Fit is the new beauty
Beauty comes from within and that is very much tied to how healthy you feel. If you’re sleeping well, not carrying extra weight and exercising regularly it really does feel like you’re radiating energy and beauty.
When it comes to your appearance, you’ve probably noticed friends and relatives are much more generous with their compliments after you’ve dropped a few pounds and made frequent use of your gym membership. You rarely get the same positive comments after months of overeating and slouching on the sofa in front of the TV!
So, if you want to up the ante in the beauty stakes you need to start looking after your health and taking a closer look at your weight.
The health benefits of weight loss
The trouble with weight gain and obesity is that it pushes you closer to Type 2 diabetes, which is reaching epidemic proportions around the world. According to the World Health Organisation, in 2016 diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths. These worrying statistics are an important reminder that Type 2 diabetes is not a condition to be taken lightly.
In type 2 diabetes your cells can become resistant to insulin, which means you run the risk of developing excessively high levels of sugar in your blood. This state of high blood sugar is termed ‘hyperglycaemia’ and can lead to really serious health issues such as kidney failure, blindness, gangrene and heart disease.
Having consistently raised blood sugar levels affects the small blood vessels in the kidneys, eyes and nerves as well as the larger blood vessels in the legs, heart and brain. Hyperglycaemia also imposes considerable oxidative stress on the body, which can overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defences.
How does type 2 diabetes develop?
Diet and nutrition are widely believed to play an important part in the development of Type 2 diabetes. More specifically you’re at greater risk of developing this type of diabetes if you are obese, lead a sedentary lifestyle, smoke, drink alcohol and have a high intake of both saturated and trans-fats.
Refined carbohydrates, such as table sugar and foods that contain sugar are additional risk factors. What’s more, poor levels of antioxidants also contribute to the risk.
What can you do if you already have type 2 diabetes?
A convincing body of research has confirmed that even as long as 10 years after developing the condition, type 2 diabetes can be reversible. This is achieved primarily by losing a significant amount of weight. Providing the weight loss stays off, normal metabolism can be maintained in the long term.
Shifting the excess pounds can be a challenge, but even losing as little as 5-10% of your total body weight can have a really positive effect on your health, which is a great motivational tool.
Nutrition and Lifestyle changes
If you’re determined to lose weight and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, why not get on track with our top tips:
1. Eat a reduced GI diet
The glycemic index (GI) is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. Sticking to low GI foods lowers the surges in blood sugar, fats and insulin, which occur after meals.
Focus on low GI vegetables as your main carbohydrate, at least five portions a day. Include wholegrain foods, lean meat, chicken and fish, beans, pulses, legumes and oat-based foods. Oats have been shown to delay gastric emptying and thus reduce the absorption of sugar and fats from the gut.
2. Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates
An important factor in controlling diabetes or preventing it is to balance glucose and insulin in the blood. So if you want to balance your blood sugar, you need to eliminate foods which raise your blood glucose levels too quickly and these include all sugary and refined foods such as:
- White rice
- White pasta
- White bread
- Processed foods
3. Increase your intake of antioxidant-rich foods
Hyperglycaemia promotes the oxidation of glucose which forms free radicals. If the body has insufficient antioxidant defences to quench these compounds it can result in oxidative stress which may damage blood vessels in the body.
A diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables may help to reduce diabetic complications by supplying the nutrients needed to neutralise oxidative damage and support healthy blood vessels. Vitamin C rich foods may be particularly beneficial as vitamin C contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
Research shows that alpha lipoic acid (ALA) helps to regenerate vitamin C and recent evidence also suggests it may be a helpful nutrient for supporting carbohydrate metabolism.
Typical dietary sources of alpha lipoic acid are muscle meats such as the heart, kidneys and liver. If you’re not a fan of offal, you could take a high quality well absorbed ALA supplement to complement your blood sugar balancing diet.
4. Reduce saturated and Trans fats and replace with healthier fats
Excessive levels of saturated and trans fats may create inflammation and may also contribute to insulin resistance. Studies have linked these types of fat to diabetes and heart disease.
Avocado, coconuts, olives, nuts and seeds are ideal sources of healthy fats. Foods that contain omega 3 essential fatty acids are also known to support good health these include:
- Fresh tuna
- Flaxseed oil
- Walnut oil
5. Include daily exercise
According to diabetes.co.uk high-intensity interval training is particularly beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes as it increases glucose metabolism in the muscles as well as insulin sensitivity in those with type 2 diabetes.
However, if this type of exercise is not for you, 20-30 minutes a day of brisk walking can be equally beneficial to health and weight loss. Exercise also reduces blood triglyceride levels.
There is no substitute for good health even in a world where so much importance is still placed on beauty. All the cosmetics in the world can’t give you the radiant beauty you feel when you’re brimming with good health so don’t delay, get started today.
By Jacqueline Newson BSc (Hons) Nutritional Therapy
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