Daily chocolate intake linked to lower risk of diabetes, heart disease

Could a doctor’s visit one day result in a prescription for chocolate? According to a new study, it is possible. Researchers suggest that consuming a small amount of chocolate every day may lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Eating chocolate every day could lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, say researchers.

Study co-author Prof. Saverio Stranges – visiting academic of the University of Warwick Medical School, United Kingdom, and scientific director of the Department of Population Health at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) – and colleagues publish their findings in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Chocolate is often perceived as a treat that should only be enjoyed from time to time. Given its high fat and sugar content, this is no surprise; overconsumption can lead to health problems, such as tooth decay and obesity.

However, studies are increasingly suggesting regular, moderate chocolate consumption may yield significant health benefits, particularly when it comes to dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate has the highest cocoa content, which means it has the highest levels of antioxidants – specifically, flavonoids – which are molecules that can prevent some forms of cell damage.

For their study, Prof. Stranges and colleagues analyzed the chocolate consumption of 1,153 people aged 18-69 who were part of the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk in Luxembourg (ORISCAV-LUX) study.

Data on chocolate intake were gathered from participants’ completion of a food frequency questionnaire.

The team set out to investigate whether chocolate intake is associated with insulin resistance – where the body’s cells do not effectively respond to insulin, raising the risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

They also assessed how chocolate consumption affected liver enzyme levels, which is a measure of liver function.

Reduced insulin resistance with daily chocolate consumption

The researchers found that 81.8 percent of the study participants consumed chocolate, with an average consumption of 24.8 grams daily.

Compared with participants who did not eat chocolate every day, those who did were found to have reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzyme levels. The effect was stronger the higher the chocolate consumption, the team reports.

The findings remained after accounting for participants’ age, sex, education, lifestyle, and dietary factors that could affect the results.

Dietary factors included intake of tea and coffee rich in the antioxidants polyphenols, which the researchers say have the potential to spur chocolate’s benefits for cardiometabolic risk.

Cardiometabolic risk refers to a person’s likelihood of developing diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.

Participants who ate chocolate were more physically active, younger, and more highly educated than those who did not eat chocolate, according to the authors.

Could dark chocolate be included in dietary recommendations?

Prof. Stranges and colleagues say their findings suggest that chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders by improving liver enzyme levels and protecting against insulin resistance.

“Given the growing body of evidence, including our own study, cocoa-based products may represent an additional dietary recommendation to improve cardiometabolic health; however, observational results need to be supported by robust trial evidence.

Potential applications of this knowledge include recommendations by healthcare professionals to encourage individuals to consume a wide range of phytochemical-rich foods, which can include dark chocolate in moderate amounts.”

Prof. Stranges

However, Prof. Stranges notes that it is important to distinguish the difference between chocolate that contains natural cocoa and processed chocolate; the latter is much higher in calories.

“Therefore, physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time,” he adds.


Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/309741.php

Five 60-second diabetes tricks (that you can do right now)

Diabetes can easily feel like it is taking over your life. If you aren’t already concerned about locating healthy foods, you are probably worried about monitoring your blood sugar, and keeping your insulin from spiking.

Try doing this the rest of your life as part of a daily schedule!

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can manage your diabetes with some quick tricks that take less than a minute each.

Grab a fiber-rich snack.

Regulate your blood sugar with a quick addition of fiber, which tells your liver to stop producing glucose. If you need some tasty ideas, carrot sticks, apples, and oatmeal are all delicious sources of fiber.

Swap in cauliflower.

With diabetes, you have to be careful about carbs. This may make you think that old favorites, like fried rice, are out of the question. They don’t have to be! Cauliflower is a great alternative! It has many of the same qualities as more the starchy alternatives. Use it as risotto, mash it up like potatoes, or roast them for a tasty treat.

Prep some snacks.

If you want to keep your blood sugar levels stable all day, even when you’re swamped, it’s important to be prepared. Pack up some simple snacks to have on hand all day – like hummus and veggies, blueberries, or air-popped popcorn. About 15 grams of carbohydrates is a good level to shoot for in your snacks.

Switch out salt.

Sodium is known to cause blood pressure spikes, which are bad for anyone, but especially dangerous if you’re diabetic. Use delicious sodium-free spices to add flavor to your meals, like cinnamon, basil, rosemary, and garlic. You may even discover that you like them better than boring old salt.

Grab some whole grains.

Where refined grains are rich in sugar, whole grains pack in fiber, potassium, and magnesium. They can even lower your risk of heart disease. Throw out the rice and try some delicious grains like bulgur and barley.


Source: http://www.topdiabetestips.com/tips/five-60-second-diabetes-tricks-that-you-can-do-right-now/

14 Biggest Myths About Type 2 Diabetes

The truth about type 2

First, a primer on what type 2 diabetes is: blood glucose governs your body’s energy, and under normal conditions, a complicated set of interactions move glucose from the blood into muscle cells as quickly as possible. In type 2 diabetes blood sugar (glucose) levels rise higher than normal because the body makes insulin—the key hormone for regulating blood sugar—but can’t use it properly.

Nearly 30 million Americans—a number that has doubled over the last two decades—have type 2 diabetes. Despite its prevalence, misinformation surrounds the disease, from what causes it to which foods are forbidden and even how to treat it. Here, experts reveal the biggest diabetes myths and set the record straight.

Myth: Type 2 diabetes is not that serious

Not everyone with type 2 diabetes needs insulin, so it may not seem that serious, says Sarfraz Zaidi, MD, endocrinologist at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif. “In reality it’s a silent killer, also because those with type 2 don’t have many symptoms,” he says. In actuality, type 2 is more complex than type 1, says Dr. Zaidi, who describes type 2 diabetes as a manifestation of an underlying disease process called insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. “This causes high blood pressure, heart disease, and contributes to the growth of cancer and gout,” he says.

Myth: Symptoms of type 2 diabetes are easy to spot

Nearly 28% of people who have type 2 diabetes don’t even realize it. While the symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are very similar—increased urination and thirst, fatigue, blurred vision, among others—type 1 symptoms tend to have a dramatic and abrupt onset (usually in children and adolescents, but sometimes adults), while type 2 comes on much more slowly. Many people can walk around with type 2 diabetes for years without showing symptoms, says Dr. Zaidi. “Your blood sugar may be mildly elevated in the early stages of the disease but you wouldn’t know it without a blood test.” However, even this mild elevation—know as prediabetes—is thought to be dangerous, raising the risk for heart attacks and other problems.

Myth: Herbal supplements help diabetes

Chances are you’ve spotted online ads for supplements and vitamins that promise to eliminate diabetes. That may explain why people with diabetes are more likely to use dietary supplements and herbal therapies than people without diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. “Everyone wants a magic bullet,” says Dr. Zaidi. “They think, ‘If I take this pill for a couple of weeks I don’t have to worry about anything,’ but it’s not true.” Stick with well researched medication prescribed by your doctor, and if you’d like to take a supplement in addition to standard medication, consult your MD first.

Myth: Eating too many sweets causes type 2 diabetes

It’s an old wives tale that diabetes is caused by eating sugar and candy. What definitely does increase your risk of type 2: being overweight or obese, and of course consuming too much sugar (or calories from any other source) could cause weight gain. Anyone can develop type 2 diabetes (even life-long athletes like Billie Jean King). All it takes is the right combination of lifestyle factors and genetics, says Gerald Bernstein, MD, an endocrinologist and the director of the diabetes management program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. In the past, most people were diagnosed in their 60s or 70s. Extra pounds speed up a diagnosis, meaning more people now get diabetes in their 30s, 40s, or 50s, or even younger.

Myth: Exercise can’t help prevent type 2 diabetes

Part of the essence of prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes is exercise, says Dr. Bernstein. “Exercise burns glucose and makes the cells more sensitive to insulin,” he says. This better enables your cells to take up glucose during and after activity. Exercise may even be more effective than diabetes drugs when it comes to preventing the disease in people most at risk. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people with prediabetes were given a placebo, the drug metformin, or were prescribed a lifestyle modification program with the goal of 7% weight loss and at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. After about three years, the lifestyle interventions reduced diabetes incidence by 58%, while the drug reduced it just 31%, as compared with the placebo. “Drugs alone are not the answer,” says Dr. Zaidi.

Myth: If you have diabetes, you can never eat sugar

“Eating more sweets doesn’t cause diabetes, and those with diabetes can eat sugary foods from time to time,” says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York. The American Diabetes Association recommends keeping sweets and dessert portions small, since most sweets contain high amounts of carbohydrates. Diabetics can swap out a small portion of dessert for another carb-heavy food in your meal. For example, substitute a small portion of pumpkin pie for a dinner roll or sweet potatoes in the main course.

Myth: Only overweight people get type 2 diabetes

Although obese and overweight people are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, thin people can also become diabetic, says Dr. Zaidi. “Ethnicity plays a big role,” he says. Populations at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes in general includes African Americans, Alaska Natives, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, American Indians, and Hispanics/Latinos. A family history of diabetes also makes it more likely you’ll develop the disease. More research is needed to determine exactly why minority groups have a higher type 2 diabetes risk, but some believe these groups may have inherited a “thrifty gene” that helped their ancestors get through alternating periods of feast and famine—in other words, their bodies cling to fat to prepare for long periods without food, an evolutionary adaptation that’s no longer necessary. Others believe that poverty and lack of access to health care play a role.

Myth: Diabetes means you have to give yourself shots

“Type 2 diabetes rarely requires insulin shots,” Dr. Zonszein says. If you need insulin shots, it’s likely only one injection a day and without any diabetes pill. Managing type 2 diabetes more frequently includes stress reduction, diet, exercise, and oral medication, says Dr. Zaidi. “Stress increases blood sugar levels substantially,” he says. Along with diet and exercise, Dr. Zaidi recommends practicing mindfulness as a way to avoid blood sugar spikes due to stress. “Be in the now, keep your mind and body in the same place.”

Myth: It’s easy to tell if your blood sugar is high by how you feel

Typical symptoms of high blood sugar include increased thirst and urination, dry mouth, fatigue, and blurred vision. Low blood sugar may trigger shakiness, sweating, irritability, dizziness, and lack of coordination. But often those with diabetes “adjust” to these feelings and don’t know their true blood sugar without checking it, says David Kerr, MD, director of research and development at William Sansum Diabetes Center in Santa Barbara, Calif. “The brain can adjust to high and low blood sugars, and rarely can a person ‘feel’ when their sugar’s low or high. It requires a blood test to know for sure.”

Myth: If you don’t take care of your diabetes, you’ll end up on insulin

Around 25% of people developing type 2 diabetes will need insulin. “It’s not because they have done anything wrong, simply that the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have become so fatigued they cannot produce enough insulin to cope with the demands of food,” Dr. Kerr says. This “insulin exhaustion” is often worse in those who are overweight, as this given amount of insulin is less effective at keeping blood glucose levels under control.

Myth: Insulin makes you gain weight

Insulin does not cause weight gain on its own, but people going on insulin often do report weight gain, says Dr. Kerr. “Insulin injections make a person super efficient at keeping hold of any excess calories that they previously lost through the kidneys when the diet was not as well controlled,” he explains. If this happens, check with your doctor to be sure you’re not on too much insulin. “This can cause excess weight gain when people ‘feed up’ their insulin to stop their blood glucose levels from going too low,” says Dr. Kerr.

Myth: Once you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you have it for life

A lot of people who develop type 2 diabetes are carrying excess weight, says Dr. Kerr. “And they often don’t exercise as much as they should. The good news is that if you’re overweight and have type 2 diabetes, losing the extra pounds by cutting portion sizes and exercising more will be beneficial.” In some cases, people can even reverse the diabetes process, especially if those lifestyle changes happen as soon as diabetes is diagnosed. In one study, losing an average of 15 pounds through lifestyle changes reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%over three years.

Myth: Diabetes is the same for everyone

Symptoms, dietary approaches, and reactions to various foods all vary individually in type 2 diabetes, says Dr. Zaidi. “Some people have no symptoms until they experience a heart attack. While in the hospital they find out their blood sugar is sky high but they had no prior idea they were diabetic.” Whether or not you exercise can play a significant role in determining your blood sugar after eating a certain food as well, says Dr. Zaidi. “You can give the same number of calories to two different people and their blood sugar may be different, depending on fitness level and even ethnicity.” Keeping a food diary with foods and blood sugar reactions two hours after a meal helps determine an individual’s reaction to specific foods, he says.

Myth: Diabetes means you’ll go blind or lose a limb

Left uncontrolled, diabetes can cause serious damage, including heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease, and loss of a limb. But the risk can be greatly reduced by keeping blood sugar under control, says Dan Nadeau, MD, endocrinologist at Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag Hospital in Orange County, Calif. “Better glucose (blood sugar) control, the right medications, and smart choices about foods are critical for reducing the risk of complications. Working to achieve ideal weight is another powerful tool to avoid complications.” Early detection helps reduce the risk of complications, along with regular eye exams, urine tests, and foot exams.


Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20857657,00.html

10 Diet and Exercise Tricks to Control Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, here are easy tips and tricks to help get blood sugar under control.

Small goals make a big difference

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, you need diet and exercise goals that encourage you to succeed—not ones that set you up to fail, says Ann Goebel-Fabbri, PhD, a psychologist and investigator at the Joslin Diabetes Center, in Boston.

“I think goals have to be small and well spelled out for people. Everyone has the experience of going to a health practitioner and being told something vague: ‘You know, you really ought to lose weight.’ What does that mean? Goals need to be broken down into small nuts and bolts,” she says.

First step: See where you stand now

Margaret Savoca, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, suggests that you stop and look at your eating and exercise habits, and figure out what will be the easiest changes to make, rather than making huge changes that are tough to sustain.

“Diabetes is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Elizabeth Hardy, 47, a Dallas resident who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2005. For Hardy it was easiest to make changes in her life one step at a time.

Here are 10 ways to start.

1. Keep a record of your physical activity

Most people overestimate how much exercise they get. If you write it down, you’ll have an honest appraisal of where you’re starting.

2. Bring your own lunch

Avoid eating lunch at restaurants or fast-food joints. Restaurant meals “can go out of control easily,” Savoca says. They tend to have large portions, lots of calories, and high amounts of fat. Research has found an association between eating out more and having a higher body weight.

When you make your own lunch, you control the ingredients and your portion sizes. If making your own lunch every day is too much, you might want to try twice a week to start.

3. Change your daily routine

Instead of stopping for a fat-filled latte on the way to work, have a cup of coffee with low-fat milk and a low-fat granola bar.

4. Make healthier choices when you go to restaurants

For example, at McDonald’s, a diabetes-friendly choice might be a salad with grilled chicken and low-fat dressing. “What’s important is for people to be able to problem-solve,” Savoca says. “People probably have a lot of the answers; it’s just that it takes a little time to come up with them and make them their own.”

5. Use a pedometer

These handy devices—available for less than $20 at sporting goods stores—clip on to your waistband and record the number of steps you take. Use one to estimate how many steps you take on an average day. Then set a goal to slowly increase that number. Maybe you want to take 100 extra steps every day this week, and add another hundred each day next week. Although many experts recommend going 10,000 steps a day for good health, feel free to set goals that work for you, Goebel-Fabbri says.

6. Keep gum handy

Pop a piece of sugar-free gum (but not too many pieces—some sugar-free gums contain sweeteners that can upset your stomach at high doses). Gum may “fix” your need for a snack and leave you with a fresh, minty taste that you won’t want to ruin with a bag of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips.

7. Try one new fruit or vegetable each week

With the variety available at a typical supermarket, this strategy could introduce you to new favorites for months.

However, test your blood sugar after trying a new item—especially fruit. Some may have a more dramatic effect on blood sugar than others, and if they do, you may have to limit portion sizes accordingly.

8. Take home menus from your favorite restaurants

You can research the healthiest options on the menu when you’re not rushed to make a decision. Decide what you want before you go into the restaurant and order ahead of your dining companions so you won’t be tempted by their choices.

9. Serve home-cooked meals on smaller plates

Portions matter. If you serve yourself less food, you tend to eat less than if you have a large plate with a large meal.

10. Test your blood sugar two to three hours after meals

Hardy frequently tests her blood sugar with a glucose monitor. With time she slowly figured out which foods made her blood sugar jump up too quickly. Sometimes her blood sugar gets too high, but she doesn’t get down about it; she just aims to do better. “Know that you’re going to make mistakes and know that’s OK,” she says.


Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20469017,00.html

13 Diabetes Tips to Improve Blood Sugar Control

Good blood sugar control is different for every person, but there are some common tips to follow that can help improve your numbers.


1.Keep Eating Habits Consistent

2.Include Healthy Carbs in Your Diabetes Diet

3.Cook Pasta Al Dente and Measure Servings

4.Eat Diabetes Bars and Shakes as Meal Replacements

5.Enjoy Cinnamon as a Natural Sweetener

6.Talk to Your Doctor About Drinking Alcohols

7.Have a Cup of Green Tea

8.Drink Water to Save Calories & Stay Hydrated

9.Splash a Little Vinegar

10.Talk to Your Doctor Before Adjusting Medication

11.Set Aside Time for Quality Sleep

12.Exercise to Boost Energy & Improve Sleep

13.Do Your Research Before Taking Supplement

Source: http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/monitoring/blood-sugar/13-diabetes-tips-to-improve-blood-sugar-control

9 Herbal Remedies That Can Help

Diabetes is a health condition which must be taken seriously. While it is useful for diabetics to be under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner, there are some things which you can do to help keep the condition in check. Specifically, numerous herbs contain healthful properties which are beneficial in different ways to persons suffering from diabetes.

Fenugreek contains good amounts of a soluble fiber called mucilage which helps regulate sugar levels in the blood. Furthermore, fenugreek boosts levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the so-called “good” cholesterol, in the blood while at the same time reducing total cholesterol levels. This in turn helps prevent cardiovascular disease, something which diabetics are susceptible to.

Historically, onions have long been used to help treat diabetes in Europe and Asia. Indeed, modern scientific studies have affirmed the ability of onions to lower blood sugar levels. In addition, onions also protect cardiovascular health by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Garlic has benefits for diabetics which are similar to those of onions. Research has shown that it has blood-sugar-lowering properties. And garlic also benefits cardiovascular health. One of the most healthful ways to consume garlic is raw and chopped up about 5 to 10 minutes before consumption.

Bitter melon
Bitter melon, also called balsam pear, is a tropical fruit widely available in Africa, Asia and South America. This fruit, which looks like an ugly cucumber, has been well-used in folk medicine as a diabetes remedy. Clinical studies carried out on humans have shown the blood-sugar-lowering properties of the fruit’s fresh juice or the extract of the unripe fruit.

Unripe bitter melon can be found at Asian grocery stores, while bitter melon extracts may be available at health food stores.

Marsh mallow
Marsh mallow root contains good amounts of pectin, a soluble plant fiber which helps lower blood sugar levels.

Milk thistle
Milk thistle, well-known as a liver tonic, was shown in a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research to lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Furthermore, the study subjects also experienced significantly lower levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the so-called “bad” cholesterol), triglycerides and liver enzymes — these are markers of cardiovascular ailments.

Bilberry leaf tea has historically been used to treat diabetes. This use has been backed by research which has revealed its ability to lower blood sugar levels.

Further, the berries and their extracts offer more benefits to diabetics, including boosting vitamin C levels, reducing breakage of small blood vessels, preventing easy bruising and providing antioxidant effects. They also protect eye health by improving circulation to the retina.

Gurmar is an Indian folk remedy for diabetes which has been shown in some studies in India to help improve insulin production.

Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is most well-known as an herb which improves brain health, but at the same time, it is also useful for diabetics, as it has been proven to help boost blood circulation to peripheral tissues in a person’s arms, fingers, legs and toes. This is a significant benefit for persons with diabetes, who often suffer from poor blood circulation to the extremities.

Other than a healthy diet and taking the above herbs, the most basic lifestyle change a diabetic can make to improve his or condition is to implement a moderate exercise regimen. Exercise can help diabetics in many ways, including improving blood circulation, regulating blood sugar levels, promoting weight loss and protecting cardiovascular health, and should form a core part of any diabetes treatment plan.

 Source: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20516045,00.html

Kitchen Tips for Diabetes-Friendly Recipes

A diabetes-friendly diet includes plenty of fiber-packed veggies.

Invest in the right tools. It all starts with the right equipment. “Cooking healthy meals at home is a lot easier when you have a few basic tools,” says Stack. Sharp knives — both a large chef’s knife and a small paring knife — make it easy to cut fresh vegetables and lean protein. Stack also recommends purchasing a julienne peeler for slicing vegetables into appealing noodle-shaped pieces. For an added bonus, invest in a large cutting board, some quality cookware, and a cast iron pan; it conducts heat, making cooking a whole lot easier, she says.

Try new cooking techniques. One of the best ways to adhere to a diabetes-friendly diet is to use non-frying methods of cooking and to replace saturated fats (like butter) with healthy monounsaturated fats (like olive oil and canola oil). “Use canola oil or spray when cooking over high heat, and olive oil when making dressings or using low heat,” suggests Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, author of The Diabetes Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. For vegetables, try steaming or roasting them, or sauté them in broth with a little bit of olive or canola oil and lots of garlic for flavor. If you’re cooking lean protein, roast, broil, or grill the foods. Trim the fat before cooking and, if roasting, use a roasting rack. “The skin and fat add flavor but are very high in saturated fat,” notes Cipullo.

Flavor foods with herbs and spices. Make sure your pantry is stocked with herbs and spices that you can use in place of salt. Our favorites include sage, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, and, of course, garlic and pepper. “Creating meals using spices and herbs is one of the best ways to add flavor,” says Stack. If using fresh herbs, choose those that are bright and not wilted, and add them toward the end of cooking your meal; add dried herbs in the earlier stages of cooking. When substituting dried herbs for fresh, use about one-half the amount.

Go lean on protein. When shopping for meat, choose cuts like skinless chicken breast and ground turkey breast, and consider buying ones labeled “choice” or “select” instead of “prime.” Consider swapping out high fat versions of meat with leaner ones. For example, if you like bacon with breakfast, try Canadian bacon or turkey bacon instead of pork. Or swap out the ground beef for burgers with half extra-lean ground beef and half ground turkey. Plan on eating seafood twice a week. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are all high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A study review published in 2013 in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating omega-3s might also help stem the onset of weight gain. “I like buying individually wrapped frozen fish, like salmon, because they are pre-portioned and quick to defrost,” says Stack.

Load up on vegetables. You can never have enough vegetables on hand when you’re following a healthy diabetes-friendly diet. Stack looks for sturdy and hardy vegetables that can hang out in the refrigerator for a couple of days without going bad. “I call them my fabulous 15 vegetables,” she says, citing mushrooms, celery, cauliflowers, fennel, cabbage, and broccoli, plus dark leafy greens like kale and bell peppers, among her favorites. “They hold up well, are low in carbs, and add a lot of flavor to meals.”

Cipullo suggests people have a mix of non-starchy (cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, collards, and swiss chard) and starchy (root vegetables like beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and jicama) veggies on hand for a lively mix. Including many veggies — both non-starchy and (appropriately-portioned) starchy ones — at meals gives you the opportunity to get quantity and variety,” says Cipullo.

Focus on fiber. Stock your pantry with whole grain, high fiber cereals, breads, pasta, and rice. “Dietary fiber decreases insulin resistance and prevents prediabetes and diabetes,” says Cipullo. And to get more specific, there are two types of fiber that perform two different jobs: Insoluble fiber, like wheat bran, keeps your digestive tract working well, while soluble fiber, like that found in oatmeal, can help lower your cholesterol and improve blood glucose control if eaten in large amounts. Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that when people with type 2 diabetes ate 50 grams (g) of fiber, particularly the soluble kind, they experienced dramatic health improvements, including improved glycemic control. Most Americans eat far less fiber than is recommended. Aim for at least 25 to 35 g a day, Cipullo recommends.

Make room for beans. Beans are packed with a combination of protein, vitamins, and fiber, which makes them an ideal food for a diabetes-friendly diet. “They have just the right type of fiber and complex carbohydrates that are slow to digest and therefore don’t result in a spike in blood glucose levels,” says Cipullo. Black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils are good choices. You can purchase beans dry and soak them overnight or buy canned versions, which can be more convenient. Check that the label says “no added salt” and that the ingredients list shows that there are no added sugars or fats. Before eating, be sure to rinse them first; Stack often soaks her dried beans in low sodium broth for added flavor. Once they’re cooked, she’ll freeze them in half cup portions in freezer bags. “Any time I’m making soup, salad, or stew, I defrost a package of beans and they’re ready to go.”

Be strategic about dairy. Choose high-protein dairy options like 1 percent cow’s milk and low-fat yogurt. “Low-fat dairy options have a small amount of fat to help satiate you and regulate your blood sugar,” says Cipullo. For cheese, which contains vitamins and minerals in addition to protein, Cipullo suggests opting for the full-fat kind but keeping the quantity small. Strongly flavored cheese, such as sharp cheddar, blue cheese, or feta, will allow you to cut down on the amount you use in recipes, which means fewer calories and less saturated fat. Hard cheeses, like Parmesan and Romano, are also good to have on hand because they’re lower in saturated fat and great for flavor, with the added benefit of calcium, says Cipullo.

Use plates and glasses for portion control. If you keep large plates and glasses in your kitchen, consider replacing them with smaller ones. Research by food psychologist Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, New York, shows that by replacing 12-inch plates with 10-inch plates, you might serve yourself 22 percent fewer calories. The same goes for glassware: Tall thin glasses, Dr. Wansink finds, can decrease fluid intake, which makes them perfect for serving up caloric beverages like wine and juice. For water, use short, wide glasses to encourage more drinking.

When serving up meals, use the half plate rule for portion control: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables; a quarter with protein, like fish, poultry, tofu, eggs, or lean meat; and the final quarter with starch like whole grains, beans, or whole wheat pasta. “The key to being able to stick to healthy portions of carbs and protein is to fill up on delicious and interestingly prepared vegetables,” says Stack. “They’re the fillers and what I think of as super foods for people with diabetes.”

Keep healthy foods within reach. Leave a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter, for example, and a pitcher of ice water in the fridge. In a study published in October 2015 in Health, Education & Behavior, researchers from Cornell found that people who left fruit on the counter weighed 13 pounds less on average than those who didn’t. Other good grab-and-go foods to have on hand include nuts like walnuts and pistachios, natural nut butters like peanut and almond, and fresh veggies and berries to enjoy with low-fat yogurt, hummus, and guacamole.

Keep unhealthy foods out of sight. Treat unhealthy foods (cookies, candy, chips, sugar-coated cereals, and soft drinks) like that stack of papers piling up in the corner of your office: out of sight, out of mind. Foods that are nutrient-scarce and calorie-dense only set you up for weight gain. “When these items are stocked in your kitchen, you’ll probably eat them more often,” says Cipullo.

Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com/diabetes/type2/managing/kitchen-tips-and-tricks.aspx

Food Cravings

Brian Wansink, PhD, knows that food fools most of the people, most of the time. Take a study he conducted at a Chicago movie theater. Unsuspecting moviegoers—most full from lunch and expecting a matinee, not a snack—were surprised to receive a free medium or jumbo bucket of popcorn when they arrived for the flick. They munched on the popcorn during the show, but what they didn’t know was that Wansink and his graduate students had filled the buckets with five-day-old popcorn. The stale snack was measured before and after the moviegoers chowed down, and then Wansink got to work.

It turns out that people given the jumbo tubs of popcorn ate 50 percent more than those who received medium containers, even though none of the participants entered the theater hungry and the popcorn was well past its prime. The findings, like everything else Wansink researches in his food lab at Cornell University, help explain something scientists studying the burgeoning obesity epidemic and type 2 diabetes have wondered about for years: Why, in the name of all that is Hostess, do we eat what we eat?

It’s Chemistry, Baby

There’s always a reason for our overeating, and usually it has something to do with our environment, our habits, or food chemistry—the science of creating addictive food that’ll have people coming back for more. Even those without a background in food science can figure out which types of foods people find most appealing. Just look around you. Fried chicken, cheeseburgers, and pizza are all high in fat. Most are high in salt, as are potato chips, bacon, and french fries. Sugar completes the trifecta, and it’s found in everything from the baked goods we so love to our coffee drinks and supposedly healthful breakfast foods. “That’s the trio: fat, salt, and sweet,” says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, a food scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center who studies why people crave the foods they do. “Over 90 percent of the foods that people report craving are high in fat. They could be fat and salt, fat and sweet. They could be high in protein, but fat is right there.”

Consider a Snickers bar: chocolate (fat and sugar) with peanuts (salt), nougat (sugar), and caramel (fat and sugar). The combination of tastes makes it nearly impossible to stop at one bite. “If food tastes really good, it sort of makes us want to eat more,” says Pelchat. “So if we’re eating something high in fat and sugar and salt, that will stimulate, at least for a while, our desire to eat.”

David Kessler, MD, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, explains this idea in his book The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite when he notes his inability to eat just one M&M. The food industry, he says, is all too familiar with the trio of tastes, engineering foods with just the right amount of fat, sugar, and salt to make people chow down, again and again. It’s the idea behind the old Lay’s potato chip slogan “Betcha can’t eat just one” and Pringles chips’ “Once you pop, you can’t stop.”

According to Gail Vance Civille, president of Sensory Spectrum, a company that researches the taste, smell, look, and feel of food and advises companies on what consumers like to eat, the onus isn’t just on the food industry. “It’s more of a collusion between the consumers and the food companies,” she says. That is, manufacturers produce the foods consumers eat (and buy) most often.

Partly to blame is our brain chemistry. “The body responds to [foods high in fat, sugar, and salt] by producing sort of a high, if you will, with the stimulation of portions of the brain,” says Vance Civille. “What happens is the body then continues to seek out that hit and continues to sort of crave the types of foods and food sensory impressions that make you happy.” The scenario is similar to drug addiction, with one major difference: Quitting cold turkey’s not an option. We need to eat to live.

A Force of Habit

Food chemistry goes hand-in-hand with experience. “People crave comfort food in moments of distress,” Vance Civille says. “What causes it is that there was a point in my life where I felt safe and secure with this food around me, and therefore when I have a stressful situation I’m going to crave this food because it makes me feel better.”

This is similar to food habits, which Pelchat says also feed cravings. Eat the same breakfast day after day, and the one day you eat something different, you might crave your regular breakfast. That’s a good thing if you’re eating a healthy meal of oatmeal or a veggie omelet. But if you make a regular habit of having, say, a doughnut with your morning coffee, the routine could be just as much behind your craving as the pastry’s fat, salt, and sugar content.

Taking it a step further, Pelchat says economics may get the whole ball rolling: Foods high in fat, salt, and sugar are typically cheap, which makes people more likely to habitually eat them, which in turn drives cravings.

Blame Your Environment

Eating should be an easy process. The stomach releases a hormone called ghrelin that signals to the brain it’s time to eat. Another hormone, this one called leptin, tells the brain to stop eating when you’re satisfied. Simple, right?

Well, not quite. “As long as you only eat when you’re hungry, you shouldn’t get fat,” says Pelchat. “But the problem is that we eat in response to cues in the environment.” Anyone who has ever scarfed down a big piece of pie after a large meal knows that hunger and fullness aren’t always all that’s involved in eating. Too often, we decide when to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat based on external food cues.

“People make over 250 decisions about food a day. It’s not just whether you have a soup or salad. It’s how much salad, what dressing, a little bit or a lot, whether you’re going to finish your salad or not,” says Wansink, whose book Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think explores how outside factors influence these decisions. “We end up being influenced by the things around us in ways that we’re not aware of. It may be the size of the plate [or] the lighting. It could be what the person’s doing next to us.”

Proximity: Consider Wansink’s movie theater popcorn experiment. Though most participants had just eaten lunch, they ate the popcorn anyway. “When things are in front of us, it matters less how much we like it than what the cue is,” Wansink says. “These cues are hugely powerful. They’re more powerful than the taste of the food and the taste of the popcorn.” That’s why participants kept eating stale popcorn.
We’ll even eat more food when it’s right in front of us than if it’s 3 feet away. (Wansink studied this, too, and found participants ate more candy from a dish on their desks than from a desk just a step away.) Scientists find we’ll eat more candies when they’re unwrapped in a jar—think M&Ms—than wrapped—such as Hershey’s Kisses.

Container Size: At the movie theater, instead of stopping when they were full, most eaters gauged satisfaction based on the size of their popcorn tub. “The size of that bucket has a huge impact on us,” Wansink says. “The size of a bucket or bowl suggests to us what we think the consumption norm is.” It’s why we eat more when served on large dishes than appetizer-sized ones.

A Clean Plate: In another study, Wansink and colleagues rigged a bottomless soup bowl and monitored how much participants ate compared with those who ate out of a normal bowl. Even though they ate 73 percent more than people whose soup bowls didn’t automatically refill, participants who received the bottomless bowl didn’t think they consumed more. That’s because both groups gauged fullness based on an empty bowl—not on how satisfied they were.

Time of Day: Even the clock plays a role in whether or not we eat, especially for those who are overweight or obese. “It’s been known for years that overweight people may be more responsive to these environmental cues for eating than normal-weight people,” says Pelchat. She describes a study in which the eating habits of normal-weight and overweight people were studied as the researchers changed the clock. When overweight people (incorrectly) believed it was close to dinnertime, they ate more than when they thought it was afternoon. The normal-weight people, on the other hand, didn’t change their eating habits based on the time.

Outsmarting Yourself

You can’t just stop eating. But cutting back on those highly palatable—yet really bad-for-you—foods will do your body good. In fact, Pelchat says, taste can change. “If you give up sugar or greatly reduce the amount in your food, after about a month your most preferred level of sweetness will go way down,” she says.

In a study at Monell, researchers put hospital patients on a low-salt diet, with half of the group able to shake salt on their food. The scientists found at the end of the study that those who had gone without added salt tolerated a lower level of sodium in their food than they had at the start. The other group’s taste preference didn’t change.

Getting to the point of literally changing your taste requires persistence. “The cravings are highest in the first week or two, and then they tend to decrease,” says Pelchat. “You just have to stick it out if you’re committed to making that change.”

Of course, you don’t have to completely give up fat, sugar, and salt. In fact, abstaining from such pleasures might even make the process harder because we tend to crave forbidden foods. “You can at least weaken some habits and cravings just by sticking to a new diet,” says Pelchat. Instead of cutting, try replacing. “You can never really get rid of a chocolate craving or a craving for french fries, but if you start eating fruits and vegetables and grilled fish and things like that, you’ll miss [those healthy foods] when they’re not there.”

Dealing with environmental cues is another issue in itself. The solution to what Wansink calls mindless eating—scarfing down food on autopilot—usually isn’t mindful eating, he says. “The solution for most people is to change our environment so that we can mindlessly eat less rather than mindlessly overeat,” he says. That may include using smaller plates, moving the candy jar off your desk, or asking for half your restaurant meal boxed up before it arrives at your table. (For more tips, see “Mindless No More,” right.)

How do we change the role food chemistry and psychology play in what we eat? “That’s a tall order,” says Vance Civille, “but I think it’s a very legitimate way to think about solving some of the issues with [type 2] diabetes. I really think that part of the solution to this is teaching children how to eat and teaching parents how to cook and relish food as . . . something that is part of the culture of our families.”


Source: http://natureworksbest.com/naturopathy-works/food-cravings/

What causes Type 2 Diabetes?

Eating too much and exercising too little can increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that allows glucose (sugar) to leave the bloodstream and enter the cells to be used as fuel.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin, or the cells of the body become resistant to insulin.

Primary Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

It’s not known for certain why some people develop type 2 diabetes and some do not. There are several factors, however, that can increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Being obese or overweight puts you at significant risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Four out of five people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.

“One of the links with obesity is that fat induces a mild, low-grade inflammation throughout the body that contributes to heart disease and diabetes,” says Vivian Fonseca, MD, professor of medicine and pharmacology and chief of endocrinology at Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Excess fat, especially abdominal fat, also changes the way that your body responds to insulin, leading to a condition called insulin resistance. With this condition, your cells cannot use insulin to process blood sugar out of the blood, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

While not everyone with insulin resistance develops diabetes, people with insulin resistance are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Poor Eating Habits

Eating too much of the wrong kinds of foods can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that eating a diet of calorie-dense, refined foods and beverages, such as sodas or fruit juices, and too little raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can significantly increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Too Much TV Time

An analysis of health and nutrition data from a nationally representative sample of adults between the ages of 20 and 54 years of age showed that people who watched television more than two hours a day were more likely than their peers to be obese and to have diabetes.

This is probably due to snacking while watching TV. The study found that the frequent TV watchers consumed, on average, 137 more calories a day than their peers. Conversely, the data indicated that cutting TV time back to less than 10 hours a week and adding a daily 30-minute walk led to 43 percent fewer cases of diabetes in the study group.

Physical Inactivity

Just as body fat interacts with insulin and other hormones to affect diabetes development, so does muscle. Lean muscle mass, which can be increased through exercise and strength training, plays a role in protecting the body against insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

A six-month study of 117 older men and women with abdominal obesity recently demonstrated that a mix of aerobic and resistance training exercises helped to reduce insulin resistance.

Sleep Habits

Sleep disturbances have been shown to affect the body’s balance of insulin and blood sugar by increasing the demand on the pancreas. Over time, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.

An analysis of data from 8,992 adults who participated in the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that over the course of a decade, those who slept fewer than five hours a night or more than nine were at increased risk of type 2 diabetes.


Genes play an important role in determining a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have identified at least 10 genetic variations linked to increased risk for this disease. However, your genes are not your fate; diet and exercise can prevent type 2 diabetes even if you have family members with the condition.

Source: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/diabetes-causes

9 Ways to Avoid Diabetes Complications

Keeping your diabetes under control will help you prevent heart, nerve, and foot problems. Here’s what you can do right now.

Lose extra weight. Moving toward a healthy weight helps control blood sugars. Your doctor, a dietitian, and a fitness trainer can get you started on a plan that will work for you.

Check your blood sugar level at least twice a day. Is it in the range advised by your doctor? Also, write it down so you can track your progress and note how food and activity affect your levels.

Get A1c blood tests to find out your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months. Most people with type 2 diabetes should aim for an A1c of 7% or lower. Ask your doctor how often you need to get an A1c test.

Track your carbohydrates. Know how many carbs you’re eating and how often you have them. Managing your carbs can help keep your blood sugar under control. Choose high-fiber carbs, such as green vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains.

Control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Diabetes makes heart disease more likely, so keep a close eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol. Talk with your doctor about keeping your cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure in check. Take medications as prescribed.

Keep moving. Regular exercise can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also cuts stress and helps control blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Get at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise 5 days a week. Try walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, swimming, tennis, or a stationary bike. Start out more slowly if you aren’t active now. You can break up the 30 minutes — say, by taking a 10-minute walk after every meal. Include strength training and stretching on some days, too.

Catch some ZZZs. When you’re sleep-deprived, you tend to eat more, and you can put on weight, which leads to health problems. People with diabetes who get enough sleep often have healthier eating habits and improved blood sugar levels.

Manage stress. Stress and diabetes don’t mix. Excess stress can elevate blood sugar levels. But you can find relief by sitting quietly for 15 minutes, meditating, or practicing yoga.

See your doctor. Get a complete checkup at least once a year, though you may talk to your doctor more often. At your annual physical, make sure you get a dilated eye exam, blood pressure check, foot exam, and screenings for other complications such as kidney damage, nerve damage, and heart disease.


Source: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/type-2-diabetes-may-protect-against-als/