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Environmental Nutrition: The best diet for managing your diabetes

By Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E. on

Environmental Nutrition

Most older Americans have type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. In fact, even though many have not been diagnosed, one in four adults aged 65 or older have diabetes and nearly 50 percent have prediabetes. And what they eat matters.

More than a blood sugar problem

Though healthcare providers use blood sugar levels to diagnose diabetes, problems associated with type 2 diabetes extend well beyond blood sugar. Thus dietary treatment must address these other concerns as well. Blood sugar levels rise because muscle, fat, and liver cells become resistant to insulin (the hormone that ushers blood sugar into body cells) and ignore insulin's signals. It's this insulin resistance that's at the heart of other problems too.

Blood pressure: Insulin resistance affects the nervous system, kidneys, and blood vessels in ways that increase blood pressure levels.

Cholesterol and triglycerides: Changes in fat metabolism often lead to high triglyceride and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

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Heart disease and stroke: People with diabetes and prediabetes have increased risks for heart disease and stroke.

Cancer: Insulin resistance is likely one of the reasons that people with type 2 diabetes have increased risks for several types of cancer, including colon, post-menopausal breast, liver, pancreatic, endometrial and bladder cancers, as well as non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Your best diet for diabetes in eight steps

Helping your body become more sensitive to insulin can help you with blood sugar management and reduce your risks for other problems associated with insulin resistance and diabetes.


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