Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

Weight loss surgery reverses Type 2 Diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, a disease affects millions of Americans, occurs when the body loses its ability to produce insulin and process sugar from food.  In many ways, it is a  a disease of affluence: Eating too much is hazardous to your health. On Monday, researchers announced the results of a controversial study that sought to determine which was more effective in treating obese people with type 2 diabetes: weight loss surgery or medication. The results showed that those who had weight loss surgery reversed and even cured their type 2 diabetes.

The two studies demonstrate that those who had the surgery achieved normal blood-sugar levels more often than people just on medicine alone. Some people were even able to stop taking medicine just three days after the surgery.

The first study was conducted by Dr. Philip Schauer from the Cleveland Clinic and examined 150 obese people with diabetes. 1/3 of them were given diabetes medication, while the other 2/3 underwent two different types of weight loss surgeries. Two years later the researchers found that 12% of the medication only patients had healthy blood sugar levels, compared to 42% and 37% of the two groups given surgery. And an added bonus: Those that lost the weight reduced their need for cholesterol and heart medicine as well.

In a second study, Dr. Geltrude Mingrone from the Catholic University in Rome examined 60 obese people with diabetes. Once again, 1/3 of them given medicine alone while the other two groups were given two different types of weight loss surgeries. Again their goal was to study the key blood sugar levels. Two years later the results showed that 95% and 75% of the weight loss surgery patients were able to control their blood sugar levels without medicine. Those in the medication only group were unable to get off their medicine.

I find it sad that people allow themselves to get so fat that their body can’t produce insulin and as a result struggle with a host of issues, like Type 2 diabetes. These people complain they cannot lose the weight and that spending $15,000 or $20,000 on weight loss surgery is more cost-effective for them then the mounting medical bills due to the obesity. What’s the message we are sending people? Gain so much weight that your doctor recommends weight loss surgery so that you can cure yourself of diabetes?

As an American, I find it embarrassing that we are spending money to research how surgery can help with illnesses, caused by people eating too much. Have we lost touch with the idea that we have the ability to control ourselves? Have we forgotten that if we choose to eat healthy, we can control our weight and possibly our resistance to diseases such as Type 2 diabetes?

Should we not be spending money to fund research on how to get people to eat more healthy and figure out why so many people are obese? To me, that would be the better approach so that these diseases of affluence could be better controlled.

I do appreciate that the research is showing that medicine cannot offer the same benefits as being physically healthy. I talk to people who have had weight loss surgery and while they are happy that they no longer are obese, but I also hear how much food still rules their lives. Every meal they have to count protein and ounces. Some of them complain about hair texture changing and problems with digestion. I can’t help but think that any invasive surgery can have negative side effects.

Are these side effects any better than man-made medicines? I hope that for those of you out there struggling with weight loss that you seek help from professionals who can help you identify why you eat the way you do and help you, naturally, overcome your struggle with food. While it may not be as instantaneous as weight loss surgery, it might have better long-term effects.

photo by: Jill A. Brown

How drinking less soda and more water could save your life (video)

 

This past week included World Water Day and brought our attention to the importance of clean drinking water. This past week also offered new information about the dangers of drinking sodas and why we should all quit drinking the 60 gallons of soft drink each year the average American consumes.

First there is the matter of weight; you can lose 10 pounds in a year just by drinking one less soda a day. My music video “Liquid Candy” explains this in fun way. But new information is proving sodas, regular or diet, are much worse that just weight gain.

It doubles your risk of type 2 diabetes according to a Harvard study in over 90,000 nurses, and recently in the journal Circulation, drinking one 12 ounce can daily was shown to increase a man’s chances of having a heart attack by 20% among 42,883 men followed over a 22-year period of time. Two sugary drinks a day increased the risk of heart attack by 42% and with three sugary drinks daily, the risk rose by 69%. Soda also increased blood levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, which is a marker of heart disease (watch my video below).

But wait, there’s more! Before switching to diet soda, consider this. A separate study of 2,600 men and women found that those who drank soda regularly had a 40% greater chance of stroke or heart attack. Women in particular who drink sugar sweetened beverages are at greater risk for having high levels of fat in their blood called triglycerides – a fat that puts them at risk for metabolic syndrome. The more soda a woman drinks, the higher her risk of high levels of triglycerides.

Finally, a flavoring substance in colas, phosphoric acid, makes the blood more acidic and leaches calcium out of the bones in an attempt to balance the blood’s pH. Women who drink three colas a week have on average 4% more bone loss in their hips than woman who drink other beverages, including non-cola sugary drinks and sodas.

It’s time to switch from sodas to water or tea. Enjoy my Metabolic Syndrome music video. As my gift to you, click here for a FREE three part video series to help you stay well.

Deepak Chopra: Type 2 Diabetes and the Circle of Life

Type 2 diabetes has become an increasing problem in modern America. Because it is chiefly linked to obesity, as more people become overweight, and as the age of gaining weight reaches down into childhood, a largely preventable disease turns into an epidemic. The litany about such lifestyle disorders is now familiar to almost everyone. The changes that prevent Type 2 diabetes all move in the direction of moderation: a balanced diet, exercise, and management of stress.

Yet here we face a paradox – the more information that circulates about lifestyle disorders, the worse the problem grows. A flood of medical warnings hasn’t kept America from eating more, exercising less, turning more sedentary, and working under heavier burdens of daily stress. To escape from this paradoxical trap, we must look deeper.  A single disorder like Type 2 diabetes leads us to examine the entire circle of life, which is a massive, tangled feedback loop. Each of us leads a life dictated by how well the circle of life is functioning; no single strand can be isolated to solve the problem, a mistake made by mainstream medicine and its focus on intense specialization.

First, let’s look at the disorder as viewed by a physician.  Diabetes begins when cells that normally respond to insulin, such as muscle and liver cells, become insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone, a chemical “password” that tells a cell to admit glucose (blood sugar). When cells don’t admit glucose into their interiors, sugar builds up in the blood, which has dire consequences for tissues and organs throughout the body. Diabetes is especially pernicious, then, because the damage it causes can crop up almost anywhere.

Insulin resistance usually occurs several years before true diabetes develops. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and “talks” to cells via insulin receptors on the cell membrane. Once these receptors allow glucose to enter the cell, it is either used immediately as fuel or stored for later use.  We now know that our bodies are nothing less than a constant conversation among chemicals that communicate with a trillion cells thousands of times per second.

To really understand what is happening, however, we must move from the molecular level to a person’s lifestyle. In the sixth century BCE, an Indian physician, Susruta, is recorded as the first to diagnose diabetes and to prescribe a treatment. His analysis seems remarkably modern. Susruta wrote that diabetes was either congenital (what we would call type 1 diabetes) or a result of poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, often resulting in obesity (type 2 diabetes). His prescribed treatment sounds familiar today: eating a healthier diet, taking long walks, engaging in sports such as wrestling, and riding on a horse or elephant.

Your cells grow accustomed to the messages they receive; they have habits that reflect your habits. At present, those habits are trending the wrong way. About 24 million Americans have diabetes—that’s about 8% of the population. About a third of these, 5.7 million people, are undiagnosed. Experts believe that diagnosed diabetes will increase 165% by 2050. That means that one in three people born in 2000 will be affected by the disease. Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes because it almost never developed in children. Now, however, a disturbing number of cases are appearing in young people.

Ironically, as more people gain access to a comfortable way of living, lifestyle disorders create a backlash. Type 2 diabetes has become a global epidemic, too. The World Health Organization estimates that over 220 million people around the world have type 2 diabetes (90% of people with diabetes worldwide), and it is among the top five causes of death in most developed countries. The economic cost of diabetes is enormous, not just to the individual, but to society as well. In the US, the total costs (direct and indirect) of diabetes in 2007 were estimated to be $174 billion.

Science still doesn’t understand exactly how and why Type 2 diabetes develops, and this problem is the subject of intense research all over the world. It may be that something goes wrong with the insulin receptors or with the glucose transporting process. Whatever the causes, the pancreas responds to the increased levels of glucose in the blood by producing ever-greater amounts of insulin. For a while the increased levels of insulin do work to force the target cells to accept more glucose. This temporarily keeps blood sugar levels within their normal range. But over time the overworked pancreatic beta cells lose their ability to produce extra insulin—they “burn out.” Then blood sugar levels remain elevated, a condition termed hyperglycemia. Blood levels of insulin can also become very high: this is known as hyperinsulemia.

Type 2 diabetes can progress for months or years without symptoms, an insidious reason for the disorder being so dangerous. So it’s important to be tested by a doctor if you have symptoms or risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Slow-healing sores or frequent infections
  • Constant hunger
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Tingling hands and feet
  • Blurred vision
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Swollen gums

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

As we saw, prevention of Type 2 diabetes is simple and straightforward, or should be. What looks simple theoretically can turn out to be quite difficult. About 90% of people with type 2 diabetes are obese or overweight: it’s the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The number two risk factor is having a sedentary lifestyle (exercising fewer than three times a week). Other risk factors are being over the age of 45, belonging to certain races (including African American, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian American), having a parent or sibling with the disease, and having had gestational diabetes (diabetes developed during pregnancy).

Because diabetes can progress for months or years without symptoms, anyone who is overweight or obese and who has one or more additional risk factors should be tested. With or without risk factors and symptoms, all adults should be tested for prediabetes or diabetes starting at age 45. Children or teens who are overweight or obese and have other risk factors, such as a family history of diabetes, should be tested starting at age 10 or at puberty, whichever comes first.

Widespread harm

Since prevention is obviously the main goal, I won’t dwell on the damage caused by diabetes. Most of this damage is through its effects on blood vessels, both large and small. At high levels, glucose acts as a toxin on the cells that line blood vessels.

  • Cardiovascular disease (disease of the heart and blood vessels)is the main cause of death in people with diabetes. About three quarters of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes have a 2-4 times higher risk of developing atherosclerosis and of having a stroke than people without diabetes
  • Kidney disease. Because the kidneys are densely packed with millions of tiny filtering capillaries, they are especially likely to be damaged by diabetes. Symptoms may not appear until only 10% of the kidney’s filtering function remains.
  • Vision damage. The retina, the delicate membrane that lines the back of the eyeball, may be damaged by diabetes. High glucose levels injure the tiny capillaries in the retina, which start to break and bleed. Diabetes also increases the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma.

Nerve damage, or neuropathy, is also involved. The myelin sheaths that surround nerve cells are very sensitive to changes in glucose concentration. Nerves can also be damaged when damage to the capillaries that feed them cuts off their blood supply.

Monitoring glucose levels

As standard practice, it’s considered important for diabetics to monitor their glucose levels. Keeping track of your blood sugar allows quick responses to levels that are too low (hypoglycemia) or too high (hyperglycemia). It also helps in planning meals, activities, and medication times. The latest glucose monitors require only a tiny drop of blood, and it doesn’t necessarily have to come from a finger.

But we also need to consider the stress caused by constantly monitoring any condition, whether it is diabetes or high blood pressure. In the body’s feedback loops, all messages are received by the cell membrane, including messages relating to stress, your work environment, relationships, mood, and general sense of well-being.  You cannot “feel” your blood sugar levels, and once you begin to change your lifestyle, there is every reason to focus on how your life is going in general, with much less focus on chemical monitoring. Blood sugar follows cycles, like everything else in the body. One day’s high reading may be meaningless, but it can lead to panic and worry. Is it worth ruining a whole day in order to fixate on a number?

The key to getting past any lifestyle disorder, including Type 2 diabetes, is to move in the direction of balance and moderation. This doesn’t mean grim discipline. Instead, you ask yourself on a daily basis:

Am I doing something that makes me happy?

Can I give up a little of what isn’t good for me?

How do I feel about my progress toward well-being?

Can I foresee the weak or tempting moments I need to be most careful about?

In the spirit of making your life better, the preventive steps for Type 2 diabetes fall into place more naturally.

Weight loss

Anyone with prediabetes or diabetes who is overweight has a number of very good reasons to lose weight. For someone with prediabetes, losing just 5-10% of body weight significantly reduces blood sugar levels and reduces insulin resistance. For someone who weighs 200 lbs, that means losing as little as 10 lbs. When losing weight is combined with regular exercise, the risk of developing diabetes is cut by 58%. And there’s another, very significant benefit: losing 5-10% of body weight lowers the chances of having a heart attack or stroke. If you already have diabetes, studies have found that weight loss can significantly reduce symptoms of diabetes and insulin resistance.

The American Diabetes Association recommends a slow-but-steady weight loss goal of .5-1 lb. per week. It’s very useful to consult a registered dietitian for help in changing eating habits, controlling overeating, and designing a diet plan you can live happily with and that provides the right sort of nutrition for diabetes.

Eating right for diabetes

There is no specific “diabetes diet.”  A healthy diet for diabetes is the same as a healthy diet for anyone: rich in nutrients and fiber and low in refined carbohydrates, high-glycemic-index foods (like potatoes), and saturated and trans fats. The glycemic index (GI) classifies carbohydrates based on how quickly and how much they boost blood sugar compared to pure glucose. Foods that have a low GI are absorbed slowly in the digestive tract, raising blood sugar evenly over a long period of time.

Exercise

Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do for diabetes. Exercise, whether anerobic or aerobic, induces both your muscles and your liver to take up more glucose, lowering your blood sugar levels. Exercise decreases insulin resistance, normalizes blood pressure, improves sleep, and decreases stress.

Talk to your healthcare practitioner before starting a new exercise regimen. Choose something you enjoy and that’s at the right level for your current fitness. It’s best to exercise every day, at the same time.

Quit smoking

If you smoke, quit now. Smoking is especially bad for people with prediabetes or diabetes. If you don’t now have diabetes, smoking makes it three times as likely that you will develop it. Smoking further damages already compromised blood vessels, constricting them and injuring them. It causes complications, like kidney disease, retinal disease, and foot problems, to occur sooner, and increases risk of death. What’s more, nicotine has been found to directly increase blood sugar levels.

De-stress

Being stressed stimulates the production of corticosteroids, the “stress hormones,” which increase blood glucose levels. By the same token, studies show that reducing stress can lower blood sugar levels. Try meditation, biofeedback, or focused breathing techniques. Just doing something you enjoy, like gardening or reading, can be a good way to de-stress. Exercise (aerobic exercise, yoga, tai chi) is an excellent de-stressed. Support groups and therapy may prove very helpful as well.

Supplements and botanicals

These come into play only after you have seriously considered lifestyle changes; they are not a substitute, much less a cure-all. Some people with diabetes have found chromium or alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) to be helpful in controlling their blood sugar. ALA, an antioxidant, may also be useful in treating nerve damage.

Certain botanicals, including cinnamon, fenugreek, ginseng, bitter melon, aloe vera, prickly pear cactus, gurmar (an Indian herb whose name means “sugar destroyer”), and Coccinia indica (ivy gourd) may help to control blood glucose levels. In Chinese and Indian traditional medicine, combinations of botanicals are used to treat diabetes, and there is some evidence that this results in a synergistic effect. Consult with an experienced practitioner of Chinese or Indian medicine if you would like to investigate these treatments.

Acupuncture

Some people with peripheral neuropathy—pain in the hands and feet due to nerve damage from diabetes—have found that acupuncture helps to relieve their pain. Acupuncture has few if any dangerous side effects, so it may be worth investigating this form of treatment. 

Medications

If lifestyle measures don’t sufficiently reduce blood sugar levels, then medications may be prescribed. Medications may lower glucose levels by increasing insulin production by the pancreas, boosting cell sensitivity to insulin, and delaying absorption of glucose from the intestines. Numerous medications are available, and often more than one is prescribed.

Insulin may be prescribed if taking noninsulin glucose-lowering drugs doesn’t get blood sugar levels under control. Insulin must be injected using a syringe, an insulin pen, or with an insulin pump.

In mainstream medicine, diabetes is a circle of chemicals, leading from the insulin produced naturally by the pancreas to the insulin injections prescribed for millions of diabetics. Yet a much larger circle is actually involved. The circle of life embraces who you are and how you want to live. Diabetes, like every other lifestyle disorder, is an indicator that change is required. This doesn’t mean chemical change. It means redefining how you want to achieve well-being in the healthiest possible way.

For more information go to: www.deepakchopra.com/

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 PHOTO (cc): Flickr / DeathByBokeh 

Blood Sugar and Insulin

Kim DuessIn and of itself, glucose (sugar) is not a bad thing. In fact, it is necessary for providing energy to cells. But when we disrupt our body’s natural balance-by eating too much sugar or too many carbs, blood sugar levels can fall or rise too quickly and lead to serious conditions including Syndrome X, insulin resistance, and hyperglycemia or diabetes.

Hyperglycemia is the overproduction of insulin by the pancreas in response to a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. Insulin regulates carbohydrate metabolism by controlling blood sugar levels. Stress and poor eating habits can create an insulin imbalance. During a meal, the insulin level is a determining factor in signaling the brain that your body is full. But low insulin levels will elevate glucose and cause you to eat more, and consequently gain weight. It becomes a vicious cycle, because overweight people burn sugar less efficiently than people who maintain a healthy weight.

Insulin resistance

Insulin is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy, and is responsible for getting blood sugar into the cells. Insulin receptors on the surface of cells act like doors that open and close, regulating the inflow of blood sugar. Unfortunately, after one has consumed a high-carbohydrate diet for years, these insulin receptors, which have been besieged by insulin, begin to collapse and shut down. Consequently, with fewer doors open, the body needs to produce even more insulin to push the glucose into the cells. More insulin causes even more doors to close and as this cycle continues, a condition called Insulin Resistance sets in.

Insulin resistance can go undetected for up to 40 years, or until serious complications begin to surface. As the need for insulin rises, the pancreas gradually loses its ability to produce enough insulin to push the blood sugar into the cells, and an extreme case of insulin resistance develops type 2 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes usually need insulin delivered by a pump or injection. On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can be controlled by exercise, whole foods, low carb diet, and nutritional supplements.

The new epidemic

An estimated 18 million Americans have diabetes, but 5.2 million are unaware they have the disease. Add to that another 20.1 million Americans who have a pre-diabetic condition that involves higher than normal glucose levels, but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.  How did we end up with what medical professionals are calling a full-blown epidemic?

Type 2 diabetes

It’s no secret that many Americans eat a diet laden with over-processed foods that are high in sugar, carbs and saturated fats.  Although diabetes and other serious blood sugar conditions can be genetic, they often develop as a result of poor diet and lack of exercise. It’s no wonder then, that type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent in children and adolescents  and now accounts for 90 to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes in the U.S.  The disease is becoming so rampant, in fact, experts expect the incidence of type 2 diabetes to double during this decade.

Type 2 diabetes increases risk of serious long-term complications including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and loss of vision.

Lower your risk

The good news is that many people with blood sugar disorders and type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose by eating a lower carb diet of fresh whole foods, exercising regularly and losing excess weight.

For some people, fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin are related to appetite, hunger, and food cravings – particularly for carbohydrates such as bread, pastries, and desserts. Nutritional supplements such as banaba extract and chromium can help reduce pre-diabetes risk factors by balancing blood sugar and insulin levels, reducing total caloric intake and encouraging moderate weight loss.

Make sure you know the diabetes risk factors and take steps to protect yourself.

To your health,

Kim Duess

You-Be-Healthy.com
Twitter.com/kimduess
Facebook.com/youbehealthy

 

5 Steps to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

 Breaking news!

Some newly discovered compounds have just been found to turn off all of the genes that cause diabetes.

Are these compounds found in a pill bottle? No!

Instead, you’ll find them on your dinner plate — in rye bread and pasta.

(As I recently wrote in one of my blogs, rye contains special phytonutrients that turn off all the genes responsible for diabetes — in just a few weeks.)

Last week, I explained how to find out if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. Half of the 24 million people with diabetes don’t know they have it and nearly all the 60 million people with pre-diabetes don’t know they have it.

Today, I want to share with you more information about what you can do NOW to prevent and reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes. And rye bread isn’t the only answer — I’ve got a lot more good advice, too.

But first I want to emphasize new research that should be headlines news but never saw the light of day. Do our current drugs treatments for diabetes actually work to prevent heart attacks and death?

Surely lowering blood sugar in diabetics is an effective strategy for reducing the risk of death and heart disease. It would seem obvious that if diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar, then reducing blood sugar would be beneficial.  

However elevated sugar is only a symptom, not the cause of the problem. The real problem is elevated insulin unchecked over decades from a highly refined carbohydrate diet, a sedentary lifestyle and environmental toxins. 

Most medications and insulin therapy are aimed at lowering blood sugar through increasing insulin. In the randomized ACCORD trial of over 10,000 patients, this turns out to be a bad idea. 

In the intensive glucose-lowering group, there were no fewer heart attacks, and more patients died. Yet we continue to pay $174 billion annually for this type of care for diabetes, despite evidence that lifestyle works better than medications. We also pay for cardiac bypass and angioplasty in diabetics when evidence shows no reduction in death or heart attacks compared to medication.

So now that we know what doesn’t work, let me review what does work.

Dietary Recommendations to Reverse Diabetes

Eating in a way that balances your blood sugar, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and improves your liver detoxification is the key to preventing and reversing insulin resistance and diabetes. This is a way of eating that based on a whole foods diet that’s high in fiber, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, and low in sugars and flours, with a low glycemic load. It is a way of eating that includes anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying foods. It includes plenty of omega-3 fats and olive oil, soy products, beans, nuts, and seeds.

All these foods help prevent and reverse diabetes and insulin resistance. This is the way of eating than turns on all the right gene messages, promotes a healthy metabolism, and prevents aging and age-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Here are more specifics.

Meal Timing

  • Eat protein for breakfast every day, such as whole omega-3 eggs, a soy protein shake, or nut butters
  • Eat something every 4 hours to keep your insulin and glucose levels normal
  • Eat small protein snacks in the morning and afternoon, such as a handful of almonds
  • Finish eating at least 2 to 3 hours before bed. If you have a snack earlier in the day, you won’t be as hungry, even if you eat a little later

Meal Composition

  • Controlling the glycemic load of your meals is very important
  • You can do this by combining adequate protein, fats, and whole-food carbohydrates from vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit at every meal or snack
  • It is most important to avoid eating quickly absorbed carbohydrates alone, as they raise your sugar and insulin levels

Travel Suggestions

  • Two handfuls of almonds in a zip-lock bag make a useful emergency snack. You can eat them with a piece of fruit. Remember, real food is the best.

What to Eat

Choose from a variety of the following real, whole foods:

  • Choose organic produce and animal products whenever possible.
  • Eat high-quality protein, such as fish — especially fatty, cold-water fish like salmon, sable, small halibut, herring, and sardines — and shellfish.
  • Cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, and sable contain an abundance of beneficial essential fatty acids, omega-3 oils that reduce inflammation. Choose smaller wild Alaskan salmon, sable, and halibut that are low in toxins. Canned wild salmon is a great “emergency” food.
  • Eat up to eight omega-3 eggs a week.
  • Create meals that are high in low-glycemic legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans (try edamame, the Japanese soybeans in a pod, quickly steamed with a little salt, as a snack). These foods slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which helps prevent the excess insulin release that can lead to health concerns like obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
  • Eat a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables teeming with phytonutrients like carotenoids, flavonoids, and polyphenols, which are associated with a lower incidence of nearly all health problems, including obesity and age-related disease.
  • Eat more low-glycemic vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Berries, cherries, peaches, plums, rhubarb, pears, and apples are optimal fruits. Cantaloupes and other melons, grapes, and kiwifruit are suitable; however, they contain more sugar. You can use organic frozen berries (such as those from Cascadian Farms) in your protein shakes.
  • Focus on anti-inflammatory foods, including wild fish and other sources of omega-3 fats, red and purple berries (these are rich in polyphenols), dark green leafy vegetables, orange sweet potatoes, and nuts.
  • Eat more antioxidant-rich foods, including orange and yellow vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, spinach, etc.), anthocyanidins (berries, beets, grapes, pomegranate), purple grapes, blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, and cherries. In fact, antioxidants are in all colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Include detoxifying foods in your diet, such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and Chinese broccoli), green tea, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, artichokes, garlic, citrus peels, pomegranate, and even cocoa.
  • Season your food with herbs such as rosemary, ginger, and turmeric, which are powerful antioxidantsanti-inflammatories, and detoxifiers.
  • Avoid excessive quantities of meat. Eat lean organic or grass-fed animal products, when possible. These include eggs, beef, chicken, pork, lamb, buffalo, and ostrich. There are good brands at Whole Foods and other local health-food stores (also see mail order sources).
  • Garlic and onions contain antioxidants, enhance detoxification, act as anti-inflammatories, and help lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • A diet high in fiber further helps to stabilize blood sugar by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and supports a healthy lower bowel and digestive tract. Try to gradually increase fiber to 30 to 50 grams a day and use predominantly soluble or viscous fiber (legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit), which slows sugar absorption from the gut
  • Use extra virgin olive oil, which contains anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants, as your main cooking oil.
  • Soy products such as soymilk, soybeans, and tofu are rich in antioxidants that can reduce cancer risk, lower cholesterol, and improve insulin and blood sugar metabolism.
  • Increase your intake of nuts and seeds, including raw walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin and flax seeds.
  • And yes … chocolate can be healthy, too. Choose only the darkest varieties and eat only 2 to 3 ounces a day. It should contain 70 percent cocoa.

Decrease (or ideally eliminate) your intake of:

  • All processed or junk foods
  • Foods containing refined white flour and sugar, such as breads, cereals (cornflakes, Frosted Flakes, puffed wheat, and sweetened granola), flour-based pastas, bagels, and pastries
  • All foods containing high-fructose corn syrup
  • All artificial sweeteners (aspartame, Sorbitol, etc.) and caffeine
  • Starchy, high-glycemic cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and root vegetables such as rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips
  • Processed fruit juices, which are often loaded with sugars (Try juicing your own carrots, celery, and beets, or other fruit and vegetable combinations, instead)
  • Processed canned vegetables (usually very high in sodium)
  • Foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (which become trans fatty acids in the bloodstream), such as most crackers, chips, cakes, candies, cookies, doughnuts, and processed cheese
  • Processed oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, and canola
  • Red meats (unless organic or grass-fed) and organ meats
  • Large predatory fish and river fish, which contain mercury and other contaminants in unacceptable amounts, including swordfish, tuna, tilefish and shark
  • Dairy — substitute unsweetened, gluten free soymilk, almond milk, or hazelnut milk products
  • Alcohol — limit it to no more than 3 glasses a week of red wine per week

Balance Blood Sugar with Exercise

Exercise is critical for the improvement of insulin sensitivity. It helps reduce central body fat, improving sugar metabolism. Regular exercise will help prevent diabetes, reduce your risk of complications, and even help reverse it.

Ideally you should do 30 minutes of walking every day. Walking after dinner is a powerful way to reduce your blood sugar.

More vigorous exercise and sustained exercise is often needed to reverse severe insulin resistance or diabetes. Doing sustained aerobic exercise for up to 60 minutes 5 to 6 times a week is often necessary to get diabetes under full control. You want to work at 70 to 85 percent of your target heart rate, which you can find by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying that number by 0.70 to 0.85.

Interval training can be an added benefit to helping improve your metabolism and mitochondrial function. It helps to increase the efficiency calorie burning so that you burn more calories and energy during the time you are NOT exercising. This is described in detail in UltraMetabolism.

Strength training also helps maintain and build muscle, which can help also with your overall blood sugar and energy metabolism.

Supplements that Can Help Reverse Diabetes

Nutritional supplements can be very effective for Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. I recommend a number of different supplements, depending on the severity of the problem:

1. A multivitamin and mineral.
2. Calcium and magnesium and vitamin D.
3. Fish oil (1,000 to 4,000 mg) a day improves insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol, and reduces inflammation.
4. Extra magnesium (200 to 600 mg a day) helps with glucose metabolism and is often deficient in diabetics.
5. Chromium (500 to 1,000 mcg day) is very important for proper sugar metabolism.
6. Antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) are important in helping to reduce and balance blood sugar.
7. B-complex vitamins are important and are part of a good multivitamin. Extra vitamin B6 (50 to 150 mg a day) and B12 (1,000 to 3,000 mcg) are especially helpful in protecting against diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.
8. Biotin (2,000 to 4,000 mcg a day) enhances insulin sensitivity.
9. I also encourage people to use alpha-lipoic acid (300 mg twice a day), a powerful antioxidant that can reduce blood sugar significantly. It also can be effective for diabetic nerve damage or neuropathy.
10. Evening primrose oil (500 to 1,000 mg twice a day) helps overcome deficiencies common in diabetics.
11. I encourage people to use cinnamon as a supplement. One to two 500 mg tablets twice a day can help blood sugar control.
12. Other herbs and supplements that can be helpful include green tea, ginseng, bitter melon, gymnema, bilberry, ginkgo, onions, and garlic. Fenugreek can also be used to help improve blood sugar ,although large amounts must be taken.
13. Banaba leaf (Lagerstroemia speciosa) can be an effective herb. Take 24 mg twice a day.
14. I recommend konjac fiber, such as PGX (WellBetX), four capsules 10 minutes before meals with a glass of water. This helps reduce blood sugar after meals and improves long-term blood sugar control while reducing appetite and cholesterol.

Manage Diabetes by Managing Stress

Stress plays a dramatic role in blood sugar imbalances. It triggers insulin resistance, promotes weight gain around the middle, increases inflammation, and ultimately can cause diabetes. So it’s essential to engage in relaxation practices on a regular basis, such as yoga, breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hot baths, exercise, meditation, massage, biofeedback, hypnosis, or even making love. Your survival depends on it.

Use Medications if Necessary

A number of medications may be helpful for diabetes. There are several specific classes of medications, each with their own effects. Sometimes combinations are helpful.

These are the main classes.

1. The biguanides, especially metformin (Glucophage), is one of the best medications to improve insulin sensitivity. It can help lower blood sugars by improving your cells’ response to insulin.

2. Thiazolidinedione drugs are a new class of diabetes medication and can help improve uptake of glucose by the cells by making you more insulin-sensitive. They also reduce inflammation and help improve metabolism working on the PPAR, a special class of cell receptors that control metabolism. They can cause weight gain and liver damage. Thiazolidinediones include rosiglutazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos).

3. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors include acarbose and miglitol, which can help lower the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates in the intestines, reducing the absorption of sugar after meals. And there are newer medication on the market every day.

Older medications include sulfonylureas include glipizide, glyburide, and glimepiride. I strongly recommend against these medications because they only reduce your sugar in the short term and cause further insulin production, which actually worsens diabetes over the long term. They have also been linked to high risk of heart attacks, which you are trying to prevent. They treat the symptoms rather than the cause.

Insulin is the last resort after all other measures have failed and often leads to a slippery slope of weight gain and increased cholesterol and blood pressure. Many patients have been able to come off insulin entirely if they are treated early and aggressively through the other methods I’ve listed.

Diabetes and its precursor, insulin resistance, are looming as the major threat to our health in the 21st century. It will affect 1 in 3 children born today, and 1 in 2 minority children. This is a tragic consequence of our toxic food environment, our unmitigated exposure to stress, our sedentary lifestyle, and environmental toxins.

However, these problems are completely preventable and often reversible through aggressive lifestyle changes, supplements, and exercise and stress management.

Diabetes is the biggest health epidemic triggered by the obesity epidemic, but all of our medical efforts to treat it are focused on medications and insulin.

It is simply the wrong approach.

If you follow these guidelines instead, you will see a dramatic change very quickly in your health, your weight, and your diabetes.

Just try it!

Now I’d like to hear from you… Have you been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes? Have you been told that you must take drugs to treat it? Which of these steps do you plan to take and which are you already trying? What are the results?

Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, M.D.

 

Can eating sugar really make you age faster?

The levels of insulin in your blood may be the single most important chemical level to your health and wellness.   Most are aware that insulin has something to do with regulating blood sugar, but what is less well known is that insulin has its fingers in almost every organ system in the body, and as the regulation and then levels of insulin in the blood get thrown off, its effects are generally detrimental, and in fact, most of the diseases of aging have direct relationships to the balance of this important chemical.  The causes of insulin resistance lay mostly in dietary factors, and so does the remedy for insulin imbalance, or insulin resistance. 

 

The primary purpose of insulin in the human body is to cause for the storage of excess nutrients.  With the intake of sugar, when the body recognizes there to be more sugar in the blood stream than is needed for the current activity level insulin is released to initiate the storage.  The first form of storage is glycogen storage in you liver and muscles, for the purpose of providing a quick boost of energy if needed.  Evolutionarily this could be thought of as energy for fight or flight if you are about to be eaten by a saber toothed tiger.  Glycogen stores fill quickly and then the body stores excess blood sugar as everyone’s favorite whipping boy, saturated fat.  Backing up a little, excess sugar enters your blood stream through ingesting it in the diet.  Now the biggest blast of blood-sugar comes from eating high-sugar foods, like your typical soft drinks and desserts; however any carbohydrates, even complex-carbohydrates elevate the blood sugar level and therefore cause for this storage process to be initiated.  This of course then begs the question: Why on earth would you ever eat a high complex-carbohydrate, low-saturated fat diet?  In essence this makes no sense as a high-complex carbohydrate diet would simply cause your body to make plenty of saturated fat on its own. 

 

Insulin touches every corner of your body and here is only a partial breakdown of what it causes in the body:

-Storage of magnesium

-Retention of sodium

-Stimulates cell proliferation and division

-Stores sugar as fat

-Mediates blood lipids (i.e. Triglycerides)

-Helps control the manufacture of cholesterol

-Helps control sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone

-Controls growth hormone

-Elevates plasma non-esterified free fatty acid concentrations

-Increases hepatic secretion of VLDL

 

 

As you can see insulin has some important functions in the human body and without it you wouldn’t be long for this world.  However the key with insulin is to have a proper balance, and primarily to have only a small amount floating around in your blood stream at any one time.  

 

Insulin resistance, also known as type 2 diabetes or adult onset diabetes is a growing problem in the U.S.   In 2000, according to the World Health Organization, at least 171 million people worldwide suffered from diabetes, or 2.8% of the population.  Its incidence is increasing rapidly, and it is estimated that by the year 2030, this number will almost double. 

 

When sugar enters the blood stream insulin is released and signals your cells to store the sugar first as glycogen and then as fat.  The mechanism for this is that there are specific receptor sites for insulin on the membrane of each cell.  When a molecule of insulin touches the receptor a chain reaction takes place causing for the cell to perform whatever functions it does when in the presence of insulin.  Cell membranes have a self-regulating mechanism called up- or down-regulation of receptors.  This literally means that they either create more (up-regulation) or less receptors (down-regulation) for a specific chemical related to how much of it they are in contact with over time.  In other words when a cell is constantly bombarded with a chemical it begins to down-regulate its receptors for that chemical and becomes less sensitive to it.  This is similar to when you first enters a room with a strong smell, it is very noticeable, but after being in the room for some time your sense of smell accommodates (down-regulation) and you don’t notice it as much, but if you leave and then re-enter (up-regulation) you can then notice the smell strongly again.  In the case of insulin resistance, the cells are down-regulating their insulin receptors, and therefore they are less responsive to it in the blood stream.  However, even if the cells are resistant to the messages of insulin, you body still requires something to happen to the sugar floating in your blood, so your pancreas begins to secrete higher and higher amounts of insulin in order to achieve the same results.  This is where the trouble really begins.  An over abundance of insulin in the human body has numerous detrimental effects:

 

-Decreases the cellular uptake of vitamin C.  (A blood sugar level of 120 reduces the phagocytic index by 75%.  The phagocytic index is a measure of how rapidly an immune cell can destroy a virus, bacteria, or cancel cell.)

-Your cells become resistant to magnesium, which causes your blood vessels to constrict, which causes your blood pressure to rise.

-It raises triglyceride, and LDL levels

-It leads to coronary artery disease (CAD) by causing blood to clot to readily, the conversion of macrophages into foam cells, constriction of arteries, and stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.  Not to mention the fact that it interferes with vitamin C uptake.

-It causes dyslipidemia i.e. Increased triglycerides, decreased HDL and increased LDL.

-Syndrome X (HBP, high cholesterol, Insulin resistance)

-Promotes acne

-Early menarche

-Certain epithelial cell carcinomas (cancer)

-Myopia (near-sightedness)

-Cutaneous papillomas (skin tags)

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-Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

-Male vertex balding

 

Now the Million dollar question: What do I do about insulin?

The answer in its simplest form is; stop eating sugar!  O.K., O.K.  I know for most people this solution sounds easier than it is.  So what are some more “reasonable” steps one can take to reign in insulin levels?

 

The first distinction to make is identifying the primary sources of sugar in your diet.

 

Liquid Sugar       Recently a report came out detailing that the average American diet consists of 1/3 calories form sugar!  That means that 1 out of every 3 calories that you eat in a day has no positive nutritive value, and even more it can lead to many of the health challenges detailed above.  Another detail reported in the report was that a large number of these calories from sugar come in liquid form, soda, juice, etc…  And despite the commercials to the contrary, high fructose corn syrup in not good for you, at the least it is equal to regular sugar, and in reality there is evidence that it could be worse for your insulin levels. 

White Flour       Another important point to consider is that white flour is basically sugar.  Much of it turns into simple sugar before it even hits your stomach.  So In reality you can view any white flour the same as eating straight sugar, and compounding the issue, sugar usually accompanies white flour. 

 

What about maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, raw sugar?          In short, they are all still sugar and you r body still needs to deal with it when it enters your blood stream by releasing insulin.  Yes, they do break down a little slower, so in that respect they don’t cause for as rapid of an insulin dump, but insulin has to be produced anyway. 

 

Artificial sweeteners, NutraSweet, Splenda, etc…?        JUST SAY NO! 

Links to more info:

NutraSweet: http://doctorellisor.com/nutrition/thebad/nutrasweet

Splenda:  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/12/03/sucralose-dangers.aspx

 

What else?        

 

Supplements:  Aside from reducing and or eliminating sugar in your diet, which is the most vital part, there are also some supplements that can help balance the effects of sugar in your blood.  Again however, these are supplements, meaning they are meant to supplement healthy diet and behavior, not replace it. 

 

-Cinnamon:  research has shown that cinnamon can reduce blood sugar levels and lower blood cholesterol as well. Even 20 days after the cinnamon treatment had ended, the patients continued to see beneficial effects.

 

-Chromium:  this can increase the ability of cells to burn fat rather than needing to burn sugar.

 

-Omega-3 oils:  This can improve cellular circulation by making the membrane more fluid, thereby increasing receptor sensitivity.

 

Exercise:  Research has shown that regular resistance training has been shown to be better than aerobic training in bringing down insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

 

 

Insulin Resistance can be reversed:        Studies of humans show that insulin resistance can be significantly improved and even reversed by simple yet extensive dietary changes, sometimes within only a few weeks. 

 

There are over 50 essential nutrients for the human body, all of which can be successfully ingested without ever eating grains of sugars.

Do You Have Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance syndrome, is a dangerous thing to have.  It is a combination of symptoms including:

  • Abdominal obesity (excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen).
  • Blood fat disorders like high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol that foster plaque buildups in artery walls.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar).
  • Prothrombotic state (high fibrinogen or plasminogen activator inhibitor–1 in the blood).
  • Proinflammatory state (elevated C-reactive protein in the blood).

 If you have this you are at an increased risk for stroke, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.  Not good things.

 What often goes along with this syndrome is a lack of physical activity.  It is more prominent the older we get.  Hormonal imbalances and genetic predispositions can also exacerbate this syndrome.

 You know what the first line of treatment for this dangerous syndrome is?  Weight loss.  That’s right, the evil weight loss.  Along with weight loss, exercise and/or increased physical activity and healthy eating are the key to getting well again. 

 Metabolic syndrome’s complications can kill you.  If you are overweight and don’t yet have these problems, remember that the older you get, the more likely you are to develop them.  If 50 million Americans already have this dangerous syndrome, then you could have it and not know it, will develop it and/or know someone who already has it. 

 Don’t be a victim!  Take control of your weight and your health.  If you are overweight, start moving more.  Eat more fruits and vegetables and decrease the number of calories you take in per day.  The key to weight loss is, take in less calories than you burn.  That’s it.

 Good luck and let me know how you’re doing.

 

If you’d like to participate in the research for Irene’s new book about the process of weight loss, please visit www.eatingdisordertherapist.com and take the survey.

 Originally posted on The Huffington Post.

 

Type 2 Diabetes Doubles Among U.S. Children

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Sayantani DasGupta — a physician, author and mother — writes here about the rising incidence of type 2 diabetes in children.

Our children are dying.

Around the world, our children are dying from malnutrition and diarrhea, from a lack of clean water, from a lack of proper food and hygiene.

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