10 Tips to Defeat Diabetes

Have a family history of diabetes? Whether you’re at risk or newly diagnosed, here is a plan to help you regain control of your health.

Diabetes is something we have to get a grip on. This is a life-and-death situation—not just about thighs or a tighter tummy.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest-growing health problems in the country. 29.1 million people have the disease, including 12.6 million women. Another 79 million American adults have pre-diabetes—higher than normal blood glucose levels that can damage your body. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

But diabetes doesn’t have to be a death sentence.

This is a disease you can reverse with lifestyle changes, by incorporating movement into your life and following an eating plan, and it’s largely preventable in people with pre-diabetes.

Here are my top 10 tips to prevent or manage diabetes:

1. Switch to high-fiber foods.
Eat whole grains. Refined carbs with high glycemic loads, such as white bread and processed foods, increase diabetes risk.

Studies show that people who eat whole grains have a lower risk of developing the disease.

Why? Fiber. It allows the body to digest food without the spike in blood sugar.

2. Write it down.
Keep track of the food you eat, how much you exercise and your weight loss.

It’s a useful tool where you can start to see patterns.

3. You have to move.
Want to cut your diabetes risk by 35%? Just take a brisk hour-long walk daily.

Even after your hour is up, find ways to stay active throughout the day. Carry groceries from the car to the house in two trips instead of one.

Take the dog out for a walk each evening. Kick it up a notch with a few bursts of speed walking during your lap around the neighborhood.

4. Transplant your trans fats.
Purge processed food and sweets from your pantry. Trans fats—anything containing partially hydrogenated oils—boost belly fat and increase heart disease and diabetes risk. Plus they’re high in calories.

Trans fat can also raise your cholesterol levels, which can raise heart disease risk.

Replenish your cupboards with foods containing polyunsaturated fats such as nuts, fish and soybean oil.

5. Make a plan.
Set a goal for each workout to maximize your exercise routine. When you know what you want to accomplish, you’ll be able to set aside enough energy to follow through, whether it’s a one-hour walk or three sets of tricep extensions.

Success will encourage you to challenge yourself more, especially as your blood sugar levels start to improve.

Losing just a little weight makes a huge difference.

6. Pick your proteins.
A few simple swaps can do wonders for your diet. Cut back on red meat and go for more poultry, seafood and legumes, such as beans, lentils and nuts. All are good sources of protein, and leaner choices are lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and calories, which, in turn, can reduce your risk of heart disease and other diabetes complications.

If you absolutely must have fast food, try a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a cheeseburger.

7. Treat your feet.
Did you know that more than 60 percent of foot and leg amputations are diabetes-related? According to the America Diabetes Association (ADA), foot problems usually occur when nerve damage (neuropathy) results in a loss of feeling in your feet.

Check your feet regularly for swelling and red spots and maintain foot health by keeping nails trimmed and wearing proper shoes.

Wear comfortable, low-heeled styles that have no rough edges to rub against your feet.

8. Butts out!
Smoking and diabetes are double trouble.

Both put you at risk for heart disease, nerve damage and kidney, foot and eye problems. Also, smoking raises blood sugar levels.

9. Lift weights.
Heart disease is a major concern for people with diabetes. But the risk of both chronic illnesses is lower when the body is lean, she says.

Experts suggest you lose 5 to 10 percent of your body weight and do 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day, five times a week.

The American Heart Association recommends strength-training to get rid of visceral fat (the kind that surrounds internal organs and creates the pot belly), because it’s the most dangerous for cardiovascular health.

10. You are what you drink.
High-fructose corn syrup in sodas and other beverages is bad news, especially for those at risk for diabetes. These drinks have loads of sugar and empty calories that leave you feeling unsatisfied. Swap your soda for water or unsweetened beverages.Even fruit juice is high in sugar, so stick to the fruit itself.

Follow these 10 tips and you will not only control your health, but keep diabetes at bay.

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