Treating Diabetes: Scientists Warming To Plant-Based Diet

Dr. Fuhrman advocates a plant-based diet because it is the most optimal diet-style for diabetes reversal, weight-loss, and the prevention of heart disease. Sally Squires of The Washington Post explains many scientists are beginning to acknowledge its superior advantages as well:
People with Type 2 diabetes are advised to limit carbohydrates because of worries that too many carbs could overtax the body's dwindling insulin production and lessen its ability to process glucose.

Now some scientists are asking if a very-low-fat diet rich in healthy carbohydrates—whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables—might be another option.
This prompted scientists to conduct a study comparing the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the vegetable-based diet-style of Dr. Dean Ornish:
The four-month trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, studied 99 people with Type 2 diabetes. Half were asked to follow the standard dietary advice from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The other half were asked to adhere to a very strict, low-fat vegan diet devoid of meat, fish, eggs, dairy or any other animal products.

Both groups improved blood sugar control and LDL cholesterol levels. Both lost weight, but the vegan group shed an average of 15 pounds, compared with six for the ADA group. As in the Ornish study, the vegan group showed no harmful changes in either HDL or triglyceride levels.
The results of the study demonstrate the overall efficiency and effectiveness of a “vegan” or a plant-based diet. Additionally 20 percent of participants following the vegetable-based diet for a year were able to cut or eliminate their insulin and other glucose-lowering medication.

Squires concludes her report with these three recommendations for those trying to overcome diabetes through diet:
Eat more plant-based foods. The more variety, the better. Groups that recommend eating more beans, vegetables (without added fat), fruit (sans added sugar) and whole grains include the American Heart Association, the National Cancer Institute, the Institute of Medicine, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the American Diabetes Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Easy on the fat. Gram for gram, fat contains more than twice the calories of protein or carbs. Being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. Whatever fat you eat, make it healthy. Skip saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol found in whole milk dairy products, fatty meat and poultry with the skin. Reach instead for fish, healthy oil such as canola or olive oil, healthy margarine, nuts, avocados and seeds.

Get plenty of exercise.
The Diabetes Prevention Program—a large federally funded study of people who were just a step shy of developing diabetes—found that brisk daily exercise (yes, walking is fine) played an important part in preventing diabetes. The study found 30 minutes daily was required, but that can be broken into 10-minute increments.

NY Times On Portion Sizes

In today’s New York Times reporter Jane E. Brody takes a look at the United States’ obesity woes. Focusing her attention on America’s portion sizes:
I'll start with what seems to be a mantra for most Americans: bigger is better. Bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger portions. About 30 years ago the restaurant industry tried to introduce Americans to a French dining style called cuisine minceur, small, elegant portions served on large, usually white plates (but priced as if the plates were heaped with food).

It was doomed from the get-go. Americans want more for their money, and more is what they got. Portions big enough to feed a horse.

It's not just McDonald's. Nearly every dish and beverage Americans now consume is supersized compared with what they used to eat (and, I might add, at a time when more energy was spent just getting through the demands of the day).

An average serving of pasta is now 480 percent greater than the one-cup recommended serving size, Lisa Young and Marion Nestle, nutritionists at New York University, reported in 2002 in The American Journal of Public Health. Some cookies, they found, are 700 percent larger.

A New York bagel, now sold nationwide, weighs five or six ounces. That is five or six bread portions, supplying about 500 calories, not counting cream cheese or butter. The muffin tins from my childhood produce muffins one-third the size of those at Starbucks.

Restaurants like fast-food and takeout establishments, as well as family-style businesses, pile on food with no regard for recommended portions.
To make matters worse research indicates portion size acts independently with another characteristic of meals, energy density:
The more energy-dense a food is — that is, the more calories per ounce or gram — the more calories people tend to consume.

In previous studies, Dr. Rolls found that, all other factors being equal, people eat about the same weight of food each day.

If those foods are in the moderate range of energy density like meat, cheese, pizza and French fries or at the high end of energy density like crackers, nuts and cookies, people consume more calories than they do if their meals contain lots of low-energy-density foods, like soup, green salad, nonstarchy vegetables and fruit.

Can't Lose Weight Don't Lose Sleep

According to HealthDay new research shows a strong correlation between weight gain and insufficient sleep. Alan Mozes reports:
"We all need to be aware there is a relationship between sleep and obesity," says J. Catesby Ware, chief of the division of sleep medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and director of the Sleep Disorder Center at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va.

Ware and his colleagues found signs of this link in a recently completed study of more than 1,000 men and women that indicated those who reported sleeping less also weighed more.

He is now in the midst of new research focusing on another group of 1,000 individuals that is quantifying specific daily sleep habits, with preliminary data reinforcing his previous observation -- less sleep equals a bigger belly.

"There are a number of research studies that all support the thesis that too little sleep leads to weight gain," Ware said. "How that happens is still somewhat unclear, but there are hormonal secretions that are affected with sleep loss that apparently affect appetite and eating."
It seems hormones are responsible for this association:
Eve Van Cauter, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, recently found that when 12 healthy men in their 20s were instructed to sleep just four hours a night for two nights straight, they reported an increase in feelings of hunger by 24 percent.

What's more, Cauter and her colleagues noted that levels of the hormone leptin, which delivers feelings of satiation to the brain, decreased by 18 percent among the men.

Conversely, levels of the hormone ghrelin, which sparks hunger, shot up 28 percent -- prompting cravings for candy, cookies and cake.