As featured in Canadian Living
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in our society.
According to Dr. Michael Lyon, author of How to Prevent and Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine, our diet has an enormous influence on preventing and treating this disease.
"Essentially what we are entering is an era where nutrition is no longer just part of prevention but it's now a part of active treatment," Lyon says. "We can see conditions like diabetes literally reversed, where people can turn a corner and have a completely different outcome."
Assessing the quality of the carbs you eat
Lyon says that most people are becoming aware that carbohydrates have an adverse affect on health. He says what people need to learn is that the quality of carbohydrates is what's important. Products made with white flour, food such as white rice, and high glycemic-index foods should be avoided. Stick to high-fibre foods and those made with whole grains.
"Even diabetics seem to think starch is okay when in actual fact white flour products are absorbed within the first few centimetres of the intestine. It's like giving yourself an injection of sugar," Lyon says."
Not all fiber is equal in health benefits
Even more important than the fibre is the kind of fibre you eat, Lyon says. Wheat bran and brown rice are water insoluble fibres, but things such as legumes and oat bran have even better properties.
Besides blood sugar control, antioxidants are extremely important, he says. Colourful fruits have bioflavonoids and lots of plant-based phytochemicals have important roles to play in protecting your organs against the damage that can occur from diabetes.
When it comes to fats, it's about eating the right type. Lyon says that diabetics can lower the risk of complications by having a small portion of nuts every day. Nuts are good sources of monounsaturated fats, omega 9 fats and omega 3 fatty acids, he says.
Lyon also recommends:
- Green tea, which has a wealth of benefits and should be incorporated into the diet. Also, coffee has been shown to be protective against diabetes.
- Ginseng, Lyon explains, is one of the hottest topics in diabetes reseach right now. There's a lot of products on the market to be weary of, but methods of standardization are in the works so people will soon be able to access highly-standardized extracts from both American and Korean ginseng, each of which are important in the fight against diabetes.
- PGX fibre is based around konjac glucomannan, a root from Asia that combined with different fibres at different ratios, makes a very viscous water-soluble fibre. Lyon says that some research showed that by drinking it, it lowered blood sugar by 20 per cent in a diabetic, lowered insulin levels by 50 per cent and it dramatically increased insulin sensitivity.
For more about diabetes and natural medicine, visit Dr. Michael Lyon's website at www.naturalfactors.com.