A few years ago, my sister discovered she had prediabetes after a routine blood test. For her, daily insulin injections and the health problems that come with diabetes were no mere abstraction. She had been giving our mother insulin shots and taking her to doctors’ appointments for years — and she did not want to travel the same path.
So she began a regimen to avoid getting type 2 diabetes. She lost weight (about 10 percent of her body weight), began daily walks and exercise, and started paying close attention to her diet and caloric intake. To help keep her blood glucose level within a normal range, she also monitors her blood sugar and takes metformin, which targets the body’s insulin resistance rather than increasing insulin production. So far, she has averted full-blown diabetes and its consequences.
My sister is one of 79 million Americans over the age of 20 who have been diagnosed as prediabetic. More sobering statistics, however, are these: 90 percent don’t know they’re at risk and 70 percent will go on to develop diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Even more significant is that type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 95 percent of diabetes cases, is highly preventable.
Insulin is the central, underlying problem in developing diabetes. A hormone produced by the pancreas, insulin moves glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into liver, muscle, and fat cells. Without insulin, blood glucose levels climb, leading to tissue damage and starving cells.
In type 1 diabetes the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin. In type 2 diabetes the pancreas makes plenty of insulin, but the liver, muscles, and fat cells become insulin-resistant — that is, they fail to respond to insulin. Consequences of chronically high blood sugar are accelerated aging of many tissues, arterial disease, heart disease and heart attack, stroke, eye disease, nerve damage, and poorly healing wounds.
A family history of diabetes makes it particularly important to avoid these risks. Following are some tips and a recipe from 500 Time-tested Home Remedies to help prevent the devastations of the disease:
- Try mindfulness meditation to reduce stress. The hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and glucagon rise during stress, thereby raising blood glucose and antagonizing insulin.
- Enjoy an occasional beer or glass of wine. (One drink a day for women, two for men.) Moderate alcohol intake correlates with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Get plenty of sleep. Poor-quality sleep and sleep deprivation increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.
- Exercise every day. Physical activity improves tissue sensitivity to insulin and weight management.
- Eat real food rather than processed food. Real food (fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, seeds, and nuts) will help you avoid refined carbohydrates, added sugars, and trans fats — all of which promote unhealthy weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes.
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Try This Roasted Veggie Explosion
Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which slows the absorption of dietary sugars, and many nutrients good for reducing diabetes risks. The World Health Organization recommends eating at least five portions a day to prevent diabetes.
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, quartered
2 carrots, diced
1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 bunch of asparagus, woody bottoms removed
2 beets, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup crushed fresh rosemary
Sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables in a bowl and toss to coat them. Spread the vegetables and garlic evenly across the baking sheet. Sprinkle with the rosemary and sea salt to taste (if using). Roast for 15 minutes and then flip the vegetables and roast for another 10 minutes. They should be browned but not overcooked.
The Remedy Chicks
This article originally appeared on EverydayHealth.com: 5 Natural Ways to Prevent Diabetes
By Barbara H. Seeber, Everyday Health columnist
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