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This fantastic article was written by Galen Chay, founder of Fit and Healthy Beyond 50! We encourage you to check out his website here! 

I’ve always wondered why doctors don’t prescribe detailed diet plans to patients diagnosed with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

In the past, there wasn’t as much information on nutrition as there is today so you can’t blame the doctors.

The Situation Today

Unfortunately, nothing much has really changed. Many doctors still don’t give adequate detailed diet plans to control this chronic illness, which brings me to…

The 7 Reasons Why Most Diabetic Diet Plans Fail Miserably

1. You’re Still Following the Outdated Pyramid Diet

food pyramid

The most well-known version of the pyramid diet was the one developed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1992. 1 The guidelines advocate 6 – 11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta which form the base of the diet: refined high carb foods. This means that it’s basically a high carb low-fat diet.

I have nothing against carbs. In fact, carbs from whole foods such as sweet potatoes, yams, taro, fruits and legumes are incredibly healthy, if you don’t have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes! Once you have one of these conditions, any high carb food you eat will skyrocket your blood sugar levels within 30 mins and will remain elevated because your body is unable to metabolize the glucose, so it remains in the bloodstream.

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What makes it worse is that the pyramid diet’s guidelines recommend refined carbs, which have been linked to diabetes, even in Asian populations where the consumption of grains has been in traditional Asian cuisines. 2

So, if you want your blood sugar levels to go down, please avoid ALL refined carbs especially grains.

2. Your Diet is Still High in Carbs

Okay, so you ditch the refined carbs, and now you eat unrefined carbs instead – whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat bread and roots and tubers like sweet potatoes, yams, and carrots.

Then you discover your blood sugar is STILL elevated! Well, you’ll never be able to get your blood sugar down and under control if you continue eating such high carb foods.

Let’s take brown rice – its glycemic index is 50 while the glycemic load is 16. These are all in the moderate range, which will still keep your blood sugar elevated. Let’s take another whole grain, quinoa. Its GI is 53 with the GL at 13, all of which are also in the moderate range.

Tubers and root vegetables are the same. Yam has a GI of 54 and a GL of 20, which is moderate and high respectively. Sweet potatoes have a GI and GL of 70 and 22 both of which are high. Carrots, on the other hand, have a GI and GL of 39 and 2 respectively both of which are on the low side.

So are carrots safe for people with diabetes? Nope. The GI and GL of carrots are low in their raw state. But once it’s cooked, the GI and GL can skyrocket to 75 and 20!

See what I’m getting at? To control your diabetes, you need to avoid ALL high carb foods until your blood sugar levels are back to normal without medication.

3. You Are Using Sweeteners and Other Forms of Sugar

You have entirely avoided sugar and are using other sweeteners to get some taste into your cup of coffee or tea and wondering why your blood glucose levels have not come down.

If you’re using artificial sweeteners, honey or coconut sugar, your blood sugar will remain elevated.

A study by the American Diabetes Association found that, “the aspartame breakfast induced a similar rise in glucose and insulin levels at baseline than the sucrose meal, even if the aspartame meal had the same taste, and was 22% lower in calories and 10% lower in carbohydrates, with an inferior glycemic index.” 3

Another study also by the American Diabetes Association reported that consumption of drinks with artificial sweeteners increased risks of diabetes by 67% and metabolic syndrome by 35%. 4

Yet a separate research animal study done in Israel found that artificial sweeteners promoted glucose intolerance by altering gut bacteria! 5

So that throws the notion of artificial sweeteners being safe for diabetics out of the window!

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Now, let’s move on to honey. Although some studies show that raw honey doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as dextrose and sucrose, for folks with prediabetes, insulin resistance, and Type 2 diabetes, I would suggest total avoidance as well. 6

This is because the GL of raw honey is an extremely high at 169 because it is 82% sugar by weight and about 40% of that is fructose!

Coconut sugar isn’t much better either; it is made up of 70% to 80% sucrose, and 50% of sucrose is fructose, the other 50% being glucose. This makes coconut sugar 38% to 48% fructose which is about the same as sugar!

4. You’re Still Drinking Fruit Juice

Fruits are nutritious, so fruit juice is also nutritious right? Wrong! In fact, nothing is further from the truth.

Whole fruits are nature’s desserts that are full of phenolic acids, vitamins, trace minerals, phytonutrients, flavonoids, enzymes and fiber all of which provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory protection and other health benefits. Fruit juice, on the other hand, is just fruit flavored sugar water with only a fraction of the nutrients found in whole fruits.

When you eat whole fruits, you eat the flesh and the peel – that’s where the fiber and all the nutrients are. When an entire fruit is digested, the flesh and peel containing the fiber prevent the blood sugar and insulin spikes by releasing the sugar slowly into your bloodstream. And because the entire fruit goes through the digestion process, you feel full.

On the other hand when you drink just fruit juice, all the flesh, and the peel is gone – no fiber, only a fraction of the nutrients, water, lots of sugar and empty calories. Without the flesh and the fiber to slow down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, you get an almost instant sugar spike.

All that being said, it doesn’t mean that you can eat all the fruits you want. Low fruit intake is the key if you have prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

5. You’re Still Eating Processed Foods

Processed foods, commonly known as junk food, are laden with refined carbs, artificial sweeteners, sugar, sodium, trans-fats, artificial flavors, emulsifiers, thickening agents, food additives and other health-wrecking chemicals.

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All junk food contain advanced glycation end-products (AGEs) which are good tasting chemicals that result when exposed to sugar. Studies show that AGEs promote Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease and aging. 7 8

6. You’re Still Not Exercising

You’ve probably heard and read about exercise being a main contributor to good health, especially in the prevention and management of chronic illnesses like diabetes, strokes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, when you exercise, you’re promoting the absorption of the excess blood glucose by the hormone insulin into all your body’s cells for energy. When your cells absorb the excess glucose in your blood, your blood sugar level will naturally fall. 9

You can start exercising by simply brisk walking. 30 minutes of brisk walking every day will help get your blood sugar levels down.

7. The Statin the Doctor Prescribed is Causing Your Blood Sugar to Be Elevated

Statins are commonly prescribed for people with elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglyceride levels since these are the 2 primary markers for heart disease.

In August The Telegraph reported that researchers from Oxford University found that taking statins to lower elevated levels of LDL increases a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes. 10

In May 2015, Cardiology Clinics published a study that warned of the link between statin usage and increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. The researchers wrote, “Clinical trial data suggest there is an increase in the incidence of new-onset Type 2 diabetes mellitus with statin use.” 11

Another study published in the Cleveland Journal of Medicine reported that “Statin drugs now carry a US Food and Drug Administration warning that they may increase the risk of diabetes mellitus and may worsen glycemic control in patients who already have diabetes.”  12

If your doctor has prescribed statins, talk to him or her to let you try dietary and lifestyle approaches to get your lipid levels back to normal instead of using statins.

My Final Note Today

If you have prediabetes or diabetes you just cannot have the cake and eat it, and I mean literally.

If you’re serious about getting your blood sugar down and your diabetes in check, start taking action today by going on the low carb ketogenic diet!

  1. Wikipedia, Food Pyramid.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_pyramid_(nutrition))
  2. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Br J Nutr. 2014 Mar 28;111(6):1118-28. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513003486. Epub 2013 Nov 14. Rice and noodle consumption is associated with insulin resistance and hyperglycemia in an Asian population. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24229726)
  3. American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Care 2007 Jul; 30(7): e59-e59. Is Aspartame Really Safer in Reducing the Risk of Hypoglycemia During Exercise in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes? (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/7/e59.full)
  4. American Diabetes Association, Diabetes Care 2009 Apr; 32(4): 688-694.  Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/688)
  5. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Nature. 2014 Oct 9;514(7521):181-6. doi: 10.1038/nature13793. Epub 2014 Sep 17. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25231862)
  6. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. J Med Food. 2004 Spring;7(1):100-7. Natural honey lowers plasma glucose, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and blood lipids in healthy, diabetic, and hyperlipidemic subjects: comparison with dextrose and sucrose. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15117561)
  7. Current Molecular Medicine, VOLUME: 7 ISSUE: 8 Page: [699 – 710] Pages: 12 DOI: 10.2174/156652407783220732. Receptor for Advanced Glycation Endproducts (RAGE): A Formidable Force in the Pathogenesis of the Cardiovascular Complications of Diabetes & Aging   (http://www.eurekaselect.com/66100/article)
  8. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. vol. 109 no. 39 > Weijing Cai,  15888–15893, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1205847109 Oral advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) promote insulin resistance and diabetes by depleting the antioxidant defenses AGE receptor-1 and sirtuin 1. (http://www.pnas.org/content/109/39/15888)
  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Diabetes and Physical Activity. (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/diabetes-physical-activity)
  10. The Telegraph, 3 AUGUST 2016  Statins linked to increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/03/statins-linked-to-increased-risk-of-type-2-diabetes/)
  11. Cardiology Clinics, May 2015 Volume 33, Issue 2, Pages 233–243. Statins and Diabetes. (http://www.cardiology.theclinics.com/article/S0733-8651(15)00010-7/fulltext
  12. Europe PMC, Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine [2012, 79(12):883-893]Statins and diabetes risk: fact, fiction, and clinical implications. (http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/23208994

Image Sources:

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Galen Chay
Founder at Fit and Healthy Beyond 50
Galen Chay is founder of Fit and Healthy Beyond 50, a website dedicated to helping men and women especially those above 50 to stay healthy and prevent chronic illnesses through dietary and lifestyle change interventions. He has been actively involved in health and fitness forums since 2007. Those he has come into contact with have improved their health through his online conversations with them, many of whom aren't even 50 yet but have been put on medications by their doctors for chronic conditions like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity and heart disease.
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