November is National Diabetes Month

Fresh fruits & vegetables are good for almost any diet or food plan, not just diabetes. However, this is National Diabetes Month so I am focusing on what I found about this hot topic.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps the body use glucose for energy. Glucose is a form of sugar that is the body’s main source of energy.

The body’s digestive system breaks food down into glucose, which then travels in the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. Glucose in the blood is called blood glucose, also known as blood sugar. As the blood glucose level rises after a meal, the pancreas releases insulin to help cells take in and use the glucose.

When people are insulin resistant, their muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin. As a result, their bodies need more insulin to help glucose enter cells. The pancreas tries to keep up with this increased demand for insulin by producing more. Eventually, the pancreas fails to keep up with the body’s need for insulin. Excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, setting the stage for diabetes. Many people with insulin resistance have high levels of both glucose and insulin circulating in their blood at the same time.

Insulin resistance increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Learning about insulin resistance is the first step toward making lifestyle changes that can help prevent diabetes and other health problems.

What causes insulin resistance?

Scientists have identified specific genes that make people more likely to develop insulin resistance and diabetes. Excess weight and lack of physical activity also contribute to insulin resistance.

Many people with insulin resistance and high blood glucose have other conditions that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and damage to the heart and blood vessels, also called cardiovascular disease. These conditions include having excess weight around the waist, high blood pressure, and abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Having several of these problems is called metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance syndrome, formerly called syndrome X. Source: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/#what

On the website: www.livestrong.com, there is  a short referenced article on diabetic healing diets: The Mediterranean Diet, the ADA Diet (American Diabetic Asoication) and the Paleo Diet. Here is an excerpt from that site:

Mediterranean Diet: The Mediterranean diet is an eating plan rich in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. This diet tends to limit the amount of foods like sugar, refined grains and red meat in the diet. A Mediterranean diet can help reduce the need for diabetics to take insulin.

The ADA diet: The American Diabetes Association Diet emphasizes a low-fat diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits contain antioxidants, which are important for reducing cellular damage within the body…Other antioxidant-rich foods that the ADA recommends include sweet potatoes, kale, and berries.

Paleo Diet: A paleo diet eliminates all grains, most dairy products and packaged and processed foods. Instead, followers of the paleo diet eat fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. According to Staffan Lindberg of Lund University, the paleo diet has the potential to help reverse insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. (This now-popular diet plan will be posted in my category: Nobody Eats Like Me.)

My own take on this preventable disease (Type 2 diabetes) stems from the fact that my mother was a diabetic from her mid-forties, always had a weight problem and developed what is now known as diabesity. Thus, I am careful to eat much like the Mediterranean & ADA diets and embrace many of the aspects of the paleo diet, minus the meat, with an emphasis on fresh foods instead of food from cans, boxes or the freezer.

The three foods listed above: sweet potatoes, kale, and berries are three of my favorite foods. I am reprinting one recipe on Kale from my Recipe Index and will post another on Sweet Potatoes and Berries in the next couple of weeks. Happy, healthful eating!

Green on Green

Utensils: Cutting board, knife, pot for steaming and one for boiling water, bowls, cookie sheet
Prep. Time
: 20-30 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Category: Vegan

Ingredients
one leek (white part only), washed, trimmed and sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves (peeled and sliced into slivers)
2 cups Brussels sprouts (15-18 count), washed, trimmed, and cut into halves or quarters if they are large. Place in a heatproof bowl.
6-8 leaves of dragon kale, or other kale of your choice, washed well and green leafy part ripped away from stems
one cup edamame beans (green soybeans)
one to two broccoli stalks, washed, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thinner pieces
olive oil
salt & pepper
herbs of your choice (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
sesame seeds (or a mix of dill, sesame, & fennel seeds)\

Directions
Note: This dish requires several steps and the use of both the stove and the oven, so it is a little more complicated than most of my recipes, but I think it’s worth the effort to obtain The Good Taste of Health, my cooking motto.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While oven is heating, place one to two cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, lightly oil a cookie sheet or baking pan, using as little olive oil as possible.
2. Next, prepare the leeks, garlic, and Brussels sprouts as noted above. Place the leeks and garlic on the lightly oiled cookie sheet and the sprouts in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the sprouts and let sit for about 2 minutes, drain well, and add to cookie sheet. Toss leeks, garlic and sprouts with 1- 2 tablespoons oil, dash of salt and pepper, and place cookie sheet in oven to roast.
3. Next, place water in a large pot with a steamer basket and bring the water to a boil. Once you have started the steamer water cooking, return to the oven and change the setting to broil, setting the timer for about 4 minutes. (Check and stir if necessary after 2 minutes.)
4. By this time, the water for steaming should be boiling and you can steam the rest of the veggies in this order: edamame beans on the bottom of the steamer basket, ripped kale on top of the beans, and sliced broccoli on top of the kale. Steam for 7-10 minutes. Don’t overcook.
5. Remove veggies from oven and place in an attractive serving dish. Remove steamed veggies from stove and add to oven veggies. (If needed, add another tablespoon of olive oil and toss all the veggies.) Toss veggies gently with 21 Seasoning Salute, sprinkle on seeds, and serve. (If you have difficulty tossing the veggies in a flat dish, use a bowl and transfer to your serving dish.)

Yield: Approximately 5 cups of greens.
Note: This can be served hot or cold.


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