Dr Alan Barclay
Diabetes and cardiovascular disease: check out the common ground.
Did you know that healthy eating to prevent and manage diabetes will also help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases? This is because these diseases share a number of common risk factors including central obesity, high blood fats, high blood pressure, being inactive and smoking. High blood glucose levels normally associated with diabetes are themselves a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, particularly in people who already have diabetes. There is also some evidence that having highly variable blood glucose levels (high and low BGLs) can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
The good news as regular readers of GI News know, is that there is very strong evidence from high quality randomised controlled trials that healthy low GI diets not only help you lose weight and keep it off, they help reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease. How? By both reducing high blood glucose levels and most importantly by decreasing fluctuations in blood glucose levels – low GI foods and meals help keep your blood glucose levels on an even keel throughout the day.
Low GI also matters when it comes to cholesterol. Eating less saturated fat is a common way of reducing blood cholesterol levels. But what you replace the saturated fats in your diet with is vitally important. It's important to be aware that in some specially designed low fat foods you can find in the supermarket the saturated fat is replaced with refined carbohydrates (sugars and starches) with a high GI – and this certainly won't reduce your risk. To help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, you need to replace foods high in saturated fat (e.g. fatty and in particular processed meats) with unsaturated fats (e.g., soy bean oil, oily fish, etc) and/or low GI carbohydrate foods. In Food for Thought in this issue of GI News you can see our tips for lowering the GI of your diet.
But healthy eating is not just about fats and carbohydrates – the right type and amount of protein you eat matters as well. There is growing evidence that consuming high quality protein (lean meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and alternatives) plays a key role in weight management. Recent evidence based on research in real people suggests at least 20% of our energy (kilojoules) should come from protein each day, although more research is needed. This is easy to achieve. Check out Nicole Senior's GI News story on getting enough of the quality protein you need HERE.
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Dr Alan W Barclay, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer
Glycemic Index Foundation (Ltd)
Phone: +61 (0)2 9785 1037
Mob: +61 (0)416 111 046
Fax: +61 (0)2 9785 1037