Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Question of the week: Good Fats???

The following question was posted by one of my readers, " I have pre-diabetes and am confused about fats. A friend was telling me there are "healthier fats" I should be including in my diet. I thought all fats were bad? Could you tell me which fats I should include in my diet (if any)?"

Your friend is correct. When including fats in your diet, there are definitely fats that are better choices than others.

Fats play an important role in the body. Fat is essential for the proper functioning of the body. Fats provide essential fatty acids, which must be obtained from food. The essential fatty acids are linoleic and linolenic acid. They are necessary for controlling inflammation, blood clotting, and brain development.

Fat functions as the storage substance for the body's extra calories. It is also an insulator and an important energy source. Healthy skin and hair are maintained by fat. Fat helps the body absorb and move the vitamins A, D, E, and K through the bloodstream.

There are several types of fats:

The "healthier" fats are the unsaturated fats. There are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Despite being healthy, it is still important to watch your portion sizes when consuming these healthy fats.

First there are the monounsaturated fats that include, but are not limited to, avocados, oils (i.e. canola, olive, peanut, or sesame), nuts (such as almonds and cashews), olives, and all-natural peanut butter (unprocessed).

Polyunsaturated fats include oils (i.e. corn, safflower, soybean, and cottonseed), walnuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and fish.

The fats that we need to reduce, or better yet, eliminate from our diets are the saturated and transfats.

Saturated fats are the biggest dietary cause of high LDL levels or bad cholesterol"). When looking at a food label, pay very close attention to the percentage of saturated fat and avoid or limit any foods that are high. Saturated fat should be limited to 10% of calories. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream, and fatty meats. They are also found in some vegetable oils -- coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils.

Transfats form when a vegetable oil hardens (hydrogenation) and can increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. They can also reduce HDL levels ("good cholesterol"). Trans fatty acids are found in fried foods, commercial baked goods (donuts, cookies, crackers), processed foods, and margarines. Key words on food labels which indicate transfats are "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated". Transfats have been linked to heart disease.

Source: Medline Plus

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Question of the week: Pre-Diabetes and Weightloss

The following question was submitted by a reader for discussion on my blog, "I have pre-diabetes and my doctor has told me if I don't lose weight I will end up with type 2 diabetes. I have about 75 pounds to lose. Could you tell me the best way to do this?"

Pre-diabetes is the condition that occurs when one's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not quite high enough for to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Losing even a small amount of weight (5-10 percent of total body weight) through diet and moderate exercise, such as walking or riding a bicycle (ie. 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week) can make a huge difference). A loss of just 10-15 lbs can make a huge difference. If you have pre-diabetes, you are at a 50% increased risk for heart disease or a stroke.

*Integrate more fruits, vegetables, and high fiber foods into your diet.
*Substitute any whole or full fat milk or cheeses with ones of lower fat or fat free varieties.
*Drink water (flavor it with a lemon or lime wedge) and eliminate any caloric beverages (i.e. soda, flavored sweetened beverages). Avoid diet sodas.
*Substitute white flour products and white rice with ones of whole grain varieties. i.e. Whole Wheat Pasta, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Bread.
*Introduce whole grains into your diet such as quinoa, amaranth, and millet.
*Watch your portion sizes.

Source: American Diabetes Association

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Question of the week: Blood Sugar Numbers

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, "I was just told I am type 2 diabetic. My doctor told me to try to control by numbers by diet. I have noticed my blood sugar is high in the morning before I have eaten. Could you explain why?

There are several reasons why your blood sugar would be high in the morning before you have eaten. There is something called the "dawn effect," also called the "dawn phenomenon," which is a term used to describe an abnormal early-morning increase in blood sugar (glucose) — usually between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. — in people with diabetes.

Researchers believe it's due to the natural overnight release of hormones — including growth hormones, cortisol, glucagon and epinephrine — that increase insulin resistance.

High morning blood sugar may be caused by other things. Some of the possible causes may be insufficient insulin the night before, incorrect medication dosages or eating carbohydrate snacks at bedtime may cause blood sugar to be elevated in the morning. When necessary, checking your blood sugars once during the night — around 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. — will help you and your doctor to determine if you have the dawn phenomenon or if there's another reason for an elevated morning blood sugar reading.

Based on the blood test results, your doctor may recommend one of the following options to prevent or correct high morning blood sugar levels:

* Not eating a carbohydrate snack at bedtime
* Adjusting your dosage of medication or insulin
* Switching to a different medication
* Using an insulin pump to administer extra insulin during early-morning hours

Source: The Mayo Clinic