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November is National Diabetes Month. The purpose is to bring awareness and attention to diabetes, including ways to prevent it. For the millions who are at risk, this month is a time to learn and find resources.
Currently, 30 million adults age 18 and older live with diabetes. And 84 million are at risk for developing the disease. Additionally, those who are prediabetic are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
I’m happy to contribute by presenting ways to prevent diabetes naturally.
Preventing Diabetes Naturally
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes that promote weight loss and increase exercise and healthy eating. And this shift is extremely important. Uncontrolled diabetes may cause blindness, kidney failure and other serious complications that can require limb amputation.
These action steps help prevent diabetes.
Cut Sugar from the Diet
Let’s start with the one people consider the toughest. And I know it’s not easy, however there’s a reason for that. Sugar is addictive and it has a toxic effect on the body.
Eating sugary foods puts us at risk for developing diabetes. When we eat sugar the body breaks it down into smaller molecules that enter the blood stream, resulting in a rise in blood sugar. That rise stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin to help get the sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells.
For those with prediabetes, the cells resist insulin so the sugar remains at a high level in the bloodstream. As a result, the pancreas creates more insulin to attempt to bring sugar levels down. Eventually those high sugar and insulin levels cause type 2 diabetes.
What’s the solution? Avoid foods with refined sugar and carbs. Refined carbs include sugars and grains stripped of fiber and nutrients such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, white flour, sweet desserts and many breakfast cereals.
Drink More Water
Water is the best drink for the body. We need water, for the body to function properly. And drinking water as the primary beverage helps us avoid sugary soft drinks.
Soft drinks greatly increase the risk of both type 2 diabetes and a form of type 1 diabetes called latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA). The startling facts are, those who consume more than two soft drinks a day have a 99% increased risk of developing LADA and a 20% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
Studies show that artificially sweetened soft drinks do not prevent diabetes so those are not a good alternative.
Drinking more water leads to better blood sugar levels and insulin response. And those who replace sodas with water while eating healthier decrease insulin resistance.
Although not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight, most are. And those with prediabetes tend to carry excess weight in the belly area and around organs such as the liver.
This visceral fat causes inflammation and insulin resistance which greatly increases the risk of diabetes.
Losing weight and keeping it off decreases sugar and insulin levels.
Reducing sugar intake is a great start. While eating more fruits and vegetables helps the body shed excess weight. Strive for filling half your plate with fruits and veggies. And eating smaller portions is helpful too. Eating too much at meals causes blood sugar and insulin levels to spike.
Eat a High Fiber Diet
Another way to manage weight and help prevent diabetes is to include more fiber in the diet. Fiber can be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the digestive track, forming a gel. This gel slows down the absorption rate of food leading to a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
Including high fiber foods throughout the day helps to reduce the risk of diabetes. Good high fiber foods to add: pears, berries, avocados, apples, bananas, carrots, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, dark leafy greens, lentils, tomatoes, legumes, quinoa, oats, nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes and surprisingly, dark chocolate (choose chocolate with a 70% or higher level of cocoa).
Most plant based foods contain fiber, so increasing fruits and vegetables is a great choice.
This important vitamin helps control blood sugar levels. Most people have a vitamin D deficiency. And not getting enough raises the risk for all types of diabetes.
Studies show that when we take vitamin D supplements, or get at least 10 minutes of sunlight a day, insulin production improves, blood sugar levels stabilize and the risk of developing diabetes reduces dramatically.
If you aren’t able to get sunlight every day, supplementing with 2,000 – 4,000 IU of vitamin D helps prevent a deficiency. Read about the other benefits of vitamin D HERE.
Bonus supplement: turmeric is helpful due to its main ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation markers and decrease insulin resistance.
Drink Tea and Coffee
While water is important as the primary beverage, drinking tea and coffee reduces the risk for diabetes as well. Just don’t add sugar to them! Tea and coffee are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols that help protect against diabetes.
Green tea is especially beneficial. It contains a unique antioxidant that reduces blood sugar release from the liver and lowers insulin sensitivity.
Try this Turmeric Green Tea recipe for a powerful way to get those antioxidants.
There is a strong link between the sedentary lifestyle and an increased risk of diabetes. If you sit most of the day and get little or no physical exercise then you have a 91% increased risk of developing diabetes.
Begin the shift to a more active lifestyle by standing frequently if you sit most of the day. Take a break every hour and walk around for five minutes. Stretch. Then move into more physical activities.
Try aerobic exercise, walking, strength training, swimming, dancing, high intensity interval training or biking. Find something you enjoy to increase the likelihood that you’ll stick with it.
Physical activity reduces insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar levels. It helps with weigh loss and management. Strive for 30 minutes of exercise a day.
The Choice is Ours
Rather than waiting for illness to strike, we can make choices now that help prevent diseases such as diabetes and enjoy greater health and vitality.
These steps not only help to prevent diabetes naturally, they ensure better health and wellness overall.
Which steps will you adopt today for a healthier tomorrow?
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.