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6 Ways to Lower Your Diabetes Risk

Protect yourself and improve your health with these simple steps

Reduce Diabetes Risk

En español l If you¹re one of the millions of Americans at risk of diabetes, you may be overwhelmed by the thought of overhauling your diet and lifestyle. But take heart. New research shows that even small fixes can reduce your risk.

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Give Up Soda

Just one or two sugar-sweetened beverages a day increase your risk of diabetes by 26 percent, a new Harvard School of Public Health review of studies finds. For a healthy alternative, try green tea, or seltzer with unsweetened cranberry or pomegranate juice.

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Eat Healthy Fats

Adopting the Mediterranean diet, with its abundance of fish and heart-healthy olive oil, can lower your risk of diabetes by a whopping 83 percent. "Olive oil is a good fat that boosts insulin sensitivity," explains Minneapolis dietitian Jackie Boucher. 

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Walk About

New research shows that people who sit six to eight hours a day are 19 percent more likely to have diabetes. "Extended sitting slows your body's ability to metabolize glucose," says Sheri Colberg, a professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. But moving around for two minutes every half hour boosts your metabolism enough to lower glucose. Set a timer if you need a reminder.

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Bulk Up

Why is strength training so important? "Muscles are where we store most of our glucose" from food, Colberg says. "If your muscles are small, there's less storage space,” so blood sugar rises. One study even found resistance training kept blood sugar lower longer than aerobic exercise did. Try to lift weights twice a week.

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Savor Your Food

Eating slowly prompts us to eat smaller portions. Studies also show that friends and family can influence our habits, so surround yourself with like-minded loved ones who want to improve their health. Plus, people who have peer support tend to do better at losing weight and keeping it off, Boucher says.

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Move After Meals

Taking a 15-minute stroll a half hour after you eat lowers postmeal blood sugar levels for at least three hours, a new study shows. The results are immediate, but the 30-minute time frame is key. Aim for these short jaunts following every meal.

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