Food for Thought

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People Power for People with Diabetes
In February GI News, Atarah Grysman made the point that: ‘Many people today are ready and willing to be active participants in their own health care. They want to learn more about their conditions and how to manage them, even if this entails more than a few simple rules, and requires a deeper understanding of how their body works.’

The findings of a study by Johanna Burani of Nutrition Works in New Jersey and Dr Palma Longo of the University of Massachusetts in The Diabetes Educator (Volume 32, Number 1, January/February 2006 ) confirm this point. In a small retrospective study to evaluate the incorporation of low-GI carbohydrates into daily meal planning as an effective behavioural lifestyle change for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the authors found that in most cases, patients were keen to succeed in their diabetes self-management care. And they were successful too. The participants in the study reduced HbA1c by an average of 19% and BMI by 8% simply by lowering the GI of their meals by 25% (15 points) over the period of the survey (3 to 36 months). Once presented with basic information about incorporating low-GI carbohydrates in meal planning, they made their own decisions and over time converted this dietary change into a way of life to improve their overall glycemia and preserve quality of life say the authors. They report that ‘learning to incorporate low-GI carbohydrates affords patients a practical skill that is within their grasp. It empowers them to “own” their diabetes and actively contribute to their control over it … The documented responses to the subjects’ conceptual and practical knowledge of the GI confirm their acceptance of this approach as a permanent behavioral lifestyle change and not a diet.’

Johanna Burani