Diabetes Articles

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Be informed, not overwhelmed!

Pulses are trending big time. That includes all types of beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas. New products—from lentil chips to roasted chickpeas—are appearing on grocery story shelves, and desserts made with pulse flours and pureed pulses are all over Pinterest (black bean brownies, anyone?). There’s a lot to love about pulses: They’re gluten-free and eco-friendly, and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. And now, there’s another reason to add more pulses to your diet: Recent research suggests they might help you stave off type 2 diabetes.

A new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition tracked more than 3,300 adults who were at high risk of heart disease for four years. Researchers found that compared to those with a low intake of pulses (12.73 grams/day, or about 1.5 servings/week), those with a higher consumption (28.75 grams/day, equivalent to 3.35 servings/week) had a 35% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study also showed that participants who substituted half a serving of pulses a day for a similar serving of eggs, bread, rice, or baked potato had a lower incidence of diabetes… (click on the headline to read more)

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Dynamics of Diabetes: Prickly Pear Cactus

By Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN
Today’s Dietitian, November 2016

What Is Prickly Pear Cactus?
Prickly pear cactus is a plant of the species Opuntia ficus indica. It’s grown throughout Mexico and in many other regions, including the southwestern United States and South America.4,5 In Mexican cuisine, the pads of the plant are eaten as a vegetable. It has a light, tart flavor.6 “When cooked, the texture of nopal is similar to cooked green beans or green peppers,” says Jessica Crandall, RDN, CDE, AFAA, general manager at Denver Wellness and Nutrition Center–Sodexo and a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It can also be used in soups, salads, jams, jellies, marmalade, pickles, and desserts,” Crandall adds. Nopal generally is sold fresh, canned, or dried.6 In the United States, nopales—the plural form of nopal—can be found in local bodegas, farmers’ markets, and some grocery stores.4

Efficacy for Diabetes Management
Nopales have long been used in traditional Mexican medicine for treating diabetes, and there’s some preliminary clinical evidence to support its benefit. Single doses of nopal have been shown to decrease blood glucose levels by 17% to 46% in some patients. (click on the headline to read more)

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Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load

[This is a super-helpful article from the University of Oregon’s Micronutrient Information Center about glycemic index and glycemic load that clarifies what those terms mean and gives a big list of foods and their GI/GL to help you stay in a healthy range. I think that visualizing the way protein, fiber, healthy fats and other nutrients break up that rush of sugar into the blood stream may help make good food choices.}

“In the past, carbohydrates were classified as simple or complex based on the number of simple sugars in the molecule. Carbohydrates composed of one or two simple sugars like fructose or sucrose (table sugar; a disaccharide composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose) were labeled simple, while starchy foods were labeled complex because starch is composed of long chains of the simple sugar, glucose. Advice to eat less simple and more complex carbohydrates (i.e., polysaccharides) was based on the assumption that consuming starchy foods would lead to smaller increases in blood glucose than sugary foods. This assumption turned out to be too simplistic since the blood glucose (glycemic) response to complex carbohydrates has been found to vary considerably. The concept of glycemic index (GI) has thus been developed in order to rank dietary carbohydrates based on their overall effect on postprandial blood glucose concentration relative to a referent carbohydrate, generally pure glucose. The GI is meant to represent the relative quality of a carbohydrate-containing food. Foods containing carbohydrates that are easily digested, absorbed, and metabolized have a high GI (GI≥70 on the glucose scale), while low-GI foods (GI≤55 on the glucose scale) have slowly digestible carbohydrates that elicit a reduced postprandial glucose response. Intermediate-GI foods have a GI between 56 and 69.” (click on the headline to read more)

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A Plant-based Diet can beAffordable

“One thing I hear on a regular basis is, “Eating healthy is too expensive!” Unfortunately, eating a whole foods, plant-based diet is seen by many as a luxury they can’t afford, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As I heard Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine say last year, “It doesn’t get any cheaper than rice and beans!”” (click on the headline to read more)

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This Native American Tribe Turned To Ancestral Farming Practices To Combat A Health Crisis

“One widely embraced means of preventing diabetes is growing food in ancient ways. From 2008 to 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported the Traditional Foods Project, a program carried out by 17 tribes aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes through physical activity and a return to ancestral diets. Because traditional O’odham foods, even sweet foods such as prickly pear fruit and mesquite, are low on the glycemic index, they help to regulate blood-sugar levels. They’re also considered superfoods, high in vitamins and nutrients necessary for good health.” (click on the headline to read more)

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Not eating enough produce? You’re not alone

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay Reporter

“Only about one in every 10 Americans eats enough fruits and vegetables, a new government report shows. Just 13 percent of U.S. residents consume one and a half to two cups of fruit every day as recommended by federal dietary guidelines, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. The news on the vegetable front was even worse. Less than 9 percent of Americans eat two to three cups of vegetables every day as recommended, the report showed…” Read more here.

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Blueberries, Grapes, Prunes, and Apples May Be Linked to a Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

By Dr. Mercola

I’ve long urged those struggling with these health issues, or who have hypertension, heart disease or cancer, to pay extra-careful attention to the fructose content of whole fruit in addition to other sources of fructose. Now, recent research indicates that some fruits may in fact be protective against type 2 diabetes… (click on the headline to read more)

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Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods: Measuring carbohydrate effects can help glucose management

“…the glycemic index tells only part of the story. What it doesn’t tell you is how high your blood sugar could go when you actually eat the food, which is partly determined by how much carbohydrate is in an individual serving. To understand a food’s complete effect on blood sugar, you need to know both how quickly the food makes glucose enter the bloodstream, and how much glucose it will deliver. A separate value called glycemic load does that. It gives a more accurate picture of a food’s real-life impact on blood sugar. The glycemic load is determined by multiplying the grams of a carbohydrate in a serving by the glycemic index, then dividing by 100. A glycemic load of 10 or below is considered low; 20 or above is considered high.” (click on the headline to read more)

[Note: This is a helpful indicator for getting a more focused picture of how much glucose is getting into your blood, but each of these items is pictured in isolation, as if you didn’t eat them with fiber, protein, or fats that can help your body regulate the sugar-insulin mix. For example, pasta may be a little high, but what if you made Pasta Fazul with lots of high-fiber, high-protein beans?]

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From the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:


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Beans may help control blood sugar in people with diabetes

A cup of beans or lentils each day, when combined with a low-glycemic diet, helped lower blood sugar levels and coronary artery disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes. Those are the findings in a study published online Oct. 22, 2012, in Archives of Internal Medicine. Legumes, because they pack a lot of protein, help dampen the blood sugar response, and lower blood pressure. And as a good source of fiber, beans can help lower cholesterol, too. (click on the headline to read more)

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Ancient Poop Gives Clues to Modern Diabetes Epidemic

by Stephanie Pappas
The ancient Native Americans of the desert Southwest subsisted on a fiber-filled diet of prickly pear, yucca and flour ground from plant seeds, finds an analysis of fossilized feces that may explain why modern Native Americans are so susceptible to Type II diabetes.

photo Brian Lasenby

Thousands of years of incredibly fibrous foods, 20 to 30 times more fibrous than today’s typical diet, with low impact on the blood sugar likely left this group vulnerable to the illness when richer Anglo foods made their way to North America, said study researcher Karl Reinhard, a professor of forensic sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (click on the headline to read more)

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