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Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s disease

Insulin is the hormone that facilitates the transport of blood sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into cells for use as fuel. In healthy individuals it is secreted by the pancreas in response to the normal increase in blood sugar that occurs after a meal. With insulin resistance, the normal amount of insulin secreted is not enough to move glucose into the cells - thus the cells are said to be "resistant" to its action, and the pancreas is prompted to secrete higher amounts. This excess insulin drives the body to store fat and can lead to diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. And new research suggests that insulin resistance may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Investigators at Iowa State University examined brain scans of 150 middle age adults whose average was 60 who showed no signs of memory loss. The scans were aimed at determining if study participants with higher levels of insulin resistance used less blood sugar in particular regions of the brain, especially those areas most susceptible to Alzheimer’s. If so, the brain would have less energy to deal with information and function. The results showed that insulin resistance was associated with significantly lower regional cerebral glucose metabolism, which in turn may predict worse memory performance. Based on their findings, the researchers noted that problems regulating blood sugar might affect cognitive function regardless of age. Even people with mild or moderate insulin resistance might have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s because they’re showing many of the same sorts of brain and memory relationships wrote lead researcher Auriel A. Willette, Ph.D. Fortunately, you can help restore normal insulin sensitivity with diet – emphasize low-glycemic index food – and exercise.

Foods for Healthy Blood Sugar Levels, Part 2

Last blog post covered five foods for healthy blood sugar levels, including okra and onions. Today we look at five more - add these foods to your diet, as they may help lower blood sugar levels.

 

  1. Maitake mushrooms. One of Dr. Weil's favorites, maitake not only contain compounds that enhance immune function, but appear to lower blood sugar levels as well. Cook some up and serve as a side dish!
  2. Underground vegetables. Also known as tubers, veggies such as leeks, potatoes and yams have been shown in studies to lower or return to normal high blood sugar levels.  
  3. Brewer's yeast. Rich in essential amino acids and B vitamins, brewer's yeast may also lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, and may improve glucose tolerance, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower cholesterol as well. Shake some on your next batch of popped corn!
  4. Prickly pear. The green pads of this plant are called nopal, a staple of Mexican cuisine that is very low on the glycemic index and may have blood-sugar-lowering effects. Look for it at specialty or ethnic grocers.
  5. Bitter melon. When cooked and added to other dishes, bitter melon will impart a unique flavor that may help glucose tolerance in people with type 2 diabetes, and help keep blood sugar levels in the normal range.

 

10 Foods for Healthy Blood Sugar Levels, Part 2

We continue our look at foods that can help keep your blood sugar levels optimized with five more to add to your diet. Find out what to put on your next grocery list!

Tuesday's post covered five foods for healthy blood sugar levels, from green leafy veggies to onions. Today we look at five more - add these foods to your diet, as they may help lower blood sugar levels.

  1. Maitake mushrooms. One of Dr. Weil’s favorites, maitake not only contain compounds that enhance immune function, but in one study people with type 2 diabetes were given maitake along with diabetes medication, and the result was lower blood sugar readings. Cook some up and serve them as a side dish!
  2. Underground vegetables. Also known as “tubers,” veggies such as leeks, potatoes and yams have been shown in studies to lower or return to normal high blood sugar levels.
  3. Brewer’s yeast. Rich in essential amino acids and B vitamins, brewer’s yeast may also lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, and may improve glucose tolerance, increase insulin sensitivity, and lower cholesterol as well. Shake some on your next batch of popped corn!
  4. Prickly pear. The green pads of this plant are called nopal, and is more than a staple in Mexican cuisine – it is very low on the glycemic index and may have blood-sugar-lowering effects. Look for it at specialty or ethnic grocers.
  5. Bitter melon. When cooked and added to other dishes, bitter melon will impart a unique flavor that may help glucose tolerance of people with type 2 diabetes, and help keep blood sugar levels in the normal range.

10 Foods for Healthy Blood Sugar Levels, Part 1

Want to help keep your blood sugar levels steady? Look to your diet – certain foods may lower blood sugar or stabilize it at healthy levels. These may be especially helpful for people with diabetes. What works best?

To keep blood sugar levels stable, regular exercise is helpful – but a healthy diet is a must. Add these foods to your diet, as they may help lower blood sugar levels.

  1. Green, leafy vegetables. Broccoli, spinach, and kale are good sources of fiber – which helps regulate blood sugar levels - and are high in vitamins A, C, and K as well. Plus, some studies have shown that eating vegetables can help prevent diabetes, so aim for four to five servings per day.
  2. Beans and legumes. Beans of almost any variety as well as lentils are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber – and are low-glycemic-load foods. Make sure you get one to two servings per day.
  3. Cabbage. A very low-glycemic index food (near zero!), cabbage is high in fiber, low in calories, inexpensive and versatile. It’s especially useful for stabilizing blood-sugar levels because it converts to sugar very slowly in the body. Try eating more slaw, sauerkraut or kimchi.
  4. Okra. This southern staple is high in soluble fiber - which slows down the digestion of carbohydrates and can help stabilize blood sugar – and is also a low glycemic-index food. Try adding it to your next pot of soup.
  5. Onions. This kitchen staple is more than a tasty addition to many dishes – onions offer blood-sugar lowering effects.

Don’t miss Thursday’s tip when we cover five more foods that are beneficial to healthy blood sugar levels!

Simple Steps away from Diabetes

Taking a short stroll after each meal is all seniors may need to do in order to lower their blood sugar levels and protect against diabetesJust taking a short stroll after each meal is all seniors may need to do in order to lower their blood sugar levels and protect against diabetes. A small study at George Washington University demonstrated that taking 15-minute walks after meals was “significantly more effective” for lowering blood sugar than a longer walk at another time during the day. The research team recruited 10 healthy seniors age 60 and older who were at risk of type 2 diabetes because of high levels of fasting blood sugar and low levels of physical activity. During the study the participants walked on a treadmill at what the researchers described as an “easy to moderate pace”. They were assigned to walk at various times, including 15 minutes after each meal or for 45 minutes at 10:30 in the morning or 4:30 in the afternoon. The researchers reported that the walk most effective at controlling blood sugar was the one taken after the evening meal. The research team explained that the rise in blood sugar normally seen after dinner was “curbed significantly” as soon as the participants started to walk on the treadmill. The study was published on June 12, 2013 in Diabetes Care.

Source:
DiPietro, Loretta, Andrei Gribok, Michelle S. Stevens, Larry F. Hamm, and William Rumpler. "Three 15-min Bouts of Moderate Postmeal Walking Significantly Improves 24-h Glycemic Control in Older People at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance." Diabetes Care (2013).