Diabetes Risk: Fruits vs. Veggies

Dr. Fuhrman emailed me this the other day. It shows the differences between fruits and vegetables when it comes to diabetes-prevention. From NutraIngredients-USA:
A higher intake of vegetables, rich sources of fibre, antioxidants, and magnesium, may reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes by almost 30 per cent, suggests a new study.


On the flip side of the coin, however, an increased consumption of fruit was not associated with any benefits, according to the study with 64,191 middle-aged Chinese women published in the new issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

"Our study adds to the limited and conflicting data of the associations between fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of type-2 diabetes," wrote lead author Raquel Villegas from Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center.

"A higher intake of vegetables, rich in fibre, antioxidants, and magnesium and with a low glycemic index, was associated with a decreased risk of type-2 diabetes."

The authors, including researchers from the Shanghai Cancer Institute and the Diabetes Research and Training Center in Nashville, recruited the women (aged between 40 and 70) and, using a food-frequency questionnaire, report they had average fruit and vegetable intakes of 239.4 and 236.0 grams per day, respectively.
I know from talking with Dr. Fuhrman. That he advises diabetics to eat more veggies than fruit, but, he does encourage blueberries—lots of blueberries!

Poverty's Diet Strain

Poverty is more than a fiscal problem. It can also affect health. Canadian researchers have determined that poor households end up eating nutritionally risky diets. Alan Mozes HealthDay News reports:
The new study is the first to show that food insecurity directly translates into poor nutrition. It also suggests that in such homes, adults and teens, rather than very young children, are the most likely to be subsisting on diets low in vitamins, minerals, fruits, vegetables, grains and meat.


"Over the long term, [food insecurity] could be expected to precipitate and complicate diet-related chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease," cautioned study co-author, Sharon Kirkpatrick, a doctoral candidate in the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto…

…The study highlights similar estimates for 2006, suggesting that 12.6 million U.S. households experience food insecurity, while 4.6 million have one or more family members going without food. Recent Canadian research indicates that just over 9 percent of households are food-insecure.

Against such numbers, Kirkpatrick and Tarasuk set out to analyze eating habits, detailed in interviews conducted by Statistics Canada between 2004 and 2005. The survey included 35,000 Canadians between the ages of 1 and 70 drawn from all socioeconomic groups.
The poor—I hate using that term—do take quite the health hit. It comes up in the news all the time. Let’s look at some previous reports. First, from the Associated Press, Why are U.S. Kids Obese. Here’s a bit:
"The environment that they live in matters," said Lisa Powell of the University of Illinois at Chicago, who studied restaurant and food store options in the neighborhoods and food-related television advertising aimed at teens.


She said when people cannot get to supermarkets but instead must rely on the convenience stores that proliferate in many poor neighborhoods, families end up eating less healthy food.
Next up, Paige Parker of The Oregonian tells us why poor kids are at a high-risk of packing on extra summer vacation pounds. Take a look:
A new study highlighted the summer weight-gain phenomenon among young children. Researchers in the Midwest looked at the body mass index, which relates height to weight, of 5,380 students. They followed them for two years, from kindergarten through first grade, and found the average index grew more than twice as quickly over the summer than during the school year.


Children of the working poor may be especially at risk because they are left indoors while their parents are at jobs. While at home, kids eat and drink what they want, says Dr. Jennifer Bass, a pediatrician who chairs a national pediatricians special-interest group on obesity. Bass estimates as many as 30 percent of her patients are overweight.
Now Randy Dotinga of HealthDay News explains that low-income children face a heighten chance of being obese, even before they are out of diapers. Check it out:
"The message is that we're seeing overweight and obesity at younger ages than we thought possible," said study author Rachel Tolbert Kimbro, a health and society scholar at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "It's a particular problem in lower-income communities, and it's something we need to keep an eye on and prevent as much as possible."


According to Kimbro, there's been little research into weight problems among very young children. But, studies have shown high rates of obesity among older children and teenagers.

In the new study, the researchers examined surveys of parents who had children from 1998 to 2000 in 20 large U.S. cities. The parents lived in urban areas and were poor.
Finally, this report looks out way the poor and immigrants living in New York City are waist-deep in the diabetes epidemic. More from N.R. Kleinfield of The New York Times:
New York, perhaps more than any other big city, harbors all the ingredients for a continued epidemic. It has large numbers of the poor and obese, who are at higher risk. It has a growing population of Latinos, who get the disease in disproportionate numbers, and of Asians, who can develop it at much lower weights than people of other races.


It is a city of immigrants, where newcomers eating American diets for the first time are especially vulnerable. It is also yielding to the same forces that have driven diabetes nationally: an aging population, a food supply spiked with sugars and fats, and a culture that promotes overeating and discourages exercise.
Frightening news, no doubt it compounds when you consider that most low-income families either have limited or no insurance. Makes you wonder how much better the state of American healthcare would be if everyone starting eating a nutrient-dense diet!

Diabetic Confusion: Low-Carb Unhealthy, Veggies Healthy

And that’s the truth! If you’re looking to get healthy, lose weight, and prevent and reverse disease, DON’T even consider “low-carb” or high-protein diets. Here’s why in a nutshell. Dr. Fuhrman explains:

Americans already eat approximately 40 percent of their calories from animal products; we have seen a tragic skyrocketing in cancer and heart-disease rates in the past fifty years as a result of such nutritional extravagance.1 You can lose some weight on the low-carb diet, but you run the risk of losing your health at the same time.

Now, most health experts agree—even Dr. Fuhrman—that eating a lot of carbs is a bad idea, but Dr. Fuhrman’s criticisms focus on the refined and process carbohydrates. Here’s why he thinks this stuff is bad news:

Diets containing refined grains and refined sweets are consistently linked to stomach and colon cancer, and at least twelve breast cancer studies connect low-fiber diets with increased risks.2 Eating a diet that contains a significant quantity of sugar and refined flour does not just cause weight gain, it also leads to an earlier death.

Once you kick the refined junk to the curb, you’re left with the good stuff—the healthy carbs! In fact, these carbohydrates are important brain and muscle fuel. Let’s check back with Dr. Fuhrman:

Our bodies need carbohydrates more than any other substance. Our muscle cells and brains are designed to run on carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-rich foods, when consumed in their natural state, are low in calories and high in fiber compared with fatty foods, processed foods, or animal products.

You can find these healthy carbs in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and, as Dr. Fuhrman points out. Plant foods likes these are the benchmark of healthy living. Here Dr. Fuhrman talks about the power of plants:

Increasing your consumption of high-nutrient fruits and vegetables is the key to disease resistance, disease reversal, and a long, healthy life. The potential reduction in disease rates shows no threshold effect in the scientific studies. That means that as high-nutrient vegetables and high-nutrient fruits increase as a major portion of caloric intake, disease rates fall in a dose-dependent manner—the more the diet is comprised of these foods, the better your health will be.3

So, what’s wrong with “low-carb” diets—A LOT—Atkins-like diets dupe people into believing that increased consumption of animal products and decreased consumption of plant foods is healthy—WRONG! Dr. Fuhrman elaborates:

It is an interesting phenomenon to me low-carb dieters search to find small pearls of dissent in the scientific literature to support their views as they ignore thousands of well-performed studies, I wonder why they are so attached to their diets or views that they can’t accept the preponderance of evidence and modify their stance.

And when you exam the facts, you’ll quickly realize the profound link between eating too much animal products and saturated fat and diseases; like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Again, Dr. Fuhrman explains:

Today, the average American consumes 100-120 grams of protein per day, mostly in the form of animal products. This high level of animal product consumption has been linked to not just heart disease and strokes, but to higher rates of cancer, as well4…


…High-protein, carbohydrate-restricted diets also are heart unfriendly. One comprehensive study on the Atkins’ approach showed that after one year on the diet, blood flow to the heart diminished by an average of 40 percent and inflammatory markers that predict heart attacks increased.5 The low levels of plant fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidant nutrients on these unbalanced, low produce diets expose the diabetic patient to additional risks.

Okay, by now we’ve worked up a good information-base—low-carb bad, veggies good—so let’s check out this study appearing in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It suggest that low-carb is better than low-fat for preventing diabetes. Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News is on it:

"One study is never enough to change a recommendation, but this study is interesting in that it shows that a low-fat diet is no better than a low-carbohydrate diet in preventing type 2 diabetes," said Thomas Halton, lead author of a study in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "The one diet that did seem to show a protective effect was a vegetable-based, low-carb diet which consisted of higher amounts of vegetable fat and vegetable protein, and lower amounts of carbohydrate."


The findings, Halton added, were a bit surprising in that most doctors and nutritionists recommend a low-fat diet to prevent type 2 diabetes. "This study showed that a low-fat diet didn't really prevent type 2 diabetes in our cohort when compared to a low-carb diet. I was also surprised that total carbohydrate consumption was associated with type 2 diabetes, and that the relative risk for the glycemic load was so high."

Now, despite the dirty term “low-carb” the study is looking surprisingly good, but just to be safe, let’s look at the actual study, pay very close attention to the conclusion. From The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:

Background: Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets remain popular; however, the long-term effects of these diets are not known.


Objective: The objective was to examine the association between low-carbohydrate-diet score and risk of type 2 diabetes

Design: We prospectively examined the association between low-carbohydrate-diet score (based on percentage of energy as carbohydrate, fat, and protein) and risk of diabetes among 85 059 women in the Nurses' Health Study.

Conclusion: These data suggest that diets lower in carbohydrate and higher in fat and protein do not increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. In fact, diets rich in vegetable sources of fat and protein may modestly reduce the risk of diabetes.

Vegetable fat and vegetable protein—not the high animal fat fallacy perpetuated by Atkins and his ilk. In fact, when you strictly limit all the meat, dairy, and oil in the typical Atkins menu and upgrade the fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, you’re left with a diet naturally free of refined carbohydrates and packed with nature’s best foods! One more quote from Dr. Fuhrman:

Knowing that the right micronutrients in the right proportions are easily available to us in whole, natural foods is wonderful. But we no longer get our foods in natural form from the wild. Most of the food we eat is concocted in factories. These processed foods do not contain the level and diversity of the vitamins and minerals we get in natural foods. For example, the fruits and vegetables that primates eat in the wild are loaded with micronutrients, giving these primates a diet far richer in many essential vitamins and minerals than the diets consumed by any humans in the modern world.

Clearly these primates are eating the right kind of low-fat diet and NOT monkeying with dangerous high-protein diets. For more on this topic, be sure to check out Standard American Low-Fat—JUNK—Diet.

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Diabetes Study Derailed Due to Deaths

Dr. Fuhrman’s got a question for you, “How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies?” Oh, that’s simple you—wait, lets explore this—what about gastric surgery? It was recently reported to be a good idea. From The New York Times:
Weight-loss surgery works much better than standard medical therapy as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes in obese people, the first study to compare the two approaches has found.


The study, of 60 patients, showed that 73 percent of those who had surgery had complete remissions of diabetes, meaning all signs of the disease went away. By contrast, the remission rate was only 13 percent in those given conventional treatment, which included intensive counseling on diet and exercise for weight loss, and, when needed, diabetes medicines like insulin, metformin and other drugs.


In the study, the surgery worked better because patients who had it lost much more weight than the medically treated group did — 20.7 percent versus 1.7 percent of their body weight, on average. Type 2 diabetes is usually brought on by obesity, and patients can often lessen the severity of the disease, or even get rid of it entirely, by losing about 10 percent of their body weight. Though many people can lose that much weight, few can keep it off without surgery.
Yeah, I don’t know about this. I mean, maybe it’s a good idea, if you consider serious complications a key component of success. Hopefully this chart will help you think twice before you run out and get your tummy sliced open. Take a look:


Okay, in our age of modern medicine, drugs, drugs, and more drugs must be the answer! Yeah, if you don’t mind THE DYING! Recently, a diabetes study had to be halted because aggressively driving blood sugar levels towards normal was found to increase the risk of death in some diabetics. The Washington Post reports:
The startling discovery, announced yesterday, prompted federal health officials to immediately halt one part of the large trial so thousands of the Type 2 diabetes patients in the study could switch to less-intensive treatment.


"As always, our primary concern is to protect the safety of our study volunteers," said Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which is sponsoring the study.

Although the reason for the increased risk remains a mystery, Nabel and other experts stressed that the benefits of blood sugar control have been well established for diabetics and said patients should not make any changes in their care without consulting their doctors.

But the findings cast doubt on a major hope about diabetes treatment -- that pushing levels below current targets would be beneficial -- and would force experts to rethink how to treat one of the nation's leading health problems.

"It's profoundly disappointing," said Richard Kahn, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association. "This presents a real dilemma to patients and their physicians. How intensive should treatment be? We just don't know."

The findings are the second major blow to widespread assumptions about how to protect against heart disease -- the nation's leading killer. Another recent major study found that driving blood cholesterol levels as low as possible did not necessarily slow the progression of heart disease.
As you can imagine, Dr. Fuhrman was less than surprised by these results. Here’s what he had to say about it. Have a look:
It basically illustrates that giving diabetics more medication to better control their glucose numbers leads to more heart attacks; more medicine equals more heart attacks. Diabetes is a disease arising out of nutritional ignorance, obesity and lack of exercise and activity. The prescription must be nutritional excellence for an excellent outcome. Most diabetics who follow a nutrient-dense vegetable-based diet not only reduce their medication use, but they actually get rid of their diabetes and become non-diabetic.
So, back to Dr. Fuhrman’s original question, “How can diabetics safely lower the high glucose levels that are slowly destroying their bodies?” Well—as we just found out—nutritional excellence is a huge part of it. More form Dr. Fuhrman:
I have achieved marked success with diabetic patients and the success at becoming "non diabetic" or almost "non-diabetic" regularly occurs on the nutritarian program whether the patient follows a strict vegan diet or not. I describe the diet-style as a "vegetable-based" diet because the base of the pyramid is vegetables, not grains. Even though most animal products are excluded, it is not necessary to adopt a completely vegan diet to achieve the goals.


I offer patients the choice of adding two servings a week of low-fat fish, such as tilapia, flounder, sole, and scrod, as well as an egg-white omelet, once or twice each week. A few servings of very low-saturated-fat animal products each week can be interspersed with the vegan meals without diminishing the results achievable from the vegetable-based diet.
And lets not forget an obvious—but often overlooked—component of preventing and fighting diabetes is exercise. Let’s check back in with Dr. Fuhrman:
The most effective prescription for diabetes is exercise. An essential component of my prescription for diabetes is daily exercise; it is more important than daily medication. Two hundred calories a day of formal exercise on an incline treadmill and an elliptical machine are a great goal to shoot for. It is not an official recommendation of anyone except me.
Seriously, it’s a win-win situation for diabetics. You get to eat delicious food, stay active, lose weight, feel good, and, kick your diabetes in the butt. Can’t get much better than that!
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Expensively Sick

Julie’s Health Club relays a list of America’s top ten medical costs. Scary stuff, my wallet hurts just looking at it. Check it out:
  1. Heart conditions ($76 billion)
  2. Trauma disorders ($72 billion)
  3. Cancer ($70 billion)
  4. Mental disorders, including depression ($56.0 billion)
  5. Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ($54 billion)
  6. High blood pressure ($42 billion)
  7. Type 2 diabetes ($34 billion)
  8. Osteoarthritis and other joint diseases ($34 billion)
  9. Back problems ($32 billion)
  10. Normal childbirth* ($32 billion)
*Normal childbirth means without medical complications or surgical procedures. C-sections are not included in the normal childbirth category.
This list gets even more frightening when you consider the over-arching cost of obesity. Dr. Fuhrman offers up some facts and figures:
The number one health problem in the United States is obesity, and if the current trend continues, by the year 2230 all adults in the United States will be obese. The National Institutes of Health estimate that obesity is associated with a twofold increase in mortality, costing society more than $100 billion per year.1
Wows, it certainly pays to be healthy.
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