It’s diabetes awareness month, and it’s certainly something to be aware of. More than 130 million adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes here in the US. A lot of them don’t even know they have it. That’s pretty scary, considering this disease can cause issues like retinopathy, kidney failure, neuropathy, heart attack, and gum disease if left untreated. The good news is it can be prevented, managed, or improved through lifestyle. Let’s talk about what it is and what we can do.
Diabetes (type 2) is a condition where your body loses its ability to effectively regulate your blood sugar (glucose) due to not responding adequately to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that, when working properly, takes glucose from the bloodstream into your cells for energy. This causes issues like increased thirst, increased hunger, fatigue, numbness or tingling in the feet or hands, frequent infections, and slow-healing wounds, to name a few.
Here are my top three tips for preventing or helping to lessen the symptoms of diabetes:
1. Eat fiber with most meals and snacks.
2. Move your body with intention most days.
3. Drink at least two liters of water most days.
Fiber slows digestion, creates fullness, and provides ample nourishment for our gut bacteria. For these reasons and more, fiber helps manage our blood sugar. It’s found in all whole plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, rolled oats, quinoa, etc.), nuts and seeds, beans, and legumes. We need at least 25g per day. For reference, 4g of fiber in one apple and 10g in ½ cup of navy beans. Think about ways to ADD fiber to your existing meals and snacks. For example, can you add a side of veggies and dip? Can you snack on a few nuts?
When we move our bodies and use our muscles, we use the sugar in our bloodstream without needing insulin’s help! How great is that? Thank you, muscles! Movement doesn’t have to take place in a gym. Let’s move away from comparing what we’re doing to what others are doing. Not all bodies are able to do the same thing in this moment, and not all schedules allow for the same routine. How can you incorporate movement into your day TODAY? This might look like taking the stairs, walking to get the mail, or dancing while you cook. Make movement work for your day.
Drinking water can dilute the sugar in your bloodstream, lowering your blood glucose levels. On most days, we need upwards of ELEVEN 8oz glasses of water per day. That might be a lofty goal for many, so start with adding ONE more glass of water to your day and see where that takes you.
Diabetes can be managed and even prevented. If you need more tips or guidance on this topic, please reach out to 901 Nutrition at 901.800.9526 or visit 901nutrition.com.
Erin Dragutsky is the co-founder of 901 Nutrition, LLC and a licensed, registered dietitian in Memphis. Erin specializes in helping clients with eating disorders and disordered eating habits. She is passionate about helping clients ditch their diets for good, find food freedom, and develop a positive relationship with food. 901nutrition.com, 901.800.9526.