Sharecare Top 5: Surprising Ways to Prevent Diabetes

If you’re at risk for type 2 diabetes or have a family history of the disease, there’s a silver lining. According to the American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable. Simple lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising and eating healthy can significantly lower your risk. And that’s not all you can do. Here are five surprising ways to help prevent diabetes.

1. Perk up
Coffee does more than perk you up. Studies show that drinking four 8-ounce cups of coffee a day, either caffeinated or decaffeinated, helps stabilize blood sugar by slowing down glucose absorption from the small intestine into the bloodstream. Just go easy on the sugar: Too much of the sweet stuff will counteract coffee’s diabetes-thwarting effects. Watch this video with Medicine Hunter Chris Kilham to discover other health benefits of drinking coffee.

2. Consider chromium
Talk to your doctor about taking a chromium supplement. Chromium improves the ability of cell receptors to respond to insulin, as well as the transportation of glucose into your cells for energy.  A chromium deficiency prevents the body from properly using glucose and responding to insulin. Discover foods that are rich in chromium.

3. Fill up on fiber
For some, preventing type 2 diabetes could be as easy as chowing down on more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Dietary fiber is associated with improved insulin sensitivity – and the more insulin sensitive you are, the less likely you are to develop diabetes. Try to aim for about 25-35 grams of fiber a day. These foods are highest in dietary fiber.

4. Sleep soundly
Sleeping well is key for overall health and can help you ward off diabetes, too. In one study, when participants were intentionally deprived of the deep sleep, they experienced a 25% drop in insulin sensitivity. Light sleeping led to a 23% drop in glucose tolerance. Quality and quantity both count: Aim for 6-8 hours of quality sleep a night. Follow these nine steps to get a good night’s rest.

5. Grab a cold one
Several studies have found that moderate alcohol consumption can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That’s because alcohol increases the efficiency of insulin getting glucose into your cells. A standard drink is a 12-ounce bottle of beer, 5-ounce glass of wine or 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor. However, if you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start now. You can still get the same diabetes-prevention benefits by dropping some weight, hitting the gym or changing your eating habits.

What’s your diabetes risk? Take the free test from the American Diabetes Association.