Sunday, September 27, 2009

Diabetes; Are You at Risk?

Type I diabetes is the less common type of diabetes in which the person produces no insulin at all, and requires an external supply of insulin. It is considered an autoimmune disease. It frequently develops in childhood.
Type II diabetes is carbohydrate intolerance due to the body's inability to use insulin normally, to produce enough insulin, or both. Impaired glucose tolerance and type II diabetes are associated with excess body fat (especially "belly fat"), physical inactivity, and aging. Obesity aggravates insulin resistance: as body fat increases, body tissues become less able to respond to insulin. Most experts believe that the rising rates of diabetes and it's destructive consequences can be eased or even stopped by adopting healthy behaviors that include weight management and regular physical activity. Type II diabetes is the more prevalent type; about 85-90%. Cases have increased exponentially in the U.S. in recent years as a result of the obesity epidemic.
Insulin resistance is the condition where the body's cells fail to respond to insulin as they do in healthy people.
For those with type II diabetes, the American Diabetes Association's guidelines recommend:
  • Weight loss of 7% or more
  • 150 or more minutes per week of physical activity
  • Percent of total calories from energy nutrients: 15-20% protein, less than 30% fat (10 % saturated), and approx. 50% from carbohydrates.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sugar Free is not Carbohydrate Free

People with diabetes do not need special foods. In fact, the foods that are good for you are good for everyone. The diabetic aisle in the grocery store can most likely be avoided. Special foods are not only costly, but labels are sometimes deceiving. If you are taking insulin, the prescribed amount will cover your daily carbohydrate intake, no matter what the form; including sugar.
Foods labeled as sugar-free, no sugar added, reduced sugar, and dietetic may still contain carbohydrate. Sugar is only one type of carbohydrate that affects blood glucose levels. Sugar free puddings, for example contain starch, which is a more complex carbohydrate. If you are carb-counting, look at the Nutrition Facts Panel instead of relying on claims on the front of the box.
If you don’t have a lot of time when reading labels, simply look at the total carbohydrate in a food. The total carbohydrate includes starch, fiber, sugar, and sugar alcohols. Using the amount of total carbohydrate will give you a pretty good number to use for carbohydrate counting. It is more helpful to check the total carbohydrate because it includes both sugar and starch. If you only look at the sugar content, you are not accounting for the starch in a food.
~American Diabetes Association~

Monday, September 21, 2009

Glycemic Index; Fad or Fact?

Glycemic index is a measure of the extent to which blood sugar (glucose) levels are raised by a specific amount of carbohydrate-containing food compared to the the same amount of glucose and white bread.
In the not-so-distant past, it was thought that all carbohydrates were the same and they all had the same effect on blood glucose levels. It is now known that some types of simple and complex carbohydrates elevate blood sugars more than others. Carbohydrates that are digested and absorbed quickly have a high glycemic index and raise blood glucose to a higher level. Diets providing low glycemic index carbs have been found to improve blood glucose control in people with type II diabetes, reduce elevated levels of blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and increases levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol, as well as decreasing the risk of developing type II diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Foods with a high glycemic index may also cause a rapid spike in blood sugar which will cause an enhanced secretion of insulin from the pancreas. This in turn will cause a rapid reduction of blood glucose to the point of hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood glucose). This insulin response and chronic low blood sugar is refered to as reactive hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia has been shown to be a precursor to type II diabetes.
Foods with low glycemic index lead to a slower insulin response and a more stable blood glucose level. Protien and fats in combination with high glycemic foods help to slow the absorption of the carbohydrate, and can help ward off a rapid spike in glucose and the following sudden drop.
A low-glycemic diet is not recommended for weight loss (as in the South Beach diet), and has not been shown to lower blood glucose in type I diabetics over the long term. It is helpful, however, in avoiding the roller coaster "spike & drop" in glucose levels common for those with a sugar sensitivity such as reactive hypoglycemia, or those with type II diabetes. Low glycemic foods are typically complex carbohydrates, whereas high glycemic index foods are processed grains and simple sugars.
For a glycemic index of common foods and more information, see Free Glycemic Index Chart
Until scientists know more about the glycemic index, people with type I diabetes should eat healthy foods, whether or not they have a high glycemic index.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Don't Have To Wear Birkenstocks To Be A Vegetarian!

Vegetarianism is not a religion. People become vegetarians for several reasons, such as weight control, improved health, religion, taste preferences, or to oppose animal cruelty. There are several degrees of vegetarianism as well. If you are concerned about any of the above issues, there may be a vegetarian lifestyle to fit your individual needs.
You may become a "part-time" vegetarian simply by eating less meat. Most Americans consume more than enough animal protein to meet their nutritional needs. We could more than likely cut our consumption in half and still be well nourished. According to the American Dietetic Association's position papers, vegetarian diets are associated with reduced risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, colon cancer, lung cancer, and kidney disease. Seventh Day Adventists, a religious group whose food ways center on a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet, have a significantly lower mortality rate from cancer than the rest of the population, and are noted world wide for their longevity.

A semi-vegetarian substitutes white meats such as chicken and turkey breast for it's lower fat content, for red meats.
A Pesco vegetarian consumes fish as their main source of animal protein.
Ovo vegetarians consume eggs; lacto vegetarians consume dairy products; Ovolacto vegetarians consume both eggs and dairy.
The term "Vegan" applies to a strict diet containing no animal products. Some true vegans don't even wear animal products, such as leather and cosmetics containing animal fats. The more restrictive the diet, the more difficult it becomes to get the nutrients you need.

Vegetarians who plan their diets carefully can easily obtain all the nutrients they need to support good health throughout the lifespan, including athletes, pregnant & lactating women, and children. Protein usually is not the problem it was once thought to be in the vegetarian diet. Complete proteins are found in the animal products of the pesco vegetarian and the ovo/lacto vegetarian. Plant based proteins can provide all essential amino acids to the vegan, so long as the sources are varied. Not all plants contain the same amino acids. The vegan diet must contain plant foods that possess complementary proteins in order to receive a balanced distribution of the essential amino acids. The two most common plant foods that vegans can combine to achieve complementary proteins are legumes (nuts, beans, chick-peas) and grains (wheat, corn, rice, oats). Other deficiencies common with the vegan diet are Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, iron, calcium, zinc, as they are found primarily in animal products. Fortified cereals and soy milk should be included, as well as some vitamin supplementation. Iron and other minerals found in vegetables are not as easily absorbed due to the oxalates that naturally occur in plants. Special attention should be given to dietary practices that promote absorption of minerals.
Choosing to adopt a vegetarian diet is up to the individual and represents a significant change in dietary habits. As with all diet plans, do your research and consult with your health care provider. For more information, visit the Vegetarian Resource Group at Cooking vegetarian meals is less complicated with a guide. Easy Veggie Meal Plans (bottom of web page) is a great cookbook for beginners as well as the novice vegetarian. To order, Click Here!