A weekly column addressing your most sought-after health questions, answered by Harbin Clinic’s expert healthcare professionals
Question: What dietary changes can I make to prevent diabetes?
Dr. Amar Singh: There are many small, yet effective dietary changes that have positive effects on diabetes prevention.
There is unequivocal evidence that shows whole grains protect against diabetes, while diets rich in refined or highly processed carbohydrates increases the risk of getting diabetes. Eating an extra two servings of whole grains a day decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 21%. Whole grains offer a ‘total package’ of health benefits, unlike refined grains, which lose their valuable nutrients during the refining process. The bran and fiber in whole grains makes it more difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the starches into glucose, which leads to lower, slower increases in blood sugar and insulin and a lower glycemic index. As a result, they stress the body’s insulin-making machinery less, and so may help prevent type 2 diabetes. Whole grains are also rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that may help reduce the risk of diabetes.
Skip the sugary drinks and choose water, coffee, or tea instead. Like refined grains, sugary beverages have a high glycemic load, and drinking more sweet drinks is associated with an increased risk of diabetes.
Limiting red meat is also beneficial, but you should also avoid processed meat. Choose nuts, beans, whole grains, poultry or fish instead. Studies indicate that eating just one 3-ounce serving of red meat daily increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20%. Eating just two slices of bacon, one hot dog, or the like—increases diabetes risk by 51%.
These studies also reveal that exchanging red or processed red meat with a healthier protein source, such as nuts, low-fat dairy, poultry, or fish lowers diabetes risk by up to 35%.
Dr. Amar Singh is a board-certified Harbin Clinic Internal Medicine physician offering a comprehensive weight management program for patients. For more information, visit www.harbinclinic.com/weightmanagement.