Welcome to Diabetes Prevention Thursdays! Today, let’s talk about how omega-3 foods bolster a diabetic immune system. You may have heard of omega-3 fatty acids before, often times found on pill bottles of vitamins. Omega-3s are very good for you, with their primary benefit being heart health.
They help improve blood flow and can reduce the symptoms of inflammation, making you much more comfortable and making your heart much healthier.
The main immune system benefit of omega-3s is that they help your white blood cells communicate and make them strong. If you’re not aware, your white blood cells perform a very important task in your body, which is finding and fighting foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria.
The white blood cells will alert the rest of the body when it finds a virus, and will start to break down the virus cells and dispose of them. If you want to have a good immune system, you need to have strong white blood cells that have all the nutrients they need, and omega-3s are an important component of that.
For diabetics, the best source of omega-3s that youre going to find is fish. Fish are a great source of these fatty acids, while being fairly low carb at the same time. While salmon is the most common fatty fish that youll find, there are others that you might find to be better or more convenient to buy.
Something you need to be careful of is how the fish is prepared. Of course a fish isnt going to be diabetic friendly if its been deep fried, but oven roasted or pan seared fish is good for health.
If you’ve never cooked fish at home before, don’t worry, because it’s very easy to do. If you’re buying a whole fish then you’ll need to remove things like scales, but if you just buy the fillets already precut, then its much easier and easier to clean.
All you need is some seasoning and an oven and youre good to go! You should also avoid eating your fish with certain things if youre diabetic. For example, many people like to put sauces loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients on their fish.
These sauces can have tons of carbs or sugars depending on what it is, so you want to avoid those as much as possible. Additionally, you should avoid high carb side dishes, such as French fries, which are frequently served with fish.
Try some oven-roasted vegetables or a small salad instead, both of which are much more diabetic-friendly options.
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I wanted to talk about this topic because it is absolutely possible to prevent and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes (but you cannot reverse Type 1). Yes, it’s possible! and emerging studies looking at lifestyle medicine and prevention support this! But I always tell my patients that you must be dedicated and diligent in adopting a healthy lifestyle to get the best results. You can create certain behaviors and practices that will not only enrich your life, but that you can pass on to your family, friends, and community, to help break the cycle of this chronic disease so that you can leave a legacy of health to your loved ones.
I use lifestyle medicine as the first line of treatment, before medications, to treat lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle-related chronic diseases include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and some cancers, just to name a few. Lifestyle practices, such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet and regular physical activity, can help you improve your blood sugar levels, maybe reverse type 2 diabetes. In certain cases, these approaches may even outperform pharmaceutical therapy. But I always tell my patients that conventional medications may be appropriate at this time to prevent catastrophic illness, but over time, you can work to make the necessary lifestyle changes to possibly reduce and/or eliminate medications. Please remember to always consult your physician for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any decisions whatsoever.
Tools For Diabetes Prevention and Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As you know, I always stress the importance of taking control of your health. Monitoring your blood sugar levels is one of the best ways to do this. To do this, a single drop of blood is collected with disposable lancets and placed on a disposable test strip, which you insert into a home blood-sugar monitoring device, called a glucometer.
The common times for checking your blood sugar are when you first wake up (fasting), before a meal, 2 hours after a meal, and at bedtime; however, you should check your blood sugar as many times a day as your health care team suggests.
Monitoring your blood sugar level provides you and your doctors with important knowledge about how food, activity, medication, stress, and other elements might affect your blood sugar levels. This data will assist you and your doctor in developing a therapy plan that is suited to your demands.
Since weight management is very important in combatting chronic diseases such as diabetes, I recommend that you be mindful of your weight and its fluctuations, and that you monitor your weight AT LEAST on a weekly basis. I recommend a scale that includes a body composition monitor (*this scale cannot be used with a pacemaker or other implanted devices).
Physical activity (or exercise) can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Physical activity actually improves insulin sensitivity. Physical activity can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even help you maintain a healthy weight.
I often recommend yoga and resistance training for physical activity, but as you are aware, there are plenty of forms of “movement” that you can do! But for the basics, especially if you’re just getting started, yoga and resistance training are where I would start.
Yoga can be a great way to improve your strength and flexibility, manage your stress, improve your heart health, and lose weight! I recommend using a grounded yoga mat to connect yourself with the earth and reduce inflammation.
Resistance training is the mainstay for overall health. It not only has beneficial effects on reducing body fat, it also increases muscle size and strength. Here are some basic dumbbells/free weights that I recommend to everyone.
Remember, living a healthy lifestyle including eating a whole foods plant-based diet and regular physical activity are the best ways to prevent diabetes. Please talk with your doctor about any complementary health approaches, including supplements, you use. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
PS. I am always asked what tools and resources I recommend to help you reach YOUR health goals. Here is the ever-growing, always updated list for you.
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