diabetes risk

  1. Waist size can be more important than BMI for diabetes risk

    Bigger bellies boost disease risk -- even when you're not obese

    Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes, and slashing that risk of course means losing weight. But while the numbers on the scale are important, there's another number that can be just as critical.

    And that's your pants size.

    Bigger waistlines usually mean bigger weights -- usually, but not always. Some people have a round-in-the-middle shape without actually being obese.

    It's not just an unflattering figure. It's a dangerous one, and new research on 30,000 Europeans finds that overweight -- but not obese -- men with a waistline of 40 have a higher risk of diabetes than obese people with more moderate waistlines.

    For overweight (but not obese) women, the risk shoots up when the waistline reaches 35.

    The reason is simple: How your fat is distributed is just as important as how much you have. Fat that builds up around organs is a disease risk factor. And too much fat right in the belly -- the fat that causes waistlines to bulge -- can produce excess hormones, leading to insulin resistance, and ultimately diabetes.

    In other words, getting into shape means not just losing weight, but making sure your body takes on the right shape as well.

    But avoiding diabetes isn't just about the big changes, like the dietary makeover needed to shrink both pounds and waistlines. There are also smaller, easier steps you can take -- including simple nutrients you can add to your diet that can slash your risk.

    Start with selenium.

    That's the trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that can protect against certain cancers. And, as I told you just a few weeks ago, it can slash your risk of death by heart disease when combined with coenzyme Q10.

    Now, new research finds this mineral can also help you to avoid diabetes. In a study of some 7,000 men and women tracked for decades, those who had the highest selenium levels had a 24 percent lower risk of getting the disease.

    That's three of the world's leading killers -- cancer, heart disease, and diabetes -- slashed by this one mineral needed in only the tiniest doses.

    Just don't go overboard with it. It's called a "trace" mineral for a reason, and too much of it is not a good thing.

    On the other hand, many people can drink tea all day without suffering any ill effects -- and if that's you, you might already be enjoying a lower risk of diabetes without even realizing it: Four cups a day or more can slash the risk of the disease by 20 percent, according to the latest research.

    Tea, especially green tea, is a great source of healthy polyphenols. Along with lowering your diabetes risk, a steady tea habit can help prevent cancer, dementia and heart disease, boost the immune system, ease depression and more.

    Now, it's easy to get carried away with these studies. People read about a certain benefit, and then load up on those foods without making the other changes they need for good health.

    But a handful of Brazil nuts or a couple of extra cups of tea won't keep disease at bay if you're eating processed foods and other junk the rest of the time. So, add these things to your diet if you wish -- but it's far more important that you have a healthy lifestyle in the first place.

  2. Omega-3s may slash diabetes risk

    The mainstream will tell you the only way to prevent diabetes is to cut down on fat -- which only proves they haven't been paying attention.

    Carbs are the real enemy.

    Some fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, can actually protect your heart -- and two new studies confirm yet again that these essential oils can slash your diabetes risk.

    In both studies, researchers say the lowest risk was among patients who had the highest levels of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a short-chain fatty acid found in walnuts, flaxseed and canola.

    In a new examination of data on 3,088 U.S. adults who took part in a heart study, researchers found that patients with the highest ALA levels were 43 percent less likely to get diabetes than those with the lowest.

    In the second study, researchers in Singapore found that high ALA levels slashed diabetes risk by 20 percent.

    The researchers in that one didn't find any link between fish oil and a lower diabetes risk -- but it was also a weaker study, using interviews on dietary habits to estimate levels of fat intake.

    The U.S. study, on the other hand, measured actual blood levels of fatty acids -- and in addition to the link between ALA and diabetes risk, they found that patients with the highest levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) were 36 percent less likely to get diabetes than those with the lowest.

    EPA and DHA, of course, are the fatty acids found in fish as well as grass-fed meats and dairy.

    Now, you should be getting your omega-3 fatty acids in any case -- but let's not kid ourselves here: If you're eating fast food and gulping down soda, all the salmon in Alaska won't keep diabetes at bay.

    There's just no magic pill for that.

    Instead, make omega-3 fatty acids a key part in a healthy lifestyle low in sugars and refined carbohydrates -- and that's true even if you're not at risk for diabetes, because everyone needs these essential oils.

    Studies have found that omega-3s can boost levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol, lower triglycerides, protect your heart, keep your eyes sharp, and even ward off gum disease.

    One recent study found that fish oil can slash levels of homocysteine, an inflammation marker linked to heart disease, dementia, and more. (Read more here.)

    Another found that these fatty acids can help seniors beat depression. (Read more here.)

    Forget low-fat -- go full-fat instead... especially when those fats are the omega-3s.

  3. Key mineral may help beat diabetes

    Magnesium has long been linked to diabetes prevention--and a new study confirms it. Researchers have found that those who get their share of this crucial mineral have a dramatically lower risk of the disease.
  4. Greens can lower diabetes risk

    Popeye's favorite green won't just help him beat up Brutus –-it can also help you put the hurt on your diabetes risk.

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