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Keeping it whole: The importance of diet for diabetes

Type II diabetes generally stems from poor eating habits and failing to maintain a healthy weight. Preventing Type II diabetes starts with choices made at the grocery store.

Most people know type II diabetes is one of the most preventable diseases humans can develop. Preventing the issue typically isn't the same as, say, preventing M.S. or hereditary conditions. In contrast, type II diabetes generally stems from poor eating habits, smoking, and failing to maintain a healthy weight. These issues often arise and remain problematic by actively going against doctor recommendations, and, in many cases, this happens because a person's habits have become too ingrained to break.

But did you know habits can be changed? Just ask anyone who has quit smoking or who lost those 100 pounds. It's all a matter of routine. Studies show it takes as little as 18 days to break a habit, meaning you could potentially see a change in your sugar levels (and thus your diabetes diagnosis) in as little as three weeks if you make the proper lifestyle changes.

So, what changes do you need to make to break your old habits and form some new, healthy habits? Anyone can tell you to "eat well," but to someone who eats poorly, that advice holds little value. What people with diabetes need to do – in addition to getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly – is actively seeking to consume whole, nutritious foods.

The benefits of whole foods

What is a "whole" food? In short, it is a food that has not been processed by manufacturing companies. It is food plucked and eaten directly from the source. These foods can sometimes be challenging to obtain when you don't live on a farm or grow vegetation yourself, but you can make an honest effort by avoiding the aisles in a grocery store and sticking to the outer sections.

Inside vs. out: Avoiding canned foods and preservatives

You may be thinking: "The aisles contain some good things, though!" This is true, but the majority of items located in those sections of the store are junk. Even canned and preserved fruits and vegetables come loaded with unnatural sugars and additives to prolong shelf life. They may be convenient, but their nutritional values are far less significant than the whole, leafy greens or fresh fruits located on the store's outer rim.

When you eat food that has been canned or preserved, most of the essential micronutrients (nutrients that help fight off disease) have been eradicated during the bagging or canning/jarring process. It's unfortunate because most people think they're making a healthy choice when choosing canned peaches over a candy bar, but in reality, they're much more similar than you'd want to believe.

Is organic necessary?

Whenever possible, choose organic foods over the other kinds. However, if you switch from canned goods to whole, organic foods, that's even better.

Why does organic matter?

For years, the commonfolk believed the only difference between organic and regular whole foods was that regular whole foods were sprayed with pesticides. If you washed them off before you ate them, you'd basically be eating organically. Unfortunately, this isn't the case.

In addition to pesticides, foods not organically raised are grown with additives that increase in size and stay fresh longer. Want proof? Just look at an organic chicken breast compared to one injected with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or even an organic onion compared to the non-organic brand. It's frightening to see the difference, and when we ingest these GMOs, we are putting things into our bodies that we don't entirely understand. It makes life harder on our organs — especially the liver, which primarily focuses on ridding the body of ingested toxins sending your immune system into a fight-or-flight state. Plus, foods raised with GMOs lack some of the vital nutrients that develop with natural aging, meaning those genetically modified strawberries are not as nutrient-dense as those grown organically.

Of course, it's hard to make the drastic change of going from cookies, candies, cakes, and preserves to full-blown organic. That said, it's essential to take steps in the right direction so that one day you may be able to make a complete, wholistic switch. Eat whole, eat well, and watch diabetes disappear.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to the health and well-being of our viewers, which is why we initiated Sinclair Cares. Every month we'll bring you information about the "Cause of the Month," including topical information, education, awareness, and prevention. November is American Diabetes Month.