Cut fats not carbs to control diabetes: New research

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New Delhi, Jan 8 (UNI) ''If Americans ate more dal, they would be healthier and happier,'' quipped a leading US doctor but not in jest.

Easternisation of diet rather than westernisation is the new mantra for controlling the epidemic of diabetes sweeping the world and with India emerging as the world leader in diabetic patients people should go back to their roots and stop aping the West in food habits, according to Dr Neal D Barnard, who is doing groundbreaking research in the cure of diabetes.

Dismissing the ''old fashioned approach'' for treating diabetes, which focussed on reducing carbohydrates from the diet, he contended that the way forward was in eliminating fat from meals.

Elaborating on his 'Going Vegan' theory, Dr Barnard said it was not enough to merely root out meat and chicken from the diet but even milk and dairy products should be avoided.

''Vegan does not mean being vegetarian but consuming milk as commonly thought...the term covers meats, chicken, fish and all milk products.'' Diabetes was a big challenge for India and the number of diabetic people will more than double in the next two decades. ''It is unfortunate that the western diet is encroaching on the traditional vegetarian diets instead of being the other way,'' he rued.

''There were 31.7 million affected people in India in 2000 and the figure is expected to reach 79.4 million in 2030.'' According to him, carbohydrates were not the ''evil'' where diabetes was concerned.

''I tell my patients to eat all the carbohydrates they want -- rice, bread, pasta, potatoes -- and yes reduce sugar and they listen in surprise as it just the opposite of what they have been told. I stress again and again on reducing fat.

'' To explain in layman terms, patients with type2 diabetes have insulin but ii is their cells which are insulin resistant due to accumulation of fat,'' Dr Barnard asserted.

The disease is not just hereditary, he said and cited examples of countries which had suddenly registered a rise in affected people. ''It is not just genetic...genes do not change, what is changing is our diet.'' A non-vegetarian diet was a strict no-no for diabetic patients, Dr Barnard, who ironically hails from a family of cattle breeders, reiterated as he confessed with a grimace that his first job was in a McDonald outlet.

Dr Barnard, who is a renowned nutrition researcher in the US, was speaking at a conference in the capital.

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