Monday, March 31, 2008

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics

With a note of appreciation to Dr.Stephen Covey to coining the phrase, here is my take on the seven habits of highly successful diabetics. These are not new ideas, and they certainly do not require diabetics to buy new products. They are simply commonsensical, time-tested principles that can help every diabetic design a truly healthy blood sugar control diet.

1. Drink only no-calorie beverages, preferably water and green tea.

When the question is "Got milk?" diabetics should not say yes. Liquid milk is loaded with lactose sugar, and as little as 1/4 cup (60 ml) will cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels in most diabetics. Fruit juices and sugar-sweetened beverages are obvious no-no's, and most artificially sweetened beverages just make it harder to kick the sugar habit.

2. Follow a low-carb diabetes diet. Get your carbohydrates from vegetables and a very small amount of fruit.

Any diabetic can easily eat too much noodles, potatoes, bread, cereal, or rice, but it's very difficult indeed to get a blood sugar high from too much spinach. The carbohydrates in vegetables are slowly released and slowly absorbed. This gives the body's long-term, "second phase" production of insulin or a type 1 diabetic's injected insulin a chance to transport sugars that cannot be "covered" when diabetics eat fast-acting carbs.

"Slow" foods for diabetics include artichoke hearts, asparagus, avocado, bitter melon, bamboo shoots, green and red but not yellow bell peppers, bok choy, bottle gourd, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, celeriac, Chinese leek, choy sum, collard greens, daikon, dandelion greens, eggplant, endive, escarole, green beans, hearts of palm, kohlrabi, komatsuna, lo kui, luffa (the edible kind, not the scrubbing kind), mushrooms, mustard greens, okra, pak choi, pei tsai, pumpkin, radicchio, rhubarb, sauerkraut, scallions, snow peas, spaghetti squash, spinach, string beans, summer squash, turnips and turnip greens, water chestnuts, watercress, yin tsai (amaranth leaves), zucchini and zucchini blossoms. Beets, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and fresh fruit should be eaten in small amounts only. All diabetics get better control if they avoid bread, potatoes, and grains altogether.

3. Eat complete protein with every meal.

A "complete" protein contains all the amino acids the human body needs for nutrition. Sources of complete protein that are low in carbohydrates include meat, fish, eggs, soy, cheese, and quinoa, although quinoa should be eaten in moderation.

Why eat complete protein?

The body can convert amino acids into glucose. Even eating meat can slowly raise blood sugars. If you consume complete protein, your body will not have to strip some amino acids out of tissue, while having too much of other amino acids it turns into sugar.

4. Eat small meals more frequently.

The best-disciplined diabetics often tend to starve themselves to get lower blood sugars. Particularly if you are active, it is important to have a steady stream of both carbohydrate and protein so tissues can keep themselves in good repair. It's especially important to keep carbohydrates and proteins available if you are trying to build muscle.

Insulin-dependent diabetics who eat small meals regularly are able to manage their blood sugars with "slow" rather than "fast" insulin. The use of slow insulins like Lantus greatly reduces the risk of hypoglycemia or insulin shock.

5. Eat vegetables with every meal.

Even diabetics need carbohydrate, they just do not need very much. The vegetables listed for the second rule above are advisable for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every meal in between.

6. Make sure that you get some fat every day.

Although monounsaturated fats like olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil are widely considered "healthy," the fact is, the body needs omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids from a variety of plant and even animal sources to power the immune system and to enable at least the level of inflammation that removes diseased or damaged tissue. Up to 35 per cent of calories can come from fat. It may help to know the human body makes most of its own cholesterol.

7. Finally, eat mostly whole foods.

Minimally processed foods have tremendous advantages for diabetics. They release sugars slowly. They contain more antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. And they contain more water, so they are more filling.

Diabetics who can follow these seven rules 90 per cent of the time are a long way down the road to good blood sugar control. And if you are in the early stages of type 2 diabetes, monitoring blood glucose levels and following these seven rules assiduously may even help you reverse diabetes entirely.

You may also be interested in my article on the right kind of exercise for diabetics and :

Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults

Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?

Is it possible to eat all the foods you love and still lose the weight? Well, if you are dieting, it is not possible to abandon all portion control and eat all the foods you love and still lose the weight, but it is possible to eat some of the foods you love in filling portions on a sensible diet while reducing calories and sodium on a weekly basis. It's an approach dieter and engineer George Radford used to call the "rhythm method of girth control."

This is not such a radical idea. What calories do to your diet depends on how "naturally" you reduce them. If you eat the same number of calories every day, your body will slow down its metabolism to burn fewer of them--making weight loss harder.

If you vary your calorie consumption, say 1200 calories one day, 1200 calories the next day, 2000 calories the third day but then getting right back on your reduced-calorie diet, your body will keep its metabolism running at a higher rate. The trick is making sure you get back your reduced calorie regimen on the fourth day to lose pounds. Eating a meal of sensible proportions at your favorite restaurant about twice a week can actually help your diet, if that meal out is part of your plan.

Every dieter knows, of course, it's the unplanned meals that put on the pounds. The problem is not so much eating one piece of pie that was not allowed even on, say, a three-day 1200-1200-2000 calorie a day plan, it is eating that second and third piece of pie after losing control the first time.

Successful dieters can have planned treats, but they can't go on binges. If a food is something that brings up intense emotions that propel you eat and eat and eat until it's all gone, that's a food you have to give up entirely.

It is easier to avoid binging if your everyday foods are flavorful. If your weight loss diet is not just low-calorie but also bland, it's possible that your taste buds, having given up all hope of ever being satisfied, will be brought back to life when you eat some cheat-food. If your diet meals are flavorful, colorful, and filling (and moist, juicy, soupy foods are more filling), then you will find it easier to get back to your plan when you stray.

The occasional higher-calorie meal upregulates your metabolism to keep you a calorie-burning machine. You will not be able to burn enough calories to keep your weight down, however, if you eat too much too often.

You may also be interested in:

Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Super-Citrimax: Does It Really Work?
Acupressure for Weight Control
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
Is There An Appetite-Suppression Oolong Tea Supplement?
Raw Hemp Powder as a Substitute for Whey
Is the Suddenly Slim Diet Safe and Effective?
If You Are Diabetic, Fat Is Not Your Fault
Does Espresso Inhibit Weight Loss?
Mustard, Chili, and Weight Loss

How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle

Managing diabetes is challenging at any age, but it’s especially difficult for teens with type 2 diabetes, who have to gain muscle while they lose fat. Fortunately, the science of nutrient timing is beginning to give us some insight in just how this seemingly impossible feat is accomplished.

Most experts in sports nutrition, Dr. John Berardi, for instance, tell their elite athletes they should eat a complete meal, protein, carbs, and fat, about every three waking hours. The same principle applies to teens performing the elite feat of losing fat while gaining muscle.

There are very good reasons for recommending snacking and small meals to teens with type 2 diabetes.

Stop-and-go activities like a dash between classes require quick energy in the muscles. Endurance activities, that can be as simple as tapping your feet, require long-lasting energy in the bloodstream.

The body’s answer to both needs is glycogen. It stores glucose away in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen so it doesn’t have to drain this vital sugar out of the bloodstream. Glycogen is right where the muscles need it when they have sudden heavy energy demands, and the liver can turn glycogen into a steady stream of glucose for longer activities.

Another of the very good reasons type 2 teens should eat balanced meals frequently is recovery. After any kind of exertion, and throughout the growth process, muscles need to replenish their glycogen energy supplies and to repair their proteins.

Their first priority seems to be the protein. Muscles take in glucose to make glycogen, but they can’t do this efficiently unless they’re taking in amino acids, too. Ergo, athletes drink their protein-fortified energy drinks during and after workouts to protect muscle. Teens with type 2 diabetes may not need the carbs of an energy drink, but they do need protein.

The principles are the same for diabetics doing either milder exercise or a heavy workout, except for the carbohydrate replenishment part. Diabetics don’t have to do “carb loading.” They’re pretty much already carb loaded.

And if teens with type 2 diabetes are going to eat extra carbs, right after the workout is a good time to eat them. Exercised muscles store 51 per cent more glucose as glycogen than muscles that haven’t been exercised. That’s a really big difference is how much exercise lowers blood sugars. To get this benefit, diabetic teens need protein, and they especially need it after exercise.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults
The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults

When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes (Really)

If you are a diabetic, there may be times that it’s better not to exercise, at least until you get your blood sugars down.

It’s a popular half-truth that exercise always lowers blood glucose levels. The reality is that exercise really does lower blood sugars through an increase in the number and activity of glucose transporters in muscle provided:

· There’s adequate insulin in the bloodstream.
· The period of exercise has to be long enough.
· Blood sugars can’t be too high before exercise, and
· For most diabetics, the exercise is not done within three hours of waking in the morning.

Any exercise that makes you even a little short of breath will release a surge of stress hormones such as cortisol. These stress hormones stimulate the liver to convert glycogen into glucose to make sure the muscles have enough sugar to burn.

If there isn’t enough insulin in circulation, however, glucose can’t be transported into the muscle cells that need it. It’s not unusual for swimming, climbing, weight lifting, or basketball to cause surges to the 300-400 mg/dl (16.5-21 mM) level in diabetics. If there is not enough injected insulin, or the body’s own insulin is insufficient, exercise, paradoxically, results in higher blood sugar levels, not lower.

Also due to the effects of cortisol and epinephrine, brief strenuous exercise raises blood sugar levels, while prolonged strenuous exercise lowers them. If you exercise for just a minute of two, say, doing one set of six repetitions in your weight lifting routine, the resulting release of cortisol will trigger the liver’s conversion of glycogen to glucose.

The first 1-2 minutes of heavy exercise release the glucose muscles need, but you need another 6-8 minutes for muscles to use the glucose and get blood sugars back down. Prolonged heavy exercise, that is, at least 20 minutes, will increase the rate at which muscles use glucose for their recovery for 1 to 3 hours.

You might consider just lying on the couch if your sugars are over 170 mg/dl (8.5 mM). That’s because the sugar released during exercise has another effect on muscles, creating insulin resistance.

Glucose in the bloodstream can oxidize even before it is absorbed by a cell. This “burning in the bloodstream” releases toxic free radicals that can damage muscle cells.

The cells protect themselves by becoming less responsive to insulin so they do not import either the glucose or the free radicals. Over time, however, they become less and less responsive to insulin even at rest. That’s why exercise to lower unusually high blood sugars generally is not a good idea, unless it is extremely gentle (like walking slowly).

Finally, most diabetics should not be morning exercisers, especially if fasting sugars test as high as sugars throughout the day. The body recycles insulin during sleep, so less insulin is available early in the day. When there isn’t enough insulin, exercise cannot lower sugars.

None of this means that diabetics shouldn’t exercise. Quite the opposite, regular, prolonged, heavy exercise builds up muscles which in turn soak up glucose. To make healthy muscles, however, always start your workout knowing your blood sugars are under control and take steps to ensure they will stay in control throughout.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults

Effects of High Blood Glucose Levels on the Immune System

Whether you are a newly diagnosed diabetic or you have had diabetes for many years, one of the most critical aspects of blood sugar control is the deleterious effects of high blood glucose levels on the immune system. Infections, especially gum, bladder, and kidney infections, can wreak havoc on diabetes control.

Diabetes guru Dr. Robert Bernstein notes that a kidney infection can triple insulin requirements overnight. My personal experience from taking care of family members has been that older diabetics especially tend to get "loopy" when they have bladder infections. The combination of the stress of the infection and the stress of high blood sugar levels creates a kind of dementia that, fortunately, usually abates when the infection is brought under control. Scientists at Finland's Päijät-Häme Central Hospital note that the problem is especially severe when steroids are administered to treat or prevent shock by a "shot" (bolus injection) rather than by a "drip" (intravenous infusion).

Pneumonia can pose an even greater stress on diabetics. A study at Wake Forest University found that the average insulin (Humalog) requirement in diabetics suffering pneumonia after injury went up from 7 to 26 units a day, a nearly four-fold increase.

But what if you are diabetic but you are not an older person with a bladder infection or a crash victim suffering pneumonia?

There are two kinds of infections diabetics of all ages need to be careful about.

One is the common cold. The effect of a cold on insulin requirements is less dramatic than the effect of pneumonia, but it is not unusual for blood sugars to soar the day before cold symptoms are noticeable. That's why keeping kids infection-free benefits every diabetic in the household and diabetics should be especially careful not to feed a cold.

An even more serious problem is any kind of gum disease. Gum disease and diabetes make a vicious circle. Gum disease can cause high blood sugars, and high blood sugars feed the bacteria that cause gum disease. Whenever your diabetes medications or insulin aren't "working," the first place to look is your mouth.

See if there is any sign of infection, tenderness to pressure, swelling, or redness of the gums. Then put some water with crushed ice in your mouth for a minute. If a tooth hurts, there may be a gum infection.

Whenever you have even the hint of gum infection, make an appointment with your dentist as quickly as possible, even on an emergency basis. Gum infections are very common in diabetics and it is essential to bring them into control to keep blood sugars and insulin requirements down.

References:

Martin RS, Smith JS, Hoth JJ, Miller PR, Meredith JW, Chang MC. Increased insulin requirements are associated with pneumonia after severe injury. J Trauma. 2007 Aug;63(2):358-64.

Loisa P, Parviainen I, Tenhunen J, Hovilehto S, Ruokonen E. Effect of mode of hydrocortisone administration on glycemic control in patients with septic shock: a prospective randomized trial. Crit Care. 2007;11(1):R21.

You may also be interested in:

The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers

Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults

Are Sugar-Free Candies and Desserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free?

If you are a diabetic who cannot explain an unexpected spike in blood sugars, the problem just could be "sugar-free" candies and desserts.

Table sugar (sucrose, which is a chemical combination of fructose and glucose) produces a well-known effect on blood sugars that diabetics know to avoid. The problem is, almost any sugar substitute with a name that ends in -ol or -ose will also raise blood sugars, just a little more slowly.

And sugar blends have the same effect. Some commentators will tell that a Splenda brown sugar blend agrees with diabetics, for example, but it just raises blood sugars more slowly. If you eat twice as much, you're back where you started. And other substitutes aren't really the answer.

A "sugar-free" mint sweetened with sorbitol, for example, can raise blood sugar levels between 12 and 13 mg/dl. If you eat ten of them, chances are you will raise your blood sugars about 125 mg/dl.

There is a dizzying variety of chemicals that are intensely sweet and truly sugar free:


  • Acesulfame-K (The Sweet One, Sunett),
  • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet),
  • Cyclamate tablets (not yet available in the USA),
  • Neotame tablets (not yet available in the USA),
  • Saccharine (Sweet 'n Low), and
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

The problem with the powdered versions of all of these sweeteners (aside from their other health effects) is that all of them are mixed with sugar to provide bulk. The amount of NutraSweet you really need to sweeten your coffee, for example, is so small you could not see if come out of the package. The makers of NutraSweet, Sweet 'n Low, Equal, and similar products add glucose (dextrose) or maltodextrin to every packet, providing 1/3 as much sugar as a similarly sized package of pure cane sugar.

Stevia powder, however, contains no added sugar, and liquid forms of all the sweeteners listed above are genuinely sugar-free.

"Sugar-free" candies and ice creams are even more problematic. Many diabetics's blood glucose levels are just fine 2, 4, or even 12 hours after eating them, but there can be a huge spike in blood sugars the next day.

That's because the body eventually converts the "sugar-free" sweeteners into blood glucose. Products made with any of the sweeteners on this list will raise blood sugars just as much as any regular-sugar dessert, only over the course of 24 hours, not 4-6:

  • Carob
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Dulcitol
  • Fructose
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Levulose
  • Maltose
  • Mannitol
  • Mannose
  • Saccharose
  • Sorbitol
  • Turbinado
  • Xylitol
  • Xylose

Because the effects of these sugar-substitutes are unpredictable, diabetics may actually be better off consuming small amounts of known sugars in special situations, such as just before exercise. Stevia is also essentially carbohydrate-free (although it does contain minute traces of some carbs, not enough to raise blood sugars even 1 mg/dl).

Even though diabetics cannot have sugar, they can have flavor. Flavor extracts added to cooking can make food more exciting. Stevia and flavor extracts can be combined to make homemade ice creams and puddings and to flavor yogurt. Here's an example:

Recipe for Making Lemon Ice Cream the Low- or No-Carb All-Natural Way

If you’re new to making low- or no-carb desserts, this recipe for making lemon ice cream is absolute easiest way to start (and there’s a recipe for strawberry ice cream here, too). Even if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make this diabetic dessert in minutes for less than it costs at the store.

This recipe for making lemon ice cream has an advantage of all store-bought brands in that you can make an all-natural, stevia-sweetened version. Ice cream made with “sugar alcohols” such as mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt, maltitol, or hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH) is usually labeled as “sugar free” or “no sugar added.”

Don’t believe it. Sugar alcohols have a negligible effect on blood sugars in the short term, but they are eventually converted to glucose, too. A day after eating your big bowl of “sugar free” ice cream you can be wondering why your blood sugars are so high. Stevia, which the FDA recently decided was safe, after all, will not raise blood sugars and may even lower them ever so slightly, 1 to 3 mg/dl (0.05 to 0.15 mM).

Here’s all you need to make lemon ice cream:

Cream
Lemon extract
Stevia

These are the ingredients for the absolutely zero-carb, almost-no-trace-of-artificial ingredients version. It’s sweet, it’s creamy, it will have no effect on your blood sugars other than slowing down the absorption of any carbs from other foods you eat at the same meal, and it’s scrumptious. It’s also a high-calorie food. Don’t worry, this isn’t the only version of the recipe! Two lower-calorie versions (one of them with just 20 calories a serving and no Nutra-Sweet.

½ teaspoon (2-3 ml) liquid stevia extract or 2 teaspoons (4 grams) green stevia powder
2 cups (480 ml) whipping cream
½ teaspoon (2 ml) lemon extract

If you really must use NutraSweet, it takes 5 packets to equal 2 teaspoons of stevia powder.

If you are using an ice cream maker, just pour the ingredients into the chilled mixer bowl (if your ice cream maker requires you to freeze the mixer bowl first) and turn on the machine. Be sure not to add too much stevia or lemon extract. Both flavorings rely on “tricking” your palate with the slightest hint of bitterness to activate sweetness receptors. Too much stevia or lemon extract and the end product tastes bitter. I know this from experience.


If you don’t have an ice cream maker, use a mixing bowl that’s just large enough to hold the 2 cups of cream. Pour in the cream and stir in the stevia. Cover the stevia-sweetened cream with plastic wrap and put the bowl in the freezer for 1 hour or until the mixture is just beginning to freeze around the edges.

After the mixture begins to freeze, take it out of the freezer and the lemon extract. Give the ice cream a thorough stirring, replace the plastic wrap and return to the freezer for another hour. At the 2-hour mark, take the ice cream out and beat again. Replace the plastic wrap and allow the ice cream to freeze until it’s firm enough to stay in the bowl but soft enough to dip. This usually takes about six hours. Two cups of cream makes 6 servings of ice cream.

The all-cream ice cream has no carbohydrate but 225 calories per half-cup serving.

If you can tolerate about 6 grams of carbohydrate a serving and you want to cut the calories in half, then try this no-eggs, no-gluten half-and-half lemon ice cream recipe:

½ teaspoon (2-3 ml) liquid stevia extract or 2 teaspoons (4 grams) green stevia powder
1 cup (240 ml) whipping cream
1 cup (240 ml) skim milk, whole milk, or almond milk
¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) lemon extract

Same procedure as above, adding lemon juice and lemon extract after the milk and cream mixture has begun to firm up in the freezer, if you don’t have an ice cream maker.

How about a strawberry sugar-free ice cream? To make strawberry ice cream, use just 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of lemon juice but add 2 cups (300 g) of sliced fresh strawberries at the same time you’d add lemon.

I’ve tried these variations with soy milk, and it works, but you have to be very careful not to use too much stevia or lemon extract. Soy milk can have a slight, bitter aftertaste that really comes out if you use too much stevia.

Now if you are really just wanting a recipe for lemon ice, not a recipe for lemon ice cream (zero fat, 3 grams of carbohydrate and just 20 calories per 1 cup serving), you’ll need:


¾ cup (180 ml) of fresh lemon juice (3 or 4 lemons)
½ teaspoon (2-3 ml) liquid stevia extract or 2 tsp (4 grams) stevia powder
6 cups (1500 ml) water

Again, if you must use NutraSweet, it takes 5 packets to equal 2 teaspoons of stevia powder.

Put the lemon juice and stevia in a pitcher or jar and stir thoroughly to dissolve add the stevia. Pour in water and stir to mix thoroughly. Place lemon juice and water mixture in a bowl as above, then cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer 1 hour. Take the mixture out of the freezer, stir with a fork, and replace the plastic wrap. Repeat the procedure at the two-hour mark and once again before serving.

For a tart and colorful variation, replace 2 cups (500 ml) of the water with Red Zinger or hibiscus tea to make beautiful lemon-hibiscus granita. Incidentally, I tried making lemonade ice cubes and then pulsing them in the food processor. The result was closer to a snow cone than to an ice.

Ice creams, ices, and granitas are the easiest diabetic desserts. Just be sure your ice cream freezer bowl is thoroughly frozen and, if you are making ice cream in the freezer, don’t forget to stir!



You may also be interested in:

Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Super-Citrimax: Does It Really Work?
Acupressure for Weight Control
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Dieters: Can You Eat All the Foods You Love and Still Lose Weight?
How Teens with Type 2 Diabetes Can Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
Is There An Appetite-Suppression Oolong Tea Supplement?
Raw Hemp Powder as a Substitute for Whey
The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
When It's Better for Diabetics to Be Couch Potatoes
Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults
Is the Suddenly Slim Diet Safe and Effective?
If You Are Diabetic, Fat Is Not Your Fault
Does Espresso Inhibit Weight Loss?
Mustard, Chili, and Weight Loss

And you may also want to read about what to do when diabetic dessert recipes just don't work. The answer is surprising.

Is an All-Natural Way to Cleanse the Colon Good for Diabetics?

Is an all-natural way to cleanse the colon appropriate for diabetics? For that matter, does anybody really benefit from the colon wall cleansers you see advertised on TV and in health magazines?

There are a lot of reasons to be very skeptical of any product advertised as a "colon cleanse." First of all, a lot a of the claims made about the need for the products are just plain false.

Nobody has food particles from 20 years ago stuck to the lining of their colon. You may indeed carry several pounds of stool, and you will lose weight if you pass it, but whether it's an all-natural way to cleanse the colon or a totally pharmaceutical way to cleanse the colon, no colon cleanser is going to substitute for a diet. And if you could lose 10, 20, or 30 pounds by taking one of the products, you have a something beyond constipation that requires medical attention.

The list of ingredients in colon cleanses is also suspect. If you see a label that lists 30, 50, or 100 herbs, what you are seeing is the company's way to keep its competitors from claiming patent infringement. There are only about a dozen relatively inexpensive laxative herbs out there, and if they only listed the herbs that do the job, manufacturers would leave themselves open to various kinds of lawsuits.

And the general tone of the advertising is usually just plain sleazy. In one particularly egregious example, the marketer announced that the reason people need the product was that ignorant farmers used practices like strip farming that so deplete the soil of minerals that a carrot a hundred years ago had 80 times the mineral content of a carrot today.

Well, strip farming happens to refer to plowing just a little furrow of ground to plant crops in rather than the whole field, not stripping the soil away. And if a carrot is 2 per cent mineral content today, the announcer seems to apply it was 160 per cent mineral content a century ago. It's hard to find a colon cleanser that's not a scam.

But I do think colon cleansing is a good idea for diabetics. Here's why.

Blood sugars don't just go up in response to eating sugary, carbohydrate-loaded foods. They also go up when the colon is distended.

When the cells lining the part of the small intestine closest to the stomach are stretched, as they just after the stomach has finished digesting a meal, they send out signals through the central nervous system to the pancreas.

The pancreas basically gets an early warning signal that a big load of glucose may be on its way. It secretes insulin to move the glucose into the cells that need it, but just in case the food was not particularly rich in available carbohydrates, it also sends out glucagon to tell the liver to release enough glucose to keep blood sugar levels from falling too low. Water passes through the large intestine fast enough to avoid this response, but any kind of bulky, watery food, or large quantities of meat and potatoes type foods, will trigger it.

Of course, diabetics either cannot produce the insulin or their cells don't respond to it. Diabetics can, however, produce glucagon.

That's why eating a bowl of lettuce can raise blood glucose levels just as much as eating a bowl of ice cream. And it's also why diabetics with chronic constipation tend to have higher blood sugar levels and why diabetics benefit from staying regular.

This does not mean that, if you are a diabetic, you need to run out and buy the most expensive colon cleanser you can find. It will help simply to avoid stuffing yourself at any meal, even if it's with a "free food," like celery sticks or lettuce. It will also help if drop any accumulated stool, but I don't recommend any kind of "dual action" product.

The combination of a bulking agent and a laxative is sure to be uncomfortable, but let's think this through: The laxative sends stool out. The bulking agent makes more stool. You're getting rid of what the product puts in your body, so you need more and more and more of the product. Pretty clever marketing, huh?

It's better just to eat more fiber-rich vegetables, but in moderation (start with one additional serving a day, not ten), and maybe to get your laxative action from something like prunes (again, in moderation, because they are a high-sugar fruit). Milk of magnesia will also bring water into the colon that makes passing stools easier.

Blood sugars will go down when you become regular. It's just not necessary to do anything drastic to cleanse the colon to support diabetic health.

You may also be interested in:

Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Are Sugar-Free Candies and Deserts for Diabetics Really Sugar-Free (And What to Do When They Are Not)
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs

If you recently have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, chances are your nutritional advice has fallen into one of two mutually exclusive categories:

  1. Eat fewer carbs. Your body turns almost all carbohydrates into glucose either quickly or slowly, so to get your blood sugar levels down, eat less carbohydrate.
  2. Eat more carbs. You have diabetes because you are overfat, so replace the fat in your diet with carbohydrate.

It's enough to make you wonder if doctors and nutritionists really know how to treat diabetes, but there is, despite what you may hear from true believers in one kind of diabetes diet or another, value in both approaches.

The idea that diabetics should eat less carbohydrate makes inherent sense. Diabetes is a condition in which either the body is not making enough insulin or insulin does not work effectively. If you are not going to inject insulin or take drugs that sensitize cells to insulin or use medications that force the pancreas to produce more insulin, it makes sense to give your insulin less to do.

In type 2 diabetes, at least in the earlier stages, the body can produce insulin slowly, but not fast enough to take care of a "dump" of carbohydrate from a high-carb meal. For these diabetics, it makes sense to eat a different kind of carbohydrate, the more slowly digested carbohydrates associated with low-glycemic index foods like whole grains and vegetables. Even whole grains and vegetables, however, add up, and there are no "freebies." Too many turnips can raise blood sugars as much as too much cake, only much more slowly.

But what if you ate almost no carbohydrate at all? Wouldn't this be even better for getting blood sugars down?

There is a growing number of doctors and diabetics finding success with diets that allow 1/10 to 1/5 as much carbohydrate as suggested by the American Diabetes Association. The body still needs insulin to move glucose into cells, because about 23 per cent of the amino acids in high-protein foods are eventually transformed into sugar. The body does not need as much glucose, and blood sugars do not swing up and down as they do on high-carb diets, even "good carb" diets. And fats do not turn into blood sugar.

The problem comes when diabetics try to mix the two approaches, eating both high-fat and high-carb, or alternating high-fat and high-carb. If you eat a meal that's mostly carbohydrate, the liver will sense raising blood sugar levels and stop converting its stores of glycogen into even more glucose. If you eat a meal that is high in both fat and carbohydrate, the liver will not sense the load of glucose and stop releasing sugar. This is because the liver is "blinded" to glucose levels by the fatty acids released in the digestion of fatty foods.

A high-fat meal can cause excess production of glucose by the liver for as long as seventy-two hours. And in those seventy-two hours, elevated levels of sugar in the bloodstream can "turn off" muscle cells in ways that make them less sensitive to insulin the next time the diabetic eats any kind of meal, either high-carb or high-fat.

This principle is why both vegan raw foods diets and Atkins-style diets work for getting blood sugars down, provided any food that is consumed is consumed in moderation. The good news is, diabetics who manage to keep both blood sugar and blood fatty acids low for 72 hours begin to repair insulin sensitivity, sometimes to the level of people who do not have diabetes, whichever approach they use.

You may also be interested in:

What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers


The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Diabetics
Effects of High Blood Sugars on the Immune System
Red Yeast Rice for High Cholesterol
What's the Amount of Niacin to Lower Cholesterol?
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol: What to Do When Lowering Your Triglycerides Appears to Raise Your LDL
Do Diabetics Really Need Lipitor?
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
Could Curcumin Lower Cholesterol?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for DiabetesDo Diabetics Really Need Lipitor?
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol: What to Do When Lowering Your Triglycerides Appears to Raise Your LDLDoes Raisin Bran Lower Cholesterol?
Does Colostrum Lower Cholesterol?
Lowering Cholesterol by Lowering Salt
Red Yeast Rice for High Cholesterol
Could Curcumin Lower Cholesterol?
Does Cinnamon for Diabetes, Cholesterol, and Triglycerides Really Work?


References:

Hawkins M, Gabriely I, Wozniak R, Mevorach M, Rossetti L, Shamoon H: The effect of glycemic control on hepatic and peripheral glucose effectiveness in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes 51:2179–2189, 2002.

What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Numbers

American standards of medical practice dictate that almost every diabetic will eventually be placed on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, as soon as blood tests come back with an LDL number over 100 mg/dl two times in a row. But most diabetics, and many doctors, don't realize that standard blood tests don't even measure LDL, they estimate it.

While the numbers diabetics get with the lab reports tell them total cholesterol, HDL, and triglycerides, the LDL number is a guestimate. That's because low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is lighter, bulkier, and harder to measure directly, so labs make a quick and dirty approximation as follows:

Total cholesterol - HDL - 1/5 of triglycerides = Estimated LDL.

We tend to think of cholesterol as either HDL ("good") or LDL ("bad"), but there is also another form of cholesterol, VLDL, or very low density lipoprotein. Cholesterol is actually an essential substance, not a poison. Every cell in the body is lined, in part, with polymers made with cholesterol. Brain tissue requires enormous amounts of cholesterol. Cholesterol protects the "insides" of cells from oxidating chemicals "outside."

Most of the body's cholesterol is made in the liver. Only about 15 per cent, typically comes from food. Larger, lighter particles of cholesterol are progressively stripped down and used, VLDL to LDL to HDL, but only the LDL can become oxidized and trapped in the linings of blood vessels. And not all the LDL poses an atherosclerosis risk. The form known as apo-B can form plaques. Apo-A does not.

But how does this explain why diabetics are so often prescribed statins for cholesterol?

Let's say you take your diagnosis of diabetes seriously, and you work hard to get your sugars down. You diet, you exercise, you take medication. You lower your blood sugars and your body has less excess glucose to turn into triglycerides.

Now let's take another look at that equation:

Total cholesterol - HDL - 1/5 of triglycerides = Estimated LDL.

If you lower your triglycerides, you raise your estimated LDL.

That would be fine if VLDL always equalled 1/5 of triglycerides, but it doesn't. As you get better and better control over your diabetes, your LDL estimates are going to appear to go up, whether there's more LDL in your bloodstream or not. Many diabetics are prescribed statin drugs they don't need because it's easier to write a prescription than to run another blood test.

Be forewarned that direct measurement of your LDL can cost more than all the other blood tests for your diabetes exam put together. If the test comes back that you do not really need a statin, however, the blood test pays for itself in about four months--and you will not be needlessly exposed to any side-effects of statin drugs. Even better, a doctor who takes the trouble to measure your actual LDL is far more likely to respect all the effort it takes for you to control your blood sugars.

You may also be interested in:

Lowering Cholesterol by Lowering Salt
What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About Fats and Carbs
Do Diabetics Really Need Lipitor?
Red Yeast Rice for High Cholesterol
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol: What to Do When Lowering Your Triglycerides Appears to Raise Your LDL
Can Drinking Decaf Speciality Coffee Prevent Diabetes?
What's This About Caffeine Raising Blood Sugar Levels?
Could Curcumin Lower Cholesterol?
A New Ayurvedic Herb for Diabetes?
Have Scientists Discovered a Diabetic Fat-Burner?
Vinegar for Type II Diabetes
Reduce Risk of Diabetes by Eating Veggies
Chromium for Diabetes
Vitamin C for Diabetes
Vitamin D for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes
Vitamin E for Diabetes: How Much Is Too Much?
DHEA and Diabetes
Diet, Diabetes, and Gum Disease
To Prevent Diabetes, Low-Carb Is Better than Low-Fat
R-Lipoic Acid and Acetyl-L-Carnitine as Fat Burners for Diabetes
Signs of Diabetes in Youths and Adults
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol: What to Do When Lowering Your Triglycerides Appears to Raise Your LDL
Does Raisin Bran Lower Cholesterol?
Does Colostrum Lower Cholesterol?
Lowering Cholesterol by Lowering Salt
Could Curcumin Lower Cholesterol?
Does Cinnamon for Diabetes, Cholesterol, and Triglycerides Really Work?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How Do I Avoid Pancreatic Cancer: Does a Red-Meat Diet Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death among people who die of cancer, and because when it comes to the pancreas, cancer warning sigs are hard to find. The condition is usually not diagnosed until the tumors have begun to spread elsewhere in the body, survival rates are especially low. That's why people who have known risk factors for pancreatic cancer (a parent, grandparent, or sibling who had the disease, work in the petrochemical industry, work with solvents, smoking) may benefit from dietary changes that lower the risk of the disease. Or at least lower the risk of the disease on a population-wide level.

Red meat has long been suspect as a source of pancreatic cancer risk. Physicians at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston interviewed 626 people who had pancreatic cancer and 530 healthy controlled and learned that people who develop this condition tend to eat more:

  • Bacon,
  • Grilled chicken,
  • Fried chicken, and
  • Well-done pork, but

increased risk was not associated with:

  • Hamburger (with one exception, listed below) or
  • Steak.

People who develop pancreatic cancer were more likely to prefer crispy bacon and very well done chicken than people who did not develop the disease.

The specific carcinogen most associated with cancer of the pancreas was the mindbogglingly named 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5—f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx). This chemical is formed when hamburger is "charred" so that its edges are burnt. Baked, fried, or medium rare hamburgers produce only small amounts of this chemical, but char-burgers are measurably carcinogenic.

What most afficionados of grilled meat and barbecue do not know is, the heterocyclic amines, the chemically modified proteins of meat cooked at high temperatures, have to be detoxified with the same enzymes the liver uses to detoxify tobacco smoke or chemicals from gasoline or solvents. Eating well-done red meat on a regular basis may take so much of the liver's enzyme capacity that it is not able to deal with the toxic load coming from elsewhere in the environment.

There was one silver lining in the dark cloud of the findings of this study. The MD Anderson researchers learned that people who had a family history of pancreatic cancer were not at elevated risk for getting the disease if they avoided well-done meats.



You may also be interested in:

Alternative Pancreatic Cancer Therapies
Vitamin D and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
Folic Acid and Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic Cancer and L-Arginine Supplementation


Reference:
Li D, Day RS, Bondy ML, Sinha R, Nguyen NT, Evans DB, Abbruzzese JL, Hassan MM. Dietary mutagen exposure and risk of pancreatic cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Apr;16(4):655-61.

How Do I Avoid Pancreatic Cancer: Vitamin D and Pancreatic Cancer Risk

The natural health news is abuzz with reports that vitamin D lowers the risk of cancer, but in the case of pancreatic cancer, this is not always the case. Smokers do not have the same response to vitamin D as non-smokers.

The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study in Finland followed the vitamin consumption of 29,133 men aged 50 to 69 who smoked at least 5 cigarettes a day. During the nearly 17 years of the study, certain patterns were observed in the participants who developed pancreatic cancer. They were:

  • Taller,
  • Thinner,
  • Had lower blood pressure,
  • And were about twice as likely as men who did not develop pancreatic cancer to have had asthma or diabetes.

They ate less fish, drank more milk, and were more likely to have spent their working lives at desk jobs. None of these differences were so striking, however, as to suggest gaining weight, raising blood pressure, eating more fish, drinking less milk, or getting a job as a lumberjack might prevent pancreatic cancer.

Where pancreatic cancer sufferers showed a marked difference from men who did not develop pancreatic cancer--this being in cohort of all-smokers--was in vitamin D. Men who had the highest concentrations of vitamin D in their bloodstreams had a 150 to 500 per cent greater risk of developing the cancer.

But this was not the only study vitamin D and the risk of pancreatic cancer.

The even larger Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study in the USA followed 75,427 women and 46,771 men for 14 years. Their findings?

Men and women with the highest consumption of vitamin D from foods, 600 IU a day or more had a 41 per cent lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

The effect was slightly greater in men.

How can the two conflicting results be reconciled?

The Finnish study measured bloodstream concentrations of vitamin D in male smokers, while the American studies estimated vitamin D consumption in groups of men and women including both smokers and non-smokers. The body makes its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and it may be that over-production of vitamin D somehow occurs in smokers.

But these massive studies don't really tell us what the difference is. And a third study done at Harvard to be released in April 2008 finds that African-Americans have yet another pattern of pancreatic cancer risk as relates to vitamin D.

I've spent the best part of my working years writing about and formulating herbal and nutritional supplements, but sometimes nutritional supplements simply are not appropriate. It seems sensible to avoid vitamin D supplements if:

  • You're a man,
  • You smoke, and
  • You have a family history of pancreatic cancer.

The B vitamins, which you can read about through the links below, may be much more useful for lowering risk.



You may also be interested in:

Folic Acid and Pancreatic Cancer
Alternative Pancreatic Cancer Therapies
Pancreatic Cancer and L-Arginine Supplementation
Does a Red-Meat Diet Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

References:

Skinner HG, Michaud DS, Giovannucci E, Willett WC, Colditz GA, Fuchs CS. Vitamin D intake and the risk for pancreatic cancer in two cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006 Sep;15(9):1688-95.

Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ, Vieth R, Azad A, Pietinen P, Taylor PR, Virtamo J, Albanes D. A prospective nested case-control study of vitamin D status and pancreatic cancer risk in male smokers. Cancer Res. 2006 Oct 15;66(20):10213-9.

How Do I Avoid Pancreatic Cancer: Folic Acid and Pancreatic Cancer Prevention

The B-vitamin folic acid (the vitamin form of folate) seems to play an important role in preventing pancreatic cancer.

In the modern population as a whole, the risk of ever developing pancreatic cancer is less than 1 per cent, but certain groups are much more likely to develop this dreaded disease:

  • People who have had long-standing cases of other conditions involving the pancreas, such as chronic pancreatitis or diabetes.
  • People who have been exposed at work to DDT, gasoline, petroleum distillates at refineries, or solvents (specifically benzidine, 2-naphthylamine, or naphthalene).
  • Blacks more than whites, certain Jewish families who carry a genetic mutation more than either.
  • Heavy drinkers, and
  • Heavy smokers.

The common nutritional link among all these groups is a disturbance in the body's supply of and ability to use folic acid, as well as serum folate stability, the ability of the body to keep this B-vitamin in circulation. Folic acid is essential to the process of methylation, a detoxification process in the liver that turns the chemicals in tobacco smoke, additives to alcoholic beverages, petrochemicals, and the like into harmless forms. If there is not enough folic acid in the diet, or if there is some genetic factor that causes the body to use folic acid inefficiently, pancreatic as well as breast and prostate cancers are more likely. The increased risk of pancreatic cancer among smokers, whose bodies use up folic acid at accelerated rates, was measured in one study as 48 per cent.

In North America and Australia, it's extremely easy to avoid folic acid deficiency due to folate intake from grains, but, nonetheless, some people eat folic acid-deficient diets. Almost every cereal and bakery product is fortified with this B-vitamin in levels that are more than enough to prevent deficiency. If you don't eat prepackaged cereals or baked goods, other excellent souces
of folic acid are:

  • Rice,
  • Peanut butter,
  • Chicken,
  • Leafy greens, especially lettuce, spinach, and turnip greens,
  • Beans and peas, and
  • Vegemite

although because of the peculiar way grains are processed in most of the world, you actually get up to 100 times more folic acid from highly processed foods and even from fast foods than from whole, organic, and otherwise healthier food choices.



You may also be interested in:

Vitamin D and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
Alternative Pancreatic Cancer Therapies
Pancreatic Cancer and L-Arginine Supplementation
Does a Red-Meat Diet Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic Cancer and L-Arginine Supplementation

Nutritional supplementation with the amino acid arginine is commonly recommended by natural healers, but for some people arginine can be harmful, rather than helpful.

Arginine is an "essential" amino acid in infants, in the elderly, and in people undergoing stress. The human body can convert arginine into nitric oxide, which "opens up" circulation, or into L-ornithine, which is used in creating new tissues. In cancer treatment, arginine supplementation is part of a strategy of giving cancer cells the amino acids they "don't want" while depriving them of amino acids they need to proliferate. The important consideration, however, is that different kinds of cancer cells have different metabolic requirements.

Specialists in the surgical treatment of cancer have been studying the use of supplemental arginine in cancer treatment since the early 1990's. In 1992, these scientists reported that the only time they observed recovery of the immune system from surgery for cancer in the upper digestive tract was when patients received a combination of arginine, RNA, and omega-3 fatty acids.

And in another study of cancers in the lower digestive tract, specifically colorectal cancer, researchers found that giving cancer patients 30 grams (that's 30,000 mg) of arginine for 3 days caused cancer cells to grow more receptor sites where white blood cells could identify and destroy them. So is taking supplemental arginine a good idea in pancreatic cancer?

The answer is no.

In other digestive cancers, the cancer cell uses arginine to make ornithine, which creates new structures in the cell. Among those structures are the receptor sites on the surface of the cell that may make it more susceptible either to chemotherapy or to the action of the immune system.

In pancreatic cancer, the cancer cell ordinarily repairs its structures very slowly, so it is more likely to use arginine to make nitric oxide. This chemical opens the microscopic blood vessels surrounding the cancer cell, then the cancerous tumor, allowing it greater nourishment and an avenue to spread throughout the pancreas and out into other parts of the body. In at least one strain of pancreatic cancer cells, arginine demonstrably increases growth, and application of an enzyme to stop cells' use of arginine slows cancer growth.

While it is not a good idea for people with pancreatic cancer to take supplemental arginine, it is not necessary to avoid foods that are relatively high in arginine (such as sesame seeds, spirulina, pumpkin seeds, soy, gelatin, fried pork skins, cod, almonds, and, to a lesser extent, most meats); at least it is not necessary to avoid them because of their amino acid content.

That's because the amount of supplements needed to make a difference in cancer treatment provides 4 to 15 times the amount of arginine you can get from food. Only supplemental arginine needs to be avoided in pancreatic cancer.

You may also be interested in:

Vitamin D and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
Folic Acid and Pancreatic Cancer
Alternative Pancreatic Cancer Therapies
Does a Red-Meat Diet Increase Risk of Pancreatic Cancer?

References:

Heys SD, et al. 1997. Dietary suppplementation with L-arginine: modulation of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes in patients with colorectal cancer. Br J Surg 84:238-41.

Swaffar DS, et al. 1994. Inhibition of the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells by the arginine antimetabolite L-canavanine [see comments]. Cancer Res 54:6045-48.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What's the Amount of Niacin to Reduce Cholesterol?

A reader asks, "How much niacin can I take to lower my cholesterol? How much niacin should I take to lower cholesterol?"

A typical, successful amount of niacin to control high cholesterol is 3,000 mg a day, but there are certain precautions you should take.

Taking more than 1,000 mg of niacin a day can raise homocysteine levels, especially if niacin is not balanced by folic acid (400-1,000 mg a day), vitamin B6 (10-50 mg a day), and vitamin B12 (50-300 micrograms a day). If you take more than 1,000 mg of niacin daily, you need additional B vitamins.

There have been no trials of niacin for lowering cholesterol in persons who have not had a heart attack, but the Coronary Drug Project followed 8,000 men who had had a heart attack for eight years. Taking 3,000 mg of nicotinic acid every day resulted in:


  • 10 per cent reduction in total cholesterol,
  • 26 per cent reduction in triglycerides,
  • 27 per cent reduction in the rates of second heart attacks, and
  • 27 per cent reduction in the rates of stroke.

Follow-up over 15 years found that men who took nicotinic acid were 11 per cent more likely to still be alive at the end of the study.

Other studies of both men and women have found that taking niacin raises HDL levels and transforms LDL cholesterol from the sticky apo-A form to the lighter, less harmful apo-B form. Taking beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium, however, reduced the benefits of niacin.

Some doctors also use niacin for triglycerides.

If you do choose to use niacin/nicotinic acid to lower cholesterol, you should consult your doctor. That's because a number of things can go wrong when you take nicotinic acid in doses potent enough to have an effect on heart health:

  • Like statin drugs, niacin sometimes damages the liver. Hepatitis has been observed from taking dosages as low as 500 mg a day for a period as short as two months, although most cases of liver damage occurred when the dosage was 3,000 to 9,000 mg for several years.
  • Diabetics should not take high-dose niacin. The vitamin can reduce insulin sensitivity and raise blood sugars.
  • Occasional side effects have included blurred vision, migraine, peptic ulcers, disturbances of heart rhythm, and gout.

And facial flushing with an outbreak around the nose resembling acne is very problem. A slower-release form of niacin, nicotinamide, does not cause flushing, but can aggravate diabetes and cause liver damage. Niacin may lower cholesterol levels for people who cannot or choose not to use statins, but niacin should always be used under professional supervision.

Recent reader questions:

Q. What are the pros and cons of OTC niacin vs Niaspan?

A. Over-the-counter niacin may cause flushing, palpitations, dizziness, blurred vision, etc., occasionally. Niaspan, an extended release form of the vitamin, is less likely to do this.

Brain Detox Diets

From the morning cup of coffee to an indulgent chocolate fudge sundae, dozens of foods have definite influences on the way we think and feel. While this article is far too brief to give an in-depth explanation of how foods affect moods, here is an overview of diets that "detox" the brain stuck in undesirable patterns.

Depression is usually responsive to foods that contain any or all of these amino acids:

  • Phenylalanine,
  • Tyrosine, and/or
  • Tryptophan.

You can take amino acid supplements, of course, but it's easier (and less expensive) to get your aminos from food.

Phenylalanine is found (in decreasing order of concentration) egg white, soy protein, tofu, brewer's yeast, seaweed, sesame seeds, Parmesan cheese, and most cold-water fish. Meats, cheeses, and legumes also contain phenylalanine. One of the body's byproducts from phenylalanine metabolism, PEA, is abundant in chocolate. Phenylalanine's effects are most noticeable in mild depression.

Tryptophan is abundant in egg white, soy protein, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and in lesser concentrations in meats and fish. The human body can convert the B-vitamin niacin into tryptophan, but the amino acid from food or supplements is more easily absorbed. Tryptophan relieves insomnia.

You can get your tyrosine from soy, egg white, whole eggs, Swiss cheese, brewer's yeast, seaweed, and also other meats and cheeses. Tyrosine is a component of adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, and dopamine, the neurotransmitters that help the brain respond to "good" stress and pleasure.

What if you suffer the opposite of depression, you tend to be over-charged all the time?

Here the B-vitamin niacin may be helpful, but you don't want to overdose. Niacin is also called nicotinic acid, and the body can make it out of nicotine. Niacin calms the brain, and that's why some people smoke to relax.

Niacin supplements are easier than seeking out niacin-rich and niacin-enriched foods. Just limit your dosage to 100 mg a day until you know you won't have a problem with facial flushing, and don't take niacin at all if you have the form of acne known as rosacea. Always build up and taper off your niacin dosage slowly, increasing or decreasing your dosage by no more than 100 mg in any one day.

What if you have mood swings, or you're bipolar?

In manic phases, avoid the phenylalanine-, tryptophan-, and tyrosine-rich foods listed above. You don't need to give your brain additional stimulation. It's also a good idea to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar. Sometimes "manic" episodes are triggered by food sensitivities, especially milk, beef, and wheat, but also potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. French mineral waters (Apollinaire, Lithee, Perrier, and Vicy) contain lithium and may also help stabilize manic moods.

The helpful amino acids for the "up" mood swings are L-glutamine and taurine. The brain combines L-glutamine with vitamin B6 to make the calming chemical GABA. It is easiest to take supplements to get your additional L-glutamine, although Jell-O is a good source of L-glutamine that is low in phenyalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine. (For vegetarians, the best L-glutamine source is tapioca.)

I don't recommend that you get your taurine from the energy drink Red Bull. Taurine is present in animal, not vegetable, proteins, so if you are a vegetarian, it may be helpful to take supplements.

In depression, it's still helpful to avoid food allergies and food sensitivities, but the foods listed at the beginning of this article are most likely to be supportive of normal function.

Food and mood is a very broad topic. If you have questions, please post them below (they don't appear until I've moderated them), and I'll be happy to answer you either here or by private email.

Is Salvia divinorum Really a Hallucinogen?

There's been a lot of reporting about the "new" hallucinogenic herb, the form of sage known in botany as Salvia divinorum.

This Mexican flower has been used for centuries as a tool of shamans in the Mexican state of Oaxaca to relieve unpleasant emotions (and, occasionally, to induce them). Although you would find it very difficult to grown the plant from seeds, it is easily grown from cuttings that are sold and shared throughout much of the Western world. A few US states, a few European countries, and Australia have made sale and/or use of the plant illegal, but most jurisdictions allow it.

The current brouhaha over salvia is not the first time sage has been sensationalized in the news. This is not the first time something like this has happened. I was accidentally involved in the last misunderstanding of the sages.

Over a decade ago I was on staff at botanical research center. A call from a well-known family magazine came in, and all the more knowledgeable chemists were out. The receptionist referred the call to me.

A reporter asked me a series of questions about the safety of herbs used to cook for Thanksgiving. She asked if any of the herbs could be potentially toxic.

Thinking I would put the whole matter in perspective, I replied that if you were to consume 2.8 kilos (about 6 pounds) of the kind of sage most Americans put in their Thanksgiving dressings to go with the turkey, the research indicates you'd get a toxic dose. My intention was to say, yes, if you take the research to silly conclusions, eating 450 servings of dressing with your turkey is toxic.

Of course, if you were to eat 450 servings of dressing, you'd have other problems long before you were poisoned by the sage.

It turns out I was naive of reporters. The next October, 16 million copies of a magazine hit the newsstands quoting me (fortunately, they got both my name and my organizational affiliation wrong) in a story with the headline, "Turkey Toxins! As Little as Six Pounds of Sage in Your Dressing Can Be Deadly!"

And I think something similar is going on with Salvia divinorum.

Solid scientific research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences (USA), suggests that not only that salvia is not a hallucinogen, that it does not act in any way similar to LSD, but it would tend to stop hallucinations caused by:

  • Alzheimer's,
  • Huntington's disease,
  • Pick's disease,
  • Long-term cocaine use, and
  • Long-term use of methamphetamines.

How can that be?

First of all, it's important to note that scientists know what they know about Salvia divinorum by testing it on lab rats. Moreover, they started their studies by injecting extracts of the herb directly into the rats' brains. (And since I've learned you have to make this sort of thing clear, there are absolutely, positively no circumstances I would in any way support intracranial administration of any herb in humans.) It's only in the last year that scientists have begun to test the effects of the herb as it is taken orally--by rats.

But in this context, what the scientists have discovered about salvia is remarkable. It acts in a way different from almost every other psychotropic drug investigated to date. It stimulates the opioid receptors of the brain.

These are the same sites on brain cells that respond to morphine. Activating opioid receptors blocks pain. These are also the sites in the brain that create the well-known "runner's high." There is something about reaching a predetermined goal through effort, whether it's running a course, winning a game through physical effort, or enduring non-injurious pain (such acupuncture) that causes stress hormones to enter the brain to be converted to endorphins. And, of course, endorphins are also released by orgasm.

Salvia apparently triggers the release of endorphins without your having to exert effort or endure pain or have an orgasm. Or at least that's what the very preliminary scientific studies imply. So why should using salvia sometimes result in:

  • Uncontrollable laughter,
  • Recollection of childhood memories,
  • Sensations of motion, twisting, writhing, slipping, sliding,
  • Visions of membranes like a soap bubble,
  • Feelings of being two places at once, and

in one tragic case, suicide?

I don't know. I have never observed salvia use in people. I have, however, observed salvia eaten by goats.

A goat my niece and nephew named D'Artagnian ate salvia and became imminently pet-able and gentle. A billy goat, name Billy, ate salvia and charged through the four-wire fence (although I have to add that Billy did this sort of thing quite often). The rest of the herd quickly ate the native Salvia divinorum on the old family farm to local extinction. But pet-ability, meanness, and ravenous appetites were more or less characteristic of D'Artagnian, Billy, and the herd, respectively.

My supposition is that these psychedelic experiences are simply held back by inhibitions overcome by the release of endorphins. In a sense, they were there all along.

And this is also why not everyone responds to salvia in the same way. Not everyone has a hallucination of being in two soap bubbles at once inside their brains just waiting to be released. In the very best setting, with a kind, competent friend or therapist not also using the herb, maybe, in a few people, painful memories and "crazy" desires could be brought to the surface and dealt with.

My belief, however, is that there are just a lot of other ways to do this. The problem with any alternative drug is you don't typically know what you're getting. That is, you don't know whether the herb is really salvia. Or what it's been treated with. Or how strong it is. Or whether you need a small dose or a large dose or whether you are ready to deal with the emotions, thoughts, and desires it may release.

Before I end this article, I should confess my bias. Almost uniquely among people who research and write about herbs, at least in my experience, I never smoke them and I never encourage, and have never indulged in, illegal use of herbs. I get my "highs" without substances, although I also confess I used to have an addiction to Ruffles with Ridges, the potato chips. But never because they were "munchies."

Making salvia illegal may be overreaching, but it's not something to use without guidance. Please only use herbs you know and understand in settings and ways that guide you to real health.