National University of Health Sciences offers advice during November—American Diabetes Month

November is American Diabetes Month. Physicians from National University of Health Sciences, a leading university for advanced degrees in complementary and alternative health, are offering natural health tips that may help you reduce your risk for contracting type II diabetes.

“Making a few relatively simple dietary and lifestyle changes, and adding additional screening to your annual physical, can go a long way in diabetes prevention,” says Dr. Brian Anderson, chiropractic physician at National University’s on-campus integrative medical center. “Prevention steps are especially important if you have a family history of diabetes.”

Here is what anyone concerned about diabetes can do:

1. Consume adequate protein for breakfast to help stabilize your blood sugar for the rest of the day. Anderson often recommends a meal replacement shake for breakfast with the following recipe: 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder, 6 to 8 ounces of yogurt or kefir, 4 ounces of water, 1/2 cup of frozen berries.

2. Start replacing sodas, commercial sports drinks and other sugary drinks with water. “This is one of the biggest diabetes prevention tips for children and young people, ” says Anderson. “Diabetes is striking increasingly younger age groups, and parents would do well to make water the first option when their kids are thirsty.”

3. Educate yourself about the glycemic index and glycemic load and change dietary habits to choose foods lower on the glycemic index. “Different foods can have a different impact on blood sugar elevation,” says Anderson. “Choosing foods that are lower on the glycemic index—for example, choosing whole grains over processed white flour products—can help stabilize your blood sugar levels.”

4. Start using a pedometer and work your way up to 10,000 steps per day. “Physical activity maintains insulin sensitivity, which is what you want,” says Anderson. “Not everyone is ready for an intensive fitness routine, but most individuals can increase the amount of time they spend walking each day.”

5. Have a bio-impedance test to give you your baseline body composition. “A bio-impedance test, which can be done by chiropractic physicians, will give you the most accurate measure of your body composition,” Anderson says. “Reducing your percentage of body fat and increasing lean muscle mass will prevent obesity, a leading risk factor in diabetes.”

Anderson says that in addition to prevention, the following tips are also good for those who may already have a diabetes diagnosis. “Taking these simple steps may help manage symptoms and possibly reduce the need for medication,” says Anderson. He and his university colleagues in chiropractic medicine, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and oriental medicine will always choose natural and conservative means of care whenever possible. However, they are trained to identify when patients should see a medical doctor to evaluate the need for medication in cases of diabetes. A primary care natural health physician can also work with a patient’s allopathic physician to co-manage the reduction of insulin in patients whose condition is improving due to diet and lifestyle changes.