November is National Diabetes Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million American adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. Furthermore, in 2015, the American Diabetes Association sited diabetes to be the seventh leading cause of death in the US. Diabetes, a disease that occurs when blood glucose (sugar) levels are chronically elevated, has two primary types: Type 1 is an inherited autoimmune condition; Type 2, which typically occurs later in life, is diet and lifestyle induced. The good news is that up to 95% of diabetes is Type 2, and can easily be prevented or reversed.
- More than 100 million American adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. In 2015, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in this country.
- Type 2 Diabetes typically occurs later in life, and is diet and lifestyle induced; therefore, it’s reversible with healthy interventions.
- To prevent or reverse diabetes, you must balance blood sugar levels. A high-fiber, low-sugar, anti-inflammatory diet coupled with the use of spices, apple cider vinegar and regular exercise can have a dramatic impact within a matter of weeks.
- Our Kitchen Market offers a variety of low-glycemic soups, seed crackers, dark chocolate almond clusters, wild-caught fish, Health Boosting Seasoning Blends™ and Superfood Smoothies™ that support a diabetic meal plan. Stop in Monday through Friday from 9am to 6pm to stock up!
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are caused by imbalanced insulin production. Insulin is the hormone that shuttles glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into the cells where it can be used as energy. When this hormone is released too slowly, underproduced or the cells stop responding to it—as seen with insulin resistance—dangerously high levels of glucose accumulate in the bloodstream. Elevated blood glucose levels can lead to weakness, fatigue, increased thirst, excessive hunger, blurred vision and trouble concentrating. Furthermore, as these levels remain elevated, damage can occur to the nerves and cause neuropathy, typically marked by burning or shooting pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness or atrophy. Although you can improve your symptoms at any stage of the game, the sooner that you start making healthy changes, the less likely your diabetes will progress to a place of irreversible damage.
Balancing blood sugar with a whole-food, low-glycemic diet is top priority for diabetics. Each meal should contain fat, fiber and protein—this powerful trifecta helps slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream and keeps you full for longer. A well-balanced meal might include a piece of wild-caught salmon (protein) with quinoa (fiber) and spinach (fiber) sautéed in coconut oil (healthy fat). Foods to avoid include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), refined grains, simple sugars, hydrogenated oils, cow’s milk, alcohol and gluten. These are inflammatory, immunosuppressant in nature, and lead to cellular damage, hormone imbalance and altered metabolic function.
When making food choices, refer to the glycemic index. This ranking system assesses the impact that a higher carbohydrate food will have on blood glucose levels. High-fiber foods that are less processed and lower in starches and sugar have a lower glycemic index—i.e. brown rice (whole grain, low glycemic) vs. white bread (flour product, high glycemic). The lower the glycemic index, the better energy, brain power, hunger control and mood you’ll have after eating them. If a food is higher in sugar, even if just a piece of fruit, we recommend pairing it with a fat or protein to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Diabetic superfoods include wild-caught fish, dark leafy greens, almonds and legumes. The omega-3 fats in wild fish, especially salmon, have anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for blood vessel and nerve health. Almonds, legumes and dark leafy greens such as kale, arugula, parsley and cilantro are alkalizing, and rich in B vitamins and fiber. They also contain magnesium, a calming mineral that’s responsible for up to 800 different functions within the body including blood sugar balance.
Another tip? When preparing your foods, add spices! Cinnamon, which is great in coffee, oatmeal or a smoothie, is packed with antioxidants and chromium, nutrients that help maintain insulin sensitivity. Turmeric, an Ayurveda superstar spice that’s used in curry dishes, golden milk lattes and more, contains curcuminoids that stabilize blood sugar, aid digestion, fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering and blood-sugar-stabilizing, garlic is another great spice to incorporate. These spices, and more, are part of our Health-Boosting Seasoning Blends™. Available for purchase in our Kitchen Market, these easy-to-use seasonings contain a blend of organic herbs and spices that are good for you and add flavor to your dish! Enjoy them on everything from roasted veggies to chicken and fish!
Last but not least, regular exercise is an incredibly important element to a diabetes prevention plan. Physical activity makes the cells more sensitive to insulin, thus improving their ability to utilize sugar for energy. Five times a week, we recommend at least 30 minutes of heart-rate-elevating activity such as brisk walking, high-intensity interval training, spinning or weight lifting. Beyond balancing blood sugar, staying active also helps with weight loss, mood, energy, inflammation and stress management—all things that work toward the prevention and/or management of diabetes!