Tame Inflammation and Feel Better With Diabetes

You’ll feel better, pare pounds and help keep your blood sugar in check.

Stephanie Guzowski

Turns out, people with diabetes tend to have overactive immune systems. As a result, your body may be flooded with inflammatory chemicals, which can make your cells less responsive to insulin. Luckily, changing up your diet can help tame inflammation. The key? Eating more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fewer foods high in omega-6 fatty acids (found in processed and fast foods), says Barbara Rowe, MPH, RD, co-author of Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Health. Start today by filling your plate with these foods.


Salmon: Feast on this omega-3-packed star twice a week, and you could see a big health payoff: According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, people placed on a diet that included foods high in omega-3s had less inflammation, lost more weight, metabolized insulin better and had healthier blood vessels. If you don’t like salmon, try tuna or mackerel.

Olive oil: Not only does this monounsaturated fat put out the fires of inflammation—it also helps lower blood sugar and improves insulin function, according to a study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Opt for extra-virgin olive oil (“cold-pressed”), which is not as processed.

Legumes (lentils, soybeans): They’re rich in soluble fiber, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and stabilize blood sugar, according to a recent University of Illinois study. They will also help you feel full.
Try international dishes (Indian or Middle Eastern) that often use legumes as part of the main meal or in salads.

Whole grains (brown rice, bulgur wheat, oats): These fight inflammation by lowering blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation associated with diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. When overweight people followed a whole-grain diet for 12 weeks, they lost weight and saw a 38% drop in CRP levels, compared with others who ate refined grains, according to Penn State researchers. What’s more, whole grains improve your body’s response to insulin, help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduce your risk of heart disease, according to Harvard researchers. Aim for three or more servings each day (one serving equals a slice of bread or 1⁄3 cup of cooked brown rice).
Go for chewy, not fluffy; that means breads with whole-grain chunks and old-fashioned or steel-cut oats.

Berries (blueberries, raspberries, straw­berries): Among the most powerful antioxidant fruits, berries are inflammation-fighting powerhouses. And eating just one cup of berries each week may also help keep blood pressure at healthy levels, according to new research by the University of East Anglia and Harvard University.
Store ripe berries in a covered container in the fridge. To keep them from spoiling, wash berries right before eating.

April 2013