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At Risk for Diabetes? Be Your Own Breakthrough

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, affects millions of Americans. As waistlines increase and diets degrade, the Type 2 diabetes diagnosis rate continues to grow in this country. And, it is being diagnosed at unprecedented and alarming rates in children. This chronic disease, marked by high levels of glucose in the blood, puts those who have it at lifelong risk of heart disease, stroke and other serious complications including eye, skin, and kidney disease.

Is managing this disease in our hands? 

Recently, research published in The Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that intensive lifestyle changes, which include significant modifications in diet and exercise, can improve blood sugar levels in those with diabetes risk. Healthy eating, it implied, including eating foods high in nutrients and antioxidants, can assuage symptoms and reduce risk factors. Those reporting on the study have gone so far as to say that diet and exercise trump diabetes drugs.

People who live with diabetes often require insulin (or the increasingly popular pills) to control the disease, and no one should forgo doctor-prescribed medication whether for diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease. At the same time, a recent editorial in Boston Globe tells it like it is when it comes to the degree to which we are helping ourselves prevent disease. We know about the need for fruits and veggies to maintain health, prolong life, and reduce obesity that puts us at risk for diseases like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, it says. But we simply aren’t listening.

Despite our crumbling health, we are eating fewer fruits and vegetables now than we were ten years ago, and no state is achieving the nation’s dietary goals. 

What will it take for us to help ourselves?

It’s time to get serious and forgo the enticing taste combinations, colorful packaging, and convenience of processed foods and fast foods. It’s time to eat life-giving, disease-preventing fruits and vegetables.

Blueberries & Diabetes

In October’s issue of The Journal of Nutrition, exciting new research concerning blueberries and their impact on risk for Type 2 diabetes was published. The study found that daily consumption of whole blueberries helped people with a high risk for Type 2 diabetes reduce that risk. It was the bioactives in blueberries that made the difference—those chemical food compounds that have a health effect on our bodies. They increased the participants’ insulin sensitivity, a key factor in preventing the disease.

This research contributes to a body of growing evidence that supports the idea that adding this powerful fruit to our diet can have significant positive health effects. Even more exciting is what the subjects of this study did.  

They drank a smoothie every day.

No injections, no unreasonable fruit intake – just a smoothie. As Nutrition Advisor Susan Davis, MS, RD points out, it’s something that is easily replicated every day by anyone with access to basic smoothie ingredients. There are myriad combinations that quickly and easily make super-palatable snacks, breakfasts or meals. What could be better news for those struggling with strict dietary requirements or just looking to enhance health through food?

Diabetes Superfoods

The American Diabetes Association has valuable news and research about diabetes, including diabetes basics, information on living with the disease, and help in figuring out what you can eat if you are at risk or have the disease. They also list their top Diabetes Superfoods.

While these foods often appear on healthy food lists for anyone looking to invigorate their health through food, they are particularly powerful and work well with a diabetes meal plan. They have a low glycemic index and provide key nutrients often missing in the diets of those who have diabetes (and any American consumer for that matter). Berries are touted here (all types, though we know that blues have more nutrient-rich skin per serving) – along with leafy greens, nuts, and yogurt.

If you, like millions of Americans, are at risk for diabetes, there’s only one thing to do: throw on your lab coat and put yourself under the microscope. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to have your own personal health breakthrough. 

Drink to your health! 

Enjoy these super-powerful, super-delicious smoothie ideas:  Try a fresh Apple Smoothie, indulge in good fat with an Avocado Smoothie, or combine blueberries with bananas with this classic Banana Smoothie. This Coconut Smoothie captures a favorite flavor, and Wild Blueberry Soy Shake is good health in a glass. Mix up some good health! Enjoy!

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