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10 Ways to Sidestep Diabetes

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Stop worrying about your blood sugar with these simple ways to stay healthy

By Eirish Sison 

Diabetes is on the rise. About 1 in 3 Americans has type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, a condition of impaired glucose tolerance that increases a person's risk for developing the disease. Fortunately, type 2 diabetes is also one of the most preventable diseases. Things like losing weight and exercising regularly can roll your blood sugar back to healthy levels, helping you avoid a lifetime of finger pricks, blood sugar monitoring and medications, as well as serious health problems like blindness, heart disease and stroke that diabetes can bring.

Stop worrying about high blood sugar with these 10 easy ways to sidestep diabetes:

#1: Stay Physically Active

Regular physical activity, 30 minutes a day, will elevate your fitness, confidence and mood while lowering your blood sugar! During even moderate exercise, glucose is released from cells to provide much needed energy to your muscles during the activity. Exercise also boosts your sensitivity to insulin, the hormone that diabetics don't produce enough of that keeps blood sugar in check. Do whatever you can - walk, dance, lift weights, play tennis - just stay active! But challenge yourself, and you will be rewarded. A Yale study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in January 2006 found that intense exercise is far more effective in preventing diabetes than exercise at a leisurely pace.

#2: Reduce Stress

Relax! None of life's problems are worth the health issues that surface because of stress. Consistent stress is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes in two ways. First, stressful situations release cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone that increases glucose levels in the bloodstream. If cortisol is constantly present in your body, elevated glucose levels could lead to diabetes. A study from a January 2005 edition of Diabetes Care revealed that people under stress had higher glucose levels, for a longer period of time than the control group. Also, being stressed out will make you more likely to drop healthy, diabetes-preventing habits like eating well and exercising, and increase your chances of adopting bad habits like overeating, drinking alcohol and smoking. Good ways to reduce stress include reading a book, listening to music and meditation. Better yet, get some exercise in while reducing stress by taking a walk or going to a yoga class.

#3: Spice Up Your Life

A regular sprinkling of cinnamon can go a long way in helping control blood sugar. This sweet spice is high in polyphenols, plant chemicals that have an anti-inflammatory effect. Cinnamon also contains components that either activate insulin or have a similar effect of helping control blood sugar levels.

#4: Shed Pounds

Want to know if you're at risk for developing diabetes? Look no further than your waistline. The number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes is obesity. Luckily, obese people don't need to magically become skinny to reduce this risk. The Diabetes Prevention Program, a major clinical research study aimed at discovering whether modest weight loss through dietary changes could prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, found that a 7 percent decrease in starting weight reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent for prediabetics. Lose weight through physical activity, making healthy food choices and reducing food portions.

#5: Avoid Fad Diets

The Atkins Diet, the glycemic index diet, acai berry diet, the 3-day diet, cabbage soup diet...the list goes on and on. While these diets may help some people lose weight in the short term, they haven't proven to be effective methods for preventing diabetes in the long term, and by restricting or eliminating certain food groups from your diet, you may be giving up essential nutrients that your body needs. Instead, control your portions and choose a variety of healthy foods.

 

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