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Can you prevent diabetes with diet?

March 31, 2022 - By Véronique Plante

Temps de lecture 3 minutes

We often hear about it, but what does it involve exactly? Can diabetes be prevented with a healthy diet? Is medication necessary? Here are the answers to these questions and tips to control and reduce the chances of developing diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by the presence of abnormally high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) due to a reduction or inadequate response of insulin, the hormone responsible for the healthy management of blood sugar. Chronic hyperglycemia related to diabetes is associated with long-term complications affecting vision, kidneys, can cause neurological damage, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD)[1]. Currently affecting 537 million people worldwide, it is estimated that this number will rise to 783 million by 2045, that’s in less than 25 years![2]So, can it be prevented, and if so, how?

Our choices: are they as effective as medication in preventing diabetes?

It has been shown that lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, reasonable alcohol consumption, healthy eating, good stress management, and an active lifestyle can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 60%, or at least delay its onset, as well as the associated complications[3]. Even more interesting: the use of metformin, a drug frequently prescribed to prevent diabetes, would have similar effects to a balanced diet and an active lifestyle[4][5]! Thus, diabetes prevention becomes possible and accessible to all! 

What to eat to prevent diabetes?

Nutrition should be evaluated as a whole, not as a single food or meal. The notion of “a healthy food,” for example, which is widely used in mainstream conversation, implies that a single food can have a significant impact on health. In fact, a healthy diet should include a wide variety of foods of diverse nutritional value, served at an appropriate frequency and in the proper portion size based on their nutritional value[6].

So, it is not necessary and especially not relevant to cut out all sugars from your diet to avoid diabetes. However, following the New Canada Food Guide’s Nutritious Plate more regularly, drinking more water and less sugary beverages, integrating more vegetable-based proteins into one’s diet or cooking your own meals more often are all good examples of changes that are beneficial to the prevention of this chronic disease. Progressive changes will also be easier to maintain over time and less daunting and unmotivating.

Other factors to consider!

Did you know that if you suffer from high blood pressure, cholesterol, pre-diabetes and/or gestational diabetes, you are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes? Don’t hesitate to consult our team of nutritionists to better manage these existing health issues and delay or avoid the onset of this insidious disease!

Prevention is better than cure 😉

[1] http://guidelines.diabetes.ca/CDACPG/media/documents/French%202018%20CPG/03-Definition,-Classification-and-Diagnosis-FR.pdf, consultée le 2022-02-09

[2] Statistiques sur le diabète | Diabète Québec (diabete.qc.ca), consultée le 2022-02-17

[3] https://www.diabete.qc.ca/fr/comprendre-le-diabete/tout-sur-le-diabete/types-de-diabete/le-prediabete/, consultée le 2022-02-09

[4] La metformine pour prévenir le diabète et ses complications – Infos diabète (infos-diabete.com), consultée le 2022-02-17

[5] Metformine pour la prévention/le retardement du diabète de type 2 (DT2) et les complications qui y sont associées chez les personnes à risque accru de développer le DT2 | Cochrane, consulté le 2022-02-17

[6] Une vision élargie et inclusive – Vision de la saine alimentation – Professionnels de la santé – MSSS (gouv.qc.ca), consulté le 2022-02-17

Can you prevent diabetes with diet? is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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