Q: I'm prediabetic and may have to go on an oral diabetes medication. I don't want to start taking pills if I don't have to. What are my alternatives? – Richenda M., Toronto
A: You have many smart alternatives! Start by getting the Five Food Felons (added sugar and sugar syrups, any grain that isn't 100 percent whole, all saturated and trans fats) out of your house. Then get moving! Talk to your doc and set a goal – we like walking 10,000 steps a day. It's more fun and easier to stick with the routine if you have a workout pal, and you'll do best if you each get a pedometer to keep track. Leave a second one in the car or at the office so you're never without one! Spend 30 minutes twice a week doing strength training with hand weights, stretch bands or on weight machines at a gym. Plus, sprinkle in daily stress management using Hatha yoga, progressive relaxation or meditation.
Your bonus: Not only will you get better glucose control, but a recent study found that moderate physical activity is just as effective as medication when it comes to reducing the risk of dying from complications of prediabetes, such as heart attack.
Want more ways to reverse your prediabetes without medication? Follow these five steps.
1. Start by driving by (and not into) fast-food restaurants. They may have healthier choices on their menus these days, but the temptations to go off-road can be irresistible.
2. If you need to lose weight, do so. But set realistic expectations and goals: Aim to lose no more than 1 pound a week.
3. Eat whole grains, fresh fruit and/or lean protein for breakfast, and make your lunch for work (think of all the money you'll save!).
4. Get your family involved in your healthy-eating plan; grocery shop and cook together.
We bet that in six months or less, you'll see your glucose numbers come down into a healthy range.
You'll feel better, and your doctor will be thrilled.
Q: I've never had allergies before, but this year I developed a reaction to mold and needed to get an inhaler! Why did this happen now? — Joan H., Joliet, Ill.
A: This summer, because of excess rains and flooding across North America, mold allergies became particularly severe. In the Midwest, where you live, mold-spore counts hit 125,000. That's crazy high; 50,000 is the level that triggers a dangerous air-quality warning! With mold levels like that, anyone can become allergic. Researchers estimate the number of people afflicted has increased 12 percent in the past three years.
There may be as many as 300,000 types of outdoor mold, and their spores can be everywhere — in soil, plants, shady areas and rotting wood. They float through the air like tree pollen or ragweed, and are so small that they glide right through your nose's filtration system. Your best defense against sneezing, itchy nose, watery eyes, nasal and bronchial congestion (including asthma) is to combine prompt treatment and good preventive strategies.
•Minimize the mold in your yard and house. Remove fallen leaves often and wear a pollen mask if doing any yardwork (look for a rating of N95 from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health). Disperse any sitting water or puddles in the yard, driveway, garden or basement. When the weather gets muggy and/or damp, keep windows closed and use an air conditioner or air filter to clear the indoor air.
•On high count days (this applies to high pollen counts too), when you come indoors wash your hair and change your clothes. Use a saline solution to rinse your nasal passages.
•Take antihistamines to prevent or tamp down your reaction. And use your rescue inhaler if you have asthma symptoms. But if you use it several times a day, every day, you need to talk to your doctor about a more effective treatment plan.