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Nutrition that helps diabetics

The Lawton Constitution - 1/8/2018

Here's something to get our attention as we head into a New Year: Half of our U.S. population is now estimated to have diabetes or are headed that way with a condition called pre-diabetes.

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is specialized nutrition treatment for people with diabetes and other medical conditions. Strong evidence shows that several visits with a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) after getting a diabetes diagnosis is an essential part of managing this condition.

What's the best diet for diabetes? No one "diet" is recommended, say experts. Diet plans must be tailored to the type of diabetes, medications and individual health goals. That said, these evidence-based recommendations can be helpful for any person with diabetes or pre-diabetes:

Control carbohydrates. Carbs are sugars and starches in foods such as fruit, bread, sodas and all those leftover holiday goodies sitting on your counter. Since too many carbs at one time can spike blood sugars into the danger zone, people with diabetes need to space their carbs throughout the day.

Set a goal for fiber intake. Dietary fiber is found in foods of plant origin such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes. And if you think it's easy to reach current recommendations for fiber intake, start tracking how much fiber you get in a day. (It's listed on food labels.) The general goal for adult women and men is 25 and 35 grams a day, respectively.

Eat like your heart depends on it. It does, especially if you have diabetes. Heart disease is the main cause of death in people with diabetes. Strong evidence finds that eating foods with more unsaturated fats like fish, vegetable oils, avocados and nuts and cutting back on foods high in saturated fats like heavy meats and butter helps protect hearts and arteries.

(Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.)


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