Reduce the Risk of Diabetes Quickly

January 17, 2017 in Diabetes Management by Joyce Bunderson

I read a quote from Walter Willett, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that said that said that you could cut your risk of diabetes quickly. The word ‘quickly’ for a dietitian/nutritionist, like myself, was like a high-pitched dog whistle for a dog. Quickly? That’s wonderful! That got my attention; so many people, including myself, would really like to obtain such results “quickly.”

If like me, you don’t have diabetes; you may be thinking – Who cares! But the fact is that one-third of U.S. adults have pre-diabetes. That’s the stepping-stone to diabetes. And of that third, nine of every ten of them don’t know it. Willett says, “We could prevent about 90 percent of type 2 diabetes in the U.S.” Hey folks, he’s great at his work, why not take a second look at how to quickly decrease your risk of diabetes?

I’m assuming that you know that diabetes is really worth avoiding. Certainly, the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and several types of cancer is worth some effort; if we can avoid it.

Willett said; “If you make a change in your diet or lifestyle today, you’re taking your foot off the accelerator, and that happens almost overnight.” He continued; “If you exercise today, your insulin resistance goes down within hours. And if you keep up daily exercise, within a day or two your risk of diabetes drops.”

Willet said that changing your diet might take longer to make a difference, but it’s a matter of weeks, not years.

So if you want to know where to start a shortcut, try the following:

  • As related to exercise; as little as 30 minutes of brisk walking daily has been shown to lower your risk of diabetes. Another hint, shared by the good people at Nutrition Action is: If you already have diabetes, get up and move every half hour.
  • As related to diet, if you want the biggest bang (reduction in diabetes risk) for your buck, then start with the elimination of sugar drinks (including fruit juice).
  • A close second step is to reduce the amount and frequency of white flour, refined starch, sugar and potatoes. Consider consuming the vast majority of your starchy foods as whole grains.
  • Replace both processed and unprocessed red meat with beans, nuts or other plant sources of protein, or some dairy, poultry, or fish. Red meat is related to an increased risk of diabetes.
  • Yogurt seems to reduce risk of diabetes. The flashing yellow caution sign says, watch out for sugar added to your yogurt. We just had Greek yogurt yesterday in our butternut squash. Use Greek yogurt any way you would use sour cream.
  • Coffee consumption is linked to decreased risk of diabetes. Even the decaffeinated coffee has the benefit.
  • Nutrition Action says one of the ways to reduce the risk of diabetes is to have a magnesium-rich diet. I’d prefer to stay out of the nutritionism Who knows what else is in these whole foods magnesium-rich foods (leafy greens, beans, nuts, and whole grains) that may help keep us safe from diabetes?
  • The often-quoted rule of thumb for serving up your plate is: Half the plate for vegetables and/or fruit; one-fourth of the plate for whole grains, starchy vegetables; and the other quarter of the plate with a plant or animal protein food.

If your New Year’s resolutions included becoming healthier, working on this short list could not only get your foot off the accelerator, but also quickly reduce your risk of diabetes, especially if you maintain the habit changes.