Type 2 Diabetes is a disease or condition that affects millions of people around the world.
Once the effects or symptoms of Type 2 diabetes take place it can be hard to reverse or cure, and while there are a number of risk factors associated which may be out of our control such as genetics, other risk factors are completely within our control, the primary ones being lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking and drinking, and exercise.
Of the many lifestyle factors that can be a precursor to the onset of type 2 diabetes, diet is the one we interact most on a daily basis (perhaps with the exception of chronic smokers or drinkers), and is certainly the most shared risk factor among all of us.
However, while all of us certainly eat many people are not aware of what kind of dietary choices increase our risk for type 2 diabetes.
This is unfortunate as diet and weight loss or maintenance may be our greatest opportunity to combat type 2 diabetes.
In fact a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that “In conclusion, our findings suggest that the majority of cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by weight loss, regular exercise, modification of diet, abstinence from smoking, and the consumption of limited amounts of alcohol. Weight control would appear to offer the greatest benefit.”
What kind of diets or dietary factors may increase your risk for type 2 diabetes?
There are a variety of risk factors associated, one of which is excess body fat.
In fact, that same article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which conducted a 16 year study of women and the risk factors that contributed to cases of type 2 diabetes, found that “Excess body fat is the single most important determinant of type 2 diabetes.” As such they recommended “eating a diet high in cereal fiber and polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated and trans fats and glycemic load”.
One of the common patterns as mentioned in the previous study controlling the glycemic load or index in our daily diet. In concordance with that same study, similar research from the American Diabetes Association found that “Reducing dietary GI while maintaining a high carbohydrate intake may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. One way to achieve this would be to substitute white bread with low-GI breads.”
Prevailing wisdom agrees and it appears that limiting intake of high glycemic-index foods is a strong correlation to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. This includes foods such as white bread, white flour, potatoes and more. According to a study in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, they recommended “replacing products made with white flour and potatoes with whole-grain, minimally refined cereal products”.
Of course, these are not the only risk factors though they certainly are prevalent. One piece of research from the Annals of Internal Medicine surmised simply that “a western dietary pattern is associated with a substantially increased risk for type 2 diabetes in men.” In the study, they characterized a “western dietary pattern” as “higher consumption of red meat, processed meat, french fries, high-fat dairy products, refined grains, and sweets and desserts.”
Making only a few small changes can make a world of difference.
First, assess your current diet and look for risk factors like high amounts of saturated fats, sugars, and carbohydrates high on the glycemic index like potatoes and white bread. If possible, remove these items and replace with options such as minimally processed cereals and vegetables.
The risks associated with the onset of type 2 diabetes can be serious and certainly impact our quality of life. If you assess your diet and find it is high in risk factors, make a change today for a better tomorrow!