If you want to know how to prevent diabetes, you must go back to your diet. The food you eat plays a direct role in your health, and eating foods high in sugar and processed carbohydrates can raise the risk of potential health complications. This includes diabetes. However, you can learn how to prevent diabetes by using food, too. Although there is no 100% guarantee that the results will be exactly what you expect, eating a healthy diet can significantly reduce your chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, the most common form.
How to Prevent Diabetes with Proper Nutrition!
In This Article:
- Start By Understanding How Food Impacts Diabetic Risk
- Why Does Diabetes Occur, Then?
- How to Prevent Diabetes Through Diet
- Aim for a High Protein Diet
- Finding Foods to Help Prevent Diabetes
- Foods to Avoid to Prevent Diabetes
Start by Understanding how Food Impacts Diabetic Risk!
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 100 million Americans that either currently has Type 2 diabetes or who are pre-diabetic and on their way to having Type 2 diabetes. In fact, many people do not know they have diabetes, and many more do not know that they are quickly on their way to having it. Fortunately, it may be possible to reduce some of these numbers simply by changing diets. People who have diabetes are twice as likely to face other health complications, which include developing depression and heart disease. Diabetes is also a leading cause of blindness in older individuals, can lead to kidney failure, and can cause circulation problems leading to the amputation of a leg or foot. Because of these heightened medical risks, it is essential that those suffering from type 2 diabetes consider their diets.
According to Harvard, 9 out of 10 cases of Type 2 diabetes are preventable, and the best way to do this is to improve diet and keep your weight under control.
Why does food play such an important role here? Diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person’s body cannot create enough insulin. In other cases, people develop insulin resistance. In either case, the lack of insulin used in the body means it cannot use blood glucose properly.
When a person eats, the body’s digestive system turns food into glucose, which is fuel for the cells. The glucose enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to reach each cell, and then the body produces insulin. It works to encourage the cell to use blood glucose for energy. Those who have insulin resistance cannot use the glucose, so it remains in the bloodstream, creating high blood sugar. Over time, this is very dangerous. It also causes damage to many of the body's organs.
Why Does Diabetes Occur, Then?
A lack of insulin brings on diabetes. Why does the body stop producing enough insulin? While individuals who have Type 2 diabetes do produce insulin, they simply do not produce enough of it, which is almost always the result of a poor diet.
When a person eats certain types of foods, blood sugar levels spike very fast. The body cannot overcome this spike by producing enough insulin, which stresses the pancreas, the organ producing insulin for the body.
In short, by eating a poor diet, we create insulin resistance within our own bodies. As this occurs, our blood sugar levels continue to rise and become much too high, as the body cannot burn off the blood glucose as fuel for the cells. By changing diets, it is possible to overcome this.
How to Prevent Diabetes Through Diet!
Considering all of this, it is clear a person needs to eat a healthy diet to avoid all of these complications. Foods high in simple carbohydrates are the riskiest to consume. This includes foods such as sugar, soda, rice, pasta, and white bread. Foods high in simple carbohydrates create fast spikes in blood sugar that are overly stressful for the body. Additionally, these foods also lack the most important nutrients the body needs to function efficiently. Here are a few steps to transform a diet to minimize the risk of diabetes development.
Choose a Heart-Healthy Diet!
The most common diet plans for diabetes focus on heart-healthy nutrients. These are foods filled with nutrition, lacking in simple sugars, and rich in healthy fats.
- The Mediterranean diet or American Heart Association diet is ideal. They are low in carbohydrates that cause a spike in blood sugar.
- Remove all types of processed foods from the diet. This includes as many boxed and frozen products as possible.
- Choose foods with only natural sugars, such as fruits. Eliminate foods with added sugars.
Making the switch to whole grains is also important. Instead of white bread, consider whole grain. Whole grains require a long breakdown period in the digestive system, and as a result, they do not cause the blood sugar to spike. They also contain important nutrients the body needs.
Focus on Belly Fat!
It is important to know that those who have a midsection larger than normal are at the highest risk of developing diabetes. For the average-sized woman, aim for a waist under 35 inches in circumference. For the average-sized man, aim for a waist under 40 inches in circumference. For those who have a larger waist, reducing carbohydrates will help achieve these standards. In addition, it may be important to work with a dietitian to create exercise regimens.
Special Diabetic Products!
Some people believe they must eat special diabetic foods to control their risk for this condition. This is not true. In fact, any type of processed food is not going to be as beneficial as a healthy diet. Additionally, these foods tend to be very expensive and offer limited benefits.
Aim for a High Protein Diet!
Diets high in protein are beneficial for several reasons. First, they tend to keep a person full for longer periods of time, which means you eat less over the course of the day. Secondly, protein takes longer to break down and therefore does not cause a spike in blood sugar. However, there are a few things to consider:
- Too much protein, especially from animals, is worrisome. It can cause insulin resistance when eaten on a consistent basis. Speak to a doctor about your specific recommended protein levels.
- High fat protein is not ideal. This can create heart health risks as well. Look for leaner sources.
- Incorporate non-animal protein as much as possible. Protein from nuts, for example, can be especially beneficial.
Finding Foods to help Prevent Diabetes!
Some foods are simply better for preventing diabetes. Here are some of the most sought-after foods for those who wish to prevent diabetes development:
- Fish – eat more organic fish, especially wild-caught options. You should also make sure to choose fish that have low mercury levels.
- Organic chicken and turkey. Because of how lean this meat tends to be, they are ideal choices.
- Eat as many vegetables as possible. A rainbow of vegetable colors ensures all of the important nutrients are getting into the body.
- Healthy fats are important for digestion. Get them from avocados, nuts, olive oil, fish oils, and flax seeds.
- Eat fruits in moderation. Too many high-sugar fruits can cause spikes in blood sugar.
Foods to avoid to Prevent Diabetes!
In order to prevent diabetes, it is important to have a complete understanding of sugar and where you collect it through your diet. Avoid it at all costs. Sugar is one of the most common high-risk foods for the development of diabetes because the body simply cannot process the spike in blood glucose that it causes. Other foods to avoid include:
- Packed and processed foods, such as those from a box or a can.
- Fast foods, which are high in sugar, sodium, and simple carbohydrates.
- Processed meats, such as hot dogs and some lunch meats.
- White bread, pasta, and rice – look for whole grains instead.
- Any type of packed treats from the bakery, chips, or sweets.
If you want to know how to prevent diabetes, aim to eat this type of heart-healthy diet 90% of the time. It is okay to enjoy a few treats, but aim to make it less common. Doing so ensures the body receives the nutrition it needs to keep your body working at its most optimum levels.
Do you know of any other ways to prevent diabetes? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the nutritional products mentioned is intended to Diagnose, Treat, Cure, or Prevent Any Disease.