Bulging Waistline? Stats Show You Could Be Diabetic

Bulging Waistline? Stats Show You Could Be Diabetic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently considers Type II Diabetes an epidemic in the United States. According to 2012 data, nearly 30 million Americans have either been diagnosed with diabetes or they will be in the near future — a full 28 percent of Americans remain undiagnosed.

Type II Diabetes, once known as adult-onset diabetes because it largely struck people in midlife when their exercise rates dipped, they became more sedentary, and their metabolism slowed, is now a disease that strikes all ages — even obese children. According to Harvard Health, every two hours spent in front of the television set (or a computer) increases your risk of becoming diabetic by 14 percent.

A High-Risk Lifestyle
Diabetes is often called an insidious disease because it can develop over many years without warning and show few, if any, symptoms. It isn’t until diabetes has taken its toll on the body, causing kidney disease and/or kidney failure, circulatory problems and nerve damage, that some people are first diagnosed. Today, physicians look for risk factors in their patients to determine if they may develop diabetes. Those include: having a large waistline or “apple” shape, high blood triglycerides, low HDL or “good” cholesterol, high blood pressure and a higher-than-normal fasting blood glucose level.

The reasons for this increase in disease are many, but physicians and nutrition advocates agree that the spike in metabolic-related diseases has mainly to do with our overindulgence in processed foods, highly refined carbohydrates, sugar-laden beverages, and lack of exercise. Put simply, we are all choosing processed foods made with too much sugar or white flour (that metabolizes as sugar) and then spending way too much time on the couch.

Sweetened and salty processed foods taste great and they are inexpensive and widely available, especially to children, but what is the actual cost to our health by eating too much of them? Are our choices for quick, on-the-go, and inexpensive and convenient meals overriding our decisions to make healthier choices?

If your weight has recently spiked and you want to “reboot” your body into a healthier metabolic cycle, there is plenty of good news on the horizon. There are simple modifications that we can all make to lower our glycemic index (GI), or the effect that each food and beverage choice has on our blood sugar level. Below are some of the latest findings:

Periodic Fasting
Researchers at the Intermountain Heart Institute at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, presented research this month at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in San Francisco, that suggests that periodic fasting can be a powerful diabetes intervention.

Their findings suggest that after the body spends 10 to 12 hours fasting, it begins gathering energy from alternate sources; the research noted that fasting participant’s bodies pulled LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol from fat cells and used it as energy. According to study author Benjamin Horne, PhD, “Fat cells themselves are a major contributor to insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. Because fasting may help to eliminate and break down fat cells, insulin resistance may be frustrated by fasting.”

That also might explain why we now know that people who get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night are also typically thinner. Think of the overnight hours as a long fasting period by not eating heavily at night, getting a full night’s sleep, and following in the morning with a healthy breakfast to literally “break your fast”.

Make Healthier Substitutions
Almost any meal can be made healthier. Switch out white flours and white sugars for alternate wheat flours and sugar substitutes, like agave (which still metabolizes as sugar, but may take slightly longer for the body to process).

If you’re constantly cooking with olive oil and already have diabetes or are prediabetic, try canola oil instead. It contains only 7 percent saturated fat, less than half of olive oil. Plus, 2014 research suggests that diabetics eating a diet with bread made with canola oil experienced a reduction in blood glucose as well as reduced LDL cholesterol.

Avoid Pre-Sweetened Beverages
Believe it or not, the average juice on supermarket shelves contains 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar per serving. Our daily intake of sugar should be about half of that amount for any 24-hour period. Even sports drinks, often touted as a healthy option, fall into this over-sweetened category. Substitute low-fat milk, home-brewed teas (green tea is a very healthy option!), coffee, water, or a fizzy, sugar-free seltzer soda instead.