How to Prevent Diabetes

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Prevention of diabetes deals with modification of the environmental factors which allow the genetic component of the disease to manifest, since the genetic component is not modifiable (i.e. nothing can be done to change it). These include:

1. Avoidance of sedentary lifestyle – Though some work schedule may restrict one to a place for a long time, it is necessary to take some time to move round at intervals. Also, time should be created outside work schedule to exercise the body. Not only does this help glucose utilisation, it also help prevent clot formation which may result in formation of embolus. 

2. Regular exercise – Closely related to avoiding sedentary lifestyle is regular exercise. The usefulness of exercise is in its regularity. Otherwise, it becomes non-beneficial to the body. To make it regular, exercise can be scheduled at the most appropriate / convenient time for an individual. It may be every morning; three times a week; twice a week; once a week etc.

The more often it is, the more beneficial it is to the body. Exercise does not necessarily require running, jumping, jugging etc. While these are good for those who can tolerate and be regular with them, one needs not do any or all of such to have exercised. Walking for one kilometre or more on a regular basis (e.g. from home to school, place of work, market etc and back) is a form of exercise.

3. Maintenance of healthy body weight – This helps the body cells in utilisation of the available glucose in the blood by making the cells sensitive to it. Obesity encourages insulin resistance. One can check for obesity by assessing one’s body mass index (BMI) which is calculated as body weight in kilogram divided by the square of height in metres {weight/height2 (kg/m2)}. The normal range is between 18.5kg/m2 to 24.9kg/m2. One is overweight when it is between 25kg/m2 to 29.9kg/m2 and obese at 30kg/m2 and above.

4. Avoidance of excess intake of refined sugar – This is necessary in order not to overstretch the insulin-producing system in the body, thereby predisposing an individual to developing diabetes, even if he or she has a genetic predisposition. 

5. Avoidance of junk food – If possible, junk foods should be avoided, for healthy living. Where it becomes unavoidable, regular indulgence in it should be avoided.

6. Regular check-up – It is important to regularly check one’s blood sugar, at least every three to six months after the age of 40 years generally. For those who have family history of diabetes, especially in their first degree relatives (father, mother, sisters, brothers etc), testing should be earlier than age 40 years, as they may develop it earlier, especially if other factors are also present.

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