Tuesday, February 07, 2012
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We all have our guilty pleasures. For some, it’s buying expensive clothing. For others, it’s sneaking in a sweet or two between meals. My guilty pleasure is watching cooking shows on The Food Network. There’s something so mesmerizing about watching chefs use their talent and creativity to make delicious food. And, as a bonus, I get to experience these delicacies without any impact on my waistline.
Recently, I found out that one of my beloved chefs, Paula Deen (aka, the Queen of Southern Comfort Food), has type 2 diabetes. I would say that I’m shocked, but it’s well known that she has a fondness for butter, sometimes incorporating several sticks into one recipe. She was diagnosed three years ago, and is now a celebrity sponsor of a diabetes medication (I’m not the biggest fan of this sponsorship). But, as she told Oprah during an interview, “Honey, I’m your cook, not your doctor.”
Paula makes a good point here. So - I’ve asked some Maimonides physicians and nutritionists about type 2 diabetes, and a healthy way to approach a disease that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) predicts will affect more than one-third of Americans by 2050.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
A healthy person produces insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar (also known as blood glucose). Your blood sugar is the main source of energy for all the cells in your body and insulin aids in its absorption. However, when a person has type 2 diabetes, their body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or it becomes resistant to the hormone. Low insulin levels or resistance make it very difficult (and near impossible) for the body to remove glucose from the blood. Once this happens, your blood sugar can rise to very high levels (hyperglycemia), causing blood vessel and nerve damage, which can lead to a host of other issues such as retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing you have to worry about. Insulin resistance, blood vessel damage, and obesity which tends to accompany diabetes, can put you at an increased risk for heart disease. Diabetics are twice as likely to have high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
How is Diabetes Treated?
“Unlike most diseases, patients have control and can change the course of their diabetes,” Dr. Christine Resta, Diabetes Specialist at Maimonides. If you do have diabetes, do not give up hope. Don’t be ashamed of your disease or try to ignore it – it won’t ‘just go away’ on its own. “You must take ownership of it because 90% of what you do to manage your diabetes happens outside of the doctor’s office,” Dr. Resta explained. While patients can benefit from insulin therapy, studies have shown that lifestyle changes like proper nutrition and increased exercise can help manage diabetes. You don’t even have to go from a size 16 to a size 2! Losing just 5-10% of your starting weight will make a difference in your condition.
I wonder if Paula Deen will change her recipes to reflect a diet that is similar to the one recommended by Maimonides nutritionist, Heidi Becker. I hope she does. Dieting and changing your lifestyle is tough. We all have favorite foods. I have an enormous sweet tooth, but I’m trying to cut out sugar from my diet. I know it’s for my own good – and I’ve been pretty successful – but I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. Truth is I don’t really want to become another statistic. Do you?
|Want to reduce your risk or help manage your type 2 diabetes? Check out these health tips from Heidi:
• Combine fiber, protein and healthy fats: These nutrients are more difficult to digest and will help with the breakdown of carbohydrates into the blood stream (which cause spikes in blood sugar).
• Space meals no longer than 4 hours apart: High spikes in blood sugar can lead to cell, nerve and blood vessel damage. Eat several small meals to keep your blood sugar even.
• Limit sodium intake: Diabetics are at an increased risk for high blood pressure. A low sodium diet helps to keep your blood pressure under control.
• Limit high sugar drinks: Liquid sugar is metabolized quickly, leading to spikes in blood sugar. This floods the blood stream with glucose, leading to vascular damage.