Diabetes stats just keep spiking — a staggering 350 million people around the globe now have the disease, and the U.S. numbers are among the worst in the world. That means more heart attacks, more strokes, and a shorter life expectancy, even if you're otherwise healthy. Eat right; exercise more — the advice is simple but sometimes hard to follow. What do top experts suggest for closing that gap? 1. Have a side salad. When you're indulging in high-carb foods (pasta, potatoes, or rice, for example), serve salad, too — and make sure the dressing contains vinegar. Consuming one and a half tablespoons of vinegar can lower your blood sugar by 42 percent, a small study showed last year.
2. Treat your pasta rightiStock/Thinkstock
Keeping your cells responsive to insulin is key to warding off diabetes because insulin is the hormone that sweeps sugar out of the blood. Here's an effective, tasty way to do that: Sauté your pasta in extra-virgin olive oil (and throw in some vegetables for good measure). That approach substantially increased insulin sensitivity for overweight women in recent research. The researchers say that sautéing any carb-rich food in olive oil will help hold blood sugar steady.
3. Move a little
Just one session of moderate exercise improves your body's blood-sugar control, new research shows — and mini-bursts of activity seem to be as effective as continuous exercise. (In fact, sitting for hours at a time boosts your risk of a variety of diseases even if you're otherwise active.) Aim to move at least 30 to 45 minutes a day. What makes that goal less daunting: You can rack up some of those minutes during TV commercials or other bits of downtime as long as you move briskly.
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4. Enforce a blackout
If you don't sleep seven or eight hours most nights, your risk of developing diabetes — or having it get worse — rises by 37 to 88 percent, says a recent study. To sleep longer and better, go dark because even a small amount of light during bedtime hours slows the production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. Reading lights or glowing screens can be enough to rev your body. If you want to read in bed, try wearing an inexpensive pair of amber shades — they block blue light waves that are particularly disruptive for melatonin (safetyglassesusa.com/amberlens.html). Use a computer before bedtime? Download free blue-filtering software, such as F.lux (stereopsis.com/flux).
5. Substitute nuts for potatoes
Potatoes deliver a dietary double whammy: They make your blood sugar rise and over the years are particularly likely to make you gain weight, a recent long-term study showed. Nuts may be high in fat, but snacking on a handful instead of chips or fries will help you lose pounds, researchers say. And a number of recent studies have shown pistachios, almonds, and peanuts have surprising power to keep blood sugar even. <i>Sources: Sara Farnetti, MD, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome; Mickey Harpaz, PhD, author of Menopause Reset!; Cyril Kendall, PhD, University of Toronto; Stavros Liatis, MD, Athens University Medical School; Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, Harvard School of Public Health; Anoop Shankar, MD, West Virginia University School of Medicine; John Thyfault, PhD, University of Missouri</i>