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Learn about a host of diabetes-related topics such as how many Americans suffer from this disease to how to easily adjust to a new diet after diagnoses. This section will provide you with the information you need to make informed dietary decisions regarding diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Using Food

When it comes to preventing diabetes, targeting and reconstructing your diet may have a substantial, positive influence. So is there a diet that prevents diabetes? A new study suggests dietary fat intake may prevent the expanding chronic disease.


Diabetes is a growing economical and health concern affecting the lives of millions. And the diabetes facts are overwhelming.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports 422 million people worldwide have diabetes. And diabetes rates continue to grow.

The CDC also reports the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled. This number is growing as the American population has aged and become more overweight or obese in the last 20 years.

Considering the prospective growth of diabetes in the future, preventing the condition can save the health of millions.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease in which glucose from carbohydrates are unable to be utilized by the body for energy.

There are two types of diabetes, including types 1 and 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s own immune system destroys the cells that produce insulin. This form of diabetes requires insulin therapy and needs to be monitored with close attention. It often begins in childhood and cannot be prevented.

Blood sugars rise mostly related to insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.

How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Some diabetes risk factors cannot be changed, including age and family history. However, there are things ones can do to lower their risk of diabetes.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends a number of preventative strategies. These include losing weight and keeping it off, being physically active, and eating healthy foods most of the time.

But what is the best diet to prevent diabetes? Researchers set out to determine an effective meal composition. Research in PLOS Medicine included a total of 102 trials, containing 4,660 adults and analyzing their diets. The compilation of research studies allowed the exploration of meals with varying fats and carbohydrates.

Researchers mostly found individuals' diets rich in monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids experienced lower blood sugars. They also improved insulin sensitivity compared to diets high in saturated fat and carbohydrate.

Specifically, increasing PUFAs and reducing carbs and saturated fats had the most consistent benefits. Up until this point, research lacked in understanding how dietary fats and carbs influence blood sugar and insulin.

But with over 100 studies analyzed, this study significantly suggests a strong interplay between fat and diabetes prevention.

Diabetes Prevention Diet

Though preventing diabetes is much more than consuming and avoiding certain foods, diet modifications can be made. Based on the present study, eat more and less of the following foods:

Consume More:

• Nuts and Seeds: Walnuts, pecans, and sunflower seeds are a few of the many nut and seed varieties containing healthy fats. Nuts are dense in calories, so stick to a small palm full. Nuts and seeds are a convenient snack option and offers crunch to salads and meals.

• Soybeans: Soybeans are a valuable plant-based protein source. They also offer 8 grams of polyunsaturated fat and three grams of monounsaturated fat per cup.

• Fatty Fish: Fatty fish including herring, tuna, salmon and trout contain omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat. The intake of omega-3s shows to protect heart health. It can also defend against diabetes development.

• Vegetable Oils: Most vegetable oils, olive and canola included, contain unsaturated fats. Swap out butter and margarine for vegetable oil to reduce saturated and trans fats and supply ample amounts of healthful fats.

Consume Less:

• Refined Grains and Starches: White flour and its products are refined grains. These are essential whole grains that have been stripped down of valuable nutrients and fiber. Reduce the intake of white breads and pastries along with keeping starchy pasta and potatoes limited or in portion.

• Refined Sugars: Specifically, reduce the intake of added sugars. Products with refined sugars include sweet pastries, soft drinks and sauces and dressings. Consuming such products increase total caloric intake while spiking blood sugar levels.

• Animal Fats: Animal fat is mostly in the form of saturated fat. The American Heart Association (AHA) encourages consuming less than 7 percent of total daily calories from saturated fat. Choose leaner cuts of meats and limit the intake products including bacon, ham and hot dogs.

One can also adopt a plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. Plant-based diets are eating patterns that emphasize legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Animal products are also reduced or avoided completely dependent on preference.

Additional Diet Recommendations for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Along with foods themselves, the following eating tips can assist in weight loss and reduce diabetes risk:

• Pay Attention to Portion Sizes: Despite eating healthier foods, it is important to still pay attention to portion sizes. As a general rule of thumb, fill half of the plate with non-starchy veggies. Designate a quarter for a lean protein and the other quarter for a complex carb and starch. Complement with a healthy fat source and add dairy and fruit as desired.

• Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals: Eating patterns can vary based on individuals needs and preferences. However, eating smaller and more frequent meals can keep hunger levels at bay and lessen the risk of overeating at mealtimes. Starting your morning with a high-protein breakfast can also encourage healthier choices throughout the day.

• Enjoy Meals Slowly: It takes 20 minutes for the stomach and brain to connect the “I’m full” feeling? Slow down and enjoy the meal at hand by sitting down at the dinner table. Also place the fork down between each bite and sip on water before and throughout the meal.

• Limit or Avoid Liquid Calories: Watch out for sugary and alcoholic beverages, as they tend to contribute nothing more than calories. Swapping out juices, soda, etc. with soda is a simple way to not only reduce sugar intake, but keep hydrated.

• Dine Out Sensibly: Though one can still go out to eat with friends and family, do so sensibly. Try planning ahead and having a game plan before going. Also choose healthier options that are baked, steamed, grilled, and broiled over fried foods. Split the meal or take the other half to go to also limit the risk of overeating.

• Consider a Weight Loss Meal Delivery Service: One can prevent diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of starting weight. A meal delivery service can help one shed weight with ease and convenience - this means no meal prep on your end!. What’s more, the nation’s leading weight loss meal delivery service customizes meal plans and offers ongoing support!

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 15, 2016. Updated on March 28, 2019.


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