(NaturalNews) The CDC has estimated that by 2050, as much of thirty percent of the American population could suffer with diabetes. New studies show that diabetics, in addition to coping with the effects of their disease, also have nearly double the risk of cancer compared to the rest of the population.
Although much of the mainstream media continues to focus on the latest Big Pharma proposed "magic bullet" drug to cure diabetes (see, for example: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jun/25/news...), increasing evidence shows that the disease can be prevented, curbed, or even cured by choosing the right foods.
"Nature is the best chemist" states University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram whose team studied the health benefits of maple syrup. Their findings, presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, showed that the substance derived from the sap of maple trees can protect against both diabetes and cancer.
This natural sweetener offers abundant anti-oxidants. It also contains a newly identified substance called Quebecol, formed when the sap is boiled. This study is particularly interesting since the old-fashioned medical advice to diabetics was to steer clear of anything sweet.
Ayurvedic healers have long used natural herbs and spices to treat a variety of conditions, including diabetes. Two spices familiar to those who consume Indian food offer some protection against diabetes. The yellowy-orange powder turmeric, made from the rhizomes of a plant native to South Asia.
Research in the past decade has shown that turmeric not only aids against diabetes but also helps cleanse the liver; offers natural anti-inflammatory properties; protects against breast and prostate cancers; counteracts depression; and slows the advance of Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin is the key substance in turmeric which researchers identify as the source of its multitude of healing powers.
Another substance used to spice Indian food, fenugreek, also offers protection against diabetes. Fenugreek has the added benefit of boosting male sex drive, enhancing liver function, and helping to lower cholesterol.
A recent study involving the Yup'ik people of Alaska indicates that consuming the type of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acid can protect against diabetes. This study is particularly interesting because it suggests that the link between obesity and diabetes may be more complex than originally thought.
Although 70% of the Yup'ik population is classified as obese, only 3.3% of them have diabetes. Fish which contain omega-3 fatty acids include mackerel, salmon, lake trout, herring, tuna and salmon.
A 2006 Italian study found that dark chocolate reduces the risk of insulin resistance. Don't buy a box of chocolates to celebrate this news, however. Only with raw, unprocessed cocoa without any refined sugars added offers the protective benefits.
Researchers involved in the study suggest that in moderation, dark chocolate made with minimal processing are a healthier form of occasional indulgence than most other sweets, but their calorie content still makes them a potential danger.
Cocoa powder and baking chocolate contain the highest levels of the flavonoids responsible for the positive health effects associated with chocolate. Dark chocolate provides fewer of these flavonoids while white chocolate has none.
Good news for those who crave a cup of morning coffee. UCLA researchers say coffee consumption increases plasma levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) which regulates the biological activity of the body's sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. These hormones have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
The natural chemicals found in red grape skin and red wine known as polyphenols can help the body regulate glucose levels, preventing potentially dangerous plunges and surges in blood sugar levels. Health experts recommend that people consume wine in moderation and suggest that those already diagnosed with diabetes and/or those with weight concerns, take the calories in a glass of wine into account when considering whether or not to imbibe.
Consuming blueberries might help reduce your risk of diabetes, with the added benefit of helping you lose belly fat. A 2009 University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study found a blueberry-enriched diet significantly improved the health of laboratory rats.
Researchers believe that the high level of phytochemicals - naturally occurring antioxidants -- in blueberries provides the health boost. Other sources of phytochemicals include cranberries and strawberries.
Due to the influence of food advertising, many people have bought into the idea that a healthy diet offers less taste pleasure consuming foods high in cholesterol, triglycerides and refined sugar. The truth is that a diabetes-prevention diet can literally be a bowl of cherries.
A 2004 study at Michigan State University in East Lansing found that chemicals called anthocyanins, which are abundant in cherries, increased insulin production in animal pancreatic cells by 50%. These plant pigments, responsible for food color, are also found in strawberries, red grapes and blueberries. However researchers say cherries provide the best source of anthocyanins.
Beans can help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels. They can help prevent diabetes, or minimize its effects in those diagnosed with the disease. They also help lower cholesterol levels and offer anti-oxidant properties. Red beans offer the highest anti-oxidant levels, followed by black beans.
Coconut oil has a unique molecular structure which makes it a superior health choice compared to most other oils. Olive, safflower and sunflower oil are all built from a long chain of fatty acids. These long chains are either deposited in blood vessels as cholesterol or stored as fat around the waist, thighs and buttocks.
On the other hand, the coconut oil's medium chain fatty acids immediately become available as energy. These smaller, easily absorbed medium chain molecules supply the cells with essential fatty acids without glucose and without inhibiting insulin production.
Coconut oil also has antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Most coconut oils do not impart a coconut flavor to food, so you can use them to replace other oils in most recipes. Try to buy only organic virgin coconut oil in order to obtain the maximum health benefits.
Almonds and walnuts prevent diabetes by regulating blood glucose. Eating almonds before a meal helps regulate blood sugar levels, say researchers who published their study in The Journal of Nutrition. This effect means the nuts help lower the risk of diabetes, as well as help control the disorder.
A 2009 European study found diabetics who included walnuts in their diet had improved their insulin levels. In addition to fighting diabetes, nuts deliver other health benefits. According to an article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular consumption of nuts alters blood lipid chemistry, reducing the risk of coronary disease and heart attacks.
Buckwheat -- which is technically a fruit rather than a grain -- helps control blood sugar levels. Although holistic nutritionists have extolled the virtues of buckwheat for years, mainstream medical science -- and the mainstream media -- caught on to its benefits fairly recently. A 2003 Canadian study found that when extracts of buckwheat seed were fed to diabetic rats, the animals' glucose levels went down by twelve to nineteen percent. You can find buckwheat products, including pancake mixes and Japanese soba noodles, at most health food stores.
You might think of cinnamon simply as a flavoring to sprinkle on a bowl of hot oatmeal, but this spice actually has a centuries-old tradition of healing. In addition to providing antioxidants and aiding against arthritis, urinary tract infections, sinus congestion, tooth decay and gum disease, the powdered bark of Cinnamomum trees is also effective against diabetes. It improves blood sugar regulation by significantly increasing your glucose metabolism. In addition, it has insulin-like effects in the body. Plus, proanthocyanidin, a bioflavonoid found in cinnamon, changes the insulin-signaling activity of your fat cells.
Green tea may help prevent the progression of type 1 diabetes, also known as childhood-onset diabetes, or prevent this disorder. Studies show green tea regulates glucose levels in the body, an important function since the pancreas in Type 1 diabetics produces little or no insulin, the hormone responsible for converting glucose (sugar), starches, and other foods into energy. Green tea also lowers blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics, reduces complications associated with diabetes such as cataracts and cardiovascular disease and promotes weight loss.
If you prefer black tea, your beverage choice can still help fight against diabetes. Researchers in China have found that polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that includes starch and cellulose, may benefit people with diabetes by slowing glucose absorption. Black tea contains more polysaccharides than either green or oolong teas. Additionally, a Scottish study found that natural chemicals found in black tea may protect against diabetes by mimicking the effects of insulin in the body.
If you have developed a taste for seaweed though visiting Asian restaurants, congratulations: you have one more ally in your crusade to lose weight and avoid diabetes. Wakame, brown seaweed used to flavor Asian soups and salads, helps promote fat-burning proteins. It also helps promote the synthesis in the liver of DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), a fatty acid also found in fish oil.
In addition to its weight loss and anti-diabetes effects, this ocean plant also helps prevent prostate cancer, supports thyroid function, assists in blocking the growth of breast cancer tumors and can help fight radiation sickness. Researchers attribute wakame's healing properties to a carotenoid it contains called fucoxanthin.
List of Foods Mentioned Along with Resources for Further Reading on Their Health Benefits