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Should Diabetes Alert Day be Prediabetes Alert Day?

26 Mar

Should Diabetes Alert Day be Prediabetes Alert Day?

Today is Diabetes Alert Day, the American Diabetes Association’s way of telling you to “WAKE UP!” if you are at risk for diabetes.

But would a better wakeup call instead be Prediabetes Alert Day? While full blown diabetes is nothing to scoff at, prediabetes is a mega-problem in and of itself.

Prediabetes is your yellow-light flashing, caution flags waving, sirens blaring heads-up that you’re certainly moving in the direction of full blown diabetes.

As is the case with type 2 diabetes, the majority of people with prediabetes are overweight or obese. Not surprisingly, people with prediabetes are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes (which accounts for 90-95% of all cases of diabetes).

But what may surprise you is that prediabetes is reversible. And it’s reversible without pills, without surgery, and without insulin.

The keys to reversing prediabetes are totally low-tech: eat right and exercise to lose 5-10% of your body weight. For a 200-pound person, that equates to 10-20 pounds of weight loss.

While losing weight is certainly easier said than done, does weight loss actually work to prevent diabetes in people with prediabetes? Absolutely.

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a large study of people at high risk for diabetes, demonstrated that lifestyle intervention to lose weight and increase physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58% during a 3-year period. The reduction was even greater (71%) among people aged 60 years or older.

The bottom line? The best prescription for prediabetes is exercise and weight loss.

To find out if you are at risk for prediabetes or diabetes, take this Diabetes Risk Test. And if you find you are at risk – do something about it this Diabetes Alert Day!

For more information on lowering diabetes risk, visit the American Diabetes Association’s risk reduction page. For individualized help and to find a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) in your area, click here.

Pear Shape Isn’t Ship Shape

21 Feb

Pear Shape Isn’t Ship Shape

It used to be, when given the option, you would probably choose being pear-shaped over being apple-shaped.

It was pretty much accepted that the type of fat that apple-shaped people held – usually around the abdominal or central areas – was more metabolically active, and also more harmful to blood lipid levels, than the fat found in pear-shaped people. Pear-shaped people hold their fat in their buttocks and thighs region.

Apple-shaped people are thought to be at higher risk for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors (including high waist circumference) that increases risk for other chronic diseases.

But now, a new study from UC Davis to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicates that pear-shaped people who hold fat in their buttocks area, also called gluteal fat, secrete abnormal levels of proteinaceoius biomarkers that increase risk for inflammation and metabolic syndrome.

The CDC estimates that 35% of adults over age 20 have metabolic syndrome. And those with metabolic syndrome double their risk of heart disease and quintuple risk for diabetes development.

So what’s the bottom line?

Pear-shaped people with fat in their butt and thighs may not be protected against metabolic syndrome. Losing excess weight and getting blood sugar, lipids, and blood pressure in check is a better approach for preventing metabolic syndrome.


This Month: Focus on Fiber

2 Jan

This Month: Focus on Fiber

Looking for a New Year’s resolution you can stick with as much as it sticks with you?

Well luck for you – January is National Fiber Focus Month.

Why all the fuss about fiber? On top of its heart health, blood sugar and cancer fighting benefits – fiber helps you stay full, or satiated. Full people are less hungry – and less hunger means you’ll eat less unnecessary calories that lead to or sustain unwanted weight gain.

The best ways to bulk up with fiber? Stay away from fake fiber foods – those traditionally low-fiber foods that have had plant fibers (isolated fibers) added into them (think high fiber ice cream bars and yogurt).

Instead, look for naturally occurring types of fiber – also called intact fiber,  that you can find in:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes like lentils and dried peas and beans

If you’re not sure how much fiber you need each day, check out this Fiber Calculator from the National Fiber Council – and get your year started off on a satiated foot!

Fiber Tracking Made Fun

14 Dec

Fiber Tracking Made Fun

Despite its grainy past, folks are finally embracing fiber. This magical component of the diet has documented health benefits for the prevention and treatment of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, weight management and others.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that men age 50 or younger eat 38 grams per day, and those age 51 or older consume 30 grams. For females, the recommendation is 25 grams per day for those 50 or younger, and 21 grams for 51 or older.

In short: a good rule of thumb is that we all should aim to eat around 30 grams of fiber per day. In comparison, the average American consumes just 15 grams a day.

So, how do you know how much fiber you’re eating? Well, you could painstakingly write down every food and drink you come into contact with and look it up…or, you could use an electronic resource to help you track your fiber.

The Fiber-o-Meter by WebMD is – as far as I can tell – the only free tracking tool dedicated entirely to fiber. It is arranged nicely by food category, provides an easily searchable drop down list based on food type, and clearly displays the Nutrition Facts panel for the selected food. A fiber meter scale at the bottom of the tool helps tick off your gender-specific grams to goal.

Now, of course, if you use any other nutrition or diet electronic tracking tool or app, fiber is always listed as one of the trackable dietary components. But, it is nice to see a user-friendly – and free – tool dedicated solely to the fascinating functions of dietary fiber!

To learn more, visit WebMD’s Fiber-o-Meter by clicking here.

A Twisted Take on Nopales

17 Sep

A Twisted Take on Nopales

Nopal is a vegetable made from the pad of the prickly pear cactus that is indigenous to Mexico. The texture of cooked nopales is reminiscent to green beans, and they are used extensively throughout Mexican cuisine.

Nopales have been used in Mexican and Central American cultures to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Although there are no large scale studies indicating that nopales do demonstrate consistent blood glucose lowering effects, the high pectin and fiber content of nopales are thought to play a role in decreasing carbohydrate absorption.

Because of their high water content – almost 94% – nopales are very low in calories. A one-cup serving has 14 calories and 2 grams of dietary fiber.

To prepare nopales, the younger plants are selected, de-thorned and then cleaned and boiled, broiled or sauteed. When seasoned properly, the end product is usually tasty, but the preparation is nothing short of a pain.

Enter Tortillas de Maize con Nopal – nopales in a tortilla. I found these spectacular low-calorie tortillas at Northgate Market in San Ysidro, CA. They look, taste and cook up like regular corn tortillas – with about half the calories per tortilla of a regular corn tortillas.

One Tortilla con Nopal contains:

  • 25 calories
  • 0 g fat
  • 6 g carbohydrate
  • 1 g fiber
  • 1 g protein
  • 10 mg sodium

The only discernible difference between this and a regular corn tortilla was a slightly longer cooking time required to crisp the tortilla – and of course, the garish green color.

If you want the calorie-controlled high fiber benefits of nopal in the convenience of a tortilla, I highly suggest you check out the bright green tortilla, the one con nopales.