Exercise also important: expert



torstar news service



michelle novielli/for metro toronto

Diabetics should eat plenty of whole grains, top, and vegetables, such as peppers, the Canadian Diabetes Association says.

For the 800,000 Ontarians who have diabetes, an illness that can cause blindness and heart problems, there is hope at managing the disease.

A study conducted in China in 2006 showed that a structured intervention program that includes nutritional supplements significantly reduced blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and waist circumference in overweight patients with type 2 diabetes.

The supplements are integrated into a diabetes management program that includes blood sugar monitoring, medical follow-ups and healthy lifestyle choices.


“We are looking at an epidemic,” says Dr. Farhad Zangeneh, medical director of the Endocrine Diabetes and Osteoporosis Clinic in Virginia, of diabetes. “[An intervention program] helps us get that much closer to the goals of the patient.”

Zangeneh says that more than 10 per cent of the population in Ontario will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2010. “In 2007, there is already a 46 per cent increase in the global incidence of diabetes,” he says.

Part of the reason for the increase is due to obesity, inactive lifestyle and inability to detect the signs of prediabetes. Zangeneh says that just by exercising and making healthy food choices, one can reduce the onset of diabetes by 30 to 40 per cent.

The Canadian Diabetes Association says people with diabetes should have at least three of these four food groups at each meal: starch foods, fruits and vegetables, protein foods and milk. This includes high-fibre foods such as whole grain breads and cereals and grains.

“You can turn the boat around early in the process,” says Zangeneh, who says that people who experience sudden weight loss and wounds that don’t heal as an early sign of prediabetes.

He recommends meeting with a dietitian and participating in a structured intervention program to delay or derail the onset of diabetes.

“It is quite successful,” he says of the program. “By applying intervention with a meal replacement, it has showed that there are signs of improvement.”

In the trial, 100 patients had their calorie intake controlled using Glucema, a nutritional supplement, once daily as a meal replacement. After six months, patients lost weight and their blood sugar count was lower.

One of the common side effects of diabetes treatment is hypoglycemia, or shock, which occurs when someone's blood sugar level drops too low to provide enough energy for the body’s activities. Signs of shock include dizziness, confusion, difficulty speaking, shakiness and hunger.

Zangeneh says to give people experiencing shock juice or foods with carbohydrates, such as cereal or sweets.