Overweight? Exhausted? Feel like you go from famished and faint to stuffed and sluggish half a dozen times a day? If so, extra-high blood sugar could be to blame.
Experts estimate that some two million Australians have prediabetes; 1.7 million already suffer from type 2 diabetes. Whether you’ve been diagnosed or you want to get your weight and diet on a healthy path, we have good news. It’s easier than you think—and your plate is the place to start.
In the fight against diabetes, food isn’t your enemy—it’s the solution. With a healthier diet, you can help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and metabolic syndrome—and still eat many of the foods you love. To make it easier for you to turn food from foe into friend, Prevention teamed up with two of the world’s leading diabetes experts. The result? The Diabetes Dtour Diet.
Here, we explain the science behind the Diabetes Dtour and the essential supernutrients for balancing your blood sugar levels and encouraging weight loss.
DTOUR DIET BASICS
Dtour is based on research that found that four specific nutrients—omega-3 fats, fibre, calcium and vitamin D—work together to help fight fat, balance blood sugar and get you out of the diabetes danger zone, or even help you avoid it altogether. (To see whether you’re at risk, take the quiz on p. 96.) To shed kilos and help balance your blood sugar, follow these rules:
1 Include foods with fibre, vitamin D, omega-3 fats and calcium in your daily menu. These nutritional superstars—the ‘Fat-Fighting 4’ —work together to balance blood sugar, boost energy, reduce inflammation and help you lose weight.
2 Eat frequently That means about every three hours, for a total of three meals and two snacks a day. Eating at regular intervals stabilises blood sugar, which helps tame hunger, prevent overeating and maintain high energy levels.
3 Control portions Weight gain is often not about what but how much you’re eating. To keep kJs in check, grab a measuring cup and spoons and a food scale, and weigh and measure meals and snacks according to the serving sizes in our meal plan.
THE FAT-FIGHTING 4
The Dtour Diet is based on new research that found that certain nutrients in foods are powerful at balancing blood sugar and encouraging weight loss. “And when eaten together, they’re even more effective,” says Prevention’s Dtour medical adviser, Dr Francine Kaufman. “That’s important because excess fat, especially around your abdomen, causes inflammation in cells, making them even more resistant to insulin and driving up blood sugar.” These four supernutrients—the Fat-Fighting 4—help you take control.
Scientists aren’t sure how calcium burns body fat—some believe it reduces the fat-producing effects of a steroid hormone called calcitriol, says dietitian Barbara Quinn, author of The Diabetes Dtour Diet book. What we do know is that it works: researchers at The University of Tennessee in the US found that obese people who went on a low-kilojoule diet that contained three daily servings of calcium-rich dairy lost 70% more weight and 64% more body fat than did those who ate just one serving of dairy a day.
Calcium food sources Skim milk, low-fat dairy products, calcium-enriched soy alternatives, spinach, kale, broccoli and white beans
2. Vitamin D
A study from Tufts Medical Center in the US showed that low levels of D raise a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 46%. “Researchers believe that vitamin D quells cellular inflammation that contributes to diabetes,” explains Quinn. Plus, your body needs D to absorb calcium—together, they can help fight diabetes.
According to the Nurses’ Health Study, an ongoing US investigation of more than 83,000 women, those who consumed more than 1,200mg of calcium and more than 800 IU of vitamin D a day were 33% less likely to have developed diabetes than those taking in less of both nutrients. The Dtour Diet gives you 400 IU of D per day, so include a daily multivitamin that also contains 400 IU.
Salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, fortified wholegrain cereal, fortified skim milk and Swiss cheese
High-fibre foods tend to be nutrient-rich, filling and low in kilojoules—making them weight-loss wonders. According to one US study, people who stuck to higher fibre diets lost around 1 kg more per month than those on lower fibre diets did. And fibre triggers hormones that control appetite, which also aids weight loss. Plus, both soluble and insoluble fibre help control blood sugar. The soluble type, which dissolves in water to form a thick gel during digestion, can interfere with and slow carbohydrate and glucose absorption in the gut, explains Quinn. Insoluble fibre doesn’t dissolve; it stays solid and moves quickly through the digestive tract, so intestines have less time to absorb carbs, and blood-sugar levels stay even.
Wholegrain breads and cereals, brown rice, barley, oats, bran, apples, pears, citrus fruits, carrots, beans and artichokes
4. Omega-3 fats
New science published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that women who ate a balanced diet including omega-3s lost almost 1 kg more of torso fat than women on the same diet but without the omega-3s did. These healthy fats slow the rate of digestion, which makes you feel fuller longer, so you eat fewer kilojoules throughout the day, says Quinn. “Omega-3s also reduce inflammation, a major risk factor for diabetes, and appear to improve insulin resistance,” she adds.
Tofu, enriched eggs, prawns, salmon, tuna, walnuts, LSA (linseed, sunflower seed, almond) mix and flaxseed oil