Best Foods to Prevent Diabetes  

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

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No one likes to be told their body is not functioning properly or that they are on the verge of developing a dangerous illness. But that’s just what’s happening to millions of people in the United States who are battling diabetes. This chronic illness affects 37 million people in this country. Left untreated, it can cause severe vision problems, kidney failure and even result in skin ulcers that can mean the loss of feet or legs. But an even bigger problem is looming: An estimated 96 million people have prediabetes and run the risk of developing this disease. Research has shown that eating the right foods can help prevent these conditions. Here are some of the best foods to prevent diabetes.
What is diabetes? This disease has a few different forms. All revolve around the body either not making enough insulin, or not being able to use insulin like it should. Because of this, when the body breaks down food and beverages into glucose, it can’t be moved efficiently to the body’s cells to act as energy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • 37 million people in the U.S. have either Type 1, Type 2 or gestational diabetes, the kind associated with pregnancy. This means about one in every 10 people is a diabetic.
  • 96 million people are prediabetic, which means they are at risk of developing diabetes. This is one in every three people. Of these, more than eight in 10 adults don’t know they have prediabetes.
  • Diabetes is also on the rise among children at an increasingly younger age, often going together with childhood obesity.
Healthy foods as diabetes prevention. In many cases, making changes to your diet to include the right foods can help prevent diabetes and prediabetes, and can even reverse signs of this illness. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are conditions that can mostly be prevented based on lifestyle changes like a healthy diet and regular exercise. In fact, they say nine out of 10 Type 2 diabetes cases – the most common among adults – can be prevented with simple changes.
  • Lower your risk. Here are Harvard’s recommended steps to lower your risk of developing diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Lose weight and keep it off. If you’re overweight, getting to a healthy weight is a big factor in diabetes and prediabetes prevention. Want to cut your Type 2 diabetes risk in half? Focus on losing 7% to 10% of your current body weight.
  • Walk it off. Intense exercise can be good for your muscles, but you don’t need to hit peak cardio to prevent diabetes. Instead, fit in brisk walking. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day and research shows you can cut your diabetes risk by 30%.
  • Drink the good stuff. Unsweetened water, tea and coffee should be your go-to drinks during the day. Skip the sugary drinks, sodas and fruit juices. They can contribute to spikes in blood sugar levels and increase diabetes risk over time.
  • Pick whole grains. Whole grain foods are better for your body than refined, ultra-processed carbs like donuts, boxed cereals and white bread. Instead, choose things like brown rice, oatmeal and homemade popcorn.
  • Leave the lunchmeat. Part ways with ultra-processed meats like bacon, lunchmeat, bologna and hot dogs. If you eat red meat, limit the frequency and the portions. Focus instead on poultry, fish, nuts and beans.
  • Limit alcohol. If you drink alcohol, keep it in the moderate range. This means one drink per day for women and two for men. Drinking more than that can raise the risk of developing diabetes.
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