Understanding the basics of nutrition is a complicated business. Unfortunately this has been made a whole lot harder by the promotion health food fads. These promotional practices have prejudiced patients by their exaggerated and influential PR machinery coupled to elemental misunderstandings of the science of nutrition.
The nutrition world is now fighting back. Carefully designed studies show beneficial effects of certain dietary patterns for patients with diabetes. Our aim is long-term health and in particular to cut the burden of heart disease. The focus of the latest research has been to concentrate on studying food groups within particular dietary or cultural societies and examining what might be best for people with diabetes. In this regard, dietary patterns found in Vegetarian and Mediterranean diets have been found to positively influence heart disease risk and this is why two of our sections below are dedicated to these diets.
You may not be a vegetarian or live in the Mediterranean but the nutritional principals showing such positive results will apply to you and help you manage diabetes.
Instead of the focus being on one particular nutrient the more recent dietary analyses have looked at ‘food’ in a broader sense. This is in contrast to the diet fad scene where specific nutrients are either banned or promoted. With the latter there seems to be no good long-term benefit. Thus, the newer approaches have reviewed diets with emphasis food groups contained within them. For example the health benefits of plant verses animal fats, whole grain verses refined flour and diets high in fruit, vegetables and nuts have been explored. We are now becoming much more confidence that our dietary advice for people with diabetes at last has some sound scientific basis.
One of the main objectives in diabetes management is to reduce erratic fluctuations in blood glucose in the short-term. We also want to significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease and stroke in the long-term. Thus, complex carbohydrates including whole grains, fruit and vegetables are more ideal for managing diabetes than refined sugars. Diets containing the unsaturated oils of nuts, olives and seeds are better at lowering cholesterol levels than high quantities of animal fats. Food naturally low in salt will aid blood pressure control much better than preserved tinned or bottled foods with their relatively high salt content. Not only will you find all these dietary principals within the Mediterranean diet but you will find also that the results of the PREDIMED trial shows specific benefit for people with diabetes.
It only means that there should be a stimulus now to explore the value of food and the proven research links demonstrating how certain types of food groups help in the maintenance of good health.
In conclusion, a combination of many different elements with complex carbohydrates, plant based fats rather than animal fat and with low salt foods forms a dietary pattern has been demonstrated to be a particularly healthy one. It is associated with a significantly reduced incidence of heart disease and stroke. This is exactly what you are looking for if you have diabetes.
Having diabetes does not mean giving up sweets or stopping to eat in restaurants. It does not mean either that everyone with diabetes should eat all the same type of foods. In terms of nutrition, a diagnosis of diabetes can be translated to be the stimulus to explore what is good healthy food and what food has poor health outcomes.