Part V – Four Keys to a Protective Diet

1. Substitute Whole Grains for Refined

There exists convincing evidence that diets rich in whole, unprocessed foods are protective against the development of type 2 diabetes.  Grains like whole wheat and brown rice, as well as whole baked potatoes, contain quantities of fiber which slow the absorption and metabolism of carbohydrates which leads to low, gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin. The fiber also provides a rich source of vitamins, minerals and other protective nutrients.

When the bran is removed from grains and the skins from potatoes, the majority of nutrients are lost as the foods are reduced to simple starches. We later find them in the grocery aisles made into things like white bread and pasta, white rice, boxed and frozen potato products, crackers and cookies. Simple carbohydrates tend to create rapid and sustained spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Researchers estimate that just switching out white rice and white flour in favor of whole wheat and brown rice could potentially lower diabetes risk by 36 percent.

2. Water as Beverage of Choice

Many studies show a strong correlation between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit drinks with the development of type 2 diabetes. Besides the rapid blood sugar and insulin spikes these beverages cause, they are well known for facilitating weight gain. Empty calories taken in through beverages like sodas and sweet tea do not affect appetite. A similar amount of calories from food causes a reduction in hunger corresponding to the number of calories consumed.

Artificially sweetened beverages are not the answer because they are linked to promotion of weight gain. This correlation has long been observed and recent research reveals that these increasingly popular sweeteners actually cause disruptions in the appetite control center of the brain, resulting in increased food intake overall.

3. Healthy Fats

Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease and stroke by accelerating the development of clogged and hardened arteries, which is why heart-healthy eating is so important. Nutrient-rich oils such as extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, and healthy fat from nuts, seeds and avocados are all valuable for reducing the risk for diabetes and most other forms of chronic disease. Refined soy oil, ubiquitous in processed foods, promotes the inflammatory response that drives virtually all forms of degenerative disease.

Eat very little saturated fat (primarily found in meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods) and avoid trans fat entirely. This food-science failure is found in stick margarines, fried foods and packaged baked goods. The words, “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the ingredient list indicates the presence of these artificially produced fats which strongly promote both heart disease and diabetes.

4. Lean Proteins

A steadily increasing body of evidence indicates that limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat is important for reducing risk for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. The culprits are the high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol as well as, in the case of processed meat, high levels of sodium and nitrites.

Multiple studies show that just one daily three-ounce serving of red meat (the size of a deck of cards) increases risk for type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. Consuming even smaller amounts of processed red meat on a daily basis, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, increases the risk by over 50 percent.

When eating poultry, it’s recommended that you remove the skin where the majority of fat lies. Additionally, low-fat dairy products are healthier choices than full fat.

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