Author: Sherry L. Granader, Sports Nutritionist
Many Americans have no idea they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes from poor diet, lack of exercise and just getting older. By the year 2034, over 44 million will be affected by this disease. Making some daily changes can make a huge difference in avoiding this dreadful disease.
One of the main reasons for the increase in type 2 diabetes is the continued rise in obesity rates and lack of physical activity. Lifestyle changes go a long way in preventing diabetes and that is good news for the millions of people in the U.S. who are considered pre-diabetic. Pre-diabetes means blood sugar levels are higher than normal, which can lead to the disease. Diet and exercise habits can reduce the risk significantly.
The first step in understanding what diabetes is all about starts with knowing that the body does not produce enough insulin, or your cells simply ignore it. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar. We must have insulin to change the food we eat into energy. Without it, sugar stays in the bloodstream and causes diabetes. Other problems and complications can occur including:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Many types of cancer
- Kidney failure
- Amputation of limbs
Here are some strategies for preventing diabetes:
Get physical – exercise lowers blood sugar and increases sensitivity to insulin. Make a point of going for a walk, preferably for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Weight-bearing exercise supports lean muscle tissue that absorbs blood sugar and helps remove it from the blood stream.
Stay away from high glycemic processed foods – frankly most foods in the center aisles of the grocery store can cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. Refined carbohydrates increase the risk for developing diabetes. Choose whole grain foods and fruits and vegetables that are full of fiber and can slow down the carbohydrate absorption.
Skip the soft drinks – they are full of sugar, lack nutrients and are full of phosphorous that blocks the absorption of calcium, to name a few reasons.
Sprinkle cinnamon everywhere – studies continue to show that 1 gram of cinnamon reduces blood sugar levels. Add it to your morning oatmeal, smoothie or cup of coffee.
A spoonful of vinegar – lowers blood sugar levels and is easy to enjoy every day in a salad. Make your own dressing with apple cider vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
De-stress the body – prayer, meditation, yoga or Pilates are great ways to de-stress the body. Stress raises blood sugar so managing emotions can control blood sugar levels.
Get enough sleep – a lack of sleep can increase hunger that leads to weight gain, raising your risk for diabetes. Aim for at least 8-9 hours per night.
Get some sun – Vitamin D plays an important role in insulin sensitivity and secretion. If winter is dragging on too long, take a Vitamin D3 supplement most similar to the kind we produce when exposed to the sun.
Lifestyle changes can go a long way in preventing diabetes and are totally worth the effort. Take it one step at a time. If exercise has eluded you in the past, schedule a time to go for a walk. Take baby steps to optimum health and vitality.