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Can you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes? Yes and this is how!

Did you know that more than 3.5 million people across Italy (source: ISTAT 2020)  are affected by diabetes, while around 90% of them have type 2 diabetes? In case you are wondering what exactly diabetes is and if you can really prevent or delay type 2 diabetes, here are some answers to your questions! 

What is diabetes?

Diabetes or diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disease. The body of people with diabetes can no longer process properly sugar or carbohydrates, which results in hyperglycemia, in other words, increased glucose levels in the blood. 
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Can hyperglycemia harm you? 
The answer is yes! If not taken under control, chronic hyperglycemia can be associated with organ damage or even lead to disfunction and failure of your eyes, your kidneys, your heart, your nervous system or your blood vessels. 

In addition, people with chronic hyperglycemia can be at higher risk of infections. However if the blood glucose levels are well monitored potential issues can be delayed or even prevented. 

Are there different types of diabetes and what's the difference?

There are mainly two types of diabetes: diabetes type 1 and 2. However, there are other forms of diabetes, such as gestational diabetes for example.

Type 1 diabetes is characterized by absolute deficiency of insulin, a hormone that is normally produced by the pancreas, while, in type 2 diabetes, which is more frequent, the pancreas produces insulin but the body's cells don't respond to it as they should. Therefore, blood sugar levels increase.  

Gestational diabetes, on the other hand, can appear during pregnancy and it usually goes away after that. Overweight or obese pregnant women are at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. That's why it is important to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy.

How can you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes? 

Although type 2 diabetes is associated with genetic aspects, and therefore linked to your family's health history, external risk factors such as overweight, obesity, abdominal fat accumulation, smoking, eating high amounts of saturated fats and physical inactivity also play a critical role in the development of the disease. 
tips which can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes - work out
Here are some tips which can help you prevent or delay type 2 diabetes:
- Start following the traditional Mediterranean diet.  It can help you protect yourself against numerous cardiovascular diseases as well as type 2 diabetes.
- Monitor your weight once per month and be active. If you are overweight or obese, ask for your doctor's or dietitian's advice. Avoid self-made diets as they can be risky.  
- Avoid prolonged sitting and inactive lifestyle:  walk or cycle instead of using the car; take the stairs instead of the elevator. 
- Eat moderately and regularly.
- Eat plant based foods like vegetables and fruits on a daily basis as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and bioactive molecules. 
- Avoid or at least reduce the consumption of highly processed foods as well as products that are high in refined grains. Prefer simple foods and whole grains that contain more fiber and vitamins.
- Reduce your salt and sugar intake.
- Keep an eye on the quality and quantity of fat you consume
- Quit smoking.
- Drink plenty of water as well as calorie-free drinks.
- Cut down on alcohol.