Why do you need to be proactive about preventing type 2 diabetes?
Well, aside from its growing prevalence, according to Dr. Caroline Cederquist M.D., creator of bistroMD and author of “The MD Factor Diet,” prevention is important because type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of blindness and kidney failure and is even a large contributor to heart disease and cancer.
“We are also learning that it contributes to dementia — all the major leading causes of death and disability in this country,” Cederquist said.
By following good lifestyle habits, though, it is preventable.
“Even if you have a family history of it,” Cederquist said. “It’s growing in prevalence due to the fact that Americans are more overweight than ever before and that a large segment of the population is aging.”
She said that 90 percent of the female patients and 100 percent of the male patients that came to her for help with weight loss last year displayed pre-diabetic symptoms, or what she calls “The MD Factor.” (You can determine your own “MD Factor” by taking a short quiz on Cederquist’s website.)
But in addition to determining your risk factor, Cederquist says prevention of type 2 diabetes includes six important healthy habits. They include the following:
1. Exercising: “Do some sort of physical exercise most days of the week with at least three days of moderate-intensity exercise,” Cederquist suggests. “Exercise has been shown in many studies to improve insulin sensitivity — something that gets impaired and leads to the development of type 2 diabetes.” She said these improvements will occur regardless of whether or not the exercise leads to weight loss.
2. Eating Three Meals a Day: “Consistently eat three meals a day that consist of adequate lean protein, vegetables and either fruit or a grain,” Cederquist said. “Meals like this have a lower glycemic load. Foods with a high-glycemic load, like sugary or high-carb meals that don’t balance protein and fats, cause a larger surge of blood sugar and a larger secretion of insulin to metabolize. This metabolic pattern associated with high-glycemic meals can cause both weight gain and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes.”
3. Drinking Water: “Choose water as your beverage of choice at almost all meals,” Cederquist said. “Sweetened beverages cause a large surge in glucose and insulin secretion which has been shown to cause weight gain and insulin resistance.”
4. Getting Tested: “Get tested for vitamin D, B12 and magnesium RBC levels,” Cederquist said. “These specific vitamin levels can become low through diet or lifestyle issues, like lack of sun exposure. If yours are low, be consistent about taking a quality vitamin to bring these levels into the normal range. Studies have shown that bringing low vitamin D levels into the normal range, can improve insulin sensitivity by 20 to 60 percent.”
5. Weighing In: “Weigh yourself once a week as a discipline. Type 2 diabetes is most closely related to being overweight and obesity,” Cederquist said. “If you are normal weight, monitor it with consistency to ensure it stays stable. If you are overweight, work on weight loss and if that is not possible right now, avoid further weight gain by continuing to monitor your weight.”
6. Monitoring Your Nutrition: “Make a habit to build your meals around this format: fill half of your with plate non-starchy vegetables, one quarter with lean protein, like chicken, fish, lean pork or beef or vegetarian protein, and the last quarter with a starchy vegetable or starchy grain or fruit,” Cederquist said. “But pick only one for the last quarter. This ensures adequate protein (3 to 4 ounces) to preserve lean muscle tissue, lots of vegetables for fiber and natural antioxidants and phytochemicals and not too many simple carbohydrates.”
Cederquist said that while all of these habits are important for a healthy lifestyle, the three that are of most significance when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes are exercising, consistently eating three meals a day and drinking water in lieu of sugary beverages.
She also suggests avoiding sedentary behavior, like sitting for long periods of time, and eating high-fat, high-sugar foods on a regular basis.