While February is heart health month, I educate clients about heart health almost daily because many people have h
eart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or being overweight. In this blog entry, I am going to write about a risk factor you may not hear talked about as much DIABETES! That’s right, type-2 diabetes is risk factor for heart disease. Here are some frightening statistics about the type-2-diabetes-heart-disease connection:
- At least 68 percent of people age 65 or older with diabetes die from some form of heart disease; and 16% die of stroke.
- Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes.
So when I talk about preventing type-2 diabetes, keep in mind that this is also helping to protect you from heart diseases. Follow the following strategies and you may prevent and possibly reverse diabetes:
The number one strategy for protecting against type-2 diabetes requires several sub-strategies—you will want to work to lose weight.
The biggest risk factor for developing type-2 diabetes is being overweight, but not all body fat is created equal. The risk is higher if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen, as opposed to your hips and thighs.
Here are some nutrition tips to lose weight around your abdomen (and overall):
Choose high-fiber, slow-release carbs
Carbohydrates have a big impact on your blood sugar levels, but you don’t have to avoid them. You just need to be smart about what types of carbs you eat. It is best to limit highly refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, packaged meals and snacks. And you will want to choose carbs high in fiber like beans, legumes, and whole grains.
Pay attention to foods’ Glycemic index
The glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load offers information about how different foods affect blood sugar and insulin levels. High GI foods spike your blood sugar rapidly, while low GI foods have the least effect on blood sugar. Focus on low GI foods because they keep you feeling fuller longer. Some examples of high glycemic index foods include soda, crackers, potatoes, watermelon, fruit juices. If something is high in sugar, it’s a high glycemic index and you want to avoid those foods.
Plan your meals
The American Diabetes Association suggests meal planning ahead of time in order to make smarter choices. This includes planning to eat diabetes superfoods that are rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber such as:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Citrus fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
- Whole grains
- Milk and yogurt
The American Diabetes Association also highly suggests starting a regular exercise routine if you don’t have one already in place. This is because when you are active, your cells become more sensitive to insulin so it works more effectively. Light walking is a great place to start if you’ve never set foot inside a gym. Every little change you make, such as taking a 20-30 minute walk in the evening around the neighborhood, makes a difference in managing your type-2 diabetes. So get moving, and you’ll thank yourself later! Aerobic exercise is key!
Overall, you can reverse your type-2 diabetes with a simple routine of healthy eating and incorporating exercise into your daily life! You will lose weight and also protect yourself against heart disease.