Good diet and exercise are well known components of a healthy life, but a new study confirms that for those at risk for Type 2 diabetes, these lifestyle features may actually save them from a difficult disease.
In the study published in the May 3rd issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Finnish researchers report that diet and exercise modification resulted in a fifty-eight percent reduction in diabetes risk among people who are prime candidates for developing the condition, which is associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
For those who have Type 2 diabetes, or are at risk of developing the disease, there are a number of eating habits that are particularly important. Here are a few simple kitchen tips, to tip the scale back in the right direction.
Look out for saturated fats
Steering clear of saturated fats is a critical component in both preventing Type 2 diabetes and controlling its effects. These fats come from animals, and are found in meats; dairy products like milk, cheese and ice cream; and in some kinds of cooking oils, such as lard.
When you eat a lot of saturated fats, your cholesterol and triglycerides levels tend to go up. And when your cholesterol is high, you are at a higher risk of developing hardening of the arteries and getting heart attacks and strokes. People with diabetes are especially prone to developing heart attacks and strokes, and need to be proactive about lowering the risk of heart disease. And if you tend to have high triglycerides (fats in the blood), then following a low-fat diet will help bring your triglycerides back down.
Carbohydrates are the foods that make your blood sugar increase, so controlling carbohydrates becomes essential for people who have developed Type 2 diabetes. You may think this means just cutting back on bread, but carbohydrates are everywhere. Examples of carbohydrates are: pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, yellow vegetables, sugars, fruit, fruit juice, baked goods, and regular sodas.
Learning how to predict how a meal will affect your blood sugar level means learning to account for the amount of carbohydrate in a meal.
For example, if you eat a breakfast that includes a big glass of orange juice, sugared cereal with strawberries on top and a piece of white toast, most likely your blood sugar will be too high after the meal. That meal contains mostly carbohydrates-except for the little bit of fat and protein in the milk in your cereal. Instead, in order to better control your blood sugar, you should cut out some of the carbohydrates and substitute a little fat and protein.
Talk with your doctor about how to brush up on your skills in monitoring carbohydrates. And start checking your blood sugars two hours after meals. If you keep track of what you're eating, and check your blood sugar levels after meals, you can begin to determine which meals have too much carbohydrate in them, and cut back appropriately.
Eating foods that are low in calories if you are overweight
The majority of people with Type 2 diabetes, as well as the majority of those at risk for the disease, are overweight. If you are overweight and you really want to control your blood sugar without medicines, the only way to do it is to lose weight. Being overweight makes it hard for your body's insulin to work. It causes what is called insulin resistance. That's the bad news. The good news is that if you lose some weight-often only about ten pounds, even if you are more than fifty pounds overweight-you can usually get your blood sugars back down to normal.
Putting it all together
A healthy diet and exercise are important for everyone, but for people with Type 2 diabetes, and for those who are at high risk of this disease, these good habits are the first line of treatment. With these steps, you are on your way to controlling Type 2 diabetes and a healthier life.