If you have diabetes you may already know that November is Diabetes Awareness Month. If you don’t have diabetes, and you’re over 40, you may be at greater risk for diabetes and not know it. That’s why every November, I like to remind my older readers to learn their risk for diabetes. I also like to remind everyone about the simple ways you can improve diabetes if you have it and decrease your risk if you don’t. Here’s what you should know…
Win Against Diabetes Doing These Few Simple Things
Getting older and getting diabetes can go hand in hand if you’re not careful. Why? Well, first of all you tend to be less active as you get older. The more inactive you are throughout your day, the more weight you’re liable to gain. Excess stored fat contains hormones that throw your other hormones, namely insulin, out of whack. Not to mention that excess fat creates a lot of inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation speeds the development of diabetes as well as heart disease.
Another big reason for being more prone to getting diabetes past 40 is stress. As you get older, you’ve likely got more stress than when you were younger. You have a lot more responsibilities, financial issues, and hectic schedules. In addition, you don’t eat as well as you should, and you probably don’t sleep as well either. Stress is one of the #1 aggravators of diabetes. It increases the stress hormone cortisol which causes blood sugar levels to soar.
With all these factors, it’s safe to say that being over 40 puts you at greater increase for diabetes. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. You’ll be relieved to know that there are 5 very simple things you can do every day to lower that risk.
1. Weight management. If you’re overweight, losing just 10% of your excess weight can lower your blood sugar levels and risk for developing diabetes.
2. Move More. This goes hand in hand with #1. Being sedentary throughout the day, whether at work, or at home retired, can chronically raise your blood sugar levels. A recent Harvard study showed that sitting for more than 4 hours a day ups your risk for developing diabetes. This was also true even in people who did 30 minutes of specific exercise every day. What can you do? If you work at a desk/computer all day, every hour take a 5-10 minute “move break”. Get up and walk around your office, building, or walk/job up a flight of stairs or two. If possible, keep a mini-trampoline, or jump rope in your office and use them once an hour. Moving not only fights diabetes but fires up your brain power as well. At home, cutting the grass, washing the floor, or painting the walls are all helpful chores that can help you stay diabetes-free.
3. Reduce Stress. Lessening the stress of all those adult responsibilities to prevent/control diabetes. Exercise regularly to lower cortisol and increase “feel good” endorphins. Also, meditate to bust stress and decrease blood sugar levels. New research out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School shows that meditation reduces stress and helps control diabetes. Sit quiet somewhere with your eyes closed for 10-15 minutes a day, do some deep breathing that releases tension, listen to soothing music, read a book, create a painting or drawing to help lower stress.
4. Eat Right. Include the foods that can help diabetes the most – low glycemic, high fiber, high protein, anti-inflammatory foods. Omit the sugary sodas and snacks, even decrease the amount of commercial fruit juice you drink. They’re all loaded with diabetes promoting sugar.
Instead, load up on nutrition: 5-8 servings of green/yellow/red vegetables a day, low sugar, high antioxidant fruits like berries, green apples, apricots, dark purple plums; get 1 gram per pound of body weight of protein from beef, poultry, fish or whey protein powder supplements; manage your carbs with 0 sugar, higher fiber containing whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat, rye, quinoa. Try to stay around 25 grams per meal and balance with a similar amount of protein to keep blood sugars stable.
Stick to the good fats like olive, walnut, flax seed, nuts, to boost your Omega-3 fatty acid levels. These good fats also help with the low moods and depression that diabetics are prone to. New research out of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology shows that eating more fish (Omega-3 fatty acid) helps boost mood as good as, or better, than prescription anti-depressants. They also helped decreased the cortisol stress hormone which also fights diabetes.
5. Get New Apps. Technology has become very useful for diabetics. There are over 1,000 apps out there that can help you manage/prevent diabetes. Apps like MyNetDiary: Diabetes Tracker, dLife Diabetes Companion, or My Glucose Buddy, can help keep track of your food intake, exercise output, record your blood sugar levels, offer healthy meal ideas, even remind you to take your diabetic medications.
Getting older is inevitable but getting diabetes isn’t. If you just make use of these 5 simple strategies, you can decrease your risk for getting diabetes. You can also get your diabetes under better control to prevent the complications, like eye and heart disease, that can develop. This November, look around for diabetes educational fairs in your community that you can attend to learn more about preventing and controlling diabetes.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Don’t Just Sit There, http://www.everydayhealth.com/type-2-diabetes/dont-just-sit-there-sedentary-lifestyle-increases-type-2-diabetes-risk.aspx
The Mind Matters: Using Mindfulness To Manage Diabetes, http://diabetes.sanofi.us/using-mindfulness-to-help-manage-diabetes/
Fish Intake Associated with Boost to AntiDepressant Response, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141020090142.htm
mHealth, UF Diabetes Institute, http://diabetes.ufl.edu/my-diabetes/diabetes-resources/diabetes-apps/