Many people do not realize they carry harmful low-grade inflammation hand-in-hand with the poor metabolism of prediabetes. Inflammation that can be reduced by making some diet changes – start your anti inflammation prediabetes diet. “Food is medicine.”
Much of our conversation here involves the lifestyle approaches related to reducing the inflammation in the body contributing to insulin resistance which leads to prediabetes and eventual type 2 diabetes. Food, physical activity and other aspects of lifestyle can be like medicine to reverse and stop prediabetes to avoid full type 2 diabetes. In this post, I discuss the foundation of an anti inflammation prediabetes diet.
One of the important parts of an “anti-inflammation lifestyle” is eating in a way that minimizes the triggering of inflammation in your body by eating an “anti-inflammatory diet.”
The inflammation I am referring to is not the visible inflammation you see when you sprain your ankle, for example. If this happens, you can see swelling and redness. You can feel the discomfort, and depending how significant it is, maybe even a little warmth in the area. The inflammation found in the blood from having a poor metabolism is called “systemic inflammation,” and it is an invisible, slow and silent killer.
One of the main culprits producing and promoting systemic inflammation is excess fat at the midsection of the body, so-called “belly fat.” I have posted elsewhere on this site about the hormone-like biochemicals produced by excess fat at the waistline, known medically as abdominal or visceral fat. This type of fat triggers inflammation that can wreak havoc on your body. The internal biochemical by-products of an accumulation of belly fat are part of the medical harm that obesity causes.
Along with poor body composition, a sedentary lifestyle, genetics, stress, the environment (smog, traffic exhaust, second-hand smoke, certain chemicals, etc.), the food you eat also plays a role in how much inflammation may be present in your body.
If you learn which foods can affect the amount of inflammation in your body – and begin to eat an anti inflammation prediabetes diet – it will go a long way toward helping you improve your metabolism to stop prediabetes, not to mention the other diseases systemic inflammation can promote.
What is a Anti inflammation Prediabetes Diet?
Regular readers know when we use the word “diet” here at Nutrientology, we are not referring to a way of eating that you undertake for three months to lose weight for an upcoming high school reunion. When we say “diet,” we mean the food you regularly eat day-to-day to live. If you think about it this way, you will have a greater chance of making lasting change – The lasting change necessary to reverse and stop prediabetes and prevent full type 2 diabetes.
An “anti inflammation prediabetes diet” is about eating food that does not trigger inflammation and eating this food regularly. Anti-inflammation food is generally nutrient rich giving you a good source of vitamins, minerals, necessary healthy fats, fiber and many of the healthful phytonutrients found in plants. I have posted about them here.
An anti-inflammation diet involves eating food that is fresh and minimally processed. This means real food close to its native state. If food comes in a package, it was likely processed. One exception to this would be fresh-frozen foods such as fish and vegetables.
Try to include at least some of each type of macronutrient in your anti inflammation prediabetes diet meals. The word “macronutrient” refers to:
Some brief pointers on macronutrients:
1. Carbohydrates (“Carbs”)
- Depending on your activity level, and whether or not you have a poor metabolism, a typical amount of carbohydrates for women is about 150-200 grams, and for men, about 240-260 grams. If you have a poor metabolism, odds are you need to eat a lower amount of carbs.
- Most, if not all, of your carbs should be minimally processed and have a low glycemic load – most vegetables, many whole fruits and some whole grains fit this bill. Most dietitians and nutritionists advocate whole grains like brown rice, but some grains are a topic of controversy. Generally speaking, we are not fans of wheat food products here at Nutrientology…there are better grains.
- Avoid products made with high fructose corn syrup – by definition corn syrup products are processed food products that typically come in a package, and usually a packaged food is an inflammation triggering food.
- Try to avoid food products made with wheat flour and sugar, especially bread products and other baked goods.
- Bottom line, limit processed flour-based foods and eat many different types of vegetables and fruits as your best source of carbohydrates.
- Healthier fats are mono- and poly-unsaturated fat.
- Extra-virgin olive oil contains mostly mono-unsaturated fat and is generally a good cooking oil, but do not burn it. Burning an oil can make it harmful.
- For omega-3 poly-unsaturated fat, eat fish such as salmon (preferably wild caught), sardines packed in water or olive oil, and other cold water fish. If you do not eat fish, you can take a fish oil supplement.
- Nuts are a good source of healthy fats and protein.
- Some saturated fat is necessary, and you can obtain this from certain meats, natural cheeses and eggs.
- Try to avoid processed seed oils like sunflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and mixed “vegetable oils.”
- Avoid margarine (it is made from seed oils), vegetable shortening, and all products listing seed oils as ingredients, are problematic. Again, these foods tend to come in a package. Definitely avoid all products made with partially hydrogenated oils of any kind – these are man-made fats that can do you in.
An area of some controversy involves the consumption of red meat. While you do not necessarily need to avoid it all together, most of the research supports limiting the amount of red meat you eat. For instance, a recent study showed an apparent association between regularly eating red meat and markers of inflammation in the blood along with a weakened ability for the body to process glucose blood sugar. You need to be able to process blood sugar to stop prediabetes and avoid full type 2 diabetes.
If you are like most readers, right about now you are starting to think about cholesterol…for better or worse, our pubic health polices have created this association between meat, fat and cholesterol.
Having bad levels of the different types of cholesterol is part of having a poor metabolism that leads to prediabetes and diabetes and is often found along with inflammation in diseases such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Talk with your doctor about your levels of the different types of cholesterol, not just your total cholesterol number. I have previously posted about the different types of cholesterol.
Most readers have heard that cardiovascular disease has been associated with higher levels of certain types of fats and cholesterol. It is important to pay attention to the amount and types of fat you are eating on a daily basis, however the inflammation I am writing about in this post may be a bigger influence on the development of cardiovascular disease than the levels of certain types of fat in the blood.
It is likely both how your body processes fats and inflammation together that are the problem, so what is one to do? The good news is not only can you pay attention to what you are eating to help keep fats, cholesterol, blood sugar and inflammation in check, but there is another way.
You guessed it, exercise and physical activity help not only to improve the fats in your blood, but to also reduce inflammation. Regular exercise is an important tool to counteract both poor fat levels in your blood and systemic inflammation.
Here is a brief video explaining more about the often confusing subject of fat in the diet:
- The amount of protein you need each day also varies depending on your activity level, age and any medical conditions you may have.
- It is generally recommended that one eat about 0.3-0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, if you weigh 170 lbs., that comes out to about 65-70 grams per day.
- I have posted previously on the amount of daily protein that is advised.
- It’s not hard to get this amount of protein daily if you eat three servings of protein-rich foods per day.
Regarding protein, I have seen it said one should eat more protein from sources with no legs and less protein from sources with more legs.
Vegetables —–> Fish ——> Chicken —–> Four-legged animals.
Real, natural cheese and yogurt are also good protein sources “without legs.”
As a guide to how much protein is in different foods, according to the CDC:
A small 3-ounce piece of meat has about 21 grams of protein.
One 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein.
One cup of milk has 8 grams of protein.
One cup of dry beans has about 16 grams of protein.
Other anti inflammation prediabetes diet considerations:
As I mentioned above, phyonutrients are nutrients found in plants.
- Choose fruits and vegetables of many different colors – Berries are great and come in many colors, red tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits, and dark leafy green vegetables.
- Wash well in case there may be any pesticide residue.
- Eat various types of vegetables regularly.
- Consider tea instead of coffee, green tea is a great option
- If you drink alcohol, not too much, and red wine is better.
And yes, although rarely mentioned here because it can be a source of confusion, you can consider plain dark chocolate. Cocoa is a phytonutrient found in chocolate that has shown health benefits, and it should be present in plain dark chocolate at least at 70%.
5. Vitamins and Minerals
- Eating nutrient dense food is the best way to get adequate daily vitamins, minerals, and the various micronutrients that keep your metabolism on track and away from type 2 diabetes.
- If your anti inflammation prediabetes diet is not what it could be, consider periodic supplementation with a basic multivitamin.
6. Other Dietary Supplements
- If you are not eating fish at least twice a week, take a fish oil supplement, in capsule or liquid form (1 to 2 grams per day of a product containing both EPA and DHA).
- Other supplements you may need to consider are: Ca/vitamin D and curcumin ( I have previously posted about the anti-inflammatory benefit of a curcumin supplement).
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): 60-100 milligrams of a softgel form taken with a meal, especially if active and/or on a cholesterol-lowering medicine.
- If you are prone to prediabetes or have been told you have metabolic syndrome, alpha-lipoic acid, 100 to 400 milligrams per day is also a good nutrient to consider along with a magnesium supplement. You can get a great supplements of alpha-lipoic acid and magnesium here.
- Go to the Nutrientology Store to see more quality supplements.
- If you are eating real food, odds are you are eating enough fiber. If you want a number, try to eat about 30-35 grams of fiber per day. You can do this by eating enough fruit, vegetables, and some whole grains.
- Drink pure water, or drinks that are mostly water (tea, very watered-down fruit juice, sparkling water with lemon) throughout the day.
- Use bottled water or get a home water purifier. Chlorine and other chemicals in tap water have been a source of some health concern.
Lower calorie eating is part of an anti inflammation prediabetes diet
In addition to eating the right kinds of foods with an anti inflammation prediabetes diet to keep inflammation in check, not “pigging out” is another way to keep inflammation at bay.
Researchers have recently (May 2012) looked at how inflammation in the body is affected by a low-calorie weight-loss diet with and without exercise.
The researchers randomly placed 438 overweight and obese postmenopausal women into one of four groups:
- One year of a low-calorie diet with a goal of 10 percent weight loss
- Aerobic exercise of moderate-to-vigorous activity for 225 minutes per week
- Combined diet and exercise programs
- A control group that did none of these things and just went about their normal lives
The amount of inflammation in each person was measured by several blood tests at the start of the study and at one year by people who did not know which group each of the women belonged.
The results showed:
Compared to the control group people who just went about thier normal life, two of the inflammation tets improved significantly for the people in the diet and diet-exercise groups regardless of weight loss.
Three of the inflammation tests improved for people in the diet and diet-exercise groups that lost 5 percent or more of their body weight.
The authors concluded:
Our findings indicate that a caloric restriction weight loss diet with or without exercise reduces biomarkers of inflammation in postmenopausal women…”
“Caloric restricition” just means eating less daily Calories than you need.
Systemc inflammation impacts every aspect of your health. Reducing inflammation in your body with an anti inflammation prediabetes diet is part of the transition to a healthier life, including a healthy blood sugar level, healthy fats and cholesterol, healthy blood pressure and body weight control.
Reducing inflammation by eating real food, avoiding processed food, moving around a lot and sleeping well allows your metabolism to function better, moving your system into weight reduction mode with less personal struggle.
Once you start down the path toward a healthier lifestyle, it gets easier as you move along because the fat you lose in your midsection is not there pumping out those biochemical inflammation triggers. If you can’t make changes “cold turkey,” gradually make changes; make a small change every week if you have to.
For example, start by avoiding drinks with sugar in them – that includes fruit juices – then don’t eat any processed foods or food from a package, then continue to reduce starchy carbohydrate foods throughout the day, then only eat carbohydrates in the 1-2 hour window after physical activity, etc….You get the point.
Eating less food does not mean starving yourself. Whereas food quantity is important, for most people, food quality is often an even more important part of a good anti inflammation prediabetes diet.
You did not get to where you are overnight. While some people can make drastic health moves, others cannot (or should not). It’s okay to be the tortoise rather than the hare, just so long as you keep your eye on the finish line and get there.
Also, depending on how sick your metabolism is, you should probably hold off on any exercise in the initial phases of your transition. Adding exercise to an anti inflammation prediabetes diet, other than mild walking, or a bike for people overweight and prone to foot problems, may just be too stressful on your already adjusting system. For many, gradually phasing in different forms of physical activity is the way to go.
Start simply with balance exercises. Do not downplay the importance of balance movements, especially if you are someone who has not been leading a very physically active life. Your physical activity progression should start with balance, then movement, then strength, but that is a post for another day…stay tuned.