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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'Diabetes Diet'

Seven Diabetes Challenges When You Low Carb

February 18th, 2014 · No Comments

Those of us who have diabetes have many good reasons to eat few carbohydrates. Two of the best reasons are better blood sugar control — getting a very low A1C level — and losing weight — getting down to a low BMI.

But getting started has its challenges. Here are some tips to make it easier.

1. Decide why you want to follow a very low-carb lifestyle. It can be to reduce your blood sugar or your weight. It does both. It will also make you healthier and happier. Decide which of these aspects is important to you.

2. Set a goal.  Very low-carb means 50 to 60 grams of carbohydrate per day. But you may prefer to set an intermediate goal of 100 or 120 grams per day. Set the goal in terms of total carbohydrates, not net carbohydrates. Total carbohydrates are starches, sugars, and fibers, while net carbs exclude fiber. But fiber does affect our blood sugar. Starches and sugars have 4 calories per gram; fiber has 2. See “The Trouble with Fiber.”

Whatever goal you set, you will need to measure the carb content of what you eat for a while until you know what your favorite foods contain. See “Nutrition Scales.”

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Diabetes Diets Don’t Work

February 17th, 2014 · No Comments

Diets are shortcuts to weight loss, which is to be high on the priority list of almost everyone who has diabetes. But like all shortcuts, they can take us astray and fail to get us to where we want to go.

Diets don’t work. But don’t give up, because we can still lose weight and keep it off. Whether you call it a behavioral change or a lifestyle adjustment, we have to dig deeper than just what we put in our mouths, although that is certainly important too. Only when we realize that we can’t have it all, that we face a tradeoff, can we lose weight and keep it off. Success comes to us only when we really appreciate that we must pass up transient pleasure to invest in our future well-being.

Diets are, at best, temporary fixes to long-term problems. As a society we know this is true. Dieting among Americans is at an all-time low, while the proportion of Americans who are overweight is at an all-time high. We have largely given up on diets.

Only about 20 percent of us told the market research firm NPD Group a year ago that they were on a diet. Yet the most recent count by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 69.2 percent of us are overweight.

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Marvelous Macadamias for Diabetes

December 23rd, 2013 · 2 Comments

If all that you demand of what you eat is that it is healthy and tastes good, macadamia nuts are a wonderful choice for those of us who have diabetes. But no food is perfect.

Unlike all other nuts, eating macadamia nuts won’t wreck your ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats, which are both polyunsaturated fats. The absolute amount of polyunsaturated fats in even a large amount of macadamias is so low that relative amount need not be a concern. As long as we get a ratio of 1:1 or even twice as much omega 6 and omega 3 in our total diet we are doing fine. We can do that by eliminated from our diet soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed oils and by eating fatty fish like salmon or sardines or mackerel or by taking fish oil or krill oil capsules.

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Diabetes without Drugs

December 15th, 2013 · 12 Comments

If you have type 2 diabetes, you can manage it well without any drugs — without any oral medications and without insulin. If you have type 1 diabetes, you will always have to take insulin injections, but you can likely use less than you do now.

To manage diabetes well means keeping your blood sugar level down in the same range as that of people who don’t have diabetes. The way we check this level is the A1C (sometimes called glycated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c). This test tells you what your average blood sugar level was during the previous two or three months by using a drop of blood about as small as that you use on your regular fingerstick tests that tells you what your level is right then.

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Drinking and Diabetes Don’t Mix

December 8th, 2013 · 8 Comments

Compared with some other stuff we put in our mouths, the trouble with alcohol might not seem to be a big deal for most of us who have diabetes. We all know, of course, that even a little alcohol can mean big trouble for those of us who can’t handle alcohol in moderation.

More than 30 percent of adult Americans have “experienced alcohol use disorders during their lifetimes,” according to a 2007 study in JAMA Psychiatry. That study also found that 17.8 percent have alcohol abuse problems and that 12.5 are alcohol dependent.

Our genes are responsible for about half of the risk for alcoholism, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The other half is our environment, which includes our friends.

If you were sure from your experience that you can handle a little alcohol and if you were a middle-aged or older man who didn’t have diabetes, a little alcohol might actually be good for you. That’s because the response of some people to different amounts of alcohol seems to be quite unusual. It’s not something that could be plotted on a straight line. Researchers call it a U-shaped or J-shaped curve, where among middle-aged and older men, abstinence seems to be a little worse than moderate consumption, while heavy consumption is much worse.

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The Trouble with Peanuts in Managing Diabetes

November 18th, 2013 · 3 Comments

If you have diabetes, beware of peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil.

Some people think that because most tree nuts, like almonds, are so healthy, that peanuts should also be good for us. But peanuts aren’t nuts at all. They are a legume, and unlike most nuts we can’t eat them raw.

Actually, we can’t eat them at all if we want to avoid some of the side effects that we can get from them. Some of these side effects can be quite serious.

I can think of only nine reasons why we have to avoid peanuts or anything made from them. Maybe you can think of more, but these eight might be enough to give anyone pause:

1. Peanuts have a lot of carbohydrates, which raise our blood sugar level. Take a look at the US Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, which is the gold standard of nutrient facts and is fortunately back online today now that the government shutdown has ended. When you exclude the water content in peanuts, they are 37 percent carbohydrate, 39 percent fat, and 24 percent protein.

“One tablespoon of natural, unsweetened peanut butter contains 3 grams of carbohydrate and will raise my blood sugar 15 mg/dl,” writes Dr. Richard K. Bernstein in the 2011 edition of his book Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. “Imagine the effect on blood sugar of downing 10 tablespoons!”

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The Best Snack for Weight Loss and Diabetes

November 11th, 2013 · No Comments

Almonds are both my favorite snack and trail food. In fact, lately I seldom eat anything else between meals or on trails.

Unlike some other tasty nuts like cashews, almonds are much lower in carbohydrates, which are the part of our diet that is almost solely responsible for raising our blood sugar level. Nothing else in our diet is more important for managing our diabetes than keeping that level in check.

Some other nuts have a somewhat more favorable ratio of those super-healthy monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fats than almonds. But I avoid them as a matter of taste. I can eat macadamia nuts nonstop until the container is empty, but my body gets so full that I can easily put on a few pounds. On the other hand, I don’t particularly appreciate the taste of other healthy nuts like pecans or walnuts.

As a trail food nothing can compare with any sort of nuts. They can withstand rough handling in our packs and require no refrigeration. But when I’m at home, I keep my snacking almonds in the freezer. Raw almonds are sometimes too soft for my taste, but eating them right out of the freezer gives them that degree of crunch that I appreciate.

Two big reasons why almonds have become my only snack and trail food are weight loss and diabetes. After traveling almost all summer, I’m struggling to take off the last few pounds that I gained on my trips. I stick with almonds for my diabetes because they are one of the most carb-friendly snacks.

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Diabetic Grain Brain

October 11th, 2013 · 6 Comments

Later this month a renowned neurologist will publish an important book about how wheat, carbs, and sugar are destroying our brains. While all of us have some interest in our brains, what could this have to do with diabetes?

The connection is actually too close for comfort. Having diabetes doubles your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the most dreaded form of dementia. In fact, many people, like Mark Bittman in The New York Times, are beginning to say that Alzheimer’s is type 3 diabetes. You may also want to read “Alzheimer’s Disease is Type 3 Diabetes” in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.

Adding dementia to the well known list of complications of diabetes is enough to give anyone pause. But not to worry. Diabetes doesn’t cause anything, as I wrote here two years ago at “Diabetes Causes Nothing.” Well managing diabetes is the leading cause of nothing. Poor management causes all of these complications. Including Alzheimer’s.

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The Bad Fats for Diabetes

September 30th, 2013 · No Comments

All of us know that we need to avoid the bad fats. But nobody is quite certain yet which of the fats are bad for us. A new study of saturated fats helps to clear up the confusion.

Bad fats are those that are bad for our hearts. Nothing is more important for those of us who have diabetes, because heart disease is the most serious and common complication that we face.

The scientific community does agree that one type of fat is quite bad for our hearts. The bad guys are the trans fats that we made in large amounts in the previous century from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. In 2001 a large study that I reviewed then began to wake us up to the dangers of this artificial fat. These findings and subsequent government pressure on manufacturers and the spread of knowledge has substantially reduced the amounts of trans fats in the American diet.

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When Omega 3 Works for Diabetes

September 29th, 2013 · 1 Comment

The easiest way to protect our hearts is to increase the amount of omega 3 in our diets. Since heart disease is the most serious complication of diabetes, nothing could be more important for us. But it’s not that simple.

A study to be reported in the September 2013 issue of The Journal of Nutrition shows a surprising connection between omega 3 and physical activity. An observational study of 344 healthy adults living in and around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, found that those people who had regular physical activity had more omega 3 in their blood — and were therefore at less of a risk of heart disease — than those who didn’t exercise.

We have, of course, known for a long time that diet and exercise are the cornerstones of diabetes management. But until now who could have guessed that that they were so closely linked!


The Best Source of Omega 3

Some earlier studies showed that people who consume the most omega-3s seem to have the least risk of heart disease. But not all studies found this to be true. The authors of the current study examining the connection between omega 3 and physical activity on heart disease risk felt that some of the earlier studies failed to control for interacting factors.

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