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American Diabetes Association Releases New Nutritional Guidelines

Dr. Mario Trucillo

Last updated: October 28, 2016 8:17 pm

Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Americans.  Data from the CDC 1 estimates there are 25.8 million people with diabetes, where over a quarter of them remain undiagnosed. In 2010 there were 1.9 million people over the age of 20 newly diagnosed with diabetes. Still there are many more individuals that are considered to be on the verge of being diabetic or “prediabetic.”

Most people that develop diabetes must take one or, in some cases, more than one medication daily in order to keep their glucose levels under control.  An issue that arises with regularly taking medication is that it that there are risks, difficulties, and side effects. With some diabetes medications such as Actos, and newer drugs like Victoza and Byetta some of the risks and side effects can be severe.  Use of medications such as these, at some point, may become necessary, however, in order to avoid other complications associated with diabetes such as hypertension, heart disease and stroke, blindness and eye problems, kidney disease, along with a host of other complications. A large percentage of patients that develop diabetes die from cardiovascular complications.

The important thing to remember is that with proper control of your glucose, blood pressure, and lipids or fats, complications can be avoided.  An excellent way to avoid these risks is proper nutrition.  By living a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, regular physical activity, and in some cases, properly taking your medication, you can avoid further issues or potentially reverse these effects in certain cases.

Recently the American Diabetes Association released their guidelines for nutrition for adults with diabetes based on scientific evidence. 2 3 Here are some of the things you should know.  In general, there are so many differences from one individual to another therefore there is no ““one-size-fits-all” eating pattern for individuals with diabetes. 4 There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing what you eat.

These are strategies for all people with diabetes: 5 6

  • Watch your portion sizes.  Even with healthy foods, a large amount can cause weight gain.
  • Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Have moderate carbohydrate intake
  • Balance your meal plan
  • Include fish in your meals at least 2-3 times per week
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit fatty foods
  • Eat fruits, nuts, and vegetables dense in dietary fiber.
  • Select leaner protein sources and meat alternatives.
  • Avoid online products, vitamin and mineral supplements, herbal products to manage diabetes
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Limit your sodium intake

However if you are someone that prefers to stick to a type of eating pattern, here are several suggested:

  • Mediterranean style which includes abundant plant food, minimally processed, seasonally fresh, and locally grown foods; olive oil as the principal source of dietary lipids; dairy products consumed in low to moderate amounts; fewer than 4 eggs/week; red meat consumed in low frequency and amounts; and wine consumption in low to moderate amounts generally with meals.
  • Vegetarian and vegan Features of a vegetarian-eating pattern that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals.
  • Low fat Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, starches (e.g., breads/crackers, pasta, whole grains, starchy vegetables), lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Low carbohydrate Focuses on eating foods higher in protein (meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds), fats (oils, butter, olives, avocado), and vegetables low in carbohydrate (salad greens, cucumbers, broccoli, summer squash).
  • DASH – The DASH diet was developed to reduce hypertension, but represents a healthy lifestyle diet and emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, including whole grains, poultry, fish, and nuts and is reduced in saturated fat, red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages. The most effective DASH diet is also low in sodium.

US News and World Report also lists a number of other diets rated by experts as the “Best Diabetes Diets” on their website. 7

Some of the suggestions by the American Diabetes Association for choosing a healthy meal can be found on their website “Making Healthy Food Choices” in their Food and Fitness Section along with a wealth of other helpful tips recipes and food choices throughout their website.

The most important thing the guidelines emphasize is to educate yourself so you can choose an appropriate eating plan and diet that’s right for you.

 

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Public Health Resource. 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet. Page last updated: October 25, 2013, available at: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/estimates11.htm. Accessed on: November 4, 2013 

  2. American Diabetes Association, Press Room, American Diabetes Association Releases New Nutritional Guidelines. Updated October 9, 2013, available at: http://www.diabetes.org/for-media/2013/american-diabetes-association-releases-nutritional-guidelines.html. Accessed on November 4, 2013 

  3. Evert AB, Boucher JL, Cypress M, Dunbar SA, Franz MJ, Mayer-Davis EJ, Neumiller JJ, Nwankwo R, Verdi CL, Urbanski P, Yancy WS Jr. Nutrition therapy recommendations for the management of adults with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2013 Nov;36(11):3821-42. 

  4. American Diabetes Association, Press Room, American Diabetes Association Releases New Nutritional Guidelines. Updated October 9, 2013, available at: http://www.diabetes.org/for-media/2013/american-diabetes-association-releases-nutritional-guidelines.html. Accessed on November 4, 2013 

  5. American Diabetes Association, Press Room, American Diabetes Association Releases New Nutritional Guidelines. Updated October 9, 2013, available at: http://www.diabetes.org/for-media/2013/american-diabetes-association-releases-nutritional-guidelines.html. Accessed on November 4, 2013 

  6. American Diabetes Association, Food and Fitness. Making Healthy Food Choices. No date, available at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/making-healthy-food-choices.html. Accessed on: November 4,2013 

  7. US News and World Report, Health and Wellness. Best Diabetes Diets. Copyright 2013, available at: http://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diabetes-diets?int=979ddd. Accessed on November 4, 2013