Stop Prediabetes Now

Stop Prediabetes Now

Posted on 15. Jan, 2010 by in Nutrition

Consider This: Two out of every three American adults are now overweight. One of every two overweight Americans is heavy enough (more than 30 pounds over his or her ideal weight) to be considered obese. If you’re obese, your risk of developing diabetes is more than 80 times greater than that for someone of normal weight. These statistics are even more disturbing when you consider that diabetes used to be a relatively rare disease, affecting mostly overweight elderly people. But as individuals become overweight at younger ages, they are more likely to develop diabetes earlier in life. Researchers and news reports frequently describe the alarming growth of overweight, obesity, and diabetes in children. While just a few decades ago overweight children were uncommon, today overweight children are quickly becoming the norm, with about one in every three American children either overweight or obese.

The good news is you can take control now and naturally reduce your family’s risk for developing full-blown diabetes and its many associated and debilitating health problems.

What Is Prediabetes?

Diabetes is characterized by two factors: abnormally high blood-sugar (glucose) levels, either before breakfast or after eating, and abnormally high levels of insulin (a hormone that normally helps your body to use blood sugar). In prediabetes, blood-sugar or insulin levels, or both, have begun to creep up.

Normally, blood sugar serves as one of the body’s main fuels. Without it, you wouldn’t have the energy to walk or think. But when blood-sugar levels are too high or too low, you cannot function at your best. Insulin is also essential in normal health, but high levels lead to many health problems. In fact, elevated insulin usually precedes increases in blood sugar and can serve as a reliable early warning of diabetes risk.

Practitioners use a variety of terms to describe prediabetes, with the differences usually reflecting the way they diagnose it. All of the following terms refer to prediabetes:

• Impaired fasting glucose
• Impaired glucose tolerance
• Hyperinsulinemia
• Insulin resistance
• Hypoglycemia
• Metabolic syndrome
• Syndrome X
• Insulin resistance syndrome.

Excess weight can speed the journey from prediabetes to diabetes. You can lower your family’s risk by controlling blood sugar and weight.

A Growing Problem

Being overweight or obese in childhood increases a person’s risk of developing allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, and fatty liver. In fact, fatty liver, in which fat deposits on the liver impair its function and blood- sugar regulation, has become the most common physical abnormality in children and adolescents.

Researchers project that one of every three people born since the year 2000 will eventually develop diabetes. Already, an estimated 40,000 American adolescents have Type 2 diabetes; a generation ago, this disease was virtually unheard of in children. The latest statistics indicate that almost 3 million adolescents have prediabetes,which sharply increases their risk of developing heart disease. Because being overweight and prediabetic accelerate the aging process, these children may not live as long as their parents.

What accounts for this frightening increase in prediabetes and diabetes in children and teenagers? They have grown up eating large quantities of junk foods such as fast foods and microwave convenience foods. People who dine at fast-food restaurants two or more times a week are far more likely to gain weight and develop prediabetes compared with those who rarely eat fast foods.

On a typical day, about one-third of U.S. children eat at fast-food restaurants. Fast-food restaurants form clusters around schools. Unfortunately, many school cafeterias and vending machines aren’t much better, nutritionally. In perhaps the greatest irony of all, fast-food restaurants are common in children’s hospitals and other medical centers with extensive pediatric programs.

A Healthy Diet

What your family eats (or doesn’t eat) has the greatest impact on the risk of becoming prediabetic, diabetic, and overweight. Eating habits are even more important than your genes, because genes also depend on good nutrition.

The types of foods we eat have changed considerably over the years. Because of these changes, contemporary foods are richer in sugars and sugar-like carbs, significantly increasing people’s risk of becoming prediabetic and overweight. Portion sizes have increased immensely, and people snack more often than they did in the past. Frequent snacking in itself can often be a sign of the up-and-down blood- sugar swings and food cravings that are characteristic of prediabetes.

What to Eat

As a general rule, fresh foods improve blood sugar and support weight loss. Specifically, boosting your family’s consumption of high-quality protein and fiber is central to reducing blood-sugar levels and appetite. Several individual foods and condiments also have remarkable benefits on blood sugar, weight, or both. These foods include vinegar, grapefruit, cinnamon, and chili pepper.

Protein-rich foods are nutrient dense—they provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals in addition to the protein. Likewise, fiber-rich vegetables and fruits are also nutrient dense. Both protein and fiber help to control blood sugar and weight. Over the last few years, medical journals have published dozens of studies that support the benefits of protein in treating prediabetes, overweight, or high blood fats. These studies show that people lose weight and improve their blood sugar when they follow either protein-rich diets or more moderate diets that substitute a little more protein for a little less carbs.

One concern about protein is that it contains large amounts of saturated fat; however, by selecting fish and lean cuts of chicken, turkey, and grass-fed or game meats, it’s easy to get sufficient protein while consuming very little saturated fat. Furthermore, by adding plenty of high-fiber, nonstarchy vegetables and fruit, a protein-rich eating plan becomes more nutritionally balanced than traditional high-protein diets. The fiber in vegetables and fruits plays a central role in regulating blood sugar and weight, and is far more nutritious than starchier grains, even whole grains. Most high-fiber foods are also very low in starch. Although they contain some naturally occurring sugars and starches, the fiber slows their digestion and thereby moderates their effect on blood-sugar levels. Increasing your family’s fiber intake will lower blood-sugar levels and aid weight loss.

Do You Need a Supplement?

Nutritional supplements can enhance the benefits that result from improved eating habits and can speed the healing process during recovery from prediabetes. They can help in a variety of ways, such as by lowering blood sugar, improving insulin function, and reducing the risk of disease complications. Some supplements have very rapid and obvious effects, and others have more subtle benefits over the long term.

Supplements can be especially helpful for people who have prediabetes or weight problems. For example, people who fall into one or both of these categories have a history of eating nutrient-poor foods. (Otherwise, they would not have developed these diseases.) They consequently suffer from various nutritional deficiencies that can range from marginal to serious. These deficiencies impair the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and insulin. Also, diabetes interferes with the activity of many nutrients, and prediabetes likely does as well. People with diabetes tend to have low levels of many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin D, and omega-3 fats. Excess body fat interferes with normal distribution of many nutrients in the body, often creating deficiency-like states.

Creating a Supplement Program

Ideally, people should be tested to determine the nutrient levels in their bodies before they take high doses of individual supplements—that is, doses beyond those found in high-potency multivitamins. To begin supplementing, start with the basics—namely, multivitamin/mineral supplements—to reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies. Have clear objectives when you move beyond a multi. For example, one might be to reduce blood-sugar levels. Finally, remember that supplements work best if they accompany a healthy diet.

If you’re interested in taking a minimum of pills, look for a multivitamin/mineral formulated for people with prediabetes and diabetes. In addition to vitamins and minerals, it will contain vitamin-like substances that can help to maintain normal blood- sugar levels and insulin function. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about the right formula for you or your child.

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About the author:

Jack Challem, The Nutrition Reporter™, is a personal nutrition coach and bestselling author based in Tucson, Arizona. He is one of America’s most trusted nutrition and health writers, with 30 years of experience writing about research and clinical experience on nutrition, vitamins, minerals, and herbs. He is the author of The Food-Mood Solution, Feed Your Genes Right, The Inflammation Syndrome, and the lead author of Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance. Jack is also the series editor for the 50-volume User’s Guide series of health paperback books (Basic Health Publications). He writes The Nutrition Reporter™ newsletter. Jack is a frequent speaker at nutritional medicine conferences and to consumer health groups. www.nutritionreporter.com


- who has written 4 articles on Health e Times.

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