Statistics show that by 2050, 1 in 2 Singaporeans will be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Don’t be a part of this number!

In Singapore, where the common diet is often high in carbs, fat, salt, and sugar while being low in protein, the risk of diabetes is a significant concern especially among the overweight. 

The good news is that you can take action to protect your health and reduce your risk of diabetes.

Dr Ng Lee Beng, Senior Consultant with the Family Medicine and Continuing Care Department from Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group, shares easy and actionable ways to start managing your weight and preventing diabetes  tackling both at the same time!

3 easy ways to reduce weight and prevent diabetes

1. Half your carbs to protect your pancreas from overwork

Problem: High sugar spikes from excessive sugar and refined carbohydrates can overwork your pancreas as it struggles to produce insulin, leading to diabetes and other health issues. Excess sugar is stored as fat and can cause inflammation and organ damage.

Solution: Avoid refined carbs and excessive sugar consumption to keep your pancreas healthy and functioning optimally. Examples:

Choose to drink plain water or drinks labelled Nutrigrade A or, at most, B. 

Opt for whole grains instead of white rice and white bread.

If you must snack, take a handful of nuts or an apple instead of cookies, chips or ice cream.

Singaporean statistic: According to the Singapore Diabetes Prevention Program, over 400,000 Singaporeans have diabetes, and the numbers are rising. Protecting your pancreas is crucial.

2. Double your fibre and reset your diet for better health

Problem: The typical Singaporean diet is laden with carbohydrates, fats, salt, and sugar, making it a recipe for health problems, including diabetes.

Solution: To combat this, focus on consuming foods rich in fiber. Fiber helps in the slow release of sugar into your bloodstream and keeps you feeling full for longer, which, in turn, helps control your overall food intake. Examples: 

Opt for nutrient-dense foods like steel-cut oats (less processed than other types of oats) and brown rice, which are excellent sources of fiber. 

Aim to have a variety of vegetables to make up half your meal. You can also supplement your meal with one serving of fruit.

Easy way to remember: Follow the "My Healthy Plate" guideline, which emphasizes a balanced diet with an appropriate mix of food groups.

See below for suggestions on what to put on your plate.

Singaporean statistic: According to the Health Promotion Board, only 1 in 5 Singaporeans consumes enough dietary fiber. This deficiency increases the risk of diabetes.

3. Get at least three days of exercise into your routine

Problem: A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance, increasing the risk of diabetes.

Solution: Make a commitment to move regularly. Start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your physical activity. Examples:

Begin with activities like brisk walking, stair-climbing, swimming, cycling, or even seated exercises if needed. Here is a suggested exercise program:

  • In the first month, aim to have a frequency of 3 days a week, 30 minutes each.

  • In the second month, aim to have a frequency of 5 days a week, 30 minutes each.

  • In the third month, continue with the frequency of 5 times per week. However increase your timing by 5 minutes every week.

  • By the middle of the fourth month, you should be able to reach the ultimate goal: 1 hour of exercise per session, five days a week.

  • Fifth month and beyond, keep it up!

Singaporean Statistic: The Health Promotion Board reports that physical inactivity is a significant concern in Singapore, with over 40% of adults not meeting recommended exercise levels.

An easy way to remember how to reduce weight and prevent diabetes is:

The "½ – 2 – 3" formula

  • ½ rice: Opt for brown rice to reduce high-glycemic carbohydrates

  • 2x amount of vegetables: Incorporate more vegetables into your meals for added fiber and nutrients

  • 3x exercise per week (at least): Gradually increase your exercise routine to meet the recommended levels

In conclusion, taking proactive steps to prevent diabetes is vital for your overall well-being. By resetting your diet, protecting your pancreas, and incorporating regular physical activity, you can significantly reduce your risk of diabetes and enjoy a healthier life. Don't wait – start making these changes today for a brighter and healthier future.

Want maximum benefit? Do 1 more!

Bonus tip: Do intermittent fasting

In addition to the three essential steps to prevent diabetes, you can supercharge your efforts by embracing intermittent fasting. This approach involves eating within an eight-hour window and abstaining from food for the remaining sixteen hours. Here's why this strategy can be a game-changer for your health:

Why intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting allows your pancreas to rest, which can be especially beneficial in preventing diabetes. During the fasting period, your body switches to using your body fat as its primary energy source, giving your pancreas a break from constantly producing insulin.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

  1. Lowered blood sugar: Intermittent fasting helps regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of diabetes.

  2. Trimmed waistline and weight loss: Many people experience weight loss and a reduction in their waistline as their belly fat store is being used. Thus this approach can help prevent and manage obesity, a significant risk factor for diabetes.

  3. Enhanced cognitive function: By avoiding the carb-induced energy crashes associated with eating patterns that cause sugar swings, intermittent fasting can keep your brain sharper and more focused throughout the day.

  4. Time efficiency: Skipping a meal during this time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting schedule can free up time normally taken for meal preparation and/or eating, which you can use for other productive activities, such as exercise, work, or personal development.

Singaporean Statistic: In Singapore, obesity rates are rising, with 1 in 9 Singaporeans being overweight. Intermittent fasting can be a powerful tool to combat this trend and reduce the risk of diabetes in the population.

By incorporating intermittent fasting alongside the "½ – 2 – 3" formula and the other preventative measures discussed, you can further fortify your defenses against diabetes.

Remember, prevention is the key, and taking these proactive steps will not only protect you from diabetes but also enhance your overall health and well-being. So don't wait! Start your journey to a healthier, diabetes-free life today  it's not as difficult as you think!

Ref: I23

Other articles you may be interested in:

Prediabetes: Why Are Asians More Prone and How to Reverse It

Reverse prediabetes with exercise – here's how to do it safely if you never or hardly exercise.

Reverse prediabetes with exercise – here's how to do it safely if you exercise occasionally.