5 Natural Health Tips for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, or amputation, and it affects almost 26 million Americans. Another 79 million are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in adults. Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, although still rare, is being diagnosed more frequently. It usually begins as insulin resistance, a condition in which cells do not use insulin properly. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce it. Type 2 diabetes is associated with:

  • older age
  • obesity
  • family history of diabetes
  • history of gestational diabetes
  • impaired glucose metabolism
  • physical inactivity
  • race/ethnicity (African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, some Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and its complications)

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention
The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) says making small changes, like becoming more active and losing a small amount of weight if you’re overweight, can go a long way toward helping prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Losing even 10 to 15 pounds – if you weigh 200 pounds – can make a big difference.

If you have diabetes, you can help prevent complications by making changes to reach your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol goals. The NDEP offers a “Make A Plan” tool to help identify, organize, and meet your goals, plus information on how to stop smoking and cope with stress.

During American Diabetes Month, the American Diabetes Association is calling for individuals to take a stand and support the move to Stop Diabetes® by participating in online information sharing and support.

Physicians from National University of Health Sciences offer some natural tips that may help reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and may be helpful if you already have it.

“Making a few relatively simple dietary and lifestyle changes, and adding additional screening to your annual physical, can go a long way in diabetes prevention,” says Dr. Brian Anderson, chiropractic physician at National’s on-campus integrative medical center. “Prevention steps are especially important if you have a family history of diabetes.”

5 Natural Health Tips for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

1. Breakfast protein. Consume adequate protein for breakfast to help stabilize your blood sugar for the rest of the day. Dr. Anderson often recommends a meal replacement shake for breakfast with the following recipe: 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder, 6 – 8 ounces of yogurt or Kefir, 4 ounces of water, 1/2 cup of frozen berries.

2. Water. Start replacing sodas, commercial sports drinks, and other sugary drinks with water. “This is one of the biggest diabetes prevention tips for children and young people,” says Anderson. “Diabetes is striking increasingly younger age groups, and parents would do well to make water the first option when their kids are thirsty.”

3. Glycemic index. Educate yourself about the glycemic index and glycemic load and change dietary habits to choose foods lower on the glycemic index. Anderson explains that different foods can have a different impact on blood sugar elevation. Choosing foods that are lower on the glycemic index — for example, choosing whole grains over processed white flour products — can help stabilize your blood sugar levels.

4. Walk. Start using a pedometer and work your way up to 10,000 steps per day. Physical activity maintains insulin sensitivity. Even if you’re not up to a major workout, most people can walk more than they do.

5. Bio-impedance test. Have a bio-impedance test to give you your baseline body composition. A bio-impedance test can be performed by chiropractic physicians and will give you the most accurate measure of your body composition. A major risk factor in type 2 diabetes is obesity, so lowering body fat and gaining lean muscle mass is recommended.

National University of Health Sciences is a leading university for advanced degrees in complementary and alternative health.

Next: Diabetes takes many forms

Photo: Kim Steele/Photodisc/Thinkstock

All diabetes is not the same. In addition to type 2 diabetes, the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse lists these other forms of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The exact cause of this is unknown. In time, the pancreas loses its ability to produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day to stay alive. Untreated, a person with type 1 diabetes can lapse into a life-threatening coma. There is no known prevention.

Type 1 diabetes represents about 5-10 percent of diabetes cases in the U.S. Anyone can develop type 1 diabetes, but it most often occurs in children or young adults. Symptoms include:

  • excessive thirst
  • increased urination
  • constant hunger
  • weight loss
  • blurred vision
  • fatigue

If your child has symptoms of diabetes, seek immediate medical help.

Gestational Diabetes
Diabetes can develop during pregnancy. About 3-8 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. develop gestational diabetes, but it usually resolves after childbirth. However, women who have gestational diabetes have a 40-60 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes within 5 to 10 years.

Other Forms of Diabetes
Diabetes can also be caused by:

  • genetic defects in insulin action
  • diseases of the pancreas or conditions that damage the pancreas, such as pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis
  • excess amounts of certain hormones resulting from some medical conditions
  • medications or chemicals that reduce insulin action
  • infections, such as congenital rubella and mumps
  • rare immune-mediated disorders, such as stiff-man syndrome, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system
  • genetic syndromes such as Down syndrome, Huntington’s chorea, and Prader-Willi syndrome
  • adults with latent autoimmune diabetes have signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes

The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) is a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH). For more information about diabetes, visit diabetes.niddk.nih.gov

Related reading:
6 in 10 Adults Walk for Exercise…But Not Enough


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