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Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease which can cause reduced circulation, blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease if left untreated. People who are genetically susceptible to developing diabetes generally need to manage their diet and lifestyle more stringently than others to prevent diabetes. For many people, regular cardiovascular exercise, along with weight reduction and diet management, can help reduce the risk of diabetes significantly.
Being overweight or obese is a strong risk factor in the development of diabetes, and some people find that losing weight can help prevent the disease. People who are overweight can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by losing between 5% and 7% of body weight. For someone who weighs 200 pounds (91 kilograms), this amounts of a weight loss of 10 to 14 pounds (four to six kilograms).
Diet is another diabetes risk factor, and is related to weight. People who are overweight tend to have a higher risk of developing diabetes if their diet is high in simple carbohydrates and saturated fats. The American Diabetes Association, and other health organizations around the world, recommends a calorie-controlled diet that is low in fat and sugar, and high in fiber and lean protein as an aid to prevent diabetes.
As of 2008, the American Diabetes Association also allows that a low-carbohydrate diet that eliminates starch and sugar can also be a useful diet to help prevent diabetes. Regardless of the diet adopted, most health organizations suggest reducing saturated fat intake, and increasing intake of vegetables and low-sugar fruits. Calcium-rich low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are recommended.
Exercise is the third aspect of diabetes prevention, and is considered to be most effective when combined with diet management and weight loss. Thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to five times a week is recommended to prevent diabetes, for weight loss, or simply for improved general health. This type of exercise can include walking, running, aerobics, team sports, and even dancing.
For some people, preventing or delaying the development of type 2 diabetes requires some extra measures. Certain diseases can increase the risk of developing diabetes regardless of whether a person exercises regularly and manages their diet. One such example is polycystic ovary syndrome, which causes the formation of cysts in the ovaries and also increases insulin resistance. Women with this disease are often prescribed medication to reduce insulin resistance.
Some people develop insulin resistance or diabetes even if they exercise regularly and watch their weight and diet. Often this is simply because they have inherited genes that increase their risk of developing diabetes. In such cases the measures they take to prevent diabetes will delay the onset of the disease but may not prevent it altogether.