Health Day News – Food prices are linked to blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.
Friday, February 14, 2014
To reach this conclusion, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) merged information from two giant studies. The first study, by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), gathered blood sugar measures of about 2,400 adults who met the definition of type 2 diabetes. Then they compared those levels to average grocery prices over the previous three months in 35 markets around the United States. Those prices came from the Quarterly Food-at-Home Price Database.
The result – As the costs of healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products climbed, so did blood sugar levels. The reverse was true for unhealthy foods. Falling prices for sugar, saturated fat and total calories were tied to higher blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Those relationships were strongest for low-income consumers.
“Most likely, it’s because people eat less produce and switch to products that are less healthy,” said study author Ilya Rahkovsky, an economist with the USDA’s Economic research Service in Washington, D.C. The study was published in the February 13 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
A December study from the Harvard School of Public Health estimated that healthy eating costs the average person about $1.50 per day more than unhealthy eating. That may not be such a stretch for a middle-class family. However, experts say that kind of price hike may be prohibitive for the poor, forcing them to swap fruits, vegetables and lean proteins for more processed and junk foods.
The new study found that for every increase of roughly 10 cents per pound in the cost of produce, fasting blood sugar climbed 20 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or about 13% of the average fasting glucose level in the study, which was 162 mg/dL.
Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in the United States. Additionally, there are millions of undiagnosed cases. If you meet any of the criteria for metabolic syndrome – overweight, high blood pressure, insulin resistant, low thyroid function, or high serum lipids – you are well on your way to becoming diabetic or you’re already there and just don’t know it.
For centuries, we have fed our poor with cheap grains – wheat, corn, and rice. Refined carbohydrates provide inexpensive calories for fuel but little in the way of micronutrients. Today, the small amount of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in these foods are processed out and then replaced with synthetic chemicals.
The ancient Egyptians were the first to cultivate wheat. Atherosclerosis, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes quickly followed according to archaeological findings. This pattern has continued to accelerate to the present day. It is estimated that by the year 2050, a third of our population will have type 2 diabetes.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Follow this simple formula – eat 3 servings of protein, 5 servings of vegetables, and 2 fruit servings every day. That leaves little room for the grains, starches, and refined carbohydrates. Have your hemoglobin A1c checked through a simple blood test. If you are 5.7 or higher, seek professional support with a qualified nutritionist.