One of the latest buzzwords is GMO foods. It seems everyone is talking about whether GMOs are good or bad for your health. Discover more about GMO foods and how they can affect your diabetes.
- GMO stands for “genetically modified organisms”. This means these foods were genetically engineered with genes that were produced in a lab from plants, viruses or animals. Additions were made to the genes to help improve them. For example, these enhancements to the genes might be made to help a plant resist heat, disease, insects or other common factors. It is estimated about three quarters of packaged foods today contain GMOs. Typically foods that are genetically modified in the United States include corn, soy, rice and potatoes.
- There are advantages associated with genetically engineered foods. The crops are better able to withstand conditions such as drought and fungus. They can also be more nutritious when the nutrient values are boosted through genetic engineering. Animal foods are also being produced to resist particular types of illnesses. According to the United States Department of Energy, GMOs are environmentally friendly because they are efficient and can conserve water and energy.
- There are also certain risks associated with GMO foods. Research has not been done to see how the changes in the genetic makeup of foods are impacting our bodies. Preliminary testing done on animals has revealed GMOs can have an impact on the immune system, can speed up aging and may change the function and size of various organs. GMO foods may also cause an allergic reaction. People with diabetes have a chronic condition that affects the immune system. It is important to have a diet that boosts your immune system rather than one that may compromise it.
- Presently GMO foods do not have to be labeled. The FDA does not agree GMO foods differ from conventional ones. As a result, people may not know they are eating GMOs. One way to avoid them is to minimize your purchase of packaged foods. Often these foods are also high in sugar, fat and salt; these are all ingredients people with diabetes should avoid. Choose whole foods and natural foods for a healthy diet. Select whole grains with minimal processing, grass-fed beef, lean poultry and fish, fresh vegetables and fruit and non-fat or low-fat dairy foods. Use portion control plates to determine how much you should eat from each food group. Choose healthy oils, such as olive oil, and minimize corn, cottonseed, and soybean oil. Shop at your local farmer’s market to get healthy, fresh foods at affordable prices. Local foods do not have to travel long distances which could raise shipping costs.
- People with diabetes who take insulin do not realize genetic engineering was used to create the newer insulin. A gene for human insulin was pierced into yeast cells or E. Coli to make modern insulin. The insulins of today are far better at controlling blood sugars and have less allergic reactions. It is a GMO product proving some of these foods may be beneficial. Future testing will prove more about the advantages and disadvantages of GMOs.
People with diabetes should maintain a healthy, balanced diet that includes as many fresh, unprocessed foods as possible. Since GMOs are often found in packaged products, this limits your intake of these foods until further studies are conducted. Proper diabetes self-management through regular blood sugar testing, a good diet and regular exercise is the best way to avoid possible complications.