When one has diabetes, it is important to consider which foods fulfill the essential nutritional needs to maintain a healthy life. The best diet for diabetics is generally similar to the kind of healthy eating that is suitable for everyone. Like the general population, people with diabetes need to focus on whole foods that are both rich in nutrients and high in fiber. This includes virtually all plant foods, most dairy products, lean meat, and poultry, as well as fish. However, there are two main forms of diabetes, and while both types benefit from these whole foods, each has different nutritional goals that need to be met to ensure the healthiest way of living.
With type 1 diabetes, studies show that total carbohydrates have the most effect on the maintenance of blood sugar control and the amount of insulin needed. Without a proper balance of insulin, carbohydrate intake, and physical activity, there can be radical changes in blood glucose levels. Additionally, if you have type 1 diabetes and are on a fixed dose of insulin, the carbohydrate content of your snacks and meals should be consistent on a day to day basis. In regards to children with type 1 diabetes, weight and growth patterns have proven to be useful in determining if they are getting enough nutrition in their diet.
When dealing with type 2 diabetes, the focus is primarily on weight control since 80 - 90% of people with this disease are overweight. A meal plan with reduced calories, an even distribution of carbohydrates, and healthier monounsaturated fats can help improve blood glucose levels. Examples of foods high in monounsaturated fat include peanut butter, walnuts, and almonds, as well as other nuts. These can be substituted for carbohydrates, but because these foods are high in calories, portions should be relatively small. In many cases, moderate weight loss and increased physical activity can control type 2 diabetes, although some people may require oral medications or insulin in addition to lifestyle changes. For children with type 2 diabetes, meal plans should be recalculated often to account for the child's change in calorie requirements due to growth. Moreover, it is best to serve children three smaller meals and three snacks in order to meet calorie needs. Changes in eating habits and increased physical activity help reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar control. It is also important to note that during times of excessive sweet consumption, such as holidays or birthday parties, children may still continue to eat sugar-containing foods, however, their daily amount of pastas, potatoes or rice should be eliminated to maintain an appropriate balance between calories and carbohydrates.
For both types of diabetes, here are some general guidelines to follow to create the proper balance between carbohydrates, protein, and fat:
Carbohydrate choices should come from whole-grain breads or cereals, brown rice, beans, pasta, fruits, and vegetables. Increasing dietary fiber is a general guideline for the entire population rather than specifically for people with diabetes. Because carbohydrates vary in their calorie content, they essentially affect weight and blood glucose control.
Protein intake should be approximately 15 - 20% of total calories. Proteins that are low in fat are recommended, such as non-fat dairy products, skinless poultry, legumes, fish, and lean meats, with portion sizes being no larger than a deck of cards.
Reduce the amount of dietary fat. Less than 7% of calories should come from saturated fat, which raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol should be less than 200 mg per day. Additionally, intake of trans-unsaturated fats, which are more commonly known as partially hydrogenated oils, should be minimized. Reduction of fat intake may help contribute to weight loss.
Limit sources of high-calorie and low-nutritional-value foods, including those with a high content of sugars. Foods containing sugar should be substituted for other carbohydrate sources (such as potatoes) rather than merely adding them on to the meal.
You know, it's not everyday a fellow like me gets to announce a major paradigm shift, much less concerning diabetes …or any other medical condition.
You don't know what a paradigm shift is? Well, if I mentioned events and names like: Gutenberg, Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, and Werner von Braun …you would probably guess a paradigm shift is major shift in thinking…and you would be right.
Back in the 1960's, Thomas Kuhn wrote a famous book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In it, he destroyed the common misconception so many of us have about science.
We tend to think scientific progress is ushered in by a slow, line upon line, piece by piece development of thought over time.
Thomas Kuhn showed that, historically, scientific progress occurs in leaps …and is always confronted by a struggle with an "old guard." The old scientific theorists hold tenaciously to their (usually tenured or profitable) positions and array themselves against the new discovery, attempting to drive it away.
But, the new guard - the new discoverers, inventors, explorers- takes the new discoveries and advances it over the thinking of the old establishment. Rarely is the old guard converted to the new patterns of thinking (new discovery). They just die off. The new position wins by attrition …truth…and perseverance.
Diabetes: The $132 billion dollar pandemic
Diabetes is on the front edge of such a paradigm shift.
Diabetes now afflicts over 18 million Americans. That is double the number of people with diabetes just since 1991 alone.
According to the CDC, one in every three Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Let that sink in…one in every three Americans will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
It is estimated over 40 million Americans can be classified as "pre-diabetes" meaning they have blood sugar levels higher than normal but still below the type 2 diagnosis level which helps to define diabetes.
By anyone's standard that is pandemic (goes far beyond epidemic proportions). The cost for this carnage is over $132 BILLION DOLLARS. So much expense, grief and sorrow…and unnecessary.
Diabetes: A reflection of our culture.
We are a fast food, sedentary, "get-our-fix-now" generation. More than one in every two Americans are overweight. We don't exercise as we should. All of which affects glucose levels. Diabetes is a lifestyle disease…and we've got the lifestyle.
Diabetes: The important announcement
That said, diabetes is a condition which CAN be turned around. Glyconutrition is the new discovery shaking the medical and scientific worlds. There are four Nobel Prizes and MIT testifying to the fact that glycobiology is one of the 10 technologies/discoveries which will shape our world.
Glyconutrition is more than just a promising new treatment for diabetes. Many are starting to whisper "VICTORY" over diabetes in their approach to disease.
Whether that is the case, time will tell.
Oh no… The problem is not a failure of glyconutrition. It is the building block VITAL to healthy cellular function and it is extremely vital to the proper functioning of the IMMUNE system. Those are known facts.
Diabetes is an auto-immune disease meaning, your body's immune system gets misguided messages. Thus, it starts attacking the islet cells in the pancreas which produces insulin. Voila...diabetes!
But, the problem is NOT whether glyconutrition really works. Anecdotal evidence (market buzz!) is already overwhelming in favor of glyconutritional therapy for diabetes. As is the professional research.
No…the actual science is NOT the problem. The problem is the old guard again. Thomas Kuhn's book is almost prophetic. The old guard, the medical and pharmaceutical establishment, just can't accept the findings of (their own) research… "What! A nutrient… to treat diabetes?" "Hogwash," one can almost hear them say.
Actually, I wish they were saying that out loud. The reality is, they just ignore the issue. You see, too much is at stake. Like billions of dollars…uh…a $132 billion dollars. All of that money (read, "business") disappears if glyconutrition continues to "pan out" the way the research shows us. But, for now, the only thing "panning out" is a diabetes pandemic.
Yet, glyconutrition gets shunned as an official diabetes treatment approach.
A study published in the 1997 issue of the Proceedings of the Fisher Institute for Medical Research showed that people with type 1 diabetes who were given glyconutrients "…reported a dramatic improvement in their health, including a decrease in vision problems, better wound healing, less infections, and lower blood pressure." (Miracle Sugars, by Rita Elkins, M.H., Woodland Publishing, p. 26)
"Glycobiology has achieved critical breakthroughs in the medical field, primarily by addressing what could be the greatest plague in health care today -- auto-immune diseases. Multiple sclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, Crohn's disease and colitis are just a few of these diseases." - Dr. Neecie Moore, Ph.D. (cf. Rita Elkins, M.H.
Miracle Sugars, Woodland Publishing, p. 18.)
Also, mannose (one glyconutrient) can stimulate the pancreas to produce more insulin "…thus lowering the amount of insulin needed to control this disease." (Miracle Sugars, p. 27).
Reality Check: The lives of 1 out of every 3 Americans are affected directly by diabetes and there is a $132 billion dollar diabetes pandemic running amuck in our midst. So, I sure hope this paradigm shift - glyconutrition - gets less opposition from the "powers that be" (the "old guard"), and is given its rightful place in the sun…soon.
But, with the money being made by the pharmaceuticals and their drugs, and the astoundingly simplistic view of disease treatment ("Blast that disease with technology and drugs!") it is doubtful if Thomas Kuhn's "paradigm shift" will work out any differently for diabetes across the land.
The old guard will attack and ignore the discovery - arguably, the greatest in medical history in over a hundred years - and, a la Kuhn, they will simply go the way of the Dodo Bird and diabetes treatment will receive its due.
Dr. Robert Gamble is retired from a very successful medical/surgical career spanning three decades. He is now active in researching medical issues such as glyconutrition… and offers his insights for public benefit. For information about Glyconutri