When I was younger, I didn’t understand the way my dietary choices adversely affected my health. But after some hard lessons, I began studying with experts and learned how food can support, not only my own well-being, but that of my loved ones too.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know that their dietary choices can be damaging to their body and brain. One of the biggest culprits of this is the high intake of sugar-laden foods which can ultimately lead to type 2 diabetes—a disease that can have very serious consequences.
Unlike type 1 diabetes where the body doesn’t produce adequate amounts of insulin, type 2, which accounts for 90-95% of diabetes cases, results from the body’s inability to use insulin efficiently. It’s caused by excessive blood sugar levels. Being overweight or obese and advancing age are the most common risk factors for it.
Why Insulin Matters
Insulin helps to regulate our blood sugar levels. This is so important because all our cells require glucose (sugar) for energy, but they don’t absorb it directly from our bloodstream. They need the hormone insulin, because it functions like a key that unlocks the cell membranes so they can access the glucose.
In type 2 diabetes, cells become resistant to insulin which leads to higher levels of sugar in the blood, and this is not a good thing! Over time, high levels of sugar can cause your blood vessels to become brittle and interfere with their ability to supply the vital nutrients and oxygen your cells need. This of course can lead to a host of health problems, including dementia—one of the most devastating diseases there is. So, it’s really important to take this very seriously.
How to Know if You’re Vulnerable to Diabetes
If you’re concerned about having high blood sugar, being at risk for diabetes, or the possibility that you could have either, ask your doctor to order these tests to assess your blood sugar levels:
- Hemoglobin A1c
- Fasting glucose
- Fasting insulin
If your results indicate any warning signs, it’s imperative you get on a plan to make lifestyle changes that can greatly improve the health of your body and your brain!
4 Lifestyle Strategies to Reduce Your Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
There are some simple ways you can boost your health starting right now, including these:
- Eliminate simple carbs like soda, cookies, cakes, and other high-glycemic foods that cause your blood sugar to spike—i.e. most breads, cereal, pasta, white potatoes, and rice. Choose smart carbohydrates instead. Think berries, fresh greens, and vegetables in a wide range of colors, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. And be sure to include lean protein and healthy fats with your meals.
- Increase your intake of fiber with foods like broccoli, spinach, lentils, squash, coconut, artichokes, chickpeas, nuts, and seeds.
- Exercising regularly is critical for getting your blood sugar and your weight under better control. If you’re not used to physical exercise, talk with your doctor about a plan to get started. Otherwise, there are many ways to increase you activity level such as walking more, signing up for a fun fitness class, working out with a personal trainer, or doing video classes. Start slowly and work your way up. As you get stronger, you’ll feel so much better!
- If you’re struggling with emotional eating and having a difficult time giving up the foods that are hurting you, please reach out to a psychotherapist trained in this area of mental health. There are different underlying causes of food addiction, including stress, brain imbalances, and a history of trauma or abuse. Getting the help you need can provide the healing you deserve.
We only get to have one body and one brain, so we need to take care of ourselves the best we can. Conditions like diabetes can sneak up on you and wreak havoc on your health, but when you choose to make changes and incorporate preventative strategies, it can make a world of difference in how you are able to live your life.
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If you’re struggling and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.