Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first. But their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn't known, nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, make variety and portion control part of your healthy-eating plan.
What is the best diet for gestational diabetes? This MNT Knowledge Center article covers what to eat and what to avoid for people with gestational diabetes. This article also gives an overview of gestational diabetes, including symptoms and how the condition occurs. You will learn which foods are safe to eat and which are not, as well as how to treat the condition. Read now
Why do red meat and processed red meat appear to boost diabetes risk? It may be that the high iron content of red meat diminishes insulin’s effectiveness or damages the cells that produce insulin; the high levels of sodium and nitrites (preservatives) in processed red meats may also be to blame. Red and processed meats are a hallmark of the unhealthful “Western” dietary pattern, which seems to trigger diabetes in people who are already at genetic risk. (44)
What to drink in place of the sugary stuff? Water is an excellent choice. Coffee and tea are also good calorie-free substitutes for sugared beverages (as long as you don’t load them up with sugar and cream). And there’s convincing evidence that coffee may help protect against diabetes; (33, 34) emerging research suggests that tea may hold diabetes-prevention benefits as well, but more research is needed.
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition in which a person's blood sugar (glucose) levels are too high. Over 29.1 million children and adults in the US have diabetes. Of that, 8.1 million people have diabetes and don't even know it. Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent, juvenile) is caused by a problem with insulin production by the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent) is caused by:
The types of fats in your diet can also affect the development of diabetes. Good fats, such as the polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds can help ward off type 2 diabetes. (39) Trans fats do just the opposite. (8, 40) These bad fats are found in many margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any product that lists “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label. Eating polyunsaturated fats from fish—also known as “long chain omega 3” or “marine omega 3” fats—does not protect against diabetes, even though there is much evidence that these marine omega 3 fats help prevent heart disease. (41) If you already have diabetes, eating fish can help protect you against a heart attack or dying from heart disease. (42)
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Hemoglobin A1c or HbA1c is a protein on the surface of red blood cells. The HbA1c test is used to monitor blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes over time. Normal HbA1c levels are 6% or less. HbA1c levels can be affected by insulin use, fasting, glucose intake (oral or IV), or a combination of these and other factors. High hemoglobin A1c levels in the blood increases the risk of microvascular complications, for example, diabetic neuropathy, eye, and kidney disease.
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Although support groups aren't for everyone, they can be good sources of information. Group members often know about the latest treatments and tend to share their own experiences or helpful information, such as where to find carbohydrate counts for your favorite takeout restaurant. If you're interested, your doctor may be able to recommend a group in your area.
The data on dairy products seems to vary. In a study of over 289,000 health professionals, Harvard researchers showed that consumption of yogurt, in contrast to other dairy products, was associated with a reduced risk for diabetes. In a pooled analysis of 17 studies about dairy products and diabetes risk, those who consumed more dairy products had a lower risk than those who consumed few dairy products, A Swedish study found that high-fat dairy products, but not low-fat dairy products, lowered the risk for type 2 diabetes.
The evidence is growing stronger that eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed red meat (bacon, hot dogs, deli meats) increases the risk of diabetes, even among people who consume only small amounts. The latest support comes from a “meta analysis,” or statistical summary, that combined findings from the long-running Nurses’ Health Study I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study with those of six other long-term studies. The researchers looked at data from roughly 440,000 people, about 28,000 of whom developed diabetes during the course of the study. (43) They found that eating just one daily 3-ounce serving of red meat—say, a steak that’s about the size of a deck of cards—increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. Eating even smaller amounts of processed red meat each day—just two slices of bacon, one hot dog, or the like—increased diabetes risk by 51 percent.
Our advice to anyone trying to live healthier lifestyles is simple, including diabetics trying to manage their disease. Our mantra: Eat real food. What does that mean? Eat whole foods that grow from the ground, are picked from a bush or tree, or came from an animal. Whole vegetables, fruit (both preferably organic), and responsibly raised and fed animals are all a part of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. If one can stick to this simple rule and minimize or avoid processed and packaged foods and food-like items, you’ll find you look, feel, and perform better than ever.
Find safe ways to exercise at home. If you have trouble leaving the house because of your health or lack of transportation, you can still find safe ways to stay active from home. Find workout videos online, or make even ordinary household chores a little more fun by turning on some music. If it’s safe for you to do so, you might try doing strengthening exercises from home.
The role of inflammation is an area of extreme interest in regard to disease development. For example, we have begun to understand the importance of inflammation and heart disease. We now know that inflammation may play an important role in the development of diabetes as well. An inflammation marker known as C-reactive protein (CRP) has been shown to be increased in women at risk for developing the metabolic syndrome, and in both men and women at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Recent studies have shown shifts in the blood levels of a number of markers for inflammation during the progression from no disease, to prediabetes, and then to full-blown diabetes. This research highlights the importance of inflammation as part of the mechanism of diabetes development.
In contrast, white bread, white rice, mashed potatoes, donuts, bagels, and many breakfast cereals have what’s called a high glycemic index and glycemic load. That means they cause sustained spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn may lead to increased diabetes risk. (22) In China, for example, where white rice is a staple, the Shanghai Women’s Health Study found that women whose diets had the highest glycemic index had a 21 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to women whose diets had the lowest glycemic index. (23) Similar findings were reported in the Black Women’s Health Study. (24)
Elevated blood sugar can also come from the body’s response to inflammation. If you feel like you’re eating right but can’t figure out why your blood sugar is spiking, it may be due to a food sensitivity. The diarrhea you thought was a side effect of your medication may actually be a food sensitivity. Food sensitivities can also be the root cause of headaches, arthritis, heartburn, fibromyalgia, sinus problems, and more. The stress of these ailments has the potential to elevate blood sugars.
To help you avoid or limit fast food, Chong recommends planning ahead by packing healthy meals or snacks. Diabetes-friendly snack ideas include a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, and yogurt. Also, if you absolutely must stop at a fast-food restaurant, steer clear of anything that’s deep-fried — such as french fries, chicken nuggets, and breaded fish or chicken, Chong says.
But contrary to a tossed-about diabetes myth, a lack of motivation isn't always a factor behind a person's need for medication. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, and it's not always possible for people to control their blood glucose levels with diet and exercise alone over time. People with prediabetes or type 2, however, are encouraged to embark on lifestyle changes such as losing at least 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, exercising more, and choosing healthier foods with fewer calories.
While some people attempt to manage their type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise alone, this may not work for everyone. In fact, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 16 percent of people with diabetes don't take medication, the majority of people with diabetes require insulin or oral meds at some point, often at diagnosis.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD is a board-certified family physician and nutritional researcher who specializes in preventing and reversing disease using excellent nutrition. He’s appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows, and his hugely successful PBS shows have raised more than $30 million for public television. Dr. Fuhrman serves as president of the Nutritional Research Foundation, and is author of six New York Times bestsellers, including Eat to Live and The End of Heart Disease. He’s used a nutrient-dense diet to help tens of thousands of people lose weight and reverse chronic disease permanently. Joel Fuhrman
Sugar and processed carbohydrates should be limited, says Massey. That includes soda, candy, and other packaged or processed snacks, such as corn chips, potato chips, and the like. And while artificial sweeteners like those found in diet sodas won’t necessarily spike your blood sugar in the same way as sugar, they could still have an effect on your blood sugar and even alter your body’s insulin response, though more research is needed to confirm this.
The group that made lifestyle changes was 58% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group. And the group that took Metformin was 31% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group. In other words – lifestyle changes and Metformin therapy can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes (weight loss, healthy diet and activity) are the most effective intervention.
Contrary to popular belief, not all carbs are off-limits if you’re managing diabetes. In fact, the ADA recommends vitamin-rich whole grains in a healthy diabetes diet. These foods contain fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health. Fiber can also promote feelings of fullness, preventing you from reaching for unhealthy snacks, and it can help slow the rise of blood sugar. Plus, whole grains contain healthy vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are healthy for anyone, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not.
I believe that individuals with and without Type 2 diabetes need to ensure they are eating at least eight servings of non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, green beans, okra, and so much more. One serving of vegetable is equal to 1cup, which is really about one handful worth. If you cook one serving of say greens, it will shrink, but it still counts!
There is much you can do with lifestyle alone to prevent diabetes. In a landmark study, the NIH-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program, scientists tracked 3,234 pre-diabetic men and women for three years. A third of them adopted lifestyle changes. Another third took a drug – metformin (Glucophage®). The remaining third, the control group, took a placebo. Those on the lifestyle-change plan reduced the progression to full-blown Type 2 diabetes by 58% compared to the control group. The reduction was even greater – 71% – among adults aged 60 and older. Treatment with the drug metformin reduced the progression of Type 2 diabetes by just 31%.
The process of type 2 diabetes begins years or even decades before the diagnosis of diabetes, with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is the beginning of the body not dealing well with sugar, which is the breakdown product of all carbohydrates. Insulin tells certain body cells to open up and store glucose as fat. When the cells stop responding your blood sugar rises, which triggers the release of more insulin in a vicious cycle. Insulin resistance is associated with abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low HDL ("good cholesterol"). When these occur together, it is known as metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes. It is a risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.