Maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and not smoking are some recommendations to prevent diabetes.
A study recently found that people who already have prediabetes can lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by supplementing their healthy lifestyle with vitamin D.
Vitamins are substances that our bodies need to develop and function properly. One of them, vitamin D, helps the body absorb calcium, one of the main elements that make up bones.
Our body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to direct sunlight. There are also multivitamin products and supplements to obtain it, however, professionals recommend getting it through food:
- Soy drinks.
- Dairy products.
- Lean fish.
- egg yolks
The amount of vitamin D needed each day is calculated using a measurement called international units (IU). The recommended daily consumption depends on the age group:
- Infants from 0 to 12 months: 400IU.
- Children from 1 to 18 years old: 600IU.
- Adults up to 70 years: 600IU.
- Pregnant or lactating women: 800IU.
- Adults over 70: 800IU.
When a person does not cover adequate vitamin D intake for a long time, they can become deficient, and with it, experience lower bone density, which increases the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, an increased risk of rickets, and even increase the chances of suffering diseases such as hypertension, cancer, multiple sclerosis, or diabetes.
- What is prediabetes and how is it diagnosed?
It is on this last condition, specifically prediabetes, that the recent research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Relationship between prediabetes and vitamin D
The new study, which included nearly 45,000 participants (average age 65) from nine previous clinical trials, concluded that people with prediabetes who were supplemented with at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D could significantly reduce the risk of progressing to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
In prediabetes, blood sugar levels are high, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. However, different investigations estimate that, without any type of intervention, this condition can turn into type 2 diabetes after approximately 10 years .
Type 2 diabetes represents more than 90% of diabetes cases, and is characterized by the fact that the body is not able to use insulin correctly, a hormone produced by the pancreas that is responsible for distributing glucose between cells, and thus give them energy.
Diabetes carries a higher risk of developing other health complications, such as:
- High cholesterol.
- Nerve damage.
- Eye damage, including loss of vision.
- Heart disease.
- fatty liver disease
- Renal disease.
- Arterial hypertension.
This is not the first time that the relationship between vitamin D and diabetes has been explored. For example, a paper published in European Journal of Endocrinology found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation significantly improved insulin sensitivity and beta-cell function in individuals at high risk of diabetes or with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes.
In addition, people with poor insulin sensitivity at the start of the study benefited most from vitamin D supplementation. For participants who were at risk for diabetes but not low glucose sensitivity, the vitamin did not no difference.
Another study suggested that vitamin D affects blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes since it is involved in insulin production, insulin sensitivity and general inflammation.
Although this link appears beneficial, experts warn that more studies are still needed to verify the relationship between vitamin D and a lower risk of diabetes.
They also recommend caution when taking vitamin D supplements. This is because, in excess, they can cause toxicity, a condition characterized by nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, weakness, weight loss, and constipation.
Remember: do not use herbs or supplements for medicinal purposes unless it is under the recommendation and supervision of a health professional.
How to control blood sugar levels?
There is evidence showing that some simple lifestyle measures are effective in keeping blood sugar levels within the recommended range:
- Diabetes: how should you take care of your skin?
keep a healthy weight
Being overweight, especially when it is distributed in the abdominal area, increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Specialists advise losing between 5 and 10% of overweight, not regaining it and maintaining it in the long term. This can also provide protection against other types of health problems.
have a healthy diet
Eating the right foods is helpful in controlling your blood glucose level and helping you lose excess weight. Among the best options are:
- Fruits and vegetables: citrus fruits, berries, apples, pineapples, grapes, kiwis, green leafy vegetables, such as chard, spinach, broccoli or kale and other non-starchy options.
- Fiber: herbs and spices, such as cilantro or oregano, legumes, such as lentils, peas, peanuts, and beans, or fruits and grains.
- healthy fats: fish, such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout, flaxseed or flaxseed oil, nuts, chia seeds, canola, olive, or soybean oils, and avocado.
- infusions: cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek, hibiscus, or ginger.
In the same way that some foods are beneficial to prevent diabetes, others can favor its appearance or worsen it. Limit or eliminate from the diet:
- Added sugars (which are usually present in processed foods).
- Refined products, such as flour or white rice.
- Soft drinks, sodas or industrial juices.
- Red meat, especially processed meat, and sausages.
Physical activity fulfills a double function to prevent type 2 diabetes, since it increases the consumption of glucose by the body, and stimulates muscle fibers, favoring the transport of sugar into the cells.
Try bicycling, swimming, or even walking.
Although all types of movement are shown to be positive when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes, the greatest benefits are seen in activities of moderate intensity.
Experts warn that sedentary or overweight people who start exercising, start from lower to higher intensity, to avoid complications.
To avoid the use of tobacco
Nicotine and certain chemicals found in cigarettes damage cells, cause inflammation, affect insulin response, and increase the risk of increased abdominal fat, all risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
Sources consulted: American Diabetes Association, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, European Journal of Endocrinology, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.