What you eat can affect your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even as an adult, improving the quality of your diet may reduce your risk, but worsening the quality of your diet can increase your risk.

“The longer you live with type 2 diabetes mellitus, the higher the likelihood that it will cause damage to the parts of the body most affected such as the eyes, kidneys, and nerves. We also know that the longer you have diabetes, the harder it is for your doctor to treat and the less likely they may be to gain adequate control. In other words, don’t wait… Act now! Even a 5% or 10% reduction in weight has been shown to cause substantial improvements in blood sugars.”

Dr. John D. Rutkoski

Trinity Bariatric Surgery

A report published in Diabetes Care analyzed data from multiple studies that tracked over 124,000 adults for more than 20 years. None of the participants had diabetes at the beginning of the studies and the participants self-rated the quality of their diet every 4 years based on a healthy eating index.

It was found that when diet quality went up by more than 10% during any 4-year period, the risk of diabetes dropped by 16%. When diet quality declined by the same amount, the risk of diabetes increased by about 34%. These findings were not affected by how participants ate at the start of the study.

What is a High-Quality Diet?

  • A diet comprised mostly of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, as well as lean sources of protein and healthy fats.
  • Minimal amounts of red or processed meat, trans fat, sodium and sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juice.
  • Low to moderate amounts of alcohol.

Ways to Improve the Quality of Your Diet

  • Plan your weekly meals so you’re not choosing something unhealthy when you’re short on time.
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry. You’re more likely to make poor food choices.
  • When you get home from the store, wash and cut up fruits and veggies so they’re easy to grab.

Although healthy food choices may help lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, the best way to prevent type 2 diabetes is to reduce your weight if you are overweight and increase the amount of physical activity you do. If you only change the quality of your diet and do not address these two major risk factors, you will probably not decrease your risk significantly.

Find Diabetic Services at
Sisters Metabolic Center for Wellness
Call (716) 891-2703

Find Diabetic Services at
Sisters Metabolic Center for Wellness
Call (716) 891-2703

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Date Last Reviewed: February 9, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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