|Mother Nurture @ Mom
© Rick Hanson, Ph.D., and Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac.,
Preventing Type II Diabetes
We’ve got two kids, ages 1 and 3, and I’m about 20
pounds heavier today than I was before my first
pregnancy. I feel run-down and often a little
blue, so I “feed my sweet tooth” probably more
than is good for me. I’m a little worried about
where all this is going . . . .
Honestly, you should be a little worried. The
average mother is about 10 pounds heavier than a
comparable woman without children, moms tend to
eat high-carb quick foods on the run, and mothers
are at heightened risk for Type II diabetes – all
of which are related.
Type II diabetes is a serious illness that is
rising dramatically. Essentially, it’s a condition
in which the body has grown increasingly
insensitive to the hormone, insulin, which makes
it harder and harder to get “fuel” into the cells
where it’s needed, so the body produces more and
more insulin, which just makes the cells even more
oblivious to it, in a vicious cycle.
When this happens, you feel run-down and you’re
vulnerable to many of the nasty consequences of
standard, “juvenile” diabetes, including JAN SAY.
And even if you don’t develop full-blown Type II
diabetes, partway there is a syndrome of insulin
insensitivity that has many of the problems of
diabetes in a milder form.
So preventing Type II diabetes is a smart thing to
do! And it will make your family eat better and
help keep your kids off that slippery slope
themselves, since Type II diabetes is increasingly
found among teenagers.
You knock out Type II diabetes with a one-two
punch: maintain normal (= LOW) insulin levels, and
keep your body sensitive to it. Here’s how:
Maintain low levels of insulin:
• Eat a low carbohydrate diet – Low carbs mean low
blood sugars. Plus, the protein that you’re eating
instead of carbohydrates will raise blood sugar
levels only gently, and help them stay there
stably for a long time. If you are particularly
concerned about Type 2 diabetes, all major sugar
sources (including honey and fruit juice) and
grain products should be eliminated.
• When you do consume carbohydrates, eat only
those with high fiber content - Fiber helps spread
out the effects of sugar, reducing its negative
impact. Carbs with lots of fiber include
vegetables, beans, and legumes.
• Exercise routinely – Moderate exercise tends to
lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and it also
helps our cells maintain their sensitivity to
insulin. For example, thirty minutes each day of
brisk walking is enough to have a major impact on
your blood sugar levels – and, of course, on your
health in general.
• Lower your stress – When your stress level
rises, so do your stress hormones, including
cortisol and adrenaline. When these go up, so do
your levels of blood sugar and insulin. So
managing stress is important in the prevention of
diabetes. This is a big topic, but the headlines
- Take an honest look at your life and how you
could slow down and do less. Really!
- Throughout your day, take little moments to
relax, such as by a big breath or just looking out
the window for a few seconds.
- Cultivate some kind of regular practice – like a
craft, meditation, yoga, inspirational reading,
journaling, playing music – that is calming and
- Reach out to people you like; research has shown
that time with friends really helps lower stress
(and especially for women).
- Routinely imagine that positive experiences are
soaking into you, becoming a part of you, a
resource inside that you can draw on for soothing
• Maintain (or attain) your optimal weight –
Excess weight correlates with diabetes. One reason
is that many causes of being overweight – such as
a high carbohydrate diet and little exercise –
also lead to diabetes. Additionally, growing
evidence indicates that certain fat tissues may
generate biochemical processes that contribute to
Support high insulin sensitivity through
• Chromium – Take 500 mg/day.
• Lipoic acid (also called alpha-lipoic acid) –
Take 100-300 mg/day.
• Omega-3 oils – Although these are present in
fatty fish, you’d be prone to mercury poisoning if
you ate enough to get all the omega-3’s you need.
Therefore, use a high-quality supplement that has
been “molecularly distilled” and take enough to
consume 500 mg/day of an ingredient called EPA
(shown on the label).
These supplements can be found in your local
health food store (or on our website,
www.NurtureMom.com). The other benefits of these
natural substances include decreased risk of
cardiovascular disease, a sunnier mood, and
improved liver function.
So, follow these important steps, and your risk
for diabetes will radically decrease!
(Rick Hanson, Ph.D. is a
clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson, M.S., L.Ac., is
an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are
raising a daughter and son, ages 13 and 16. With
Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the first and
second authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother’s Guide
to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate
Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see
their website at www.nurturemom.com or email them
with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org;
unfortunately, a personal reply may not always be
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by: Rick Hanson, Ph.D