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Last updated May 14, 2016 (originally published April 21, 2014)

By Genevieve Linton, Contributing Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by Registered Nurses, Certified
fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial Board]






Looking for a simple way to control blood sugar?  Join the
crowd. If you are diabetic, you are probably all too familiar
with measuring “exchanges” as you plan your meal.  Now, new
research may change all that.

Researchers from Japan have discovered that a simple plan of
eating vegetables
before you eat carbs may actually manage
blood sugar levels as effectively as monitoring the “exchange
value” of each and every food you eat. While this approach is
tantalizingly simple, we took a closer look at the  "eat your
veggies first approach" to see if it really should be
recommended as a general strategy for managing blood sugar
levels.


What Exactly Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disorder that directly affects the metabolism of the
human body. By disrupting the ability of our bodies to break
down food into glucose and transfer that glucose into the
body's cells, diabetes effectively inhibits the body’s primary
source of fuel.

After the digestive process, the pancreas releases insulin which
allows for the glucose to enter the body’s cells. Diabetes
prevents the proper production and release of insulin, meaning
the glucose is unable to pass into the body’s cells and it is
pushed out of the body in the urine.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive
and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), diabetes manifests itself in three
principal forms, though there are other types. Type 1 diabetes
occurs only in about 10 percent of diabetes patients, but it is
quite severe.

People with Type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, and
must take insulin every day in order to survive.

Type 2 diabetes is significantly more common, affecting about
90 percent of diabetes patients. In the US, almost 28 million
people have Type 2 diabetes, according to the American
Diabetes Association. While the body does produce insulin, it
cannot find a way to use the insulin properly. Various factors
affect this form of diabetes, including diet, physical activity,
family history and age. The final principal manifestation of
diabetes is gestational diabetes, which affects pregnant
women, as it is a form of diabetes that develops due to the
changing insulin levels caused by pregnancy.

How Prevalent Is Diabetes?

























Looking at the actual numbers, we can see that diabetes has an
overreaching impact among Americans. According to the
American Diabetes Association, 8.3 percent of the total
population of the United States suffers from diabetes.

This percentage amounts to over 25 million people, of which a
shocking 7 million people haven’t even been officially
diagnosed and presumably are not receiving proper care and
treatment. Diabetes contributed to over 200,000 deaths in
2007, as it can cause serious health complications like heart
disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and high blood
pressure.

Diabetes can strike Americans no matter their age, sex and
ethnicity, although certain factors do put you at greater risk for
developing diabetes.

How Do Diagnosed Diabetes Patients Manage Their Disorder?

Those who suffer from diabetes must engage in a number of
different tactics in order to manage and maintain healthy
glucose levels.

Firstly, diabetes patients must conduct regular check-ups with
their health advisors/doctors. In addition, many patients take
medication regularly. While these management tools are critical
to controlling diabetes, the daily practice of physical activity
and healthy eating can really have the biggest impact on
patients with diabetes.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,
numerous studies have proven the preventative effect that
maintaining healthy blood glucose levels, or blood sugar levels,
has upon the control of serious diabetes problems.  

Careful control of the types, amounts and order of food intake
can be critical in keeping blood sugar levels at a healthy level.
As we discovered in a previous article “
Why am I craving salt -
Causes and Top 7 Natural Remedies”, eating consistently
throughout the day has proven effective at maintaining glucose
levels.  

As we have pointed out before, this does not mean eating large
meals every time and indulging in unhealthy choices. As the
CDC points out, diabetes patients should actually be eating
smaller portions and increasing their intake of all types of
vegetables.

Many diabetes patients are additionally engaged in a type of
meal planning system referred to as an “exchange” system.
This system places value on various foods depending on
whether they raise or lower glucose levels. Each food is broken
down by type and given an exact value in terms of how much
constitutes a serving.  

For those who have tried this system, or even those of us who
have ever attempted a particular diet plan, keeping track of
such a strict diet can not only be difficult, but very discouraging
at times. It becomes increasingly difficult to measure out and
monitor food choices when the patient has a busy schedule and
little time to devote to such strict preparation of each meal.

Which Food You Eat First Affects Your Blood Sugar

Recently, scientists have been conducting studies to better
understand how the order in which we consume our food can
affect blood sugar levels.

Recent studies have shown that the sequence of how you eat
food matters a lot.

Eating vegetables
before carbohydrates has a direct effect on
post-meal blood sugar levels, causing them to decrease.

This simple tip could make a huge difference in the daily routine
of not only diabetes patients, but also anyone looking for a
quick and easy way to keep their blood sugar levels down.

A study out of Japan published in 2013 observed the
postprandial glucose and insulin levels of patients who ate
vegetables before carbohydrates as opposed to the reverse
regime.

The study, which was led by Dr. Saeko Imai of the Osaka
Prefecture University in Japan, concluded that levels decreased
significantly when patients ate vegetables before carbs.

Eating Veggies First Lowers Blood Sugar By 21%

The test meals consisted of 150 grams of  white rice and
vegetable salad (a simple salad of a sliced tomato and cabbage
with olive oil dressing). Participants either ate vegetables
before carbohydrates or vice versa.

[Update:

The participants who are vegetables first followed this routine.
They ate the vegetable part of the meal for 5 minutes, followed
by the main dish for 5 minutes, followed finally by rice or
bread.]

Researchers then measured the blood sugar levels of
participants  30 minutes, 60 minutes and 120 minutes after
eating.

What the researchers discovered was that eating vegetables
lowered blood sugar levels by 20.7% (from 217 mg/dL to 172
mg/dL).

In addition, the investigators were able to conclude that eating
vegetables before carbs had a controlling effect on glycemic
levels over a long-term basis.

The researchers attributed these positive effects due to the fact
that vegetables eaten before carbs result in a slower digestion
of the carbs, and therefore reduce need of insulin for metabolic
disposal. This reduced need of insulin is linked to the high
amount of dietary fiber found in vegetables.

A similar study from 2011 aimed at comparing an exchange-
based meal plan with a plan that required patients to eat
vegetables before carbs. The study concluded that over a 24-
month period, the group of patients as part of the “vegetables
before carbs” diet plan achieved better glycemic control.

Previous studies have shown that vegetable intake can help
diabetes patients lower blood sugar levels, but this is one of
the first of its kind that gives people the possibility of positively
affecting their health through simple changes in the order in
which they consume food on a daily basis. Monitoring and
controlling the types of carbs and vegetables consumed
remains an important aspect of a diabetes-driven diet, but this
new research provides insight into yet another factor which
can help to keep blood sugar at healthy levels.

Whether or not you have been diagnosed with diabetes, paying
attention to how food can affect blood sugar levels has proven
to be a critical factor in one's overall current health, as well as
critical in preventing future serious disorders such as diabetes.

Following this simple tip --- eat your vegetables before your
carbohydrates --- can go a long way toward helping you to
maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and staying healthy for
years to come.

Below, we have delicious
salad recipes for you to add to your
weekly meals:

Related:
Foods That Keep Blood Sugar Steady
Ideal Breakfast for Diabetics
Ideal Dinner for Diabetics
Foods That Shrink Your Waist
Ideal Weight for Women
Break Through Your Diet Plateau
How Many Calories Do I Burn

Quinoa-The New Superfood?
Break Through Your Diet Plateau

How Many Calories Do I Burn


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Use a bed of your favorite lettuce (iceberg, spinach, tri-colored).  Add
slices of ccucumbers, red onions, and tomatoes. Top with gilled
salmon or your favorite fish. Try a mustard vinagrette for your
dressing. Here, we used a large grain, French "ancien" mustard,
mixed with balsamic vinager and olive oil.
Vegetables from an open market in the Rhone-Alps region of
France. (Thanks to our editor for sharing this photo from her
family vacation.)
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