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Diet Dos, Don'ts to Cut Diabetes Risk

Studies Suggest Eating Fruits, Vegetables and Cutting Down on Sugary Drinks
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WebMD Health News

July 28, 2008 -- Diabetes is on the rise in the U.S, and three new studies shed more light on how diet affects your odds of developing type 2 diabetes.

Each study covers a different aspect of diet. Together, the studies show that diabetes risk may rise if you drink too many sodas and sweetened fruit drinks, fall if you eat more fruits and vegetables, and may not be affected by how much fat you eat.

But there's another key theme that runs through the studies: There's no getting around calories. Blow your calorie budget and you'll gain weight, which makes type 2 diabetes more likely.

"Until we have more information, we have to assume that calories trump everything else, and that our No. 1 goal for the reduction of new cases of type 2 diabetes should be to reduce the intake of high-energy, low-benefit foods," especially in young people at high risk of diabetes, write Mark Feinglos, MD, CM, and Susan Totten, RD, from Duke University Medical Center.

Here's a quick look at each of the studies, published with Feinglos and Totten's commentary in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Increased Risk With Sugary Drinks?

Sugary sodas and fruit drinks may be linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes in African- American women, the first study shows.

The study included nearly 44,000 African-American women who were followed from 1995 to 2005. They completed dietary surveys when the study began and again in 2001.

None of the women had diabetes at the study's start; a decade later, the group had reported 2,713 new cases of type 2 diabetes.

Women who drank at least two regular soft drinks per day were 24% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than women who drank less than one soft drink per month. Weight gain appeared to account for some of the increased risk in soda drinkers.

Women who drank at least two sweetened fruit drinks per day were 31% more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than women who drank less than one sweetened fruit drink per day, the study also states.

The researchers, who included Julie Palmer, ScD, of Boston University, note that sweetened fruit drinks "are often marketed as a healthier alternative to soft drinks" but may have at least as many calories as a regular soda.

Diet sodas, orange juice, and grapefruit juice weren't linked to increased risk of diabetes. It's possible that the natural sugars contained in orange and grapefruit juice may have different metabolic effects than the high-fructose corn syrup that is added to regular sodas and most sweetened beverages.

Beverage Industry Reaction

WebMD contacted the American Beverage Association, the trade group representing companies that make and distribute nonalcoholic beverages in the U.S, for its response to the study.

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Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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