Six Steps to Avoid Diabetes

In Monday’s post, I provided an overview of the prevalent diabetes disease.  My aim there was to offer a synopsis, a one-pager that outlines the disease which has unfortunately become a household term these days.  But of what value am I if I describe a problem without proposing a solution, or at least a way to avoid the problem altogether (which happens to be an order of magnitude easier than curing the disease)?

Telling someone how to avoid diabetes is as simple as telling someone how to avoid getting hit by a car while crossing the street – just use common sense.  Diabetes, as we know it today (Type II Diabetes), is a relatively new disease.  Well, at least the prevalence of it is new.  Forty years ago it was virtually unknown.  Today, one in ten Americans has the disease.  And, a new Center for Disease Control report says that, by the year 2050, one out of every three Americans will be diabetic if we continue on our current path to destruction.

Sure, people are living longer and people are being diagnosed earlier, which both lead to higher statistical rates.  But the most significant change we’ve seen in the past forty years is our diets.  We Americans, as well as many other parts of the world, have grown accustomed to the Western Diet, a diet rich in processed foods, refined grains, corn, and gigantic portions.   So, if a change in our eating habits was the cause, then a change in our eating habits is also the solution.

  1. Portion Control – As a rule of thumb, the average adult should eat about 2,000 calories per day, give or take a couple hundred.  If you have no idea, check out a site like Nutrition Data for calorie info.  Eat only when you are hungry and stop eating when you are not hungry.  It’s simple.  How do you do this?  Plan your meals, eat slowly, think about your food, enjoy your food, and stop before you’re full.
  2. Eat Whole Grains Instead of Processed Refined Carbs – Think whole grain bread instead of the classic white bread, brown rice instead of white, whole wheat pasta, quinoa, barley.  To keep it simple, go for the brown and avoid the white.
  3. Avoid Soda and Other Sugary Beverages -There are 40 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce can of Coca Cola.  That’s 10 teaspoons of sugar!  Think you’re avoiding this by drinking Gatorade and other fruity or iced tea beverages?  Think again.  Look at the nutrition facts – those drinks are nothing more than non-carbonated soda.  Drink more water.
  4. Focus on Fiber and Whole Foods – Fiber and whole foods will fill you up and keep you full longer.  You’ll have fewer cravings for sweets and other junk foods.  Winter vegetables and hearty greens such as kale and collard greens are loaded with fiber, so eat up!
  5. Shop the Perimeter of Your Supermarket – You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it’s worth repeating.  The perimeter is where all the good-for-you foods are – bread, eggs, meats, and produce.  Avoid the middle of the market, which is where thousands of modified corn products reside.
  6. Make Exercise a Part of Your Life – As always, exercise will only help you become a healthier person.  But beware – it’s not a panacea.  You can exercise all day, but if you still overload your body with sugar and refined carbs, you’re still susceptible to diabetes and other problems.  A good friend of mine trains 3-4 days a week and has run a few marathons, but last year he was diagnosed with pre-diabetes because he eats like garbage.  Strive for balance in all areas.

So there you go – six solid tips for avoiding diabetes.  See?  I told you it’s common sense.  If you ask me, you really have to work hard to get diabetes.  You really have to throw caution to the wind and have a wanton disregard for your body and your health.  Don’t make it hard on yourself.  Make it easy on yourself and develop healthy habits now.

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5 Comments

Filed under Diets, General Health

5 responses to “Six Steps to Avoid Diabetes

  1. GP

    Are there any more statistics about when people usually start to develop diabetes or pre-diabetes? For example, age, BMI, body fat % etc? If someone is not diabetic or pre-diabetic, is it still possible to reverse damage caused by poor eating/lifestyle?

    • thedynamiclife

      All good questions, GP! I will do some research on those tonight and get back to ya ;-)

    • thedynamiclife

      GP, to answer your questions…

      There is no set age at which people start do develop diabetes. The disease is lifestyle-specific, not age-specific. Historically, the onset of diabetes occurred in middle to late age, due to people settling down, being more sedentary, and being overweight or obese. Unfortunately, in the present day and age, even kids and teenagers are sedentary, have poor diets, and consequently overweight and/or obese. Thus, the age of onset has been shifting downward and will continue to shift as long as we’re on our current track. To answer your question more specifically, some of the factors that contribute directly to the development of diabetes are: lack of exercise, poor diet high in sugars, fats, and refined carbs, smoking, and drinking too much alcohol.

      If you’re headed down the path toward diabetes and want to change directions, it’s possible to “save” yourself before it’s too late. This must involve a complete change in lifestyle – lose weight, exercise, monitor blood glucose, etc. And if you feel like you are headed down this path, you should act as quickly as possible, because once your pancreas stops producing insulin, there’s no reversing it. There are treatments, but they involve supplemental insulin for the remainder of your life. Plus, what most people don’t realize is that diabetes can lead to a slew of other problems including blindness, constant infections, and diseases of other organs.

      To sum it up, there’s no treatment. The best thing you can do is prevent this from happening in the first place or stop your skid by making some serious lifestyle changes.

  2. runmonkey

    The statistic about 1 in 3 being diagnosed by 2050 is EXTREMELY frustrating. So many people are teetering near the edge and can be brought back to health with a few simple changes. I think my 56-year old father is one of those people and I want to help him, but I find it so hard to get through to him when his relationship with food has been poor for so many years. Unfortunately, it seems to take a health scare with most people before they make any lifestyle changes. Can you reverse the disease once you’re diagnosed if you do a complete dietary overhaul of your eating habits?

    • thedynamiclife

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely reverse the damage caused by diabetes, which is why so many people are out there trying to find a “cure”. The best medicine is prevention. And if you think you or someone you know is at risk, the best and only option is to take responsibility and make very significant lifestyle changes. People underestimate the severity of this condition.

      That old saying really makes sense here: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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