In Part 2 of this series on diabetes, House Call Doctor discusses the lifestyle changes prediabetics must make in order to reverse the progress of this deadly disease.
Salt: Those with diabetes or prediabetes have a tendency towards developing high blood pressure as well. Therefore, a diet low in salt (less than 2 grams a day) is also important to keep in mind.
Timing: Maintain a regular eating schedule to keep your glucose levels steady throughout the day. When you skip a meal or eat later than usual, your blood glucose tends to shoot up after your next meal. Alternatively, instead of eating 3 large meals a day, you can incorporate 5 smaller, more well-balanced ones to keep steady glucose leves.
Exercise has been shown to improve insulin resistance, which is the term used to describe how the cells respond to insulin. Therefore, it’s very important that you incorporate regular physical activity into your life, not only to improve insulin resistance, but to also lose and then maintain your weight. It is recommended to perform 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (such as brisk walking, running, aerobics, swimming, etc.) for most days of the week. Check out my colleague Get-Fit Guy for more tips on how to add exercise into your busy life.
Most patients with diabetes are overweight. And the more overweight, the more insulin resistant we are. The only way to lose weight is to expend more energy than you consume – no secret there. So either you need to burn more calories, consume less calories, or do what works best…both. Even a 10% weight loss has been shown to significantly improve blood glucose levels. Set a goal to lose 1-2 pounds a week, and for most people that’s cutting out about 500 to 1,000 calories a week (that's equal to the amount of calories in just one fast food cheeseburger!). Those who lose weight more rapidly than that tend to regain the weight. Again, it’s about a lifestyle change that you can maintain for the rest of your life. Don’t wait for the “new year” to make this resolution – do it now.
Phew! That’s a lot of information. Personally, I think every diabetic and even prediabetic could really benefit from meeting with a dietician. Ask them to teach you how to read food labels – this is a really an important skill.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you been able to reverse prediabetes by making a lifestyle change? Share it with us in Comments or on the House Call Doctor’s Facebook and Twitter pages! If you have any suggestions for future topics you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope you have a healthy week!