Reducing your risk

Working with your health care team to prevent diabetes or manage your diabetes has been shown to be an effective strategy to avoid or reduce complications. Diabetes prevention or effective diabetes management also may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.

Preventing diabetes or managing it successfully may help you avoid other complications, such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Eye damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage, which may cause pain in your feet or hands (diabetic neuropathy)
  • Digestive problems (gastroparesis)

Steps to prevent or manage diabetes and avoid potential complications include:

  • Follow your health care team's recommendations about the most appropriate plan for monitoring your blood glucose, cholesterol level and blood pressure.
  • Eat healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat milk and cheese.
  • If you're overweight, eat a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight. Obesity can lead to diabetes and other health problems.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • Examine your feet daily for sores.
  • Take any prescribed medications on schedule.

Evidence suggests diet and activity changes that lead to weight loss are especially effective in reducing diabetes risk.

Small steps can make a big difference. In a major clinical research study, participants with blood sugar levels slightly above normal (prediabetes) cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent through exercise (30 minutes five days a week) and as little as a 5 to 7 percent loss in body weight. That weight loss translates to 10 to 14 pounds (4.5 to 6.4 kilograms) for a 200-pound (about 91-kilogram) person.

March 23, 2016 See more In-depth