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At each meal and snack pair carbohydrates with a protein and heart healthy fat. For meals make half your plate vegetables (raw, steamed or sautéed in a heart healthy oil like olive oil),a quarter lean protein (think less legs are better – choose fish, chicken, pork and have beef (aka red meat) on occasion), the remaining quarter of your plate should be from grains, preferably whole (i.e. quinoa, couscous, rice or even a baked potato- just go easy on the butter and sour cream). Some snack ideas include pairing fruit or vegetable with a protein, such as a banana or apple with peanut butter, raw vegetables (carrots, bell or sweet pepper strips, snap peas, celery) with hummus or even whole grain crackers with a low-fat cheese or plain yogurt with added fruit.
There is convincing evidence that diets rich in whole grains protect against diabetes, whereas diets rich in refined carbohydrates lead to increased risk (53). In the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II, for example, researchers looked at the whole grain consumption of more than 160,000 women whose health and dietary habits were followed for up to 18 years. Women who averaged two to three servings of whole grains a day were 30 percent less likely to have developed type 2 diabetes than those who rarely ate whole grains. (21) When the researchers combined these results with those of several other large studies, they found that eating an extra 2 servings of whole grains a day decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21 percent.
Other than gestational (which occurs in pregnant women and usually disappears after giving birth), there are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes accounts for only 5 percent of all instances in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes is the most common, clocking in as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Type 2 diabetes is also the only one that’s considered preventable. It generally develops later in life, sometimes as a consequence of lifestyle or other health factors.
As a bonus, stress relief may help you sleep better, which is important because studies show that not getting enough sleep can worsen type 2 diabetes. Sleeping less than six hours a night has also been found to contribute to impaired glucose tolerance, a condition that often precedes type 2 diabetes. In fact, a review published in 2015 in Diabetes Care analyzed 10 studies that involved more than 18,000 participants combined and found the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes in the group of participants that slept seven to eight hours per day. That’s the minimum recommended amount of sleep for most adults, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Exercise can also help people with type 2 diabetes avoid long-term complications, especially heart problems. People with diabetes are susceptible to developing blocked arteries (arteriosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack. Exercise helps keep your heart healthy and strong. Plus, exercise helps you maintain good cholesterol—and that helps you avoid arteriosclerosis.
In general, prediabetes is not associated with any specific symptoms. However, there may be indicators of problems in blood sugar metabolism that can be seen years before the development of overt diabetes. Health-care professionals in the field of endocrinology are now routinely looking at these indicators in patients who are high risk for developing diabetes.