It’s safe to say that getting diabetes is one of the worst things that can happen if you want to have a good quality of life. Not only will your metabolism be deranged, but diabetes is associated with increased inflammation, nerve pain, obesity, trouble walking, poor cognition, and a host of other problems.
Prevent the nightmare from happening to you with these research-proven habits you can adopt today.
#1: Walk After Meals
Everyone tells you to get physical when you are at risk of diabetes. Few tell you how to do it. One easy way is to make it a habit to walk for ten minutes after each meal. This is what diabetics did in one recent study and results showed that they had a significantly greater improvement in blood sugar levels than a group that walked for 30 minutes all at once. Researchers believe walking after eating increases your sensitivity to insulin and the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates safely.
#2: Go High In Protein, Low In Carbs
High-protein, low-carb diets restore insulin sensitivity and improve blood sugar levels, lowering diabetes risk. You don’t have to cut down on carbs forever, but going low in carbs for a few weeks pays off in other ways too: Carb craving drop and people have steadier energy and are better able to maintain an even keel with their eating instead of bingeing on unhealthy foods due to blood sugar spikes and valleys.
#3: Strength Train With Weights
Most people will tell you to start with aerobic exercise, and while cardio can be great for lowering diabetes risk, it doesn’t convey a few key benefits available from lifting weights. First, weight training builds muscle, which increases the number of insulin receptor sites you have. For every 10 percent increase in muscle mass you get an 11 percent reduction in insulin resistance.
Second, after a vigorous workout, your muscles are depleted of fuel, which automatically improves your body’s ability to handle carbohydrates. Finally, strength training is fun and varied, making it great for people who find steady-state exercise boring.
#4: Avoid Refined Carbs & Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Sugar, refined carbs, and almost all processed foods jack up your blood sugar because they are quickly digested. The blood sugar spike results in too much insulin being released, which, over time, makes your cells less sensitive to insulin.
These foods are also very easy to overeat (you can demolish 500 calories of chips in a heartbeat), so they contribute to obesity—a primary cause of diabetes. Try choosing vegetables dishes instead of processed foods (including bread, pasta, crackers, etc.) and reduce your intake of grains, even the pseudo-healthy “whole” ones because they lead to high insulin as well.
#5: Ensure Your Levels of Key Nutrients Are Up To Par
Certain nutrients are consistently associated with increased risk of diabetes.
Vitamin D plays a role in stimulating insulin release from the pancreas and it may affect insulin sensitivity of cells as well. Evidence suggests individuals with vitamin D levels above “normal” at 30 ng/ml have 60 percent higher insulin sensitivity than those with a severe deficiency below 10 ng/ml. Experts recommend supplementation to achieve a level above 40 ng/ml, which is thought to be more beneficial for glucose control and delaying the progression of diabetes.
Magnesium is known as the mineral of insulin sensitivity, increasing our cells’ ability to bind with insulin. It also has cardiovascular benefits, lowering triglycerides, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol levels. Researchers recommend supplementation of 10 mg/kg of body weight daily (400 to 1,000 mg) to ensure sufficient intake due to magnesium depletion in soil.
Fish oil has many health benefits, and although it is unclear if sufficient intake will directly improve glucose tolerance in the absence of other dietary and lifestyle changes, it will lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease that often plague diabetics. Consumption of 1 to 3 grams a day of a high-quality EPA/DHA fish oil can reduce fat accumulation in the liver, improve triglyceride level, and may improve body composition.
#6: Try Taking Fenugreek & Alpha Lipoic Acid
Certain nutrients have a therapeutic effect in countering complications linked to diabetes risk. Fenugreek is an herb that is widely used in Eastern countries to treat diabetes that slows digestion of carbohydrates via enzymes. It also mimics insulin, helping the body to lower blood sugar levels when glucose is dangerously elevated.
Supplementation with meals is associated with lower glucose levels and a decrease in insulin resistance and HbA1C levels. A threshold dose of above 5 g/day in supplement form appears necessary to produce benefits. Other preparations that have proved beneficial are adding cooked fenugreek seeds to meals (about 25 grams worth).
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant that can mimic insulin in the body, helping to modulate blood sugar levels. It can help eradicate inflammation associated with poor insulin sensitivity and may improve mitochondrial function for a healthier metabolism. In one study, supplementation with 600 mg a day of ALA led to a decrease in body weight and lower triglycerides compared to a control group.
Final Words: The key outcome we see from clinical studies is that limited results come from singular interventions. Trying one thing is not going to save you. Incorporating the lifestyle improvements listed here will help you tackle diabetes from multiple angles for a healthier, better quality of life.
Okanovic, A., et al. Alpha-lipoic acid reduces body weight and regulates triglycerides in obese patients with diabetes mellitus. Medicinski Glasnik. 2015. 12(2):122-7.
Rochette, L., et al. Alpha-lipoic acid: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential in diabetes. Canadian Journal of Physiological Pharmacology. 2015. 93(12):1021-7.
Verma, H., Garg, R. Effect of magnesium supplementation on type 2 diabetes associated cardiovascular risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017. Published Ahead of Print.
Veronese, N., et al. Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trials. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2016. 70(12):1463.
Yilmaz, Z., et al. Supplements for Diabetes Mellitus. Journal of Pharmacy Practice. 2016. Published Ahead of Print.