WASHINGTON-New dietary guidelines for diabetes management, released at the International Conference on Diabetes (ICD), hosted by the George Washington University School of Medicine and the nonprofit Physicians Committee, favor low-fat, low-glycemic, plant-based foods, curbing sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams each day, and taking a vitamin B12 supplement.
A panel of 35 international researchers, representing Harvard Medical School, the Harvard School of Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, University of Bern, University of Bristol, the German Diabetes Center, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, discussed the latest science in insulin resistance, genetic risk factors for diabetes, and lifestyle interventions, driving the message home about diet as a first-line treatment, instead of a complementary approach, to diabetes management.
"The Institute of Medicine shows it takes 17 years for the latest research to make its way into clinical practice," says guidelines author Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the Physicians Committee and an associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. "If you have enough research that shows a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and beans will significantly reduce the risk of chronic disease, why wait?"
Dr. Barnard's sentiments were echoed throughout the conference from panelists who shared success stories about defeating diabetes in the Marshall Islands, Navajo Nation, and Southern diabetes hot spots Atlanta and Houston with grocery store tours, plant-based cooking classes, one-on-one nutrition counseling, and promotion of regional plant-based foods.
Caroline Trapp, N.P., C.D.E., and Dr. Barnard discussed medical coding, billing, and effective intervention strategies, including regular check-ins, turning your waiting room into an after-hours classroom, being accessible to patients at all times, and getting the whole family involved.
David Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at the University of Toronto and creator of the glycemic index, offered tips for applying the glycemic index in clinical practice and shed light on dietary staples that kept the Okinawans trim and healthy: fruits, vegetables, tofu, and seaweed.
Mikael Knip, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, discussed dietary risk factors and prenatal considerations for type 1 diabetes, while Jeffrey Mechanick, M.D., E.C.N.U., president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, challenged 400 conference participants to work together to break down environmental silos that perpetuate chronic disease.
Physicians, nurses, and dietitians who attended earned 13 continuing medical education (CME) credits and enjoyed nutrient-dense meals: steel cut oatmeal with fresh fruit for breakfast; leafy green salads with lentils, cauliflower risotto, and grilled pineapple for lunch; and quinoa cookies with mint-infused water for dessert.
Before Saturday's session, conference attendees participated in Lani Muelrath's Fit Quickies exercise demonstration, walking away with multiple sets of easy-to-perform, five-minute exercises for patients.
Frank Hu, M.D., Ph.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health emphasized the importance of dietary interventions in a clinical setting and on a global level, mentioning that, "Genes load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger."
CME videos of the conference's presentations will be available on the Physicians Committee's NutritionCME.org website later this summer. A list of ICD panelists and poster presentations is available at www.DiabetesConference2014.org.
The new dietary guidelines were presented by Dr. Barnard and Ms. Trapp as a first step in providing stronger, evidence-based guidance for clinicians and patients.
For a copy of the Dietary Recommendations for Diabetes, Clinical Tips for Healthcare Providers or to request an interview with a conference panelist, please contact Jessica Frost at JFrost@PCRM.org or 202-527-7342.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.