Diabetes: You Have the Power to Prevent it!

green apple

Healthy Home

Welcome to Healthy Home, an enlightening weekly series on Mom Going Green.  Healthy Home focuses on natural health topics for the whole family.  The goal of this series is to provide moms (and dads too), with information on how to achieve optimal health for the entire household naturally.   The series will include the latest in natural health news, wholesome health tips, yummy recipes, and natural health remedies that have worked for healthy homes in year past.

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November is national Diabetes Awareness month.  You may not think the timing is right with the holiday season around the corner.  Most people figure they’ll just enjoy the holidays and make changes come January 1st.  But why not go into the holidays with a different attitude this year;  of coming out on January 1st feeling great and ahead of the game!

It is estimated that 16 million Americans suffer from Type 2 diabetes.

outreach_diabetes_bottleEven more troubling is the fact that just a few years ago Type 2 Diabetes was more commonly known in the health care world as “Adult-Onset Diabetes”, but because of the poor diets and exercises habits of American children today, this name has been replaced as more and more of our children suffer from this preventable disease.  Diabetes and other preventable diseases also play a huge roll in the money toiletcurrent health care crisis.  According to The American Diabetes Association, the total annual economic cost of diabetes was estimated at 174 billion dollars in 2007.  It is astonishing that our country has allowed diabetes to become so wide spread and costly considering how preventable this disease is.

While it is outrageous that diabetes is so out of control in our country, it is not surprising that the number of Americans with diabetes is growing.  As a health care provider it is frustrating to see commercials on television touting the health benefits of “natural” high fructose corn syrup, especially in foods marketed towards children.  When I look in the coupon booklets in the weekly Sunday newspaper, 90% of them are for processed, unhealthy foods. There is so much money spent promoting the foods that have lead Americans to this diabetes epidemic!  Just take a walk down the aisles of your local grocery store.  They are filled with processed, convenience foods loaded with sugar and artificial, chemically created ingredients with names that are impossible to pronounce.  Sadly, the average American today eats this processed, unhealthy food for breakfast each day, goes to work where he or she sits at a computer, then eats a lunch with more processed, sugary foods, returns to the computer to work, sits in a car to go home, sits down for a dinner of even more unhealthy food, heads to the couch to sit and watch television, and finally goes to bed.  And we wonder why so many Americans must take diabetes medication to survive!

While diabetes is preventable, it takes a little bit of effort and will power.    Try shopping in the perimeter aisles of the grocery store where you will find fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats.  When shopping for meats it is important to look for grass fed beef and free range poultry and eggs.  This is because meat from corn and grain fed animals contain pro-inflammatory fatty acids that can facilitate diabetes.   Nuts such as walnuts and almonds should be a regular part of your diet.  When shopping for grains, choose whole grains and rice.  Try glutin free options to further reduce inflammation such as brown rice flour.  Avoid continence foods that have an ingredient label a mile long.  You can make natural foods convenient too.  Throw some grapes in your freezer and you have a tasty snack.  Try organic, all natural peanut butter on 100% whole wheat bread with raisins and unsweetened coconut.  Add a touch of honey if you like.   On the weekend when you have more time, pre-cook several free-range chicken breasts to place atop a bed of lettuce with avocado slices and an oil and vinegar dressing.  Add additional fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, or spices to increase the flavor.  Be creative.  If you plan ahead it is not hard to have quick and healthy meals ready!  When shopping, don’t spend too much time in the middle aisles of the store.   That is where most processed and unhealthy foods are located.  Avoid hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, processed foods and sweets.  When buying packaged foods, be sure to read the label.  Choose items with few ingredients and make sure you know what they are.  If you have never heard of it avoid it.  Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods, just eat them in moderation.

Exercise

jogging momWhile most researchers and physicians focus on diet as the primary preventative tool for diabetes, it is important to note that exercise is also extremely beneficial.  One study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic and published in the “Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism,” showed that patients who exercise and change their diet reduce their risk for diabetes more than those who change their diet alone.  Another study conducted in Copenhagen showed that the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes among other diseases.  Exercise has several positive effects that help to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Misconception

kiwiMany diabetics are fearful of eating fresh fruits.  Yes, fruits contain sugar, but they are natural sugars.  If you are not loading up on processed refined sugar, there is plenty of room in your diet for fresh fruits.   If you still have concerns about fruit and blood sugar levels, consume some protein with your fruit.  A hand full of nuts is a good protein option.  Fruits have many valuable anti-oxidants and vitamins that are good for your body.  Don’t deprive youself of this.  Instead cut back or eliminate unnatural refined sugars.

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