fiber…diabetes, the connection

February is “heart healthy” month. So I thought I’d share information that I myself must heed, as we make our way through the remaining 25 days. Whether directly, or indirectly, these tips involve heart health.

The following is from Reader’s Digest soft cover book “Reverse Diabetes.” It’s something to which I try to faithfully adhere. Every now and then I’ll digress, opting for yolkless eggs scrambled with sauteed veggies, Canadian bacon, and a slice of high-fiber bread, lightly spread with peanut butter and jelly. But more often than not, a bowl of oat bran mixed with a cup of blueberries, 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and a cup of vanilla almond milk is my breakfast of choice. I down that with a cup of green tea.

What happens when…I eat a bowl of high-fiber cereal for breakfast?

The inside story: First, consider what happens when you eat sugary, low-fiber breakfast cereal. The carbohydrates in those crunchy treats make a rapid trip through your digestive system and are just as speedily converted to glucose. You know what that means. Your blood sugar spikes then plummets, and you’re hungry soon after. Choosing breakfast cereal or other foods high in fiber minimizes that problem for a simple reason: You can’t digest fiber. Instead, this rough stuff gets in the way as your body tries to absorb carbs and convert them into glucose. That makes for a slower, gentler rise in blood sugar after a meal. Keep eating high-fiber foods and your blood sugar will stay low, which will make cells throughout your body start processing this key energy source more efficiently. That means your pancreas won’t have to work so hard to churn out insulin, which can help keep diabetes at bay and make you less likely to need medications if you have the condition.

Eating fiber-rich whole-grain cereal has other benefits for blood sugar. For instance, whole grains are high in the mineral magnesium, which helps insulin to perform its handiwork. Eating high-fiber foods also lowers cholesterol and fills your stomach, which means you feel satisfied on fewer calories. That makes fiber a dieter’s friend.

BOTTOM LINE: In one huge study of more than 21,000 men, those who ate a daily bowl of cereal–especially high-fiber whole-grain varieties–cut their risk for type 2 diabetes by 37 percent.

The article proceeds to offer advice on choosing “a great breakfast cereal.”

Read ingredient lists and buy brands that include oat bran, barley, or psyllium seed husks as one of the first few ingredients. Avoid varieties that list corn, rice, or sugar among the first few ingredients.

I rarely breakfast on boxed cereals because of their high sugar, low fiber content. One-third cup of dry oat bran serves up 80 calories, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, 5 grams of fiber, no sugar, and 5 grams of protein. Add to that the flaxseed, which, at 60 calories in 2 tablespoons, has 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 2400 milligrams of omega-3, no cholesterol, no sodium, no sugar, 4 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. A cup of blueberries tops off the cereal with another 3 grams of fiber. This bowl of breakfast cereal starts my day off with 12 grams of fiber, half of the recommended daily amount! During the rest of the day I continue ramping up my fiber count with veggies, fruits and high-fiber breads, pastas, or brown rice.

keeping diabetes at a giant arm’s length…hugmamma.

the facts on exercise

Prevention magazine’s February 2011 issue, has some interesting articles, which are probably applicable to all of us. One such article, “Beat Your Body’s Fat Traps,” advises that our exercise workouts may actually be undermining our attempts to lose weight. It claims that many who undertook a New Year’s resolution to lose pounds, overcompensated their successes “by eating as much as 270 extra calories a day–negating more than half of the calories they burned. This self-sabotage has a ripple effect. As the number on the scale inches down at a painfully slow pace, many women give up altogether.”

Our bodies may be our own worst enemies. As a reproductive apparatus, women’s bodies “stubbornly hang onto fat. A study in the journal Appetite found that for every pound of fat that women lost while dieting, their desire to eat increased about 2%.” A University of Massachusetts study found that women who were overweight and sedentary and exercised more than an hour, 4 consecutive days in a row, saw a change in their appetite hormones which more than likely stimulated eating. The same was not true of men. Often lending a hand in sabotaging our efforts to drop pounds, are our psyches which encourage us to have that dessert, as reward for a tough workout, a job well done.

A study in the UK showed signs of hope, however. During the 12 week time frame, half the new exercisers ate more, but the remainder did not, eating 130 fewer calories daily, and losing 4 times more weight. Prevention’s advice for all of us?

The first step is to know what you’re up against–working out doesn’t entitle you to eat whatever you want. Next, you need a smart exercise plan that curbs your hunger, coupled with an eating plan that fuels your workouts, not your appetite, so you don’t take in calories you just burned off.

Preven proceeds to lay out an appropriate eating plan. It’s suggested that eating every 3 to 4 hours maintains a constant supply of calories which maintains normal blood sugar levels before and after exercising. This prevents an insulin spike which encourages storage of body fat the next time one eats. Furthermore, to resist taking in extra calories with the increase in eating, “keep meals to 500 calories or less and snacks under 200, limiting total calories to about 1,600 to 1,800 a day.”

Eating protein at every meal promotes a full feeling by stimulating gut hormones. This helps to curb one’s appetite. Breakfast recommendations are eggs, milk, soy milk, yogurt and oatmeal. For other meals and snacks the following fit the bill, nuts, beans, whole grains, lowfat dairy, fish, lean meats, and poultry.

Loading up on fiber, 25 to 30 grams a day fills the stomach with fewer calories. And water quenches the thirst like nothing else after working out. Increased thirst after exercise is often mistakened for hunger. And sipping sweetened drinks only overrides any calories burned.

all makes sense to me…am already on it…hugmamma.