Monday, January 31, 2011

Five Not-So-New Year's Resolutions for Diabetics

Now that January 2011 has almost passed, it's a great time to make the one resolution for better living with diabetes that you'll follow all the way through the new year. Here are five suggestions:


1. Give up diet soft drinks. You'll be amazed how much more money you have (up to US $1500 a year!) and your kidneys won't have to work as hard maintaining normal pH of your bloodstream, giving the rest of your body greater access to calcium and glutamine.

2. Take up light exercise. It's true that easy exercise, like walking, does not do a lot to lower your blood sugars. But it does burn carbs, and it can burn fat. Every little bit helps! Even if you don't join a gym, keep moving, around the block, around your town.

3. Eat more veggies. Even one serving a day can help you deal with digestion and allergy issues better. And it's really not a good idea to suddenly start eating the whole nine servings a day most experts recommend. Give your system a chance to get used to the fiber, and spread out your vegetables throughout the day--even at breakfast!

4. Go nuts. Nuts are a paradoxically high-fat snack that help you lose weight. The "good" essential fatty acids in nuts help you control your appetite and help your body limit inflammation. Most people who add 1-3 oz (30 to 90 g) of nuts to their daily diets actually lose weight, up to about a pound (500 g) more every month, even without dieting.

5. Test, test, test. The only way to know if you are eating too much or too little to keep your blood sugars in a healthy range is to test--at least once a week if you are well-controlled type 2 who doesn't take medication to at least four times a day if you use insulin.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chocolate for Type 2 Diabetics

Is eating chocolate good for type 2 diabetics. The scientific evidence seems to say that eating up to about an ounce (30 g) can be beneficial if you eat dark chocolate, rather than milk chocolate:

  • Epidemiologists at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston report that eating up to 1 oz (30 g) of chocolate per day protects against heart failure, which is a common complication of type 2 diabetes.
  • Researchers at the University of Hull in England report that eating up to 45 g (1-1/2 oz) of dark chocolate a day increases protective HDL cholesterol.
  • The NHLBI heart study found that eating more chocolate is associated with less cholesterol plaque in arteries. Even 1 serving a week has a small but measurable effect.
  • Eating dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, about 4 "points" (mm Hg), but the effect is greater for people who eat 6 g a day (about the amount of chocolate in a single Hershey's kiss) than in those who eat 25 g a day (a very small chocolate bar), according to German researchers.
And Japanese scientists publishing their findings in the British Journal of Nutrition report that eating small amounts of chocolate and regularly drinking small amounts of tea, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages prevents type 2 diabetes from ever occurring. But place the emphasis on "small."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Does Soy Cure Type 2 Diabetes?

There has been a lot of chatter on the Internet that type 2 diabetics who eat soy products can reverse the disease. Like a lot of the chatter on the Internet about type 2 diabetes, it's an exaggeration based on an important fact.


The bottom line about soy and type 2 diabetes is that if you are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and your problem is something called insulin resistance rather than deterioration of the insulin-making cells of your pancreas, soy products actually do help. There seem be chemicals in soy, especially fermented soy products like miso, that protect the insulin-making beta cells from attack by free radicals and by the immune system.

That doesn't mean you can eat a nibble of tofu and then gallon of ice cream and expect everything to be hokey-dorey. You still need to deal with the basic problem, insulin resistance. But if you DO deal with insulin resistance, then soy can help you get rid of type 2 diabetes practically as soon as it starts.

If you have had type 2 diabetes for more than a year or two, then the benefits of soy are a lot less clear. And there is no benefit in the highly processed soy proteins and fake meats that used to be so popular among vegans.

Moreover, you don't have to eat huge amounts of soy. As little as 15 grams (half an ounce) may be enough. But that little bit of soy, along with a lot of dietary restraint, may be what you need to get rid of your early-stage type 2 diabetes for good.

Selected Reference:
Kwak JH, Lee JH, Ahn CW, Park SH, Shim ST, Song YD, Han EN, Lee KH, Chae JS. Black soy peptide supplementation improves glucose control in subjects with prediabetes and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Med Food. 2010 Dec;13(6):1307-12.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Is Your Brain on Food

Have you ever eaten so much that you just can't stand to look at food? If you don't have type 2 diabetes, chances are this happens to you. If you live in the USA, you might have a can't-stand-to-look-at-it reaction to food after Thanksgiving dinner.

But if you are a type 2 diabetic or prediabetic, chances are you keep on wanting to eat the food you see no matter how much your stomach is stuffed.


Doctors at the University of Colorado Medical School and the Denver VA Hospital used MRI scans to measure brain activity in two groups of volunteers:

1. Normal weight people with no health problems.
2. Overweight people who had just finished an 8-week weight loss diet and lost at least 5% of their body weight.

They then invited them to eat six meals prepared by the lab over a two-day period. The meals were "supersized" to provide 30% more calories than the test participants needed.

When the doctors took MRI scans of the normal-weight study participants, they found that the insula and hypothalamus of the brain became less active after two days of overeating. When these parts of the brain are less active, visual cues, that is, looking at food, becomes less attractive. After two days, these participants ate less even when more food was put in front of them.

Overweight and presumably prediabetic study participants, however, had a different reaction. The hunger centers in their brains kept on functioning at the same rate, keeping them hungry whenever they saw food.

This study doesn't tell whether overweight causes brain changes or brain changes cause overweight. However, other research has found that the higher your blood sugar levels, the more your brain stays in "high gear" to keep you eating even more. Many type 2 diabetics can attest that the more they eat, the more they want to eat. The higher their blood sugar levels go, the more they want to eat sugar!

If you have type 2 diabetes, it's very important not to binge on food--ever. And if you do overeat, it's very important to do whatever you have to do, whether it's getting a prescription for medication, exercising more, or forcing yourself to eat much, much less, until your get your blood sugars back in control.

And if you have been on a diet lately, to keep the weight off, keep food out of sight!

Source:

Cornier MA, Salzberg AK, Endly DC, Bessesen DH, Rojas DC, Tregellas JR. The effects of overfeeding on the neuronal response to visual food cues in thin and reduced-obese individuals.
PLoS One. 2009 Jul 28;4(7):e6310.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Diabetics Can Lower After-Breakfast Sugars 40%! (Or Not)

Scientific researchers have recently announced that type 2 diabetics can get blood sugar levels lower by eating more. It's a breakthrough that tells us a lot about the value of diabetes research.


Publishing their findings in the journal of the American Diabetes Association entitled Diabetes Care, researchers at Newcastle University in Newcastle on Tyne in England report that eating a soy yogurt snack before breakfast reduces the after-breakfast increase in blood sugar levels by 40 per cent. If you eat the fermented soy product, and then have your regular breakfast, the blood sugar levels in your bloodstream go up, but they go up much more slowly.

In some type 2 diabetics, usually those who have not had the condition very long, slowing down the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream gives the pancreas time to churn out the insulin needed to keep blood sugar levels down (relatively speaking). Soy yogurt does this by tying up fatty acids in your food.

Insulin moves sugar out of your bloodstream, but it also moves fatty acids out of your bloodstream. If soy yogurt keeps fatty acids from getting into your bloodstream, then you have more insulin available to take care of blood sugars. There is just one problem with eating more to make your blood sugar levels less, and it's a big one.

Not all type 2 diabetics make enough insulin to get their blood sugar levels down, even with a head start. And in these type 2 diabetics, eating a "normal" breakfast just increases insulin resistance and makes the pancreas have to work harder and harder while having less and less effect on your blood sugar levels. However, the extra insulin will store more and more fat.

The researchers try to tell us that you can eat more and your body will act like you ate less. But it's a lot simpler just to eat less--or make the soy yogurt your entire breakfast, saving your carbs for lunch!

Source:

Chen MJ, Jovanovic A, Taylor R. Utilizing the second-meal effect in type 2 diabetes: practical use of a soya-yogurt snack. Diabetes Care. 2010 Dec;33(12):2552-4.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Diabetes, Diet, and Impulse Control

It's no secret that type 2 diabetics usually have trouble sticking to diets. Japanese scientists have found that nearly all type 2 diabetics have trouble resisting the impulse to eat foods they are not supposed to, regardless of their weight.

Dr. Yasuhiko Iwamoto of the Tokyo Women's Medical University in Japan and colleagues have identified specific regions of the brain in type 2 diabetics that tend to get "circuits crossed" when the diabetic is presented with tasty, fatty, sugary food.
The higher reasoning centers in the cerebral cortex are literally bypassed by the nerves that direct the hands to bring the food to the mouth. The higher the diabetic's HbA1C, which measures long-term blood sugar levels, the more problems he or she had with impulse control with regard to food.

Overweight diabetics actually exerted more self-control than normal-weight diabetics with the same HbA1C. All the type 2 diabetics recruited for the study were newly diagnosed, so it may be that people who are overweight already know they have diet problems and have made a practice of trying to exert self-control.

The Japanese doctors didn't have a recommendation for treating this problem other than keeping blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible--which is always a good idea. Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen, however, recommends that his patients who have impulse issues follow these simple rules:

1. The brain produces the next day's supply of the impulse-control chemical dopamine in the two hours before midnight, so get to bed early.
2. Take grapeseed extract or ginkgo biloba to support circulation in the brain, activating the control center in the brain.
3. Make sure you get a complete protein (whether meat or a mixture of plant foods) sometime after noon and before bedtime. Your brain needs the amino acids to make the control chemicals that help you restrain your urges to eat.

But the very best thing any type 2 diabetic can do to control appetite is to keep blood sugar levels in control. When blood sugar levels are consistently normal, the thinking brain takes over from the hungry brain.

Source:

Ishizawa KT, Kumano H, Sato A, Sakura H, Iwamoto Y. Decreased response inhibition in middle-aged male patients with type 2 diabetes. Biopsychosoc Med. 2010 Feb 11;4(1):1

Is There a Medication that Can Cure Diabetes?

Researchers have announced that a combination of two existing medications, Januvia (sitagliptin) and Prevacid (lansoprazole) may regenerate the lost beta-cells that the pancreas uses to make insulin.


Type 1 diabetics are people who have already lost all or essentially all of their beta-cells. Type 2 diabetics often lose all or essentially all of their beta-cells over time, if they cannot or do not keep their blood sugar levels in control. It isn't just people who have the classically defined type 1 diabetes who can need a boost to their beta-cell count. Researchers believe Januvia and Prevacid may be the tool for bring back these insulin-producing cells and maybe curing both forms of diabetes.

In laboratory studies with mice, these two drugs act together (1) to stimulate the growth of new beta-cells and (2) to prevent the "burn out" of existing beta-cells that is caused when blood sugar levels go too high. Growing your own beta cells in humans would give diabetics the benefits of a transplant without the necessity of having a transplant. But that doesn't mean there are no problems with this approach.

Used by itself, Januvia hasn't proven itself to be very helpful for most type 2 diabetics. Some respond to it very well. About 2/3 of users don't respond at all, and changes in the hormone levels that affect the release of sugar from the liver after eating turn out also to affect the body's immune defenses against melanoma. A few people have had really horrific skin reactions to Januvia.

Prevacid is very effective for stopping heartburn. It also stops calcium absorption. Chronic use of Prevacid can endanger your bones.

So it may turn out that the combination of Januvia and Prevacid really will be a cure for diabetes, but it will be a cure for diabetes that will either cause other problems or require very careful management. One word of advice: Don't be the first to try this! The combination is promising, but day to day use is still in the future.

Anodyne Therapy for Diabetic Feet

If there is anything most diabetics and their doctors can agree on, it's that you are cuter with all your toes. Taking care of circulatory problems in the feet and legs can prevent unsightly, disabling wounds and foot ulcers, and it can prevent the infection and possible amputation of toes, feet, and even legs. But taking care of circulatory problems is not an easy thing to do until now.


Even if you keep your blood pressure and your blood sugar levels in good control, you can have problems with your feet and toes. The traditional remedy has been "salami surgery," removing more and more problem areas as you have longer and longer untreated circulatory problems. Then surgeons invented a bypass procedure for the feet that imitates bypass surgery for the heart. For a non-surgical, no-drug therapy that really works, however, there is now a method known as anodyne therapy.

This technique is based on a technology known as monochromatic infrared thermal energy, trademarked as MIRE. It's a little like using any other heating pad, except the energy is "tuned" to speed up circulation and the total amount of energy is about 20% less than what you would get by putting your feet on an electric heating pad. The effects start lower but last longer, several hours longer, and the more often you stimulate circulation to your feet, the less likely you are to have pain in the future.

One study found that the diabetics who got the most benefit from using MIRE units were those who described their pain as "horrible" or "excruciating." Since the drugs that relieve the pain are older antidepressants that also make you gain weight and, as one user puts it, "drift off into la-la land" (the newer antidepressants not having any effect on diabetic pain caused by neuropathy), this treatment is also better for most type 2 diabetics who have significant, although not horrible or excruciating, foot pain.

Depending on your insurance coverage, it may be less expensive simply to buy a unit than to go to the doctor's office for treatments. Chiropractors and naturopaths also can help you with MIRE treatment.

Should Type 2 Diabetics Test Hemoglobin A1C at Home?

Testing HbA1C at home gives an earlier warning of problems or a quicker confirmation diabetics are on the right track. Here are the reasons why--and how much money you can save.


The hemoglobin A1C test is a standard lab test for measuring long-term control over type 2 diabetes. Most doctors order it at least every 3 or 4 months. The nurse or phlebotomist draws blood and sends it to a central lab, and the doctor may or may not know the results before the diabetic comes in. If the test results are running late, diabetics may not know how their diet, exercise, and medications are working for six months or more.

Advances in testing technology have made it possible to do an in-office or at-home HbA1C test for an out-of-pocket cost of under US $10. (Compare this to the charges of up to $250 billed by labs.) There are two major advantages to getting this number sooner:


  • You can ask questions about your progress then and there with your doctor or diabetes educator, and
  • You can get a good measure of your progress in just 30 days if you do the test at home.


One of the inherent problems with using HbA1C as a measurement of diabetic control is that the higher your blood sugar levels go, the sooner your red blood cells die. If you have a really high HbA1C, like 20%, the reality may be even worse than the number suggests because some red blood cells break down before they are ever measured.

On the other hand, if you are making really good progress in controlling your diabetes, most of the change will be measurable in just 30 days, not 90. Wouldn't it be better to know right away you are on the right track?

That's what at-home HbA1C testing can do for you. It's cheaper, it's faster, and it gives you more control over your decisions in diabetes care. Although the initial outlay will be about $100, buying your own at-home HbA1C testing system will give you 10 tests for less than half the price most labs charge for one, and the unit may be covered by insurance. Check out A1C Now for more information. We don't make any money on the link.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Toning Shoes for Type 2's?

It seems like such an easy way to get your blood sugar levels in control. Just slip on a pair of Reebok EasyTones, and you get so much exercise out of just walking that your blood sugars float down to normal and your thighs and butt tighten, too.

But do they really work?


Toning shoes are shoes with a curved insole designed to imitate the experience of balance on a wobble board at the gym or walking on a sandy beach. They definitely cause twitching muscles in the ankles, calves, thighs, and buttocks.

The jury is still out on whether toning shoes really tone muscles. The American Council on Exercise has commissioned a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin to put Skecher's ShapeUps, Reebok EasyTones, and Masai Barefoot Technology to the test. The request was made after advertising claims by Reebok seemed to promise more benefits than the shoes can deliver, at least in terms of tightening muscles.

Anytime you get muscles moving, however, especially muscles in the buttocks, glucose will be burned and insulin sensitivity will increase. This doesn't mean that using the shoes will burn more calories overall. It does not mean that wearing these shoes will help your cardiovascular fitness. It just means that they will probably help your insulin sensitivity and lower your blood sugar levels than exercise in ordinary running shoes.

Most type 2 diabetics, of course, don't need special running shoes. They need to try running! If your doctor approves, even a few seconds of running, rather than walking, can have noticeable or even dramatic effects on your blood sugar levels, far more than any medication.

Source:

Porcari J., Greany J., Tepper S., Edmondson B., Foster, C. with Mark Anders, "Will Toning Shoes Really Give You a Better Body?" American Council on Exercise and Fitness, 2011, http://www.acefitness.org/getfit/studies/toningshoes072010.pdf.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Skinny People with Type 2 Diabetes

One of the ongoing mysteries of type 2 diabetes research has been that sometimes people who aren't fat nonetheless become diabetic. The reason may be genetic.


Italian scientists who conducted the Verona Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes Study have found that type 2 diabetics who have high blood sugar levels but who aren't overweight often have abnormalities in a gene called TCF7L2. When this gene does not function correctly, the beta cells may stop producing enough insulin but fat, muscle, and liver still respond to insulin properly. Usually type 2 diabetics develop insulin resistance and then their insulin-producing cells "burn out." When the problem is genetic, and with this gene, then diabetes comes without the years of insulin resistance and weight gain first.

This also means that if you are thin and diabetic, taking chromium won't help you. Chromium improves insulin resistance, and that's not your problem. This means that if you are thin and diabetic, exercise won't help you specifically help you with diabetes, load-bearing exercise will help you in a very different way. If you are insulin resistant, exercise reduces insulin resistance. If you are not insulin resistant, load-bearing exercise at least helps clear out excess blood sugars in the post-exercise period.

But if you are thin and diabetic, you just may be able to deal with your high blood sugar levels with injected insulin. That's actually easier than dieting and exercise, and maybe for you, insulin will take care of diabetes without making you gain weight. Otherwise, you need to be very, very careful with your diet.

Selected Reference:

Bonetti S, Trombetta M, Malerba G, Boselli L, Trabetti E, Muggeo M, Stoico V, Negri C, Pignatti PF, Bonora E, Bonadonna RC. Variants and Haplotypes of TCF7L2 Are Associated with {beta}-Cell Function in Patients with Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes: The Verona Newly Diagnosed Type 2 Diabetes Study (VNDS) 1. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Dec 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Now the Scientists Tell Us Teens Don't Need to Exercise

Scientists are telling us that exercise in childhood does not prevent diabetes in teens. But the data are skewed.


From the journal Diabetes Care, published by the American Diabetes Association, comes a new article entitled "Do Physical Activity and Aerobic Fitness Moderate the Association Between Birth Weight and Metabolic Risk in Youth?" UK-based scientists had 1,254 children aged 9 to 15 fitted with hip bands to measure motion 10 hours a day for 3 days. No connection was found between measurements of vigorous exercise and waistline, insulin resistance, or weight.

Well, of course not. Put an uncomfortable belt on kids, don't expect them to go out and play. And is 10 hours a day for three days really much of a measure of how active kids are, or not? It's no surprise that this study did not find that exercise prevented weight gain or diabetes. And it's no surprise that a study that defies common sense is the study that gets published--even if there are serious questions about the research design.


Don't believe everything you read. Teens with type 2 diabetes really do need to exercise. More than adults, teens can benefit from exercise, because their muscles have so much ability to bounce back from heavy exercise.

Every time you work a muscle so hard that it has to rebuild tissue and make itself stronger, there is a two-hour period in which the muscle is 50 times more sensitive to insulin. It soaks in sugar so it can also absorb the water and amino acids it need to bulk out muscle. 

Neither teens nor adults should work the same muscle hard every day, but every other day is enough to give muscle a chance to bulk up instead of break down. And there's no better activity for teens with type 2.


Reference:

Ridgway CL, Brage S, Anderssen SA, Sardinha LB, Andersen LB, Ekelund U. Do physical activity and aerobic fitness moderate the association between birth weight and metabolic risk in youth?: the European Youth Heart Study. Diabetes Care. 2011 Jan;34(1):187-92. Epub 2010 Oct 4.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Birch Bark Beats Insulin Resistance?

In herbal medicine, birch bark is the native American therapy for poison ivy, poison oak, and mosquito bites. The chemical betulin, which comprises about 30% of the total weight of birch bark, is a well-known topical inflammatory. A recent research study in China, however, has found that preparations of the bark this common tree of northern China, southern Siberia, Canada, and the northern United States can also be taken internally to fight type 2 diabetes.


Dr. Biao Liang-Sang and colleagues at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences report that betulin acts as a by targeting so-called sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs). These proteins activate the physiological processes that create cholesterol and triglycerides. Using laboratory mice, they found that including the birch extract in the diet lowered cholesterol even more effectively than lovastatin (Mevacor), which an additional, highly desirable effect. Betulin also reduced insulin resistance.

This is a preliminary proof that betulin might be very useful for type 2 diabetics. It might replace statin drugs, while reducing the need for diabetes drugs or insulin. It's premature to abandon any drugs you are taking now, but you might ask your doctor about adding a cup of birch bark tea to your daily diabetes routine just to see what kinds of results you get. The science suggests that the diabetics who would benefit the most are those who are on relatively high-fat (Atkins-style) diets.

Birch bark has an excellent safety profile. There are not any reports in the medical literature finding that it can be toxic. Just be sure, as we so often suggest, to test, test, and test some more to know exactly how the herb affects your blood sugar levels.

Source:

Tang JJ, Li JG, Qi W, Qiu WW, Li PS, Li BL, Song BL. Inhibition of SREBP by a small molecule, betulin, improves hyperlipidemia and insulin resistance and reduces atherosclerotic plaques.
Cell Metab. 2011 Jan 5;13(1):44-56.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Your Arteries and Insulin Resistance

We spend a lot of time on this blog discussing insulin resistance. It's important for cardiovascular health.

Illness, injury, toxic exposure, or genetics, or some combination of all four, change cells so they protect themselves from sugar by turning off receptor sites for insulin. Usually we talk about insulin resistance in the liver, or in fat cells, or in the muscles, but it turns out our arteries can become insulin resistant, too. When arteries become insulin resistant, they tend to accumulate hardened cholesterol deposits that raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attacks.

In type 2 diabetes, at least in the early stages, the pancreas produces more and more insulin to try to compensate for insulin resistance and keep blood sugar levels normal, and the process usually works. Eventually, however, blood sugar levels go higher and higher despite the extra insulin, and full-fledged type 2 sets in. At the end of this process, arteries tend to get "clogged" with cholesterol. But until recently scientists didn't know whether it was the extra insulin or the high blood sugars that cause artery problems.

It turns out it is high blood sugar levels, not high insulin levels. When blood sugar levels go higher and higher, the arteries also have to protect themselves from absorbing so much sugar they would "flame out" on a molecular level. They do this by shutting off the docking portals on the outside of the cell that would otherwise respond to insulin. But when the cells in the lining of the arteries stop responding to insulin, they also don't activate the protective mechanisms that keep cholesterol soft and safe. Instead cholesterol becomes hard and dangerous to cardiovascular health.

What's the significance of this recent research? There are several things diabetics need to know.

1. If you keep your blood sugar levels normal, you keep your arteries healthy.
2. If you need to use insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal, you won't be harming your cardiovascular health.
3. If you don't keep your blood sugar levels normal by diet, exercise, pills, or insulin, you will be harming your cardiovascular health.

It's not all about total cholesterol. Your cardiovascular health is also about what happens to the cholesterol. Doing whatever you have to do to keep your blood sugar levels from soaring will keep your heart and arteries safer. You have to diet, however, to do all of this without gaining weight. And if you take blood pressure medication, your doctor needs to know that beta-blockers increase insulin resistance (and cholesterol damage) to the arteries, while other blood pressure medications do not.

Sources:

Kveiborg B, Hermann TS, Major-Pedersen A, Christiansen B, Rask-Madsen C, Raunsø J, Køber L, Torp-Pedersen C, Dominguez H.Metoprolol compared to carvedilol deteriorates insulin-stimulated endothelial function in patients with type 2 diabetes - a randomized study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2010 May 25;9:21.

Rask-Madsen C, Li Q, Freund B, Feather D, Abramov R, Wu IH, Chen K, Yamamoto-Hiraoka J, Goldenbogen J, Sotiropoulos KB, Clermont A, Geraldes P, Dall'Osso C, Wagers AJ, Huang PL, Rekhter M, Scalia R, Kahn CR, King GL. Loss of insulin signaling in vascular endothelial cells accelerates atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E null mice. Cell Metab. 2010 May 5;11(5):379-89.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fish Oil Works Swimmingly Well for Type 2 Diabetes

Even the most natural products-averse diabetes doctors often tell their patients who have type 2 diabetes to take fish oil. There is no doubt that taking fish oil can lower your triglycerides. But the big news is what fish oil can do for belly fat.


A significant part of the fat around your midriff really isn't fat at all. Up to a third of "belly fat" may actually be white blood cells, specifically the extra-large white blood cells known as macrophages.

Ordinarily macrophages circulate through the bloodstream to clean up dead cells and dead infectious microorganisms. The name macrophage literally means "big eater," and these super-sized infection fighters expand to engulf whole cells. They burn cholesterol for their energy, feeding on cholesterol deposits in the linings of blood vessels.

When macrophages travel into the tiny capillaries in your belly fat, however, they tend to get stuck. When they eventually die, other macrophages travel into your belly fat and get stuck, too. The next result is you have an ever-expanding mass of fat and white blood cells around your waist, and the fat cells can't (1) send signals to the brain to tell it they are full and you don't need to eat, so you eat too much and (2) take their fair share of sugar out of the bloodstream, so your blood sugar levels tend to stay too high.

Enter fish oil into the picture. Fish oil is a great source of two omega-3 essential fatty acids known as DHA and EPA. (Vegans will be happy to know that microalgae also provides these specific fatty acids.) These two fatty acids have a special effect on the macrophages that get trapped in belly fat. The fish oil fats turn on a gene called GRP120 that turns off the production of inflammatory chemicals. This isn't enough to dislodge the white blood cells that are making the bulge at your belly, but at least it will stop them from making belly fat inflamed with water weight.

Like so many other natural products, you don't have to take the maximum dose of fish oil (or encapsulated essential fatty acids from microalgae) to get the maximum benefit. In fact, the 15 to 45 grams some experts--who happen to own fish oil companies--recommend is way too much. Probably you can get all all the benefits you need from 2 or 3 capsules taken 2 or 3 times a day. Ask your doctor if this is a good idea first if you take prescription blood thinners, and stop if you experience stomach upset or, in rare instances, fishy breath.

One additional benefit of fish oil is reducing insulin resistance. If you stop inflammation in your belly fat, then as the tiny blood vessels clear and your belly fat becomes more accessible to insulin, it will be easier to avoid gaining more weight while you keep your blood sugar levels healthy in the future.

Selected Source:

Oh da Y, Talukdar S, Bae EJ, Imamura T, Morinaga H, Fan W, Li P, Lu WJ, Watkins SM, Olefsky JM.GPR120 is an omega-3 fatty acid receptor mediating potent anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing effects. Cell. 2010 Sep 3;142(5):687-98.

Read about a list of foods to lower cholesterol.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Grapefruit Diet for Diabetics?

Do you remember the grapefruit fad? Maybe you are not old enough to recall the time when losing weight by eating grapefruit at every meal was in all the tabloids (alongside the martinis and cream and tuna fish diets), but in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's, grapefruit was the fad diet equivalent of today's cabbage soup diet.

But it turns out there really was something to it. Six researchers at the Shriners Burn Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, working with researchers at Harvard and Hebrew University, have found that the chemical that makes grapefruit bitter changes how fat cells use and store fat.


The chemical that has the effect on fat cells is known as naringenin. There has already been a clinical study that found that people who take a concentrated naringenin supplement experience significant lowering of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. This research team decided to see if the effects in the liver, where cholesterol is made, also occurred in fat cells.

What the scientists found was that the grapefruit chemical stimulated the genes that make the enzymes that burn fat and cholesterol. At the same time, naringenin stimulated the PPAR-alpha gene that triggers the burning of fat when we aren't eating, and the PPAR-gamma gene that makes cells more sensitive to insulin and lowers blood sugar levels.

The drugs Actos and Avandia stimulate PPAR-gamma, but they don't stimulate PPAR-alpha. They in effect lower blood sugar levels by shoving the sugar into fat cells. The chemical from grapefruit, on the other hand, lowers blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity, but it also activates fat burning genes in fat cells. The researchers said that eating grapefruit would have many of the benefits associated with long-term fasting, without the need for long-term fasting.

And because naringenin focuses its effects on the liver, there was a very special benefit for people who have diabetes and also hepatitis B or hepatitis C. The hepatitis viruses need fatty acids in liver cells to function. Grapefruit triggers the breakdown of these fats so the viruses can't get them.

So, should you run out and get jug of grapefruit juice and start chugging it down?

First of all, if you are on many prescription medications, you need to know that grapefruit juice slows down the rate at which the liver recycles them. Ask your pharmacist if it's safe to drink grapefruit juice if you take any prescription drug.

And, secondly, it's important to remember that grapefruit juice also can elevate your blood sugar levels. This undoes the benefits of increasing insulin sensitivity. Try drinking grapefruit juice instead of, rather than in addition to, other carbohydrates in your daily diet.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Coffee and Orange Juice for Breakfast: Safe for Diabetics?

A recent clinical study found that coffee, both regular and decaf, lowers blood sugar levels two hours after breakfast. It's not a good idea to add a lot of cream and sugar, but a small glass of orange juice make actually protect your blood vessels.


Researchers at the University of Toronto set out to explain why coffee seems to protect against the development of type 2 diabetes. Earlier studies had looked at blood sugar levels and found that drinking coffee seems to lower them, but they did not explain why. The Canadian researchers designed a study that would measure not just blood sugar levels but also levels of insulin and the storage form of insulin, pro-insulin. Here's what they found out when they gave coffee to 954 participants in the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study:

1. Drinking caffeinated coffee with breakfast resulted in lower blood glucose levels 2 hours later.
2. Drinking decaf coffee with breakfast resulted in blood glucose levels 2 hours later.
3. Drinking either kind of coffee also resulted in lower proinsulin levels 2 hours after the meal.

Proinsulin is a storage form of insulin. The pancreas makes proinsulin and seals it into tiny packets that have to be "unzipped" to release the active form of insulin. In the early stages of type 2 diabetes, often the problem is that the pancreas can't "unzip" enough of these storage packets fast enough to keep blood sugar levels low. Naturally occurring chemicals in coffee other than caffeine help the pancreas keep up the the sugars released from the digestion of the meal.

This means that coffee can help type 2's control their blood sugar levels. Insulin-dependent diabetics, however, don't enjoy the same benefit, because their bodies don't make enough insulin.

It's important, however, not to drink too much coffee with cream. Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that sugar and cream increase markers of of inflammation including nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) binding, and the expression of SOCS3, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and interleukin (IL)-1beta. When concentrations of these inflammatory chemicals go up, blood vessels get tight, raising blood pressure and temporarily (for up to 8 hours) increasing the risk of heart attack. The amount of cream and sugar that "significantly" increased markers of inflammation corresponded to about 300 calories. This is less than many coffee drinks at Starbucks and similar establishments, but more than a typical coffee with 1 cream and 2 sugars drunk by many with breakfast.

And what about orange juice? It is not necessary to make fresh orange juice you squeeze yourself, but diabetics need to remember that orange juice contains carbohydrates, and it's never a good idea to drink a big glass of juice. A small glass of juice, however, provides antioxidants that reduce inflammation in belly fat and very slightly reduce the coating of red blood cells that is measured with HbA1C.

Sources:

Deopurkar R, Ghanim H, Friedman J, Abuaysheh S, Sia CL, Mohanty P, Viswanathan P, Chaudhuri A, Dandona P. Differential effects of cream, glucose, and orange juice on inflammation, endotoxin, and the expression of Toll-like receptor-4 and suppressor of cytokine signaling-3.
Diabetes Care. 2010 May;33(5):991-7. Epub 2010 Jan 12.

Loopstra-Masters RC, Liese AD, Haffner SM, Wagenknecht LE, Hanley AJ.Associations between the intake of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and measures of insulin sensitivity and beta cell function.Diabetologia. 2010 Nov 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Ramful D, Tarnus E, Rondeau P, Robert Da Silva C, Bahorun T, Bourdon E.Citrus Fruit Extracts Reduce Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs)- and H(2)O(2)-Induced Oxidative Stress in Human Adipocytes. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Sep 30. [Epub ahead of print]

A Reader Asks: Why Do Always Feel Hot Since I Got Type 2 Diabetes?

This morning one of our readers, a man, asked why he felt like he had hot flashes 24/7 since he developed type 2 diabetes. Here are some possibilities to check out with your doctor.


1. If you have "hot flashes" with heartburn or sluggish digestion, the problem may actually be diabetic neuropathy affecting the vagus nerve. This is the nerve that regulates both heart beat and the speed of digestion. This would the first thing we'd ask about in women who are not menopausal and men who have diabetes and this symptom.

2. Another possibility is that your kidneys are working overtime to keep your acids and bases in balance. Try eating less meat, and avoiding diet soft drinks (which are acidifying).

3. If you have been taking fish oil, try taking less. Sometimes this symptom is caused by excessive vitamin A absorption. It can also be caused by excessive consumption of butter, cream, and high-fat cheeses.

There are also several serious conditions that display this symptom, including carcinoid cancer, T-cell lymphoma, and others. These are not medical emergencies, and they are not very likely diagnoses. Just be sure to mention your hot flashes when you see your doctor.

What You Can Do to Prevent Type 3 Diabetes

Chances are that you have heard of type 1 diabetes, the kind of diabetes that usually strikes children and young adults. This is the kind of diabetes that absolutely requires the injection of insulin for survival. And if you read this blog, you certainly know about type 2 diabetes. This is the kind of diabetes that usually follows a process of insulin resistance and weight gain in mid-life. It does not necessarily require insulin for control.

Most of our readers have not, however, heard very much about type 3 diabetes. This disease is a condition of extreme insulin deprivation and sugar damage that is localized to the brain itself, and that can cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer's disease. Fortunately, it may be preventable.


In fact, some scientists even believe that Alzheimer's disease really is a kind of "diabetes of the brain." The unusual thing about type 3 diabetes is, however, that unlike Alzheimer's, it seems to come and go, and it can strike at very early age. Even children and teens can suffer mental impairment related to insulin sensitivity in the brain.

In "diabetes of the brain," two symptoms are particularly noticeable:

1. Both men and women with this condition have trouble remembering words.
2. Women who have this condition, more than men who have this condition, become insensitive to cues for negative emotions. They essentially become "sweeter" in the face of stress, although sometimes unnaturally so.

There are a lot of things type 3 diabetes is not. It not caused by poor circulation. It is not caused by a shortage of antioxidants or vitamins. It is not caused by heavy metals or environmental toxins. It is not something you can fix by doing crossword puzzles or by having lots of friends or getting lots of exercise. And although it is associated with a shortage of insulin in the brain, it is not a condition that taking lots of insulin can treat. The explanation is a little hard to follow, but here are the basics.

1. The brain needs insulin to activate the neurons that control long term memories. It also needs insulin to stay "plastic," capable of finding new pathways to access old information when something goes wrong with an individual neuron.
2. In type 2 diabetes, the rest of the body become insulin resistant, and more and more insulin is needed outside the brain to keep blood sugar levels normal. This extra insulin keeps the brain going, too, but at a cost, which is:
3. High insulin levels cause tangles of protein to form in the brain, especially in the temporal lobe.

Just as too little insulin keeps the brain from getting the sugar it needs to run and repair itself, too much insulin causes changes in the structure of the brain that are similar to Alzheimer's. In type 3 diabetes, however, the brain can still find alternate pathways to recover memories and to respond to emotions, although this may be by fits and starts, sputtering thoughts instead of smooth thoughts.

So what does all this have to do with what you can do to prevent type 3 diabetes? To maintain your brain health, you have to do two things, not just one:

1. Keep blood sugar levels normal, but
2. Keep insulin levels normal, too.

If you are not taking insulin for your diabetes, this means you need to fight insulin resistance even if you are managing to keep your blood sugar levels in check. You need to achieve normal weight. You need to eat smaller meals that don't stress your pancreas. You also need to avoid steroid medications, infections, and stress as much as you can, because all of these also increase insulin resistance. If you have insulin resistance, you may have good blood sugar levels, but the high insulin levels may damage your brain.

If you are taking insulin for your diabetes, then you need to be very sure that you are not using insulin to "cover" for big meals or sugary desserts. It's easy just to take a few units more (or a lot of units more) to keep your blood sugar levels down, but every time you do this, you risk damage to your brain. If you are taking more than 100 units of insulin a day (and you weigh less than 100 kilos/220 pounds), then you really need to make improving insulin resistance a high priority.

Type 3 diabetes doesn't have to take away your memory and emotional response. You probably can avoid this phenomenon entirely if you just keep your blood sugar levels in check by diet. And if you do use insulin, don't use insulin as a way to eat lots of food and desserts. Use insulin to help your diet efforts, not to replace them.

Does Cinnamon for Weight Loss Really Work?

One of the bolder claims for cinnamon made by natural products manufacturers and enthusiasts is that in addition to helping lower blood sugar levels, cinnamon can also help you lose weight. While the claim isn't entirely false, there is a lot of important detail left out in the more sensational articles on the topic.



There are at least four kinds of cinnamon. They come different species of the plant, and they look, taste, and smell different. They also have different effects on the body.

The cinnamon used to make apple pie is a red, zesty, aromatic spice taken from the plant Cinnamomum verum.  It can help slow down the passage of food through your digestive tract. This helps you lower your blood sugars if you are eating carbohydrate, but not if you are on a very low-carb0hydrate, Atkins-style diet.


The cinnamon you get in over the counter capsules to lower your blood sugar is a gray, dull, not particularly aromatic spice taken from the plant Cinnamomum cassia. This is not the cinnamon used in apple pie and cinnamon rolls. It's used in curry powder. Like the afore-mentioned form of cinnamon, Cinnamomum cassia has greatest effect for type 2 diabetics who (1) eat a relatively high-carb diet (possibly because they cannot afford protein foods) and (2) do not use other medications. For some type 2's, this kind of cinnamonmakes a big different in blood sugar control.


Recently, natural healths news reporters have been making claims that eating apple pie can lower your blood sugars. It can't. However, putting cinnamon in the pie might slow down the rise in blood sugars caused by eating all the sugar and flour.  The Dr. Anderson who did the experiments cited in these reports used another form of cinnamon Cinnamomum burmannii. There actually are apple pies made with this third kind of cinnamon, but it's the "cheap stuff," not the "good stuff." When it is heated, it can form some compounds that work similarly to insulin, but not so well that apple pie will lower your blood sugars or help you lose weight.


The research that found that when mice consume cinnamon, they lose weight, involves yet another form of the spice, Cinnamomum parthenoxylum, also known as saffrole laurel. There's no solid evidence that this fourth species of cinnamon helps humans lose weight. You aren't likely to get this form of cinnamon legally in the USA, since it contains large quantities of saffrole, which can be used in illicit drug labs to make MDMA, also known as Ecstasy (and you really should not try to order it, since the Drug Enforcement Administration would get a copy of your order).


Moreover, the mice that lost weight when given this herb were fed 100, 200, or 300 mg per kilogram of body weight. For a 100 kilogram (220 pound) human being, the equivalent dosage would be 10 grams, 20 grams, or 30 grams, or 1/3, 2/3, or a full ounce of cinnamon every day. That's more cinnamon than comes in a typical jar of cinnamon, and far more than enough than would give you serious heartburn and indigestion. Of course, if your stomach is always upset, you do lose weight, so this strategy might actually work. We just don't recommend it!


It's a lot better to Stay on Your Diabetes Diet. Please see our book for details.


Selected Reference:Jia Q, Liu X, Wu X, Wang R, Hu X, Li Y, Huang C.  Hypoglycemic activity of a polyphenolic oligomer-rich extract of Cinnamomum parthenoxylon bark in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Phytomedicine. 2009 Aug;16(8):744-50. Epub 2009 May 22.






Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stocking the Pantry When You Have Diabetes

We Diabetes Detectives have a strong preference for fresh, organic, made from scratch food. If we had our way, every diabetic meal would contain "nothing from a tin or a packet," and the simple fact is, it is a lot easier to control your appetite when you eat water-filled, mouthwatering foods.

That being said, the simple reality is not every meal can be plucked out of your backyard garden or bought at your local farmer's market and made from scratch at home. You might be snowed in. You might be flooded in. You might be running short of time or money. Especially since type 2 diabetics tend to be people who have real-life food insecurities, we advocate keeping a stock of food for emergencies of various kinds in your home.
The two important considerations are avoiding a chemical called BPA, and avoiding an excess of carbohydrates.

Why type 2 diabetics need to avoid BPA. BPA, or bisphenol-A, is a nearly universal contaminant of processed food. An important chemical in making shatter-proof plastics and flame-retardant fabrics, BPA is also used in the epoxy "glue" used to seal cans and in the plastics used for most food and beverage containers. The epidemic of type 2 diabetes has been following the introduction of plastic food containers around the world.

BPA disrupts the dopamine system in the brain so that eating food is more pleasurable, especially eats foods high in sugar, fat, and salt. It also makes the body less sensitive to insulin, contributing the problem of insulin resistance. It's more important for children to get foods that are free from BPA, but even if you are a diabetic senior citizen, chances are there are long-term benefits for you in eating foods that are as organic as possible, especially since you have been exposed to so much of it.

How to avoid BPA. Chances are you have been exposed to BPA for many years. It's everywhere. When Vital Foods switched to BPA-containers for tuna fish, for example, they found traces of the chemical came off their workers' gloves. Big food companies like Progresso, the American Soup Makers, and Heinz, the famous makers of ketchup, have experimented with BPA-free containers but won't tell us which products are put in them! In North America, only Eden Foods has switched to chemical-free containers.

So how can you avoid this chemical cause of diabetes?

1. Whenever possible, buy and store food in glass containers. This is especially important for acidic foods, such as orange juice and tomatoes.
2. When you have to buy food that is stored in cans and plastic jars, avoid exposing them to high heat or sunlight.
3. And be sure to take food out of any plastic container before you heat it in the microwave. If you have been steaming vegetables in the bag in which you buy them, just place them in a covered glass container with a tablespoon (15 ml) of water.

Vegetables stored ahead. If you find yourself having to eat from your pantry, you still need your 5 to 9 servings of vegetables a day. The most efficient way to store vegetables for emergency use is to dry them yourself or to buy them dried. Dehydrated vegetables, if they are dried at low heat, not only retain their vitamin and antioxidant content, they concentrate it. Veggie chips and dried fruit contain 10 to 50 times as many vitamins and antioxidants as the fresh version, and they also balance the "acidity" generated by eating high-protein foods.

For their versatility in recipes, many home cooks make a point of having lots of tomatoes on hand. Try to buy jarred tomato sauce or dried tomatoes packed in oil. And for canned veg, make sure the cans are at least stored in a cool, dark place. Have a variety of colors of vegetables on hand, dried, canned, or frozen. Don't forget pickles for flavor. Frozen veggies, as long as you don't cook them in their plastic containers, are relatively safe.

And don't forget, it's possible to can your own foods! ("Canning" involves putting heated food in a sterile glass jar and then sealing the food air-tight in the jar, which happens when the food, jar, and lid, are heated and cooled.) You need to be sure to process them properly (hot water bath or pressure cooker, a tight seal over the product that causes a "pop" while your jars are cooling), but Ball lids, the kind used in North America and much of the rest of the world, are BHA-free.

What about carb foods? Diabetics tend to get an overdose of carbohydrate from emergency or budget-stretching rations. Foods like dried beans and dried whole grains stored in glass jars are safest, and, after the purchase of the glass container, cheapest for your larder. Low-carb Wasa crispbread is tasty and long-lasting, and carbs stored in unsealed, metal cans, such as steel cut oats and crackers, are a great source of emergency food. If you eat rice, consider adding red, black, blue, or wild rice to your stores to add color, flavor, and antioxidants.

We don't recommend you stockpile sugar. We do recommend that you have a small amount of honey on hand, since it has many applications other than just as a sweetener, and we also recommend that you have several tubes of glucose tablets or gels on hand to deal with hypoglycemia. Dried fruit is good source of both quick carbohydrate, which type 2 diabetics sometimes need, and antioxidants.

Protein foods you can store ahead. If you eat meat, frozen meats are fine if you have reliable refrigeration. Dried meat and fish are also a safe option, although it's important to remember that any dried animal product will be loaded with salt. Don't overeat!  Try to think beyond the tuna can when choosing your protein foods to stock ahead.

And don't forget the condiments. A variety of condiments and seasonings makes eating from your pantry much more palatable. In addition to olive, sesame, and almond oils, we recommend you have a full complement of herbs and spices as well as mustard, capers, cocoa powder, herbal teas, stevia, ketchup, Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and nuts.

Protein foods you can store ahead. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ten Diabetes Breakthroughs in 2010

Dozens of scientific breakthroughs in the treatment of type 2 diabetes were made in 2010, but only a few made the headlines. In this article we'll catch up on some of the more interesting and immediately applicable scientific findings that may help type 2 diabetics soon.

1. Belly fat inflammation can be fought with a combination of resveratrol and quercetin. These two antioxidants are abundant in red wine, but a vastly better source of resveratrol is Chinese knotweed, used to make the over the counter product Longevinex, and a far better source of quercetin is grapefruit juice. (If you take prescription medications, including the Pill, check with your pharmacy before intentionally drinking more grapefruit juice.) Test tube tests of fat cells incubated with these two antioxidants found that they make far fewer inflammatory hormones that trap fluid and impede circulation.

2. The mystery of why some people who eat a high-fat diet develop diabetes and others don't may be explained in terms of immune power--only it's an excess of immune power that leads to type 2 diabetes. High-fat diet leads to activation of the immune system's T cells, and it's the T cells that cause tissues to shut down their portals for insulin. If the immune system is a little less active, then the insulin resistance than causes type 2 diabetes does not occur. The best thing for type 2's to do with this information? Eat a lower-fat diet! But be careful about stimulating your immune system unless you are trying to fight a specific infection.

3. A plant chemical called abscisic acid lowers blood sugar levels by acting on the same genes that are activated by Actos and Avandia, but without weight gain or devastating side effects, say researchers at Virginia Tech reporting their findings in the November 2010 edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. In plants, abscisic acid shuts down water loss and tender growth during growth or frost. In humans, abscisic acid turns on the mechanisms that store sugar in cells. The chemical is found in thale cress, also known as mouse-ear cress, which is been extensively studied for safety and agricultural development.

4. University of North Carolina scientists tell us that a combination of the slow-acting insulin Lantus (which is only available with a prescription and which costs about $120 a vial in the US) and Byetta (exenatide, also available by prescription only for about $250 a month) is the "best combination ever" for controlling blood sugar levels while losing weight. In a multi-center study, researchers found taking insulin alone lowered blood sugar levels with about 2 pounds/1 kilo of weight gain per month, but adding Byetta to insulin resulted in 4 pounds/2 kilos weight loss. Our suggestion: Eat less! It's a lot less expensive, and you won't have the side effects of nausea, heartburn, or gas that often come with Byetta.

5. Type 2 diabetics who also take diuretics for high blood pressure (especially Lasix, also known as furosemide) are at special risk for hearing loss. The solution, according to Nigerian physician Akeem Olawale Lasis, may be very simple: Take a folic acid supplement. This B vitamin is removed into the urine by the diuretic, and effects of taking a B vitamin supplement (which costs only pennies) on hearing and sight may be almost immediate. However, if you take the diuretic, you need to take the B vitamin supplement regularly or the benefits do not last.

6. Scientists at the University of Leicester in the UK have found another piece of the puzzle of how diabetes develops by explaining the action of M3-muscarinic receptors. These proteins have to be activated for the pancreas to release insulin. Slow activation of these receptors may be the reason type 2 diabetes are only able to get their blood sugar levels back down to normal slowly after eating a meal.

7. "Ab busters," the vibrating devices advertised to help you lose belly fat without exercise by shocking or shaking your abdomen, may be on the right track, according to Dr. Amit Geffen of Tel Aviv University. The question is whether the mechanical stress is too light to have any effect or so strong it causes inflammation. Dr. Geffen's team is performing experiments to find the right setting for "belly fat belts" that really work. Your own ab buster, however, may work for you.

8. White bread that lowers both your blood sugar levels and insulin production? That is what Dr. Suzanne Hendrich of Iowa State University says it possible with a new kind of fiber that is chemically bound to the fatty acid found in palm oil. The objective of Dr. Hendrich and dozens of other fiber researchers is to find a way to make healthy fiber taste good and feel good as it goes down. Reporting her research team's findings in the journal Cereal Chemistry, Hendrich says that blood sugar levels after eating her high-fiber white bread were 55% lower than in volunteers eating the same amount of carb without the fiber.

9. A team of researchers at Université Laval’s Faculty of Pharmacy have found that use of large amounts of the over the counter arthritis treatment glucosamine can damage insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The recommended dose of 1,500 mg a day does not have this effect, but boosting glucosamine dosage to 7,500 to 15,000 mg a day (which many people do to try to stop joint pain) may lead to type 2 diabetes.

10. Finally, Dr. Wei-Wen Kuo and colleagues report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that garlic oil may help protect type 2 diabetics from the devastating form of heart damage known as cardiomyopathy. Dr. Kuo notes that there are over 20 substances in garlic oil that help protect the heart.