Monday, July 30, 2012

Feeding Type 2 Diabetes

Food - our society loves food, however, too much of a good thing can be bad for a person and lead to serious health issues like diabetes.  In fact, Type 2 diabetes statistics reveals that 90-95 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes are connected with overweight and obesity. And the number of children being diagnosed with type two is climbing.

Diabetes and diet obesity
Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues.
We hear all about diabetes on commercials and in the news, but what exactly is it?  According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) type 2 diabetes means that your body does not make enough insulin nor does it use insulin effectively to regulate your blood sugar.  This can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, eye and kidney problems.

After a blood test last year, my doctor sent me a note in the mail telling me that I am pre-diabetic, meaning that my fasting sugar level was higher than it should be, but not high enough to diagnose type 2 diabetes.  I asked what I should do. The answer was lose weight, eat healthier. Watch carbohydrate intake. But the question lingered, "What if I develop full-blown type two diabetes anyway?"

I learned there is a connecting factor between weight and diabetes; and type two diabetes is linked to obesity.  The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) states that 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.  People managing type 2 diabetes should continue their prescribed treatment and work with their doctor and/or diabetic counselor, however, organizations studying diabetes say that losing weight and maintaining healthy nutrition can lower blood sugar, making the challenge of this serious disease much easier to manage.

Weight Control Helps Control Diabetes

Web MD states that losing 5% to 10% of your body weight significantly reduces blood sugar levels.  Some diabetics, with the advice of their doctors, have been able to stop using insulin altogether.  The American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends cutting about five hundred calories per day by cutting down all food groups:  proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  So what is the recommended daily percentage for each food group?
  • Proteins: 10% to 15%
  • Fats: 30%
  • Carbohydrates: 50% to 55%
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Christine Gerbstadt, M.D. recently told Web MD that carbohydrates have the biggest effect on blood sugar levels because they are broken into sugars faster than fats or proteins.  Two concerns for diabetics are high blood sugar level and low blood sugar level.  Since insulin is used by the body to control blood sugar, a spike might not be handled well due to too much insulin or not enough. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables, are absorbed more slowly. They lower the risk of spikes in blood sugar when eaten. The more slowly our body can digest a food, the more slowly the food is turned into sugar.
diabetic diet
Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods for type 2 diabetics.
Luigi Meneghini, M.D., director of the Kosnow Diabetes Treatment Center at University of Miami School of Medicine, advises undertaking a weight loss plan while working with a doctor and a diabetic nutritionist because it is important to monitor insulin levels in order to avoid high or low blood sugar levels.

Is there a diabetic diet and are there many recommended foods for type 2 diabetics?

What can a diabetic eat?

A diet that incorporates superfoods and whole foods like fruits, veggies, proteins and complex carbohydrates.  Another food that is recommended by the ADA are  superfoods.  These are foods that are low in calories, fat and starch, but rich in nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber.  They keep you fuller longer, help to maintain a healthy weight, and lower blood sugar.  Of course, the ADA also warns that even too much of good foods will add unwanted calories, so portion control is necessary.  The portion size plate on Web M.D. can help with understanding correct portions in each food group.  You can also refer to two previous blogs that may provide insight on portion sizes:  Healthy Eating Serve It Up and The Blue Plate Special: Food Serving Size.

What are these super foods and what is so super about them?
  • Beans - high in fiber and protein, low in fat
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables - low in calories and carbohydrates
  • Whole grains - high in nutrients, folate and are digested more slowly than other starchy carbohydrates
  • Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids - salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Citrus fruits - contain soluble fiber and vitamin C
  • Nuts - an ounce of nuts is a source of healthy fats, fiber and are a good snack for controlling hunger
  • Berries - high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins
  • Tomatoes - contain vitamins C and E plus iron. (Grape tomatoes make a great in-between meal snack instead of candy or chips.)
  • Fat free milk and yogurt - high in calcium and fortified with vitamin D
  • Sweet potatoes - great source of fiber and vitamin A
Balance is key, however contrary to what I previously believed carbohydrates are an important part of a type two diabetes diet.  We should have 50% to 55% of them per day.  That's half our calorie intake!

How do we do that without risking diabetes, or worsening it?  The ADA recommends eating whole grain carbohydrates instead of refined grains:  brown rice and whole wheat pastas versus white rice and pastas.

The benefits of  whole grain:
  • Provides needed fiber and nutrients
  • Longer digestion, which means:
    • Longer fuller feeling
    • Higher utilization of calories for energy
    • Lesser breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars
  • No spiking of sugar unlike chips, candy, and cake and other foods a diabetic should avoid.
Other tips for healthy eating as indicated by Web M.D. that help lower blood sugar and help us get the right amount of healthier carbohydrates are oatmeal, broccoli, spinach, green beans, strawberries, salmon and lean meats, cinnamon, and plenty of water!

Even with proper food some people may need medications.  If you use prescription medications for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, the FamilyWize discount prescription drug card can help you manage the cost of your prescription drugs and medical devices like: anti-diabetic (non-insulin), diagnostic and dietary products, and insulin.

You can get your free card on the FamilyWize website.  You can also use the drug look-up tool to see if your medication or device is covered.

After studying this information, I realized that although dieting is a challenge and losing weight can be difficult; it can be made easier by becoming knowledgeable about diabetes and diet.  The more I study about weight loss for diabetics, the more I realize that it's more about what we CAN eat and include and less about what we shouldn't eat or cannot have.  Basically we don't have to diet harder, we need to eat smarter.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer

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