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Best Ways to Beat Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Changes

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Almost 34 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and around 90-95% of them have Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).(1)

T2D frequently occurs in people over age 45.(1) Research indicates that the western dietary habits of middle-aged adults can increase the risk of T2D.(2)

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

T2D is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.(3) After eating, most food turns into glucose(sugar), the body’s primary energy source.(3) β-cells which are present in the pancreas secrets insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels. (3 )

In T2D, your body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin well.3 Then, too much insulin stays in your blood, and not enough reaches your cells.3 High blood glucose may hurt your eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart.(3 )

Who is more likely to develop T2D?

Many factors can influence the development and progression of T2D, such as a person’s race/ethnicity, age, gender, and family history of diabetes, which cannot be changed. The other factors include body weight, healthy choices, exercise, and diet, which can be changed.(3,4,5 )

Can lifestyle changes help prevent, manage, and treat T2D?

T2D s is a very complicated and burdensome disease. It is a Self-management disease that needs you make several daily decisions regarding food, physical activity, lifestyle factors, and medications.(1-10)

T2D and Diets(2-10)

Studies showed that T2D is more common in people who consumed oil, flour, and too much sugar, high carbohydrates, and fats.(6)

  • Eat Lean meats and plant-based proteins.

  • Reduce salt, whether hypertensive or not.

  • Eat meals regularly and must be small meals spaced over the day, rather than 1 or 2 big meals, are helpful.

  • If you are treated with insulin or certain oral drugs, you must eat regularly to stop hypoglycemia: three meals a day plus suitable snacks in between, e.g., fresh fruits.

  • Eat more mono, poly, Omega-3 FA

  • Avoid a high intake of red meat, sweets, and fried foods.

  • Avoiding all “white” food (white bread, potatoes, pasta)

  • Limit processed foods.

T2D and Physical Activity (PA)

Studies indicate that both walking and more physical activity can reduce the risk of T2D.(9) If you have T2D, being active makes your body more sensitive to insulin and can help manage blood sugar levels, and lowers your risk of heart diseases.(9)

  • Have at least 30 minutes of physical activity for 5 days a week.(3)

  • If you are not active, take advice from your physician about which activities are best.(3)

  • Start slowly to build up to your goal.(3)

T2D and Healthy Choices

Studies showed that smoking and drinking by diabetic patients further damage the effects of T2D.(9)Too much alcohol may cause obesity, pancreatitis, disturb carbohydrate metabolism, and damage liver function.(9)

  • Avoid smoking.(9)

  • Prefer to have alcohol not less than 2 drinks per day.(9)

  • Drink no more than four (4) cups of coffee or caffeine-containing beverages per day.(8)


  1. Type 2 diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Updated 2019. Accessed Nov 8, 2020.

  2. Shu L, Shen X, Li C, Zhang X, Zheng P. Dietary patterns are associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus among middle-aged adults in zhejiang province, china. Nutrition journal. 2017;16(1):81. doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0303-0.

  3. Type 2 diabetes | NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Web site. Accessed Nov 8, 2020.

  4. Ruston A, Smith A, Fernando B. Diabetes in the workplace - diabetic’s perceptions and experiences of managing their disease at work: a qualitative study. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:386. Published 2013 Apr 25. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-386.

  5. Dendup T, Feng X, Clingan S, Astell-Burt T. Environmental risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2018;15(1):78. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15010078.

  6. Sami W, Ansari T, Butt NS, Hamid MRA. Effect of diet on type 2 diabetes mellitus: A review. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2017;11(2):65-71.

  7. Olokoba AB, Obateru OA, Olokoba LB. Type 2 diabetes mellitus: a review of current trends. Oman Med J. 2012;27(4):269-273. doi:10.5001/omj.2012.68.

  8. Asif M. The prevention and control the type-2 diabetes by changing lifestyle and dietary pattern. J Educ Health Promot. 2014;3:1. Published 2014 Feb 21. doi:10.4103/2277-9531.127541

  9. Pathak R, Pathak A. Study of life style habits on risk of type 2 diabetes. Int J Appl Basic Med Res. 2012;2(2):92-96. doi:10.4103/2229-516X.106349.

  10. Reddy PH. Can Diabetes Be Controlled by Lifestyle Activities?. Curr Res Diabetes Obes J. 2017;1(4):555568.

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