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DIABETES

FOODS THAT HARM

  • Red meat, butter, and other foods with saturated fats
  • Processed foods that contain trans fats

    FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta
  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Peas
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Avocado
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Chicken breast
  • Mushroom
  • Blackstrap molasses

    FOODS TO LIMIT

  • High glycemic foods, such as potatoes, soft drinks, white flour, and refined sugars

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • 2.8 million Americans and 1.7 million Canadians have type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • About 79 million Americans and 7.3 million Canadians have prediabetes
  • Those who are overweight
  • Those who have a family history of diabetes
    Diabetes mellitus is a serious metabolic disease that affects the body’s ability to derive energy from blood sugar, or glucose
    It results when the body cannot produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed for glucose metabolism
    Because all human body tissues need a steady supply of glucose, diabetes can affect every organ
    In particular, it can lead to heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and nerve problems

    Old School

    Those with diabetes have to give up sweets entirely

    New Wisdom

    In moderation, an occasional sweet treat is fine
    About 10% of diagnosed diabetes cases are type 1, also called juvenile-onset diabetes because the disease often develops in children
    In this autoimmune disease, body does not produce adequate insulin
    People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily
    They must also strictly control their diet and phywsical activity to maintain near-normal blood glucose levels
    More than 90% of those with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
    Also called adult-onset diabetes, this form typically occurs in older adults who are usually overweight but is increasingly being diagnosed in children and adolescents
    Although these people often have adequate or even high levels of insulin, their bodies cannot use the hormone properly
    An appropriate diet can prevent or delay consequences of type 2 diabetes
    The effects of hormonal changes and weight gain during pregnancy increase demands on the pancreas and can lead to gestational diabetes with potential complications for both mother and baby
    Before people develop diabetes, they are frequently diagnosed with prediabetes, defined by having higher than normal blood sugar levels; insulin resistance, in which the body does not use insulin properly; or metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that include excess belly fat, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels and that together increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke

    Nutrition Connection

    Diet is the cornerstone of diabetes management for all types of diabetes, though there are slightly different considerations
    Those with diabetes should consult a registered dietitian, especially if cholesterol, blood pressure, or other health issues are a concern
    Here are general guidelines: Eat balanced meals and snacks
    To maintain healthy blood glucose levels, meals and snacks should be balanced to provide a mixture of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
    Seek high quality carbohydrates
    Carbohydrates, the basic currency of glucose, should account for 45 to 60% of daily calories spread evenly through the day
    Low glycemic load carbohydrates such as whole grains provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber
    Limit sugars and sweeteners, which provide mostly calories
    Seek fiber-rich foods
    Because the fiber content of carbohydrates slows down the release of glucose, high-fiber starches, such as barley, oats, beans, peas, and lentils, are recommended to help suppress any sharp increases in blood sugar levels after meals
    Follow a low-fat diet
    High-fat diets contribute to obesity, heart disease, and kidney disease
    Saturated fats from animal foods and hydrogenated fats in packaged foods should also be limited
    On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—such as those found in vegetable oils, nuts, fish, and avocados—are good for the heart, slow the digestion process, and may also reduce insulin resistance
    Limit foods that have a high glycemic index (GI), or load (GL)
    GI and GL is a measurement of how readily foods are converted to blood glucose
    (For more information about GL
    ) Limit intake of high-glycemic foods, such as potatoes, rice cakes, cornflakes, soft drinks, pretzels, and crackers
    Conversely, research has found that eating foods with a low glycemic index or load can improve blood sugar control in those with diabetes
    Incorporate more low-glycemic foods, which include peas, beans, lentils, apples, pears, and oranges, barley, bran cereals, whole grain pasta, milk and yogurt
    Add supplements wisely
    A deficiency of the trace mineral chromium, found in foods such as wheat bran, whole grains, chicken breast, mushrooms, and blackstrap molasses, has been associated with reduced glucose tolerance
    Research using chromium supplements has shown that they may provide a beneficial effect on blood glucose control for those with diabetes
    If you choose to take a chromium supplement, take no more than 200 mcg per day, or speak to your doctor
    Limit alcohol
    Alcohol can cause swings in blood sugar levels
    If you use insulin or take oral diabetes medication, speak to your doctor about the use of alcohol
    If you do drink, consume alcohol with food

    Beyond the Diet

    In conjunction with dietary changes, a healthier lifestyle can help control diabetes or reverse prediabetes symptoms
    Consider the following: Exercise every day
    Exercise can keep blood sugar levels stable
    For many, diet and exercise alone can provide effective treatment
    Exercise lowers your risk of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes
    Commit to losing weight
    Researchers found that those who lost modest amounts of weight cut their diabetes risk by 58%, even more for people over the age 60
    Take care of your teeth
    Those with diabetes may be prone to gum disease
    Talk to your doctor about medications
    Talk to your doctor about immunizations
    Diabetes can affect immune system, so flu shots and pneumonia shots, among others, may be recommended
    Get regular blood tests
    Early treatment can prevent critical damage to organs
    Adults over the age of 50 should have their blood sugar levels tested every two years, or more often if they are overweight or have a family history of diabetes
    Get a blood test if you are pregnant
    Pregnant women should get a blood test between the 24th and 28th weeks of pregnancy
    If gestational diabetes is diagnosed, the mother will need to modify her diet and monitor weight gain
    Although this type of diabetes usually disappears almost immediately after childbirth, women who have had it are at high risk for type 2 diabetes in later years

    Special Feature

    GLYCEMIC INDEX AND GLYCEMIC LOAD:

  • The Power Behind Each Bite
    Like gas for a car, food is your fuel
    Just as some gas is higher octane, some foods provide better fuel
    To gauge how efficiently food works its way through your digestive system to affect your blood sugar, researchers at the University of Toronto developed the glycemic index (GI)
    The faster a food is digested and absorbed into your bloodstream, the higher its GI
    High-GI foods cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, which is dangerous, especially for people with diabetes
    But GI was based on a standard measurement (50 g of carbohydrates) for all foods
    In real life, people don’t tend to eat the same amounts of sugar as they do pasta or carrots
    So scientists used a little math wizardry to translate the glycemic index into more practical terms
    What emerged is the glycemic load (GL)
    This tool considers the type of carbohydrate in the food and the amount of carbohydrate in a standard serving
    By this new criterion, sugar and starchy foods and some fruits have high GL values whereas most vegetables and fruits have low GL values, meaning they are less likely to make your blood sugar spike
    Today, there are more than 750 published GL values of various foods
    However, you should take all GL lists as a general guide only
    As it turns out, one person’s glycemic response can differ from another’s
    It may vary even in the same person from day to day
    Also, the state of food can change its GL
    For example, small differences in a banana’s ripeness can double its GL
    Plus, when foods are eaten together (adding butter or sour cream to a baked potato, for instance, or having the potato with a serving of meat) the GL of the combined foods becomes much different from the GL of the potato by itself
    The reason is that fat and protein slow down digestion, making the GL of the whole dish different than the GL of just a single food
    USE THE GI AND GL TO SELECT FOODS Studies have found that people who eat diets with a high GL have a higher rate of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
    One study found that men who typically ate foods with a high GL had a 40% higher chance of developing diabetes
    In the Nurses’ Health Study, women who ate diets with a high GL had a 37% greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes over the 6- year span of the study
    Yet another study found that swapping just one baked potato per week for a serving of brown rice could reduce a person’s odds of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 30%
    Many large health organizations, including both the Canadian and American Diabetes Associations, support the use of the GL and GI as a complement to carbohydrate counting for managing diabetes
    Both are useful—GI helps you choose better carbs while GL helps with portion sizes
    While a low-glycemic diet will include many foods recommended in a healthy diet—fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes—some high-glycemic foods, such as potatoes, contain many essential nutrients and are good sources of energy, too