Beating Diabetes

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Beating Diabetes

Denise Armstrong's turnaround shows how powerful simple lifestyle changes can be in getting diabetes under control. "If we could all exercise and keep the weight down, I'd be out of a job," says Philip Kern, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Even minor lifestyle tweaks can make a difference. Realizing that, experts are looking into what specific foods and behaviors have the most benefit.

Here's a sampling of what they've discovered:

Drink Milk: A Scandinavian study found that adding whey, a protein in milk, to high-carbohydrate meals increases insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar levels. Researchers have yet to figure out how whey does this, but they say it may be that whey protein is highly digestible and releases high levels of amino acids in the blood. The acids summon the insulin release that's necessary to control blood sugar. Another report from Harvard found that men who drank the most low-fat milk had a 23 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than men who drank only a little milk.

Snack On Walnuts: People with diabetes and those at risk for the condition are told to eat oily fish like tuna or salmon twice a week because it helps reduce the amount of saturated fats in their diet and because it supplies omega-3 polyunsaturated acids, which protect against heart disease, the No. 1 killer of diabetics. But many people don't eat that much fish. Australian researchers found that having a daily walnut snack (about a handful) and eating slightly less fish boosted omega-3s and lowered saturated fat better than fish alone.

Get Some Sleep: Boston University researchers recently found that people who slept too little (six hours or less a night) were 66 percent more likely to have diabetes than those who slept seven to eight hours. Study author Daniel J. Gottlieb, MD, a professor of medicine, speculates that insufficient sleep causes the release of adrenaline-like substances that induce insulin resistance, though more research in this area is needed.

Cynthia Dermody
Article from: Reader's Digest, November 2006

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