Perhaps the food factor that diabetics really need to restrict is fat. When fat enters the bloodstream after a fatty meal, it interferes with insulin's action, preventing it from lowering blood sugar. So blood sugar begins to rise - and then the trouble starts. On the other hand carbohydrates, especially complex ones, help insulin function normally.
J. Shirley Sweeney demonstrated this back in 1927. Dr Sweeney gave healthy volunteers a high-fat diet for two days, then tested their blood-sugar response. In all cases, blood-sugar levels were significantly elevated. When Dr Sweeney put these same volunteers on a high-carbohydrate diet, their blood-sugar levels decreased (Archives of Internal Medicine). Since then other studies have confirmed the same beneficial effects with high-complexcarbohydrate, low-fat nutrition for both the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
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Other researchers have found that some diabetic patients - even Type 1 diabetics, can drastically reduce their need for insulin when they eat a diet mainly comprising raw food. The diabetics (who consumed from 50 to 80 per cent of their food raw) ate such foods as vegetables, seeds, nuts, berries melons and other fruit, honey, oil and goat's milk. The researchers theorized that the diet works because of the 'non-inactivated enzymes that are present in raw items' or because of 'the fast transit that is inherent in a raw diet' (Annals of Internal Medicine).
'Transit time' is the time it takes food to pass through the digestive tract. A diet of mostly raw foods - which is rich in fibre - passes through in 18 to 24 hours; a diet of mostly cooked food that is not particularly high in fibre takes 80 to 100 hours.
One Indonesian doctor gets, right down to specifics when he 'prescribes' food for diabetics: eating large amounts of green beans and raw onions may help lower your blood-sugar, says Dr Askandar Tjokroprawiro. In separate studies 20 diabetic outpatients ate the equivalent of 11/2 Ib of green beans daily for a week, while another 20 ate the equivalent of 21/2 oz of raw, chopped onions for the same length of time. At the end of seven days, the subjects' blood-sugar levels were compared with what they were prior to the diet, and the doctor found a 'statistically significant' reduction. Eating those vegetables may have therapeutic value for victims of diabetes mellitus (the medical name for the condition), Dr Tjokroprawiro concluded in a presentation to the 15th International Congress of Internal Medicine.
If your mother told you to eat slowly and chew every bite, she may have known what she was talking about. In a study of 22 patients with a mild form of Type 2 diabetes, scientists rated each patient as to how quickly he or she ate a meal: less than 6 minutes was considered hasty; 6.1 minutes to 9 minutes was medium; and 9.1 minutes or more was slow.
The results showed that the blood-sugar levels of the hasty eaters fluctuated more widely than those of the medium and slow: eaters. Furthermore, the hasty eaters had wider swings in their body weight during treatment. Said the scientists: 'An adequate instruction on eating behavior should be included in the management of the diabetic patient'
Subodh Jain is a freelance writer with more than 25 years experience as a health care professional. He is a contributing editor to Natural remedies, a site dedicated to the home remedies for common ailments.
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