the best diet for people with diabetes? Itís not an easy
one-size-fits all, we were told at the scientific sessions of
the American Diabetes Association in Boston recently. In fact,
many of the experts at this meeting said the answer may not be
in one specific diet. Instead they point us to well-studied
"patterns" of eating. Evidence is strong, for
example, that people with diabetes who follow an eating style
based on the Mediterranean and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to
Stop Hypertension) dietary patterns can benefit health wise.
wait. Arenít these ways of eating designed to prevent heart
disease and stroke? Yes, they are, said Lawrence Appel, MD, of
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. But diabetes is closely
linked to heart disease. So when we eat to keep our hearts
ticking, we also help control diabetes.
healthful diet patterns for diabetes have in common? They
emphasize vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole
grains. They include fish, low fat dairy foods and vegetable
oils like olive oil. And they put less emphasis on meats and
high fat dairy foods.
types of food choices provide a healthful balance of
nutrients; and they also have been shown to reduce
inflammatory processes in the body which scientists say are
linked to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Fish, vegetables, nuts and whole grains are especially rich in
anti-inflammatory substances, say researchers.
yes, it is still important for people with diabetes to control
their intake of carbohydrates (sugars and starches in food).
"But I donít believe carbohydrates are the devil,"
said Appel. He pointed out that many of the beneficial foods
in diabetes-friendly eating patterns contain carbohydrates.
They just donít go overboard with foods excessively high in
sugar or refined starches. And whatís interesting, reported
registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes
educator Marion Franz, is that, after following any type of
diet, most people tend to settle back into eating patterns
that are not extremely high or extremely low in carbohydrates.
translate all this great research into real life is the
biggest challenge, these researchers acknowledged. It all
comes down to the choices we make from day to day, meal to
meal. Like choosing fruit over hash browns; or a veggie omelet
more often than biscuits and gravy. We can eat a fish meal a
couple times a week. And salad more often than fries.
is a serious and complex disease, and we still donít have
all the answers, these experts report. But from what I
observed, researchers are hitting it from all directions. Stay
Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes
educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.
Email her at