Study: More Magnesium Links to Lower Insulin Levels

Spinach_canstockphoto0556156Spinach — the dark green leafy source of Popeye’s superhuman strength — is abundant in many nutrients, including magnesium. A new study suggests that diets higher in magnesium are associated with lower blood levels of glucose and insulin, which are often elevated in people with type 2 diabetes.

Research now shows that people with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk of certain cancers, including kidney, pancreatic and colorectal.

The study was published online last month in The Journal of Nutrition.

Study researchers analyzed data from approximately 53,000 non-diabetic European men and women from 15 studies who were part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) study. The individual studies had collected dietary data through questionnaires, interviews, and/or food diaries along with glucose and insulin levels after participants had not eaten for at least 8 hours. Continue reading

3 Tips for More Fiber on Your Restaurant Plate

Eating meals at home, compared to restaurants and fast food establishments, means more fiber in our diets, according to a recent report from the USDA based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Per 1000 calories, we get about 1.5 grams more fiber from home meals than from restaurant meals.

Americans consume on average 15 grams of fiber per day, less than the recommended 25-30 grams per day. If Americans would eat more fiber, there would be fewer cases of colorectal cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Fiber rich foods include vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes.

Eating meals at home only gets us to about 16 grams and eating fast food gets Americans only to 12 grams, so there’s room for improvement overall. Here are three strategies you can use to increase fiber while eating out and you can also them in your kitchen.

  1. Think vegetables and fruit first. When you look at the menu, look for the appetizers, entrees and sides that will include a substantial serving of vegetables and/or fruit. Salads and soups can be one way to add veggies or if sandwiches come with fries or chips, ask for a side salad, fruit or other vegetable instead.
  2. Go for the whole grain. Always ask for the whole wheat bread or wrap (not just “wheat”), corn tortilla  or brown rice. Oatmeal is the hot new item for breakfast – that is a perfect way to add a few grams of fiber early in the day.
  3. Choose Beans – small but mighty in fiber. Look for bean or lentil soups, salads with beans, bean burritos or sides like baked beans or black-eyed peas. You can ask for them to be added to veggie soups or to salads. Again – sub them for fries or chips as sides.

Any one of those strategies can mean a difference of 2-3 grams of fiber for your meal. If you can do that at each of your meals – whether home or away – that 6-9 extra grams of fiber per day may just get you to the recommended amount!

Read more on how to get more fiber in your diet.

How do you try to get more fiber in your restaurant meals?

Managing Your Cancer and Diabetes Treatments

We were at the American Association of Diabetes Educators meeting last week in Indianapolis talking about the diabetes – cancer connection. AICR Nutrition Consultant Karen Collins, MS, RD, spoke about the research showing the link between type 2 diabetes and increased risk for many cancers at the conference.

This was a meeting for nurses, registered dietitians and other health professionals who work with patients with diabetes. Here is one of the most frequently asked questions that the health professionals were concerned with when it comes to working with their patients with type 2 diabetes.

How can people with type 2 diabetes who are also in treatment for cancer make sure they are getting the best care for both diseases?

People with type 2 diabetes and cancer often have their diabetes managed by a physician other than the oncologist managing their cancer treatment. Each doctor wants the best outcomes for the disease he/she is treating, and is not necessarily focusing on the other disorder. Yet the treatments for one disease may affect the other.

For diabetes management, keeping blood sugar in good control is important and insulin helps do that. Research suggests that some diabetes treatments such as insulin may stimulate cancer cell growth while at least one diabetes treatment, metformin, may actually act to limit cancer cell growth. This raises many questions about how controlling blood sugar may affect someone being treated for cancer. From the cancer perspective, some cancer treatments may wreak havoc on blood sugar control.

As a patient, one step you can take to ensure you have the best care is to make sure each doctor is aware of your other treatments. In some cases, for example, doctors may decide to leave blood sugar levels somewhat higher than your normal target and focus on cancer treatment, says Collins. Speak with nurses, registered dietitians or other health practitioners to help you coordinate your care.

The NCI has specific questions cancer patients may want to discuss with their doctor. For example, you may want to find out how the medications you are taking for diabetes affect your cancer treatment.

For information on diabetes medications and lifestyle, you can visit the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

The National Cancer Institute also has people you can speak with to help answer your cancer-related questions at 1-800-4-cancer or at