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Surprising Habits That Can Lead to Diabetes, Says Science

You can help protect yourself from the chronic disease by changing your behavior now.

Over 122 million Americans are living with diabetes, a chronic disease that impacts the way in which your body turns food into energy, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While there are three main types of diabetes—type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes —type 2 is by far the most common as well as the most preventable. "If you recognize any of the symptoms, seek help, as identifying diabetes early can be key to preventing it from getting worse," says Dr. Deena Adimoolam, a Yale-trained endocrinologist who specializes in diabetes, food as medicine and metabolic health. Knowing the most common habits that contribute to it, may help prevent it from happening to you. Here are five surprising habits that can lead to diabetes—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Having High Blood Pressure

Doctor Checking High Blood Pressure In Face Mask

High blood pressure is a risk factor for diabetes. The American Diabetes Association reveals that while almost one and three American adults have high blood pressure, two out of three with diabetes suffer from it. "When your blood pressure is high, your heart has to work harder and your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other problems goes up," they explain. 


Maintaining a High BMI

Doctor measuring obese man waist body fat.

Per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, obesity plays a major role in the development of diabetes. "You may be able to prevent or delay diabetes by losing 5 to 10% of your current weight," they maintain. "And once you lose the weight, it is important that you don't gain it back."

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Eating Poorly

fast food

Diet plays a big role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The NIDDK explains that reducing caloric intake is crucial to losing weight and keeping it off. "Your diet should include smaller portions and less fat and sugar. You should also eat a variety of foods from each food group, including plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It's also a good idea to limit red meat, and avoid processed meats," they suggest. 

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Not Exercising

Woman sitting on bed looking at phone bored and in a bad mood

Exercise is also important when it comes to your health, including helping you to lose weight and lower your blood sugar levels. "These both lower your risk of type 2 diabetes," the NIDDK says. They suggest getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. "Some amount of physical activity everyday may help lower one's blood sugars and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes," says Dr. Adimoolam. "Daily activity may even help with weight loss and improving your heart's health." 

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Mature woman with sore throat, standing in living room at home.

Putting down the pack may help you keep diabetes at bay. "Smoking can contribute to insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. If you already smoke, try to quit," the NIDDK suggests. 

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If You Notice These Symptoms, Seek Help

Healthcare worker at home visit

If you find yourself with the following symptoms, according to the CDC, call a medical professional:

  • Urinate (pee) a lot, often at night
  • Are very thirsty
  • Lose weight without trying
  • Are very hungry
  • Have blurry vision
  • Have numb or tingling hands or feet
  • Feel very tired
  • Have very dry skin
  • Have sores that heal slowly
  • Have more infections than usual

And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah