People with prediabetes are encouraged to work with their doctors to develop a personalized plan for improving insulin sensitivity (and addressing any other risk factors, such as abnormal cholesterol). But rest assured: Small measures can make a difference.
Take "segmented strolls." Thirty minutes of exercise helps cells mop up glucose from the bloodstream, and it doesn't need to happen in one long session, says Caroline Abruzese, M.D., president of Personalized Healthcare, an integrative health center in Atlanta. Try walking briskly for 10 minutes before breakfast, then on your lunch hour, and once more after dinner. The rule of thumb: Move just vigorously enough so you're able to talk but not sing.
Choose high-caliber carbs. Refined starches such as white bread and white rice have a high glycemic index. This means they break down rapidly into glucose, which then hits the bloodstream in a rush, says Melissa O'Shea, a registered dietitian at Foodtrainers in New York City. The fix: Opt for whole grain versions (such as brown rice and whole wheat bread), which the body digests more slowly.
Pop the cork. Preliminary research suggests that resveratrol, a plant compound in red wine, can help forestall type 2 diabetes by heightening insulin sensitivity after meals. Just keep it to one glass.
Sprinkle on cinnamon. Several studies suggest that MHCP, a compound in this spice, may improve the body's glucose metabolism. Try dusting cinnamon on foods such as oatmeal, yogurt, and baked sweet potato fries.
Fill up on fiber. Roughage may help slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream so the body can better manage it, says Richard M. Bergenstal, M.D., president of medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association. Aim for 20-30 grams a day from foods like fresh veggies (such as broccoli, which packs more than 5 grams per cup) and legumes (9 grams of fiber per half-cup). Struggling to meet quota? Consider a supplement such as Metamucil.
Snack on nuts. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts are rich in magnesium, an essential mineral that may reduce type 2 diabetes risk by making the body's cells more sensitive to insulin.
Hit the hay. In a small study at the University of Buffalo in New York, volunteers who slept less than six hours per night were 4.5 times more likely to develop prediabetes than subjects who snoozed longer. Follow-up research will determine why. In the meantime, TiVo The Late Show and head to bed.