You may be able to manage your type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and being active, or your doctor may prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help control your blood sugar and avoid complications. You’ll still need to eat healthy and be active if you take insulin or other medicines. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control and get necessary screening tests.
You may be able to manage your type 2 diabetes with healthy eating and being active, or your doctor may prescribe insulin, other injectable medications, or oral diabetes medicines to help control your blood sugar and avoid complications. You’ll still need to eat healthy and be active if you take insulin or other medicines. It’s also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol under control and get necessary screening tests.
When his doctor and dietitian urged him to make changes to improve his diabetes control, Phelps, then 57, took the challenge seriously. He weighed everything he ate to gauge portion size. And he went slow, knowing that abrupt changes to his diet had never worked in the past. Instead of giving up desserts, he focused on smaller quantities and better-quality foods.
Your doctor will be able to check your heart health, which is particularly important if you already have blocked arteries or high blood pressure. You also need to take into consideration any other diabetes-related complications—retinopathy or neuropathy, for example. As you begin an exercise program, your doctor can refer you to an exercise physiologist or diabetes educator to help you figure out the best exercise program that allows you to get in shape for your fitness level.
Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be good sources of information. Group members often know about the latest treatments and tend to share their own experiences or helpful information, such as where to find carbohydrate counts for your favorite takeout restaurant. If you're interested, your doctor may be able to recommend a group in your area.

According to American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations, it may be appropriate for people with type 2 diabetes whose A1Cs are close to target to manage diabetes with lifestyle changes alone for three to six months—provided their doctor deems them "highly motivated." If that doesn't work, metformin is typically the first in a long list of type 2 blood glucose–lowering medications to add to the diet and exercise plan.
So how does one prevent a diabetes diagnosis from happening? Diet is definitely a factor in the development of diabetes, though not the only factor. Other potential influences include age, genetics, family history, physical activity, mental health, income, hormonal conditions, and ethnicity. So even if your diet is perfectly engineered towards preventing the chronic disease, you still might be at risk. That being said, your diet does still play a role. Why not reduce your risk as much as you can?

Imagine our bodies to be a sugar bowl. A bowl of sugar. When we are young, our sugar bowl is empty. Over decades, we eat too much of the wrong things – sugary cereals, desserts and white bread. The sugar bowl gradually fills up with sugar until completely full. The next time you eat, sugar comes into the body, but the bowl is full, so it spills out into the blood.


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.
Among 85,000 married female nurses, 3,300 developed type 2 diabetes over a 16-year period. Women in the low-risk group were 90 percent less likely to have developed diabetes than the rest of the women. Low-risk meant a healthy weight (body mass index less than 25), a healthy diet, 30 minutes or more of exercise daily, no smoking, and having about three alcoholic drinks per week.
The COACH Program® provided by Diabetes Tasmania, is a free telephone coaching service for people at risk of or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It provides people with the opportunity to work with a coach (health professional) to understand, manage and improve their health in particular around the risk factors associated with diabetes and its complications.
The desert’s scorching heat and torrential rainfalls stress the Hintonia latiflora tree and provide the keys to a powerful defense mechanism inherent in the plant and an essential part of its medicinal value. The natural environmental stresses to the tree enhance its ability to survive and thrive in such a harsh environment and are key to hintonia’s traditional use to treat Type 2 diabetes and gastrointestinal problems.
You may feel fine, but that is no guarantee that your blood sugar levels are in the target range. Remember, diabetic complications do not appear right away. And complications may develop even when the blood sugar is only slightly elevated. Regular blood sugar monitoring can help you keep your blood sugars in control and prevent serious damage to your eyes, kidneys and nerves. If your sugar levels are out of line, consult your doctor.

Dr. Erica Oberg, ND, MPH, received a BA in anthropology from the University of Colorado, her doctorate of naturopathic medicine (ND) from Bastyr University, and a masters of public health (MPH) in health services research from the University of Washington. She completed her residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health in ambulatory primary care and fellowship training at the Health Promotion Research Center at the University of Washington.
By definition, diabetes is associated with a fasting blood sugar of greater than 126 mg/dl. There is another group that has been identified and referred to as having impaired fasting glucose or prediabetes. These people have a fasting blood sugar value of between 110-125mg/dl. The main concern with this group is that they have an increased potential to develop type 2 diabetes when compared to the normal population. The actual percent increase varies depending on ethnicity, weight, etc.; but it is significantly higher, regardless of absolute numbers. In addition, it is known that people with impaired fasting glucose also are at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Sometimes pills for diabetes — even when combined with diet and exercise — aren't enough to keep blood sugar levels under control. Some people with type 2 diabetes also have to take insulin. The only way to get insulin into the body now is by injection with a needle or with an insulin pump. If someone tried to take insulin as a pill, the acids and digestive juices in the stomach and intestines would break down the medicine, and it wouldn't work.
Eat Slower: Once we start eating, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for our bodies to realize we are full. Eating too fast can lead to overeating, which can lead to a spike in blood sugar and/or weight gain…which can lead to greater insulin resistance. Consciously aim to eat slowly – give yourself at least 15 minutes – especially if you start a meal very hungry. If you are a fast eater or do not have a lot of time, eat 50% to 75% of your planned portion and then wait 10 to 15 minutes (call a friend, work a little, take a walk, anything). If you are still hungry, then eat half of what’s left. Repeat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Pay attention to how much food it actually takes to make you full so if you are in a pinch, you can make sure your eyes don’t become bigger than your stomach.
Trigylcerides are fatty molecules that travel in the bloodstream. Excess sugar and fat can increase triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are also manufactured in the liver. The body uses triglycerides for energy, but excess triglycerides are a risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and obesity. Many lifestyle factors can influence triglyceride levels.
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.
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High blood pressure may also be present with your diabetes. Limiting how much salt you eat can help keep your blood pressure low. Decrease the amount of salt you add during cooking and reduce salt in recipes, before adding salt at the table, taste first, try seasoning your food with (salt-free) herbs, spices, and garlic. Lemon juice brings out the natural saltiness of foods. Avoid processed foods that are high in salt (sodium chloride) such as canned or packaged foods and condiments such as mustard, watch for “Na” (sodium) on food labels. Chips, pretzels, and other such snacks are very high in salt, and check with your physician before using salt substitutes.
DM is the fourth among the leading causes of global deaths due to complications. Annually, more than three million people die because of diabetes or its complications. Worldwide, this disease weighs down on health systems and also on patients and their families who have to face too much financial, social and emotional strains. Diabetic patients have an increased risk of developing complications such as stroke, myocardial infarction, and coronary artery disease. However, complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy can have a distressing impact on patient’s quality of life and a significant increase in financial burden. The prevalence reported from studies conducted worldwide on the complications of T2DM showed varying rates. The prevalence of cataracts was 26-62%, retinopathy 17-50%, blindness 3%, nephropathy 17-28%, cardiovascular complications 10-22.5%, stroke 6-12%, neuropathy 19-42%, and foot problems 5-23%. Mortality from all causes was reported between 14% and 40%.71 In a study, researchers found that 15.8% incidence of DR is in the developing countries. The prevalence of DR reported from Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Brazil was 30%, 31.3%, and 35.4%, respectively; while in Kashmir it was 27% and in South Africa it was 40%. The prevalence of DR 26.1% was observed among 3000 diabetic patients from Pakistan; it was significantly higher than that what was reported in India (18%) and in Malaysia (14.9%).72-76 Studies conducted on diabetes complications in Saudi Arabia are very few and restricted. A 1992 study from Saudi Arabia showed that in T2DM patients; occurrence rate of cataract was 42.7%, neuropathy in 35.9% patients, retinopathy in 31.5% patients, hypertension in 25% patients, nephropathy in 17.8% patients, ischemic heart disease in 41.3% patients, stroke in 9.4% patients, and foot infections in 10.4% of the patients. However, this study reported complications for both types of diabetes.77

The risk factors for developing diabetes actually vary depending on where a person lives. This is in part due to the environment the person lives in, and in part due to the genetic makeup of the family. In the United States, it is estimated that one in three males and two out of every five females born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes (the lifetime risk). It has also been calculated that for those diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 40, the average life expectancy is reduced by 12 years for men, and 19 years for women.
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
When picked well and eaten in moderation, dairy can be a great choice for people with diabetes. Just keep fat content in mind, as being overweight or obese can reduce insulin sensitivity, causing prediabetes to progress to full-blown diabetes or increasing the risk of complications if you have type 2 diabetes. Whenever possible, opt for fat-free dairy options to keep calories down and unhealthy saturated fats at bay.

If you have type 2 diabetes and your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 35, you may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Dramatic improvements in blood sugar levels are often seen in people with type 2 diabetes after bariatric surgery, depending on the procedure performed. Surgeries that bypass a portion of the small intestine have more of an effect on blood sugar levels than do other weight-loss surgeries.
"If you have a job or lifestyle that involves a lot of sitting, you can lower your risk of early death by moving more," says the primary investigator, Keith Diaz, PhD, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. Even sitting at a desk or on the couch for an hour or more raises your risk for poorer outcomes so get up, walk around, and stand periodically to improve your health status.
Phelps also made significant changes to his exercise routine, which went from 1/3-mile walks around his neighborhood (it took him 40 minutes and three rest stops the first time) to walking a half marathon a little under a year later. As he lost weight and became fitter, Phelps got addicted to triathlons. At 64, he's now set his sights on Ironman races, which he hopes to compete in next year.
The types of fats in your diet can also affect the development of diabetes. Good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help ward off type 2 diabetes. (39) Trans fats do just the opposite. (8, 40) These bad fats are found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any product that lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. Eating polyunsaturated fats from fish—also known as “long chain omega 3” or “marine omega 3” fats—does not protect against diabetes, even though there is much evidence that these marine omega 3 fats help prevent heart disease. (41) If you already have diabetes, eating fish can help protect you against a heart attack or dying from heart disease. (42)
After Jitahadi spent a few weeks on medication, her vision cleared and she began to feel better. It didn't last long. "I hated metformin. I had all the colon and digestive issues on it," she says. "I never knew if I would be OK on it or if I'd be nauseous. I'd question whether I wanted to go out with my friends." When she asked for an alternative medication, her doctor said metformin was the best drug for the job, so Jitahadi stuck it out for a year. After that, she decided to make major lifestyle changes in hopes of quitting her medications.
Often, people with type 2 diabetes start using insulin with one long-acting shot at night, such as insulin glargine (Lantus) or insulin detemir (Levemir). Discuss the pros and cons of different drugs with your doctor. Together you can decide which medication is best for you after considering many factors, including costs and other aspects of your health.
Some easy-to-follow examples I often provide are adding chopped mixed vegetables to scrambled eggs and including fresh fruit on the side; preparing a green smoothie with low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, chopped fresh kale, and frozen fruit; preparing vegetarian jambalaya with brown rice; or choosing a hearty salad with mixed greens, nuts, beans, and light salad dressing from a salad bar. Food can be medicine and it can also be enjoyable!
Hemoglobin A1c or HbA1c is a protein on the surface of red blood cells. The HbA1c test is used to monitor blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes over time. Normal HbA1c levels are 6% or less. HbA1c levels can be affected by insulin use, fasting, glucose intake (oral or IV), or a combination of these and other factors. High hemoglobin A1c levels in the blood increases the risk of microvascular complications, for example, diabetic neuropathy, eye, and kidney disease.
A major reason why many people who attempt to control type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise turn back to medications is that lifestyle adjustments are hard to maintain over the long term. Jitahadi became a licensed Zumba instructor with this in mind. "I said, 'I know me and I don't want to let life get in my way of taking care of myself because I've done that before,' " she says. She's a Zumba instructor at her local YMCA. For the past year, she's also been a diabetes prevention lifestyle coach there, helping others reduce their risk for the disease.
There are two major forms of diabetes - type 1 and type 2. This article focuses specifically on the prevention of type 2 diabetes since there is no know way to prevent type 1 diabetes. This form of diabetes is virtually a pandemic in the United States. This information reviews the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes and reviews key points regarding prediction of those at risk for type 2 diabetes. It also is a review of what they can do about it.

Combining the Nurses’ Health Study results with those from seven other studies found a similar link between sugary beverage consumption and type 2 diabetes: For every additional 12-ounce serving of sugary beverage that people drank each day, their risk of type 2 diabetes rose 25 percent. (27) Studies also suggest that fruit drinks— Kool Aid, fortified fruit drinks, or juices—are not the healthy choice that food advertisements often portray them to be: Women in the Black Women’s Health study who drank two or more servings of fruit drinks a day had a 31 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to women who drank less than one serving a month. (28)
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After Jitahadi spent a few weeks on medication, her vision cleared and she began to feel better. It didn't last long. "I hated metformin. I had all the colon and digestive issues on it," she says. "I never knew if I would be OK on it or if I'd be nauseous. I'd question whether I wanted to go out with my friends." When she asked for an alternative medication, her doctor said metformin was the best drug for the job, so Jitahadi stuck it out for a year. After that, she decided to make major lifestyle changes in hopes of quitting her medications.
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.
Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be good sources of information. Group members often know about the latest treatments and tend to share their own experiences or helpful information, such as where to find carbohydrate counts for your favorite takeout restaurant. If you're interested, your doctor may be able to recommend a group in your area.
The result of his hard work? He lost 160 pounds in two years, normalized his high blood pressure and high cholesterol, has an A1C of 5.6, and no longer takes metformin and glyburide. His advice to others with type 2: "You need to have a plan, and you need to be consistent," he says. "[Diet and exercise are] something you need to do to survive and control it. Look at it as the same thing as taking a pill or insulin."

Protein provides slow steady energy with relatively little effect on blood sugar. Protein, especially plant-based protein, should always be part of a meal or snack. Protein not only keeps blood sugar stable, but it also helps with sugar cravings and feeling full after eating (satiety). Protein can come from both animal or plant sources; however, animal sources are also often sources of unhealthy saturated fats.
Like refined grains, sugary beverages have a high glycemic load, and drinking more of this sugary stuff is associated with increased risk of diabetes. In the Nurses’ Health Study II, women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an 83 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to women who drank less than one sugar-sweetened beverage per month. (26)
Fresh vegetables are a great option, and usually the tastiest option. Studies show that frozen veggies have just as many vitamins and nutrients because they are often frozen within hours of harvesting. Just check to make sure there aren't added fats or sweeteners in the sauces that are on some frozen veggies. If you don't like vegetables on their own, try preparing them with fresh or dried herbs, olive oil, or a vinaigrette dressing. Aiming to consume a rainbow of colors through your vegetables is a good way to get all of your nutrients.

The evidence is growing stronger that eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed red meat (bacon, hot dogs, deli meats) increases the risk of diabetes, even among people who consume only small amounts. The latest support comes from a “meta analysis,” or statistical summary, that combined findings from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study with those of six other long-term studies. The researchers looked at data from roughly 440,000 people, about 28,000 of whom developed diabetes during the course of the study. (43) They found that eating just one daily 3-ounce serving of red meat—say, a steak that’s about the size of a deck of cards—increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. Eating even smaller amounts of processed red meat each day—just two slices of bacon, one hot dog, or the like—increased diabetes risk by 51 percent.
The problem, of course, has not been solved – the sugar bowl is still overflowing. You’ve only moved sugar from the blood (where you could see it) into the body (where you couldn’t see it). So, the very next time you eat, the exact same thing happens. Sugar comes in, spills out into the blood and you take metformin to cram the sugar back into the body. This works for a while, but eventually, the body fills up with sugar, too. Now, that same dose of metformin cannot force any more sugar into the body.
In fact, the CDC notes that losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight can help lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So, if you’re 200 pounds, aiming to lose about 10 to 14 pounds might help you prevent prediabetes from progressing to full-blown type 2 diabetes or help halt the advancement of type 2 diabetes if you’ve already been diagnosed.
There is no single best diet plan for prediabetes. If you ask 100 people, “What is the best diet for prediabetes?,” you may get 100 different answers – and they may all be correct. Your plan should help you control your weight, provide the nutrients and healthy foods you need to lower risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases, and fit into your lifestyle so that you can make it work for the long term.
Although most vegetable oils are in some ways healthier than animal fats, you will still want to keep them to a minimum. All fats and oils are highly concentrated in calories. A gram of any fat or oil contains 9 calories, compared with only 4 calories for a gram of carbohydrate. Avoid foods fried in oil, oily toppings, and olives, avocados, and peanut butter. Aim for no more than 2-3 grams of fat per serving of food, e.g., white or wheat bread, most cold cereals, watermelon, pineapple, baking potatoes, sugar.
The superfood vinegar is best consumed as vinaigrette dressing on your salad, but it has beneficial effects no matter how you enjoy it. Vinegar slows gastric emptying, which has several beneficial effects for people with type 2 diabetes. This slows the glucose release into the bloodstream, allowing for a small, steady insulin response instead of a large insulin surge. Vinegar also increases satiety, so if you enjoy salad with vinaigrette as your first course, you are less likely to overeat during the main course.
In fact, in a study published in the German journal Naturheilpraxis mit Naturalmedizin (Naturopathic Practice with Natural Medicine) the dry concentrated bark extract of Hintonia latiflora—combined with additional nutrients— significantly lowered HgBA1C values (average levels of blood sugar), fasting glucose levels (blood sugar before a meal) and postprandial (after eating) blood sugar levels.
This pattern of eating is very nutrient-dense, meaning you get many vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients for every calorie consumed. A very large recent study demonstrated that two versions of the Mediterranean diet improved diabetes control including better blood sugar and more weight loss. The two versions of the Mediterranean diet that were studied emphasized either more nuts or more olive oil. Since both were beneficial, a common-sense approach to adopting the Mediterranean diet would include both of these. For example, sprinkle chopped almonds on green beans or drizzle zucchini with olive oil, oregano, and hemp seeds.

This pattern of eating is very nutrient-dense, meaning you get many vitamins, minerals, and other healthful nutrients for every calorie consumed. A very large recent study demonstrated that two versions of the Mediterranean diet improved diabetes control including better blood sugar and more weight loss. The two versions of the Mediterranean diet that were studied emphasized either more nuts or more olive oil. Since both were beneficial, a common-sense approach to adopting the Mediterranean diet would include both of these. For example, sprinkle chopped almonds on green beans or drizzle zucchini with olive oil, oregano, and hemp seeds.
Recently, evidence suggested a link between the intake of soft drinks with obesity and diabetes, resulting from large amounts of high fructose corn syrup used in the manufacturing of soft drinks, which raises blood glucose levels and BMI to the dangerous levels.38 It was also stated by Assy39 that diet soft drinks contain glycated chemicals that markedly augment insulin resistance. Food intake has been strongly linked with obesity, not only related to the volume of food but also in terms of the composition and quality of diet.40 High intake of red meat, sweets and fried foods, contribute to the increased the risk of insulin resistance and T2DM.41 In contrast, an inverse correlation was observed between intake of vegetables and T2DM. Consumption of fruits and vegetables may protect the development of T2DM, as they are rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants which are considered as protective barrier against the diseases.42 Recently, in Japanese women, a report revealed that elevated intake of white rice was associated with an increased risk of T2DM.43 This demands an urgent need for changing lifestyle among general population and further increase the awareness of healthy diet patterns in all groups.

Some easy-to-follow examples I often provide are adding chopped mixed vegetables to scrambled eggs and including fresh fruit on the side; preparing a green smoothie with low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, chopped fresh kale, and frozen fruit; preparing vegetarian jambalaya with brown rice; or choosing a hearty salad with mixed greens, nuts, beans, and light salad dressing from a salad bar. Food can be medicine and it can also be enjoyable!
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