Fend off diabetes with food



An all-around, healthy diet is, of course, important for anyone, but prediabetics should pay special attention to foods that provide vitamins and minerals their bodies may be lacking — some of which could actually help ward off diabetes.

Think D for Diabetes Protection
A number of studies have shown that vitamin D intake is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. One 2004 American journal of Clinical Nutrition study, for example, Found that subjects with lower-than-normal levels of vitamin D showed increased insulin resistance.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends that adults get 200-600 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, depending on age. Unlike with other vitamins, the human body can manufacture its own vitamin D in the skin: Just 30 minutes of sun exposure produces about 10,000-12,000 IU of vitamin D. Nevertheless, most people in the US fall short, especially in winter.

Fortunately, sun exposure is not our only access to vitamin D. The nutrient is also found in some foods, including sardines, shiitake mushrooms, tuna, salmon and fortified milk from cows and soybeans.

Supplements are also good idea for diabetes prevention: In a recent study in Diabetes Care, women who took 800 IU of vitamin D daily (especially together with calcium) had a significantly lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

More Magnesium = Reduced Diabetes Risk Magnesium is another nutrient that can help protect against diabetes. Researchers in another Diabetes Care study reported that people with the highest levels of magnesium had the lowest risk of diabetes. And a similar trial found that greater intake of magnesium reduced the incidence of type 2 diabetes, especially in overweight women. The Recommended Daily Allowance for magnesium is 400-420mg for adult men and 320mg for adult women (more if pregnant or nursing), but the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine estimate that 50-85 percent of Americans get inadequate amounts. The best food sources for this mineral are amaranth, sunflower seeds, quinoa, spinach, wild rice, tofu, almonds, halibut, brown rice, white beans and avocadoes. Wholegrain foods like bread and cereal, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, also provide significant amounts of magnesium.

Don't miss the January 2007 issue of Better Nutrition, where author Debra Rouse's health and nutrition tips will be featured in our Redo YOU! Makeover Contest. See p. 53 of this issue for more information.


By Debra Rouse, ND

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