About The Buzz: 5 Fruits & Veggies A Day Help Lower Diabetes Risk?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
With rates of diabetes on the rise across the globe, health professionals sought to find the ideal amount of fruits and vegetables needed to lower a person’s risk of developing diabetes. They found 2-3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day is the sweet spot.
WHY THIS MATTERS
It’s unlikely that you don’t know someone, or several people, who have diabetes. Worldwide, cases of diabetes have been steadily increasing since the 1980s: in 1980 there were nearly 150 million cases and in 2008, that number had risen to 382 million cases. Within the next 20 years, this number is expected to rise to 592 million.1
The increase in the prevalence of diabetes worldwide can be attributed to several factors:2
- Rapid urbanization
- Nutritional transition
- Increasingly sedentary lifestyles
As countries develop, the quality of life increases for many individuals who may have been previously impoverished. Access to education becomes more easily attainable, resulting in increased economic equality among a country’s citizens. People switch from primarily agricultural production roles towards a modern service economy, where most jobs are less physically demanding and more sedentary. Countries also experience a major nutritional shift. Traditional diets in many previously agricultural countries are full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, dairy products, little or no meat and very few processed foods. As nations become urbanized, these traditional eating patterns are exchanged for shopping in grocery stores, convenience stores and fast food restaurants, where there is an abundance of items high in refined carbohydrates and sugar.
Through medicine and lifestyle changes, individuals with diabetes can delay the onset of complications such as skin, foot and eye complications, stroke, high blood pressure, and kidney disease, among others.3 Regardless of nationality or geography, a critical component of diabetes management is diet. Those with diabetes must take extra care to ensure that their diet is balanced with insulin and oral medications (if they take them), and exercise to help manage their blood glucose levels.4
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
In order to fall short of the anticipated 592 million diabetic individuals worldwide by 2035, fruit and vegetable consumption must be a factor. Fruits and vegetables have a low glycemic index, meaning that eating them won’t lead to a sharp rise in blood sugar levels. For this reason, researchers sought to identify a recommended serving suggestion for fruits and vegetables per day in order to reduce an individual’s risk of developing diabetes. After an exhaustive evaluation of current research, 14 studies in total were selected (which included nearly 500,000 participants) and the results were pooled to generate the recommendation. Their findings are consistent with the general recommendation of consuming five fruits and veggies a day, specifically 2-3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day! Researchers found that eating more servings did not result in any further decrease in diabetes risk.
Why Eating 5 Servings of Fruits & Veggies (FV) is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Diabetes
- FV consumption helps limit weight gain.
- FV have a high fiber content.
- FV provide an important source of dietary potassium (low dietary potassium increases diabetes risk).
- FV increase intake of micronutrients and fiber, decreasing fat intake.
- FV consumption improves the overall diet profile.
Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge do your best to turn this information into action. The most simple, straightforward way of doing so is to include a fruit or veggie (or both!) into every meal or snack. Fill half of your plate with a fruit or veggie every time you eat and you’ll find it easy to hit your target of consuming five servings a day.
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