Tag Archives: carbohydrates

Can vegetables prevent diabetes?

Type-2 diabetes is becoming or will become a real plague… With our increasing life expectancy and increasing body weight as we get older the tendency towards developing late onset problems in regulating our blood sugar metabolism appears to be an inevitable consequence.

However, those in the nutritional world have always advocated a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in refined (table sugar, white flour etc…) carbohydrates as a way to ward off this problem. The sad thing is, this type of advice is so run of the mill these days that the true impact of such a simple change often goes without a second thought; everyone knows that we should eat plenty of fruit and veg… so, whats new there?

Well… the latest research can now pot some numbers and ‘science’ behind these claims. In the August issue of the British Medical Journal a feature supporting the role of vegetables in diabetes prevention has hit the media. In a collaboration between the University of Otago in New Zealand and Imperial College in London the findings boost the status of lowly dietary greens. The BMJ’s editorial entitled can specific fruits and vegetables prevent diabetes? clearly points out that; “…an additional one and a half UK portions (roughly 120 g) daily of green leafy vegetables (for example, cabbage, brussel sprouts,broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach) has the potential to reduce the risk of diabetes by 14% independently of any effect of weight loss.” such a dietary change is not difficult to instigate and is good news for all those with a family history or those feeling overwhelmed by the more intensive dietary suggestions commonly promoted for diabetes prevention.

The study does underpin the need for good nutrition. Our modern diets are full and overloaded with excessive calories whilst being low in key nutrients that include trace minerals and antioxidants. Again, this is not a new concept but it appears that before such basic advice is taken seriously someone has to do the science to prove the point and then it hits the headlines (see the BBC news post), almost as some kind of new medical revelation!

For those interested, a full article on the subject of diet and type-2 diabetes prevention entitled Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis can be downloaded by clicking here.

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High GI-index foods and heart disease – is there a link?

High GI-index carbohydrates may trigger heart problems! No real surprise when you consider the effects these foods have on the type-II diabetes risk factors. Our diets are full of refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta and our intakes of sugar is ever increasing. It’s long been known that diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand but the idea that high GI foods could be an independent risk factor has come as a shock to many.

This large study looked at the volunteers’ diets and followed them up for almost eight years to see who developed coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a potentially dangerous fatty build-up in the arteries that supply the heart and can lead to a heart attack. The researchers found that women who ate higher levels of carbohydrates, particularly carbohydrates that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar (known as high-GI carbohydrates, see below), were at increased risk of developing CHD over the next eight years. The study’s main limitation is that it is difficult to rule out the possibility that other factors could have contributed to the effect observed. This study suggests that avoiding eating too much high-GI carbohydrate may help reduce the risk of heart disease, at least in women.
The researchers found that, among the study participants, the main sources of carbohydrates from high-GI foods were bread (60.8%), sugar or honey and jam (9.1%), pizza (5.4%) and rice (3.2%). The main sources of carbohydrates from low-GI foods were pasta (33.3%), fruit (23.5%) and cakes (18.6%).
In then end, the study concluded that “high dietary GL and carbohydrate intake from high-GI foods increase the overall risk of CHD in women but not men” in the Italian population they studied.

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Eat well to heal well

Most of us never give a second thought to the healing process, we get an injury and it heals up; simple. What we neglect to appreciate is just how complex and well orchestrated the healing process actually is. If any step along the way is defective or interrupted the healing process can become delayed and problems can ensue.

When we damage any tissue in the body the natural process of wound healing jumps in and immediately starts to clear things up. The damaged tissues need to be replaced with new. This process demands the use of precious raw materials such as proteins, specific nutrients and energy in the form of calories to fuel the mechanisms of repair. Even following a small wound the natural reaction of the body is to stimulate the metabolism as part of a stress reaction. In this situation the term stress does not imply the anxiety reaction commonly associated with the phrase but refers to the biological and hormonal stress reaction that places specific demands (stress) on the body. This early phase of wound healing is technically known as the ‘catabolic phase’ because it is characterized by a breakdown of tissue. During this time water can be used at an increased rate along with an increased release of energy from food or stored body fat. In very undernourished individuals, with low body fat, muscle may be broken down for energy. This situation is not good because it starves the healing wound of much needed proteins (since they are being ‘burnt’ to provide energy) when they should be being utilized for the healing process. In such cases, delayed wound healing is the inevitable result.

Common problems that are associated with delayed wound healing

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Liver disease
  • Smoking
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor circulation
  • Poor nutrition
  • Weak immune system
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Being over 65 years old

The importance of protein

Without a good protein supply wounds will not heal well at all. Reduced intake of protein will decrease the production of collagen; the ‘glue’ that literally holds us together. Most diets deliver adequate proteins but over phases of wound healing special attention should be given to high protein foods like grains, seeds, nuts, eggs, fish, meat and if you are not sensitive to it dairy foods.

L-Arginine is an important amino acid found in many protein foods. It’s a vital ingredient for the production of proteins structures needed for repair and a strong healed wound. Supplements containing L-Arginine have been shown to promote collagen production and accelerate the healthy healing of many kinds of soft tissue (skin, muscle, tendon) injuries. Another key amino acid needed for healing is L-Glutamine which is also needed for optimal collagen production. Using a supplement containing these saves the body from mobilizing them from muscle tissue and ensures a ready and adequate supply.

The importance of fats

Fats get a bad press but we do know that there are good and bad fats. All the cells in our body have a fat membrane that keeps the tissues flexible. Making sure that you get enough good fat in the diet can make a big difference to the healing process. There is no need to take excessive amounts of additional oils but 500-1000 mg of flax oil per day would be adequate. Taking too much omega-3 oil (eg. high strength fish oil) may actually reduce the strength of a healed wound.

The importance of carbohydrates

Energy is the currency needed to heal a wound. Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, cereals, brown rice and potatoes deliver plenty of starch that is readily metabolized into energy for life and healing. However, diabetics need t take care not to radically change their carbohydrate intake without supervision.

How about vitamins and minerals

Balanced diets should deliver all the nutrients needed but some nutrients do appear more important to boost wound healing. It may come as no surprise that vitamin C demands increase. This vitamin is needed for collagen production and immune support. Poor healed wounds and wound infection is associated with low vitamin C levels or intake. The same can be said about vitamin A but this nutrient should only be taken in the form of beta carotene because of the potential for toxic side effects from pure vitamin A (retinol). Eating plenty of coloured fruits and vegetables will boost the dietary levels and a supplement may help as well. Of all the minerals available to the body a healing wound demands extra zinc and iron. Unless anaemic, the body has good stores of iron and supplements are not recommended because of the risk of iron overload (toxicity) or more commonly bowel upset. Supplementation with zinc on the other hand may offer some additional benefit. Slow to heal wounds have been shown to improve with the use of additional zinc and by increasing the intake of key zinc foods such as fish, eggs and shellfish. Eating more red meat, eggs, dried fruit and dark green vegetables can boost dietary iron.

In general wounds healing can be significantly improved by careful attention to diet and fluid intake; it may sound simple but it’s a vital step and makes all the difference between a well healed or poorly healed wound. The preparation ST-Repair will deliver the key additional nutrients L-Arginine, L-Glutamine, vitamin C, beta carotene and zinc in the form of a supplement that have all been associated with optimal healing. Whether you have a surgical wound that needs healing, a sports injury or other soft tissue strain never forget the importance of food and nutrients in the process of healthy tissue repair.

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