March 27 is Diabetes Alert Day─a 1-day "wake-up" call reminding Americans who may be at risk for type 2 diabetes to take the Diabetes Risk Test. This test inquires about weight, age, family history, and other factors that might predispose one to diabetes. It’s a valuable reminder, given that total diabetes prevalence in American adults is projected to increase from 14% in 2010 to a possible 33% by 2050.1 So, how do you know if you’re courting diabetes? Risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides
- A family history of diabetes/history of gestational diabetes
- Being in a high risk ethnic or minority group
Prediabetes is a major red flag, warning that trouble is potentially on the way unless lifestyle changes are implemented. It’s been estimated that 57 million Americans have prediabetes, making them up to six times more likely to develop diabetes in the future.2
Prediabetes is the result of blood glucose levels running higher than normal, though not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. While people with prediabetes are more likely to develop type 2, this condition does not mean full-blown diabetes is inevitable─if one nips this potentially serious health issue in the bud, that is. Here’s how:
Lose weight & exercise
According to the American Diabetes Association, people with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% by trimming a mere 7% of excess body fat combined with just 30 min. of exercise, 5 days a week.
Nix refined carbs
Eliminate all high-glycemic, white flour products, such as rolls, bagels, pastries, bread, crackers, and other commercial baked goods. Replace them with carb/protein combos like beans and legumes, and whole grains like oats, brown rice, and quinoa─one of the healthiest grains in town.
Whey in daily
Enjoy a delicious, blood sugar-stabilizing, daily whey protein breakfast shake. Not only does whey protein rank low on the glycemic index, it also slows the absorption of other carbs into the bloodstream. Additionally, whey protein helps stimulate insulin production naturally─a huge advantage for the prediabetic.3
Incorporate omega-3 essential fatty acids
Take your fish oil daily, the best source of two especially important omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA. Among many other benefits, research clearly illustrates the protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the glucose metabolism of individuals on the brink of diabetes.4
Supplement key nutrients
Alpha lipoic acid is a great companion to your daily multi-vitamin-mineral formula, as this “universal antioxidant” can help both prevent and manage diabetes.”5 Additionally, optimal levels of vitamin D have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in prediabetic patients. One study concluded that high-dose vitamin D supplementation could be an inexpensive public health measure to prevent, or at least delay, the progression of prediabetes to full-scale diabetes.6
Why not go on the offense nutritionally if doing so can protect you from such a harmful, yet preventable condition?
1 Popul Health Metr. 2010 Oct 22;8:29
2 Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 Dec 15;672(1-3):9-19. Epub 2011 Oct 12
3 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 80, No. 5, 1246-1253, November 2004
4 Nutrition. 2010 Feb;26(2):184-91. Epub 2009 Jul 31
5 Pharmacol Rep. 2011 Jul;63(4):849-58.Saudi Med J. 2011 Jun;32(6):584-8.
6 Transl Res. 2011 Nov;158(5):276-81. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2011.05.002. Epub 2011 Jun