Diabetes Prevention

If one or more people in your family have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may be concerned about developing the disease yourself and are likely interested in taking measures to reduce your risk. Although there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes, there are several proven steps you can take to reduce your risk of type 2 disease.

Type 1 Diabetes Prevention

The fact that researchers have not found a way to prevent type 1 diabetes is not for lack of trying. They've tested everything from low-dose insulin injections and drugs that suppress the immune system to vitamin supplements and lifestyle measures. In general, these approaches have not been found helpful, but a few lifestyle measures have shown a glimmer of promise.

For example, studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be a risk factor for type 1 diabetes. If you have a family history of type 1 and you don't get enough vitamin D in your diet, you may want to take vitamin D supplements. Sensible sun exposure (five to 10 minutes of exposure on the arms and legs, or the hands, arms, and face, two to three times per week) is also recommended as a safe way to increase vitamin D levels without increasing your risk of skin cancer.

Eating less and exercising more can help keep weight under control and thus prevent type 2 diabetes. This same lifestyle approach may help delay the onset of type 1 diabetes. Research shows that type 1 diabetes occurs an average of one to two years earlier in overweight children than normal-weight children, suggesting that the insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes may also accelerate the onset of type 1 disease.

Researchers are also working on ways to halt the loss of insulin-producing beta cells after the onset of type 1 diabetes. One approach under investigation is "blocking antibodies," which are being given intravenously in the hopes of heading off the autoimmune response to save any remaining beta cells.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Written by: Christopher D. Saudek, M.D.; Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D.

Published: 20 Apr 2009

Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015