Uncontrolled cases of diabetes can cause blindness, heart diseases and even lose a limb due to severe nerve damage. What’s more alarming is the fact that the number of people with diabetes, have seen a constant increase over the past decade.
According to The Harvard School of Public Health, the worldwide number of diabetics will rise from 28 million in 2010 to 439 million by the year 2030. While diabetes used to be more common among adults, it’s now beginning to be show in teenagers and children!
Fortunately, diabetes can be prevented. Most cases of diabetes lies in the lifestyle that we lead. Data from the Nurses’ Health Study suggest that 90 percent of type 2 diabetes in women can be attributed to five such factors: excess weight, lack of exercise, a less-than-healthy diet, smoking, and abstaining from alcohol.
Whether it’s type 2 or type 1 diabetes, here’s 20 ways proven to regulate sugar levels and even prevent this disease entirely.
1. Cut Down on Sugars
When you eat, foods are broken down and absorbed into your bloodstream. The body’s response to regulate sugar levels is by having the pancreas produce more insulin. If unregulated, excessive consumption of sugar can lead to higher insulin and blood sugar levels. These conditions eventually leads to diabetes.
2. Eat a High-Fiber Diet
Fiber is low in calories and makes you full. For one, it helps you with weight management. More importantly, most fibrous foods are insoluble, meaning your body can’t break it down and won’t incur any additional absorption of sugar into the blood stream. Such high-fiber foods include peas, cereal and most whole grains.
3. Go for Whole Grains over White
White flour-based products are highly processed and made with added sugar. Whole grains on the other hand, is the entire grain which includes the bran, germ and endosperm. This makes it a more nutritional option and as mentioned before, a source high in fiber.
4. Follow a Low-Carb Diet
Special diets like the Ketogenic Diet, has been proven to be helpful for people with diabetes because of it’s low carbohydrate consumption. This will greatly reduce blood sugar level from the breakdown of carbs and reducing the need for insulin. The Keto Diet instead, converts fat into energy for our daily activities.
5. Control Portion Sizes
The National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded a study that eating too much food at one time, causes a spike of blood sugar and insulin levels in people with diabetes (1). Decreasing portion sizes can then, prevent this type of response.
6. Minimize Consumption of Processed Foods
Apart from diabetes, processed foods is the mother of all health complications. Processed foods are high in vegetable oil, refined grains and additives which are all responsible for major health problems such as heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.
7. Choose Good Fats over Bad Fats
Good fats such as polyunsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds can help ward off diabetes. It is also good to note that Omega-3 fats can improve the insulin response of our organs. Trans fats however, does the exact opposite. Bad fats are found in fried foods, fast food chains and in many types of margarine.
8. Get Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D is believed to help improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This would in turn, help regulate blood sugar levels. Vitamin D can also aid in weight loss, regulate appetite and reduce belly fat, all of which are contributing factors to type 2 diabetes.
9. Flavor Your Food with Spices
Certain natural spices can be instrumental in diabetes prevention. To name a few – cinnamon, turmeric and berberine are some well-known varieties that can lower blood glucose levels and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. It is no surprise that such enriching herbs are used in many traditional medicine.
10. Lose Weight if You’re Obese or Overweight
Majority of the people who are overweight tend to develop diabetes. The excess weight that you carry around your midsection and abdominal organs like the liver, are known as visceral fat. Excess visceral fat promotes inflammation and insulin resistance, which significantly increase the risk of diabetes.
11. Workout Regularly
When it comes to prevention of any health diseases, exercising is a big one. As muscles are the main organs involved in the absorption of glucose, working out regularly improves your sensitivity to insulin, thus ensuring stable blood glucose levels. One study in people with pre-diabetes found that moderate-intensity exercise increased insulin sensitivity by 51% and high-intensity exercise increased it by 85% (2).
12. Avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle
The least you could do is to be a little bit more active and just move more. People who are inactive would cause blood sugar to slosh around in their bloodstream, gumming up blood vessel walls and eventually causing major health complications. Look for alternatives that allows you to move a little more – like taking the steps instead of the lift.
13. Unwind Everyday
When you’re stressed, your body goes into a fight-or-flight mode. This gearing up causes your heart to beat faster, your breath to quicken – But it also triggers your blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Spend some time doing yoga, meditation or just have a relaxing walk by the park.
14. Get Enough Sleep
A Yale University study found that those who regularly got less than 6 hours of sleep, doubled their diabetes risk. When you sleep too little, your nervous system stays on alert. This interferes with hormones that regulate blood sugar.
15. Quit Smoking
Diabetes is just part of the long list of health problems caused by smoking. Smokers are roughly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk ().
16. Drink Alcohol Moderately
Moderate amounts of alcohol, about one or two drinks in a day, increases the efficiency of insulin at getting glucose inside cells. This is backed up by studies that moderate alcohol consumption decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes (4). If you don’t drink alcohol, you can get the same benefits by losing weight and exercising more.
17. Choose Water as Your Primary Beverage
Firstly, quenching your thirst by substituting sugary beverages with water, prevents you from taking in additional refined sugars and preservatives. Water also helps in flushing off toxins out of your system and helps regulate better blood sugar control.
18. Indulge in Your Coffee Cravings
Coffee and tea have antioxidants known as polyphenols that can help protect against diabetes. Studies have shown that drinking coffee on a daily basis reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by up till 54% (5). Decaf coffee however, offers no protection.
19. Sip on Some Green Tea
Green Tea contains a unique antioxidant compound called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been shown to reduce blood sugar release from the liver and increase insulin sensitivity.
20. Go for Regular Checkups
The thing about diabetes is that it can be traced of it early stages and help you reverse the disease once you decide to take positive actions. Regular checkups with your doctor can help check on your blood sugar levels and take precautionary measures should you be at risk of diabetes.
At the end of the day, prevention is better than cure. Never think that you’re 100% safe from any severe health complications. The 20 ways above will lower your risk at contracting diseases and allow you to live healthier and happier. Start now before it’s too late!