I often remind my patients of the importance of a healthy diet and active lifestyle, especially when these factors can certainly help prevent them from falling victim to one of the top epidemics plaguing Americans today: obesity. At present, more than one-third of the U.S. adult population is considered obese—that’s 78.6 million Americans!
Certain health conditions can help to cause obesity, such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and Cushing’s syndrome (an adrenal condition). Of course, American society doesn’t help either. Unhealthy foods are readily unavailable around every corner, from convenience stores to fast food joints. But let’s not forget about what obesity may eventually cause. Obesity also plays a major factor in the prevalence of such health risks as heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.
Obesity also just so happens to be the primary cause of type 2 diabetes, which is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. About 80%–90% of people with type 2 diabetes are considered obese. In 2012, there were 1.7 million new cases of diabetes per year, according to the American Diabetes Association.
So how can you control and prevent diabetes? Many drugs have adverse side effects and aren’t, in my opinion, always the best answer. Instead, I believe that the perceived enemy of many diabetics may actually provide the answer.
While many believe that the sugar commonly found in fruit—fructose—represents a serious threat to diabetics, I recently discovered a first-of-its-kind study that disproves that theory.
I was surprised when I came across a particular fruit juice that may be a natural diabetes cure. Pomegranate juice is high in fructose; it contains about 23,201 mg of the stuff. However, a study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that freshly pressed pomegranate juice and its seeds helped control glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It is also considered to be safer and possibly more effective than the top diabetic drugs on the market today.
The study observed blood samples from 85 patients with type 2 diabetes. The samples were taken after a 12-hour fast, and then again one and three hours after the administration of 1.5 mL of pomegranate juice per kg of body weight. The serum glucose was measured with the BS-200 Chemistry Analyzer, and the human insulin was measured with commercial immunoassay kits.
The results were amazing!
After three hours, 79% of the patients experienced lower fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance. The juice also increased beta-cell function, which is essential for insulin production. The benefits of pomegranate juice were lower in older participants and those participants who had higher fasting blood sugar levels before the study.
How is this possible? Isolated fructose is known to be very addictive and toxic and can induce diabetes; however, pomegranate and other real fruits aren’t just made of sugar. Pomegranate juice is also a high source of antioxidants, which are known to fight many diseases. Pomegranate juice also has a glycemic index of 53; foods under 55 are considered safe for diabetic consumption.
Pomegranates are also known to have a multitude of other health benefits. Pomegranate juice may be effective for lowering high cholesterol and helping in the treatment of heart disease, erectile dysfunction, atherosclerosis, chronic periodontitis, memory complaints, rheumatoid arthritis, and prostate cancer.
Is there other evidence to support that fruit is not harmful to diabetics? I remember a study published in 2013 in Nutrition Journal that recommended fruit intake in type 2 diabetics should not be under restriction. The study observed fruit consumption in 63 women and men with a recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. One group was advised to eat at least two fruits daily, and the other was instructed to eat no more than two fruits daily. The second group was also given the usual antidiabetic nutrition advice.
The consumption of less fruit did not affect glucose levels over the three-month study. More fruit consumption actually produced greater weight loss, as well. On average, the group consuming more fruit lost 2.5 kg and the low-fruit group dropped an average of just 1.7 kg.
What are other foods that could be effective against diabetes? I typically recommend nutrient-dense and low-glycemic-load foods, such as beans, garlic, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, or nuts and seeds.