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#1. LEGUMES—Diets rich in legumes—soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, pinto beans—are good for your blood sugar levels both short-term and long-term. The secret? "Resistant starches," which resist digestion in the small intestine and go straight to the colon, feeding the bacteria in your gut and in the process improve your body's response to insulin. (These resistant starches are also in green bananas, uncooked oats, and potatoes that have been cooked and cooled. Rejoice, potato salad lovers who can control their portions.)
In general, prediabetes is not associated with any specific symptoms. However, there may be indicators of problems in blood sugar metabolism that can be seen years before the development of overt diabetes. Health-care professionals in the field of endocrinology are now routinely looking at these indicators in patients who are high risk for developing diabetes.
This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.
 Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. Long-term effects of lifestyle intervention or metformin on diabetes development and microvascular complications over 15-year follow-up: the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. 2015;3(11):866‒875. You can find more information about this study at the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study website.
In addition, many sugar-containing foods also contain a lot of fat. Foods such as cookies, pastries, ice cream and cakes should be avoided largely because of the fat content and because they don't contribute much nutritional value. If you do want a "sweet," make a low-fat choice, such as low-fat frozen yogurt, gingersnaps, fig bars, or graham crackers and substitute it for other carbohydrates on your meal plan.
Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first. But their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn't known, nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, make variety and portion control part of your healthy-eating plan.
According to the study conducted by Bani25 in Saudi Arabia, majority of the patients 97.3% males and 93.1% females were unaware about the importance of monitoring diabetes, with no significant gender difference. Diabetes knowledge, attitude, and practice were also studied in Qatari type 2 diabetics. The patients’ knowledge regarding diabetes was very poor, and their knowledge regarding the effect of diabetes on feet was also not appreciable.26 Results from a study conducted in Najran, Saudi Arabia27 reported that almost half of the patients did not have adequate knowledge regarding diabetes disease. Males in this study had more knowledge regarding diabetes than female patients. Diabetes knowledge among self-reported diabetic female teachers was studied in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia.28 The study concluded that diabetes knowledge among diabetic female teachers was very poor. It was further suggested that awareness and education about diabetes should be urgently given to sample patients. The knowledge of diabetes provides the information about eating attitude, workout, weight monitoring, blood glucose levels, and use of medication, eye care, foot care, and control of diabetes complications.29
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition in which a person's blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Over 29.1 million children and adults in the US have diabetes. Of that, 8.1 million people have diabetes and don't even know it. Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent, juvenile) is caused by a problem with insulin production by the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent) is caused by:
Eat smaller portions of foods and remember that your lunch and dinner plate should be 1/4 protein, 1/4 starch (including potatoes), and 1/2 vegetables. Eat 3 balanced meals per day (no more than 6 hours apart), and don't skip meals; snack with fruit between meals. Choose foods lower in fat and sugar; choose low GI index foods whenever possible; avoid “white” foods (white flour and white sugar).
A major reason why many people who attempt to control type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise turn back to medications is that lifestyle adjustments are hard to maintain over the long term. Jitahadi became a licensed Zumba instructor with this in mind. "I said, 'I know me and I don't want to let life get in my way of taking care of myself because I've done that before,' " she says. She's a Zumba instructor at her local YMCA. For the past year, she's also been a diabetes prevention lifestyle coach there, helping others reduce their risk for the disease.
According to American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations, it may be appropriate for people with type 2 diabetes whose A1Cs are close to target to manage diabetes with lifestyle changes alone for three to six months—provided their doctor deems them "highly motivated." If that doesn't work, metformin is typically the first in a long list of type 2 blood glucose–lowering medications to add to the diet and exercise plan.
Meanwhile, processed or packaged foods should be avoided or limited in your diabetes diet because, in addition to added sugars and processed carbohydrates, these foods are often high in sodium and therefore may increase your blood pressure and, in turn, the risk of heart disease or stroke — two common complications of diabetes. It’s important to keep your blood pressure in check when managing diabetes.
When his doctor and dietitian urged him to make changes to improve his diabetes control, Phelps, then 57, took the challenge seriously. He weighed everything he ate to gauge portion size. And he went slow, knowing that abrupt changes to his diet had never worked in the past. Instead of giving up desserts, he focused on smaller quantities and better-quality foods.
The types of fats in your diet can also affect the development of diabetes. Good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help ward off type 2 diabetes. (39) Trans fats do just the opposite. (8, 40) These bad fats are found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any product that lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. Eating polyunsaturated fats from fish—also known as “long chain omega 3” or “marine omega 3” fats—does not protect against diabetes, even though there is much evidence that these marine omega 3 fats help prevent heart disease. (41) If you already have diabetes, eating fish can help protect you against a heart attack or dying from heart disease. (42)
Treat yourself as you would a good friend who is struggling with a lifestyle change. You would be supportive and encouraging – a slip is not the end of it all. Sometimes it’s OK to indulge in a treat, but don’t feel guilty – enjoy it to the fullest – then get back on track. It’s OK to sit and read a book one day – just try to not make it the normal thing to do. I realized this morning when I had breakfast with a friend who is struggling with weight loss and I saw that the biggest difference was our attitude. She was moaning about how hard it was to lose and what she couldn’t eat and how much she had to work out, instead of looking at the fact that she has lost 20 pounds! That said, it’s not always easy to be positive, but all I really need to do is look back 4 months and I know I am making a difference.”
Sugars and starches that you get from your diet enter your bloodstream as a type of sugar called glucose. In prediabetes, your body has trouble managing the glucose in your blood due to resistance to a hormone called insulin. Normally, insulin is able to help your body keep blood glucose levels in check, but the effect is weaker if you have prediabetes, so blood glucose rises.
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Losing weight can lower your blood sugar levels. Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can make a difference, although a sustained weight loss of 7 percent or more of your initial weight seems to be ideal. That means someone who weighs 180 pounds (82 kilograms) would need to lose a little less than 13 pounds (5.9 kilograms) to make an impact on blood sugar levels.
The more intense the exercise, the better. According to the British diabetes association diabetes.co.uk, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be better for weight loss and glucose control than continuous aerobic activity like jogging. HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of increased intensity exercise and rest — for instance, running and then walking on and off throughout the workout.
Food can be powerful in preventing and reversing diabetes. However, dietary approaches have changed as we have learned more about the disease. The traditional approach to diabetes focuses on limiting refined sugars and foods that release sugars during digestion-starches, breads, fruits, etc. With carbohydrates reduced, the diet may contain an unhealthful amount of fat and protein. Therefore, diabetes experts have taken care to limit fats- especially saturated fats that can raise cholesterol levels, and to limit protein for people with impaired kidney function. The new approach focuses more attention on fat. Fat is a problem for people with diabetes. The more fat there is in the diet, the harder time insulin has in getting glucose into the cells. Conversely, minimizing fat intake and reducing body fat help insulin do its job much better. Newer treatment programs drastically reduce meats, high-fat dairy products, and oils.[46,47,48,49,50] At the same time, they increase grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. The study found that patients on oral medications and patients on insulin were able to get off of their medications after some days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program. During 2 and 3-year follow-ups, most people with diabetes treated with this regimen have retained their gains. The dietary changes are simple, but profound, and they work.[51,52,53]
Steve Phelps always had a sweet tooth. He blamed that weakness for his weight, the 360 pounds that were too much for his 5-foot, 7-inch frame. He was shocked, then, when the food journal he'd been keeping—a tool he'd started to use after he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes—revealed otherwise. "I was under the misconception that my diet was fine [except that] I liked sweets and I ate a lot of sweets," he says. "I discovered quickly that it wasn't just eating cake or pie that was making me fat. It was all the other stuff, too." Fried chicken. Mashed potatoes. Fast food. Phelps ate as much as he wanted without much thought.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Medical Association (AMA) are sounding an alarm about prediabetes because a national effort—by everyone from physicians to employers to patients to community organizations—is required to prevent type 2 diabetes in the United States. In addition to focusing on the person with prediabetes or diabetes, we also must engage the systems and communities where people live, work and play. We can all Act – Today.
If you choose to drink alcohol, remember: To drink with your meal or snack (not on an empty stomach!), to drink slowly or dilute with water or diet soda, that liqueurs, sweet wines and dessert wines have a lot of sugar, to wear your Medic Alert (Alcohol can cause hypoglycemia/low blood glucose), reducing alcohol can promote weight loss and help you lower your blood pressure.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, pay special attention. Research on newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics coming to the Pritikin Longevity Center illustrate how profoundly beneficial early intervention can be. Scientists from UCLA followed 243 people in the early stages of diabetes (not yet on medications). Within three weeks of coming to Pritikin, their fasting blood sugar (glucose) plummeted on average from 160 to 124. Research has also found that the Pritikin Program reduces fasting insulin by 25 to 40%.
While diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar values, type 2 diabetes is also associated with a condition known as insulin resistance. Even though there is an element of impaired insulin secretion from the beta cells of the pancreas, especially when toxic levels of glucose occur (when blood sugars are constantly very high), the major defect in type 2 diabetes is the body's inability to respond properly to insulin.
If you are like me, going to the gym is not your favorite pass time. Physical activity with diabetes is so beneficial. Being active, however, does not mean having to work out. There are tons of ways to sneak in exercise in your everyday activities. For example, when grocery shopping, park at the end of the lot so you have to walk a longer distance to and from the store. If you enjoy watching tv, stand up and walk in place during the commercials. Take the stairs instead of the elevator as often as you can. If you enjoy dancing, instead of at- home work out videos, put on your favorite tunes and dance away! There are so many different ways to be active without “working out”!
Trigylcerides are fatty molecules that travel in the bloodstream. Excess sugar and fat can increase triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are also manufactured in the liver. The body uses triglycerides for energy, but excess triglycerides are a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and obesity. Many lifestyle factors can influence triglyceride levels.
Sit Less, Move More. Aim for some daily physical activity. Exercise is important to help prevent type 2 diabetes and has so many other benefits. It can help you keep lost weight off, and improve your heart health, and if you’re insulin resistant, it can help increase your body's response to insulin (exercise so you will have better blood glucose control. Plus, exercise promotes better sleep, and can even reduce the symptoms of depression, helping put you in a better mood.
But some pleasant news: When consumed in moderation and made with whole ingredients and without added sugar, fruit smoothies can be a good food for diabetes. Consider stocking your fridge with unsweetened frozen fruit so you can whip up one in a hurry for breakfast. Adding ingredients with protein, such as yogurt or a small amount of nut butter, will also help your body break down the carbohydrates more slowly, leading to less of a spike in blood sugar.