Today is November 1, the first day of American Diabetes Month.
Very often I hear the question how can I avoid diabetes as I get older?
The first step is to try to maintain and ideal body fat/body weight. If you have access to body fat testing, ideally men in their 30s and 40s should have less than 20% body fat while men in their 50s and 60s should try to maintain body fat in the low 20s. The other way of looking at diabetes risks is to calculate your body mass index.Your BMI can be determined by using your height and weight and finding a BMI calculator on any website on line. Ideally BMI should be less than 24 or 25. If your body fat is elevated or if your BMI is in the high 20s or 30s then weight loss and exercise are needed. There are many strategies for losing weight and body fat. The most well accepted plans today are a diet with reduced glycemic load, meaning reduction of starchy carbohydrates. At BodyLogic MD of San Diego our patients follow the excellent BodyLogic M.D nutritional guide.
Besides reducing the glycemic load of your diet it is also important to avoid eating only 1 or 2 meals a day to prevent diabetes. Many people are under the mistaken assumption that eating only one or two meals a day will lower their weight. Yes, it may lower their weight, but it also increases body fat, and increased body fat is one of the key risk factors for development of diabetes. So eating at least three meals a day with some small low glycemic snacks between meals is the healthiest way to maintain ideal weight body fat and prevent diabetes.
Exercise is important to prevent diabetes. Exercise improve blood sugar regulation and also lowers body fat which further reduces risk for diabetes. Aerobic exercise specifically is what is important. Weight training does not have as much and affect as aerobic exercise on blood sugar regulation.
Hormone balance is critical to avoid diabetes. High cortisol levels due to adrenal stress can raise blood sugar, promote diabetes, and also increase body fat and weight. Your bioidentical hormone specialist can perform special testing to see if you’re having significant adrenal stress and then start a strategy to normalize it using natural products ideally. Testosterone is the most important hormone for improving blood sugar regulation. Besides injections and transdermal creams, many studies support the use of testosterone pellet implantation as one of the best ways to improve blood sugar regulation in nondiabetic as well as diabetic patients.
Finally there are many nutritional supplements that can significantly improve blood sugar regulation. These include chromium picolinate, alpha lipoid acid, CLA, fish oil, magnesium, B vitamins, zinc, incinase, and coenzyme Q10. Bioidentical hormone specialists are familiar with quality pharmaceutical grade combination products that contain many of these ingredients in capsules, pills, or a powdered form to be consumed as a beverage with meals. Some of the products can even be used as a meal replacement.
While patients with early diabetes and even moderate to advanced diabetes can benefit from the above interventions, they’re especially important for those with family history of diabetes or those who are overweight and at risk for diabetes. Ask your doctor what your fasting glucose levels are and also request a hemoglobin A1C test. The number should be less than 5.5. If it is greater than 5.7 it means that you may be moving in the direction of diabetes in the future and should follow many if not most of the steps above to avoid developing this disease. Then be sure to follow up with your doctor for regular testing to make sure that the condition is not progressing but is in steady improvement.
If you are are medications for diabetes a bioidentical hormone specialist can work with you on possibly getting off of them if you respond well to the treatment plan described above, but don’t stop your meds on your own without a physician’s approval as that can be risky.