Narrowed and hardened arteries-atherosclerosis-are a common risk associated with type 1 diabetes. Fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up to create plaque, which narrows the arteries and makes blood flow more difficult. The increased risk of blood clots often leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Recently, I was cuddling my sleeping toddler and watching a recorded episode of The View. If you've never seen the show, five well-known women discuss "hot topics" and interview guests. On the day I watched, their guest co-host was Paula Deen, the Southern chef who is best known for adding endless sticks of butter to her recipes.
Canadian scientists have found that nobiletin, a substance found in high concentrations in tangerines, thwarted obesity and the onset of diabetes in lab mice. The researchers at the University of Western Ontario fed the mice a high-sugar, high-fat diet that mimicked the diet of many people in Western societies. One group of animals became obese, developing fatty livers and elevated levels of cholesterol and insulin-typical precursors to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But a second group of mice, given the flavonoid nobiletin, did not develop the symptoms of the first group. The nobiletin prevented fatty buildup in the liver by blocking the genes that control the production of fat.
We all know by now that fat isn't necessarily a bad thing. Enough advertisements and recommendations for fish oil and omega-3 supplements have appeared over the past few years to make that clear. But what if "good fat" isn't just about eating fish or a taking a fishy-tasting supplement? What if that good fat can be found in a common cooking oil?
What is it about salt that brings out so many powerful flavors and strong feelings? Simple sodium chloride, or salt, as it's known to everyone but chemistry teachers, has been applied to food as a seasoning since the beginning of civilization. Unfortunately, the sodium in salt has proven dangerous both to diabetics and to healthy people who have a propensity toward heart disease.
Italian and Greek researchers conducting a meta-analysis* of the diets of more than 500,000 people have concluded that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors that are common precursors to type 2 diabetes. Those factors include overweight or obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, high blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and high "bad" cholesterol. The Mediterranean diet is high in fruit, vegetables, whole grain foods, and low-fat dairy products. Proteins include fish, legumes, poultry, tree nuts, and mono-unsaturated fatty acids from olive oil. Alcohol intake is moderate and almost always in conjunction with meals. Red meat is only an occasional menu item. The scientists looked at 50 studies that involved more than 500,000 people, then extrapolated the effects of a Mediterranean diet from them. Although the meta-analysis pointed to the usefulness of the Mediterranean diet in fending off metabolic syndrome, its authors said that their conclusion is tentative, given the need for more research on the topic. The study was published in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. * A meta-analysis looks at a number of similar studies and tries to derive new and useful results from them by detecting common patterns among them.
Michael Hamman is a 63-year-old contractor. He recalls, "I first was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five or six years ago. I probably had elevated blood sugar well in advance of that, but I was unaware of it. I don't remember how high my blood sugar was at the time, but I think my A1C was 7.5%. My blood sugar's never really been awful. Since I started monitoring myself, my sugar readings are normally between 150 and 165. I think it was pushing 200 before I was medicated, but the medications brought it down. They started me on glyburide and I took that for a long time, and then the A1C was moving up again, so they added the metformin. The A1C now is down in the mid-sixes. They consider it controlled, not well controlled or as good as it could be, but certainly for someone my size, it's probably as good as you can get."
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