Diabetes and the Influence of Nutrition and Lifestyle

November was World Diabetes month and the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of this condition. In the UK, a patient is diagnosed with diabetes every 2 minutes, and the total number of people diagnosed has more than doubled in the last 20 years¹. While these are startling facts, it is reassuring to know that Type 2 Diabetes is both preventable and reversible.

Research has shown that there are 1 million people diagnosed in the UK with Type 2 diabetes and yet  it is thought there are many yet to be diagnosed ¹, so it is important we all take the time to learn about diabetes and the measures we can each take to prevent it.

Below are 10 dietary and lifestyle tips to help reduce your type 2 diabetes risk.

1. Add variety

It is important to nourish your body with a variety of foods. A varied diet should include all your needed vitamins and minerals to maintain good health. One way to measure variety is to aim to include as many different colours as you can.  You could also aim to eat a new type of food each week.

2. Be aware of added sugars

Some food and drink can be high in added sugars, so be aware and always check the labels. Sugary drinks have been found to be an important contributing cause to the risk  of type 2 diabetes.  Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of plain water. You can flavour it with slices of natural fruit, veg or herbs , such as limes, lemons, oranges, cucumbers, mint and ginger.

3. Limit refined carbohydrates

A high intake of refined carbohydrates has been linked with an increased type 2 diabetes risk. Examples of refined carbohydrates include sugary breakfast cereals, white bread, rice, and pasta. Instead, try to opt for more complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, and beans. Even better, stay away from processed food and eat real food; fruit and vegetables.

4. Up the fibre

Being overweight is a type 2 diabetes risk factor, and a high -fibre diet has been linked with lower obesity risk. High-fibre dietary additions include fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses, and wholegrain foods. 

5. Get your 5 a day (and more)

A high fruit and vegetable (fresh or frozen) diet has been linked to a reduced type 2 diabetes risk.  Vegetables that grow above the ground e.g kale, spinach, courgettes, peas, broccoli, cabbages and cauliflower have a lower carbohydrate content than root vegetables. 

  • Aim to include at least 5 and, if you can, 10 portions of fruit and vegetables in your diet every day.

While whole fruits that contain lots of fibre help you feel full after eating just one or two portions, fruit juices and smoothies contain much less fibre. Diluting fruit juices with water can be a helpful way to reduce the sugar load.

6. Include healthy fats

Fats are an important part of the diet as they provide a great source of energy. But too much fat, especially saturated fat, can be damaging to your health. Try to limit saturated fats, such as those found in animal products, and include unsaturated fats, such as those found in nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon.

7. Reduce salt

A high salt intake can increase high blood pressure risk, which has been linked to an increased type 2 diabetes risk. Try to limit your intake to 6g per day (1tsp) by cooking from scratch so you can control the amount of salt you add.

8. Snack wisely

Snacks can be a helpful addition to your diet, but do be aware of mindlessly snacking when you aren’t physically hungry.  When choosing snacks, be careful of added sugars and salt. Focus on snacks that include protein like natural yogurt, vegetable sticks with hummous, sashimi, hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky or a handful of unsalted nuts.

9. Be mindful of alcohol intake

Consuming too much alcohol has been linked with an increased type 2 diabetes risk; alcohol contains sugar. If you drink alcohol, keep your intake well under the recommended 14 units a week and ideally spread consumption over  3 days, with at last 4 alcohol free days.

10. Get moving

The entire body benefits from regular exercise, largely due to improved cardiovascular and respiratory function. Regular exercise can also increase overall energy levels, and can exert a powerful positive effect on mood and the ability to handle stressful life situations. Physical inactivity is related to almost every type of chronic disease, including diabetes.

It is recommended to be active for 2hr 30 per week. Being active is different for everyone. Start slowly with an activity you enjoy and build it up weekly as you start to feel fitter. It could be a short walk every other day or swimming a couple of lengths at the local pool. Then try going a little faster or for a little longer at a level that feels right for you.

How we can help you

It is important we find what works for you. There are many diet and lifestyle plans available for weight loss and addressing diabetes. But a one-size-fits-all plan does not work for everyone.

We understand that every person is unique, and that your plan needs to be sustainable, practical, and realistic so as to find a way of eating that suits your lifestyle and dietary preferences.

Diabetes is a serious condition, and we suggest that you continue to work with your medical team alongside our experienced nutrition team.

If you would like more information on how we can help you, book a free discovery call with our friendly and experienced team today. We will listen to your story and explain how our services can best support you.

Let us help you feel better.


  1. Diabetes UK. (2019). Us, diabetes and a lot of facts and stats. Available at https://www.diabetes.org.uk/resources-s3/2019-02/1362B_Facts%20and%20stats%20Update%20Jan%202019_LOW%20RES_EXTERNAL.pdf