have I learned at these 75th Scientific Sessions of the
American Diabetes Association? First, that they weren’t
kidding when they said this is the world’s largest meeting
on the subject of diabetes. Among the more than 14,000
researchers, clinicians and educators in Boston this week, I
heard almost every language on earth, including a unique
dialect best understood by those who live in this area.
this is information overload is an understatement; and we
still don’t have all the answers. But we are getting closer
to understanding why the simple messages we hear over and over
may well be the key to preventing and controlling our
worldwide diabetes epidemic.
excess body fat. Type 2 diabetes — the most common form —
is related to a disruption in the action of insulin, a hormone
produced by specialized (beta) cells in the pancreas. Reducing
body fat is the best way to preserve the function of these
beta cells, say many of these experts.
your fats. Diets high in saturated fat were confirmed at this
meeting to be not so good for folks wishing to avoid or
control diabetes. Saturated fats, said many researchers, seem
to interfere with the body’s ability to control blood
sugars. Most studies seem to support a diet with more fish and
plant-based oils and smaller amounts of meat and dairy fats,
similar to the eating patterns of the traditional
Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop
Hypertension) eating styles.
those gut microbes. There seems to be a relationship between
the good and bad bacteria in our intestinal tracts and our
risk for developing diabetes, according to several of these
researchers. And these microbial mixtures are largely shaped
by the foods we eat. Each time we choose to eat
fiber-containing plant foods such as fruit, vegetable, beans
or whole grains, for example, we fuel the growth of beneficial
bacteria that help with weight and blood sugar control.
challenge, it seems, is to translate all this great research
into real life. And what fun it was to practice this while
visiting Bean Town.
gut microbes jumped for joy when I discovered berry and yogurt
parfait with granola and flaxseeds on the breakfast menu at my
hotel. Throughout the week, I was pleased to see restaurant
menus and buffet tables which featured fruit, fresh salads,
grilled vegetables, seafood and lean meats.
throwing a (pretend) box of tea into Boston "hahbor"
with other fellow patriots one afternoon, I was directed to a
local eatery where I experienced the local "lobstah"
roll served with coleslaw and French fries…all in
moderation, right? As I enjoyed my meal, a friendly young man
and his wife invited me to share a fresh "oystah"
told him I was visitor, he said, "You need to go to Joe’s
and ask for Josh. Order the clam ‘chowdah.’ Just have a
cup, though. It’s pretty rich."
good advice indeed. Thanks, Boston.