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Tips to Prevent Diabetes

by Jessica Luccy

“Diabetes is a disorder in which the body fails to produce enough of the hormone insulin, which is needed to control glucose levels in the blood.”

The disorder is often caused by the body’s inability to effectively produce insulin.

The goal of prevention programs is to prevent diabetes by either stopping or slowing down the development of diabetes or preserving beta cell function once diabetes has developed. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009.)

At its most basic level, prevention of diabetes can be accomplished by eating a healthy diet and staying active.

What is Meant By Prevention of Diabetes?

Prevention of diabetes is keeping yourself from getting diabetes with the aim of reducing the complications and death rates associated with the disease.

The primary method of diabetes prevention is to eat a healthy diet and exercise daily to manage your blood sugar levels.

The Diabetes Prevention Program study showed that lifestyle intervention including a healthy diet and regular exercise reduced the risk of diabetes by 58% in a group of overweight or obese adults at high risk for diabetes. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009.)

Tips to Prevent Diabetes

1. Foods to be Avoided

The most important aspect of preventing diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.

This is accomplished by eating a healthy diet and being physically active. The foods that should be the biggest part of your diet if you want to prevent diabetes are those that are high in fiber and are good sources of protein.

Fiber has been shown to help reduce the amount of glucose in the blood, while protein has been shown to help limit the amount of glucose that is able to enter the blood.

i) Sugar Beverages

Drinking a sugary beverage can result in an easily noticeable increase in your blood sugar. This can be done intentionally or unintentionally.

If you are concerned about the sugar content in sodas, diet sodas, and sports drinks, it is best to avoid them.

There is no nutritional value to these beverages, and they can actually be quite harmful. In particular, the high amount of sugar can cause tooth decay, and contribute to weight gain, which can lead to other health problems.

Limiting or avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages is one of the most effective ways to control blood sugar and blood pressure levels in people with diabetes and to lower their risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

ii) Sweetened Cereals

Cereals that are high in sugar, such as Frosted Flakes, Honey Smacks, and Special K, have been associated with a higher risk of obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes.

Worried about the health of your little one’s developing brain with “fortified” cereals? Other nutritious options include oatmeal and other similar foods.

To make sure you’re getting enough of these nutritious cereals, look for the label “enriched” on cereals that say “high-fiber.” High-fiber cereals tend to have a higher amount of these nutrients such as calcium, which is linked to stronger bones, and iron, which is vital for healthy cells and tissues.

iii) White Bread and Pasta

If you are diabetic, it may be best to avoid eating white foods like white bread, pasta, and rice.

These foods are made with white flour and lack the nutrients and fiber found in whole-grain carbohydrates. The high calories and fat found in these foods can also cause blood sugar levels to increase, which can in turn cause hyperglycemia (too much sugar in the blood).

According to the American Diabetes Association, white bread and pasta should be avoided by people on diabetes management because they can upset blood sugar balance.

These carbohydrates are high in both sugar and calories and should be used sparingly if at all.

iv) Honey and Maple Syrup

Honey and maple contain more chemical fructose than any other natural sweetener. When this occurs, the body doesn’t know how to process it like other sugars, and so it is converted into fat quickly and stored as such.

This means that when consumed, honey and maple can cause your blood sugar to shoot up quickly and lead to a higher risk of diabetes and other health problems.

Note: In diabetes, honey can be eaten only in moderation.

But, you should stick to the golden rule:

When dieting, stay away from foods that are high in sugar, such as honey, maple syrup, and agave.

These sweeteners have lots of added sugar and calories, which can increase your risk of obesity and diabetes in the long term.

v) Packaged Snack Foods

If you are diabetic, it may be best to avoid packaged snacks as much as possible. Many packaged snacks contain excessive amounts of sugar, which can upset your blood sugar and lead to higher levels of blood sugar in the body.

These foods are often high in fat, which can also contribute to higher blood sugar levels. In addition to the excessive sugar and fat content, many packaged snacks contain artificial ingredients that have not been proven to be healthy.

Note: Try choosing healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables instead to avoid unnecessary added sugar and calories.

vi) French Fries

French fries are a common all-American menu item. They are often a favorite food for kids, school-age children, and many teens.

French fries are a favorite food, but they are high in fat, calories, and, a lot of other stuff.

For that reason, people who are diabetic should eat them only occasionally.

Even so, some people who are diabetic, including those who are insulin-dependent, may be able to eat these.

However, if you must eat French fries, look for the lowest fat and calorie options, such as those that are made with plain potatoes instead of with breadcrumbs or other added ingredients. Also, try to keep the amount of French fries to less than one serving per day.

vii) Trans Fats

Trans fat is a type of fat that is created when liquid oil is turned into solid oil using a process called hydrogenation.

Consumers have been warned to avoid trans fats because they are linked to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.

Trans fats are unhealthy because they increase levels of LDL cholesterol, the bad kind, in the blood. Trans fats also increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes in the long run.

viii) Flavored Yogurt

Many food manufacturers have started removing trans fats from their foods, including flavored yogurt.

If you are diabetic, it is best to avoid flavored yogurt because it may cause your blood sugar to spike. You can still enjoy the other foods that are on the aisle, such as plain yogurt, which is a good source of protein and has less sugar than the flavored variety.

ix) Fruit Juices

If you have diabetes, it’s a good idea to avoid drinking fruit juices, since they are high in sugar.

Foods high in sugar provide instant energy, so while they’re still enjoyable, they can serve a fast-acting, intense sugar rush that is quickly followed by a crash.

An extreme blood sugar spike just from drinking a glass of grape juice can cause a severe reaction, including vomiting, high blood sugar, or even a coma.

Note: If you have diabetes, do not drink grape juice, and use only juices that are 100 percent fruit juice (no added sugar and preferably no added sweetener).

x) Flavored Coffee Drinks

High-flavor coffee beverages, such as flavored lattes, can quickly cause a sugar rush. That can make you feel light-headed, especially if you have diabetes.

While flavored coffee beverages can be a treat, they also can cause an unneeded sugar rush that can spike your blood sugar, which can have a negative impact on your health and well-being.

So, if you’re diabetic, stay away from flavored coffee beverages, including those that have added sugar.

Flavored coffee drinks, such as cappuccino and latte, can hide calories, which can be a problem for people who are watching their weight. In addition, the flavors used in these drinks, such as sweeteners like saccharin, can actually increase your risk for diabetes, especially in the case of cappuccino.

2. Lose Weight

Weight gain may increase your risk of diabetes, which can lead to kidney health issues, heart disease, and even high blood pressure.

One of the biggest causes of diabetes is weight gain. If you’re not careful, your extra calories can turn into fat, which causes insulin resistance. This, in turn, increases your risk of diabetes.

“The good news is that weight loss has been found to reduce your risk of diabetes.”

If you’ve gained weight, it’s very likely that you’re already feeling the physical effects of diabetes.

You may have noticed that you have more trouble keeping your blood sugar levels steady, or that your urine has a funny smell. Both of these are signs that diabetes is starting to show up in your body.

Diabetes can lead to long-term complications, including kidney disease, heart disease, and even high blood pressure.

3. Become Physically Active

Physical exercise can help prevent diabetes. For example, studies have found that adults who participate in regular strength training have a 43% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who do not.

Physical activity will prevent diabetes by increasing your metabolism, which will cause your body to burn more calories and prevent your body from storing too much fat. It also keeps your heart healthy and your blood sugar levels under control.

4. Eat Healthy Plant Foods:

Avoid eating canned vegetables and fruits, pickles, food cooked with butter and cheese, regular jams, deep-fried dishes, and sweetened foods.

Best Snack Options for Diabetics:

Snacks are very important to keep blood sugar levels under control. To prevent insulin-induced hypoglycemia, diabetics should take snacks in between their meals.

These snacks must contain high amounts of proteins, fibers, and fats to maintain glucose levels normal and prevent hyperglycemia.

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Avocado
  • Sliced apples with peanut butter
  • Beef sticks
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Tuna salad
  • Popcorn
  • Egg muffins
  • Black bean salad
  • Banana, carrot
  • Trail mix
  • Low-fat type cottage cheese
  • Nuts and peanuts
  • Plain low-fat yogurt with some fruits like berries

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