Combating diabetes: latest research and approaches

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What is the most important factor when it comes to diabetes genetics, sugar, calories, insulin

 

A few years ago, we may say sugar and insulin, but new research has dramatically changed what we know about diabetes.

 

“Fat, get out of the way and let me pump my sugar!” – Insulin.

 

It turns out that the fat in animal products and oils prevent insulin from doing its critical job – moving glucose into cells, lowering blood sugar level, and keeping us healthy.

 

In other words, what caused your diabetes or made it worse is not just your refined white bread or sugary drinks, but also the mayo dressing or cheese slices that you eat all the time!

 

Experiments on mice have shown that when fat is reduced from the diet, insulin can function properly, alleviating and eventually curing Type II diabetes!

 

Therefore, a low-fat, plant-based diet is the best for diabetes and conditions associated with it, such as heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Has this been shown in humans?

 

Yes. One study found that 21 of 23 patients on oral medications and 13 of 17 patients on insulin did not need their medications after 26 days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program.

These dietary changes are simple, but the effects they had are profound, both on a short-term and long-term scale. However, Dr. Neal Barnard from Physicians Committee of Responsible medicine points out that “choosing skinless chicken, skim milk, and baked fish is not enough of a change for most people to beat diabetes”. A plant-based diet is necessary if you are serious about diabetes.

How to combat diabetes with a dietary approach?

Go plant-based and throw out animal products.

Make your meals with whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Drink water. Keep nuts
or seeds to a small handful every day. The amount that you sprinkle on your breakfast oatmeal is sufficient. Avoid animal products of all sorts to avoid saturated fats. You can easily get your protein and fat intake with balanced plant-based meals so don’t worry. Plus, there are plenty of resources on our page that can help you, such as this food plate from Vegan Palette.
vegan Food Plate

Avoid vegetable oil too.

Although vegetable oils are healthier compared to animal fats, they should still be avoided. All fats and oils are high in calories – 1g of any fat or oil has 9 calories, whereas 1g of carbohydrate has only 4 calories. We only need a small amount each day and it is so easy to go overboard in the modern days. Remember to watch out for oily sauces and dressings. Also, don’t assume you can eat as many avocados and nuts as you want! Check out this video by an accredited dietitian, nutritionist Raymond from Vegan Palette :”Why eating plant-based means giving up oil“.

Read food labels! 

Don’t be fooled by the packaging. Food industries can print “Low-calories”, “Low fat” in big block letters and fool you into thinking they are healthy. Always check the back and choose foods with no more than 2-3g of fat per serving if you are serious about not getting diabetes.

Avoid high GI foods.

The glycemic index (GI) identifies foods that tend to raise blood sugar. These include white rice, white and wheat bread, corn flakes, puffed rice cereals, and most commercial cereals. Swap them with low GI foods, such as oats, sweet potations, natural pasta, beans and so on. Instead of rice, you can eat quinoa. Instead of white bread, you can eat rye bread, multigrain brain, and sourdough.

Lots and lots of fibre

Fibre is literally the best thing about plant-based diets. They are the natural cleaners for your blood vessels and digestive system. If you follow the above advice and eat plenty of plant foods, you will easily get at least 40g of fibre per day. You should aim for at least 40g of fibre each day. When reading food labels, check if there is at least 3g of fiber per serving.

To learn more about diabetes and get started fixing it with a plant-based dietary approach, we recommend these resources:

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? I’ve compiled my gifts, knowledge and tips regarding thriving on a vegan lifestyle in this page, including a dietitian guidebook, grocery shopping list, lifestyle checklists, and the best vegan websites I recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author


Raymond_dietitian_from_Vegan_Palette_with_food_plate

Raymond Setiadi is an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian and is the founder of Vegan Palette,  a Brisbane-based dietitian practice.

As an expert in whole food plant-based nutrition and fat loss strategies, Raymond has a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between food,  human physiology, goal-directed psychology, and how they all play a pivotal role in one’s pursuit of optimal health.

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Is bread healthy? How to select wisely with these simple tricks

bread
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I love bread. Who doesn’t like watching bread take its shape in the oven, while smelling that appetising hot air? Finally, that long awaited bread is ready, you take it out of the oven, and sprinkle some cinnamon – perfect.

 

We are not alone. Bread has been consumed for over 30,000 years. It is THE MOST popular food in the whole wide world.

 

It makes sense that bread arose early in the human history as an excellent source of nutrition since a traditional loaf requires only 4 ingredients: flour, yeast, water and salt. For natural leavens or sourdoughs, yeast is even unnecessary.

 

The bread we are eating today

 

“What? Just 4 ingredients? What is that long list of ingredients at the back of the bread I buy then?”

white bread ingredients

Source: Cole’s Whole-Grain Cinnamon French Toast

 

Take the white bread as an example. You would think that the ingredient list should look simple, but unfortunately it is not.

 

Nowadays, bread is not just bread anymore. The simplest white bread has over 30 ingredients, many of them an ordinary person can’t even pronounce. In fact, white bread isn’t even nutritionally worth it to consume, as it is so deprived of nutrients and fibre during the heaving processing. I recommend you watch Dr. Michael Greger‘s video on Is white bread good for you?

 

If bread only takes 4 ingredients to make, what are all these things doing there? Probably to make the bread appear ultra white, smooth, light, soft and even stay on the shelf for weeks. I don’t think we want those things in our bodies.

 

Well, white bread is bad because it is so cheap. But what about the more expensive ones that claim to be healthier?

abbotts bread ingredients

 

The Abbott’s bread is a popular “healthy choice” in Australia. Now the ingredient list looks more like comprehensible language, indeed much better. But still, what are maltodextrin, emulsifiers and flavouring powders doing there?

 

It is extremely hard to find simple, authentic bread made of just the ingredients necessary. This is just an example of over-processing in the modern food industry.

 

Should we just stop eating bread? That’s not what i am suggesting. Baked bread is an excellent source of iodine, and whole-grain bread with little processing is excellent. Research has shown that 3 portions of whole gains can reduce the risk of getting a heart attack by 15%, and the risk of getting a stroke by roughly 25%.

 

It just takes some effort to find bread that is actually good for you. But we are going to teach you how!

 

What bread should you really be eating?

If the original recipe for bread is simply 4 ingredients, then it makes sense that we should aim to get bread that is made that way. In other words – get as close to the original recipe as possible.

 

Instead of going to supermarket, try a local bakery and ask the baker what the ingredients are. The bakers tend to use real flour, instead of the “enriched” or “refined” flour that is commonly used in commercial bread.

 

Note that for people who are trying to control their blood sugar levels, definitely stay away from enriched or refined white flour, as they can make your blood sugar to spike.

 

In contrast, natural whole grains are nutrient-dense, more satiating and is much milder on blood sugar level. Be careful though, that many commercial bread put words like “multi-grain“, “whole-grain” at the front of their packaging but are actually misleading. Flip over the bread and look at the ingredient list to see if those are false claims.

 

A simple math trick to distinguish between true whole-grain bread and false claims

One way you can quickly distinguish between authentic whole-grain bread and false claims is this simple math trick: if the serving size ratio of carbohydrates to fibre is equal to or less than 5 to 1 (eg. 15g of carbs and 3g of fibre), this bread passes the whole-grain test. If the ratio ends up being something like 18, which is not uncommon for many brands, put the bread back onto the shelf.

 

This simple 5 to 1 rule comes from Dr. Michael Gregor and can be used for other things too such as breakfast cereal. Don’t ever believe what the front package claims without performing this test yourself!

 

Sourdough breads 

 

Another healthy option, especially for people who are gluten-sensitive is sourdough. This is the bread that Ikarians eat. Ikaria is one of the world’s blue zones (places with the highest life expectancy). Ikaria has even been called the island where people forget to die! One secret is that ikarians eat true sourdough bread that is fermented not with bakers yeast but lactobacilli, a beneficial naturally-occurring bacterial strain. The resulting bread is slightly more sour in taste, but has less gluten and a naturally longer shelf life. It is nutrient-rich and slow burning, excellent for those who want to lost fat.

 

However, it is common to find fake sourdough breads in stores nowadays. If they still contain yeast or sweetener, they are not true sourdough breads. Go to a local bakery and ask for how their sourdough bread is made. Of course, the best solution is to just make you own. Here is a recipe from the Blue Zones website.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, this post is not to discourage you from eating bread. Good whole-grain bread is beneficial for you but you need to select wisely. Choose bread with fewer ingredients, ideally baked fresh in a local bakery. Always have a chat with the baker to see how the bread is made, especially when you are looking for true sourdough breads – they can be tricky to find. Use the simple “5 to 1 carbs to fibre” rule to distinguish between true whole-grain bread and false claims. If you can implement these simple tricks to select your bread, you can enjoy the pleasures of bread as well as the health benefits!

 

References

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/050113p44.shtml

https://nutritionfacts.org/2018/05/08/follow-the-5-to-1-rule-for-packaged-foods/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-white-bread-good-for-you/

 

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? I’ve compiled my gifts, knowledge and tips regarding thriving on a vegan lifestyle in this page, including a dietitian guidebook, grocery shopping list, lifestyle checklists, and the best vegan websites I recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author


Raymond_dietitian_from_Vegan_Palette_with_food_plate

Raymond Setiadi is an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian and is the founder of Vegan Palette,  a Brisbane-based dietitian practice.

As an expert in whole food plant-based nutrition and fat loss strategies, Raymond has a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between food,  human physiology, goal-directed psychology, and how they all play a pivotal role in one’s pursuit of optimal health.

 

 

 

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Why can’t food scientists agree on coconut oil? Does it really burn fat?

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What’s the fuss?

Coconut oil is probably one of the most controversial food. Some regard it is a “superfood“, rich in antioxidant and other nutrients. Claims regarding what it can do ranges from burning fat, preventing Alzheimer’s disease and improving endurance. But surprisingly, others consider it as a “devilfood“. Karin Micheals, a professor at Harvard, even went as far as calling coconut oil a “pure poison“.

 

What’s the truth?

Why can’t food scientists agree on coconut oil? Are the claimed benefits backed up by research or made up simply for propaganda?

 

Well, interestingly this debate on the coconut oil is actually related to changes in our nutrition guidelines and beliefs.

 

In the past, fats were considered bad and people consumed mostly carbohydrates in their diets. Of course, in the modern days, carbs often translate into highly processed, bad carbs, not complex natural carbs. As a result, obesity and diabetes skyrocketed, leading to new advice in the opposite direction “Avoid carbs and eat more fats!”

 

The pro-fat voice soon pushed avocados, olive oil and chia seeds into the spotlight. The public quickly learned about these new foods and called them “superfood“. While most food scientists and nutritionists agree that the fats in avocados and olive oil are healthy, compared to other fat sources, they couldn’t quite agree on coconut oil, a food composed almost entirely of saturated fat!

 

For decades, the heart associations educate people that saturated fat is bad as it increases cholesterol levels, putting people at risk for terrible heart diseases.

 

But coconut oil comes from plants, surely it is healthy?

 

Of course, coconut oil is not pro-inflammatory like meat. But compared to other vegetable oil that is lower in saturated fat, coconut oil does increase LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol” levels, make it less healthy. Therefore, it is all relative – coconut oil can be considered healthy or unhealthy, depending on what you are comparing it to.

 

If you have been puzzled by coconut oil, don’t subscribe to either extreme – It is not a “superfood“, but it is also not a “devilfood“. There are both better and worse sources that can offer you the needed fat.

 

Does coconut oil really burn fat?

The fat-burning claim about coconut oil came from some evidence that suggested the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) in coconut oil can promote fat loss. While it is true that coconut oil contains a lot of MCT, follow-up research has shown no difference in the fat-burning ability of coconut oil compared to other types of oil.

 

In fact, there are only 4 calories in 1 gram of protein and carbohydrate, but there are 9 calories in 1 gram of fat! Correct – more than double. This applies to all oil types, including coconut oil! So by consuming lots of coconut oil, you can easily add 200-400 extra calories and that of course, will reflect on your waistline. To sum up, coconut oil doesn’t burn fat, instead, it could make you gain weight. You should avoid over-consumption of all types of oils, even if it’s vegetable oil!

 

Conclusion

For those of you already on a vegan, plant-based diet, coconut oil is probably in your kitchen a lot. Don’t throw it out, as it is surely much better than butter and improves the flavor of many dishes. However, also don’t over-use this one type of oil. In fact, be cautious of any claim of “superfood” as it is like just propaganda. The best way to eat healthily is always to have variety like we always advocate for at Vegan Palette. In this case of oil, have other monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils in your kitchens, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil.

 

To learn more about coconut oil and vegetable oils, I recommend Dr. Michael Greger:

Coconut oil

Is coconut oil good for you?

Does coconut oil cure Alzheimer’s?

Does coconut oil clog arteries?

What about coconuts, coconut milk & coconut oil MCTs?

 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26946252

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18326600

 

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? I’ve compiled my gifts, knowledge and tips regarding thriving on a vegan lifestyle in this page, including a dietitian guidebook, grocery shopping list, lifestyle checklists, and the best vegan websites I recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

About the author


Raymond_dietitian_from_Vegan_Palette_with_food_plate

Raymond Setiadi is an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian and is the founder of Vegan Palette,  a Brisbane-based dietitian practice.

As an expert in whole food plant-based nutrition and fat loss strategies, Raymond has a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between food,  human physiology, goal-directed psychology, and how they all play a pivotal role in one’s pursuit of optimal health.

 

 

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Disease-fighting phytonutrients – power of real plant foods

vegetables vegan diet
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When it comes to nutrition, I bet what you hear most often are carbs, proteins and fats. These are the macronutrients, but…are they all we need?

 

You might also have heard of micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. For many people, Micronutrients are not a big deal considering how easily accessible multi-vitamin supplements are nowadays.

 

So…If you are getting all you macros, plus taking those all-in-one vitamin supplementations, you have everything you need, right?

 

Well. Technically that’s what you need to live. Nutrients include carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals, all of which are essential to life. These are the basic requirements.

 

But… to live a healthy, disease-free life? Not quite enough.

 

Today’s topic is all about the powerful, under-appreciated phytonutrients.

  • What are they?
  • What can they do?
  • Where to get them?

 

There are also some important pointers and gifts at the end, make sure you go there and check them out!

 

What are phytonutrients?

 

“Phyto” comes from the Greek word for “plant”. Natural phytonutrients give plant foods their rich colour, tastes and smells.

 

Phytonutrients are technically not “nutrients”, but there is strong evidence that they play a crucial role in maintaining health and preventing diseases, including cancers. Discovering and utilising phytonutrients are part of a growing area of health and nutrition.

 

In my opinion (and perhaps some other health professionals), phytonutrients should be added to the definition of essential nutrients for healthy living. 

 

More than 900 phytonutrient compounds have been discovered and scientists are still uncovering more from the powerful plant kingdom. Some well-known phytonutrients are isoflavones in soy, lignans in flaxseed, beta-carotene in carrots, flavonoids in berries.

 

Benefits of phytonutrients

 

Long before phytonutrients were discovered, people began to notice that those who eat mostly plant foods are less likely to experience chronic diseases than those who consumed meat and processed foods.

 

In addition to the well-known benefits of plant foods including high fibre, low saturated fat, low sugar and salt, what else could be preventing diseases?

 

Phytonutrients – That’s right!

 

Phytonutrients can protect against diseases in a number of ways such as

  • Improving immune function
  • Stimulating enzymes that protect against toxins and carcinogens
  • Neutralising the free radicals that could damage DNA
  • Decreasing blood cholesterol level
  • Regulating blood glucose level

 

Some phytonutrients are extremely powerful because of their anti-oxidant and anti-diabetic properties. Flavonoids are one such example. Berries are rich in flavonoids and are highly recommended for healthy aging, diabetes control, fighting cancer and fat burning. 

 

We encourage you to check out Dr. Michael Greger‘s videos on flavonoids!

 

How do you get lots of phytonutrients?

 

It’s so simple –  The different colours reflect phytonutrients present in different plant foods. To ensure you get more phytonutrients, you simply need to eat a colourful plate of fruits, veggies and whole grains.

 

Is it really that simple? Yes, it is all about diversity and real plant foods. Nature has loaded so many health-promoting compounds into plant foods, we just need to appreciate them in the original form and minimise processing that may damage the structures of these compounds.

 

If you don’t believe me, here is a table released by Harvard Medical School.

 

Phytonutrients, Their Sources And Potential Benefits

Source: Harvard Medical School

 

Is there a magic phytonutrient pill?

 

Phytonutrients are great, and you have to get them the RIGHT way – eating a variety of plant foods. A pill just simply can’t do what real foods can.

 

A plant food may contain in itself more than 100 types of phytonutrients and they only provide the optimal benefits when consumed all together – a phenomenon known as synergy. When you are consuming a variety of plant foods, complex synergistic interactions are going in your body.

 

Attempting to take out particular elements is just not going to work. In fact, research has shown that for some people, taking beta-carotene supplementation can actually be harmful!

 

Remember – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts“. This always holds true in the debate between supplementation or real foods.

 

A few more pointers

  • Eat at least 6 servings of fruits and vegetables a day!
  • Variety does not just apply to fruits and vegetables. Don’t just stick to one type of grain and miss out on the phytonutrients in different whole grains! Alternate between whole wheat, rice, oatmeal, whole-wheat couscous, triticale, spelt, buckwheat etc.
  • Eat phytonutrient-rich foods throughout the day to keep blood levels of these components constant. This way you get the most benefits.
  • It is so important to keep track of your lifestyle habits, you can download my lifestyle checklist and Food, symptom & mood diary on my Comprehensive Resources Page.

You’ll love these

Have you checked out our comprehensive Vegan Health & Nutrition Resources page? I’ve compiled my gifts, knowledge and tips regarding thriving on a vegan lifestyle in this page, including a dietitian guidebook, grocery shopping list, lifestyle checklists, and the best vegan websites I recommend, all for you for FREE.

 

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References

Disease fighting phytonutrients, Harvard Medical School 

Phytonutrients for fall, Harvard Medical School

NutritionFacts.org

Phenomenal phytonutrients: the reason we need real food

 

About the author


Raymond_dietitian_from_Vegan_Palette_with_food_plate

Raymond Setiadi is an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian and is the founder of Vegan Palette,  a Brisbane-based dietitian practice.

As an expert in whole food plant-based nutrition and fat loss strategies, Raymond has a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between food,  human physiology, goal-directed psychology, and how they all play a pivotal role in one’s pursuit of optimal health.

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