Diabetes can be an incredibly debilitating disease and is often entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, it is also quite easy to fall into a routine of poor lifestyle and dietary habits due to convenience and competing demands in your life.

In fact, an estimated 23.6 million Americanssuffer from diabetes, with only a fraction that has been properly diagnosed. This serves as an indication that the standard for American diets is in need of an urgent and immediate overhaul.

 As with many other diseases or debilitations, often times people do not think about the potential risk in their lifestyle until it’s too late. Early detection can be a life-saver when it comes to diabetes, as persisting with poor food choices can lead to serious complications, including blindness or amputation. However, with enough discipline and knowledge, most people are able to avoid getting to this point in the first place. Below, we will explore various ways that lifestyle and dietary intervention can keep your body healthy and free of diabetes.

Manage Blood Sugar In The Meantime

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If you are diabetic or prediabetic, it might be a good idea to buffer against the progression and worsening of the disease with a blood-sugar medication. This medicine will help stabilize sugar levels in the blood to prevent catastrophe in the short term. If levels spike to high or fall too low, dire and lifelong consequences are possible.

Glycemic Index

Foods are now categorized according to their respective glycemic index. Foods that are quickly digested rank highly in glycemic index, while the converse is true for foods that are digested slowly. Quickly digesting foods tend to wreak havoc on the body’s metabolism and send blood sugar levels through the roof. Foods that are digested more slowly facilitate a more stable metabolism of sugar.

 As it turns out, food that maintains a close resemblance to the way it occurred in nature generally retains a healthy dietary profile and a low glycemic index. Foods like brown rice (as opposed to white) are unprocessed, and thus remain attached to the fiber that ensures a favorable rate of digestion. The same methodology applies to whole-grain bread versus white bread.

 Companies often process foods to increase their shelf-life or otherwise make them more compliant with the demands of business. The end result is an abundance of processing with an impetus on the consumer to be critical and vigilant about what they eat.

 Today, marketing in the food industry is perhaps more deceptive than ever, with companies trying to both prey on the health-conscious while maintaining the ulterior goal of increasing profits at all cost. Terms like “multi-grain” or “all natural” can easily be stamped onto food packages without meaning much of anything in terms of objective healthiness. If a bread is “multi-grain”, it says nothing about whether or not the grains are refined, which is ultimately what makes the difference in metabolic response. A term like “all natural” means even less but can conceivably make the difference needed in a purchasing dilemma to an unknowing customer.

Sugary Drinks

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Consumption of soda and other carbonated, sugary drinks has been associated with Type 2 diabetes incidence. This isn’t exactly surprising when you consider that soda is the largest single food source of calories in the Western diet. To top it all off, there is no fiber and negligible nutritional value. This makes for an incredibly costly metabolic burden for your body to contend with.

 A more insidious source of refined sugar and calories comes in the form of fruit juices. Juice’s reputation benefits from appearing healthy but maligns the body in much the same way that soda does. A 12-ounce glass of orange juice contains 33 grams of sugar, which falls only slightly behind Coca-Cola. Meanwhile, apple and grape juice contain even more. While these juices may retain some nutrient content, the fiber and nutritional value are often removed during processing.

 If you insist on adding fruit to your diet, opt for the fruit in its natural form or a smoothie, which retains the fiber content needed for proper metabolism. But unless you are making the smoothies yourself, you still need to be vigilant – companies are keen to add sugar to anything they can because they know people will buy it more. For best results, always read the list of ingredients.

Trans Fats

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Trans fats were once heralded as healthier alternatives to naturally occurring fats, but once again, retrospect reveals the contrary. They are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats to make them more stable. They are added to margarine, spreads, crackers, muffins or other baked goods to help extend shelf life. Unfortunately, they hinder endothelial function and reduce HDL cholesterol.

The membranes of all of our cells are made out of fats, but when you eat trans fats, the body mistakenly uses these lesser counterparts and creates cells with them. This results in cells that have rigid membranes that perform far less effectively than normal ones.