(Naturalhealth365) Type 2 diabetes, which affects well over 350 million people worldwide, has reached epidemic proportions. Conservatively speaking, 1 in 10 U.S. adults has type 2 diabetes and Western medicine offers little hope. For example, does anyone really believe that taking insulin pills is the best way to resolve blood sugar imbalances? (Hint: there IS a better way and it’s on your plate)
This devastating condition shows no sign of slowing down – any time soon. In fact, the World Health Organization predicts that nearly 600 million adults will develop diabetes by the year 2035. And, as scientists continue to search for more effective methods of prevention and treatment, a new study reveals that a diet of foods high in antioxidants – such as fresh fruit, vegetables and teas – significantly lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Intelligent study reveals: Type 2 diabetes can be avoided with the right kind of diet
Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients – or plant chemicals – known as flavonoids. These natural compounds have powerful antioxidant effects that allow them to scavenge harmful free radicals and reduce the oxidative damage that contributes to disease.
Extensive studies have explored the anti-diabetic benefits of individual antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, but researchers took a slightly different tack for this study. In order to get a more comprehensive view of the relationship between food and diabetes, they examined the benefit of an overall high-antioxidant diet.
The 15-year study, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) involved over 65,000 women between the ages of 40 and 65. Upon analyzing questionnaires filled out by participants, researchers found that the women with the highest amounts of antioxidants in their diets enjoyed a 27 percent reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes – a very substantial benefit.
The scientists reported that the odds of diabetes diminished as antioxidant consumption increased, and noted that antioxidant capacity may play an important role in reducing the risk of diabetes in middle-aged women.
In other words – consistently making a series of simple, healthy dietary choices can dramatically lower the risk of a potentially life-threatening and costly disease.
The secret to success: Antioxidants work – at a molecular level – to fight diabetes
The latest study is not the only research showing the amazing effects of dietary flavonoids.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that anthocyanins in blueberries significantly lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes.
And, in a study published in Nutrition and Metabolism in 2015, researchers set out to evaluate the biological action and therapeutic potential of dozens of dietary flavonoids and anthocyanins – and concluded by stating unequivocally that the phytochemicals protected against diabetes.
The team reported that the flavonoids worked against diabetes by helping to maintain blood glucose levels, promoting glucose uptake and stimulating insulin production from the beta-cells of the pancreas.
In addition, flavonoids improved the performance of fat-burning enzymes, while decreasing harmful LDL cholesterol and reducing levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin.
And, they significantly raised levels of a pair of antioxidant, disease-fighting enzymes – superoxide dismutase and glutathione. They also helped to decrease advanced glycation end products. AGEs are toxins that can trigger and worsen diabetes.
(The list of anti-diabetic benefits from flavonoids is truly stunning. It is hard to believe that an ordinary apple or a bowl of blueberries can harbor this type of disease-fighting therapeutic potential – but, scientific research has shown it to be true).
Fresh fruits and vegetables offer up a rich bounty of flavonoids
Virtually all fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidant flavonoids. And, these compounds have a synergistic effect – meaning that they complement and potentiate each other’s powers.
Apples, grapes and onions are rich in the flavonoid quercetin, while citrus fruits offer up the flavonoids hesperidin, tangeritin, kaempferol and naringenen.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and kale contain kaempferol and luteolin, while blueberries and other purplish-blue plant foods are your best bet for obtaining anthocyanins, beneficial plant pigments with anti-diabetic effects. Anthocyanins are also found in cranberries, cherries, blackberries, currants, raspberries and mulberries – as well as in purple grapes, red cabbage and eggplant skins.
Orange vegetables, such as carrots and squash, contain healthy amounts of beta-carotene.
(Bonus: fresh fruits and vegetables tend to be high in vitamin C, which is itself a potent antioxidant. They are also naturally high in dietary fiber, which can help ward off the obesity that contributes to diabetes).
Enlist fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as your “first line of defense” against diabetes
The roster of foods that can help you fight diabetes is extensive – and delicious!
In addition to the foods already listed, flavonoid-packed fare to put on the menu includes plums, prunes, walnuts, strawberries, parsley, celery, onions, peppers, eggplants, green leafy vegetables and hazelnuts.
Antioxidant-rich beverages include teas – black , green and chamomile – red wine (in moderation) and coffee, which has been shown in studies to protect against type 2 diabetes.
Naturally, it would be best to choose organic varieties to avoid unwanted exposure to toxic chemicals – used in the growing process of most commercial brands.
For maximum antioxidant benefit, experts recommend eating fruits and vegetables raw, lightly steamed or sautéed. (However, since the antioxidant capacity of carrots and celery increases when they are lightly cooked, steaming them is a smart choice).
Researchers have long reported that diets high in fruits and vegetables are strongly associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease and cancer – the two leading causes of death in the United States. Now, thanks to the latest studies, we know that putting fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu can help us take aim at another deadly disease as well.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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