Prediabetes is a worldwide epidemic. In the United States alone it affects 79 million people, or one in three adults and nearly one in four adolescents. Prediabetes is characterized by high levels of blood sugar and insulin and it increases the risk of five of the seven leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately, the condition is reversible and personal changes are the best prescription. A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that changes in diet and lifestyle reduced the risk of diabetes almost twice as much as the diabetes drug Glucophage, and that the benefits were still apparent a decade later. While diet changes and exercise are essential, there's another piece to the puzzle. Now that research studies have linked toxic chemicals in the environment to an increased risk of developing diabetes, it's time to recognize detoxification as an important part of permanently reversing prediabetes.
- Filter your water. If you don't have one already, check out the Water Filter Buying Guide from the Environmental Working Group before you buy.
- Don't consume foods or drinks that have been in contact with plastic, styrofoam or nonstick surfaces. Replace plastic food and beverage containers with glass or stainless steel versions. Replace nonstick cookware with cast iron or stainless steel pots and pans.
- Eat organic whenever you can. When you can, avoid the Dirty Dozen, or the most contaminated fruits and vegetables: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, summer squash and leafy greens, including spinach, kale and collard greens.
- Avoid toxic fish and seafood like tuna, swordfish, sea bass and farm-raised salmon. Find healthy alternatives and the most up-to-date information using the free online Seafood Selector from the Environmental Defense Fund or the Seafood Watch app from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
- Open the windows. According to the EPA, indoor air is "more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities." To help exchange and circulate air inside your home, open your windows as often as you can and if you have a mechanical ventilation system, use it regularly and keep it in good working order.
- Learn what you're putting on your skin. Find alternatives if necessary with the Skin Deep cosmetics safety database from the Environmental Working Group.
- Detox once or twice a year. Use a comprehensive program designed to do three things: release toxins from their storage sites; support the liver in changing them into compounds we can more easily excrete; and eliminate them from the body. This can be accomplished with a diet low in sweets and starches, regular exercise, stress management, good sleep, sauna therapy and supplements that deliver the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids needed for detoxification.
Sarah Cimperman, ND is a naturopathic physician and an expert in natural medicine. In her private practice in New York City she focuses on nutrition, detoxification and chronic illnesses including prediabetes. She is the author of The Prediabetes Detox: A Whole-Body Program to Balance Your Blood Sugar, Increase Energy, and Reduce Sugar Cravings.
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