Is Rice Good For Diabetics?

Some rice grainsRice has received some negative publicity lately regarding its effects on the development of diabetes. A large study, published this March in the British Medical Journal, found that regular eaters of white rice were significanty more likely to develop type-2 diabetes than people who rarely consume the food. The study found that the risk of developing diabetes was 55% higher for Asian populations and 12% higher for western populations in those who consume 3 to 4 servings of white rice a day compared to those who rarely consumed white rice.

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Reducing Post Meal Glucose Levels With Complementary Foods

One of the most important aspects of managing diabetes is preventing postprandial hyperglycemia, which is an exaggerated blood sugar response following a meal. In general, the glycemic load (GL) gives a good idea of the glucose response that will occur after eating a given amount of a particular food. The GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by the amount of carbohydrate. So for example eating two large grapefruit (GI of 25 and 50g of carbs) would effect blood sugar levels in a similar way to eating one banana (GI of 50 and 25g of carbs).

The idea of complementary foods is a relatively new concept in diabetes management and it refers to certain foods, that when consumed in conjunction with a traditionally high GL meal, help reduce the exaggerated glucose response that would normally occur. Some of these complementary foods are discussed in detail below.

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Treating Diabetes With Guar Gum

Guar gum is a water soluble fibre that is produced from the endosperm of Guar beans. It is available from speciality health and baking stores, primarily for use as a thickening agent. It is a relatively cheap item to buy with food grade guar gum costing around $3 per pound. Guar gum has some interesting properties that may be beneficial to diabetics including the ability to lower both glucose and cholesterol levels. These properties are discussed in more detail below.

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Is It Safe For Diabetics To Eat Potatoes?

A jar of potatoesDespite being the most popular vegetable in the United States, potatoes have fallen out of favour somewhat with nutritionists over the last few decades due to a relatively low nutrient density and high levels of quickly absorbed carbohydrates. Many diabetics avoid potatoes altogether for fear of exacerbating their condition. Fortunately the news is not all bad when it comes to diabetes and potatoes and most diabetics can include a modest level of potatoes in their diet.

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Vegetarians Are Less Likely To Develop Diabetes

Evidence from several large studies suggests that vegetarians may be more than 50% less likely to develop type-2 diabetes compared to those who consume meat on a regular basis.

One of the largest studies on the link between a vegetarian diet and diabetes came from a study of 25,698 seventh day adventists in 1960 over a 21 year study period. The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health in 1985.

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Low GI Diets And Diabetes Risk

The Glycemic Index (GI) measures the impact a particular food has on an individuals blood glucose levels. GI is defined as the area under the two-hour blood glucose response curve after consuming a fixed portion of a particular food. A high GI value indicates that consumption of a particular food increases blood glucose levels both faster and to a higher peak than a low GI food.

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What Fruits Can A Diabetic Eat?

Assorted citrus fruitDiabetics often ask whether it is safe for them to eat large quantities of fruit. Many diabetic patients avoid eating fruit because they are worried that the high sugar content found in most fruits will worsen their condition. Fortunately, there are many fruits a diabetic can enjoy which do not significantly affect blood glucose levels, in fact certain fruits may actually improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity over time.

Good Fruits For Diabetics

Fiber rich foods are generally safe for diabetics to eat because they tend to have a lower glycemic index (GI) and therefore do not spike blood sugar levels to the same extent as high GI foods. This is because fiber delays the emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine which slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. Fiber rich fruits tend to be fruits with edible skins and seeds as it is these parts of the fruit that are highest in fiber.

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Whole Grain Breakfast Cereals Reduce Diabetes Risk

Those who eat breakfast cereal each day are far less likely to develop type-2 diabetes than those who do not according to a recent study published in the journal Obesity in December, 2007.

Researchers at the Harvard medical school in Boston, using data from over 20,000 individuals from the Physicians’ Health Study, found a correlation between breakfast cereal consumption and a reduction in the risk of type-2 diabetes. The relationship was stronger amongst those eating whole-grain cereals rather than processed cereal products.

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