Type 2 diabetes in both adults and children is on the rise. And no wonder when the average American consumes more than 3 pounds of sugar weekly. Like heart disease, in majority of cases Diabetes is preventable and even reversible with healthy lifestyle shifts. We aren’t saying you need to overhaul your entire life, but making small changes over time will have a significant impact on your health.
We have much more control over our health than we think. The biggest factor for diabetes is being overweight, so the number one thing you can do to prevent diabetes is maintain a healthy weight. Your risk is higher if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen. Losing just 5-10 percent of your total weight can help you lower your blood sugar considerably, as well as lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The glycemic index (GI) tells you how quickly food turns into sugar in your system. High GI foods tend to spike your blood sugar levels and include white rice, white pasta, white bread, potatoes, sweets, chips, and most processed foods. These types of foods should be limited in your diet. Low GI foods include nuts, seeds, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, beans, brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice pasta. You should be eating a lot of non-starchy vegetables, beans and fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, and berries. Even tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, and papayas.
Should you be craving something sweet you should limit your bread, rice or pasta intake during your main meal. Eating sweets adds extra carbohydrates; it is best to cut back on other carbohydrates where possible. Make your indulgence count by eating slowly and paying attention to the flavors and textures. Think about cutting down on sweets by reducing soda and juice drinks, reducing the amount of sugar in recipes by ¼, and instead of ice cream, blend up frozen bananas, or a small piece of dark chocolate. Think about replacing your daily desert with fruit.
Alcohol can also play a part in the effects of diabetes. If you’re diabetic, always monitor your blood glucose, as alcohol can interfere with diabetes medication and insulin. Beer and wine contain calories and carbs, while cocktails are loaded with sugar. Men and women should drink in moderation, with women one drink per day and men two drinks per day.
Also making sure you are choosing wisely when it comes to fats is important as well. Some fats are unhealthy, while other fats have high health benefits. The two most damaging fats are saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products such as red meat, whole-milk dairy products and eggs. Trans fats are fats that are less likely to spoil. The best fats are unsaturated fats, which come from plant and fish sources. Good sources include olive oil, nuts, avocados, salmon, tuna, and flaxseeds, which fight inflammation and support brain and heart health.
Regular exercise is vital in maintaining any sort of healthy lifestyle. We have become very sedentary in our daily routines and need to move more. Exercise doesn’t need to be grueling, but integrating 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a minimum of five times a week is a great way to help your body. Things like walking, biking and swimming are great.
Some Myths vs. Facts about Type 2 Diabetes
MYTH: You must avoid sugar.
FACT: You can enjoy treats as long as you have a healthy eating plan with daily exercise.
MYTH: High-protein diet is best.
FACT: Eating too much protein may actually cause insulin resistance. A healthy diet includes protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
MYTH: You have to cut way down on carbs.
FACT: Whole grain carbs are a good source of fiber and they are digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels more even. It’s best to limit highly refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, and snack foods. Focus instead on high-fiber complex carbohydrates because they help keep blood sugar levels even, as they are digested more slowly, thus preventing your body from producing too much insulin. They also provide lasting energy and help you stay full longer.