According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 26 million Americans have diabetes. They also predict that if current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes by 2050. In light of these staggering statistics, I’d like to share five sure-fire ways to help lower your sugar—for those who feel they’ve tried everything.
A friend recently went for his yearly check-up with his physician. His sugar was borderline. Concerned, he asked the doctor if he needed to go on a special diet. “No. Just lose 20 pounds and you’ll be fine,” the doctor said.
Whatever that means for you, drop any excess weight that you carry around—and I don’t mean the big purse on your shoulder. Being overweight prevents your body from making and using insulin properly. Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 puts you at a much higher risk of type-2 diabetes than your lighter friends. To figure your BMI, use this National Institutes of Health calculator.
Physical activity helps to improve your body’s use of insulin, thereby controlling your blood glucose levels. Most Americans lead a sedentary lifestyle, which puts them at risk for diabetes. If you work a sedentary job, getting moderate exercise such as walking briskly, mowing the lawn, riding a bicycle, or swimming at least 30 minutes five times per week, will greatly lower that risk. It is also important to do something physically active every day. Better 10 minutes of exercise every day, than one hour once a week. Physical activity not only helps to control your blood glucose, but also helps you to lose weight, and lower your blood pressure.
Senior citizens, or anyone with pre-existing health issues, should consult their family physician before beginning a regular exercise program. However, they should not hesitate to just move—walk around the block, park at the far end of a parking lot, or pull the weeds in the flower bed.
Smoking cigarettes not only increases your risk of diabetes, the activity brings with it a tremendous boatload of issues. Stopping smoking just makes sense no matter what physical condition you are in. If you sincerely desire to stop and need help, see your doctor. He can prescribe medications to help you wean yourself off nicotine. Or, at least you can try the over-the-counter patches on the market. Just do it.
Make dietary changes
Giving up Cokes and Snickers bars is not enough to tackle something like diabetes. If you want to see some real changes, consider the following:
- Eat your food as close to the way as God made it as possible. That means rather than eating apple pie, eat apple sauce; and rather than eating apple sauce, eat an apple.
- Eat smaller meals with some form of protein throughout the day. Choose beans, peas, and nuts as your protein sources over meat and dairy.
- Eat the rainbow. That means white (sugar, flour, pasta, and rice) is out.
- Add plenty of whole grains to your diet—brown rice, old-fashioned oats, and whole wheat bread products.
- Discover a variety of fruits and vegetables and eat freely of them. Ditch the banana and potato routine. French fries do not count as a vegetable.
- Stop eating out—especially fast food. Just don’t do it.
- Give up the boxes. Cook your food from scratch. You never know, what triggers a rise in your blood sugar just might be the additives in that box of factory food you had for dinner last night.
Try a few supplements
Dr. Andrew Weil, founder of the integrative approach to medicine, recommends four different supplements for those with type-2 diabetes:
- Chromium improves a person’s glucose tolerance and works to balance blood sugar levels. Take 1000 mcg of GTF (glucose tolerance factor) chromium daily.
- Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that enhances the body’s glucose uptake. It also helps to promote and maintain eye and nerve health. Start with 100 mg a day.
- Magnesium helps to promote healthy insulin production. Four hundred milligrams daily is recommended.
- Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that maintains a healthy cardiac function. Because diabetics are prone to heart disease, take 60-100 mg with a meal.
Several herbalists also recommend the use of cinnamon for diabetes. Studies have shown it to improve the body’s utilization of insulin. You can purchase this common kitchen spice in capsule form for this reason. However, caution must be used if combining cinnamon with other supplements that lower blood sugar, such as chromium and alpha-lipoic acid. Also, those with liver damage must use caution with large amounts of cinnamon as it can increase liver problems. Taking cinnamon with drugs that affect the liver (such as acetaminophen) can increase its risk. If you take any medication, consult your physician before taking any alternative treatments.