Reversing Diabetes | Carbs That Are Good For You
Do you have type 2 diabetes? Have you been told you have to give up juicy watermelon or sweet grapes? What if we told you those foods really aren’t taboo? Learn how participants at the Pritikin Longevity Center have success with their blood sugars… even while enjoying fruit! For people who need to watch their blood sugar, a high-carbohydrate diet is actually good for you. What’s critical is the type of carbohydrate. Certainly, if you’re eating refined carbs like white bread and sugary desserts, blood sugar levels can shoot up. But if the bulk of your diet is fiber-rich, unprocessed carbohydrates like vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains, and beans, you may be able to normalize blood sugar levels and even reverse the diagnosis of pre-diabetes and diabetes, scientists are now discovering. An investigation conducted by UCLA researchers followed diabetic men at the Pritikin Longevity Center for three weeks. It reported that the Pritikin Eating Plan, high in whole, fiber-filled carbohydrates, plus daily exercise, not only helped the men lose weight and improve cholesterol levels, it also decreased blood sugar levels by 20% and insulin levels by 30%.1 Reversing Diabetes What’s more, by the end of their three-week program, the majority of the men had controlled their fasting blood glucose, or blood sugar, so well that “they were no longer classified as diabetic,” wrote lead investigators Drs. James Barnard and Christian Roberts of UCLA. Some of the men left Pritikin completely free of their diabetic medications, and others had their medication dosages reduced. In addition to normalizing blood sugar and reducing classic heart disease risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure, the Pritikin Program of diet and exercise also substantially improved r Continue reading >>
No Starches, No Sugars — Then What?
People around the world are eating low-carbohydrate diets to treat their diabetes. But all plant foods, other than seeds, are carbs. So what can you eat? Is it all animal products, or are there other options? We know the arguments against eating carbs. Other than fiber, carbs are either sugars or starches that break down into sugars. Since people with diabetes have little to no effective insulin, which is necessary for handling sugars (glucose), they probably shouldn’t eat them. But is this argument totally true? Perhaps not. Vegans and vegetarians tend to eat a lot of carbs, and many of them seem to do quite well with diabetes. Many people in poor countries who cannot afford meat also have relatively low rates of diabetes. So what’s their secret? What are they eating? It seems clear that the successful ones eat very low amounts of refined sugars and simple starches. They may have small amounts of truly whole grains (not stuff that is marketed as “whole grain” but is actually highly processed). They eat small amounts of fruits and starchy vegetables. (Diabetic low-carb guru Dr. Richard Bernstein says he hasn’t eaten a piece of fruit in decades.) What’s left? Well, from a carb standpoint, you can eat as much animal food, like meat and eggs, as you want. They don’t have any carbs (although dairy products do). You can vary that with sea animals — they don’t contain carbs either. There are probably a few health risks from eating so much meat. Your toxic load will be higher, unless you consistently eat organic free-range meat and wild-caught, small fish. You might get too much fat if you overdo it, but advocates like Bernstein have found no problems for themselves or their patients. However, from the standpoint of your wallet, the animals, and the planet, e Continue reading >>
How Many Carbs Should A Diabetic Eat?
Figuring out how many carbs to eat when you have diabetes can seem confusing. Meal plans created by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) provide about 45% of calories from carbs. This includes 45–60 grams per meal and 10–25 grams per snack, totaling about 135–230 grams of carbs per day. However, a growing number of experts believe people with diabetes should be eating far fewer carbs than this. In fact, many recommend fewer carbs per day than what the ADA allows per meal. This article takes a look at the research supporting low-carb diets for diabetics and provides guidance for determining optimal carb intake. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of fuel for your body's cells. In people with diabetes, the body's ability to process and use blood sugar is impaired. Although there are several types of diabetes, the two most common forms are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that allows sugar from the bloodstream to enter the body's cells. Instead, insulin must be injected to ensure that sugar enters cells. Type 1 diabetes develops because of an autoimmune process in which the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells, which are called beta cells. This disease is usually diagnosed in children, but it can start at any age, even in late adulthood (1). Type 2 Diabetes Type 2 diabetes is more common, accounting for about 90% of people with diabetes. Like type 1 diabetes, it can develop in both adults and children. However, it isn't as common in children and typically occurs in people who are overweight or obese. In this form of the disease, either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body's cells are resistant to insulin's effects. Therefore, too much sugar stays Continue reading >>
Low Carb Vs. High Carb - My Surprising 24-day Diabetes Diet Battle
Twitter summary: What I learned from doubling my carb intake: the same average blood sugar, but four times as much hypoglycemia, more work, stress, & danger. As a teenager, I ate a high carb diet that included lots of Goldfish crackers, white sandwich bread, pasta, and white potatoes. It was tasty, but it put my blood sugars on a wild roller coaster every single day. Things turned around in college when I learned about nutrition, got on CGM, and spent time with health conscious friends. I soon realized that eating less than 30 grams of carbs at one time was a complete gamechanger. I’ve stuck with that approach ever since. But is this lower carb method actually better for my blood sugars, or have I just been fooling myself? To find out, I took on a somewhat terrifying self-tracking experiment: 12 days of my usual, lower-carb diet, which averaged 146 grams of carbs per day (21% of daily calories). My carbs were primarily from nuts, seeds, vegetables, and a bit of fruit. 12 days of a higher-carb, high whole-grain diet, which averaged 313 grams of carbs per day (43% of my daily calories). My sources of carbs were NOT junk food: plain oatmeal, whole wheat bread, quinoa, wild rice, and fruit. Neither of these was unrealistic. My lower-carb diet was nowhere near Atkins level (20 grams per day), and the higher-carb diet was consistent with the “average” 45% carb diet in people with diabetes (according to ADA). Even though this was a one-person (n=1) experiment, I wanted to be as scientific and fair as possible: eating whole, unprocessed foods in both periods; counting and tracking every single gram of carbohydrate (LoseIt! app); wearing CGM 24/7 and downloading the glucose data to document what happened (Dexcom G5 and Clarity); taking insulin before meals (5-15 minutes pr Continue reading >>
A Guide To Healthy Low-carb Eating With Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions. It currently affects over 400 million people worldwide (1). Although diabetes is a complicated disease, maintaining good blood sugar control can greatly reduce the risk of complications (2, 3). One of the ways to achieve better blood sugar levels is to follow a low-carb diet. This article provides a detailed overview of low-carb diets for managing diabetes. If you have diabetes, your body cannot process carbohydrates effectively. Normally, when you eat carbs, they are broken down into small units of glucose, which end up as blood sugar. When blood sugar levels go up, the pancreas responds by producing the hormone insulin. This hormone allows the blood sugar to enter cells. In healthy people, blood sugar levels remain within a narrow range throughout the day. In diabetes, however, this system doesn't work the way it is supposed to. This is a big problem, because having both too high and too low blood sugar levels can cause severe harm. There are several types of diabetes, but the two most common ones are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both of these conditions can be diagnosed at any age. In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune process destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Diabetics must inject insulin several times a day to ensure that glucose gets into the cells and stays at a healthy level in the bloodstream (4). In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells at first produce enough insulin, but the body's cells are resistant to its action, so blood sugar remains high. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin, attempting to bring blood sugar down. Over time, the beta cells lose their ability to produce enough insulin (5). Of the three nutrients -- protein, carbs and fat -- carbs have the grea Continue reading >>
Why Carbohydrates Are So Important In Diabetes
Carbohydrates are sugar-based molecules found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. The make up about 45% to 65% of calories in a healthy diet (the exact percentage is hotly debated); the rest come from fat and protein. You'll find carbohydrates in the healthiest foods you eat, and in the least healthy. Check the food label to find out exactly how much is in your favorite foods. How you eat can affect blood sugar Choosing the right kind of carbohydrates and spacing them out evenly throughout the day can keep blood sugar from rising too high, too fast (90% of the carbohydrate calories you digest end up as glucose, so they have a much bigger impact on blood sugar than fat or protein). "The goal ... is to take in enough carbohydrates to nourish ourselves, but never so much that it causes high blood sugars," says Linda Sartor, a diabetes nutrition specialist at the Penn Rodebaugh Diabetes Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Up until about the mid-1990s experts believed that people with diabetes should never eat foods that contain so-called "simple" sugarsthose found in cakes and candyand instead eat "complex" carbohydrates, or those with longer chains of sugar molecules such as potatoes, fruit, vegetables, and grains. We now know that all carbohydrates can cause a rise in blood sugar. Pasta and potatoes, for example, may cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, as can pastries (although other beneficial ingredients in food, such as fiber, cause blood sugar to rise more slowly). Some carbs are better than others The goal is now to maximize intake of the good stuffvitamins, minerals, and fiberand minimize carbohydrates that boost blood sugar too much, offer few nutritional benefits, or are packed with fat and calories. A dieti Continue reading >>
10 Diabetes Diet Myths
Have you heard that eating too much sugar causes diabetes? Or maybe someone told you that you have to give up all your favorite foods when you’re on a diabetes diet? Well, those things aren’t true. In fact, there are plenty of myths about dieting and food. Use this guide to separate fact from fiction. MYTH. The truth is that diabetes begins when something disrupts your body's ability to turn the food you eat into energy. MYTH. If you have diabetes, you need to plan your meals, but the general idea is simple. You’ll want to keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. Choose foods that work along with your activities and any medications you take. Will you need to make adjustments to what you eat? Probably. But your new way of eating may not require as many changes as you think. MYTH. Carbs are the foundation of a healthy diet whether you have diabetes or not. They do affect your blood sugar levels, which is why you’ll need to keep up with how many you eat each day. Some carbs have vitamins, minerals, and fiber. So choose those ones, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Starchy, sugary carbs are not a great choice because they have less to offer. They’re more like a flash in the pan than fuel your body can rely on. MYTH. Because carbs affect blood sugar levels so quickly, you may be tempted to eat less of them and substitute more protein. But take care to choose your protein carefully. If it comes with too much saturated fat, that’s risky for your heart’s health. Keep an eye on your portion size too. Talk to your dietitian or doctor about how much protein is right for you. MYTH. If you use insulin for your diabetes, you may learn how to adjust the amount and type you take to match the amount of food you eat. But this doesn't mean you Continue reading >>
Carbohydrate Counting & Diabetes
What is carbohydrate counting? Carbohydrate counting, also called carb counting, is a meal planning tool for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Carbohydrate counting involves keeping track of the amount of carbohydrate in the foods you eat each day. Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients found in food and drinks. Protein and fat are the other main nutrients. Carbohydrates include sugars, starches, and fiber. Carbohydrate counting can help you control your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, levels because carbohydrates affect your blood glucose more than other nutrients. Healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, are an important part of a healthy eating plan because they can provide both energy and nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, and fiber. Fiber can help you prevent constipation, lower your cholesterol levels, and control your weight. Unhealthy carbohydrates are often food and drinks with added sugars. Although unhealthy carbohydrates can also provide energy, they have little to no nutrients. More information about which carbohydrates provide nutrients for good health and which carbohydrates do not is provided in the NIDDK health topic, Diabetes Diet and Eating. The amount of carbohydrate in foods is measured in grams. To count grams of carbohydrate in foods you eat, you’ll need to know which foods contain carbohydrates learn to estimate the number of grams of carbohydrate in the foods you eat add up the number of grams of carbohydrate from each food you eat to get your total for the day Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian or diabetes educator who can help you develop a healthy eating plan based on carbohydrate counting. Which foods contain carbohydrates? Foods that contain carbohydrates include grains, such as b Continue reading >>
Healthy Carbs For Diabetes
1 / 9 Making the Best Carb Choices for Diabetes "When you say 'carbohydrate,' most people think of sugar," says Meredith Nguyen, RD, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Methodist Charlton Medical Center Diabetes Self-Management Program in Dallas. But that's only half the story. Carbohydrates are also starches and valuable fiber, which are found in many nutrient-rich foods that should be part of a diabetes diet. Sugar is the basic building block that, depending on how it's organized, creates either starches or fiber. You need about 135 grams of carbohydrates every day, spread fairly evenly throughout your meals. Instead of trying to avoid carbs completely, practice planning your diabetes diet with everything in moderation. "There's nothing you can't have," Nguyen says. "The catch is that you might not like the portion size or frequency." Use this list of healthy carbohydrates to help you stay balanced. Continue reading >>
How Low Is Low Carb?
Many agree: People with diabetes should eat a low-carb diet. Last week we looked at what “carbs” are. But what is meant by “low?” How much carbohydrate should you eat? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, (PDF) recommend that healthy people get 50–65% of their calories from carbohydrates. A study posted on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Web site agrees. For a woman eating a below-average 2,000 calories a day, 50–65% would be 250–325 grams of carb a day. The Dietary Guidelines call for “a balanced diet that includes six one-ounce (28.3 g) servings of grain foods each day.” This would mean 170 grams of carbohydrate from grains alone each day. And the average American diet includes many other carb sources. Most men eat closer to 3,000 calories a day, so their numbers would be higher. Sixty percent of 3,000 would be 1,800 calories, equivalent to 450 grams of carbohydrate each day. Anything less than the recommended range is sometimes considered “low-carb.” Most popular low-carb diets, like Atkins, South Beach, Zone, and Protein Power, are much lower, from 45% of calories down to 5%. Many diabetes experts recommend somewhat lower carb intakes than ADA does. On our site, dietitian Jacquie Craig wrote, “Most people need between 30–75 grams of carbohydrate per meal and 15–30 grams for snacks.” So that sounds like between 120 and 300 grams a day. Dr. Richard Bernstein, an MD with Type 1 diabetes and a long-time advocate of the low-carb approach to diabetes, suggests much lower intakes. He says eat 6 grams of carbs at breakfast, and snacks, 12 grams each at lunch and dinner. So that would be about 40 grams of carbs per day. If 12 grams per meal sounds like a small amount, it is. It’s about the amount in an average slice of bread. An Continue reading >>
Are There Any Good Carbs?
Refined carbs, bad; whole carbs, good. Diabetes educators and nutritionists have repeated that saying for years. Low-carb advocates say they’re wrong, that almost all carbohydrates are bad. Who’s right? Are whole carbohydrates really good for us, and how whole do they have to be? To answer this, we have to know more about carbohydrates and more about diabetes. In particular, we have to learn about insulin signaling. As we know, people with diabetes have trouble dealing with sugars and foods that break down into sugar. Some people can’t produce enough insulin, as in Type 1, LADA, often called Type 1.5, and MODY. For others, their insulin signaling systems are not working, which is usually called Type 2. This could mean that the beta cells are not receiving signals to produce insulin, or that the muscle cells and liver are not getting signals to cooperate with the insulin. This failure of muscle and liver cells to cooperate is called insulin resistance (IR). We used to think that the beta cells wore themselves out trying to overcome IR. Then they would fall behind, start to die, or fail to produce, and you would be left with Type 2 diabetes. But now it appears that beta cells are not “wearing out.” They are either being damaged, or they are not receiving the signals they need to grow and to start producing insulin. Like all other cells in our body, beta cells only know what to do because chemical messengers, produced by other cells, tell them. There are thousands of these messengers, and many are still undiscovered. One key messenger is GLP-1 or glucagon-like peptide-1. As I explained last month — please reread that blog entry if you’ve forgotten — GLP-1 is produced by glands at the far end of the small intestine, in the distal ileum. These glands produce Continue reading >>
Fruit: Good Or Bad For People With Diabetes?
How many times have you read recently that you should eat more fruits and vegetables? It’s today’s fad mantra. Want to lose weight? Eat more fruits and vegetables. Feeling sad? Eat more fruits and vegetables. Credit card maxed out? Eat more fruits and vegetables. Sometimes I think we should just make it one word: fruitsandvegetables. When I read one article that claimed that people in previous centuries ate lots of fruitsandvegetables my tolerance limit was reached. That’s idiotic! Sure, there wasn’t as much junk food in past centuries. But then, as now, poor people couldn’t afford expensive fruits, or even vegetables unless they grew their own. Oranges were considered a rare luxury. Then, as now, poor people had to eat a lot of starches like bread and potatoes to get sufficient calories. View an English translation of Queen Victoria’s 80th birthday menu. Even rich people didn’t feast on lots of fruitsandvegetables. Here’s a menu (English translation) from Queen Victoria’s household on her 80th birthday. I don’t see a lot of fruits there. A few vegetables, but mostly meat and fish and eggs. Here’s an article describing what people ate in Boston restaurants in the 19th century. Like Queen Victoria’s household menu, the restaurants seemed heavy on lots of meat courses, thick sauces, and pastry. Certainly not what today’s nutritionists would recommend. Not a lot of emphasis on salads. Fruit was offered at the end, but only after a pastry course. Here’s another 19th century menu so heavy on meats that it makes me slightly nauseous to read it . . . and I’m on a low-carb diet! They do offer some fruit at the end, but by that time you’d probably be so stuffed with meat, game birds, lobster, and fish that you wouldn’t have much room to stuff yo Continue reading >>
Carbohydrates & Blood Sugar Control For People With Diabetes
Contrary to popular thinking, people with diabetes can enjoy moderate amounts of carbohydrates in their diets. The emphasis is on carbohydrate control NOT carbohydrate avoidance. Actually, carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source, and roughly half of your daily calorie intake should come from carbohydrate foods. Carbohydrates are the starches and sugars in food. They are found in grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, milk, and sweets. What is carbohydrate counting? Carbohydrate counting is a meal planning approach that evenly distributes your carbohydrate calories throughout your day by counting out the right amount of carbohydrate foods for each meal and snack. The emphasis with carbohydrate counting is on how much carbohydrate you eat at any one time, NOT on which type of carbohydrate you choose. Stay away from fad diets that restrict the amount of carbohydrates you can eat. What about sugar? Research has shown that sugar does not raise blood sugar levels any more than starches do. This means you can eat sugary foods (cookies, cakes, pies, and candy) as long as you count them as part of your total carbohydrate intake. Keep in mind that foods high in sugar are often high in fat and calories, and if eaten in excess might elevate sugar and triglyceride levels, and can lead to weight gain. A sugar substitute is a sweetener that is used in place of sugar. The sugar substitutes approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame. All can be safely consumed in moderation. Sugar substitutes do not need to be counted in your meal plan. If they are used as a sweetener in food that contains few calories and no other carbohydrate (such as sugar-free soft drinks or sugar-free gelatin), that food is cons Continue reading >>
Can I Eat Rice If I Have Diabetes?
Diet plays an important role in staying healthy, especially for people with diabetes. Many people wonder whether high-carbohydrate foods such as rice are healthy to eat. This article will explain how to count carbohydrates, how to incorporate rice into the diet, and what the healthy alternatives to rice are. Diabetes basics Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases where the body does not adequately produce insulin, use insulin properly, or both. Insulin plays a crucial role in allowing blood sugar to enter the cells and be used for energy. There are two main types: type 1 and type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes have abnormally high levels of blood sugar. This can damage many organs in the body if left untreated. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommend the following steps to manage diabetes: making healthy choices in eating engaging in regular physical activity or exercise taking medications, if required A nutritious diet is important in keeping blood sugar levels at a healthy level. The healthy range is 80 to 130 milligrams per deciliter mg/dL before meals or below 180 mg/dL after meals, according to the American Diabetes Association. People with type 1 diabetes require insulin. Various insulin delivery systems and protocols are used to manage blood sugar levels both between and at meal times. People with type 2 diabetes often manage their condition with diet and exercise, and with medications as needed to keep their blood sugar levels within the target range. These medications vary in how they work. People with diabetes will have different treatment plans, and they will respond to food, exercise, and medication differently. It is important that people consult with a doctor to get personalized recommendations on target blood suga Continue reading >>
Why Diabetics Also Need Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates seem to have a bad reputation, especially among insulin-dependent diabetics. As soon as we are diagnosed, we learn that carbohydrates are the key (or the downfall) to good glycemic control. We count them, we doseour insulin for them, and if we get it wrong, we struggle with high or low blood sugars for hours. Many of us also experience weight gain when we start using insulin, so its natural to feel that just eliminating all carbohydrates, and not having to use so much insulin, is the best solution to weight management. In general, I think low carbohydrate diets have their place and time, but I want to make the case that carbohydrates, at the right time and quantity, can actually be beneficial and help you reach your goals, especially if you live an active fitness lifestyle with diabetes. Why are some carbohydrates better than others? If you eat large amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates, your blood sugars will quickly go through the roof (diabetic or not) and your body will need large amounts of insulin to get your blood sugars down to a healthy range. Thats the perfect formula for instant fat storage (for more information about low and high glycemic carbohydrates, read this post ). If you eat moderate amounts of low glycemic carbohydrates instead, you wont see that blood sugar spike. Youll still need insulin of course, but rather than promoting instant fat storage, the insulin will help convert the carbohydrates into the energy your body needs in order to maintain your brain activity, fuel your muscles, and keep your metabolism running. If you are a fitness nut like me, carbohydrates are a valuable tool that shouldnt just be cut out of your diet completely. However, the amount and type of carbohydrates you consume should match what your fitness goals a Continue reading >>
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