Both obesity and type-2 diabetes have reached epidemic proportions. The two crises are costing us more then just expensive medical interventions, they are costing us our lives.

While experts do not agree on one single treatment approach for either condition, they do recognize that dietary changes are a crucial part of the equation. Earlier dietary treatment of Diabetes focused narrowly on eliminating “sugar” to lower blood glucose levels.  In recent decades, however, experts tend to focus also on making long-term, lifestyle changes. However, according to a review from the Journal of The American College of Nutrition  a new twist on that “old” diet plan might also be a reasonable approach that works for a lifetime.

In addition to emphasizing a diet rich in  fruits and vegetables, Dr. Barry Sears, creator of the Zone Diet and founder of the Inflammation Research Foundation, now promotes a 1-2-3 diet plan. This diet has been shown to reduce hunger and improve weight status, improve blood glucose and insulin levels, stabilize blood lipid levels, as well as reduce inflammation.

He recommends that for every gram of fat consumed, an individual should consume 2 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbohydrate. The diet he recommends is low-calorie (about 1,200 per day), moderate in carbohydrates (about 150g per day) and similar in composition to a Mediterranean diet, in which non-starchy vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and healthy oils are emphasized.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Most of the carbohydrates come from fruits and vegetables. Why? Piling on the fruits and veggies will make up about 2/3 of the bulk of your diet, but only ½ of the calories. He recommends eating ~10 servings (about 4-5 cups) of raw or steamed non-starchy vegetables, like dark leafy greens, broccoli, mushrooms, snow peas, bell peppers, and artichokes. This far exceeds the USDA recommendation of at least 2.5 cups per day, but only contributes about 200 calories (50 grams of carbohydrate). These veggies are also considered to have a low-glycemic index, because they have a low impact on blood glucose due to their low sugar and high fiber content.He recommends, getting the remaining 100 grams (400 calories) of carbohydrate from whole fruits and starches (preferably whole grains).  A ½ cup of fruit or a small piece of fruit contributes 15 grams of carbohydrate (60 calories) – about the same as a slice of bread, a 1/3 cup of rice/pasta, or half of a baked potato.
  • Protein needs should be met with low-fat fish, chicken, and tofu. About 14 ounces per day contributes 400 calories (100 grams of protein).  This higher proportion of dietary protein stimulates the release of “satiety hormones” which could reduce overall intake, since you feel fuller after a meal.  This is crucial, since calorie intake is casino en ligne francais bonus sans depot somewhat restricted in the 1-2-3 diet plan, and long-term adherence hinges on feeling satisfied.
  • Fat should come primarily from monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) with an emphasis of foods containing eicosapentanoic acid (EPA). These fats make up the remaining 200 calories in the diet, and should replace animal sources of saturated fat (butter, red meat, cheese, etc.). MUFAs are found in olive, peanut, and canola oils, avocado, nuts, and seeds and help promote insulin sensitivity, while PUFAs are found in safflower, corn, and sunflower oil, as well as nuts and seeds.
  • Omega 3″s Most of these foods contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but Sears advocates that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids relative to omega-6 fatty acids is ideal.  Excellent sources of omega-3″s  include fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, and sardines (fatty fish is rich in EPA), and flaxseeds and walnuts.

A diet like the one Dr. Sears recommends has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, promote healthy weight maintenance, and help control the risk factors for other chronic diseases, like cancer.  So, regardless of whether you are overweight or have diabetes, focusing on consuming more fruits and veggies, low-fat protein, and reducing your saturated fat will have health benefits.  It’s important to check with your healthcare provider before making such a drastic diet change, especially if you’re being treated for a chronic disease.

Here”s to adding a few more brightly colored salads, fresh berries, and grilled sardines to your menu.

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About Tasha Gerken

Tasha is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She completed her Dietetic Internship at the NYU Langone Medical Center, NYU Pediatric Dental Clinic, and Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), a non-profit providing medical and social services to HIV+ individuals. Tasha's experience and interests focus on community health promotion and helping her clients build healthier relationships with food. She is well-versed in the world of food allergies, celiac disease, gastrointestinal disorders, sports nutrition, nutrition during pregnancy and childhood nutrition. She loves going on food and wine adventures, supports local agriculture, and is an avid volleyball player.

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