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How To Reduce Diabetes Risk

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
11/02/15  10:57 AM PST

November is American Diabetes Month®. Reduce your risk of developing this chronic disease by talking to your doctor, eating well and staying active. You can reduce diabetes risk with the tips below.

 Fast Facts

  • With diabetes, your body has trouble making or using insulin, the key to getting sugar out of your blood and into your cells where it’s used for energy.
  • Uncontrolled blood sugar can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage and other problems.
  • 1 in 3 people in the U.S. have prediabetes and are at higher risk for developing diabetes.
  • 9 out of 10 people in the U.S. don’t know they have prediabetes.

How to Lower Your Risk for Diabetes


Get tested.

  • A simple blood glucose (blood sugar) test tells you if you are at risk for diabetes.
  • Early detection of abnormal blood glucose and key lifestyle changes may halt diabetes in its tracks.


Eat right.

  • Eat mostly whole grains, like whole wheat bread, crackers and pasta, brown rice and quinoa.
  • Look for whole wheat flour as the first ingredient or at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.

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  • Limit added sugars to 36 grams a day for men and 24 grams daily for women. Added sugars are refined sweeteners added to packaged foods and beverages.
    • Look for added sugars under total carbohydrate on the nutrition facts panel.

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  • Eat healthy fats to reduce inflammation thought to contribute to diabetes.
    • Omega 3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are highest in salmon, mackerel, trout and tuna.
    • Your body can convert a very small amount of the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in some plant foods to EPA and DHA. Flaxseeds, canola oil, soybeans, pumpkin seeds and walnuts are good sources.


Get moving.

  • Working your muscles improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose.
  • Take a daily 30-minute walk to reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 30 percent.

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