Diabetes is rampant in America with 18.8 million people diagnosed with the disease and 7 million undiagnosed. The majority have Type 2 diabetes, and obesity caused by overeating is generally recognized as the major cause.
In addition to eating too much food, we are also consuming the wrong kinds of foods, says Ray Sahelian, M.D., a nationally recognized expert on supplements and author of Mind Boosters. Our diets include too many high-carb, highly processed foods and too many simple sugars, which stress the body, he tells Newsmax Health. The body becomes unable to respond properly to insulin, and the result is diabetes.
“With diabetes, the body’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels,” says Dr. Sahelian. “People with Type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin. People with Type 2 diabetes may continue to produce enough — perhaps even too much — but insulin receptors on cells develop resistance, a condition that prevents the body from using glucose effectively.”
Sugar continues to circulate in the blood and build up. The health results are devastating and include increased risks for heart disease, nerve damage, blindness, and kidney damage.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods fights diabetes, and specific foods help prevent Type 2 diabetes as well as help reverse the condition. Six of the most powerful are:
Blueberries. Several studies have found that blueberries help improve insulin sensitivity, reversing the process that leads to diabetes. One government-funded study followed health professionals for as long as 24 years, and found that eating two or more servings of blueberries a week lowered diabetes risk by 23 percent, and another study published in the British Medical Journal found that replacing daily fruit juice with blueberries could reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 33 percent. Researchers suggest that adding the equivalent of a half cup of blueberries daily to cereal is helpful.
Green tea. Green tea helps regulate blood sugar, the function impaired by diabetes. A Dutch study found that drinking three cups of green tea daily helped keep glucose levels in check, reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 40 percent. Don’t add milk, though: A study found that adding milk decreases tea’s ability to stimulate the production of insulin.
Chocolate. Dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity, according to Tufts researchers. The beneficial effect is due to flavonoids which help insulin-producing beta cells to function normally and to use insulin efficiently. Most experts advise no more than a small square or two of dark chocolate daily.
Vinegar. A study at Arizona State University East found that taking two tablespoons of vinegar before meals lowered sugar levels by 25 percent in diabetics and by 50 percent in prediabetics. According to Japanese researchers, the biologically active agent is acetic acid, which inhibits the actions of enzymes that digest carbohydrates and allows some sugars and starches to pass through the intestines without being digested.
Nuts. A study published in Diabetes Care found that Type 2 diabetics who replaced a sugar-free whole wheat muffin with a daily handful of mixed nuts (about 2 ounces) lowered both blood sugar levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that walnuts and pistachios are two of the healthiest nuts.
Coffee. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that drinking three or four cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent. A Chinese analysis of 26 studies found that people who drank the most coffee reduced their diabetes risk by 30 percent.