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Fad Diet and Diabetes

Sugar(ARA) - According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 90 percent of all people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes are overweight. Studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by keeping weight in control and by increasing physical activity. Losing weight can lower the risks for developing serious diabetes-related complications, including heart and blood vessel disease and can help to reduce blood sugar levels.

There are countless weight loss options advertised every day in broadcast and print news outlets. And the wave of fad diets has garnered as many fans as critics. But while they may be effective for some, are they healthy for patients with diabetes? Patty Latham, M.S., R.D., a registered dietician at Roche Diagnostics, takes a look at some traditional diets as well as new options:

* Low Carbohydrate Diets - Because diabetes is a disorder where the body cannot properly metabolize sugars, controlling carbohydrate consumption can help patients with diabetes lower their blood sugar levels.

However, Latham stresses that it's misleading to target all types of carbohydrates.

Many healthy carbohydrate rich foods contain fiber, which is an important in the diet. Whole grain foods as well as fresh fruits and vegetables contribute many essential vitamins and minerals for the body as well as fiber. It may be more important to look at the type of carbohydrate one is eliminating as opposed to the fiber rich carbohydrates.

* Low Fat Diets

Overall, lowering fat consumption can decrease your risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, and blood pressure. This is best done by eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean meats or protein foods. However, research shows that 85 percent of the U.S. population consumes reduced-fat foods that are higher in carbohydrates.

For example, a fat-free cookie is higher in sugar because the additional sugar replaces the fat that was removed. Lowering fat intake by replacing them with carbohydrates, especially from highly processed foods, can lead to serious health complications. You may lose weight on this diet initially, but excessive consumption of carbohydrates -- more than 50 percent of your daily food intake -- can result in a rapid release of blood glucose. The body responds by secreting insulin from the pancreas so it can send glucose into the cells, where it's burned for energy. Bottom line: reduce fat intake, but don't substitute them for high-carbohydrate products.

* Low Calorie Diets

A recent study shows that people who followed a restricted calorie, "high-nutrition" diet, had lower levels of fasting insulin, fasting glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol than those who followed a regular diet. Latham notes, "People in this study followed a very balanced diet -- they not only cut down on calories, but also on excess fats and sugar. This is a good diet for a patient with diabetes looking to lose weight and manage their condition."

Generally, Latham advises that patients with diabetes follow the advice of their physician or a diabetes educator. "A sound diet is one that is reasonable for you to maintain and sustain. Although fad diets are great in triggering motivation in people, the downside is that they're fads -- not many people actually stay on these meal plans. The best bet is to create a diet plan with a medical professional, because they can help you keep your overall health goals -- as well as weight goals-- in mind."

For more information on healthy eating, please visit

Courtesy of ARA Content



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Last Modified: 11/28/11.