Dr. Nadeau is an accomplished physician who brings extensive experience
to and the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center as Program Director and
Endocrinologist at Hoag Medical Group.
While he has many areas of interest, the majority of his recent work, research,
and lectures focus on diabetes, obesity, and nutrition.
The ideal diet is one rich in brightly colored vegetables and fruits,
whole grains, legumes, and healthy proteins. Hippocrates once said “Let
food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” This is an
important concept for us, especially as artificial products are introduced
into the food marketplace with greater frequency. Many products are designed
for unlimited shelf life and contain mainly hydrogenated oils and sugar.
These kinds of products should be considered “food-like products”
and not food. They should be avoided, especially by those with diabetes.
Look to real foods for sustenance: Blueberries, carrots, tomatoes, spinach,
nuts, beans, whole grains. These are foods which have been part of the
diet for thousands of years and which are keys to healthful living. It’s
not unreasonable to look at a food and ask, “Was this available
100 years ago?” If not, it may be best to avoid it. Think twice
about consuming it. The last 100 years have included tremendous increases
in processed food filled with sugar and white flour, as well as the inclusion
of far more animal products. A more simple, more traditional diet is clearly
One way to start eating and living healthier is to take some cues from
nature. Everyone, including people with diabetes, can benefit from consuming
more brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Plants live is a sea of solar
irradiation that would kill humans. They use colorful pigments not only
to grow but also to absorb the free radicals and help to quiet the free
radical storm which the sun’s energy can create. When we eat brightly
colored vegetables and fruits, we transfer this protective power from
the plants to us. We can all benefit from having these plant pigments
slow the aging process in our hearts, our brains, our nerves, our kidneys,
and - most exposed of all - our skin! (For great skin, boost plant intake
in your diet!)
What is exciting about looking to color for dietary direction is that
we are naturally drawn to colorful foods. As Mollie Katzen, author of
the Moosewood Cookbook says: “Now there is research to prove that
the brilliant colors and fruits and vegetables are themselves powerful
nutrients, and that they attract us for good reason.”
Red cars, red flowers, and red lipstick tend to get our attention. Red
is also a color that attracts us when it comes to food. It should! Seven
of the top 20 high antioxidant foods are red and include strawberries,
cherries, raspberries, red grapes and red peppers to name a few. Eating
strawberries for example can directly reduce your ability to quench free
radicals in your blood and can also lower CRP, a marker of inflammation
in your body. Eat red foods!
Green foods are rich in many nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, iron,
calcium, and vitamin C and are especially high in lutein a carotenoid
which is excellent for the eyes. Green foods protect from cataracts and
macular degeneration, common causes of vision loss. Avocados have beta-sitosterol
which directly competes with cholesterol for absorption in the gut and
can help to lower cholesterol.
Out of the blue comes blueberries, which are one of the most powerful
antioxidant foods we have. The color story of food was born with research
by Jim Joseph, PhD, who showed improvement in memory and motor skills
in older animals with the addition of blueberries to their diet. Other
animal studies have shown increased neuronal growth, protection from Alzheimer’s
disease, and increased environmental exploration. Preliminary human studies
show improved memory and are consistent with animal trials.
People who eat greater amounts of whole grains and few refined grains
(white flour and sugar) have a dramatically lower risk of developing diabetes.
When the bread that you eat is dark and chewy and it seems you could almost
build a house with it, you are eating a wholesome grain. Read the ingredients
on bread. The first word should be the word “whole.” Don’t
be fooled by multigrain bread which is mainly enriched flour.
Other powerful additions to the diet include spices such as cinnamon and
turmeric. High fiber foods with a target of 24 to 50 grams of fiber per
day can dramatically improve glucose control. Legumes are high in protein
and release carbohydrates very slowly and should be part of the daily
diet. Nuts seem to reduce the risk of heart disease, which is vitally
important to those with diabetes. Dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant
and has been shown to improve insulin action. Vinegartaken before the
meal, may help to control post-meal blood glucose.
Hippocrates was right! Food can be medicine. Show thoughtfulness in your
food choices. Take care of your body and it will take care of you!