Nearly 25% of Americans
are thought to have pre-diabetes—a condition of slightly elevated blood sugar
levels that often develops into diabetes within 10 years—but only 4% of people
know it. What’s worse, of those who are aware, less than half really tried to
reduce their risk by losing weight, eating less, and exercising more. These are
just a few of the good-for-you habits that can reverse pre-diabetes and ensure
you never get the real thing, which can mean a lifetime of drugs and blood
sugar monitoring, an increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and
other scary health threats.
Diabetes-Proof your life
by reading the following 12 simple tricks you can start today:
i. Nudge the ScaleShedding even 10 pounds
can significantly slash your risk. Even extremely overweight people were 70%
less likely to develop diabetes when they lost just 5% of their weight—even if
they didn’t exercise.
ii. Pick the Right AppetizerEating greens with vinaigrette
before a starchy entrée may help control your blood sugar levels. In an Arizona
State University study, people with type 2 diabetes or a precursor condition
called insulin resistance had lower blood sugar levels if they consumed about 2
tablespoons of vinegar just before a high-carb meal. “Vinegar contains acetic
acid, which may inactivate certain starch-digesting enzymes, slowing
carbohydrate digestion,” says lead researcher Carol Johnston, PhD. In fact,
vinegar’s effects may be similar to those of the blood sugar—lowering
medication acarbose (Precose).
iii. Ditch Your CarWalk as much as you can
every day. You’ll be healthier—even if you don’t lose any weight. People in a
Finnish study who exercised the most—up to 4 hours a week, or about 35 minutes
a day—dropped their risk of diabetes by 80%, even if they didn’t lose any
weight. This pattern holds up in study after study. The famed Nurses’ Health
Study, for example, found that women who worked up a sweat more than once a
week reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 30%. Chinese researchers
determined that people with high blood sugar who engaged in moderate exercise
(and made other lifestyle changes) were 40% less likely to develop full-blown
diabetes. Studies show that exercise helps your body utilize the hormone
insulin more efficiently by increasing the number of insulin receptors on your
cells. Insulin helps blood sugar move into cells, where it needs to go to
provide energy and nutrition. Otherwise it just sloshes around in your
bloodstream, gumming up blood vessel walls and eventually causing serious
iv. Be a Cereal Connoisseur
Selecting the right
cereal can help you slim down and steady blood sugar. A higher whole grain
intake is also linked to lower rates of breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, high
blood pressure, and stroke—and cereal is one of the best sources of these
lifesaving grains, if you know what to shop for.
Look for the words high
fiber on the box: The cereal that ensures at least 5 g per serving but don’t
stop there. You should also check the label as in some brands the benefits of
fiber are overshadowed by the addition of refined grains, added sugar, or
Decode the grains: Where
that fiber comes from matters too, so check the ingredient list to find out
exactly what those flakes or squares are made from. Millet, amaranth, quinoa,
and oats are always whole grain, but if you don’t see whole in front of wheat,
corn, barley, or rice, these grains have been refined and aren’t as healthy.
Watch for hidden sugar:
The "total sugars" listing doesn’t distinguish between added and
naturally occurring sugars. The best way to tell is scan the ingredients again.
The following terms represent added sugars: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn
syrup, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, maltose,
malt syrup, molasses, sugar, and sucrose. Skip cereals that list any of these
within the first three ingredients (which are listed by weight).
v. Indulge Your Coffee CravingsIf you’re a coffee fan,
keep on sipping. The beverage may keep diabetes at bay. After they studied
126,210 women and men, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found
that big-time coffee drinkers—those who downed more than 6 daily cups—had a 29
to 54% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes during the 18-year study.
Sipping 4 to 5 cups cut risk about 29% while 1 to 3 cups per day had little
effect. Decaf coffee offered no protection. Caffeine in other forms—tea, soda,
chocolate—did. Researchers suspect that caffeine may help by boosting
metabolism. And coffee, the major caffeine source in the study, also contains
potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants that help cells absorb sugar.