Type 2 diabetes is on the rise at an alarming rate. According to a 2014 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, up from the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010. The report went on to say that another 86 million adults – more than one in three U.S. adults – have pre-diabetes, where their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 percent to 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
So what can we do to prevent diabetes or even help our bodies reverse diabetes? First we need to understand diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that results in too much glucose (sugar) in the blood and can in turn result in damage to many tissues and organs in the body.
Normally, the pancreas has cells that create insulin in response to rises in glucose in the blood. Insulin is a hormone that is like a key that unlocks cells in the body to allow glucose from the blood to enter those cells which then use the glucose for energy. If glucose cannot be delivered to the cells properly, then two things result:
- The cells do not receive the glucose they need for energy
- The glucose levels in the bloodstream remain high
What Causes Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes is a condition where the body sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign and attacks those cells. When the body destroys the insulin-producing cells, the pancreas can no longer create insulin. Therefore, people with type 1 diabetes need an external source of insulin to help deliver glucose to the cells and need to control blood sugar to prevent it from becoming too high.
Type 1 diabetes is rarely reversible, but diet and lifestyle changes can significantly impact the regulation of blood sugar and the dependence on insulin and other medications.
Type 2 Diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, chronically high glucose levels in the body cause cells to becomes insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is when insulin can no longer unlock the cells to deliver the glucose. When glucose levels are high, the pancreas produces additional insulin to deliver the excess glucose and remove it from the bloodstream . However, the pancreas eventually cannot keep up with the demand and is unable to make enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels normal.
As in type 1 diabetes, cells are not getting the glucose they need for energy and the glucose level in the blood becomes too high over time.
6 Steps to Prevent, Manage or Even Help our Bodies Reverse Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and sometimes even reversed with nutrition and lifestyle changes. As mentioned above, type 1 diabetes can rarely be reversed. However, following the same principles used for preventing or reversing type 2 diabetes can help in managing type 1 diabetes and impacting the dependence on insulin and other medications.
Here are 6 steps you can can take to prevent, manage or even help your body reverse diabetes:
- Eliminate foods that spike blood sugar. This means eliminating all refined sugar and processed carbohydrates (anything that comes in a package) and alcohol which quickly convert to sugar and contribute to insulin resistance. Eliminating or at least limiting most grains is often helpful as well.
- Eat foods that promote blood sugar regulation and reduce inflammation. This means adding foods high in fiber, nutrients and anti-oxidants and balancing your Omega-3 to Omega-6 fats. You can do this by adding a large variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and good sources of Omega-3 fats like ground flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and green leafy vegetables while removing or limiting high sources of Omega-6 fats like vegetable oils and seed oils.
- Exercise. Regular exercise, particularly short bursts of high intensity, not only helps the body burn fat more efficiently, but also can help the body reverse insulin resistance. Adding strength training will help build muscle which also can help with sugar metabolism
- Reduce stress. Stress raises cortisol and insulin levels and can lead to other hormone imbalances as well, all of which can lead to increased hunger, weight gain and insulin resistance. Try adding meditation, yoga or breathing exercises to your daily routine.
- Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep is also a source of stress to the body. It can lead to disruptions in cortisol levels and can increase glucose levels. Create a nightly routine to make sure you are getting 7-8 hours of sleep consistently.
- Take supplements. Several supplements can help balance blood sugar including Cinnamon, Chromium, Magnesium, L-Glutamine, Vitamin B-Complex.
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