There is some confusion around the most appropriate diet for the diabetic with no single regimen being proven to help the condition.

There is conflicting dietary advice given almost every day from so called experts in their fields. This is made worse by the popular press selectively reporting snippets from medical papers that often has the effect of skewing the misinterpreting the original message.

Undoubtedly, refined white sugar and products containing this substance are not going to be helpful for the diabetic simply because of the almost immediate absorption of this substance into the blood as glucose. But there is more to a diet suitable for diabetics than just sugar considerations.

There have been claims of type 2 diabetes being cured by diet alone although the diabetic associations are adamant that no cure for diabetes exists.

Christian Roberts of the University of California undertook research into diet and diabetes and found that in 50% of those studied, who followed a diet based on pritkin principles, the type 2 diabetes symptoms were reversed.

The regime for this study involved participants exercising for one hour every day and following a diet that was based on vegetables and whole grains with a little animal protein.

Another small study in the USA concluded that high fibre diets assisted in keeping blood glucose levels low.

There is controversy over the dietary recommendations being offered by the diabetic associations both in the UK and the USA. Their current advice is for diabetics to follow a low fat, carbohydrate based diet despite what appears to be fairly compelling evidence to the contrary.

The problem everyone faces in deciphering what represents a safe diet, whether they are diabetic or not, is in knowing which research to trust. Just about every piece of research undertaken has an agenda to be fulfilled. It may be that the research is being sponsored by a drug company to prove the benefits of a particular drug treatment; it may be that the research is undertaken by someone who is simply setting out to prove a pet theory. There is too little research that is truly independent and undertaken without prejudice to the outcome.

It has been suggested, and some would say proven, that an Atkins type diet high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrate is the most suitable for a diabetic and it would certainly seem logical that restricting (particularly refined) carbohydrates would help to prevent elevated glucose levels in the blood stream.

There is a link between insulin, glucose and cholesterol – particularly what is termed “bad cholesterol” and proponents of the Atkins diet claim that cholesterol levels are not adversely affected by this diet regime. Of course there are contrary views.

It is important for diabetics to realise that everyone has an individual metabolism and physiology. What may be a healthy diet for one person could be life threatening for another. A diet based around healthy protein – organic white meat and fish; natural carbohydrates – vegetables, salads and fruit; and monounsaturated fat supplemented by the essential fatty acids is a good starting point. Once this is established there is no reason why, under controlled conditions, individuals should not try introducing whole grains to see what effect they have on their glucose levels. In this way diabetics can assess for themselves what represents a healthy, life saving diet.

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