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Your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist has a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of health topics. If you have a question about your health or medication, chances are, your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist knows the answer.

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I've watched my dad struggle with diabetes for years and I am worried that this could happen to me. Any advice?

Answer from Express Scripts Canada Pharmacist, Erika Hatherly:

Watching a family member deal with a chronic disease like diabetes can be an unsettling experience. Not only are you worried for your loved one’s wellbeing, but you are also left to wonder if the same thing is destined to happen to you.

While you may not have control over risk factors like genetics and age, the good news is that you do have control over two things that can help delay or potentially prevent diabetes: Healthy eating and regular exercise. In fact, you may be able to lower your risk by as much as 58 percent.

So what exactly can you do? First, let’s look at your diet:

  • Try to cut out sweets like candy, cookies, ice cream, sweet chocolate, sugary breakfast cereals and pop, and other highly processed foods like bacon, sausage, processed cheese and French fries.
  • Refined grains like white bread, white rice and chips don’t taste sweet, but they do increase your blood sugar levels. Try to replace these with whole grains.
  • Although it may come from a natural source, try to avoid fruit juice too. It has all the sugar and all the calories of fruit, with none of the fibre.
  • It’s not all about cutting out food. Try to add lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and plant-based proteins like beans and nuts.
  • If you eat meat, try to choose leaner meats like chicken or switch to eating more fish.
  • When you’re thirsty, drink water. Unsweetened coffee and tea are a better option than sweetened drinks, but try to stick to decaf.

The next thing to do is try to establish a regular workout schedule that is enjoyable enough for you to keep up over time. At least 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise is recommended. Choose something you enjoy, but it should make you sweat a bit.  

People with pre-diabetes tend to carry fat around organs like the liver, and this can be compounded by a sedentary lifestyle. So if your job entails sitting for most of the day, try to stand up and walk around for a few minutes every hour.

Making positive changes to your diet and increasing your physical activity should help you lose weight, which happens to be another great way to reduce your risk of diabetes.

Be sure to consult your pharmacist if you have any questions. There are very effective medications available today to treat diabetes, but by far the best way to deal with diabetes is to try to prevent it altogether.

Until next time, I’m Erika Hatherly, and this has been another episode of Ask the Pharmacist. I wish you good health.


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