Drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking, combined with other lifestyle changes, can dramatically reduce the risk of developing diabetes, a new study suggests. Other healthy behaviors that reduce diabetes risk include exercising more, eating high-fiber, low-fat foods, and not becoming obese.
The study, conducted by researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, concluded a person can reduce their risk of developing diabetes by as much as 80 percent by making all of these lifestyle changes, Time reports. This is the first time a study has shown the effect of combining all of these healthy behaviors, the researchers note in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study included more than 207,000 men and women aged 50 to 71, who were healthy and did not have heart disease, cancer or diabetes at the start of the study. They were followed for almost a decade to see who developed diabetes.
Men who did not smoke had a 24 percent lower risk of diabetes than current smokers or those who had quit smoking less than 10 years ago. Women who drank one glass a day of alcohol or less were 37 percent less likely to develop diabetes than women who drank more.
Men who ate a high-fiber, low-saturated fat diet, exercised regularly, didn’t smoke, reduced their drinking to no more than two drinks a day and maintained a normal weight, had a 72 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than men who did not adhere to any of these healthy behaviors. For women, sticking to this healthy routine lowered their risk by 84 percent, compared with women who did not adhere to any of these lifestyle behaviors.