Apps to Help Prevent & Reverse Diabetes

According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, it’s estimated that 86 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition of high blood sugar levels that could turn into type 2 diabetes within 5 years. But studies have shown that prediabetes (and even full-blown Type II diabetes) can be reversed or prevented through healthy diet and exercise.

In a TEDx talk at Purdue University, Dr. Sarah Hallberg cited that as much as 50% of the population could have insulin resistance to some degree even if their blood sugar levels still test normal. With insulin resistance, insulin cannot process the high amounts of sugars and carbohydrates, and the glucose gets stored as fat.

As a society, a lot of our diet is made up of carbohydrates — from potato chips and pretzels to bread, pasta, rice and more. Add in the sugars from desserts and store-bought snacks and the hidden sugar in condiments like ketchup, and it’s easy to exceed the USDA’s recommended 225 grams of carbs per day. Over time, this can cause a condition called insulin resistance or prediabetes.

Dr. Hallberg cites success in reversing pre-diabetes and Type II diabetes with a low sugar, low carbohydrate diet. And she’s not alone. There is a wealth of studies supporting her findings (see an overview of the efficacy of low-carb diets by the American Diabetes Association).  

So when I was diagnosed with prediabetes, I knew that it was time to seriously change the way I ate.  I chose a diet high in vegetables, protein and healthy fats and low in starch and sugar (i.e., a low-carb diet).  In search of information, recipes, and support, I found the four apps that were the key to my success — Low Carb Info, Carb Counter & Diet Tracker by Atkins, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal, and MyDietician.

MyDietician held me accountable for my food choices and taught me about nutrition, but at $79 it’s pricey.  So, I also found less expensive do-it-yourself alternatives.  Low Carb Info taught me what high-carbohydrate foods to avoid (or eat less, or smaller portions of). It even has a filter that will list foods that are lower than a specified number of carbs. I chose to follow the Atkins low-carb diet, which counts “net carbs,” using the Carb Counter & Diet Tracker by Atkins. And Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal helped me create a goal of the daily maximum number of grams of carbs I should eat and let me know how many I had left for the day after I recorded my meals. The app also makes it easy to get the support you need through its easy-to-use social tools.

I started my journey 6 months and 25 pounds ago. My HbA1c blood sugar level was edging toward full-blown diabetes and is now down to almost normal levels. The change in diet also lowered my blood pressure. Low-carb eating is no longer just a diet for me: It’s a lifestyle, the way I’ll ensure that my body doesn’t move toward type 2 diabetes. These apps have helped me find so many low-carb alternatives that I rarely miss my old eating habits. I’m continuing to lose weight, and I’m healthy. It’s worth the effort, and with the help of these apps, I’m staying on track.

Note: Check with your doctor before starting any new diet program. While using a low-carbohydrate eating plan worked for me, it’s not for everyone.

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