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New Diabetes Nutrition Recommendations: Macronutrients and More
June 2, 2014
Last week I touched upon some of the updated nutrition recommendations that were recently released by the American Diabetes Association. I appreciate all of the comments, and I can understand why guidelines can seem vague and, yes, occasionally frustrating.
It’s interesting to learn about different viewpoints regarding eating with diabetes, and doing so further affirms, at least for me, that guidelines are just that — they serve as a basis or a guide from which to draw upon. But by no means are they a mandate or an ultimatum that tells people exactly what to eat. So, back to some of the highlights of these recommendations.
When there isn’t consistent evidence, it’s hard to recommend a specific amount. The good news is that people who have kidney disease don’t need to follow a very-low-protein diet. Too little protein can lead to malnourishment and doesn’t seem to affect the rate of progression of kidney disease.
Fat. You might be surprised to hear that no ideal amount of fat exists for people with diabetes. However, the Institute of Medicine suggests a fat intake of between 20% and 35% of calories for the general population. What’s more important is the type of fat that you consume. Monounsaturated fat, such as olive and canola oil, seems to have some benefit on glycemic control and can also improve risk factors for heart disease. The recommendation is to replace 5% of saturated fat intake with monounsaturated fat. Continue to limit your intake of saturated and trans fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re popping fish oil supplements, keep in mind that there’s no evidence showing that doing so will protect you from heart disease. However, the guidelines reinforce the importance of getting your “fish oils” (omega-3 fatty acids) from food sources, aiming for at least two fish meals per week to help lower the risk of heart disease.
Micronutrients and herbal supplements
I know a lot of people have commented on how helpful taking cinnamon is, for example. People respond very differently to supplements and, in my opinion, there certainly can be a place for them. But remember that supplements can sometimes be harmful and may interact with medicines that you take, so be careful about taking them and always let your health-care provider know what you’re taking.
These guidelines are packed with much more information, a lot of which is a reiteration of the previous nutrition guidelines.
It can be confusing to figure out what to eat and in what amounts, but remember that help is available: Ask your doctor to refer you to a dietitian or look into diabetes and/or nutrition programs in your community. Health plans generally cover some of these services. You can even take online classes through the University of California, San Francisco, if you’re unable to find these services in your area (visit http://dtc.ucsf.edu/). And of course, this website is packed with helpful information, too!
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