Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (TIIDM) is one of the leading causes of death in Americans, and it is also a preventable chronic disease ..key word: preventable, meaning our risk is in our own personal hands. Sadly, according to the CDC Diabetes fact sheet, Type II Diabetes accounts for 95% of all diabetes cases
Diabetes is a chronic disease where the body is unable to either produce enough insulin, or it is unable to effectively use the present insulin. As a result, glucose builds in our bloodstream, and if insulin does not clear enough out of the bloodstream, then we risk going into hyperglycemic shock – which can essentially kill us.
Over the past few decades, the rates for TIIDM have increased rapidly:
Additionally, there are an abundance of medications that can be prescribed to help gain control of TIIDM – WebMD offers a long list of popular prescriptions.
But why are we spending hundreds of dollars on medication, when this is a preventable, and essentially reversible disease?! How about we look at one of the most important modifying factor, one that may have contributed the most to this disease: Diet & Nutrition.
There are several things we can add and subtract from our diet to allow us to gain control of our blood sugar, and be free of diabetes.
Cinnamon – Now if you have been following me for a while now, then you ought to know that I freaken LOVE cinnamon! This is a delicious flavor enhancer with so many health benefits. For one, it helps to increase insulin sensitivity, which means that insulin will be released into the blood stream with less glucose present. Over time and an increase in constant glucose levels, the insulin becomes resistant and tolerant of the current amount…meaning it will take more glucose present in the bloodstream to trigger the release of insulin to clear out the glucose.
Garlic – I swear garlic is like a cure-all food item, it has SO many natural health benefits! In the case of controlling our blood sugar. It contains an amino acid scientifically referred to as “S-allyl cysteine sulphoxide” which has been known to have a hypoglaecemic effect on an individual’s blood sugar. One fairly recent study observed the effect of garlic in diabetic rabbits, and found that there was a significant effect in lowering blood glucose levels.
Whole Grains (i.e. rolled oats, barley, quinoa, etc.) – While these are high in carbohydrates (which elevates our glucose levels), they are complex carbohydrates. What does this mean? Well, it takes our body longer to break down complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, so glucose is released at a slow rate into the bloodstream. This allows our levels to remain at a healthy and steady level. Not to mention, they also allow us to feel fuller for a longer period of time (win, win!)
Non-starchy Vegetables – These are very low in carbohydrates, and low on the glycemic index, so they are very blood sugar friendly. Non-starchy vegetables include spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, celery, bell peppers, and green beans. Try to keep starchy vegetables such as corn to a minimum in order to maintain blood sugar levels, allowing for a more consistent insulin sensitivity.
Apple Cider Vinegar – I love to use this stuff when I slow-cook my chicken and turkey (I promise, it’s so good!!). Like garlic, apple cider vinegar has many health benefits, but in folklore medicine, it has had the reputation to have a blood sugar lowering effect. In a study conducted in 2007, individuals who ingested 2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar at night experienced, on average, a 5% decrease in their glucose levels the next morning!
Coffee – There are three compound in coffee that have been shown to have a hypoglycemic effect. These include: caffeine, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.A recent article explains a current study showing that consuming 3-4 cups of java a day can reduce an individual’s risk of developing diabetes by 25%!! Caffeine sensitive? That’s okay, there are still compounds within decaffeinated coffee that provide the hypoglycemic effect. The article continued to explain: “key mechanistic theories that underlie the possible relationship between coffee consumption and the reduced risk of diabetes. These included the ‘Energy Expenditure Hypothesis’, which suggests that the caffeine in coffee stimulates metabolism and increases energy expenditure and the ‘Carbohydrate Metabolic Hypothesis’, whereby it is thought that coffee components play a key role by influencing the glucose balance within the body. There is also a subset of theories that suggest coffee contains components that may improve insulin sensitivity though mechanisms such as modulating inflammatory pathways, mediating the oxidative stress of cells, hormonal effects or by reducing iron stores.” That is basically scientific language explaining how coffee can increase the breakdown of carbohydrates, and increase insulin sensitivity. Drink up that morning java!
AVOID: Anything listed as high on the glycemic index, any kind of simple carbohydrate ((think white bread, potatoes, white pasta, candy, dried fruit pretzels rice cakes–yes the all favored “diet food” this one is a big no no!)), and foods low in fiber (fiber allows to increase the time of digestion, and decreases the release of glucose into the blood)
And now for a little humor…