Sunday, March 05, 2006

Conquering Diabetes with Diet

Conquering Diabetes with Diet by Dr. Tara Barker ND

Finding the right nutritional approach when living with diabetes can be incredibly challenging, especially with the largely unhelpful diets that abound which claim to help but in reality do not.

For the uninitiated, when someone is diabetic they are unable to produce or correctly use insulin, which is the hormone that is responsible for getting sugar (glucose) into cells for use as energy. The sugar, unable to enter hungry cells, stays in the bloodstream building up to dangerous levels. Meanwhile, the person feels hungry and craves sweets.

This is why it is literally a matter of life and death that a proper diet is strictly followed. Blood sugar levels not controlled or the condition allowed to progress leads to feeling unhealthy, fatigue, ulcers, blood vessel destruction, eye problems, blindness, heart disease, loss of fingers, toes, or limbs, and life on medications, just to name a few complications.

One of the main goals for a diabetic diet is to lower your weight and maintain it. This alone helps insulin to better do its job. In addition, a proper diet is designed to help your body to heal and better maintain regular glucose levels in your body naturally. The proper diet supplies you with quality vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants fresh from healing food that your body cannot get on a devitalized, convenience, over-cooked, over-processed, fast food, and junky diet. The goal is to get out of the way and give your body what it needs to heal and live normally instead of abnormally. The goal is to get as healthy as you can and get off or at least really reduce the medications you are on.

Diabetes is a disease of lifestyle.

Since diabetes prevents your body from processing glucose the way it should, you will probably need to continue any current diabetes medications while following your diet until blood tests show your body needs less and less of the drug. The goal is that a proper diet and lifestyle will help you to keep your glucose normalized, blood pressure under control, weight becoming normal, and keep you moving in a direction of optimal health.

Overall, there is no official diabetic diet to follow and it really depends on the individual diabetic. Some people are more sensitive to foods and others need daily exercise more strictly. However, there is a fairly well defined lifestyle that will guide you on the path.

Foods to include in your diet are all fresh fruits and vegetables. Greens are by far the best and most healing foods for diabetes. Romaine, kale, chard, baby mixed greens, watercress, spinach etc. are all excellent choices. Sprouts of all kinds, celery, avocado, tomato, cucumber, zucchini, squash, green beans, peas, radishes, red peppers, etc, are all great choices for vegetables. All fruits are beneficial as well, as long as an eye is kept on their effects to your blood sugar. All foods should be consumed in as fresh a state as possible. Raw is best and steamed lightly is a good second place. Your focus should be eating as much fresh, raw, fruits and vegetables and keep a wide variety.

Foods to eliminate completely are: all fried foods, any and all food with sugar or sweeteners added (even concentrated fruit juice, slpenda, cane crystals, etc., and even in small amounts; no sugar), barbecued meat, preserved meat (slim jims, hot dogs, bacon, ham, etc.) and grains (this includes all wheat products, pasta, bread, cereals, oatmeal, couscous, rice, etc.). You should definitely eliminate all hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats, additives, preservatives, and food dyes. Avoid all convenience foods, as these are not made to be healthy at all and you will find one if not all of the ingredients to be avoided in them.

The true convenience food for you is a piece of fruit or vegetables and a handful of non-roasted nuts. No trash, no waste, and it waits until you are ready! Fabulous combos are apples and brazil nuts, cashews and pears, pecans and mango, and sunflower seeds with fresh figs.

Occasional use of brown rice in small quantities, occasional use of milk, cheese, butter, eggs, and occasional use of a freshly cooked meat is acceptable as long as you are honest with yourself about your blood sugar values and your definition of occasional is not exaggerated. For health purposes, each of the above foods should only be eaten once a week if they do not negatively affect your blood glucose or blood pressure.

You should experiment with foods such as raw cheeses and milk, raw honey, stevia, unsweetened cocoa, dates, and freshly made (not pasteurized or heated) juices. Juices in particular are very healing and chock full of vitamins and minerals, but check how they affect you. Juices with carrot, beet, celery, kale, parsley, apple, ginger, lemon, and others are all very healing. Some of the choices used raw (such as dairy) may be more beneficial to you and allow you to eat them more often.

Some general guidelines on how a diabetic can stay healthy for many years to come:

10-30% of your daily calories on a diabetic diet should come from fats in foods, such as avocado, nuts, coconut, olives and olive oil, occasional raw cheese, occasional eggs, and meat. The rest of a diabetic diet should consist of simple and complex carbohydrates (sugars) coming fresh vegetables, greens and fruit. Emphasize the greens.

Exercise daily and do activities that you enjoy. Walking is one of the best. If you like, try all sorts of different activities and keep yourself moving, active, and enjoying life. You may like yoga, pilates, hiking, biking, gardening, running, swimming, any ball game, lifting weights, and even playing with your kids or dog. It is important for a diabetic to get regular daily exercise and for the session to last at least 45 minutes. Studies have suggested that anything shorter than this does not have the best impact possible on blood sugar regulation.

About the Author
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