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Six Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

We're constantly told to watch what we eat, keep as active as we can, have a healthy lifestyle and manage our weight. But why are these messages so important and what are we all striving to achieve?

We're constantly told to watch what we eat, keep as active as we can, have a healthy lifestyle and manage our weight. But why are these messages so important and what are we all striving to achieve? A healthy body and healthy life, and the avoidance of any chronic conditions such as type II diabetes? This usually appears in middle-aged or older people, however, it's more frequently being diagnosed in younger overweight adults and adolescents. It's now a major public health issue and it's estimated that approximately 5 million people in the UK are at increased risk of developing type II diabetes. With this in mind, here are my top tips to reduce your risk.

1) Know Your Shape and Weight

Being a healthy weight and shape is so important in reducing your risk. We've all heard of being shaped like an apple or pear, but does it really matter? The short answer is yes! There is a strong link between waist circumference and developing Type II diabetes. Having a waist more than 80cm (31½ inches) in women, 94 cm (37 inches) in men or 90cm (35 inches) in South Asian men will increase your risk. So measure yourself today - if you fall into one of these categories, make positive changes and change your diet and lifestyle today.

2) Know Your Carbs - Go Low

GI (Glycaemic Index) is a method of scoring carbohydrate foods, depending on their effect on blood glucose levels. The value is affected by cooking and processing and foods are ranked as low, medium or high GI. Low GI foods are digested slowly and cause a gentle rise in blood glucose levels. As a result, these are often better choices as they help control your appetite, reduce snacking and are high in fibre. Low GI foods include porridge oats, granary, rye, pumpernickel and multigrain breads. Including these in your daily diet will help to keep your appetite at bay and reduce the desire to snack on unhealthy foods.

3) Limit Processed Meats

Meats that are preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives (e.g. bacon, sausages, salami, ham and pâtés) are processed. They're often high in both saturated fat and salt and provide very little in the way of vitamins and minerals. Eating too much can affect your blood pressure and weight, which may increase your chances of developing Type II diabetes. Limit these as much as possible and replace with healthier alternatives such as chicken, fish, beans and pulses.

4) Chose Lean Protein

Protein is a really important part of our diet as it provides essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc. We use it for growth, repair and healing and it also keeps us fuller for longer which can help control our appetites. Aim to include lean protein foods such as chicken, fish, turkey, beans and lentils in your weekly menu. These are low in calories and saturated fat and can help to keep your appetite at bay, avoiding the temptation to snack on unhealthy foods.

5) Know Your Oils

With so many to choose from, what's the best? Olive, coconut, vegetable, rapeseed, walnut oils...the list goes on! Mono- and poly-unsaturated oils can help reduce the 'bad' or 'LDL' cholesterol in your blood, which in turn can help lower your risk of developing heart disease and stroke. It's also really important to use the healthy oils sparingly as they're full of calories and can cause weight gain. So replace saturated fats, such as butter, with small amounts of healthy oils such as olive, sesame or rapeseed oils.

6) Genetics

This is another risk factor for developing Type II diabetes and one you can't control. If you have a close relative with the condition there is a stronger chance you will develop it. The closer the relative, the stronger the chance. The important thing to remember in this case is to make sure your diet is as healthy as possible, exercise regularly, ensure you're a healthy weight and shape and keep as active as you can.

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