Many Americans are touched by pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) either personally or because of a family member being diagnosed with the condition. There are over 100 million Americans affected by these diseases today; I am no different as my father was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in college and one of my goals, upon graduation, was to bestow my new found knowledge in nutrition upon him and help him gain control of his blood glucose.  As it sometime goes with fathers and daughters, while he was proud of my achievements, he wasn’t a very good client and really wasn’t open to my new-found knowledge on the subject.

Blood sugar management can be difficult for many people but diet/lifestyle intervention, while key to successfully managing the disease, are perhaps the highest hurdles to overcome. The 2016 ACCE and ADA guidelines recommend that the first intervention in diabetes management is diet and lifestyle modification but many clinicians don’t have the time, or are not adequately prepared, to help patients find the motivation to make those steps in order to change their lives.  However, there are now many new tools that are available to help clinicians, and their patients, on this journey.  Amongst these tools is the use of nutritional solutions such as medical foods. The use of diabetic specific medical foods have been clinically shown to help manage postprandial glucose response, insulin response and GLP-1 in the pre-diabetic and diabetic patient.1  The data further show, when controlling the rise and fall of plasma glucose levels by the use of these targeted foods, HbA1c can be positively affected over time.  Recently, a randomized study presented at the American Diabetes Association 76th Scientific Sessions, demonstrated that 16 weeks of intervention with a glucose specific medical food in combination with a structured dietary plan, resulted in significant improvements in HbA1c, weight loss and visceral fat in overweight/obese patients with T2D when compared to a  dietary plan alone.2

What should the clinician look for when selecting the appropriate nutritional solution or medical food that will support glucose metabolism in their patients with T2D?

  • Appropriate macronutrients distribution
    • The Joslin Diabetes Center recommends a 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein and 30% fat distribution
    • A 40:30:30 diet, incorporating a targeted medical food, is important to balance blood glucose
  • Intake of high quality carbohydrates including fiber and slow release carbohydrates
    • 95% heat-moisture treated amylopectin designed to digest slowly to support a sustained glucose/insulin response
  • Use of high quality protein from sources such vegan proteins which are support by added free amino acids
    • Addition of L-Leucine (a branched-chain amino acid) for insulin support
  • Vitamin and mineral general support
    • For good overall health, wellness and targeted support of individuals with diabetes
    • Biotin, Chromium, Magnesium and Vitamin C, D3

You may be wondering what happened to my father.  Finally, he did take my advice and he lost 100 lbs and with a structured diet and lifestyle plan, his HbA1c has been in check for some time now and his overall health has improved. With support from his doctor and his family, he took control of his blood sugar and improved his health outcomes—we all have the opportunity, with support, to “Take Control” of our blood glucose.

  1. Mottalib A, Mohd-Yusof BN, Shehabeldin M, Pober DM, Mitri J, Hamdy O. Impact of Diabetes-Specific Nutritional Formulas versus Oatmeal on Postprandial Glucose, Insulin, GLP-1 and Postprandial Lipidemia. 2016;8,443.
  2. Mottalib A, Salsberg V, Mohd-Yusof B, et al. Effects of 3 different models of medical nutrition therapy on A1c and body weight in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical study [Abstract]. In: American Diabetes Association 76th Scientific Sessions. New Orleans, LA; 2016:P-759

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