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Avoiding Diabetes

Preventing Diabetes

Approximately 90-95% of people with diabetes have what we refer to as type 2 or adult onset diabetes.   However, because weight is the strongest risk factor, we are seeing diabetes in a lot more young people as a result of an increasing overweight young population.  A hormone called insulin is unable to do its job well and as a result, excess sugar is left in the bloodstream.  Unless blood sugar levels are brought under control we are more susceptible to strokes, heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure and amputations.  There are many people who are pre-diabetic which means that they have blood sugar levels that are not normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic.  After a 12-hour fast blood sugar levels in the normal range should be below 100 mg/dl.  So, how do we keep our blood sugar levels in the normal range?  I’m going to go over a number of factors that were investigated by the Center of Science in the Public Interest.  Firstly:

  • Exercise

An hour a day of brisk walking can reduce the risk of diabetes by 34%.  It helps to have a high activity level but any movement is better than none.

  • Sleep

A study was presented at a recent American Heart Association conference that stated sleeping less than six hours each night made you four and a half times more likely to develop pre-diabetes.

  • Drink alcohol

No, it isn’t an excuse to start drinking, however, in one study among 20,000 male physicians, those that had 2-4 drinks a week had a 25% lower risk of diabetes, those that had 5-6 drinks a week had a 33% lower risk and those that had at least 1 drink a day, had a 43% lower risk.  It seems that a moderate consumption of alcohol could definitely be beneficial.  Moderate consumption would be 1-2 drinks a day for men and 1 for women.

  • Coffee

Evidence seems to be showing that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee reduces the risk of diabetes.  In one study of 88,000 nurses, those who drank 1 cup a day reduced their risk by 13%, those who drank 2-3 cups a day reduced their risk by 42% and those who drank at least 4 cups a day reduced their risk by 47%.  Drinking tea didn’t make any difference.  It goes without saying that replacing soft drinks and even perhaps fruit juices, with water will reduce calories and sugar and therefore, decrease the risk of diabetes.

  • Fats

A Nurses’ Health Study tracked more than 84,000 women over 14 years and found that 30% of them that reported consuming more trans fats had a higher risk for diabetes.  Those that reported consuming the most polyunsaturated fats had a 25% lower risk.

  • Carbohydrates

Evidence seems to suggest that refined high glycemic carbohydrates increase the risk of diabetes where as low glycemic whole grains that are high in fiber, have a lower risk.  This is partly because whole grains have nutrients such as magnesium and chromium that appear to improve insulin resistance.

  • Meat and Iron

In a study of 70,000 women, those that ate about one serving of red meat each day had a 22% higher risk of diabetes than those who ate about one serving weekly.  It is thought that this may be a result of heme iron found in animal foods.  A study of 35,000 women found that those who consumed the most heme iron had a higher risk of diabetes than those who consumed the least.

  • And finally Vitamin D

Many studies have shown that people with higher blood levels of Vitamin D are less likely to have diabetes.  Part of the reason could be because vitamin D is stored in body fat, which means that if you have more fat, more vitamin D is stored and less is available to circulate.

Get additional information on how lifestyle management can help you.

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