Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have "prediabetes," defined as blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. There are 79 million people in the United States who have prediabetes. Recent research has shown that even during prediabetes both heart and circulatory long-term damage to the body may already be occurring.
Both pre-diabetics and diabetics are sometimes concerned about eating fruit due to its reported “high sugar content.” Are fruits wrongly lumped into the catch-all phrase “carbohydrate” and incorrectly classified as a sugar food?
Regardless of which stage of diabetes one might be experiencing or not, all of us would fare far better by including more fruit consumption in our daily diets while reducing grains, breads, meal replacement bars and the plethora of refined manufactured carbohydrates that are consumed instead, according to Dian Griesel, Ph.D. and Tom Griesel, co-authors of the new book, TurboCharged: Accelerate Your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust (BSH, 2011).
There is considerable research supporting their claims. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta completed a 20-year study that involved closely watching the diets of a group of individuals between the ages of 25 and 74. The study named the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey concluded that fruits and vegetables had a demonstratively positive, protective effect against diabetes.
As reported in Preventive Medicine, "A healthy diet including fruits and vegetables could help prevent diabetes from ever occurring. The higher levels of fruit and vegetable consumption might decrease the risk of diabetes in adults, particularly women.”
The average daily intake of fruits and vegetables as well as the number of participants consuming five or more fruits and vegetables per day was lower among the participants who developed diabetes than among the participants in the study who remained free of this disease. The investigators determined that these results suggest that fruit and vegetable consumption may decrease the risk for diabetes."
“Lumping fruit into the broad category of carbohydrates is confusing to us as consumers—diabetic or not. Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber and perfectly filled with water that allows better absorption of their natural nutritive properties,” says Tom Griesel.
The confusion with fruit eating by diabetics at any stage may have arisen because according to the Glycemic Index, some fruits, like bananas, considered by many “Nature’s Perfect Food,” are rated with a high glycemic index.
“Glycemic index is significantly altered by the type of food, its ripeness, processing, the length of storage, cooking methods, and its variety. Watermelon has a glycemic score of 100—which is identical to heavily processed and nutrient poor white bread,” says Dian Griesel, Ph.D.
The misconceptions for prediabetics and diabetics concerning fruit is two-fold: Since fruit is very high in both water and naturally occurring fiber, the digestion time of any naturally contained sugars is slowed significantly. “The natural water and fiber content of fruit actually causes a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream. This is quite unlike the instant sugar impact of no-fiber, high-chemical, heavily processed white bread that is also quite dehydrating,” say the Griesels.
Fruit is an excellent food. It satisfies our natural urges for something sweet. Prediabetics and diabetics would benefit from eating more fresh, raw fruits and vegetables and less refined carbohydrates, in any form.