Friday, February 18, 2011

My Aspirin Experiment

I tend to fall into what my endocrinologist once called "the worst case of insulin resistance he had ever seen." For me, managing diabetes is a constant struggle.

But I may have stumbled across something that is my personal wonder drug.
I recently came across a study mentioning that people who had both arthritis and diabetes who went on high-dose aspirin sometimes reversed diabetes essentially overnight. So I thought, what the heck, what would happen if I tried lower-dose aspirin, two adult aspirins?

Ah.

For me, reversal of insulin resistance, overnight.

This isn't medical advice. There may be lots of reasons you should not take aspirin. I don't tell anyone to disregard what their doctors tell them. But aspirin sure seems to be working for me. I'll let you know how my experiment progresses.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is Spinach the New Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes?

When I was a kid, which was a long time ago, I loved to watch black and white cartoons of Popeye the Sailor. Whenever Popeye was faced with a desperate situation, he'd pull out a can of spinach, pop it open with his remaining strength, and then he'd find his superpowers to win the day. "I'm strong to the finich (finish) 'cause I eat my spinach," he'd sing just before "The End" flashed on the screen and the credits would start to roll.

Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm haven't found that spinach gives diabetics superpowers, but
they have found that the nitrates in spinach help cells function better under conditions of oxygen deprivation. Feeding volunteers 200 to 300 grams of spinach a day (that's about 1/2 to 2/3 pound, and its a lot) decreased oxygen needs during exercise.

And the significance to diabetics is that when cells burn sugar under low-oxygen conditions, they burn up to 35 times more. At least for a short time.

As you'll read on this site over and over again, test it out. See if eating more spinach helps you lower your blood sugars. And do let us know if you develop superpowers.

Source:

Dietary inorganic nitrate improves mitochondrial efficiency in humans, Filip J Larsen, Tomas A Schiffer, Sara Borniquel, Cell Metabolism, 2 February 2011.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Is It Possible to Heal High Blood Pressure by Fasting?

A reader asks, "Is healing high blood pressure by fasting possible?"

And my answer is, it depends.
In the short term, completely avoiding the stress of arteries induced by a "dump" of fatty acids and glucose about 2 hours after eating a high-fat meal will improve endothelial (artery lining) function. And if you do a juice fast, the potassium from fruits and vegetables will improve your blood pressure, your heart rate, and even your complexion, in three or four days.

The problem is, most people cannot fast more than three or four days, and some people cannot fast at all. But there is another approach that also helps.

Sometimes high blood pressure caused by stress improves if you just manage to get about 14 hours between your last meal of one day and your first meal of the next, and preferably 18 hours. It doesn't make a lot of difference if you "load up" when you do eat, as long as you aren't loading up on foods that are high-fat or high-sodium.

When scientists tested intermittent fasting with human volunteers, they found:

Long-term calorie restriction reduces body fat. Intermittent fasting also reduces body fat.

Long-term calorie restriction lowers body temperature (slowing down the process of oxidation). Intermittent fasting also lowers body temperature.

Long-term calorie restriction lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate. Intermittent also fasting lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate.

Long-term calorie restriction lowers blood insulin levels. Intermittent fasting also lowers blood insulin levels.

Long-term calorie restriction increases HDL (the “good” cholesterol). Intermittent fasting also increases HDL.

Long-term calorie restriction decreases homocysteine. Intermittent fasting also decreases homocysteine.

So my recommendation would be, if you are going to fast, fast every day, but for no more than 18 hours. You and your family can live with your diet, and it may do your heart a great deal of good.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Reader Asks About Intimate Dryness and Type 2 Diabetes

A reader asks about what to do about vaginal yeast infections and dryness that seems to be worse when blood sugar levels are out of control. Of course, it's best to control blood sugar levels, but it's also helpful to deal with the yeast infection.


Vaginal dryness after menopause is caused by a lack of estrogen. Estrogen stimulates the growth of epithelial cells that protect the vagina, and in the absence of estrogen, they simply do not grow fast enough to completely cover the vagina before they die, dry off, and flake.

And in women who consume a relatively high-protein diet, especially if they eat lots of red meat, smoked fish, and aged cheese, the pH of the vagina can increase as well. When the pH of the vagina rises, cells in the lining of the vagina are less able to store energy in the form of glycogen, and they "lose their grip" on the protective yeasts such as Lactobacillus that defend against the detrimental yeasts such as Candida.

The simplest and most straightforward natural solution to drying of the vagina after menopause is to replace the missing Lactobacilli. The beneficial bacteria have to be replaced directly by placement in the vagina. They can come from live yogurt cultures or a vaginal suppository, used once or twice a day for at least two weeks.

Once Lactobacilli are reestablished in the vagina, they produce lactic acid, peroxides, and other antibacterial agents that get rid of the harmful microbes. They use glucose and deprive infectious yeasts of nutrients. At least one clinical study found that Lactobacilli were as infective as prescription antifungals in controlling postmenopausal yeast infections.

What else establishes health in the vagina? Regular consumption of small amounts of fermented soy products, such as miso and tempeh, also helps. You don't have to go all out with soy. About half an ounce a day provides all the soy isoflavones your body can actually use to stimulate cell growth in the lining of the vagina. And it's also helpful to remember:


Douches increase rather than decrease risk of infection after menopause.


Cotton panties encourage air circulation and encourage growth of helpful Lactobacillus while retarding growth of harmful Trichomonas.


Progesterone plus dioscorea relieves inflammation, but be forewarned, the progesterone content of natural products can vary widely.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What to Do About Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are an all-too-common comorbidity of type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, there is a lot diabetics and others can do to keep them in check.
Here is a reprint on an article I wrote in 2003.

Sometimes writers who are kind enough to address us in English even though it is not their first language don't quite hit their mark. An ad promoting a part of Tuscany as "The Delicious Italy," for instance, read, "Fine restaurants of Gubbio use all the fruits of the forest to make the very best of the pasta around. Mushrooms as well as rabbit and other wild game make sure fine red wines and kidney stones are guaranteed."

And this "guarantee" of kidney stones, known in the medical literature as renal calculi, must have made the research of four Italian scientists named Cirillo, Laurenzi, Panarreli, and Stamler easier. These scientists at the University of Naples studied the diet of residents of Gubbio in relationship to risk of renal stones. They obtained urine samples from more than 3,000 residents of Gubbio, of whom 127 had a history of the condition. Urine samples were used to determine their sodium and potassium intakes.

Their findings? The Gubbioni who had the lowest levels of potassium and the highest levels of sodium in their urine had the highest rates ofstones. Residents in the highest quartile of sodium consumption were 3 to 9 times more likely to develop stones.

The relationship of dietary salt to kidney stones has also been studied in Texas. Scientists at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas found that a high salt diet increased the amount of sodium and calcium excreted into the urine, as well as making the urine much more alkaline. A high salt diet also decreased the excretion of citrate, leaving more citrate in the kidneys to form calcium citrate stones. Clearly, lowering salt is a good idea if you are prone to having this kidney problem.

What you can do about stones? The scientists at Southwestern Medical School studied diets that were unquestionably high in sodium-at least 5 grams a day over the amount of salt already in foods, equivalent to 1-2 tablespoons of added salt at every meal. Demonstrating reduced calcium excretion-less of the raw materials for making stones-required lowering the daily amount of sodium in the diet to 1,000 mg. I recommend that you consume no more than 1,500 mg a day, and that you consume nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day to obtain approximately 3,500 mg of potassium.

What you can expect. I can't guarantee that sodium restriction will protect you from future attacks. The evidence only suggests that attacks will be less frequent if you follow a low-sodium, high-potassium diet.

What foods may help prevent the formation of kidney stones? In the United States, women are more likely to develop stones if they have a history of high blood pressure, if they have not used calcium supplements, and if their diets are low in magnesium-rich foods such as beans, broccoli, nuts and seeds (especially peanuts), leafy greens, and soy.

Women whose sisters develop stones are more likely to develop kidney stones themselves if their urine is high in calcium and unusually alkaline. (Making urine more alkaline by using cranberry extract tablets is a risk factor for kidney stones in women.) Men are more likely to develop stones if they have uncontrolled high blood pressure. Men whose brothers have stones are more likely to develop stones as they grow older and if their urine potassium levels are low or their urine calcium levels are high. Children on extremely high-fat diets are at risk of stones unless they consume adequate amounts of fluid.

Vitamin B6 may reduce the risk of kidney calcifications in women. A study of 85,557 women by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women consuming the greatest amount of the vitamin had risk reduced by approximately one-third. A study of 45,251 men by the Harvard School of Public Health found that consuming vitamin B6 reduced risk of kidney stones by approximately 10 percent. Since vitamin B12 is possibly linked to increased risk of stones, it is best to use a B6 supplement rather than a complete B-vitamin.

Or better yet, eat foods that are rich in vitamin B6. These include avocados, bananas, barley, bok choy, brown rice, chicken, chickpeas, fresh pork, mangoes, rice, salmon, and turkey.

The simplest yet most essential task in preventing stones in the kidneys is drinking enough water. Adequate hydration helps ensure that the volume of urine will be enough to dissolve the minerals that can cause stones. Some other beverages are helpful. Survey data collected by the Harvard School of Public Health shows that consuming 1 cup (240 ml) of coffee daily (regular or decaffeinated) reduces the risk of calcificatons by 10 percent, the same amount of tea, 14 percent, beer, 21 percent, and wine, 39 percent. (The data do not show that drinking large quantities of any of these beverages eliminates the risk of stones). Juices tend to be harmful.

The same survey also found that drinking a cup of apple juice daily increased the risk developing kidney stones possibly by 75 percent and drinking a cup of grapefruit juice daily increased the risk of stones by as much as 85 percent. While using cranberry juice tablets increases the risk of stones in women, no study has found that cranberry juice itself increases the risk of kidney stones.

Since most stones are made of calcium, it would seem logical that reducing dietary calcium would reduce the risk of stones. Reducing consumption of calcium-rich foods does reduce the amount of calcium in the urine, but it increases the amount of the other component of most kidney stones, oxalate. Rather than reducing the risk of stones, a low-calcium diet nearly doubles the risk of recurrent kidney stones, at least in men. Even taking calcium supplements, in the form of calcium citrate, does not increase the risk of renal calculi.

Similarly, since most renal calculi contain oxalate, it would seem logical to limit consumption of foods that are high in oxalic acid, such as almonds, beet greens, bran, chocolate, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, and tea. No study, however, has found that restricting consumption of these foods increases the risk of kidney involvement and some studies have found that consumption of leafy greens, peanuts, and tea actually reduce the risk of stones. The vitamin K in green leafy vegetables may be one reason vegetarians have a lower incidence of kidney stones.

Consumption of animal protein is likewise an accepted risk factor for kidney stone disease, but clinical testing has found that only about one-third of people who get kidney stone complications are adversely affected by a high-protein diet. It seems sensible to avoid excessive consumption of meat, but severe protein restriction probably will not help.

Insomnia and Blood Sugar Control

A lot has been made of insomnia as a contributing factor to high blood sugar levels, but German researchers tell us that the two kinds of insomnia that run up blood sugars the most are restless legs syndrome and the breathing disturbance known as sleep apnea.


The point at which sleep deprivation begins to interfere with blood sugar control is getting less than 5-1/2 hours of sleep uninterrupted every night. Even non-diabetics, the researchers have found, often get high blood sugars when they get less than four hours of sleep at night. Of course, if you have either restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea, you are unlikely to get even one hour of uninterrupted sleep at night.

This means that taking care of insomnia might also help you keep your blood glucose in check. And stopping the development of neuropathy, by careful attention to blood sugar levels, will also help improve restless legs syndrome.

Source:

Keckeis M, Lattova Z, Maurovich-Horvat E, Beitinger PA, Birkmann S, Lauer CJ, Wetter TC, Wilde-Frenz J, Pollm├Ącher T. Impaired glucose tolerance in sleep disorders. PLoS One. 2010 Mar 1;5(3):e9444.