My sister was just diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. What can I do to prevent this from happening to me?

Change Your Diet

Changing your diet is powerful way to prevent type 2 diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, or ADA, individuals at high risk for type 2 diabetes should consume low glycemic index foods to keep blood glucose levels balanced as well as foods containing nutrients commonly lacking in the typical western diet, including calcium, potassium, fibre, magnesium and vitamins A, C, and E.

The ADA also recommends certain “superfoods” that are helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes, such as beans (kidney, pinto, navy, black), dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, collards, kale), citrus fruit (grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes), sweet potatoes, berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries), tomatoes, nuts, whole grains and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon.

Certain spices may also be helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes. A 2005 study published in the journal Nutrition & Food Sciencenotes that cinnamon, garlic, ginger, basil, oregano, nutmeg, tea, bay leaf, curry and other spices help lower blood glucose, boost insulin sensitivity and improve glucose synthesis in response to food consumption. The authors of this study also note that these spices may help improve your circulation, reduce your blood pressure and protect the health of your blood vessels, which in turn reduces your likelihood of type 2 diabetes-related cardiovascular disease. Turmeric, which is commonly used in traditional Indian medicine is another spice that may be helpful in reducing blood glucose levels. Turmeric possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help protect your blood vessels from damage caused by excessive sugar in your cardiovascular system

Increase Your Physical Activity

Exercise is a potent way to protect yourself against type 2 diabetes. Performing regular physical activity helps control your blood glucose levels, keeps your blood pressure in check and lowers your risk for not only type 2 diabetes but also heart disease and stroke. Both aerobic exercise (e.g., running, cycling, rowing, etc.) and resistance exercise (e.g., weight training) may be helpful for this health purpose. According to a 2002 study published in journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, an 8-week circuit training program combining aerobic and resistance exercise helped improve a variety of health measures, including lean body mass, functional capacity, strength and glycemic control, in study participants.

Maintain a Healthy Body Weight

Excess weight and obesity are key factors in the development of type 2 diabetes. According to a 2006 study published in the journal Diabetes Care, weight loss is the most important predictor of decreased diabetes incidence and that for every kilogram of weight loss, there is a 16% reduction in risk. The authors of this study also note that interventions to prevent diabetes should primarily target weight reduction.