I was giving a presentation last night to a group of individuals of Indian sub-continent extraction. As a group, south Asians appear to be particularly prone to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. And judging by the expanded waistlines in the audience, this group were no difference. Part of my presentation focused on the potential hazards of carb-rich foods such as rice and chappatis in the development of abdominal obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. I made point that a lower-carb diet is the, generally, the way to go for those wanting to lose fat and reduce their risk of these health issues.
One of the foods I recommended is nuts. Nuts are a highly nutritious food. A recent study found that those including nuts in their diet had generally more nutritious diets with regards to key nutrients including magnesium and potassium . Nut-eating appears to be particularly beneficial for diabetics, and is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. And, despite being rammed full of fat, nuts are not fattening.
After the presentation, I lost count of the number of people who came up to me to express how surprised (and pleased) to learn that nuts were ‘on the menu’. All had been advised not to eat them on accouint of their calorific nature. The people I spoke to were also, it seems, please to have been exposed to ‘the other side’ regarding healthy eating and disease prevention. Notably, among them were several type 2 diabetics. Without exception, each of these told me that they had been strenuously encouraged to eat a low fat, carbohydrate rich diet.
Just to ram home the points I’d made in my presentation, I asked each one of them (rhetorically), what type of foods diabetics have difficulty handling metabolically (carbohydrate). I then asked whether it made sense for them to base their diets on the very food type their bodies cannot handle. If high blood sugar is the hallmark of diabetes, why base the diet on foods that tend to raise blood sugar substantially? I also mentioned some studies that demonstrate that low-carb diets bring significant benefits for diabetics.
My impression was that again, without exception, these diabetics ‘got it’. Some of them asked how come something so wrong (diabetics should eat lots of carbohydrate) could become established as fact. Part of the reason, I explained, relates to the fact that if something gets repeated long enough and often enough, it becomes ‘fact’. At one point, for example, it was ‘fact’ that the world was flat. Now we know better. The problem is, I think, that even in the face of good evidence and common sense to the contrary, many health professionals continue to maintain that diabetics should eat a diet rich in the very foods that appear to do them most harm.
1. O’Neil CD, et al. Tree nut consumption improves nutrient intake and diet quality in US adults: an analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999-2004. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2010;19(1):142-50