Q: What foods are safe to eat for people with pre-diabetes?

A: It's not that any foods are really "unsafe" to eat if you have pre-diabetes or insulin resistance.  It's simply that some food choices are better than others for blood sugar control and overall health.  If your insulin works less effectively than it could or should, then your body will have to overproduce insulin to lower any elevations in your blood sugars.  In that case, it makes sense to avoid or limit your intake of foods that are likely to cause blood glucose spikes, such as anything "white," including products or foods made with white flour, white sugar, white rice, and white, processed potatoes.  Refined foods like these are very easy for your body to break down and release into your bloodstream as glucose (the main sugar in blood), so they increase your blood sugar rapidly and cause large spikes. By way of comparison, most protein-based foods like broiled chicken, egg whites, most dairy products, and nuts have little or no impact on your blood sugars at all.  Eating a less refined diet that contains a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains (in limited amounts), nuts, and healthy protein sources is the best way to keep your blood sugars and insulin levels under control.

Sheri Colberg, PhD, is an exercise physiologist and professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, as well as adjunct professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School.  Having earned a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, she continues to conduct extensive clinical research in diabetes, exercise, aging, and disease prevention with funding from the American Diabetes Association and others. She is the author of eight books, including The Science of Staying Young, and of over 175 research and educational articles.  In addition, she has more than 40 years' worth of experience as a (type 1) diabetic exerciser and person living well with diabetes. More information about her books, articles, and more is available at www.shericolberg.com.