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[IP] Diabetic Diet Creates Controversy

This article is from Health Care Central:


Diabetic Diet Creates Controversy

August 25, 2003
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so they say. For diabetics, that
may be literally true.

Food is turned into sugar (glucose), the fuel that runs our bodies. In
diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood because cells cannot utilize it
properly. The type of food eaten affects the rise in blood glucose after a

One of the biggest controversies in diabetes management these days is how
diabetics should eat. This is no tempest in a teapot. Experts estimate that
20 million Americans now have diabetes, and perhaps another 20 million are
prediabetic. Many dont know they are at increased risk of heart disease,
stroke, kidney failure and loss of vision as a result of abnormal blood

Diabetics used to be told to avoid sugar so that blood glucose wouldnt
spike dangerously high. Back then no one knew that a baked potato could
raise blood sugar as much as a scoop of ice cream. In fact, the usual
recommendation for diabetics is a diet rich in complex carbohydrates

Now some heretics are suggesting that too much starch is contributing to the
epidemic of diabetes. Foods such as pasta, rice, bread, cereal, waffles,
crackers and chips can raise blood sugar almost like cookies and candy.
Fruit juice and starchy vegetables (beets, carrots and corn) may also pose a
problem for some people.

These critics advocate a diet rich in low-starch vegetables and lean meat,
fowl and fish. Tofu and soy meat substitutes may also be beneficial.

Diabetics have a powerful tool to help them find out how specific meals
affect their blood sugar. Using a home monitor periodically throughout the
day, a diabetic can measure the effects of food, exercise and stress on
blood glucose. Such conscientious attention allows an individual to tailor
his or her regimen to the daily challenges of blood sugar control.

Many diabetics would prefer to take a pill or insulin injection and not
worry about diet. But for optimal control, careful attention to food intake
and exercise may be needed along with medication.

Drugs can play a role not only in treating diabetes, but unexpectedly, in
triggering elevated blood sugar. A surprising number of medicines can alter
metabolism and raise blood glucose. Diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide
(HCTZ), corticosteroids like prednisone and some beta-blockers may have this

Hormone replacement therapy can also raise blood sugar. One reader related,
Six months ago I had a physical, including a blood sugar test for diabetes.
The test was high, and my doctor insisted I was diabetic.

I looked up Prempro and found it can raise blood sugar. I quit taking it
and now my blood sugar is normal.

To manage blood sugar and prevent the consequences of diabetes, people must
balance diet, exercise, stress and medications. With regular monitoring this
is now feasible.
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