Is Diabetes In Your Future?

Forty million Americans are at risk, but natural solutions can put you on the path to good health.
Is Diabetes In Your Future?
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Coffee & Tea
Don't skip breakfast if you want to stave off diabetes. According to an eight-year study co-funded by the National Institutes of Health, subjects who regularly consumed an a.m. repast had a 35 percent to 50 percent lower risk of developing obesity and insulin resistance than those who breakfasted twice or less per week. Choosing whole-grain cereals was also associated with reduced risk.

Washing down your bran flakes with a hot beverage offers further protection. In an unpublished animal study, the USDA's Anderson "saw very nice improvements in insulin function" from ingesting antioxidant-rich tea. But take your Earl Gray black; adding milk can reduce tea's insulin-stimulating power by up to 90 percent.

Not a tea enthusiast? A 2006 Harvard study of 88,000 women found that coffee lovers cut their risk for type 2 diabetes by as much as 47 percent. While they had to drink four cups a day to attain that reduction, overstimulation wasn't an obligatory side effect: Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee appeared to confer the same benefit.

Emotional Rx
Stress, which contributes to so many health problems, plays a part in diabetes as well. When you feel a crisis coming on, stress hormones signal the liver to produce extra glucose. That makes sense if you need energy to fight off or flee an attacker, but it backfires when you're just running late or having a marital spat. Also, some people try to alleviate stress by eating comfort foods or drinking alcohol, which can add layers of diabetes-promoting fat cells. A 2006 report in the British Medical Journal on 10,000 civil service workers found those describing their jobs as highly stressful to be more than twice as likely to have elevated blood glucose and other symptoms (obesity, hypertension) that can lead to type 2 diabetes.

One way to calm your mind is to enlist your body. "Yoga is an excellent stress-management tool," says Kim E. Innes, Ph.D., of the Center for the Study of Complementary and Alternative Therapies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. More than a dozen studies from India have examined the relevant effects of this discipline, which combines meditation with movement and breath control, and some of the research suggests that yoga can lower fasting blood glucose levels by as much as 33 percent.

There are other ways to un-jangle your nerves. "Do journaling, take a walk, meditate, or spend time with family," says Bradley, who believes that controlling stress is essential for preventing diabetes. "Take some time for yourself and decompress."