You can be thankful that the chronic disease you have to live with is diabetes. Almost everyone whom you or I know has a chronic disease now or will have one if he or she lives long enough, and many of those diseases are much more challenging.
Type 2 diabetes is different from every other chronic disease that I have ever heard of. The disease that you and I have is a wake up call. Think of diabetes as a kind message to your body, a warning that you need to act now to avoid serious trouble later.
Even Type 1 diabetes isn’t that friendly to the people who have it. You can’t stop taking daily insulin injections and reverse Type 1 diabetes. But you can reverse Type 2 diabetes and even reverse almost all of the complications that unmanaged diabetes can cause.
While sugar is sweet, the sugar industry sure isn’t. It uses underhanded tactics that undermine the health of people with diabetes.
For years, the sugar industry has been complicit with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in promoting sugar. Until 1994, the ADA told us that we should avoid sugar, which like starch raises the blood glucose of people with diabetes. But in May of that year, the ADA published a new position statement that focused instead on the total amount of carbohydrates in our diet. The ADA still recommends a high-carb
diet of “about 45 to 60 grams” per meal.
The importance of eating low-carb, especially for diabetes management, but also for reducing weight, still isn’t widely appreciated. Nor do most people follow a vegetarian diet. But some people with diabetes, including the more than 3,700 members of The Vegetarian Low Carb Diabetic Healthy Diet Society, do follow both.
You can manage your diabetes on both a vegetarian and low-carb diet and get the benefits of both. These diets have many advocates and are healthful and satisfying. But I doubt if anyone would say that it’s easy to be a vegetarian and a low-carber at the same time.
You probably have heard about the recent report that the sugar industry paid three Harvard professors to play down sugar’s role as a cause of heart disease and instead to put the blame on saturated fat. But if you have diabetes, you might well have assumed that this scandal, which just now surfaced, doesn’t have anything to do with you.
In fact, the connection between diabetes and the diet that you follow to manage it couldn’t be more direct.
September was the “Fruits & Veggies–More Matters” month. But does it matter to those of us who have diabetes?
Fewer than 1 in 7 American adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables, the U.S. government says. The recommended amount isn’t much: just 2½ cup-equivalents (2½ cups of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, 5 cups of leafy salad greens, or 11⁄4 of a cups of dried vegetables).
Significantly, what our government considers to be vegetables do not include grains, which are a separate food group. Nor does the vegetable group include nuts, seeds, and soy products, which are considered to be a protein food.
When you eat protein and vegetables before eating food that’s high in carbohydrates, your blood glucose and insulin levels won’t spike as much after the meal as when you eat the carbs first. This is the main message of a new study previewed in June.
Alpana Shukla, MD, presented her findings in a poster, “Food Order Has a Significant Impact on Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Excursions,” at this year’s annual convention of the American Diabetes Association in New Orleans. This is the world’s largest scientific meeting focused on diabetes, and I represented HealthCentral.com.
The findings make an important point for those of us who have Type 2 diabetes. Until now, the conventional nutritional advice has been mostly negative — what not to eat, eat less, and so on. But it turns out the timing of what we eat matters too.
This new study is a small one, involving only seven people with Type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese. Dr. Shukla and her seven Cornell associates measured the blood glucose levels of these participants every half hour for three hours after they ate the same amount of calories in protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates in a different order on separate days.