High Blood Sugar & The "Fat-Fighting 4"

It used to be that only diabetics had to worry about their blood sugar, but not anymore.

People who are feeling tired or listless during the day, who are slightly overweight, or who have harried schedules and irregular eating schedules might be fighting high blood sugar cycles, and eventually be susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

Prevention magazine teamed up with diabetic experts to try to design a system to combat the problem through food. Their findings indicate that consuming more of the "Fat-Fighting 4" foods that are high in calcium, Vitamin D, Omega-3s and fiber will keep energy levels high, and weight down. Editor in Chief of Prevention, Liz Vaccariello, visited the Early Show to explain the findings.

First, a quick three question quiz. Your answers explain your blood sugar balance -- and how by eating the "Fat-Fighting 4" nutrients, you can bring your weight down while maintaining a healthy energy level.

QUESTION 1:

Describe your energy level:
1. Ready to go all day.
2. Peppy, but soon pooped.
3. Tired all the time.

What the answers mean:

B suggests you need a late-afternoon healthy snack to maintain your energy level throughout the day.

C suggests problems with blood sugar balance, and might you need to substitute more of the "fat fighting four" ingredients into your diet. People who have blood sugar issues have trouble converting their food into energy, so you'll feel tired. Your body isn't getting the nutrients it needs.

QUESTION 2:

Hours of sleep each night:
1. 7 ½ or more.
2. Between 6 & 7 ½.
3. Fewer than 6.

What the answers mean:

A spate of studies is turning up clear links between inadequate sleep and obesity as well as other medication conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. You have to pay as much attention to getting enough sleep as you do to a nutritious diet.

QUESTION 3:

Your doctor has told you:
1. You're of healthy weight.
2. Lose a few pounds.
3. Drop at least 20 pounds.

What the answers mean:

A is best answer.

B, C: For most people, their weight and their blood sugar are inseparable. As one rises or falls, so does the other. And high blood sugar can cause you to gain weight and make losing it much harder. That's why dropping those extra pounds is so vital to reining in your blood sugar, and why losing as little as 5-10 percent of your body weight can make a significant difference.

What is the purpose of the quiz? To determine if you are making lifestyle choices that help prevent diabetes or put you at a greater risk for it. It may be time to take a detour from the road you are on. One in four of us has pre-diabetes and doesn't even know it, and if current trends continue, one in three of us will be diagnosed with diabetes in our lifetime.

The latest cutting-edge research shows that specific nutrients in foods are especially powerful at fighting fat, balancing blood sugar and getting you out of the diabetes danger zone, or even avoiding it all together. And when eaten together, they are even more effective.

The "Fat-Fighting 4" nutrients and how to get more of them

1. Calcium -- Researchers at the University of Tennessee found that obese people who went on a low-calorie diet that contained three daily servings of calcium-rich dairy lost 70 percent more weight and 64 percent more body fat than those who ate just one serving of dairy a day.

Calcium food sources: Fat-free milk and low-fat dairy, spinach, kale, broccoli, and white beans

2. Vitamin D -- A landmark study from Tufts-New England Medical Center showed that low levels of Vitamin D raise a person's risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 46 percent. And your body needs D to absorb calcium and together this powerhouse pair may turn out to be the most potent diabetes defense around.

Vitamin D food sources: Salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, fortified whole grain cereal, fortified fat-free milk, and Swiss cheese

3. Omega-3s -- A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that Omega-3s may help burn body fat, shrink abdominal fat cells and thwart certain genes that trigger inflammation in the belly. These healthy fats slow the rate of digestion, which makes you feel fuller longer, so you eat fewer calories throughout the day.

Omega-3 food sources: Fish is one the best sources, enriched eggs, shrimp, salmon, tuna, walnuts, flax, flaxseed oil, tofu.

4. Fiber -- According to a study done at the University of Minnesota, people who stuck to higher-fiber diets lost 2 to 3 pounds more per month than those who followed lower-fiber diets. Fiber triggers hormones that control appetite, which also helps with weight loss. Plus, both soluble and insoluble fiber help control blood sugar: The soluble type dissolves in water and forms a thick gel during digestion, which can interfere with and slow down carbohydrate and glucose absorption in the intestines.

Fiber food sources: Whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, barley, oatmeal and oat bran, apples, pears, citrus fruits, carrots, beans, and artichokes

A lot people see food as an enemy when they are diabetic, focusing on what they can't have. But with the Diabetes DTOUR Diet, food is the solution and "The Fat-Fighting 4" are the core of the diet.

DTOUR is for ANYONE who:

  • Is a slave to their cravings and finds themselves riding a hunger rollercoaster each day

  • Is carrying excess weight (especially around their belly)

  • Feels tired all the time

  • Is pre-diabetic and doesn't know it

  • Is diabetic and doesn't know it

  • Has already been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes

  • Cares for someone with pre-diabetes or diabetes

    To shed pounds and help balance your blood sugar, follow these rules:

    1. Eat foods with the "Fat-Fighting 4" daily; calcium, vitamin D, omega-3s, and fiber.

    2. Eat frequently. Every 3 hours, for a total of three meals and two snacks a day. Eating at regular intervals keeps blood sugar steady, which helps tame hunger, prevent overeating, and maintain high energy levels. Studies show that people who eat less often during the day actually weigh more than those who consume the same number of calories but eat more frequently.

    3. Practice portion control. Many times it's not about what you're eating, but how much, that leads to weight gain. To learn to keep calories in check, pull out a measuring cup and spoons and a food scale, and weigh and measure your meals and snacks following the serving sizes in our meal plan.

    Some sample recipes and meal plan:

    Day 1

    Breakfast -- Super white egg: Break 1 whole egg in small skillet coated with 2 tsp. canola oil. Add 1 egg white (or 1/4 c egg substitute) around outside of whole egg and cook over low heat. Top with 2 Tbsp. chopped tomato or salsa. Serve with 1 slice reduced-calorie, high-fiber whole grain toast spread with 1 tsp. canola margarine and 1 cup fat-free milk or calcium-enriched soy beverage.

    Lunch -- Tuna sandwich: Mix 2 oz. water-packed tuna with 2 tsp. regular mayonnaise and 4 chopped large black olives. Spread on 2 slices reduced-calorie whole grain bread. Top with lettuce leaf and sliced tomato (1/2 c).

    Snack -- Yogurt and dried fruit: 6 oz. fat-free yogurt and 4 dried apricot halves.

    Dinner -- Chicken and broccoli stir-fry: Sauté 4 oz. chicken (or lean beef) and 2 cups broccoli, carrots, and onions in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. light teriyaki stir-fry sauce. Serve over 1/3 cup cooked brown rice.

    Snack -- Popcorn: 3 cups light microwave popcorn.

    Day 2

    Breakfast -- Peanut butter banana toast: Spread 1 slice reduced-calorie whole grain toast with 2 Tbsp. all-natural peanut butter and top with 1/2 medium sliced banana. Serve with 1/2 cup fat-free milk or calcium-enriched soy beverage.

    Lunch -- Chicken Caesar salad: Toss 3 cups romaine lettuce with 2 oz. skinless chicken, sliced, and 1/2 cup mandarin oranges (drained). Drizzle with 2 Tbsp. reduced-fat Caesar dressing and top with 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese. Serve with 1 oz. whole grain crackers.

    Snack -- Fruit and nuts: 1 cup apple slices and 1/4 cup walnut halves.

    Dinner -- Steak and potatoes: Broil 4 oz. top sirloin and serve with 1/2 oven-baked potato (slice potato lengthwise, drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil, and bake cut side down) and garlic-roasted asparagus (toss 10 medium asparagus spears in 1 tsp. olive oil and chopped garlic, then bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes).

    Snack -- Crackers and milk: 3 graham cracker squares and 1 cup fat-free milk.

    Day 3

    Breakfast -- Pancakes: Top 3 buckwheat or whole wheat pancakes (6" diameter) with 1 tsp. canola oil margarine and 1 Tbsp. 100 percent fruit spread (or 2 Tbsp. sugar-free syrup). Serve with 1 cup fat-free milk or calcium-enriched soy or rice beverage.

    Lunch -- Pile 'er high turkey-and-ham sandwich: Spread 2 slices reduced-calorie, high-fiber whole wheat bread with 1 Tbsp. light mayonnaise (or 1 tsp. regular mayo and 1 Tbsp. mustard), if desired. Layer on 1 oz each of turkey, ham, and low-fat cheese. Top with 1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce and 1/2 sliced tomato. Serve with 16 baby carrots dipped in 1 Tbsp. low-fat ranch dressing.

    Snack -- Yogurt parfait: 1 cup fat-free plain yogurt topped with 3/4 cup fresh blueberries or blackberries.

    Dinner -- Grilled fish: Grill 3 oz. salmon and top with 1/2 cup chopped melon and
    mango. Serve with 2 cups fresh spinach tossed with 2 Tbsp. chopped pecans, sliced red onions, and 1 Tbsp. oil-and-vinegar dressing. Serve with 1 cup fat-free milk.

    Snack -- Apple and peanut butter: 1 small apple, sliced and spread with 2 tsp. all-natural peanut butter.
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