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

Entries Tagged as 'Diabetes Diet'

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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Diabetes Eating on the Wild Side

August 20th, 2013 · No Comments

We are getting better at producing sweet tasting food. Farmers have been breeding ever more palatable fruit and vegetables for 10,000 years. Scientists have been speeding up this process for the past century.

Our food today is more pleasurable than what our ancestors had to eat. It’s generally more tender and less bitter. It is increasingly higher in sugar and starch.

But as we bred taste into our food we unwittingly bred out nutrition. Ever since we stopped foraging for wild plants, we have been getting fewer and fewer phytonutrients from our food. These are the compounds that could help us manage the diseases of civilization — diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia.

It’s too late for us to return to foraging for more than a tiny part of what we eat. I sometimes pick wild raspberries and dandelion greens along a trail, but never get enough for a full meal.

Instead, we can choose those fruits and vegetables that retain much of the nutritional content of their wild ancestors. We can’t all go Stalking the Wild Asparagus that Euell Gibbons wrote about in his 1962 bestseller about living off the land. But we can go “eating on the wild side,” which Jo Robinson writes about in her new book of that title.

“We can choose those select varieties of fruits and vegetables that have retained much of the nutritional content of their wild ancestors,” Ms. Robinson writes. “One of the most important discoveries of twenty-first-century food science is that there are vast nutritional differences among the many varieties of a given fruit or vegetable.”

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From the Garden

June 9th, 2013 · No Comments

From the Garden

In 2001, when Rich Pirog wrote that our food typically travels 1,500 miles from the farm where it is grown to where we actually eat it, he got many of us thinking about where our food comes from. I remember that thought reaffirmed my long-standing passion to eat locally grown food that might help me better manage my type 2 diabetes. And no food that I eat is more local than the vegetables I grow in my own garden.

Pirog, then the education coordinator at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, presented his research in an obscure report. But it attracted nationwide attention.

A “food mile” is the distance food travels from where it is grown or raised to where it is ultimately purchased. Pirog used this measurement as a simple metaphor to contrast local versus global food systems and their resulting fuel usage and levels of greenhouse gas emissions. However, he does recognize the limitations of focusing only on “food miles,” noting that food grown far away from our table isn’t always harder on the environment than locally grown food. Higher food miles for some foods don’t always translate into higher energy use, he says. And foods grown locally in greenhouses might use more energy than foods grown in open fields and transported across the country.

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Intermittent Fasting for Diabetes Control

June 7th, 2013 · 5 Comments

Intermittent fasting is older than civilization. Our paleolithic ancestors certainly practised it in times of scarcity whether they wanted to or not. And for centuries many people have fasted for cosmetic or religious reasons. But only now is intermittent fasting getting the respect that its health benefits for people with diabetes warrant.

Case in point: The current issue of The British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease, a bimonthly peer reviewed journal read by scientists, diabetologists, endocrinologists, cardiologists, and vascular surgeons (and a few writers like me) includes a positive review of  “Intermittent fasting: a dietary intervention for prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease?

Publishers sometimes make the full-text of their most important articles free online. In this case the publisher announced that it would be “available to access for free for a limited period,” and as I write it is still free. In fact, it is currently this journal’s “most read” article.

The benefits of intermittent fasting for weight loss are established, according to the three authors of the new review. They are researchers at two universities in Birmingham, England. Intermittent fasting also helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Beyond these benefits, the researchers studied intermittent fasting to see how well it works to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.

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Diet and Exercise for Diabetes Management

June 4th, 2013 · No Comments

One of the wisest researchers who I know writes that exercise won’t help us to lose weight. But in my experience it does, and weight loss is crucial for almost all of us who have diabetes, because our weight is a big factor in high blood sugar levels.

“Appetite and thus calories consumed will increase to compensate for physical activity,” writes Gary Taubes in Good Calories, Bad Calories. When I read the first edition of this book in 2007, it finally convinced me that I could control my diabetes and my weight on a very low-carb diet. It worked: my current A1C is 5.4 and my current BMI is 19.2. Both of these numbers are big improvements over what they were six years ago.

In his subsequent book, Taubes elaborated on his statement. This doessound persuasive.

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Eating Attentively to Manage Diabetes

June 2nd, 2013 · No Comments

Carefully counting calories can help those of us who have diabetes lose weight. But the discipline and effort involved in monitoring our calorie intake over a period of months or years is a lot of work, and few of us can keep it up for long. For this reason the average amount of weight that people lose typically slows down after a few months.

A huge proportion of people with diabetes need to lose weight. The percentage is far higher than that of the general population. For years before and after I learned in 1994 that I have diabetes, my own weight was far too high, and this probably had a lot to do with my getting diabetes in the first place and certainly made managing my diabetes a lot harder than it had to be.

Much easier and perhaps just as effective than counting calories are strategies focusing on attentive eating. We have several such tools at our disposal, several of which I have written about here previously. They include mindfulness training, slow eating, and food habituation (eating the same stuff day after day).

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Kimchi Makes People with Diabetes Smile

May 3rd, 2013 · 4 Comments

In America when we want to get people to smile for our photos, we say “cheese.” But in Korea they say “kimchi.”

When I visited South Korea about three years ago, my hosts taught me about that, and it worked for my photos. Kimchi makes people in Korea smile. It can make you smile too.

Kimchi tastes great and is healthful, the two essentials of truly happy foods. Most people who enjoy spicy foods will love the taste of kimchi. At the same time kimchi is a fermented food like yogurt with healthy probiotic lactic acid bacteria. While it is low in calories and carbohydrates, it is nevertheless rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, and minerals.

The main ingredient is napa cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable, but it comes in hundreds of varieties. The best kimchi that I have ever found is Zuké Kimchi, made by a small company in Boulder, Colorado, called Esoteric Food.

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Mono-tasking for Diabetes Control

April 27th, 2013 · No Comments

Multitasking comes easy to busy people. But it comes at too big a price. The trouble with multitasking is that we can’t give our full attention to any of the tasks that we do simultaneously.

The big trouble comes when we think of eating and drinking as a task to get finished as soon as we can. When we think that way, we eat and drink when we work at the computer, read the newspaper, or chat with our family. We think about our nourishment with only half of our mind or less.

I probably have been more guilty of eating and drinking with my mind on other things than most of you. I lead a busy life, and that’s not because I have to but because I find so much to enjoy in my life.

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