Preventing Diabetes with Nutrition
WORDS BY BENTZ P. TOZER, JR., B.S., CPT
According to The American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. If you have type-2 diabetes, your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time, it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels. Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, with over 24 million Americans currently affected. It is the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure in adults and is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S., directly responsible for about 70,000 deaths a year and contributing to many more.
Preventing diabetes should be a priority, particularly if you are at an increased risk, such as having a family history or if you are overweight. According the ADA, losing seven to 10 percent of your current weight can reduce your risk of developing diabetes in half. Therefore, losing weight and maintaining that weight loss is a good place to start in preventing this disease. The good news is that there are some basic, simple tips to get you started.
Focus On Fiber
A diet high in vegetables and whole grains can help stabilize the blood sugar and can also control your appetite. The fiber content in these foods can help you feel fuller longer. Vegetables, beans and nuts are good examples of high-fiber foods. You can also include whole-grain breads or pasta in your diet, but read the ingredients carefully to be sure you are getting a true whole-grain product. Avoid refined carbs, like white breads and white rice as these foods cause a quick spike in your blood sugar.
Think About Your Drink
Sodas and fruit juices have a high sugar content and cause your blood sugar to increase quickly. They are also high in calories and have no nutritional value. You should limit the amount of these types of drinks you have each day or eliminate them altogether. Instead, drink plain water or water with a slice of lemon or lime. Herbal teas, black coffee and skim milk are also good beverage choices.
Pick Quality Proteins
Healthful protein sources include chicken, turkey and fish. Limit the amount of red meat you eat, although lean cuts of beef or lean hamburger are fine to have occasionally. Avoid processed meats like lunch meat or hot dogs as much as possible. Beans and nuts can also count as a protein source.
Large portions of food have a lot of unnecessary calories that can cause weight gain. Be mindful of your portion sizes. Take the time to learn the correct portion size for each food you eat. Practice eating slowly so you will recognize when your hunger is satisfied. Some other good ideas are to avoid taking second helpings, leave a few bites on your plate or split a meal with a friend when eating out. These tips will help you eat less, which makes it easier to lose weight or maintain your weight loss.
Focusing on getting good nutrition goes a long way toward preventing diabetes. Making a few changes to your diet can help you avoid the serious health problems that come with developing diabetes.
Be Well Tips
- Consult a physician before making dietary changes.
- Eat a diet high in fiber.
- Limit sugary, high-calorie beverages.
- Choose quality proteins.
- Learn proper portion sizes.