Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully, becoming more physically active and losing a few extra pounds. It's never too late to start. Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle now may help you avoid the serious health complications of diabetes down the road, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage. Consider the latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association.
Not necessarily. If you can lose weight, change your diet, increase your activity level, or change your medications you may be able to reduce or stop insulin therapy. Under certain circumstances, you may only need insulin temporarily – such as during pregnancy, acute illness, after surgery or when treated with drugs that increase their body’s resistance to the action of insulin (such as prednisone or steroids). Often the insulin therapy can be stopped after the event or stress is over.
Here’s another big plus to our Shopping List for Diabetics. In addition to icons that are diabetes-focused like “sugar free,” this list uses icons like “low cholesterol” and “low sodium” because many people with diabetes are working to control not just diabetes but related conditions like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.  This list can help you identify those foods most advantageous in helping you reach your personal health goals.

Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.
Triglycerides are a common form of fat that we digest. Triglycerides are the main ingredient in animal fats and vegetable oils. Elevated levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fatty liver disease, and pancreatitis. Elevated levels of triglycerides are also associated with diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and medications (for example, diuretics, birth control pills, and beta blockers). Dietary changes, and medication if necessary can help lower triglyceride blood levels.
In general, prediabetes is not associated with any specific symptoms. However, there may be indicators of problems in blood sugar metabolism that can be seen years before the development of overt diabetes. Health-care professionals in the field of endocrinology are now routinely looking at these indicators in patients who are high risk for developing diabetes.
Triglycerides are a common form of fat that we digest. Triglycerides are the main ingredient in animal fats and vegetable oils. Elevated levels of triglycerides are a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fatty liver disease, and pancreatitis. Elevated levels of triglycerides are also associated with diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and medications (for example, diuretics, birth control pills, and beta blockers). Dietary changes, and medication if necessary can help lower triglyceride blood levels.
If you choose to drink alcohol, remember: To drink with your meal or snack (not on an empty stomach!), to drink slowly or dilute with water or diet soda, that liqueurs, sweet wines and dessert wines have a lot of sugar, to wear your Medic Alert (Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia/low blood glucose), reducing alcohol can promote weight loss and help you lower your blood pressure.
The types of fats in your diet can also affect the development of diabetes. Good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help ward off type 2 diabetes. (39) Trans fats do just the opposite. (8, 40) These bad fats are found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any product that lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. Eating polyunsaturated fats from fish—also known as “long chain omega 3” or “marine omega 3” fats—does not protect against diabetes, even though there is much evidence that these marine omega 3 fats help prevent heart disease. (41) If you already have diabetes, eating fish can help protect you against a heart attack or dying from heart disease. (42)
Encourage lots of physical activity. Staying active and limiting the time spent in sedentary activities — like watching TV, being online, or playing video or computer games — can help reduce the risk of weight gain and help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Being active can be as simple as walking the dog or mowing the lawn. Try to do something that gets you and your kids moving every day.
As a renal dietitian my focus can’t be solely on diabetes. Although a very large percentage of our patients with chronic kidney disease are here due to unmanaged blood sugar control, that is just one of our problems. I have to prioritize my counseling in other ways – the most important being control of potassium, then sodium (fluid), protein and phosphorus.
Our advice to anyone trying to live healthier lifestyles is simple, including diabetics trying to manage their disease. Our mantra: Eat real food. What does that mean? Eat whole foods that grow from the ground, are picked from a bush or tree, or came from an animal. Whole vegetables, fruit (both preferably organic), and responsibly raised and fed animals are all a part of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. If one can stick to this simple rule and minimize or avoid processed and packaged foods and food-like items, you’ll find you look, feel, and perform better than ever.
Up your soluble fiber intake: There are two types of fiber – the type that does not dissolve in water (insoluble fiber) and the kind that does (soluble fiber). Insoluble fiber can help manage weight and prevent constipation by moving quickly through the digestive tract and adding bulk to stool. Soluble fiber, on the other hand, absorbs water and turns into a gel-like consistency during digestion. This process slows down digestion and nutrient absorption. Soluble fiber can also lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels: because it isn’t well absorbed, it doesn’t contribute to blood sugar spikes and can help manage type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is almost always reversible and this is almost ridiculously easy to prove. This is great news for the more than 50% of American adults who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. Recognizing this truth is the crucial first step in reversing your diabetes or pre-diabetes. Actually, it something that most people already instinctively recognized to be true.
Diabetes is a disease that is increasingly making its way into the public consciousness, and not in a good way. In fact, according to this article from USA Today, diabetes has a greater health impact on Americans than heart disease, substance use disorder or COPD, with 30.3 million Americans diagnosed with the illness — and many more who are at risk for developing it.
To follow a healthy diet for diabetes, you must first understand how different foods affect your blood sugar. Carbohydrates, which are found to the largest degree in grains, bread, pasta, milk, sweets, fruit, and starchy vegetables, are broken down into glucose in the blood faster than other types of food, which raises blood sugar, potentially leading to hyperglycemia. Protein and fats do not directly impact blood sugar, but both should be consumed in moderation to keep calories down and weight in a healthy range.
Over a period of years, you went from pre-diabetes, to diabetes, to taking one medication, then two then three and then finally large doses of insulin. Here’s the thing. If you are taking more and more medications to keep your blood sugars at the same level, your diabetes is getting worse! Even if your blood sugars get better, your diabetes is getting worse. This is unfortunately what happens to virtually every patient. The body is already overflowing with sugar.
Losing weight can lower your blood sugar levels. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can make a difference, although a sustained weight loss of 7 percent or more of your initial weight seems to be ideal. That means someone who weighs 180 pounds (82 kilograms) would need to lose a little less than 13 pounds (5.9 kilograms) to make an impact on blood sugar levels.
Chia is a type of seed that provides fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chia is a superfood because it brings down the glycemic load of any meal, increases hunger satisfaction (satiety), and stabilizes bloods sugar. Adding chia to your breakfast will help keep you full longer. They primary type of fiber in chia is soluble fiber. Soluble fibers turn to a gel when mixed with water. This makes chia seeds excellent to use in baking and cooking when a thickener is needed. Chia mixed with almond milk, cocoa, and a low-glycemic index sweetener like agave or stevia makes an excellent healthy pudding!
As a bonus, stress relief may help you sleep better, which is important because studies show that not getting enough sleep can worsen type 2 diabetes. Sleeping less than six hours a night has also been found to contribute to impaired glucose tolerance, a condition that often precedes type 2 diabetes. In fact, a review published in 2015 in Diabetes Care analyzed 10 studies that involved more than 18,000 participants combined and found the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes in the group of participants that slept seven to eight hours per day. That’s the minimum recommended amount of sleep for most adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
We use cookies and similar technologies to improve your browsing experience, personalize content and offers, show targeted ads, analyze traffic, and better understand you. We may share your information with third-party partners for marketing purposes. To learn more and make choices about data use, visit our Advertising Policy and Privacy Policy. By clicking “Accept and Continue” below, (1) you consent to these activities unless and until you withdraw your consent using our rights request form, and (2) you consent to allow your data to be transferred, processed, and stored in the United States.
Globally, T2DM is at present one of the most common diseases and its levels are progressively on the rise. It has been evaluated that around 366 million people worldwide or 8.3% in the age group of 20-79 years had T2DM in 2011. This figure is expected to rise to 552 million (9.9%) by 2030.10 This disease is associated with severe complications which affect patient’s health, productivity, and quality of life. More than 50% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) (primarily heart disease and stroke) and is a sole cause of end stage renal disease which requires either dialysis or kidney transplantation. It is also a major cause of blindness due to retinal damage in adult age group referred to as diabetic retinopathy (DR). People with T2DM have an increased risk of lower limb amputation that may be 25 times greater than those without the disease. This disease caused around 4.6 million deaths in the age-group of 20-79 years in 2011.11
The main kinds of carbohydrates are starches, sugars, and fiber. Learn which foods have carbohydrates. This will help with meal planning so that you can keep your blood sugar in your target range. Not all carbohydrates can be broken down and absorbed by your body. Foods with more non-digestable carbohydrates, or fiber, are less likely to increase your blood sugar out of your goal range. These include foods such as beans and whole grains.
Among the patients, diabetes awareness and management are still the major challenges faced by stakeholders worldwide. Poor knowledge related to diabetes is reported in many studies from the developing countries.18 Some studies have suggested that the occurrence of diabetes is different in various ethnic groups.19 Knowledge is a requirement to achieve better compliance with medical therapy.20 According to a study conducted by Mohammadi21 patient’s knowledge and self-care management regarding DM was not sufficient. Low awareness of DM affects the outcome of diabetes. Another study conducted in Slovakia by Magurová22 compared two groups of patients (those who received diabetes education and those who did not). The results indicated that receiving diabetes education significantly increased awareness about the disease in patients (p < 0.001). The study further concluded that having diabetes knowledge can notably improve patient’s quality of life and lessen the burden on their family. Dussa23 conducted a cross-sectional study on assessment of diabetes awareness in India. The study concluded that level of diabetes awareness among patients and general population was low. Another study conducted in India by Shah24 reported that 63% of T2DM patients did not know what DM is and the majority were also unaware about its complications.
How do sugary drinks lead to this increased risk? Weight gain may explain the link: In both the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Black Women’s Health Study, women who increased their consumption of sugary drinks gained more weight than women who cut back on sugary drinks. (26, 28) Several studies show that children and adults who drink soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t, (28, 30) and that switching from these to water or unsweetened beverages can reduce weight. (31) Even so, however, weight gain caused by sugary drinks may not completely explain the increased diabetes risk.  There is mounting evidence that sugary drinks contribute to chronic inflammation, high triglycerides, decreased “good” (HDL) cholesterol, and increased insulin resistance, all of which are risk factors for diabetes. (32)

Meanwhile, processed or packaged foods should be avoided or limited in your diabetes diet because, in addition to added sugars and processed carbohydrates, these foods are often high in sodium and therefore may increase your blood pressure and, in turn, the risk of heart disease or stroke — two common complications of diabetes. It’s important to keep your blood pressure in check when managing diabetes.


There’s more troubling news. The pre-cursors of Type 2 diabetes – pre-diabetes and the Metabolic Syndrome – increase our risk of heart disease almost as much as Type 2 diabetes does. These pre-cursors are so widespread in 21st century America that scientists now estimate that the majority of the current U.S. population over the age of 65 has them. And they put people at dangerously high risk of developing full-blown Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and dying prematurely.
Medications in this drug class may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with a high risk of those conditions. Side effects may include vaginal yeast infections, urinary tract infections, low blood pressure, and a higher risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. Canagliflozin, but not the other drugs in the class, has been associated with increased risk of lower limb amputation.

Some easy-to-follow examples I often provide are adding chopped mixed vegetables to scrambled eggs and including fresh fruit on the side; preparing a green smoothie with low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, chopped fresh kale, and frozen fruit; preparing vegetarian jambalaya with brown rice; or choosing a hearty salad with mixed greens, nuts, beans, and light salad dressing from a salad bar. Food can be medicine and it can also be enjoyable!
Research has found, too, that the Pritikin Program can actually reverse the Metabolic Syndrome. In 50% of adult Americans studied, the Pritikin Program reversed the clinical diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome, and in just three weeks. In research following children with the Metabolic Syndrome, 100% no longer had the syndrome within two weeks of starting the Pritikin Program.
Keeping close tabs on your diet is a major way to help manage type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet for people with type 2 diabetes includes fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy. Focus on eating fruit and non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, and lettuce, and having smaller portions of starchy foods, meats, and dairy products. Be especially careful about loading up on foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and especially the glycemic load (GL), systems that rank foods according to how they affect glucose levels.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends the hepatitis B vaccination if you haven't previously received this vaccine and you're an adult between ages 19 and 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are age 60 or older, have diabetes and haven't previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you.
Low-carbohydrate diets have gotten a lot of attention recently as strategies for reversing prediabetes. The carbohydrates in your diet that provide calories include sugars and starches. Starches are in grains and flour, beans, and starchy vegetables. Added sugars include sugars in sweets, sweetened foods such as flavored oatmeal and ketchup, and sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda. There are also natural sugars, which are found in nutritious foods such as dairy products and fruit.
The average American eats 2 servings of produce a day and french fries and ketchup count! These colorful earthly delights provide us with so much nutrition that we would be fools not to figure out a way to enjoy them. Start with just increasing by 1 serving a week and before you know it you will have reached the recommended 9-11 servings a day. The quickest way to get a jump on more vegetables is to fill half your lunch a dinner plate with a cooked or raw vegetable. My favorite is pre-cut, washed and shredded raw cabbage salad with carrots, cherry tomatoes, avocado and little dressing.
Meanwhile, processed or packaged foods should be avoided or limited in your diabetes diet because, in addition to added sugars and processed carbohydrates, these foods are often high in sodium and therefore may increase your blood pressure and, in turn, the risk of heart disease or stroke — two common complications of diabetes. It’s important to keep your blood pressure in check when managing diabetes.
Charlene Crawford has spent more than half of her life with diabetes. At 14, she was diagnosed with prediabetes. By 18, she had type 2. She was prescribed medication, which she barely took, and advised to make lifestyle changes, which she didn't do. But when she got pregnant, her priorities shifted. "Having a child makes you see things differently," says Crawford, a mother of two. "I wanted to be there for him and not be so tired and be active when he needed me."

Metformin’s effectiveness didn’t change significantly in older adults compared with younger adults (hazard ratio [HR] for developing diabetes at age 60-85 years vs 25-44 years=1.45; 95% CI, 0.98-2.16; P=.06). In contrast, lifestyle modification worked better in older adults than younger adults (HR at age 60-85 years vs 25-44 years=0.47; 95% CI, 0.28- 0.78;P<.01).
If you eliminate concentrated sources of carbohydrates (foods that turn into sugar in your blood stream) like candy and cookies, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for diabetes medications. Everyone with type 2 diabetes will benefit from an improved diet, but you may still need other interventions, such as increased physical activity, weight loss or medications to keep your blood sugars in the target range. Check with your doctor about any diabetes medication dose adjustments that may be required if you change your diet.
Rather than following a specific diabetes prevention diet, the greatest impact in prevention has occurred with weight reduction. Consequently, there is no single recommended diabetes prevention diet. The American Diabetes Association recommends goals of modest weight loss (5%-10% of body weight) and moderate exercise as primary interventions for preventing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of complications such as kidney, nerve, and eye damage, as well as cardiovascular disease. It also means cells are not receiving the glucose they need for healthy functioning. A calculation called a HOMA Score (Homeostatic Model Assessment) can tell doctors the relative proportion of these factors for an individual with type 2 diabetes. Good glycemic control (that is, keeping sugar/carbohydrate intake low so blood sugar isn't high) can prevent long-term complications of type 2 diabetes. A diet for people with type 2 diabetes also is referred to as a diabetic diet for type 2 diabetes and medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for people with diabetes.
While there is still no cure for diabetes, there is good news; the progression from prediabetes to diabetes is not inevitable. The National Institutes of Health clinical trial, the Diabetes Prevention Program, found that for people with prediabetes modest lifestyle changes led to weight loss of 5 to 7 percent in participants and can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58% in individuals at high risk.
In addition to the millions of adults with diabetes, another 57 million adults have “pre-diabetes.” (7) This early warning sign is characterized by high blood sugar levels on a glucose tolerance test or a fasting glucose test. Whether pre-diabetes expands into full-blown type 2 diabetes is largely up to the individual. Making changes in weight, exercise, and diet can not only prevent pre-diabetes from becoming diabetes, but can also return blood glucose levels to the normal range.
A type 2 diabetes diet or a type 2 diabetic diet is important for blood sugar (glucose) control in people with diabetes to prevent complications of diabetes. There are a variety of type 2 diabetes diet eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet, Paleo diet, ADA Diabetes Diet, and vegetarian diets.Learn about low and high glycemic index foods, what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid if you have type 2 diabetes.
The problem, of course, has not been solved – the sugar bowl is still overflowing. You’ve only moved sugar from the blood (where you could see it) into the body (where you couldn’t see it). So, the very next time you eat, the exact same thing happens. Sugar comes in, spills out into the blood and you take metformin to cram the sugar back into the body. This works for a while, but eventually, the body fills up with sugar, too. Now, that same dose of metformin cannot force any more sugar into the body.
Like refined grains, sugary beverages have a high glycemic load, and drinking more of this sugary stuff is associated with increased risk of diabetes. In the Nurses’ Health Study II, women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an 83 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to women who drank less than one sugar-sweetened beverage per month. (26)
National Center for Health Statistics reported that socioeconomic status plays an important role in the development of T2DM; where it was known as a disease of the rich.49 On the contrary, the same reference reported that T2DM was more prevalent in lower income level and in those with less education. The differences may be due to the type of food consumed. Nutritionists advised that nutrition is very important in managing diabetes, not only type but also quantity of food which influences blood sugar. Meals should be consumed at regular times with low fat and high fiber contents including a limited amount of carbohydrates. It was observed that daily consumption of protein, fat and energy intake by Saudi residents were higher than what is recommended by the International Nutritional Organization.50
Although kids and teens might be able to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by managing their weight and increasing physical activity, other risk factors for type 2 diabetes can't be changed. Kids with one or more family members with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for the disease, and some ethnic and racial groups are more likely to developing it.
There is convincing evidence that diets rich in whole grains protect against diabetes, whereas diets rich in refined carbohydrates lead to increased risk (53). In the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II, for example, researchers looked at the whole grain consumption of more than 160,000 women whose health and dietary habits were followed for up to 18 years. Women who averaged two to three servings of whole grains a day were 30 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than those who rarely ate whole grains. (21) When the researchers combined these results with those of several other large studies, they found that eating an extra 2 servings of whole grains a day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent.

Your care team may recommend that you use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). A CGM is a wearable device that can measure blood sugar every few minutes around the clock. It's measured by a thread-like sensor inserted under the skin and secured in place. The more frequent CGM blood sugar readings can help you and the care team do an even better job of troubleshooting and adjusting your insulin doses and diabetes management plan to improve blood sugar control.


What to drink in place of the sugary stuff? Water is an excellent choice. Coffee and tea are also good calorie-free substitutes for sugared beverages (as long as you don’t load them up with sugar and cream). And there’s convincing evidence that coffee may help protect against diabetes; (33, 34) emerging research suggests that tea may hold diabetes-prevention benefits as well, but more research is needed.
The types of fats in your diet can also affect the development of diabetes. Good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help ward off type 2 diabetes. (39) Trans fats do just the opposite. (8, 40) These bad fats are found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any product that lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. Eating polyunsaturated fats from fish—also known as “long chain omega 3” or “marine omega 3” fats—does not protect against diabetes, even though there is much evidence that these marine omega 3 fats help prevent heart disease. (41) If you already have diabetes, eating fish can help protect you against a heart attack or dying from heart disease. (42)
Don’t be surprised if you have to use multiple medications to control the blood sugar. Multiple medications, also known as combination therapy is common in the treatment of diabetes! If one medication is not enough, you medical provider may give you two or three or more different types of pills. Insulin or other injected medications also may be prescribed. Or, depending on your medical condition, you may be treated only with insulin or injected medication therapy.
×