Welcome to Diabetes Prevention Thursdays! Today, let’s talk about pairing protein, fiber, and zinc to boost your diabetic immune system. There are some often overlooked micronutrients that are key parts of your immune system. While everyone focuses on vitamins, they may forget that things like protein, fiber, and zinc are all very important parts of helping your immune system stay strong and competent, and call all be found in some great diabetic-friendly foods.
Protein is very important for your immune system. Many people may only associate protein with the stuff that weightlifters drink in order to get big muscles, but protein is actually the foundation of most cells in your body.
This includes your immune system. If you don’t get enough protein regularly, your body won’t be able to produce efficient white blood cells, nor will those cells be able to use the other nutrients efficiently.
Zinc is the most common mineral in human body beside Iron. Zinc is actually found in every cell. Zinc is used in most processes by your white blood cells. White blood cells are important because they’re your primary defense against viruses that are trying to take hold in your body.
Zinc has potent antioxidant properties which help to neutralize free radicals that may accelerate aging & contribute to the development of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Diabetes and high blood sugar can damage your heart as the years go on, but zinc can help strengthen your heart. Zinc plays a key role in regulating the way calcium moves in the heart cells. Zinc is present in heart muscle and interacts with calcium to affect heart function. Past research have shown patients with congestive heart failure often have profound Zinc deficiency.
Finally, fiber has a much better use than just making sure youre taking regular bathroom trips.
It actually helps improve the health of your gut bacteria, which is an important part of your immune system. Fiber is also great for diabetics, since it helps keep your blood sugar much more stable, and makes insulin much more effective.
If you really want to go for one food that will help you boost all of those things, you should look into hummus. Its made with chickpeas, which contain all of those nutrients in good amounts, and it has been recommended to help diabetics boost their immune systems.
Typically, people eat hummus with things like bread or crackers, but you can also use slices of raw vegetables. You want something firm so that you can sort of scoop the hummus, such as long slices of bell peppers.
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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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