Diet And Exercise For Prediabetes – Are your blood sugar levels higher than normal? Do you have a genetic predisposition to diabetes but haven’t self-diagnosed it? Do you feel tired, have blurred vision and increased thirst? If any of this sounds familiar, you should check with a healthcare provider about prediabetes.
A person is generally diagnosed with prediabetes when their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but the levels are not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. If you are wondering whether you have prediabetes or diabetes, we recommend that you talk to your doctor.
Diet And Exercise For Prediabetes
Remember that although prediabetes is reversible, it is not a harmful condition. Many people think that prediabetes is not serious because they don’t have diabetes yet. But according to the CDC, when someone is diagnosed with prediabetes and takes no action (medication or lifestyle changes), they have a good chance of developing diabetes within five years.
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People with pre-diabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but this is a simplistic view of the condition. The pathophysiology of prediabetes is more complex, and the condition often begins with insulin resistance within the body’s cells. This means that when you eat carbohydrates, you must release more insulin to overcome the insulin resistance in your cells.
Think of insulin as the key that allows glucose to move into your cells. Your pancreas secretes insulin from what are known as beta cells. Over time, your pancreas can no longer handle the increased demand for insulin, and your blood sugar levels begin to rise. While you can’t control genetics or family history, there are factors within your control, such as weight, activity levels, and diet.
However, data from the Diabetes Prevention Program are promising. It focused on encouraging participants to make healthy changes to their diet and increase activity. The results revealed that people diagnosed with prediabetes can reduce their risk of diabetes by 58 percent with specific lifestyle changes. This includes improving their diet and starting an exercise program to lose at least five percent of their body weight.
Some dietary changes, in particular, include cutting down on processed foods, eating more fruits and vegetables, and being mindful of what you eat. Wondering how to incorporate some of these but don’t know where to start? This article will take a closer look at which foods to include and which foods to limit to prevent diabetes.
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If you know you have prediabetes or suspect you may be at risk, it’s a good idea to look at what you should and shouldn’t include in your diet. Read on for tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy diet that prevents diabetes.
Non-starchy vegetables contain fewer carbohydrates than starchy vegetables. Some starchy vegetables include potatoes (all types, including sweet potatoes), corn, beans, lentils, peas, yams, and winter squash (acorns, pumpkins, and butternut squash). Non-starchy vegetables include carrots, Brussels sprouts, leafy greens, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and beets.
But why choose them? Non-starchy vegetables are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. Inflammation is a major factor in diabetes, so a diet that helps reduce inflammation may help prevent the disease.
Plus, they have both insoluble and soluble fiber, which can fill you up without adding extra calories to your diet. It aids digestion, provides prebiotics and improves the gut microbiome. Research on the relationship between the gut microbiome and diabetes continues to grow. This suggests that a healthy gut microbiome may help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
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Another thing to note is that Americans don’t get enough vegetables in their diet. Today’s recommendations are two to three cups of non-starchy vegetables per day, but higher amounts (about three and a half to five cups) are fine for most people!
Are you eating enough nuts and seeds a day? If not, you may want to consider adding them to your diet. Nuts include almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, macadamias, and pistachios. Seeds include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds.
Both are nutrient-dense foods that support a diabetes-preventing lifestyle. Seeds, in particular, contain healthy monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. They are also a good source of fiber and contain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants – all part of a healthy diet. There is some evidence that nuts and seeds may improve heart health and prevent type 2 diabetes.
The glycemic index (GI) is a value used to determine how much a food raises blood glucose levels. It is measured on a scale of 0-100, where 100 is pure glucose. If a food is low on the GI scale, most people will have a low glucose response. This lower response is good news for people with prediabetes who may have reduced insulin sensitivity.
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Here’s a helpful tool for looking up the glycemic index of specific fruits and vegetables. Processed grains such as white bread, white rice, and pastries have a high GI. Low GI foods usually include non-starchy vegetables like the broccoli or asparagus we mentioned in your diet. Certain foods can also be combined to reduce postprandial reactions.
For example, high GI foods are best combined with protein and/or fat. This will help slow down your digestion and reduce the glucose response. Another option is to eat protein foods first, followed by high GI foods. Keep in mind that portion size is important here, so protein won’t help if your portion size is more substantial than high GI foods.
Fiber is known to slow down digestion and increase the amount of food we eat. Because fiber isn’t digested in your small intestine, it doesn’t contribute to the calories you eat. Because fiber is not digested like other types of carbohydrates, it is subtracted from total carbohydrates when referring to “net” carbohydrates. By adding fiber-rich foods to your daily diet, you can improve heart health and reduce your risk of diabetes.
Beans, lentils, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, some fruits, and whole grains like oats, quinoa, and barley are rich in fiber. Studies show that fiber lowers cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and hemoglobin A1C.
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Fruit is a good source of vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants and is full of fiber. Fruit also contains sugar, which can raise blood sugar levels, so it’s important to consider the type of fruit, how you prepare it, and how much you eat. Good choices include berries, cantaloupe, apples, and oranges because they contain more fiber.
It is better to limit the consumption of fruit juice, because all the fibers are processed from it, and it contains more sugar. For example, an eight-ounce glass of juice may contain the same amount of sugar as two or three oranges. Dried fruit is also a challenge because it becomes more concentrated in sugar when the water is extracted. Remember that a quarter cup of raisins contains the same amount of sugar as a cup of grapes. Sugar is often added to dried fruits (such as dried cranberries and dried mangoes) to increase their sweetness. If you have dried fruit, try to find one without added sugar, and watch the portion size.
Pairing fruit with protein as a snack or using fruit as a carbohydrate option with a meal is a great option for incorporating fruit into your diet. Protein helps slow digestion and can help reduce the glucose response from fruit in that meal or snack.
Not all snacks are bad, but it’s best to limit the amount of snacks you eat throughout the day. A certain amount of insulin is released every time you eat, and it increases if your meal contains carbohydrates. A protein-rich meal leads to the release of a small amount of insulin.
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If you want to preserve the function of the pancreas and its ability to release insulin, it is important to give the pancreas some time between meals. If you are constantly snacking, your pancreas will have to work harder to release insulin!
Protein does not raise blood glucose levels, so it is a good choice for people with prediabetes. Also, pairing quality protein with carbs can help lower your glucose response to carbs. This is because protein takes longer to digest and slows down the digestion of carbohydrate-rich foods.
Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt), eggs, and tofu/tempeh. Some protein-rich foods also contain carbohydrates, including grains such as beans, lentils, or quinoa. Nuts and seeds are low in protein, but something to consider is that some nuts are higher in carbs than others!
According to some research, eating protein before eating starches or carbohydrates can improve your glucose response and help suppress your appetite. For example, take a meal with steak, kale, and potatoes. In this case, you want to eat the steak first, then the Brussels sprouts (a non-starchy vegetable) and finally the potatoes.
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