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What did you have for dinner?

Important Points:

  • Healthy diet
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Nutrition
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein

What did you have for dinner?

If type 2 diabetes were an infectious disease, it is said we would be in the midst of an epidemic. This problematic disease is striking an ever-growing number of adults, and with the rising rates of childhood obesity, it has become more common in youth especially among certain ethnic groups. The good news is that prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes are largely preventable. About 9 in 10 cases in the U.S. can be avoided by making lifestyle changes. These same changes can also lower the chances of developing heart disease and some cancers. In this article, we will look at diet as a means to prevent and regulate type 2 diabetes.

How What You Eat Affects You

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three American adults has prediabetes; that is 86 million people. Without intervention, up to one third of them will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

Is all lost? Not at all! Lifestyle changes can help. While excess body fat is a recognized risk factor for diabetes (and weight loss is an important way to lower risk), specific diet patterns and foods seem to decrease or increase risk, independent of weight. The latest research suggests that diabetes risk (as well as risk of heart disease and stroke) is largely influenced not by single nutrients but by specific foods and overall diet patterns.

Poor diet quality may influence weight and metabolic risk independent of calories; different types of foods have different effects on satiety, glucose-insulin responses, liver fat synthesis, fat-cell function, craving and reward responses in the brain, and the creation of visceral fat.

Foods that Lower the Risk of Getting Type 2 Diabetes

We will discuss in some detail every day food that might either aid in the prevention of diabetes or accelerate your progression towards it. When you are making the decision of what to eat, choose wisely.

  1. Choose high-fiber, slow-release carbs

Carbohydrates have a big impact on your blood sugar levels—more so than fats and proteins—so you need to be smart about what types of carbs you eat. Limit refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, packaged meals, and snack foods. Focus on high-fiber complex carbohydrates, also known as slow-release carbs because they are digested more slowly, thus preventing your body from producing too much insulin.

2. Eat more plant foods
Minimally processed plant foods such as fruits, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and nuts/seeds are consistently linked to better cardio-metabolic outcomes, including decreased diabetes risk.

3. Choose protein wisely
While they have been studied to different extents, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy protein sources appear to impact diabetes risk differently.

In their 2011 meta-analysis, Pan and colleagues determined that red meat consumption, particularly processed red meat, is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and suggested that substituting one serving of nuts, low-fat dairy, and whole grains per day for one serving of red meat would lower diabetes risk by 16% to 35%.

4. Use quality fats instead of quantity
Most research on fats typically looks at their impact on cardiovascular, not diabetes risk, and fats’ association with diabetes risk is in need of clarification. Recent evidence suggests that the quality of fats consumed in the diet is more important than the total quantity of dietary fat.  In other words, the exact fats consumed are more relevant than just the quantity of consumption, and some fats may be proinflammatory (omega 6 fats from industrial seed oil, vegetable oil) and others may be anti-inflammatory (omega 3 fats from natural products or saturated fats found in real food). Some researchers point out that source of fat is important. In studies looking at total fat intake and health effects, results showed:

  • A Mediterranean dietary pattern which is relatively high in monounsaturated fats may help prevent type 2 diabetes.
    • Intake of high-fat dairy products is associated with a decrease in type 2 diabetes risk.
    • Omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) may be associated with modestly lower risk.

5. Drink unsweetened beverages and water
What to drink is a choice we make every day, and it is just important to get into healthy drinking habits.

• Both coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated) and tea are associated with lower risk of diabetes.  The problem arises because many people add sweeteners and artificial creamers to coffee, which may contain significant carbohydrates and defeats the purpose of not consuming refined carbohydrates.

•Fruit juices have historically been considered safe, but the reality is that most fruit juices contain about the same amount of carbohydrate as does soda.  We urge our patient’s to avoid both soda and fruit juices altogether.

• There’s strong evidence that moderate alcohol use is associated with lower diabetes risk across diverse populations, but people who don’t currently drink alcohol shouldn’t be encouraged to do so, and drinkers should limit themselves to up to two drinks per day for men and one to 1.5 for women.

In Summary

Eat more:

  • Healthy fats from nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, or avocados
  • Fruits and vegetables—ideally fresh, the more colorful the better; whole fruit rather than juices
  • High-fiber cereals and breads made from whole grains
  • Fish and shellfish, organic chicken or turkey
  • High-quality protein such as eggs, beans, low-fat dairy, and unsweetened yogurt

Eat less:

  • Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods
  • Packaged and fast foods especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts
  • White bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice
  • Processed meat and red meat
  • Low-fat products that have replaced fat with added sugar, such as fat-free yogurt

A Healthy Lifestyle

It is easier to adapt a healthy eating lifestyle than to go on a diet. Working with dietary patterns instead of focusing on individual nutrients or “superfoods” (or vilifying particular food groups) allows greater flexibility for you and lets you choose foods you like at times that are convenient to you.

Given the health advantages of plant foods like leafy greens and whole grains and their association with reduced diabetes risk, you should ensure your diet pattern includes a healthy serving of them at all times.

References:

  1. Today’s dietician (2017):Diabetes Management & Nutrition Guide: Foods and Eating Patterns for Diabetes Prevention. Retrieved from

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0717p40.shtml

  • Harvard School of Public Health (2019): Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. Retrieved from
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/
  • Health Guide (2018): The Diabetic Diet. Retrieved from
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/the-diabetes-diet.htm
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Lifestyle Induced Inflammation

Important Points:

  • Inflammation
  • Lifestyle change
  • Healthy diet
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Trans fats

Lifestyle Induced Inflammation

Inflammation is not entirely a bad thing. When it happens over extended periods, it can trigger diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. A number of foods that we eat have been linked to chronic low-grade inflammation, so being aware of them and eliminating them from your diet can help to improve your health and prevent disease.

5 Foods that Trigger Inflammation

1. Artificial Sugars

There are two main types of artificial sugars:

  • Table sugar – sucrose composed of 50% glucose and 50% fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – 45% glucose and 55% fructose.

One reason artificial sugars are harmful is that they can increase inflammation which can lead to disease. In one study, mice fed high-sucrose diets developed breast cancer that spread to their lungs, in part due to the inflammatory response to sugar. In another study, the anti-inflammatory impact of omega-3 fatty acids was impaired in mice fed a high-sugar diet.

In yet another study, people were given regular soda, diet soda, milk, or water. Of these, only those in the regular soda group had increased levels of uric acid which causes inflammation and insulin resistance. While the small amounts of fructose in fruits and vegetables are fine, getting large amounts from added sugars is a bad idea. Eating a lot of fructose has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer, and chronic kidney disease. Food high in artificial sugar includes candy, soft drinks, cakes, sweet pastries, and certain cereals.

2. Artificial Trans Fats

Artificial trans fats are made by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fats, which are liquid, in order to make them solid. In a solid state they have a longer shelf life. Consequently, manufacturers often use trans fats to extend the shelf life of processed foods such as French fries and other fried fast food, margarine and vegetable shortening, packaged cakes and cookies, pastries, and all processed food with “partially hydrogenated” oils as part of the ingredients.

Artificial trans fats have been shown to cause chronic low-grade inflammation. They lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels and may cause damage to endothelial cells lining arteries which is a risk factor for heart disease.

3. Refined Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the source of energy for our cells. However, refined carbohydrates, which have most of the fiber removed, may cause inflammation by creating an environment for the growth of inflammatory microbiota. They may also cause leptin resistance and obesity.

Fiber is essential for promoting satiety and improving blood sugar control. Refined carbs have a higher glycemic index (GI) than unrefined carbs, and foods with a high glycemic index elevate blood sugar rapidly. White bread is an example of refined carbohydrates. In one study, subjects who ate 50 grams of white bread experienced higher blood sugar levels and a spike in inflammatory markers. Refined carbohydrates are found in white bread, pasta, white rice, carbonated drinks, cakes and all processed food that contains added sugar or white flour.

4. Excessive Alcohol

Moderate consumption of alcohol has been associated with cardiovascular benefits, however excessive consumption is likely to cause inflammation and trigger disease. Heavy drinking can also trigger leaky gut syndrome which is a precursor for inflammation and organ damage. Moderate alcohol consumption should not exceed two standard bottles for men and one standard bottle for women.

5. Processed Meat

Excessively processed meats have added compounds such as advanced glycation end products which are harmful to the body. They have been linked with heart disease, diabetes, stomach cancer, and colon cancer. Common types of processed meat include some sausages, bacon, ham, smoked meat, and beef jerky. Advanced glycation products are created by exposing meats to high temperatures during preparation. These products are known to increase oxidant stress and inflammation, and cause inflammation through other mechanisms as well. As a result, it is wise to minimize the consumption of processed meat.

The Bottom Line for Inflammation and Disease

Chronic low-grade inflammation is linked to a number of chronic diseases including cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. These conditions further contribute to inflammation making it a vicious cycle. It is also evident that lifestyle contributes to this kind of toxic inflammation, and by altering diet and making a few lifestyle changes one can greatly minimize their chances of getting these diseases. It is not enough to just drop these unhealthy foods, but you need to replace them with healthier alternatives. Here is an article about foods that reduce inflammation (hyperlink to the article on managing inflammation with diet).

What happens if you have already been diagnosed with an inflammation-related disease? Do not panic as hope is not lost. By altering your diet, you can claim your health back. Foods that promote insulin sensitivity can help to reverse diabetes and cure obesity. You can also read our article on how to reverse diabetes with diet.

If you are at high risk for lifestyle-related disease there is no shortcut to health and longevity; you just have to take drastic measures to change your diet and lifestyle. A good place to start is by eliminating these toxic foods from your diet.

References

1.   NCBI (2010): The global diabetes epidemic as a consequence of lifestyle-induced low-grade inflammation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19890624

2.   NCBI (2015): Differences and similarities in hepatic lipogenesis, gluconeogenesis and oxidative imbalance in mice fed diets rich in fructose or sucrose. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25905791

3.   NCBI (2014): Trans fatty acids: are its cardiovascular risks fully appreciated? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24636816

4.   NCBI (2005): Consumption of trans fatty acids is related to plasma biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15735094

5.   NCBI (2008): High-glycemic index carbohydrate increases nuclear factor-kappaB activation in mononuclear cells of young, lean healthy subjects. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469238