5 New Ways You Can Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
There's no doubt that diabetes is a devastating condition. Uncontrolled, it ravages the entire body, from your kidneys to your heart to even your eyes. I'm happy to report, though, that the overall rate of the disease may finally be leveling off, and I want everyone to keep up the good work. That means sticking to the tried and true steps that reduce risk, like exercising and eating healthy (one study found that these and other lifestyle changes can lower risk by up to 91 percent). But don't stop there: Recent research shows that other everyday tweaks can make a big difference in keeping the disease at bay.
We've come a long way since the days of demonizing dietary fat, and two recent studies make it clear that not even saturated fat is all bad. The first, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, revealed that certain types of saturated fat commonly found in dairy products like yogurt and full-fat milk may actually have a protective effect against type 2 diabetes (while other types, like those in red meat, may increase risk). Swedish researchers arrived at a similar conclusion, finding that people who consumed the highest amounts of high-fat dairy had a 23 percent lower diabetes risk than those who consumed the least.
Eat Your Greens
Need another reason to hit the salad bar? In a large European report that weighed fruit and veggie consumption against diabetes risk, the strongest positive relationship was observed with leafy greens: Nine servings a week was associated with a 16 percent reduced risk compared with consuming a serving or less. Why? One hypothesis points to magnesium (greens are rich in the mineral), which has been shown to help regulate glucose and, as a result, may lower diabetes risk.
Breathe Easier at Night
Sleep apnea, a disorder that causes breathing to be briefly obstructed during the night, may impair how your body metabolizes glucose, leaving too much in your bloodstream and not enough in your cells. In one study, subjects with mild to moderate forms of sleep apnea were 23 percent more likely to develop diabetes. But here's the good news: Treating the condition with a small device called a CPAP (which pumps air through a mask you can wear over your nose to keep your airways open) may improve how the body absorbs glucose.
Get Your Coffee Fix
The health benefits of java have been in the spotlight for some time, and when it comes to coffee's ability to help stave off diabetes, the news keeps getting better. A 2014 report discovered that drinking three to four cups a day may reduce your risk by up to 26 percent. (Don't worry about feeling jittery, as the effects were nearly as strong with decaf.) Just choose your brew wisely—compared with instant coffee, the filtered stuff is almost twice as powerful. And remember to skip the sugar and sweeten with cinnamon, which has been shown to have glucose-lowering effects. Then drink up, guilt-free.
What Kind of Exercise is Best?
Scientists have known for years that calorie-burning aerobic exercise can help control two of the most important diabetes risk factors: weight and blood sugar. Now a new study suggests you may want to pick up some dumbbells, too. Harvard researchers tracked women for eight years and found that those who did more than 150 minutes per week of weight training or toning workouts like yoga had a 40 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than those who skipped such exercise. Don't fret, treadmill lovers: The greatest benefit was found when women combined cardio and weight training, so make time for both on your next trip to the gym.
Mehmet Oz, MD, is the host ofThe Dr. Oz Show(weekdays; check local listings).