The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing worldwide. In the United States alone, 25.8 million people are affected by it, with an additional 80 million adults and children with pre-diabetes, putting them at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Some of the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes include having a family history of diabetes, inactivity, being overweight or obese, and being of certain ethnicities such as Asian American. In fact, a 2004 study conducted in New York City states that Asian Americans had diabetes at twice the rates than general populations.
Despite the alarming increase of type 2 diabetes, there is good news. Type 2 diabetes is preventable and manageable. My new book, Diabetes Reset, shares eight strategies that can help you in preventing and managing diabetes. Here, you can learn a little about the first four of the eight strategies.
1. Follow the Traditional Asian Diet: cut fat intake in half and double fiber intake from a typical Westernized diet
Joslin’s Asian American Diabetes Initiative (AADI) completed a clinical trial that showed following a Traditional Asian Diet helped both AA and non-Asians who were at risk of developing diabetes to lose weight and increase their sensitivity to insulin, an important hormone that is responsible for lowering the blood sugar. Contrary to the Westernized food, a traditional Asian diet is high in fiber and low in fat, with 15 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories of food consumed, with fat only comprising 15 percent of the calories you eat.
This diet also encourages you to have more plant-based protein, such as soy and beans, rather than protein that comes from animals.
2. Reduce your body weight by 5 to 7 percent
A prominent national clinical study, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study, has shown that for those who are overweight, reducing body weight by only 5 to 7 percent will help to delay and even prevent developing diabetes. The means a person weighing 200 pounds would only have to lose 10 to 14 pounds to make an impact on diabetes risk.
The DPP defined being overweight by having a body mass index (BMI) at 25 or above, which is the generally accepted measure. While this BMI cut-off applies to most people, the American Diabetes Association recently changed guidelines for Asian Americans, lowering the BMI cut-off for diabetes risk to 23. This change is supported by studies that have shown Asian Americans are at risk of developing diabetes and other chronic diseases at a lower body weight.
3. Increase your muscles’ glucose-absorbing ability through aerobic exercise and strength training
Muscle tissue consumes more blood sugar than fat tissue does. So it follows that if you have more muscle mass, your body will be able to better burn blood sugar. Muscle is important in increasing your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Building muscles also helps you burn more calories, helping you to lose weight more efficiently. Conducting moderate-intensity exercises (e.g. brisk walking or biking) for 150 minutes each week is important in preventing diabetes. That translates to roughly 10,000 steps per day. If you aren’t already physically active, you can start by gradually increasing your time of exercise by 5 minutes or 500 steps per day every 1-2 weeks.
You can find out more ways in incorporating physical activities into your daily life here:
4. Activate your brown fat
Not all kinds of body fat are bad! There is a particular kind of “good for you” fat – the brown fat – that is found in small amounts in many people. Once these brown fat tissues are activated, they burn calories at a very high rate—as much as one to two hundred calories a day. This brown fat is most commonly activated in cold temperatures. You can try lowering the thermostat of your home to the mid-60s degrees Fahrenheit, and you may be triggering the brown fat’s actions.
Check back next Monday to read more about preventing type 2 diabetes!