Nov 15, 2016 5:17:26 PM | holistic nutrition Celebrate Diabetes Awareness with Simple Lifestyle Changes

Are you struggling to get decent sleep? Do you feel constantly stressed and overworked? Are you skimping on the veggies? You just might be in the risk group for diabetes.


Everyone knows that proper nutrition is one of the main keys to thriving health and longevity. People who adopt the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruits and grains, have been reported to have longer life expectancy than the ones who adopt a modern Western eating pattern.[1] Diets low in meat and rich in legume / beans were also linked to the long life and healthy adulthood.[2]

It’s not news that the modern Western diet, high in processed refined sugars, is directly linked to many chronic diseases, including diabetes.[3] Though, it’s important to stress that it’s not the only factor that contributes to the development of this disease. Excess stress, a common characteristic of modern life, also raises the risk for developing diabetes.[4] Poor sleep that disrupts our important biological processes[5] also plays a significant role. The sad part is, most of these issues are all too familiar for many of us.

Not surprisingly, the number of people with diabetes is skyrocketing. Some epidemiologists are already discussing a diabetes epidemic in the United States. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 29 million of people or 9% of population in the United States have already developed diabetes. In addition, 86 million, more than one out of three adults, are in the risk group – a pre-diabetes state.[6]

Are you struggling to get decent sleep? Do you feel constantly stressed and overworked? Are you skimping on the veggies and opting for processed and fast food? You just might be in the risk group.

It’s important to consider changes in lifestyle that will make your nutrition healthier and life more balanced. But don’t fear: these changes can be simple and can be implemented by anyone.

1. Don’t Skip Breakfast

Like Mom always says, start the day with a healthy breakfast. That’s right… even if you’re scrambling to get to work or are busy preparing kids for school, don’t skip breakfast. Regularly skipping breakfast was shown to increase the risk of diabetes later in life[7].

You can have a healthy breakfast even if you are in a rush. Muesli with nuts and spices is a great start for the day. It’s easy to make your own muesli to avoid added sugars and preservatives. Plus, you can always add ingredients you love. Below is one of my favorite recipes:


1 cup of oats

1/2 cup of raw almonds or walnuts

1/2 cup of chia, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup of cranberries, raisins, or mulberries

1 tablespoon of fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum seeds

1 teaspoon of cinnamon Cinnamomum zeylanicum

This dish is tasty and nutritious. Oats are a great source of a dietary fiber; almonds and walnuts are rich with plant proteins; chia, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds give a healthy daily dose of essential fatty acids; cranberries, raisins, and mulberries are rich with vitamins. In addition, cinnamon C. zeylanicum and fenugreek T. foenum-graecum are fantastic herbs that can promote healthy, normal blood glucose and lipid levels.[8]

Feel free to experiment with this recipe by adding your own favorite ingredients.

I also recommend drinking a cup of ginseng Panax quinquefolium (C.A Mey) tea in a morning. Ginseng P. quinquefolium is used historically as a tonic for improving energy and vigor. It was also suggested that the main constituents – ginsenosides – can support normal insulin sensitivity.[9]

2. Daily Nutrition 

For daily meals, avoid processed products that easily break down into simple sugars. Emphasize raw, unprocessed foods like whole and unrefined grains, legumes, bananas, potatoes (with the peels intact), and Jerusalem artichokes.

Avoid eating snacks between meals, and if you feel really hungry, choose a fruit, like an apple or banana, instead of a granola bar.

Make sure you eat fruits daily. However, be moderate with the fruit juices as they are much higher in fructose (fruit sugar) but are lower in dietary fiber.

You might also drink a cup or two of coffee in the morning—try it black or with nut milk if possible! While it’s not fully understood how coffee affects the metabolism, numerous studies have shown that habitual coffee lowers risk of development of diabetes.[10] Still, avoid drinking coffee late in the evening as this may reduce quality of sleep. Similarly, avoid drinking alcohol late at night, even at small quantities, as it usually disrupts a normal sleep pattern.[11]

3. Daily Exercises 

Allocate time for daily exercise – even 30 minutes per day can make a difference. Regular daily physical activity helps to reduce stress and promotes the utilization of glucose. I highly recommend jogging, cycling, and aerobic exercises. Yoga is a great option, and a number of studies have demonstrated its beneficial effects for patients suffering from diabetes.[12] [13] These included significant decreases in blood glucose levels and improved glycemic control. It was also suggested that yoga is particularly effective because it combines physical exercise with specific strengthening postures and breath control.

While we never know what life may throw our way, creating simple healthy lifestyle habits can keep us thriving and may even stave off disease later in life, including diabetes.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a Professor and Research Analyst at American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.

[1] Shahar, D. and Grotto, I. (2006). Mediterranean Diet and Longevity. Current Nutrition & Food Science, 2(4), pp.337-342.

[2] Singh, P., Sabate, J., & Fraser, G. (2016). Does low meat consumption increase life expectancy in humans?. Am J Clin Nutr, 78(3), 526S-532S.

Darmadi-Blackberry, I., Wahlqvist, M., Kouris-Blazos, A., Steen, B., Lukito, W., Horie, Y., & Horie, K. (2004). Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities. Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr, 13(2), 217-220.

[3] Malik, V., Fung, T., van Dam, R., Rimm, E., Rosner, B., & Hu, F. (2011). Dietary Patterns During Adolescence and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Middle-Aged Women. Diabetes Care, 35(1), 12-18.

[4] Novak, M., Björck, L., Giang, K., Heden-Ståhl, C., Wilhelmsen, L., & Rosengren, A. (2012). Perceived stress and incidence of Type 2 diabetes: a 35-year follow-up study of middle-aged Swedish men. Diabetic Medicine, 30(1), e8-e16.

[5] Davies, S., Ang, J., Revell, V., Holmes, B., Mann, A., & Robertson, F. et al. (2014). Effect of sleep deprivation on the human metabolome. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, 111(29), 10761-10766.

[6] 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report. (2015). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from 

[7] Mekary, R., Giovannucci, E., Willett, W., van Dam, R., & Hu, F. (2012). Eating patterns and type 2 diabetes risk in men: breakfast omission, eating frequency, and snacking. American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 95(5), 1182-1189.

[8] Khan, A., Safdar, M., Ali Khan, M., et al. (2003). Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 26:3215-8.

Madar, Z., Abel, R., Samish, S., & Arad, J. (1988). Glucose-lowering effect of fenugreek in non-insulin dependent diabetics. Eur J Clin Nutr., 42:51-4; Bhardwaj, P.K., Dasgupta, D.J., Prashar, B.S., & Kaushal, S.S. (1994). Control of hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidaemia by plant product. J Assoc Physicians India, 42:33-5.

[9] Lee, W., Kao, S., Liu, I., & Cheng, J. (2007). Ginsenoside Rh2 is One of the Active Principles of Panax Ginseng Root to Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Fructose-rich Chow-fed Rats. Hormone And Metabolic Research, 39(5), 347-354.

[10] van Dam, R. & Hu, F. (2005). Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. JAMA, 294(1), 97.

[11] Thakkar, M., Sharma, R., & Sahota, P. (2015). Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis. Alcohol, 49(4), 299-310.

[12] Malhotra, V., Singh, S., Tandon, O., Madhu, S., Prasad, A., & Sharma, S. (2002). Effect of Yoga asanas on nerve conduction in type 2 diabetes. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 46(3):298-306.

[13] Hegde, S., Adhikari, P., Kotian, S., Pinto, V., D'Souza, S., & D'Souza, V. (2011). Effect of 3-Month Yoga on Oxidative Stress in Type 2 Diabetes With or Without Complications: A controlled clinical trial. Diabetes Care, 34(10):2208-2210.

Oleg Maksimov

Written By: Oleg Maksimov

Dr. Maksimov is the Associate Academic Dean at ACHS. He received his PhD in Chemistry from the City University of New York in February 2002. After graduation he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Physics of the Pennsylvania State University (2002-2004) and as a Research Associate in the Materials Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University (2003-2005). During the last year of his work in the Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Maksimov became interested in the studies of memory effects in aqueous solutions diluted past Avogadro's number of molecules—homeopathic remedies—and by the CAM field. At the same time he also got involved in distance education and accepted an Adjunct Faculty position in the online division of South University (Health Sciences Program). Since then Dr. Maksimov has worked as Adjunct Faculty and Subject Matter Expert for a number of schools, developed online courses, and taught General and Organic Chemistry, Introductory Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Science. He has also acted as a program evaluator for the American Council on Education and a proposal reviewer for the Research Foundation of City University of New York. Dr. Maksimov enjoys teaching chemistry, aromatherapy, and other CAM subjects for ACHS. He is happily married and has one daughter and one son. When he has free time, he enjoys developing activities combining art and science for high school students and delivering health education classes to the community. Undergraduate courses taught: AROMA 305 Graduate courses taught: AROMA 501, AROMA 507, CAP 501, CHEM 501, CHEM 502, RES 501, TOX 501