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Diabetes Revisited - Part 2.

Byline: Mariam Alireza

LAST week, I promised to write about ways to control blood sugar levels and improve insulin responses in diabetes type-2 in order to reduce medication and improve fitness. The principal culprit in triggering diabetes type-2 is insulin resistance. The condition mainly affects overweight and obese individuals with fat concentration around the waist as well as those who are genetically predisposed, middle-aged, hypertensive hypertensive /hy·per·ten·sive/ (-ten´siv)
1. characterized by increased tension or pressure.

2. an agent that causes hypertension.

3. a person with hypertension.
, and with high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. One of these factors or all combined contributes to diabetes. The condition is characterized by high blood insulin due to fat engorged en·gorge  
v. en·gorged, en·gorg·ing, en·gorg·es
1. To devour greedily.

2. To gorge; glut.

3. To fill to excess, as with blood or other fluid.

 cells denying insulin reception. Lingering insulin disrupts the sugar regulating mechanism, giving way to the onset of diabetes type-2. To reverse the condition, healthy lifestyles of balanced nutrition, regular exercise, stress reduction, and weight control should be embraced. How is this done?

Regular blood works should be performed to check blood sugar and insulin rushes. The following steps sound easy if it were not for temptation and inactivity. Unfortunately, modern diets of junk and harmful foods and sugar-laden drinks make good health an illusion. Let us see what a healthy food regimen is.

To start with, your diet should address your blood sugar count. You are encouraged to eat good amounts of nutrient-rich whole fruits and non-starchy vegetables, like cabbage, asparagus, squash, dark leafy greens, and mushrooms to minimize sugar elevations. Chromium in broccoli, apples, yam, eggs, chicken, and peanuts should be included to regulate insulin and sugar levels. Fiber-rich whole grains are healthy carbohydrates to slow down insulin rushes. Though you are allowed low-fat dairy products, solid fats like butter, margarine, and hydrogenated fats should be substituted with lighter oils (canola, sesame, virgin oil) for cooking. Nuts and seeds, in handfuls only, offer beneficial fats. You are advised to consume fish more often, omega-3 rich cold water fish in particular, along with skinless poultry and very little lean red meat. Legumes Legumes
A family of plants that bear edible seeds in pods, including beans and peas.

Mentioned in: Cholesterol, High

legumes (l
 like beans and lentils are important to balance blood sugar. Water and unsweetened herbal infusions should replace calorie-dense drinks like sugar-loaded sodas, smoothies, coffee, fatty milk shakes, ice-creams, snacks, desserts, and bonbons. While healthy carbohydrates should not exceed 40 percent of the diet, proteins and fats should share the remaining 60 percent. Remember, moderation in portion sizes is a key factor to controlling your blood count. In very small portions, the forbidden becomes an allowance once in a while.

We discussed what to eat and what to avoid, but there are other factors to consider such as the glycemic index (GI). Recently, experts are lending special attention to the GI; it measures the speed of carbohydrate conversion into sugar in the blood. The scale is from 0 to 100. Low on the index scale (1-10) are soybeans, sprouts, some nuts, leafy greens, grapefruit, tomatoes, raw carrots, cabbage, lentils, oranges, and apples, followed by chickpeas, whole grains, and yams. On the other hand, closer to 100 foods like pure sugar, French fries, over-cooked refined grains and pastas, and boiled skinned potatoes lead to rapid blood sugar elevation and insulin rushes (read "How does a Low Glycemic Index work," Arab News, December 6, 2006). While emphasis should be on foods of 10 and below and moderate portions of 11 to 19, you should not overindulge o·ver·in·dulge  
v. o·ver·in·dulged, o·ver·in·dulg·ing, o·ver·in·dulg·es
1. To indulge (a desire, craving, or habit) to excess: overindulging a fondness for chocolate.
 in huge portions of low-GI foods.

The good news is that some herbs, spices, and vegetables can control blood sugar and even drive it down.

Fenugreek fenugreek

Slender, annual, herbaceous legume (Trigonella foenum-graecum) or its dried seeds, used as a food, a flavoring, and a medicine. Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, the plant is cultivated in central and southeastern Europe, western Asia, India, and
, Trigonella foenum-graecum (Arabic, hulba), is known for lowering fasting and after-meal blood sugar counts. It also detoxifies the body. It can be used in bakery goods or made into an infusion.

Shardunika, Gymnema silvestre, is an Indian medicinal leafy green herb known for its power to eliminate sugar cravings and regulate blood sugar.

Cinnamon, a spice with antioxidant powers, mimics insulin, relieves oxidative stress and regulates blood sugar. A teaspoon, three times daily, is effective. Other herbs, antioxidants, fruits, and vegetables that help control blood sugar levels are American ginseng ginseng (jĭn`sĕng), common name for the Araliaceae, a family of tropical herbs, shrubs, and trees that are often prickly and sometimes grow as climbing forms. , garlic, ginger, resveratrol res·ver·a·trol
A natural compound found in grapes, mulberries, peanuts, and other plants or food products, especially red wine, that may protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease by acting as an antioxidant, antimutagen, and
 (mimics insulin), pomegranate pomegranate (pŏm`grănĭt, pŏm`ə–), handsome deciduous and somewhat thorny large shrub or small tree (Punica granatum , goji berries, and bitter melon (kerala).

Turmeric turmeric: see ginger.

Perennial herbaceous plant (Curcuma longa; family Zingiberaceae), native to southern India and Indonesia. Its tuberous rhizomes have been used from antiquity as a condiment, as a textile dye, and medically as an
, Curcuma cur·cu·ma  
Any of various tropical Asian plants of the genus Curcuma, which includes turmeric and zedoary.

[New Latin Curcuma, genus name, from Arabic kurkum, saffron
 lunga, a popular yellow root used in Indian and Arabian cuisines, is a powerful multi-functional antioxidant with anti-inflammatory action; controls blood sugar; and enhances mental performances. It can be added to yogurt, soups, and stews or taken as a supplement.

Sugar substitutes (aspartame aspartame: see sweetener, artificial.

Synthetic organic compound (a dipeptide) of phenylalanine and aspartic acid. It is 150–200 times as sweet as cane sugar and is used as a nonnutritive tabletop sweetener and in low-calorie
) and sweeteners (syrups, corn sugar) are unhealthy for everyone, diabetics in particular. Stevia Noun 1. stevia - any plant of the genus Stevia or the closely related genus Piqueria having glutinous foliage and white or purplish flowers; Central and South America
genus Stevia - genus of shrubs and herbs of tropical and warm Americas
, a natural sweetener Sweetener

A special feature added to a debt obligation or preferred stock to promote marketability.

Warrants and convertibles are two popular sweeteners.
See also: Convertible Bond, Kicker, Warrant

, is a less harmful substitute.

The following nutrients are very important to metabolize me·tab·o·lize
1. To subject to metabolism.

2. To produce by metabolism.

3. To undergo change by metabolism.


to subject to or be transformed by metabolism.
 and lower blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent damage to nerves and heart: Alpha-lipoic acid, omega-3 fatty acids This is a list of omega-3 fatty acids.

Common name Lipid name Chemical name
α-Linolenic acid (ALA) 18:3 (n-3) octadeca-9,12,15-trienoic acid
Stearidonic acid 18:4 (n-3) octadeca-6,9,12,15-tetraenoic acid
, vitamin B1, chromium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C and E (read "If Jack can do it so can you," Arab News, January 31, 2007).

A critical factor in controlling blood glucose levels and preventing diabetes and weight gain is regular 45-minute aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, cycling) six times weekly along with muscle building. Muscle mass and weight loss contribute to blood sugar control, thus preventing and reversing diabetes. Studies show that exercise is the single most effective approach to managing diabetes and heart disease.

Stress acts on the adrenal glands and disrupts insulin response, making it difficult to control blood sugar. Stress-reducing techniques like yoga, meditation, and prayer can lower levels of stress and blood glucose.

The above holistic approaches are the healthiest and least harmful to control blood sugar and fat levels, giving health and energy to remain disease-free. Such steps reverse diabetic tendencies and reduce dependency on medication and insulin. Smart eating is the way to health.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Mar 14, 2009
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