“High glycemic index foods are going to be primarily processed foods,” says Lori Chong, RD, CDE, at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Those processed foods tend to have more white sugar and flour in them, which are higher on the GI, she says. Foods lower on the GI include vegetables, especially non-starchy vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens and whole-grain products, such as brown rice (as opposed to white rice), Chong says. She notes that even many fruits are low on the GI, with pineapple and dried fruit being some of the highest (Berries, apples, and pears tend to be fairly low.)
“Decreasing caloric intake for any reason brings with it a rapid improvement in glucose control,” said Dr. Robert Lash, the chairman of the Endocrine Society’s clinical affairs committee and a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. “What’s exciting here is that the improvements in glucose control persisted when the participants went back to eating a diet with a normal number of calories.”
Any form of carbohydrate is eventually broken down by the body into glucose, a simple form of sugar. While the body can use glucose for fuel, levels that exceed what is needed are toxic to the body. In the long run, that whole wheat muffin, cup of millet, or bowl of oatmeal turns into the exact same thing as a cup of soda, a donut or a handful of candy.
Some studies show that certain plant foods may help your body fight inflammation and use insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. Cinnamon extracts can improve sugar metabolism, triggering insulin release, which also boosts cholesterol metabolism. Clove oil extracts (eugenol) have been found to help insulin work and to lower glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides. An unidentified compound in coffee (not caffeine) may enhance insulin sensitivity and lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Recently[when?] it has been suggested that a type of gastric bypass surgery may normalize blood glucose levels in 80–100% of severely obese patients with diabetes. The precise causal mechanisms are being intensively researched; its results may not simply be attributable to weight loss, as the improvement in blood sugars seems to precede any change in body mass. This approach may become a treatment for some people with type 2 diabetes, but has not yet been studied in prospective clinical trials. This surgery may have the additional benefit of reducing the death rate from all causes by up to 40% in severely obese people. A small number of normal to moderately obese patients with type 2 diabetes have successfully undergone similar operations.
Self-testing is clearly important in type I diabetes where the use of insulin therapy risks episodes of hypoglycaemia and home-testing allows for adjustment of dosage on each administration. However its benefit in type 2 diabetes is more controversial as there is much more variation in severity of type 2 cases. It has been suggested that some type 2 patients might do as well with home urine-testing alone. The best use of home blood-sugar monitoring is being researched.
One of my patients, aged 58, had an initial hemoglobin A1c of 7.2%. She was taking oral hypoglycemic agents, statins, and proton pump inhibitors—the basic treatment for every diabetes diagnosis. The patient was 28 lbs overweight and worked long hours. She didn’t exercise, mostly ate a processed food diet, and was sleep deprived. The patient had a family history of diabetes, and ultimately her lifestyle expressed her genetic tendencies.