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Fight Back with Food

Five Science Based Tactics for Using Diet to Control Diabetes

More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes; meaning they have poor blood sugar control, and if left untreated will often lead to Type 2 diabetes within a few years. And the sad fact is that this number is continuing to rise. Scientists are working diligently to research how nutrition impacts the effect of diabetes risk. Below are some highlights from recent studies that may give you a leg up in fighting back.

1. Break The Fast

A recent study in The Journal of Nutrition found that skipping breakfast increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes. In fact, those who skipped breakfast five days a week or more increased their risk by as much as 55 percent. During your night of sleep with no food intake, hormones are hard at work to keep things balanced from a digestion and fuel perspective. It is believed that by not breaking this fast first thing in the morning it may have an impact on how your cells respond to insulin; the hormone that signals fuel uptake into the cells.

2. Bypass the Fast Food Convenience

In this instance, easy is not always better. Studies show that simply living in close proximity to fast food locations offering the high fat, low nutrient option for an easy meal showed an association to increased Type 2 diabetes risk. The impact of the close by fast food options was especially high on overweight individuals. Short of moving further away from this unhealthy convenience, you could try to make a simple rule that limits your number of visits to any of the fast food joints in your area. You could even reward yourself with a treat if you avoid them for an entire month. A once a month visit is way better than one or more times per week.

3. All Protein Not Created Equal

Choosing fish or poultry over bacon and processed beef is the kind of better dietary choice that helps lower risk for Type 2 diabetes. Additionally a study following 55,000 people over a 5-year period, published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that egg consumption on its own was not a risk factor for diabetes. The greater risk factor was with high meat consumption and obesity. Don’t skip the protein though. Protein is an important building block to adding and maintaining muscle, and muscle is one of the main consumers of blood glucose (the item diabetics have trouble getting rid of).

4. Skip the Skim

Although this research is in the early stages, a recent study showed that people with the highest levels of compounds associated with dairy fat consumption were nearly 30 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes over a 9-year average (compared with those with the lowest levels of this compound). More research needs to be done on the different types of dairy sources and level of impact. But for now it may be good to start thinking about if the current guidelines that encourage low-fat of fat-free dairy options are truly the best choice. Hopefully we learn more about this one soon.

5. Pick More Plants

We have already established that being overweight is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Another recent study, showed that overweight individuals following a predominantly vegan diet for 4 months experienced a greater drop in body fat levels and insulin resistance than those following their usual diets. Even though the vegan diet was fairly high in carbohydrates (approximately 70 percent of the calorie intake) the individuals were still highly effective at losing weight, which is contrary to the popular thinking that carbohydrates are bad for your weight loss plans. This should tell you that quality or type of carbohydrate is more important. Fruits and vegetables have a higher amount of nutrients and fiber, which researchers believe play a major role.

So there you have it -- five simple steps you can start right away to help in the diabetes battle. Eat your breakfast, skip the fast food, include plenty of better proteins, don’t remove all the dairy fat, and load up on more plant based foods. The fight will no doubt continue, but hopefully these tips will give you a fighting chance.

As always, if you have additional questions regarding this month’s article or have a topic you would like to see covered in future articles; please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email.

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