Problem: On September 8th 2010 the Canadian Diabetes Association released a report stating that the incidence of diabetes in Ontario has more than doubled in the past 10 years -- including a direct and indirect financial impact costing the province an estimated $4.9 billion per year. This is a glaring reflection of the choices we as a society, and as individuals, are making each and every day.
Solution: The good news is... Type-2 diabetes is a predominantly preventable disease. While diabetes may run in your family, a genetic predisposition does not guarantee you will develop it. Making dedicated changes to your diet and activity regimen will, in most cases, prevent onset. But what are the important changes to make?
Since the top 3 controllable risk factors for developing Type-2 diabetes are a nutrient-weak diet, sedentary lifestyle, and excess body weight (especially around your abdomen), you should first consider your diet.
A healthy diet requires more than simply avoiding ‘bad things’; you need to load up with nutrient-dense choices at every meal. Did you know that vegetables and fruits contain a broad spectrum of nutrients not found in any other food groups? These nutrients are vital for helping your body regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, promote healing and provide abundant energy. This season, enjoy the bounty that your local markets have made available to you; squash, peppers, zucchini, carrots, beets, kale, apples, pears, etc.
And to help address the remaining two risk factors above, try walking to the market! Yes, walking can count as physical activity, if you move briskly enough. Strolling with your elderly dog once a day is not going to help you prevent diabetes, but stepping-out, swinging your arms, and getting your heart beating faster is going to move you in the right direction. How fast is too fast for your heart? Your maximum heart rate is approximately 220 minus your age. During exercise, ideally your heart rate is staying between 60-80% of your maximum, for at least 20 minutes. Of course, exceptions apply; if you are new to physical activity, consult your healthcare provider or a qualified personal trainer.
An important factor to consider with physical activity is choosing something you will enjoy doing. Select from hiking, swimming, jogging, snowshoeing, tennis, martial arts (incl. Tai Chi), walking, team sports, circuit training, cycling, and more!
In summary, each day:
1) Eat a variety of colourful vegetables - a 150lb person needs ~600g daily
2) Move your body briskly for at least 30 minutes - includes walking
3) Consume your last meal no later than 3 hours prior to bedtime - this will effect your weight too
Preventing and treating diabetes requires a very detailed and personalized treatment plan; consult your qualified healthcare provider.