Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Paula Deen's Interview In Prevention Magazine - The Misinformation About Type 2 Diabetes Continues

Paula Deen's Interview in May 2012 Prevention Magazine.

Follow Foods For Long Life on FACEBOOK !

Prevention Magazine
I like reading health magazines. Rarely do I agree with everything that's printed in any one particular magazine but if you read enough of them you'll gain little bits and pieces of information on health, recipe ideas, exercise and new products. Prevention is an interesting magazine that I've read off and on over the years. It's on the "health light" side of the spectrum and contains way too many drug advertisements but I always learn something new from each issue and it occasionally inspires me to write about a topic. This month they interviewed Paula Deen whose media empire was created by popularizing fat and sugar ladened Southern recipes and who "shockingly" announced having type 2 diabetes .

I've been biting my tongue on the whole Paula Deen situation for some time now. Really, is there much to be said about it? A person consuming a cup of sugar a day in her "sweet tea" and promoting a diet of overly rich food getting type 2 diabetes is as shocking as the Marlboro man dying of lung cancer. But  after reading her interview and knowing what influence she has on so many people, I feel inclined to comment.

Paula Deen is a famous Southern cook. Her media empire includes 2 cooking shows, a cooking magazine and 14 cookbooks. She also has a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. So needless to say, she has great influence over the diets of millions of people. Her cookbooks have collectively sold over 10 million copies!

A while back she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but didn't disclose it for 3 years. During this time she continued making millions promoting rich, unhealthy food to a nation already suffering from obesity. While personally dealing with this health issue and also trying to develop a roll out strategy that wouldn't jeopardize her successful business, she worked out a lucrative endorsement deal with Novo Nordisk to recommend their diabetes drug Victoza. 

Needless to say, this created a public relations nightmare for Ms. Deen and this extensive interview with Prevention Magazine is an attempt to smooth things over.

The Interview
From a public relations standpoint, I think it was well done. It was very human and most people struggling with weight and food control issues will definitely be sympathetic and relate to her story and her actions. But because she is a person with such strong influence on others, I take issue with her now selling her tainted view of diabetes. In particular, Ms. Deen feels that diabetes "is not something we chose." She made a point of sharing that she feels no blame for this and wants the 25 million other people out there with diabetes not to blame themselves either.  She also said "We have been trained to think that diabetes is caused by your diet, and it's just not true. There have been no studies that have proven that one certain food causes diabetes." She certainly doesn't deny that lifestyle is part of the puzzle, but she doesn't stress how critical diet is in turning around this horrible disease. 

Her Approach
She stopped drinking sweet tea which amounted to 1 cup of sugar per day.
She eats somewhat better (less processed carbs and smaller portions) but she continues to eat "the real stuff" but in smaller portions.
Walking has become part of her daily routine.
She takes 3 drugs: Victoza, metformin and Actos.

The Truth about Type 2 Diabetes
Thankfully in the same issue of Prevention Magazine Joy Manning wrote an article, "The Food Cure", about the ability to treat and reverse type 2 diabetes with food and exercise. Her take is that diabetes is preventable even if it runs in your family. It's also curable with diet and exercise. She gave an example of a 49 year old, 245 pound type 2 diabetic who lost 55 pounds on a low-fat, plant-based diet and an exercise regimen. Within 6 months the person's blood sugar was restored to a normal range and she reversed her diabetes without ever taking a single drug.
Some other interesting "food facts" in the article are:
* 1 1/3 servings of leafy greens can cut your risk of diabetes by 14%.
* Eating lots of beans and soy reduces the risk by almost half.
* Drinking sugary beverages can increase the risk by 26%. Cutting them out of your diet can improve blood sugar in a few days.
* Eating bacon can increase your risk of diabetes by a whopping 50%.

My Opinion
I strongly believe that our bodies have the amazing ability to prevent and reverse most diseases when given the right environment. That includes healthy foods, clean water, clean fresh air, exercise, and other factors like minimizing stress and having a positive attitude. Of all diseases, type 2 diabetes is perhaps the most preventable and reversible with diet and exercise. Ms. Deen's half-hearted approach of eating a bit better and taking 3 different drugs is not my idea of "giving people hope", which was the goal of her interview.

Her comment about continuing to eat the "real stuff" but in smaller portions projects the wrong message. It creates a vision of someone choking down fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains and leaving room for the coconut cake. I work diligently each day creating delicious and healthy recipes so that you and I can eat well, stay healthy and not feel deprived.  HEALTHY RECIPES ARE THE REAL STUFF!!

Here are some dietary guidelines for those trying to prevent or reverse diabetes without drugs: 
* Your meals should be composed of mostly vegetables (about 1/2 your plate) - non starchy ones like greens, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, etc. Include raw veggies whenever possible.
* Eat some protein at every meal in the form of beans or tofu, an occasional pasture-raised egg, high omega-3 wild caught fish or lean poultry. Beans are the best form of protein because they are high in fiber which helps control blood sugar levels. Hemp seeds are an excellent protein source and contain omega-3 fatty acid. 
* Enjoy some complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, oatmeal, popcorn and other whole grains. 
* Include "good" monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such raw nuts, flax, chia, hemp and other seeds, avocados and olives.
* Include whole fruits such as apples, berries, pears, peaches, etc.

Avoid the following: 
* Saturated fats from high-fat dairy and animal products especially ice cream, cheese, hot-dogs, bacon, hamburgers and sausage. All foods that contain trans fats.
* Sugary drinks such as soda, juices and "sweet tea".
* Highly processed "white" foods such as white bread, rice, pasta and sugar.
* Foods high in sodium.

Here's a Sample Menu!

1/2 grapefruit
 or plain oatmeal with chopped apples and walnuts.
Cup or two green tea

Oatmeal contains beneficial fiber that controls blood sugar levels.

Eggless Egg Salad Sandwich with lettuce, sprouts 
and sliced tomatoes on Whole Grain Bread

Always select whole grain bread for your sandwiches.

Green Salad with lemon and extra virgin olive oil

Barley is a wonderful grain that is also high in fiber.

Chia pudding is packed with omega-3 fatty acids.
Blueberries are one of the highest foods on the antioxidant scale!

3 cups air-popped popcorn with nutritional yeast

Real Hope
There is hope for diabetics but not the kind of hope that Paula Deen is trying to sell. She hopes she can continue to convince people that her recipes aren't going to kill you. And that you can eat them in moderation along with a handful of pills and live a long and healthy life. That is simply not true.

Diabetes is a serious disease and to cure it takes some serious commitment . The complications include neuropathy, cataracts, skin infections, heart disease, hypertension, depression, hearing loss, gum disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, stroke and more. But there is hope - REAL hope!

With a change of diet, which can be painless with the many recipes I supply on this blog, diabetics can turn their lives around. Once a person eats better and loses some weight, they will feel better and have the energy to exercise. Continuing to eat the unhealthy foods that lead to diabetes, no matter what portion you eat, is not a good idea while you are trying to make this change. These are trigger foods and controlling portions will be quite difficult. So its best to cut them out completely until blood sugar levels are back to normal and you feel secure in your new eating regimen. 

Eat as if your life depends on it because it does!


woodwarddc said...

Thanks Joanne, This is the best single blast about what's real and what's not swirling about our obesity and diabetes epidemic. Excellent! - Dave

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Thanks Dave! There's so much people can do to prevent and reverse this terrible disease. It's important to get the word out.


AGK said...

Dr.Joanne, From my personal experience the numbers get better when I went on a raw diet. I like your suggestion for typical diet which is good balance of raw and cooked meal. It is sad to see many people falling for the drugs. Thanks for making a statement.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, you supply info but you also
supply Hope!!! Beautiful!!!!

Christine @ agave recipes said...

My husband is diabetic. I've found agave syrup to be the best natural substitute for a sweetener. Although it does have carbs and calories it does not spike his blood sugar like table sugar or honey.
Brown rice syrup is also a good alternative.