Diabetes is a condition of chronic hormonal disorders. The main characteristic is high sugar (glucose) in the blood because the cells of the body have become resistant to the action of insulin. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that helps control blood sugar levels. Although it is important to seek medical treatment for diabetes, there are several ways that you can treat and prevent diabetes using natural strategies such as diet modification, herbal supplementation, and exercise.
1. Get regular cardiovascular exercise
Exercise can help you control your blood sugar, so it is essential for diabetes prevention and treatment. Increased exercise makes your cells more sensitive and responsive to the insulin your body produces. Exercise can also lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart, which is relevant because high blood pressure and heart disease are often associated with diabetes. Try to get at least thirty minutes of moderate exercise every day. When you are just starting out, low-intensity exercises such as walking are helpful as well.
2. Lose extra weight
If you’re overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health, and you may be surprised by how much. Participants in one large study who lost a modest amount of weight — around 7 percent of initial body weight — and exercised regularly reduced the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60 percent.
3. Increase the amount of water you drink
Water helps flush out naturally produced toxins and helps maintain mineral (electrolyte) balance. Aim for about eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. Talk to your doctor to determine if you have any special fluid restrictions or needs that you should consider.
Skip sugary beverages. Sugar by itself does not cause diabetes, but ingesting more sugar-filled beverages is linked to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. Try drinking water, unsweetened sparkling water, or unsweetened iced tea instead of sugary soda.
4. If you smoke, Quit
Add type 2 diabetes to the long list of health problems linked with smoking. Smokers are roughly 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than nonsmokers, and heavy smokers have an even higher risk.
5. Eat more fruits and vegetables
Eat plenty of non-root or starchy vegetables such as broccoli, leafy greens, cauliflower, and beans. These types of vegetables are low in calories, high in fiber, and nutrient dense. However, when you eat starchy vegetables and root vegetables, you will need to take the carbohydrate level into account. You can also eat fruit. Being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes does not mean you can’t eat ANY sugars. It is just important to control the amount of sugars that you do eat.
6. Get more physical activity
There are many benefits to regular physical activity. Exercise can help you:
- Lose weight
- Lower your blood sugar
- Boost your sensitivity to insulin — which helps keep your blood sugar within a normal range
Research shows that aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes. The greatest benefit comes from a fitness program that includes both.
7. Get plenty of fiber
Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts. It’s rough, it’s tough — and it may help you:
- Reduce your risk of diabetes by improving your blood sugar control
- Lower your risk of heart disease
- Promote weight loss by helping you feel full
8. Other helpful supplements
Many nutrients influence blood-sugar and insulin function. Low magnesium levels correlate with higher blood sugar. Cinnamon has been used to treat diabetes. Vanadium, a trace mineral, has been found to reduce the need for insulin among diabetics. And alpha-lipoic acid has been found to reduce peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) from diabetes, and may also lower blood sugar.
Other helpful nutrients for blood-sugar control, found in many high-dose multivitamin and mineral supplements, include vitamin B6, biotin (another B vitamin), vitamin E, quercetin, zinc, and selenium.
9. Drink coffee or tea
Studies have reported that drinking coffee on a daily basis reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 8–54%, with the greatest effect generally seen in people with the highest consumption. Coffee and tea have antioxidants known as polyphenols that may help protect against diabetes. In addition, green tea contains a unique antioxidant compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that has been shown to reduce blood sugar release from the liver and increase insulin sensitivity.
Adding herbs. Many herbs have not been tested for safety during pregnancy, so if you are pregnant or dealing with gestational diabetes, make certain you speak to your physician before adding any herbs or supplements. Also, even though these herbs and supplements are natural, they CAN interact with various medications.
10. Choose good fats instead of bad fats
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. Trans fats do just the opposite. 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. If you already have diabetes, eating fish can help protect you against a heart attack or dying from heart disease.