3 New Rules to Reverse Diabetes

Recent guidelines from the American Diabetes Association advise that some new patients try healthy eating and exercise before they begin medication. Now, the latest science reveals that fine-tuning many long-held health habits may lead to even better results.

By Stephanie Woodard from Reader's Digest Magazine | November 2012

Current rule:

Eat fruits and vegetables; they can reduce your diabetes risk and protect your heart.

New update:

Eat many kinds of fruits and veggies. In a new study, people who ate at least 12 types each week had a lower diabetes risk than those who ate a less diverse mix—regardless of overall quantity. Mix arugula with your romaine, snack on fruit salad, pile new veggies onto your sandwich.

Current rule:

Lose weight—even just a little—for better blood sugar control.

New update:

Don’t worry if it’s taking a while to slim down. In a 2012 review paper, Sheri Colberg-Ochs, PhD, noted that exercise alone improved the ability of previously sedentary, middle-aged adults to metabolize sugars, regardless of whether they lost any weight. Their total cholesterol dropped too.

Current rule:

Get enough hours of sleep; research links too little shut-eye to increased diabetes risk.

New update:

Make it a good night’s sleep—sleep quality may matter as much to your health as the number of hours of slumber you log. Research shows that poor sleep affects your body’s ability to properly metabolize sugar and disrupts the hormones that regulate your appetite, which can lead to weight gain and increase your diabetes risk. 

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