Integrative Nutrition Blog

4 Tips for Fighting and Preventing Diabetes on World Health Day

April 7, 2016

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World Health Day is April 7, and this year's campaign focuses on increasing awareness about diabetes. The World Health Organization hopes to spread awareness about steps to prevent diabetes, as well as diagnose, treat and care for the disease. The organization says that about 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, and that number is likely to more than double in the next 20 years. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1, in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin on its own. And Type 2, which is usually seen in adults and occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn't produce enough of it. According to WHO, Type 2 diabetes cases have increased significantly in the past three decades. 

Luckily, in many cases diabetes can be managed through healthy eating and exercise, and health coaches are in the perfect position to help. In fact, a 2015 study found that health coaches play a crucial role in helping clients manage diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. In the study, nearly twice as many coached patients got their diabetes under control than those who didn't have a health coach (48.6% vs. 27.6%). Here's are some ways health coaches can help clients manage the disease: 

Get moving
In 2015, a study found that yoga is effective in reducing blood glucose levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Try poses including downward-facing dog and triangle, which improve digestion. And yoga isn't the only exercise that's beneficial for preventing and managing diabetes. The American Diabetes Association recommends everything from walking to swimming to lifting weights. Strive for physical activity 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week. 

Eat a whole-foods diet
Clients should avoid processed foods and those with added sugar. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating a variety of non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, fruit (without added sugar) and low-fat dairy. Health coaches can also encourage clients to load up on healthy fats found in avocados and nuts. 

Shed the extra weight
Excess weight is one of the main contributors for Type 2 diabetes because it makes it more difficult to manage blood sugar. The lifetime risk of diabetes is directly related to body mass index in both men and women, studies have found. Eating healthy and exercising can help to lower BMI. 

Relax
Mental stress can raise blood glucose levels, especially in people with Type 2 diabetes (the results are more mixed for Type 1). Physical stress including illness or injury has been shown to raise blood glucose levels in people with either type of diabetes. Practicing mindfulness through meditation or other methods can be super effective in curbing stress responses. 

How are you helping to combat diabetes? Let us know in the comments below. 

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