How lifestyle impacts Type 2 Diabetes

We spoke to Dr Aarti Javeri about how lifestyle is a major contributor to type 2 diabetes in the UAE, and how this can be fixed.

The UAE consistently ranks among the top fifteen countries with the highest rates of diabetes worldwide and this figure is predicted to grow at an increasing pace. This concern is echoed globally, as the World Health Organisation reports that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen dramatically over the past three decades, in countries of all income levels.


Here in the Emirates, several factors contribute to our high rates of diabetes, including an ageing population, a reduced level of physical activity and increased processed food options. Many of these factors can be attributed to the rapid development and urbanisation of the country, but equally, this progress has also brought a plethora of resources to prevent and reduce diabetes. Grocery stores today are packed with nutritious choices, and lots of companies are implementing wellness programs, encouraging us to live a more active, lower stress lifestyle, which can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes.


Dr. Aarti Javeri, Internal Medicine Specialist and Board Certified Lifestyle Medicine Physician, emphasises the control we have over our own health, particularly in preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. She explains, “By using therapeutic lifestyle interventions, such as focusing on nutrition, movement, sleep, stress management and connection to name a few, you can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes by at least 58%. For people over the age of 60, this reduction in risk is even more impressive, standing at 71%. These statistics are encouraging, as they highlight the substantial impact of our lifestyle choices. Gone are the days where the solution is just to ‘lose weight’ or ‘exercise’. It’s important to remember that our genetics do not have to determine our outcomes. Changing lifestyle can ‘switch off’ those genes; an important concept called epigenetics.”

Where to begin

In order to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, Dr Aarti recommends the following:

Seek professional advice

Create a liaison between your doctor and a lifestyle medicine physician. Managing diabetes is so much more than just eating less carbs or moving often. It’s really important you address the pillars of lifestyle medicine and find a way of management that suits your lifestyle, your genetics and your metabolism.

Shift your mindset

Instead of focusing on ‘what you can’t do’ think about all the things you can do instead. You are able to enjoy nutritious foods, engage in fun physical activities and make lifestyle choices that enhance your wellbeing and help you feel good. So embrace these changes with positivity, and enjoy trying healthy recipes, regularly moving and don’t shy away from getting help if you need it.

Use reliable sources

Although hopping on the social media wagon is tempting, it could lead to really misleading information. Ensure your sources are reliable, well-backed and verified by your doctor. What works well for one, may not work well for the other, and the key to managing your long term health is to stick to the right principles in a way that is sustainable for you!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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