It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why so many people are developing diabetes. Genes do play a role, but the less exercise you get and the more weigh, the greater your risk. If you aren’t part of the “diabetes epidemic” yet, congratulations. But there’s an epidemic of prediabetes – elevated blood sugar that’s not yet high enough to trigger alarms – that you should worry about now. Genetics definitely play a role, but it usually takes extra pounds and a sedentary lifestyle to develop type 3 diabetes. Excess body fat (especially visceral fat deep in the belly) and inactivity conspire to make cells stop obeying signals from insulin to absorb blood sugar. Your body compensates by pumping out more insulin, but if you can’t keep pace, you’ve got high blood sugar. Doctors don’t look for prediabetes often enough (a fasting blood test can give a pretty good indication I you have it), but now’s the time to prevent it from turning into diabetes.
Drop Just A Few Pounds
Excess weight is the number one reason adults and kids are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes now than ever before. Gaining weight can pack excess fat around internal organs at your midsection – especially if you’re stressed on a regular basis (stress hormones can send extra fat to the belly). New research shows that this dangerous abdominal fat sends out chemical that signals that desensitize cells throughout your body to insulin, the hormones that persuades cells to absorb blood sugar. Insulin resistance is the first step on
the path to type 2 diabetes.
The good news, in a landmark clinical trial that followed 3,234 people with prediabetes for three years, those who lost just 7 percent of their body weight (10.5 pounds if you now weigh 170) lowered their diabetes risk by 58 percent. In fact, weight loss worked better than insulin-sensitizing diabetes drugs at cutting the odds of diabetes! A brisk cardio workout three to five times a week can melt belly fat better than dieting, say Syracuse University researchers. Brisk walking for 30 minutes daily also works.
Aim For Five To Nine Servings Of Fruit And Vegetables Every Day, Plus Three Servings Of Whole Grains
Following a low-glycemic diet packed with produce and whole grain – and cutting back on white bread, white rice, foods like pancakes and bagels made with white flour, and sweets – helps keep blood sugar low and steady. Research shows it also cools chronic low-grade inflammation in the body, which interferes with the action of insulin and the absorption of blood sugar by cells.
In a recent study of 486 women, Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that those who ate the most fruit were 34 percent less likely to have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors, including insulin resistance, that predispose a person to diabetes. Women who ate the most vegetables cut their risk of metabolic syndrome by 30 percent. Meanwhile German researchers who followed 25, 067 women and men for seven years recently found that those who got most fiber from whole grains were 27 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who got the least.
Give Up “liquid Candy”
Start quenching your thirst with water, club soda (with a spritz of lemon or lime), unsweetened tea, or fat-free milk instead of soda, fruit punch, or sweetened iced tea drinks.
A single daily serving of soda raised the risk of metabolic syndrome (described above) by a staggering 44 percent in a headline-grabbing study from Boston University School of Medicine. The reason? Experts have many theories. It could simply by all those extra calories in soda and other surgery drinks or in the high-fat, high-calorie foods we tend to pair them with (think French fries and pizza). Experts are also finding that drinking even a single soda a day is associated with being overweight – perhaps because the calories in the beverages don’t register in our brains, so we don’t compensate for them by eating less food.
Yet another possible culprit: high-fructose corn syrup. It’s essentially table sugar in liquid form, expect that for technical chemistry reasons, some experts believe it’s more likely to lead to insulin resistance.
For a healthier thirst quencher, drop several teabags (black, green, or herbal) into a plastic pitcher filled with water and refrigerator overnight, then enjoy. And don’t discount a glass of fat-free milk. The calcium, vitamin D, and others mineral in dairy foods may be the reason that getting at lest one serving of low-fat or fat-free milk (or yogurt or cheese) a day lowered metabolic syndrome risk by up 62 percent in a British study.
Turn Of The Tv And Go For A Walk
Exercise helps protect against diabetes by transporting blood sugar into fuel-hungry muscle cells and making cells more sensitive to insulin. A Harvard study of 40,000 women found that 30 minutes a day brisk walking plan a TV limit of 10 hours per week, cut diabetes risk by 43 percent. Bored by walking? Spend Friday night at the local YMCA recreational swim, take up bowling, gather the kids or grandkids for a nature hike, or just put on some music and dance.
Eat Less Fast Food
Does drive-through dining leads to diabetes? Consider this: When University of Minnesota researchers tracked the eating habits and health of 9,514 people ages 45 to 64 for up to 10 years, they discovered that those who ate two servings of red meat (like hamburger patties) a week were 26 percent more likely to wind up with metabolic syndrome. A daily helping of French fries or other fried foods raised it another 10 to 25 percent. These foods are high in saturated and trans fats, which have been linked to diabetes.
Trade Burgers And Butter For Fish And Olive Oil
Each bite of that burger and each smear of that butter is full of saturated fat. This stuff not only clogs arteries, it also increase insulin resistance, which jet-peoples you down the path to genuine diabetes. These fats also trigger inflammation, which is toxic to cells, including those that handle blood sugar. Fish and olive oil have the exact opposite effects and could actually lower your diabetes risk. The same goes for nuts (even peanuts) and canola oil.
Of course, you don’t want to overdo even these good fats, which are high in calories. Cutting total fat intake as well as saturated fat helped participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program study slash their diabetes risk. Participants limited saturated fat to 7 percent of total calories a day, about the amount in two ounces of cheese plus one part of butter if you eat 2,000 calories a day.
In one study, people who ate breakfast were 35 to 50 percent likely to be overweight or have insulin resistance than breakfast skippers. What’s going on? An overnight fast puts your body into “starvation mode.” If you don’t eat breakfast, your liver churns out stored to keep your blood sugar levels up. At the same time, skipping breakfast flips biochemical switches that reduce the body’s response to insulin. And it raises levels of an appetite-stimulating hormone called ghrelin so you want to eat more all day long. Do this often enough, and you gain weight, say scientists from Children’s Hospital Boston.
What’s for breakfast? Certainly not a bagel (too much carbs) or store-bought muffin (too many calories and hydrogenated oils). Instead pour yourself a bowl of high-fiber cereal with fat-free milk and throw some berries on top for good measure. One University of Toronto study of people with prediabetes found that high-fiber cereals made their cells “listen” better to insulin than lower-fiber fare. Yogurt with fresh berries is also a good choice.
If You’re Depressed, Get Help
If you’re depressed, you are much less likely to exercise and eat well. But the health dangers don’t end there. Stanford University scientists think that depression itself alters body chemistry n profound ways that spell trouble for anyone at risk for diabetes. Rates of insulin resistance were 23 percent higher among depressed women than among women who weren’t depressed, regardless of body weight, exercise habits, or age.
Get Better Sleep
A chronic lack of sleep leads to weight gain and reduces your body’ sensitivity to insulin. In one Yale school of Medicine study of 1,709 men, those who averaged five to six hours of slumber per night doubled their risk of diabetes. Studies of women have found similar results.
Get Out The Tape Measure
Women whose waists measure 35 inches or more and men whose midsection measure 40 inches or more are more likely to have fat deep in their abdomens, which can triple the risk of diabetes while you’re probably overweight if your waist is big, researchers report that they’re seeing more people at a normal weight who also have big waists, so don’t think it’s enough to simply watch the numbers on the scale.
Think diet soda is safe? Think again. Sipping just one can of diet soda per day raised the risk of metabolic syndrome by 34 percent in one recent study and 48 percent in another. Experts aren’t sure why.