Foods That Affect Diabetes

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Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing diseases in the U.S. among both adults and children. What you eat can affect diabetes. Scientists have identified certain foods that may reduce the disease. QUESTION: ARE THERE FOODS THAT INCREASE THE RISK OF DIABETES? Diet and lifestyle may not be associated with Type 1 diabetes, but they do affect the more prevalent Type II diabetes. Weight gain, especially abdominal fat along with little or no exercise increases the risk for Type II diabetes. In addition, these foods may increase the risk: Fast Foods: two or more fast food meals per week increases diabetes risk Trans Fats: trans fats increase inflammation, insulin resistance and elevate blood sugar levels Soft Drinks: each soft drink increases diabetes risk 60 percent Scientists have identified certain foods that help lower blood glucose levels and/or improve insulin sensitivity. These should be included in the diet regularly: fish oils, monounsaturated fats, whole grains, vinegar and spices. QUESTION: HOW DOES FISH OIL HELP TO CONTROL DIABETES? Omega-3 fatty acids increase insulin sensitivity, which helps to lower blood sugar levels. In the long term, this reduces insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar levels. Fish oils also reduce inflammation, which is a major factor in diabetes. Diabetics should eat at least two fish meals per week and should take a fish oil supplement. (Diabetics who ate two fish meals per week saw a reduction in kidney disease.) The best fish are wild salmon, wild halibut, sardines, sablefish, trout, herring and tuna. QUESTION: SHOULD DIABETICS EAT A LOW FAT DIET? Diabetics need good quality fats in their diet to balance carbohydrate intake. The best fats for diabetics are monounsaturated fats, which lower blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. Olive oil is most often recommended because it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Other beneficial oils include macadamia oil, avocado, tea oil, sesame oil, along with eating nuts and seeds. Diabetics need up to 30 percent of good quality oils in their diet from monounsaturated fats and fish oils. QUESTION: WHICH WHOLE GRAINS ARE GOOD FOR DIABETICS? Whole grains containing the soluble fiber beta glucan or phytochemicals that lower blood sugar levels should be included in the diet. The best whole grains include oats, barley, buckwheat and quinoa. Diabetics should aim for three servings of high soluble fiber whole grains each day. QUESTION: DO VINEGAR AND CINNAMON REALLY AFFECT DIABETES? Two tablespoons of vinegar eaten before meals lowers blood sugar levels and insulin. Cinnamon contains proanthocyanidin that acts like an insulin substitute and lowers blood sugar and triglyceride levels by increasing insulin activity. Diabetics need about ½ teaspoon daily, which can be mixed in oatmeal or smoothies or tea. Researchers are finding other spices may also help to lower blood sugar levels including cloves, coriander, cumin, sage and bay leaf.