Read an Excerpt
Foods That Combat Diabetes
The Nutritional Way to Wellness
Eat to Defeat Diabetes
In an ideal world, diabetes would not exist. In the real world, of course, diabetes is the nation's third leading cause of death, affecting 7 percent of our population. Recently, scientists have made huge strides in treating diabetes, from developing better drugs to launching an inhaled form of insulin, but one therapy stands head and shoulders above everything else: food.
The impact of food on diabetes was made crystal clear in a study of Pima Indians in Arizona and Mexico. As Native Americans, these people have a statistically higher risk of diabetes than most other ethnic groups. Yet researchers discovered that the Mexican Pima Indians, who live without so-called modern conveniences and eat a traditional, low-fat diet, have a much lower rate of the disease (6.5 percent) than the Arizona Pima Indians, who enjoy modern conveniences, eat fatty, processed foods, and have an alarming 38.2 percent diabetes rate.
Recently, I met a gentleman, Ben, who was being treated for type 2 diabetes. He was taking six different oral diabetes drugs and was about to be put on injectable insulin because, despite the drug therapy, he could not get his blood sugar under control. It soared at around 290 (which is extremely high). Ben decided to get serious about nutrition—I mean really serious—and use food to help his body heal. Within two weeks, his blood sugar stabilized at 100! That's normal and a reading doctors like to see. There was no need for Ben to take insulin, and he was able to reduce his oral medications to only one pill. Amazing?Yes. Miraculous? Not really. Food really is that powerful when it comes to controlling, and often, reversing, diabetes.
Diabetes, of course, is a disease of metabolism: Something goes haywire in the way the body processes food. When a healthy person eats carbohydrates (like bread, potatoes, or cereal), they get broken down into sugar and sent into the bloodstream. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, then acts as a delivery system, moving the sugar from your blood into your cells, where it is burned for fuel. When diabetes strikes, the pancreas either stops making insulin (type 1 diabetes), or the body cells become insulin-resistant and "reject delivery" of all or most of the sugar (type 2 diabetes). Either way, sugar builds up in the blood, the body doesn't get enough fuel, and complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye disease can result.
Even so, you can get diabetes under control. Not only that, you can prevent it. Medical researchers and physicians have now recognized a diagnosable condition called prediabetes, which, if treated early with diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, can be stopped in its tracks. Prediabetes is a condition that raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Your physician can tell if you're prediabetic by running a number of routine tests, including blood sugar tests, usually at your annual physical. If he or she says you're prediabetic, making some fairly simple tweaks in the way you eat can turn this situation around dramatically. This book can help you do that.
Lots of accumulating research shows that you can reverse the course of prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes with diet and other lifestyle adjustments. Some of the most dramatic proof is found in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The DPP includes lifestyle guidelines intended to help people lose 7 percent of their initial body weight through restricting calories and exercising moderately for 150 minutes a week. Participants in the 16-week program learned to set specific goals for nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. Most of the 1,000 participants were successful and dropped their risk of diabetes by 58 percent. The drop in risk was even greater—71 percent—among people older than age 60. This all goes to show that type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease, but one that can be treated with lifestyle changes.
Insulin is the main therapy for type 1 diabetes, because people with this version of diabetes need insulin to survive. Though it plays a secondary role in type 1 diabetes, nutrition is nonetheless very important, since it can help control blood sugar highs that are at the root of all diabetic complications.
Thankfully, as serious as diabetes is, it does not have to be life-threatening. You can live with it, and you can live well with it. The keys to managing diabetes are a healthful diet, regular exercise, stress management, and medication if your doctor prescribes it. So given the tremendous impact nutrition has on preventing and treating diabetes, it is not surprising that there are specific foods that are particularly healing. This book is an overview of foods that truly do combat diabetes.
Carbohydrates like breads, cereals, and potatoes are energy foods. During digestion, they are changed into glucose (blood sugar), which circulates in your blood and is used as fuel for the red blood cells and your central nervous system. Glucose not used right away is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, which provides an additional reservoir for energy.
Carbohydrates play an important role in preventing and controlling diabetes, as long as you choose the right types of carbohydrates. This is where food choice becomes all-important to your success. Carbohydrates are classified in various ways. One classification sorts them as either simple or complex. Simple sugars are found in candies, syrups, many fruits and fruit juices, and processed foods, and complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. This classification is based on the molecular structure of the carbohydrate, with simple carbohydrates constructed of either single or double molecules of sugar, and complex carbohydrates made of multiple numbers of sugar molecules. It's smart to cut back on your overall intake of simple sugars such as cookies, cake, and . . .Foods That Combat Diabetes
The Nutritional Way to Wellness. Copyright © by Maggie Greenwood-Robinson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>