pressure.
If you're overweight or obese, consider adjusting your diet to help achieve a healthy weight.
"Try cutting down on your carbohydrate intake including sugars, bread, pasta, rice, fruits and many other things you may not realize are sugar," notes Dr. Tran.
As with all lifestyle adjustments, support is key.
"I encourage people to have discussions with their family members, both immediate and extended, to share the same goals, have more support, and make lifestyle changes together."