The largest Diabetes study from Imperial College London together with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the World Health Organization and 500 researchers across the globe, revealed that the number of adults with Diabetes reached 422 million worldwide. According to the Harvard School of Public Health “The most important risk factor for diabetes is obesity. Yet global obesity levels are soaring out of control. Long term diabetes prevention should address nutrition in every stage of life.”
Eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and losing weight can be quite effective in battling insulin resistance. Losing at least 5 to 10 percent of your starting weight can prevent or delay Diabetes or even reverse Pre-Diabetes. That’s 10 to 20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds. Physical activity also helps your body use the hormone insulin properly. As you exercise, your body needs insulin to use glucose for energy.
The following are 10 ways you can achieve your weight loss and maintenance goals to help fight diabetes:
1. Drink water and stay hydrated. Hunger is often confused with dehydration. Next time you feel like a snack, have a glass of water first. Even mild dehydration can alter our body’s metabolism, so aim to drink eight glasses a day and limit soda, caffeine, and alcohol. It is also agreed that drinking water before meals can help promote weight loss. Studies show people who drink two glasses of water before meals feel fuller and eat less.
2. Eat whole grain carbs! Replace refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, bagels, cereal, and pretzels with complex carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which slows digestion and promotes stable blood sugar levels. They’re also packed with antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body. Whole grain carbohydrates should always be chosen over refined varieties.
3. Choose healthy fats. A common misconception is that fats should be completely eliminated. In reality, we could not live without fats. The body utilizes dietary fat for energy, healthy hair, skin and nails, vitamin absorption, and normal everyday bodily functions. Good fats promote several health benefits such as protection against heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression, as well as reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Choose sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.
4. Eat lean protein. Our bodies require protein to continuously renew and replenish our cells, stabilize our blood sugar, and give us energy. Many foods contain protein, but the richest sources include animal products like meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, as well as plant sources like beans, nuts, and seeds. When choosing animal protein sources, be conscious of the way the animal was raised and what it ate. Grass-fed beef and free-range chicken are healthier and more ethically sound choices than feedlot meats. Organic yogurt and cage-free eggs are great for vegetarians, while tofu, tempeh, and peanut butter are good vegan protein sources.
5. Eat breakfast. By eating a hearty breakfast, you’ll give your metabolism a jumpstart and be in better control of your cravings. When we miss our first fuel of the day, by mid-morning we are hungry and more likely to engage in mindless nibbling, snacking, overeating, and over compensating for any calories “saved” by skipping breakfast. Studies repeatedly show daily breakfast consumption is associated with maintaining a healthy weight. But if you’re not ready for breakfast early in the morning, listen to your body and eat when you feel it’s best for you.
6. Eat frequently. It’s important to balance your food intake throughout the day to help maintain normal blood sugar levels and decrease the chances of binging when hunger strikes. Try to keep track of your meal choices and balance your caloric intake. Feeding your body on a regular basis lets it know food is available and it’s okay to burn energy rather than conserve and store it as fat.
7. Exercise your mind and body. Exercise has enormous benefits for your mind and body with research boasting decreased body weight, smaller waist circumference, lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, AND it boosts your mood! Strive to be active at least 30 minutes every day to help keep your body strong and lean. It doesn’t have to be expensive – any movement is better than none. Try these tips to get moving:
Get off the subway or bus one stop earlier.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Go on nightly jogs or walks with your dog.
Even playing with your children in the park or trying a hand at gardening will keep your body active. It’s also just as important to keep your mind active. Boost brainpower by spending time thinking positively, meditating, or practicing activities that require deep thought like reading or playing Sudoku.
8. Get adequate Sleep. Research suggests that those who sleep five hours or less weigh five pounds more than those getting at least seven hours of shut eye per night. Over time, weight gain can increase more rapidly in those who get five hours of sleep when compared to those getting seven hours. Lack of sleep disrupts circadian rhythms and can lead to inefficient body regulation of energy balance, metabolism, and appetite. Abnormal leptin and ghrelin levels – hormones that tell your body “I’m full, stop eating” – can go awry with too little sleep. Said simply – sleep more, eat and weigh less! Strive for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
9. Do more home cooking. Cooking meals at home allows you to control portion sizes and quality of ingredients, and it cuts your intake of sodium, fat, and calories. Avoid frying and instead try roasting or baking. Eat raw vegetables to boost flavor and cut calories. Use herbs and spices to reduce salt intake.
10. Read food labels. Be a food detective, and investigate what you choose to put into your body. Check labels, and avoid ingredients such as sugar, trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and long “chemical names” that are hard to pronounce. The healthiest foods are those found just as nature intended – whole and unprocessed. When was the last time you saw an ingredient list on a stalk of broccoli or a fresh fillet of salmon?
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