Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to Get Rid of Garlic Breath

Garlic is an herbal remedy people tend either to love or hate. It's helpful in reversing insulin resistance so that cells all over your body can absorb more sugar from the bloodstream while your pancreas does less work. It's also helpful if you are in the early stages of type 2 when your pancreas is actually producing too much insulin. It contains compounds that "unzip" the storage form of insulin to make the active form of the hormone your body needs to manage glucose.

The downside to using garlic as a remedy for type 2 diabetes is that you can't get these benefits by taking a pill. You have to chomp into cloves, clumps, or at least little tiny bits of whole, raw garlic. The action of chewing the pungent herb and combining it with saliva is what releases the chemical that stimulates insulin production.

On the other hand, the chemical that helps your body deal with insulin resistance does not survive passage through the acid of the stomach unless it is taken in the form of an enteric-coated capsule. Essentially, to get both of these bases covered, you have to eat this veggie raw plus take a supplement. Between the two, bad breath is going to be a problem. But there are things you can do to make bad breath much less of a problem. Here are three:

1. Be sure to drink water with your meal. The garlicky bits get washed out of your mouth, and once they hit the digestive juices of your stomach, they stop smelling as bad. (If you emit garlicky gases, then you probably have some kind of condition that causes low stomach acid. The easiest solution for this is to eat something bitter, such as kale, raddichio, or Angostura bitters at the beginning of your meal.)
2. Brush as soon as possible after you eat.
3. Eat spinach or apple, cooked or raw, with your meal. Both of these plant foods contain compounds that break the odor-causing molecules even while you are still eating. Basil and parsley also help, and drinking milk with your meal with coat your mouth and greatly reduce garlicky breath.

Vitamin B6 Treatment for Diabetic Circulatory Problems

Professors of engineering at the School of Biological and Health Systems at Arizona State University in the USA have found that, at least under laboratory conditions, vitamin B6 restores health to arterial cells damaged by high blood sugars.

In fact, the American research scientists found that vitamin B6 can restore health to the cells that line blood vessels even under extreme diabetic conditions.

The researchers cultured human arterial cells in nutrient media containing normal glucose levels (5.5 mM or 90 mg/dl), a typical glucose level for an untreated diabetic (17.5 mM or about 300 mg/dl), and a glucose level associated with treatment at the emergency room or hospital admissions (30.5 mM or about 550 mg/dl). They added varying concentrations of pyridoxine, also known as B6, to the solutions to see if the vitamin helped the cells overcome the effects of high blood sugar levels.

The Arizona engineers measured the ability of these cells to migrate to heal a tear in an arterial wall, and the ability of these cells to stretch so a blood vessel could be opened to lower blood pressure. Both abilities are often impaired in diabetes. Healthy blood vessels are like rubber hoses in that they can stretch and contract to accommodate changes in blood flow. Diabetic blood vessels are often like pipes in that their walls stay the same no matter how much or how little blood is passing through. They cannot dilate to lower blood pressure, and they cannot constrict to stop bleeding.

The dosage of vitamin B6 that restored arterial function, even when blood glucose readings were a very high 550 mg/dl, was equivalent to the amount received by an adult taking 30 to 50 mg/day  of B6 from vitamin supplements. That's more than you get from taking a "complete B" supplement. You would have to take a separate B6 supplement. You should still take the complete vitamin B supplement just to make sure you receive all the vitamin cofactors that work with the pyridoxine your blood vessels need. But this is a very inexpensive way to help lower the risk of a very dangerous health problem, with a supplement that causes no side effects when taken with complete B's.

Selected Reference:

Kelso BG, Brower JB, Targovnik JH, Caplan MR. Pyridoxine Restores Endothelial Cell Function in High Glucose. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2010 Oct 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Exercise Alone for Quick Weight Loss Just Doesn't Work, Especially for Type 2 Diabetics

People make enormous investments in home fitness exercise equipment, treadmill, elliptical exercise equipment, exercise bikes, and the like. People spend small fortunes on gym fees and personal trainers. But does emphasizing exercises to lose weight quickly really work?

The best exercises for your metabolic health are hard and fast. Exercising at rate causing you to get out of breath burns sugar calories 28 to 35 times faster than exercising at a pace slow enough you could hold on a conversation with a fellow exerciser. For 90 minutes or so after you lift weight, your muscles absorb sugar from your bloodstream at 50 times their normal rate so they can also absorb the water and amino acids they need to repair and reshape themselves.

The best weight loss exercise is easy and slow. If you take an afternoon off just to take a slow hike through the woods, you'll burn a lot more fat than you could burn in an intense workout at the gym. But let's put this in perspective.

If you weigh more than 300 pounds, even quitting your job to walk across the USA will not cause enough fat burning for you to get down to 200 pounds. Fat just doesn't respond to exercise very well.

In fact, most people who do an easy workout routine at the gym gain weight rather than losing it. They may lose a pound of fat and gain two pounds of muscle, but they weigh more after working out every day for three to six months than before.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't exercise. You should exercise. You will feel better, and your metabolism will be spared the effects of sugar. Losing weight however, almost always comes down to eating less (unless your diabetes is so poorly controlled that your body has started breaking down both fat and muscles for sugar). And if you do exercise, you want to schedule those carefully measured, smaller meals so that they will feed your muscles to that you have fat loss, not muscle loss. Be sure to eat within 60 minutes of working out so your muscles will get the nutrients they need.

And if you really want to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time, read Bev's new book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues.

Coconut Water, A Good Beverage for Type 2's

Coconut water has the potential to be the next pomegranate, or mangosteen, or acai berry in the natural foods market. While it's not no-cal or no-carb, it contains an interesting combination of useful fatty acids and just a few carbs, about the same as 4 crackers, that most type 2 diabetics can tolerate.

If you have ever taken a vacation in the tropics, you may have seen people drinking something that looks like watery juice from a coconut. Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is one of the most densely nutrient-packed natural beverages on the planet.

This tropical treat is the liquid that is found naturally in the coconut. Coconut milk has to be extracted from the meat. If you are counting calories to lose weight, you will be happy to know that cup of coconut water contains a measly 46 calories--and 1/3 of those calories come from protein, not carbohydrate. Moreover, that cup of coconut water contains more potassium than a 150-calorie banana.

It used to be that the only way to get the water of a coconut was to crack open your own nuts with a hammer and hope to catch the "juice" inside. Nowadays it is easy to find skinned coconuts in the produce section of major food markets. All you have to do is to slice off the top and stick a straw inside.

There are also a number of new canned coconut water beverages, each with all the electrolytes you would find in an ordinary sports drink but with a fraction of the sugar. There is no fiber in the water, and the lauric acid associated with immune power is actually found in the meat of the coconut or the creamy coconut oily extracted from coconut meat.

The combination of protein and carbohydrate, however, makes it a good drink for the end of your workout, giving your muscles just a little protein with just a little carbohydrate in a very few calories so they can begin to repair and reshape themselves. For a quick boost of four different electrolytes to help you recover from a hard, sweaty workout, coconut water is hard to beat.

And if you really want to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time, read Bev's new book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues.

Is MSG Disrupting Your Diet Success?

Monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG, is added to food because it just tastes so darned good. Eating MSG, however, may be interfering with your weight loss success.

MSG is the chemical associated with the taste sometimes called umami. MSG makes foods taste meaty. Cooking experts often refer to the taste of MSG as savory. MSG can literally make your mouth water, so it's added to an amazing variety of foods.

The third-named ingredient in McDonald's French fries, for example, is MSG. Almost all commercial soups and soup mixes contain MSG. This savory flavor inducer is known under an astonishing variety of names, including monosodium glutamate, MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, hydrolyzed yeast, autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, soy extract, "spices," protein isolate, and "natural flavorings."

A clinical research study published in March 2009 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that if the first part of your meal is made with MSG, you will eat 100 or 250 calories more during the second part of your meal, even if the second course is not made with MSG. If you start your meal with hot water and a bouillon cube, bouillon being mostly MSG, you will eat 100 to 250 calories more than if you hadn't.

If you start your meal with a bowl of canned soup, you will eat 100 to 250 calories more than if you hadn't. And, ironically, if you make your meal a bowl of cabbage soup following the recipes given out for most versions of the old cabbage soup diet, made with Lipton's soup mix, you will eat 100 to 250 calories more than if you hadn't.

If you are having trouble sticking to your diet, don't quit dieting. Read labels to make sure you are not getting MSG. Then see if it isn't a lot easier to stick to your low-calorie diet plan without feeling hungry all the time or eating too much every meal.

And if you really want to lose weight without feeling hungry all the time, read Bev's new book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues.

Going Nuts Over Type 2 Diabetes

Want to know one of the secrets to good health in a nutshell? Eating a handful (1-1/2 to 3 ounces, or about 40 to 80 grams) of nuts every day along with fresh vegetables and fruits will help keep a long list of cardiovascular risk factors that so many diabetics have to deal with under good control.

Researchers published in the December 8 edition of Archives of Internal Medicine found that adding a small amount of nuts to the daily diet worked better than olive oil at reducing the risk of a condition known as metabolic syndrome (elevated but not necessarily treatable blood pressure, elevated but not necessarily treatable blood sugars, extra fat around the midsection) better than a low-fat diet did. A diet including a small amount of nuts every day also proved superior to the well-known Mediterranean diet.

And, like several research teams before them, "They found substantial metabolic benefits in the absence of calorie reduction or weight loss," said Dr. JoAnn Manson, chief of preventive medicine at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The best results were found in a group of study participants who were told to add about six walnut halves, seven or eight shelled whole almonds, and seven or eight whole, shelled hazlenuts to their diets every day. They did not lose weight, but they lost fat on their midsections and showed improved cholesterol and blood pressure.

Several studies have found that nuts help dieters feel full, probably because of their fiber content. "Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," said lead author Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvado of the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain.

"Nuts could have an effect on metabolic syndrome by multiple mechanisms," Salas-Salvado said in an e-mail cited by Discovery News. "Nuts are rich in anti-inflammatory substances, such as fiber, and antioxidants, such as vitamin E. They are high in unsaturated fat, a healthier fat known to lower blood triglycerides and increase good cholesterol."

One area of good health not affected by the "go nuts" diet, however, was blood sugar control. About 46 per cent of the 1,200 Spaniards in the test had type II diabetes but were already on a low-carb diet. High blood sugars were unaffected, neither going up nor going down, but the addition of a few nuts in the daily fare. Diabetics still have to take care of their blood sugars through other areas of dietary restraint.

But if you are a diabetic addicted to high-carb chips and candy, "going nuts" to replace those snacks may in fact help you control your blood sugars. And other studies suggest that adding just a few nuts to your diet every day, even if you don't eliminate something else, may in some cases help you slowly lose weight, up to a pound a month.

And if you want to lose a lot more than a pound a month without feeling hungry all the time, read Bev's new book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sex Hormones and Pancreatic Cancer

The pancreas produces vital hormones, but it is also regulated by hormones produced elsewhere in the body. Understanding how those hormones work is a little bit obscure, but vitally important if you are concerned about cancer.


Several years ago Dr. Guillermo Robles-Diaz and Dr. Andres Duarte-Rojo of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubirán in Mexico City explained the role of sex hormones in pancreatic tissue. Just like many other organs in the body, the pancreas grows in response to sex hormones, but different sex hormones affect different parts of the organ.

1. The insulin-producing beta cells become more active in response to estrogen. This means that if you have a really rare kind of usually (but not always) non-cancerous tumor known as an insulinoma, then estrogen replacement therapy can make the tumor worse. You'd know this by your blood sugar levels running really low.

This phenomenon is more important for diabetics. Higher estrogen levels are associated with lower rates of diabetes. This fact explains why so many people who develop diabetes often gain weight first--it's actually a self-defense mechanism. Fat cells make estrogen. The more estrogen fat cells make, the more insulin a sick pancreas can make. As hard as it may be to believe, putting on fat doesn't cause diabetes, diabetes causes fat mass, and the common link is insulin. Fortunately, the cells that work overtime to make are very seldom the part of the organ that becomes cancerous.

2. These same insulin-making cells become less active in response to progesterone. Women's bodies make tremendous amounts of progesterone during pregnancy. The production of progesterone may account for gestational diabetes--which usually goes away after the baby is born.

Women who use high-progesterone birth control pills may be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes. They may also be at higher risk of insulinoma, which, ironically, will produce the exact opposite of the high blood sugar symptoms some women have during pregnancy. The risk for cancer in other parts of the pancreas, however, goes down when women use or have used birth control pills containing estrogen. The more children women have had, the less likely they are to have this pancreatic cancer later in life.

3. When the rest of the pancreas develops cancer, these cancerous parts become very sensitive to testosterone. They work overtime to convert the male sex hormone into its active form.

What's the message to take away from the science? Here are three main possibilities:

1. Since belly fat turns testosterone into estrogen, it's a risk factor for insulinoma. If you have insulinoma, you won't have diabetes. Oddly enough, a little extra fat (as an energy source when you can't eat) protects against death in pancreatic cancer, although it can make the surgeon's job a lot more difficult.

2. Any kind of sex hormone replacement or birth control for women that's high in progesterone raises the risk of diabetes and lowers the risk of pancreatic cancer, and

3. If you are concerned about preventing or treating pancreatic cancer, use testosterone replacement with extreme caution. More of the injected form actually stays in the system as testosterone. The patches tend to produce estrogen because they are absorbed through the fat that lies beneath the skin.

Selected References:


Alabraba EB, Taniere P, Reynolds GM, Stewart PM, Wigmore SJ, Bramhall SR. Expression and functional consequences of oestrogen and progesterone receptors in human insulinomas. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2007 Dec;14(4):1081-8.

Smoking Pot and Diabetes

A reader got Robert's phone number and called in a question, "I hope I am not, like, you know, breaking any rules, but I would like to know, diabetes detectives dudes, if my pot smoking would, like, affect my son's diabetes." Dude, like, we are only too happy to give you an answer. You go on to mention that your son is 27 years old, also smokes pot, and lives with you. Sometimes you smoke together.

We'll stick to the topic of diabetes and marijuana.

Complications, and complicating the complications. The good news is that if you use marijuana regularly, you are less likely to suffer the tingling, burning, or stabbing pain caused by neuropathy. The effects of marijuana on pain are even greater if you are also depressed. The problem comes from the fact that when you stop feeling pain, you are still unable to feel. You need to be vigilant, whether you smoke pot or not, to make sure you don't get any burns, cuts, or scrapes that might be get infected and cause you serious problems. It happens a lot more often than you might think.

Marijuana and the progression of the disease. One of the common consequences of uncontrolled high blood sugars over about 10 years or so is that diabetics start needing to inject insulin. That's because the cells that make this vital hormone become so overactive that the immune system mistakes them for infection and "takes them out." There some evidence that some compounds in marijuana could make the immune system more "mellow," too, so this effect would not occur. However, the best way to prevent beta cell burnout is not to let your sugars run high in the first place! That's hard to do if you get a lot of attacks of the munchies.

Diabetics who absolutely, positively should not smoke pot. There is one group of diabetics, however, who absolutely should not use marijuana. Those are the diabetics who have hepatitis or any kind of chronic liver disease. The combination of the toxins (yes, there are toxins) released by the smoke and high blood sugars initiates a series of physiological reactions that causes fatty liver and cirrhosis of the liver. If you have liver disease and diabetes, smoking pot is actualy dangerous for you. It's not because of what it does to your blood sugar levels, but because of what it does to your liver.

Nothing in this article should be construed as an endorsement for smoking pot. This article is only intended to give the facts about marijuana and diabetes. The one thing to remember is that taking care of diabetes is pretty much a full time job, and anything that keeps you from being diligent about is bad for your health. For real, dude.

Selected Reference:


Selvarajah D, Gandhi R, Emery CJ, Tesfaye S.
Randomized placebo-controlled double-blind clinical trial of cannabis-based medicinal product (Sativex) in painful diabetic neuropathy: depression is a major confounding factor.
Diabetes Care. 2010 Jan;33(1):128-30. Epub 2009 Oct 6.

Diabetes, Pancreatic Cancer, and Sex Hormones

The pancreas produces vital hormones, but it is also regulated by hormones produced elsewhere in the body. Understanding how those hormones work is a little bit obscure, but vitally important if you have diabetes or cancer.

Several years ago Dr. Guillermo Robles-Diaz and Dr. Andres Duarte-Rojo of the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubirán in Mexico City explained the role of sex hormones in pancreatic tissue. Just like many other organs in the body, the pancreas grows in response to sex hormones, but different sex hormones affect different parts of the organ.

1. The insulin-producing beta cells become more active in response to estrogen. Higher estrogen levels are associated with lower rates of diabetes. This fact explains why so many people who develop diabetes often gain weight first--it's actually a self-defense mechanism. Fat cells make estrogen. The more estrogen fat cells make, the more insulin a sick pancreas can make. As hard as it may be to believe, putting on fat doesn't cause diabetes, diabetes causes fat mass, and the common link is insulin. Fortunately, these cells very seldom become cancerous.
2. These same insulin-making cells become less active in response to progesterone. Women's bodies make tremendous amounts of progesterone during pregnancy. The production of progesterone may account for gestational diabetes--which usually goes away after the baby is born. Women who use high-progesterone birth control pills may be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. When the rest of the pancreas develops cancer (cancer is very rare in the parts of the organ that make insulin), these cancerous parts become very sensitive to testosterone. They work overtime to convert the male sex hormone into its active form.

What's the message to take away from the science? Here are three main possibilities:

1. Men put on belly fat as their bodies try to prevent diabetes. Women also experience this phenomenon, but more after menopause.
2. Any kind of sex hormone replacement or birth control for women that's high in progesterone raises the risk of diabetes, and
3. If you are concerned about preventing or treating pancreatic cancer, use testosterone replacement with extreme caution. More of the injected form actually stays in the system as testosterone. The patches tend to produce estrogen because they are absorbed through the fat that lies beneath the skin.

Selected Reference:


Robles-Diaz G, Duarte-Rojo A. Pancreas: a sex steroid-dependent tissue.
Isr Med Assoc J. 2001 May;3(5):364-8.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Diet Coke and Diabetes

If you are like tens of millions of people in North America, chances are that you are something of a Diet Coke addict. You might want a Diet Coke in the morning before you have breakfast, or even drink a DietCoke for breakfast. You will want this bubbly sweet soft drink with meals, and between meals, and before going to bed at night. And if you are a type 2 diabetic, all that diet soda can be doing some very detrimental things to your health. Other diet drinks, which are not as popular, also have this effect, except for a few that are made with stevia.

The problem with diet drinks for people who have type 2 diabetes is that the pancreas also has taste receptors. When you taste something sweet with your tongue, your pancreas gets a copy of the message going to your brain. It releases insulin in preparation for sugars that never come.

The trouble this causes lies in the fact that insulin itself is a major cause of a phenomenon called insulin resistance. When too much insulin comes calling at receptor ports on the outer membranes of cells, they shut down some sites that can receive sugar. They don't shut down sites where insulin transports fat. Drinking diet soda makes your cells less sensitive to sugar and more sensitive to fat.

You aren't going to gain weight if you don't eat too much--but there's another wrinkle in this scenario. When some of the insulin that your body doesn't need to transport sugar arrives at your brain, cells in the brain become more sensitive to sweet taste. So here's what happens:

1. You drink a sweet drink that isn't really sweet.
2. Your pancreas makes insulin for sugar that isn't coming.
3. Cells shut down receptors for sugar transport but leave open receptors for fat transport, so if you have any extra free fatty acids floating through your system they are sure to be stored away.
4. Your brain likes this kind of sweetness better than regular sugar (when you drink something with real sugar, the insulin is busy storing the sugar, not circulating to your brain). You want to drink more.

The obvous way to handle this problem is to stop drinking Diet Coke and similar diet drinks! There's also some evidence that a chemical called gurmarin, which is in the Ayurvedic herb gurmar, literally, "slayer of sweetness," can stop this process. If you simply can't stop your diet beverage addiction on your own, then taking gurmar may make the diet drinks a little less appealing so you can stop. If you don't stop, you keep fueling the underlying process that made and keeps you a type 2 diabetics.

Selected Reference:


Nakagawa Y, Nagasawa M, Yamada S, Hara A, Mogami H, Nikolaev VO, Lohse MJ, Shigemura N, Ninomiya Y, Kojima I. Sweet taste receptor expressed in pancreatic beta-cells activates the calcium and cyclic AMP signaling systems and stimulates insulin secretion. PLoS One. 2009;4(4):e5106. Epub 2009 Apr 8.

Dietary Fat and Pancreatic Inflammation: It's the Ratio of n-3's to n-6's that Makes the Difference

There's recently been confirmation from laboratory studies that tissue-damaging inflammation of the pancreas, which can occur in both pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, is fueled by the wrong ratio of essential fatty acids.


As the term essential implies, the body needs both n-6 and n-3 essential fatty acids. The n-6's come from foods such as corn oil, soybean oil, and fat in meats, and the n-3's come from some (but not all) plant sources such as olive oil, nuts, and algae, as well as cold-water fish and fish oil. It isn't that one kind of fat is good and the other is bad, as commentators often suggest. It's that the ratio is wrong.

It's best for the ratio of n-6's and n-3's in the diet to be about 1 to 1. The problem is, the ratio is usually 20 to 1. This makes pro-inflammatory hormones predominate over anti-inflammatory hormones, and the pancreas is among the tissues most effective.

The solution to this problem, however, is not to go on a non-fat diet. That simply turns off the processes that make the anti-inflammatory hormones. The solution is to get the n-6 fats and the n-3 fats in something approaching balance.

Doing that may be easier if you start with a non-fat diet, and add daily servings of n-3 fats (olive oil in salad dressing, fish oil capsules, flaxseed oil in smoothies, etc.) plus weekly servings on n-6 fats (a "regular" meal once or twice a week, if you can keep it down). Remember, no kind of fat is poisonous to your pancreas. It's the proportions that make the difference.

Help! My Family Doesn't Want to Eat a Healthy Diet!

It's not at all unusual for type 2 diabetics to find out that their families don't want to eat healthy meals. Even the most supportive family of non-diabetics is occasionally going to want fast food, popcorn, candy, or a special holiday meal, or maybe several. What's a type 2 to do?

It may seem like you have reached a fork in the road where (1) you are going to have to prepare multiple meals to keep everybody happy or (2) you'll just have to rely on medication and be satisfied with inadequate blood sugar control. Actually, there's a third option. Remember that not every dish for every meal has to be prepared at the same time, and some foods actually taste better as leftovers.

When you find a healthy food that your family enjoys, make lots of it. It helps to have leftovers available for them the next day when you may be making a healthy meals they don't enjoy as much.

Or, if you know there's going to be a day your family will want to order pizza, then have leftovers available for yourself so you won't have to eat food that's not optimal for your diabetic diet. Soups, in particular, can be very filling and help you lose weight, and they often develop flavor after several days of refrigeration.

Your health and your family's happiness is worth every ounce of the effort you have to dish out. Get into the habit of planning and cooking ahead to make sure you can always stay on target for your weight and glucose control goals. And for more ideas, buy Bev's book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues.

Does Cutting Out Your Carbs Make You Grouchy?

Every diabetic knows, or finds out really fast, that there is an intense link between food and mood. If you cut out all or most of your carbohydrate consumption, chances are you will be grouchy and irritable around your family, friends, and coworkers. That's because your brain has to make do with less of a chemical called dopamine.

The neurotransmitter dopamine is the brain's "reward chemical." Our brains are trained to make dopamine when we eat salty, sugary, high-fat comfort foods. Just having the "feel" of comfort food in your mouth can stimulate the brain to make this chemical. In fact, just driving by the golden arches of McDonald's or seeing a hamburger wrapper can do the same thing.

But if you are type 2 diabetic dedicated to sticking to your diet and you are staring at a little plate of carrot sticks, actually, your brain's dopamine levels might go a little low. And, the fact is, nobody, diabetic or otherwise, ever goes around saying, "Yum! I just can't get enough raw broccoli!"

The answer is not to drive to McDonald's or the fried chicken place. There are other ways to get the dopamine going in your brain so you will feel good while your blood sugar levels get better, too. Here are five of the best

1. Get the creamy feel of comfort food without the fat and sugar by eating slow-cooked, low-glycemic index grains--in small portions--for breakfast. Instant cereals just won't be as satisfying, although you can cook a pot up to 3 days ahead and just reheat your daily serving. High-fiber oatmeal, in particular, stimulates the release of the satiety hormone cholecysotkinin in the same way as puddings, cheeseburgers, pies, and cakes, and the like. Oatmeal also contains carbs, so you need to limit your consumption--but it's a lot better for you than doughnuts!
2. Avoid processed foods, especially anything made with an instant soup mix or bouillon cubes. That's because they contain MSG, which both reduces insulin sensitivity and increases stress hormones, at least in animal studies.
3. When you can, eat curry. The curcumin in curry modifies the dopamine system in your brain in ways that add satisfaction to eating smaller amounts of food. Of course, you can also just take a curcumin supplement. One a day is enough.
4. Make sure you get good fats. Omega-3 fatty acids, either from microalgae or fish oil capsules, or from up to a handful (3-1/2 oz, 100 g) of nuts satisfies your appetite without making you grouchy. Adding nuts to your diet (assuming you are not allergic to them, of course) can actually help you lose weight despite the additional calories.
5. Don't skip meals just because your blood sugars are high. Eat normally, but just eat what's on your plan. You'll get your blood sugars right eventually, but an unplanned fast is not the way to do it.

If you have a type 2 teen, or you are a type 2 teen, be aware that (because of hormonal differences), boys with type 2 tend to be moodier than girls with type 2. It's important for all type 2 teens to stick to their diets, but boys in particular benefit from addition omega-3 fatty acid foods. For great information on dieting for weight loss, buy Bev's book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues.

Selected Reference:


Lawrence JM, Standiford DA, Loots B, Klingensmith GJ, Williams DE, Ruggiero A, Liese AD, Bell RA, Waitzfelder BE, McKeown RE; SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study. Prevalence and correlates of depressed mood among youth with diabetes: the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth study. Pediatrics. 2006 Apr;117(4):1348-58.

High-Fat, No-Fat, Low-Fat and Type 2 Diabetes

If there's any area of diabetes care that is clearly confusing, it's the question of how much fat is best in the diabetic diet. Although every diet has its true believers, the fact is, different diets work for different people in different ways. Here are the basics.

High-fat diets are the traditional way of treating type 2 diabetes, and they are still the standard recommendation for diabetics who have advanced kidney failure. The advantage on relying on fats for energy is that they can be burned without insulin. If your body makes little or essentially no insulin, then this is one way to go.

The disadvantage of high-fat diets probably isn't what you think. It's not that they will make you fat. Weight gain has more to do with how much you eat than what you eat.

The problem with high-fat diets is keeping your brain going. Your body has to have at least a little carbohydrate every day for "brain fuel," although it can make glucose out of protein provided you don't already have kidney or liver disease. You won't feel very good, however, if protein and fat are all you eat.

No-fat diets are one modern way of treating type 2 diabetes. There really are many people who reverse their diabetes by following a vegan raw foods diet absolutely devoid of added fat. These diets work for people who have at least little remaining insulin production. When the insulin the body is still able to make isn't busy storing both sugar and fat, then it's enough to keep blood sugar levels down.

If you really have zero insulin production, however, even algae smoothies and alfalfa sprouts are going to raise your blood glucose levels. No-fat isn't for everyone. Surprisingly, people who commit themselves to the vegan raw foods lifestyle usually do manage to stick to the program and stay well--until that first time they fall off the wagon.

Low-fat diets are the best option for most diabetics. Low-fat does not necessarily mean high-carb. This way of eating emphasizes getting some fat at every meal, and no "fast" carbs. No potatoes, no bread, no crackers, no desserts. You still get carbs from non-starchy vegetables and the occasional piece of fruit but you don't eat lots of fat and lots of carbohydrate at the same time. Letting your insulin handle either fat or carb but not lots of both usually works--as long as you don't eat too much.

And that's the thing about any kind of diabetes diet. It's not all about what you eat. It's primarly about how much you eat. Eating the right percentage of fat for you isn't enough. You also have to eat the right amount. Whether you eat high-fat, no-fat, or low-fat, you still can't eat too much. But the way to know for sure that your diet is working for you is from the numbers, on the scale, and on your glucometer.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How Type 2 Diabetes May Be a Disease of Your Body Clock

We have been saying that type 2 diabetes, at least at first, may be a disease of bad timing. The pancreas has the ability to produce the insulin that the body needs to keep blood sugar levels normal after eating, but it just can't produce it in time. Now scientists have more to say about this theory.

Scientists from Northwestern University in Chicago publishing their findings in the prestigous journal Nature report that the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas have their own "clocks" that tell them when to secrete insulin. If something goes wrong with the clock, as they caused to happen in lab animals, then diabetes develops.

Eating out of sync with your beta-cells may not be the entire reason people develop type 2, but it may be an important reason. If you are eating now, and your pancreas is secreting insulin a lot later, then you will have an interval in which your blood sugar levels run high. During this time, cells all over your body (although not in the brain, the testicles, or the ovaries) shut down their portals for insulin to move sugar inside. This protects the cell from "flaming out" by burning too much sugar. The sugar stays in the bloodstream, and the pancreas get the message it needs to work even harder.

If the beta-cell "clock" is not working, however, then the influx of insulin won't be enough to keep blood glucose levels down after eating but it may be too much in the middle of the night. So what is a diabetic to do?

The best way to keep your insulin-producing cells from working at the wrong time is to get enough sleep, at the very least six uninterrupted hours every night. Not getting enough "slow-wave," deep sleep leads to insulin in just the same way that eating too many fats and sugars does. Sleep deprivation also leads to weight gain.

Go to bed and get up on a regular schedule. If you don't "sleep in" when you go to bed late, you won't have trouble getting to sleep the next night. Be sure your bedroom is sleep-friendly: dark, quiet, and free of TV and the Internet. Get exercise, but at least three hours before bedtime, and don't consume caffeine in the evening if you want to enjoy easy sleep.

Selected Reference:

Marcheva B, Ramsey KM, Buhr ED, Kobayashi Y, Su H, Ko CH, et al.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20562852) 2010. Disruption of the clock components CLOCK and BMAL1 leads to hypoinsulinaemia and diabetes. Nature 466(7306):627-631.

Clinical Insights: Metformin May Help Keep Arteries Open

Today's clinical insight comes from Carol Willis, the author of the Willis Protocols for natural health, in response to a question from Robert.

Many type 2 diabetics have various issues with circulatory system. These can be high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or even heart attack or stroke.

One way of understanding circulatory issues is a kind of "plumbing" model of the circulatory system. Cholesterol hardens and clogs the arteries. This happens when "soft" cholesterol is attacked by free radicals, and white blood cells then try to remove it and get trapped themselves. There are more free radicals of oxygen in the bloodstream when blood sugar levels are high. That's the basic relationship between diabetes and heart disease, although there are other aspects to it.

There is also a kind of living tissue model of the circulatory system. In this way of understanding human circulation, the arteries and veins are not "pipes" that can get clogged. That's because blood vessels naturally open and close as need be. If you suffer a cut, for example, it's a good thing for your blood vessels to limit circulation!

The problem comes when the regulatory system that makes blood vessels more open or less open doesn't work. That regulator is a compound called nitric oxide, also known as NO. Many diabetics don't make enough NO, so they have circulation problems.

One way of increasing NO is to make sure you get enough folic acid and vitamin B12. That's not hard. A single complete vitamin B capsule a day, which should cost only a few pennies, will take care of that.

Another way of increasing NO is to make sure you get enough of the amino acid L-arginine. Good food sources include chickpeas, edamame, wheat germ, buckwheat, peanuts, coconut, cashews, almond, Brazil nuts, milk, cottage cheese, ricotta, yogurt, and most meats and fish.

And yet another way of increasing NO, in about 80 per cent of diabetics who also have problems with iron regulation (which is the case with many diabetics of European ancestry) is to take metformin. If you eat a lot of meat, or if you are in the 1 to 3 per cent of the population who have hemochromatosis, metformin may not just help keep your blood sugar levels right, it may also help keep your arteries open.

Bacon, Baloney, and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Bacon is one of the pork-eating world's favorite foods. It's fatty. It's salty. It's colorful. It has a tantalizing aroma. Some people joke that it's one of their basic food groups. But it turns out that, along with processed meats such as balogna, bacon is indeed a basic food group related to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The Nurses Health Study followed the health and habits of 69,554 women aged 38 to 63 for 11 years. When the data were last collected in 1994, a relatively small number, just 2,699 of the women, had developed type 2 diabetes. Certain foods, however were associated with a much greater risk of the disease. On average,
  • Every serving of red meat per day increased the risk of developing diabetes by 38%.
  • Every serving of bacon per day increased the risk of developing diabetes by 43%.
  • Every serving of balogna per day increased the risk of developing diabetes by 48%
  • Every serving of any other kind of processed meat, such hot dogs, increased the risk of developing diabetes by 73%.
There seemed to be something about hot dogs or hot dog eaters that has close connection to developing type 2. The medical scientists believe that the problem is in the food itself. The more a meat has to be ground up to disguise its origins to make processed meat, the more nitrite preservatives get mixed into it. Nitrites are known to interfere with the secretion of insulin so the pancreas can't release it when it is needed, and "bad timing," as Bev discusses in her book Eat to Beat the Belly Fat Blues, sets up the series of events that leads to insulin resistance, weight gain, and, eventually, full-blown type 2 diabetes.

What about men?

Well, the epidemiological data for men aren't so precise when it comes to eating processed meat, although it's well known that increased fat mass is associated with increased risk of diabetes. Men and women alike might benefit from eating nitrite-free and low-fat versions of these foods, if that doesn't sustain a habit of unhealthy choices.

Selected Reference:

Fung TT, Schulze M, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB. Dietary patterns, meat intake, and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Arch Intern Med. 2004 Nov 8;164(20):2235-40.

Could Cheeseburgers Cure Obesity in Type 2 Diabetes?

OK, Ill be up front and tell you that the answer is no, but there are some plusses to including even foods like beef and cheese--in small amounts, occasionally--in a diabetic diet. Here's why.

Actos and Avandia vs. Dikanut: Treatments for Diabetes that Work in Entirely Different Ways

If you have had type 2 diabetes very long, there is a high probability that your doctor gave you a prescription for either Actos or Avandia. These medications were briefly considered wonder drugs, lowering blood sugars effortlessly even when diabetics failed to stick to their diets.

Of course, if you have been following the news, you also know that an earlier drug in this class, Rezulin, had to be pulled from the market when hundreds of people died from liver failure, and that Avandia now comes with a black warning label. The same sage experts that told us Actos and Avandia were OK are slow to condone the use of the herb dikanut, also known as Irvingia gabonensis or inland mango, but one thing scientists know is that the herb acts in the opposite way from these common but dangerous diabetes medications.

The two diabetes drugs worked by activating a gene called PPAR-gamma. At first scientists thought that this gene worked to lower blood sugars by making insulin work better. Then they learned that the real effect had to do with transforming stem cells that were meant to replenish the bloodstream and to repair bone into fat cells. The newly engineered baby fat cells greedily soaked up sugar, and diabetics had lower blood glucose levels while they mysteriously got fat. Also, type 2's taking these medications had more broken bones, and, because of the way insulin works, more sodium inside the cells of their heart and muscles. Most type 2's on these medications gained weight--up to 100 pounds (45 kilos) in some cases--and many developed congestive heart failure.

This effect of the diabetes drugs on the gene is a phenomenon known as "up regulation." Scientists have noticed that dikanut works through "down regulation."

Dikanut actually makes it less likely that a stem cell generated in your bone marrow will become a fat cell. At the same time, however, as we discussed in an earlier article, it makes it more likely that the enzymes that (1) take sugar in from the bloodstream and (2) keep sodium from building up in the cell work very well. It helps people lose weight, and it helps diabetics normalize sugar levels, too.

It turns out that this is not the herb does. It also down regulates the herb that controls the making of the hormone leptin. If you can't keep these hormones straight, don't worry about it. Sometimes we have to stop and think, too.

Leptin is the hormone that sends a message to the brain from the fat cells that essentially says "OK, enough already." That would seem to be a good thing, except when you have a lot of fat cells, the message turns into "STOP! NO MORE FOOD!" and the brain, ironically, ignores it. Dikanut "turns down the volume" so the brain pays attention when it gets the signal to stop eating.

Dikanut also up regulates the gene that controls the manufacture of adiponectin. This hormone also tells the brain it's OK not to eat, but when people get fatter, the fat cells make less of it. Dikanut restores normal amounts of adiponectin production, which make it easier not to eat. For leptin, it helps the brain "pay attention" to the message. For adiponectin, it turns up the volume.

No herb is a cure all. No herb really works without diet. Some herbs have side effects, and, actually, this herb does, too. Some people who use get gas. If you try it, make sure you have minimal social obligations during the first day of use. But this is one herb that may make a real difference in your diabetes routine, as long as you remember that the proof of how well any remedy for diabetes works is in the testing. Take your blood sugar levels to know for sure that what you are doing for your type 2 diabetes actually works.

Selected Reference:

Oben JE, Ngondi JL, Blum K. Inhibition of Irvingia gabonensis seed extract (OB131) on adipogenesis as mediated via down regulation of the PPARgamma and leptin genes and up-regulation of the adiponectin gene. Lipids Health Dis. 2008 Nov 13;7:44.

The Dikanut, a Well-Researched Herbal Treatment for Diabetes

How well the public knows herbal medicine has a lot to do with PR (which some people equate with another two-letter abbreviation for the output of a cow). The African herb hoodia, for instance, has hardly been researched at all, but manufacturers "have" to put it in natural weight loss formulas, and it's been the subject of multiple news reports from 60 Minutes in the USA to local news programs all over the world.

Another African herb, the dikanut, has been well researched in clinical trials going back to the 1980's and hardly anyone has ever heard of it. Also known as Irvingia gambonensis or inland mango, this herb is the one to take if you are type 2 and struggling to control blood sugar levels while you lose weight. Here's why.

Back in the mid-1980's, researchers at the University of Benin experiment with the dikanut as a supplement for type 2 diabetics. Because they actually knew what they were doing, they reported the scientifically more interesting finding, "Erythrocyte membrane ATPases in diabetes: effect of dikanut (Irvingia gabonensis)."

Very few reporters on diabetes developments (well, other than diabetes detectives, obviously) are going to recognize that the African scientists made a profound discovery. The dikanut did something that changed the way the lining of cells responded to sodium and magnesium.

That makes a difference to diabetics because insulin works with the help of sodium. Every time insulin transports one molecule of glucose into a cell, three ions of sodium tag along for the ride. These sodium ions (ions being positively charged particles, in this case) accumulate in the cell unless another set of enzymes, which involve magnesium, shoo them away. Without magnesium, the cell gets so full of sodium it literally gets waterlogged. So changing these enzyme systems has a profound effect on how the cell reacts to insulin and how much sugar it takes out of the bloodstream.

However, the article essentially said, "Oh, and incidentally, the diabetics in our study all got better. Every type 2 in our trial achieved normal blood sugar levels in four weeks." Since a casual reader (or casual reporter) couldn't get this from the headline, the world press didn't notice.

Four years later the same scientists in Benin published still more research. "Dikanut improves enzyme function in diabetics!" was their message. And, coincidentally, this time the diabetics all got better triglycerides and cholesterol, too.

In another article, we'll discuss how dikanut works exactly the opposite way from Actos and Avandia. But getting to know this West African herb extract better is a good idea for most type 2 diabetics.

Selected References:

Adamson I, Okafor C, Abu-Bakare A.Erythrocyte membrane ATPases in diabetes: effect of dikanut (Irvingia gabonensis). Enzyme. 1986;36(3):212-5.

Adamson I, Okafor C, Abu-Bakare A. A supplement of Dikanut (Irvingia gabonesis) improves treatment of type II diabetics. West Afr J Med. 1990 Apr-Jun;9(2):108-15.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Since You Asked: Homeopathics for Pancreactic Cancer

Is there any role for homeopathic medicine in the treatment of pancreatic cancer?

Frankly, this is the kind of question that has to be asked of someone who has the credentials and training to prescribe homeopathics and who has spent some time, probabaly several hours, making the right diagnosis. Homeopathy isn't really all about taking little pills that contain very minute amounts of natural substances. It's actually about understanding the medical, psychological, social, sexual, and spiritual life of the patient--and the pill is secondary to the effects on health that are accomplished by self-understanding.


The homeopathy that actually works is tailored to the individual. It isn't something you can get from picking up a bottle pills from off the shelf on the basis of something you read on the Internet. That's just not how the method works.

However, the pills themselves have measurable effects in some studies. They have been useful in treating allergies, anxiety, and pain--and if you experience these while you have pancreatic cancer, then homeopathy may be worth a try.

And some mainstream oncologists are incorporating the Banerji Protocols for homeopathic treatment with surgery, chemotherapy, and other medical methods. It's important to understand that when reference is made to the Banerji Protocols for "purifying" cancer cells, it's really about purifying cells for use in laboratory experiments.

The homeopath who has experience in treating pancreatic cancer is Dr. A.U. Ramakrishnan. You can access his website Dr. Ramakrishnan on Cancer here. I can't make any assessments or guarantees on his availability to help you or the results of treatment, but he has a reputation as a tireless healer.