Preventing Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Preventing Diabetes: What You Need to Know

It's pretty clear, we are not doing enough early on to prevent people from developing diabetes. Once an individual develops this chronic disease, we start chasing the disease to prevent life-altering side effects and complications - too little, too late.

If we could prevent individuals from destroying the beta cells of their pancreas to begin with, the whole terrible ordeal would be bypassed for a better, healthier life. Despite all the education flooding the media right now, it appears the message hasn't been loud enough: diabetes prevention is key!

The way we manage our bodies before, during and after pregnancy and the way we raise our children is the key to putting an end to the explosion of type 2 diabetes.

And, despite all we know about health, longevity and the development of diabetes, we still have families in denial about the link that exists between their dietary habits and their health. We have mothers not following gestational diets and gaining excessive amounts of weight, contributing to the health of their children. We have mothers who opt against breastfeeding, shown to help maintain appropriate weight. We have mothers who don't properly feed their children during their developmental stages and we have very little mental health support for individuals with diabetes who typically experience depression, further spiraling their disease to a worsened state.

Let's change history! Our mothers, before, during and after pregnancy and our babies and young children must be fully engaged in a healthy lifestyle right from the start.

Mothers preparing for pregnancy must boost mineral stores like iron, calcium and magnesium. Incorporating a daily Blast with a variety of green vegetables like spinach and kale can ensure the proper intake of these important minerals in a tasty and quick treat. If flavor and color require a boost, there are hundreds of recipes that incorporate berries and other fruits to ensure the best match for your taste buds at every stage.

During pregnancy, mothers should avoid gaining excessive weight, which was shown to help prevent childhood and adult illnesses. We learn more every single day. And we must practice what we learn.

If medically safe and appropriate, opt to breastfeed your child. A newborn’s connection to their mother through breastfeeding is vital! Ensuring the baby is getting all that he/she needs without sacrificing the mother’s body is much more easily accomplished if mama is having a daily Blast.

Nutrients that are easy to supplement for mother and baby through breast milk are the omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, and Vitamin D. By adding freshly ground flaxseed, Cod liver oil, or other highly EPA & DHA-concentrated fish oil supplements to a daily Blast, the mother increases these nutrients and passes them to her child in her breast milk. Always consult your physician as safety is primary for mother and child and limiting lead and mercury in all seafood is important.

Once baby is ready for solids, rice cereal mixed with breast milk is generally the first offering. Follow these with vegetable purees.

At around 6 months, your baby loses the "extrusion reflex," which used to make him or her spit out anything that wasn't liquid. He can sit up with support, hold his neck steady and move his head from side to side. When you see those signs, don't delay. Your baby should start to eat vegetables!

Because infants have a natural preference for sweet foods, many pediatricians suggest introducing veggies first. Since yellow and orange vegetables are sweeter than green ones, carrots, yams, and butternut squash tend to go over best. Start with strained or pureed vegetables and then move on to mashed. It can take 10 to 15 tries before a food is accepted. Servings should gradually increase from a few teaspoonfuls to about two tablespoonfuls, twice a day.

Starting with these steps is the key to preventing a lifetime of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other chronic illness. Focus on the importance of early healthy eating to prevent diabetes and encourage friends and family to do the same!

Enjoy food and life and, most of all, know that avoiding diabetes just takes a few, simple steps.

Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

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