November, American Diabetes Month, is dedicated to bringing awareness to the many issues surrounding diabetes. While there are many factors that contribute to the development of diabetes, adherence to the Western Pattern Diet is strongly associated with the development of the disease. Research has found that cultures that consumed a more primitive diet had a lower incidence of diabetes among their populations, however, when cultures switched from their native diets to western pattern diets, the rate of diabetes increased.
Obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing diabetes, so following healthy eating principles and practices has never been of greater importance than it is today, recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 if we continue on the current trend. An estimated 79 million American adults and children are considered to have “pre-diabetes” and are at a high risk of developing diabetes. A 2002 study found that intensive lifestyle modification including a 7% reduction in weight and the adoption of a low-fat diet and 150 minutes of weekly moderate activity reduced the incidence of diabetes in those at greatest risk of developing the condition.
I recommend that everyone avoid processed foods, but this recommendation is especially important for those with diabetes or risk for developing it. Processed foods are often simple, concentrated carbohydrates, which supply calories but very little nutrition. A diet rich in whole foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains is a healthy focus for any nutritional plan, diabetics should also take into account the glycemic index (GI) and the glycemic load (GL) the foods they consume. The glycemic index of food is the numerical value that expresses the rise of blood sugar after eating that food, the glycemic load also considers the amount of carbohydrates contained in the food. For example, a bagel has the GL of 25, the GI of 72 and 35 grams of carbohydrates, while a cup of broccoli has the GL of 1.4, the GI of 20 and 7 grams of carbohydrates. Particular foods that have shown to have positive effects on blood sugar control include olives, nuts, artichokes, bitter melon, mangoes, and onions, all of these foods are high in fiber and low in GI and GL. Cinnamon has also shown promise in controlling blood sugar levels, but it is more important to focus on healthy living, reduction in weight and an increase in activity are still the most effective ways to avoid diabetes.
- 4 Diabetes Management Tips for Adults (epicahealth.com)
- Diabetes: Eating a Low Glycemic Diet (aahhomecarewithheart.wordpress.com)
- Diabetes Symptoms & Causes (answers.com)
- Glycemix Index: Pros and Cons – The Soy Connection – Health & Nutrition – United Soybean Board (soyconnection.com)
- Why We All Need A “Pre-Diabetes” Diet (news.health.com)
- High glycemic load diet linked to higher breast cancer risk (foodconsumer.org)