Once you have diabetes, you become subject to a range of complications as you age with it, including blindness, chronic nerve pain, nerve damage, incontinence, impotence, memory loss and, of course, the biggie: heart disease. If you have diabetes, you’re more likely to have a heart attack than a lifelong smoker – even if you never took a puff yourself. Diabetes is also the strongest predictor of functional decline in older people, that is, handling the day-to-day task of life like walking, dressing, or housecleaning. You’re more likely to be depressed or to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. And it means you’re likely to be in the hospital and require other medical services at twice the rate of people your same age without diabetes.
The answer? Prevent Diabetes!
6 Ways to prevent Diabetes
The good news is that insulin resistance and, in some cases, type 2 diabetes can be reversed through generally healthy living. The following tips have been proven in studies to have particularly strong preventative powers.
Strengthen your muscles
Work out with hand weights, six days a week. It’s the best thing you can do to prevent diabetes! Every time you stress muscles cells with strength training, you increase their need for glucose, thus reducing insulin resistance. The more muscle you build, the more glucose they need. That means more insulin receptors on cells, and less glucose in your bloodstream.
Maintain your level of activity
If you’re using aerobic activities like walking, playing tennis, and bicycling to maintain healthy glucose levels, don’t let up. When you’re young, the boost in insulin sensitivity you get from one bout of aerobic exercise can last up to four days. But once you pass age 40, that boost has a shorter and shorter time span. That makes it crucial that you get some type of activity most every day.
A compound in black, green, and oolong tea called epigallocatechin gallate substantially increases the ability of cells to take in insulin. Just skip the milk; adding just a teaspoon of 2 percent milk reduced that benefit by a third. Also stay away from nondairy creamers and soy milk, which also significantly reduced the benefits.
Get your grains
Whole grains – whether wheat, quinoa, rice, rye, or oats – should be considered diabetes prevention in a plant. Because these grains haven’t been stripped of nutrients containing components and fiber, they pack a powerful nutritional punch. How powerful? A study of nearly 43,000 male health professionals found those who had the greatest amount of whole grains in their diets were 42 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who got the least amount of grains. Whole grains’ benefits likely come from their ability to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream, thus tempering that post-meal insulin spike. Studies find diets high in fiber naturally improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin secretion.
Load up on Magnesium
Found in high amounts in whole grains (yet another reason for that morning bowl of oatmeal), magnesium influences the release and activity of insulin, and plays a role in your body’s ability to use carbohydrates. When blood sugar levels are high, your body loses magnesium. Numerous studies, including two that followed more than 170,000 health professionals for up to 18 years, found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was much higher in men and women with low dietary levels of magnesium than in those with high levels. Other good sources include halibut, almonds, cashews, soybeans, and spinach. Just an ounce of almonds or cashews provides 20 percent of your recommended daily intake of magnesium.
When researchers evaluated the diets of 69,554 women ages 38 to 63 over 10 years, they found that every 3-ounce serving of red meat increases the risk of diabetes by 26 percent, with an increased risk of 73 percent for every serving of processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, lunchmeat, and so forth) Lean chicken had no such affect.
If you are already struggling with insulin resistance or diabetes, come back for my next blog post on strategies to stabilize your blood sugar.
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