Type 2 Diabetes has become a rising epidemic in the United States. 25.6 million adults in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and the Center for Disease Control projects that by 2050, 1 in 3 adults will suffer from this condition. However, many of those diagnosed do not realize that they are 2 to 3 times more at risk for developing another life threatening illness: heart disease.
In 2004, the cause of death for 68% of adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes was related to heart disease. Although continuing on the insulin or prescription plan you regular doctor has prescribed is important, in the past few years, a rise in diet-related changes have also been prescribed to help adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes lower their risk of heart disease.
Fiber has become a long forgotten friend in the average American diet. In fact, most adults have come to think of fiber as strange-colored grainy drinks, giant hard to swallow pills, and brown bran cereals that taste suspiciously like cardboard. Both the lack of options and the less-than appetizing taste of most sources available to the public are most likely why the majority of American adults only eat about half the amount of fiber (or less) recommended daily by both their doctors and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Are you getting your 25 to 38 grams of fiber a day?
Most likely not, and this could actually be leading you down a very dangerous road to one day suffering from heart disease. Over the past 10 years, scientists have found that a high-fiber diet can not only lower your risks of developing this life threatening condition, but can also help in managing your type 2 diabetes and controlling your weight. Fiber helps lower your fasting glucose levels, your after meal glucose levels, and your HbA1c, an important predictor for type 2 diabetes related complications.
In relation to heart health, fiber lowers triglycerides, after meal fat levels in the blood, and trans-fat levels in the blood. Fiber can also increase your good cholesterol (HDL), lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and reduces your chances of stroke and death from heart disease.
Some of the great fiber packed options to choose from include oatmeal, psyllium, bran, salba, whole wheat, legumes (beans and pulses), and brown rice. These options can be added to breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner without losing any of the flavor. Yes, delicious ways to include fiber in your diet do exist! By adding more fiber to your diet, you can rest assured that you are taking a step in the right direction to protecting your health, and your heart.
Try These Helpful Fiber Tips
- Use hummus instead of mayo on sandwiches or to replace dressing for dipping.
- Use whole wheat flour in baking and recipes.
- Use oatmeal in pancakes.
- Replace white pasta, bread, and rice with whole grain pasta, bread, and brown rice.
- Instead of meat, choose lentils and beans as your main dish.
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