08/10/2010 11:30 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Type 2 Diabetes Basics and 3 Methods of Prevention

Although some people may inherit a predisposition to diabetes, their genes carry messages that must be expressed in order for the disease to develop. A healthy lifestyle that includes a low glycemic eating plan, regular exercise and nutritional supplementation can modify the expression of those genes and prevent diabetes.

Diabetes Basics

Diabetes is a condition characterized by faulty sugar metabolism, resulting in high levels of sugar in the bloodstream. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not make enough insulin to control blood sugar. In Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin. If not controlled, the disease can lead to long-term complications that include heart and circulatory disease, kidney failure and cataracts. Type 2 diabetes is the preventable kind.

Insulin Resistance

The hallmark of diabetes is insulin resistance, which is the loss of sensitivity of the body's cells to the effects of insulin. As a result, the pancreas puts out more insulin to drive the sugar in the bloodstream into the cells to be burned or stored. With excess insulin around, cells become immune to its effects, and this further exacerbates insulin resistance. Reversing insulin resistance by re-sensitizing cells to insulin is the key to preventing diabetes. The right foods and nutritional supplements, as well as exercise, help to restore the communication between insulin and the body's cells.

Low Glycemic Diet

A low glycemic diet is designed to maintain blood sugar levels on an even keel, so as to minimize insulin levels. Small, frequent meals and snacks should include some protein and/or fat to "buffer" the carbohydrate foods, thus slowing their absorption into the bloodstream. Sources of carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and whole, unprocessed starches such as dry beans, yams and sweet potatoes. Nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, avocados and fish provide monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids that help to reverse insulin resistance. All beverages are sugar-free. You can eat an occasional sweet after a meal rather than alone as a snack.


Most diabetics are aware that exercise helps them to control their blood sugar levels. In contrast with unconditioned muscles, toned and developed muscles are more responsive to blood sugar and insulin. Regular exercise helps lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. According to Journal of the American Medical Association, people who exercise consistently have a dramatically reduced risk of developing diabetes.

Nutritional Supplementation

Two nutrients that are often lacking in the American diet are chromium and omega-3 fats. Chromium is an essential trace mineral that may play a key role in glucose metabolism. Supplementation with chromium helps to normalize blood sugar levels, as demonstrated in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A deficiency of chromium causes glucose intolerance, which can lead to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

As reported in the Journal of Nutrition, omega-3 fatty acids can also lower the risk of diabetes by reducing insulin resistance. High-quality fish oil is the best source of omega-3 fats. Recommended doses for fish oil are 2g to 4g per day.

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-Anton Alden

Type 2 Diabetes Basics and 3 Methods of Prevention. Courtesy of LIVESTRONG.COM