Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sexual Positions that Enhance the Chances of Conception

When and how a couple has intercourse has a great deal to do with how likely they are to have a child. Couples who are trying to conceive need to consider different sexual techniques and sexual positions, at least during those 1 to 5 days a month the female partner is fertile.

Many couples forget that while a man can become a father on any day of the month, women are only fertile for a day or so in the mid-point of their menstrual cycles just after the ovaries have released the egg. Any changes in sex technique intended to increase chances of having a child have to be practiced at that time. Other times of the month, they make no difference.

The most important thing for couples to remember about sexual positions is that the man-on-top missionary position increases the likelihood of pregnancy. When the couple make love with the man above the woman, the penis is thrust in a boomerang shape further into the cervix, nearer to the ovaries. The sperm do not have to travel as far to reach the egg as they do when the couple has intercourse in some other position.

Another important consideration for couples seeking to conceive is to limit foreplay. During foreplay,  the muscles in the woman's abdomen lift the uterus away from the cervix. The ejaculate lands nearer to the opening of the cervix, and the sperm have farther to travel to reach the egg.

It is helpful for men to abstain from any sexual activities resulting in ejaculation for 1 to 4 days before trying to conceive. This maximizes both the volume of semen and the sperm count. There is a limit to how much semen the prostate can store, so abstaining for more than 4 days before having intercourse to conceive a child.

Before couples start thinking about fertility and acupuncture and start having corrective procedures for problems like chlamydia and testicular torsion, these simple changes may prove enough. It's only a few days each month that couples need to change their sex lives to maximize their chances of getting pregnant.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Breast Milk Production and Breast Cancer Warning Signs

Excessive breast milk production, also known as galactorrhea, is almost always a nuisance and almost never a sign of a more serious health condition. In some women, however, producing too much breast milk is a signal that seeing a doctor for breast cancer detection is a must. Here is an explanation of what causes galactorrhea, how to handle it through simple measures, and when to see a doctor.

Lactation, or the production of breast milk, is a normal condition in women occurring after delivery of a baby. Galactorrhea is the untimely production of breast milk. Many women who have had a baby can express a small amount of breast milk up to years after childbirth. Secretion of breast milk at other times, however, is a relatively rare condition usually signaling a hormonal imbalance.

The symptoms of galactorrhea include:

  • Clear or milky nipple discharge (not discolored)
  • Discharge when pressure applied to breast
  • Cracking around the nipple
  • Possible lump in the breast

The production of breast milk is controlled by the hormone prolactin, which is secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain. In about 30 percent of cases, galactorrhea in women is associated with a tumor of the pituitary gland. When excessive milk production is associated with a pituitary tumor, there will also be skipped menstrual periods and measurably high prolactin levels in the bloodstream. Prolactin levels can also be elevated when there are tumors in the ovaries (in women) or testicles (in men). When galactorrhea is due to a hormonal imbalance, both breasts are involved.

Rarely a Sign of Breast Cancer

Milk production from one breast, especially after menopause, is in rare cases a sign of breast cancer. When breast cancer is a cause, however, the expressed milk is usually discolored. More often galactorrhea involving a single breast is associated with a benign tumor.

Caused by Many Medications and Herbs

Many medications cause galactorrhea as a side effect. These include oral contraceptives, antidepressants, tranquilizers, heroin, morphine, and some medications for high blood pressure. Galactorrhea can also occur after using the herbs anise, blessed thistle, fennel, fenugreek, milk thistle, or silymarin.

Release of breast milk by women is not uncommon during sexual stimulation. Scratchy blouses or poorly fitted bras can aggravate the condition.

More Likely to Be a Nuisance than a Health Issue

Galactorrhea is more likely to be a nuisance than a serious medical condition. Women should consult a doctor promptly, however, if unexpected milk production occurs with skipped menstrual periods, headaches, trouble seeing, loss of interest in sex, acne, or growth of hair on the chest or chin. There are no established natural health practices for men with this condition. Men with galactorrhea should consult an endocrinologist.

An Herb for Galactorrhea

Often misunderstood as increasing milk production, vitex, also known as chasteberry, has been used for centuries for decreasing unwanted milk production.

The fruits of the chasteberry tree contain iridoids and flavo noids that mimic human sex hormones. They have a special influence on the pituitary gland’s manufacturing of prolactin, modulating the brain’s production of the reward chemical dopamine in such a way that prolactin production is decreased, especially during times of stress.

These compounds also bind to endorphin receptors in the brain, lowering the sensation of stress. Over 50 percent of women who use vitex will also experience fewer unpleasant symptoms during their premenstrual period.

While vitex is the best natural treatment for galactorrhea, there are a number of precautions for its use. It may be necessary to take this herb for up to 3 months, or 3 menstrual cycles, to get results. Women who use vitex should also use contraception. While the herb does not cause birth defects, in rare instances it appears to induce multiple ovulations resulting in twins and triplets.

Although women who have galactorrhea are not likely to be on estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), the herb should not be combined with ERT (Premarin, Premphase, Prempr, Provera), since it can potentially slow the rate at which the liver removes estrogen from circulation. Men trying to become fathers should not take vitex, since laboratory experiments with dogs indicate that it interferes with sperm production. Most important, vitex should not be taken with the commonly prescribed medication for galactorrhea, bromocriptine (Parlodel), since the combination can cause unpredictable effects on anxiety and mood.

Additional Considerations for Galactorrhea

void stimulating your breasts.

Avoid touching your nipples or having your nipples touched during sexual activity.

Don’t do breast self-exams more than once a month.

Unexpected milk production is a symptom of several health conditions.

  • In women who are not pregnant, missing a period plus galactorrhea is frequently a sign of hypothyroidism. There will also be fatigue, dry skin, sensitivity to cold weather, and unintentional weight gain. Restoring normal levels of thyroid hormone stops galactorrhea. 
  • Unexpected milk production in both breasts with headache, blurred vision, and loss of peripheral vision can be a sign of a pituitary tumor. If you experience these symptoms, see a physician. 
  • Reddish breast milk produced by one breast can be a sign of a breast tumor. See a physician for breast cancer testing. 
  • An outbreak of acne or growth of hair on the chest or chin with galactorrhea is a symptom requiring urgent medical attention. This combination of symptoms can result from ovarian cysts or ovarian cancer in a relatively early, treatable stage.
You may also be interested in my recent article on a Pakistani herb for breast cancer.

    Fertility and Acupuncture

    For many couples trying to conceive, the right fertility doctor may be the one who understands fertility and acupuncture. This ancient Chinese healing tool has been rediscovered as a tool for couples using in vitro fertilization (IVF), and also for couples making babies the traditional way.

    Acupuncture Enhances the Chances of Successful IVF

    Before 2005, almost no fertility doctors outside of China and Japan used acupuncture to assist IVF. In the last two years, however, an increasing number of fertility experts in the US and EU are giving women one or two 60-minute sessions of acupuncture each week to increase the chances of implantation and decrease the chances of miscarriage.

    Acupuncture does not guarantee IVF will work. At Magee-Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the USA, about 2 in 3 women who received acupuncture became pregnant, compared to about 1 in 2 who did not. Moreover, a study at Northwestern University in Chicago found that sham acupuncture (sticking the needles in the wrong places) worked about as well as real acupuncture.

    But that may be more of a statement about IVF than it is about acupuncture. The process of IVF is so stressful that having needles stuck into your body apparently is relaxing. Or perhaps doctors who don't do acupuncture on a regular basis didn't really know how the procedure works.

    Needles in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time Can Cause Major Problems

    Couples trying to conceive need to go to a fertility doctor who has formal training and a separate license in acupuncture. The reason that knowing the right points is so important is that certain kinds of stimulation increase ovulation (for couples who are getting pregnant without IVF) but also stimulate miscarriage.

    Once a woman is pregnant, it is important that the acupuncturist not stick any needles in the abdomen. There are also six other points that can cause abortion of the embryo. These are the "shoulder well" (Gallbladder 21), the "Empty Basin" (on the clavicle, known as Stomach 12), the "Compassionate Dragon" (the crossing of three yin lines above the ankle), the "Joining of the Valleys" (also known as Large Intestine 4, on the top of the hand), the "Kun Lun Mountains" (also known as Bladder 60, near the Achilles tendon), and the "Reaching Yin" (Bladder 67, on the outside of the little toe). Stimulating these points after the fertilized egg has been implanted in the uterus actually increases the risk of miscarriage. It is important that women getting acupuncture get the right acupuncture at the right time.

    Which Women Benefit Most from Acupuncture?

    For couples not seeking to have IVF, the greatest benefits of acupuncture are seen when:

    • The female partner suffers "spasms" of the ovaries that block the release of the egg, or
    • The male partner has a low sperm count or low sperm motility.
    Acupuncture treatments for men seeking to become fathers seem to increase sperm count and the percentage of sperm that are motile--although it's important to note that all the clinical trials required their participants to abstain from ejaculation for at least three days before giving a sperm sample, which may have also have increased sperm count.

    When the sperm defect is related to "endurance," however, acupuncture is less likely to be helpful. All sperm cells are genetically programmed for apoptosis, to diet shortly after reaching the ovary if they do not fertilized the released egg. Some men produce sperm cells that cease to function while they are still in the cervix, before they have reached the opening of the ovary to fertilize the egg. When this is the problem, the solution may be AI, artificial insemination, which is a much less complicated procedure than IVF.

    What About Herbs for Fertility to Accompany Acupuncture?

    Unless you happen to be an herbalist, it is best to rely on professional advice for this, too. Certain herbs, such as vitex, increase fertility in women but can even cause testicular atrophy in men. Other herbs increase growth of the uterine lining, which is desirable during the first 14 days of a woman's period, but not desirable after ovulation. 

    A professionally trained acupuncturist will also know exactly which herbs complement acupuncture treatments for both the mother and the father. This is not something you should do on your own. Herbal therapies like the Japanese formula hochu-ekki-to, however, may be very helpful for men for whom the causes of infertility chemotherapy, radiation, or toxic exposures.

    Are There Any Fertility Foods?

    Anti-inflammatory supplements such as microalgae, fish oil, and evening primrose oil may make the cervical mucus more "springy" (so the sperm swim faster to their destination) and also reduce swelling along the veins that serve the testicles in men. These supplements are OK at any time but you should always let your doctors know that you are taking them.

    The Fine Print

    Thank you for visiting my blog, Healing without Medication, where I update and summarize the key recommendations of my book of the same name. Interactions with over 5,000 of the 680,000 readers of my book and countless conversations with doctors and researchers have produced a great deal of information for these updates.

    Although this site is about what you can do without taking medication, my attitude is not anti-pharma. Sometimes medications are exactly what is needed, and doctors are the people who tell you how to use them.

    On the other hand, sometimes you just need to make some simple changes to get back on track. This site assumes that you have received your diagnosis for a qualified health practitioner. There is nothing here to help you diagnose a disease without going to a doctor, although there are questions raised here that may tell you a visit to the doctor is necessary.

    Nothing on this site is intended to discourage you from taking prescribed medication. The recommendations here are carefully researched to avoid interfering with medications.

    And nothing on this site is intended to get between you and your healthcare providers. Always work with your doctors and therapists, not against them, to get the maximum benefit of all the methods of healing available to you.

    Comments are welcome. They may take up to 72 hours to be moderated. Thanks again for visiting my site.

    Robert S. Rister

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    Natural Therapies for Basal Cell Skin Cancer

    Basal cell carcinomas are cancers. When they are identified, they require medically supervised removal. Early treatment is the most effective. A great deal of scientific evidence, however, indicates that the appearance of new basal cell skin cancers can be prevented with the help of targeted nutrition.

    The key nutrients for preventing basal cell carcinoma are antioxidants. A typical daily supplementation program to support skin health for a prolonged period with no new basal cell skin cancers would include:

    • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): 400 milligrams per day during the summer.
    • Selenium: 200 micrograms per day.
    • Vitamin C: 1,000 mg per day.
    • Vitamin E: 400 IU per day. Also, if you exercise in the sun during the summer,
    • R-lipoic acid with biotin, 100 mg per day.

    Laboratory experiments with skin cells have found that providing the cells with selenium, vitamin C, and vitamin E before exposure to ultraviolet light greatly reduces the amount of DNA damage. Even after exposure to sunlight, selenium and vitamin E help the skin make glutathione, which in turn stops the process through which sunlight causes apoptosis, the initiation of skin cell death. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), vitamin C, and vitamin E work together to protect p53, the gene that ensures that cells repair defects in their DNA before multiplying.

    Additional supplements may be needed for people who exercise in the sun. Strenuous exercise depletes glutathione. This naturally occurring antioxidant slows inflammatory reactions and is essential to the normal function of estrogen and testosterone. Laboratory studies with animals have found that supplementation with alpha-lipoic acid keeps glutathione from breaking down, especially in the liver and in the bloodstream.

    While the antioxidant supplements that fight basal cell carcinoma are largely free of side effects, there are some precautions to be observed in their use. No one in good general health should take NAC on an on-going basis. At least one long-term study suggests that the antioxidant effect of NAC can actually interfere with some of the actions of the immune system against bacteria. You should only use NAC during your allergy season, or, if you have allergies all year round, for no more than 3 months at a time. Smokers who have had bronchitis for 2 years or less should not take NAC unless they are quitting. There is some evidence that NAC may activate eosinophils, the white blood cells that may cause the progression of smoker’s cough to emphysema.

    Selenium is better absorbed if it is not taken at the same time as vitamin C. Vitamin C taken in the form of vitamin C with bioflavonoids can interfere with the liver’s ability to process statin drugs for controlling cholesterol, calcium channel blockers for hypertension such as nifedipine (Procardia), or cyclosporine for preventing transplant rejection. Vitamin E should be used with caution by those who take blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or clopidogrel (Plavix).

    Other Ways to Reduce Recurrence of Basal Cell Skin Cancers

    Sun exposure and sunbathing produce gradual skin damage even if sunburn is avoided. Ten to forty years can pass between the time of sun exposure and the development of skin cancer.

    Put on sun screen with an SPF of 15 or higher everyday before leaving the house.

    Don’t go overboard and try to avoid the sun completely. Sun avoidance depletes the body’s supply of vitamin D and, ironically, can increase the risk of skin cancer.

    People who have had a basal cell carcinoma should have a skin exam at the dermatologist's office every 6 months to 1 year.

    Do not try to remove basal cell carcinomas by “rubbing them off.” Some portion of the cancer will remain in the skin, and breaking the skin increases the risk of infection.

    Basal cell carcinoma almost never spreads throughout the body. Another form of skin cancer known squamous cell carcinoma, however, sometimes does. Take care of the "pre-cancerous" form of squamous cell carcinoma known as actinic keratosis early by making sure you see a dermatologist at least every other year after the age of 40, even if you have no history of skin cancer at all.

    You may also be interested in my latest article on curcumin for skin cancer.

    Diabetes Foods to Avoid: Wheat, Potatoes, and Oats

    Many American, Australian, and British diabetics notice changes almost like remission from diabetes when they travel abroad. The difference may be eating less wheat, potatoes, and oats.
    Scientists at the University of Kuopio in Finland tested the idea that wheat, potatoes, and oats might somehow cause the changes that lead to type 2 diabetes, and rye bread might stop them. They recruited volunteers with prediabetes to donate samples of subcutaneous fat before and after a 12-week diet. (The fat samples were taken by needle biopsy.) Both groups of volunteers were given prepared meals with exactly the same total calories, total carbohydrates, fat, protein, and fiber. One group got its carbohydrates from wheat, potatoes, and oats, and the other got its carbohydrates from rye (rye crackers, rye bread, and rye pasta).

    At the end of the twelve weeks, the volunteers gave another fat sample and the scientists looked for changes:
    • In the group that ate wheat, potatoes, and oats, 62 genes that increased inflammation and insulin use were more active.
    • In the group that ate rye, 71 genes that increased inflammation and insulin use were less active, and fat cells were smaller. This means that they had less surface area and tied up less insulin.
    Blood sugar levels after eating equivalent amounts of carbohydrate on both diets were the same, but the rye group needed less insulin. The rye eaters also had lower levels of the enzyme hormone-sensitive lipase, which is associated with heart disease and high cholesterol.

    If you take a trip to Norway and you feel wonderful, it might be the gracious people. It might be beautiful scenery or the northern lights. And it also might be the rye crisps. Striking wheat, potatoes, and oats from your list of diabetes foods and getting more carbs from rye might be helpful for any prediabetic or type 2 diabetic. All you have to do to find out is to make the switch in your diet and to take blood sugar readings regularly.

    Source:Kallio P, Kolehmainen M, Laaksonen DE, Kekäläinen J, Salopuro T, Sivenius K, Pulkkinen L, Mykkänen HM, Niskanen L, Uusitupa M, Poutanen KS. Dietary carbohydrate modification induces alterations in gene expression in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue in persons with the metabolic syndrome: the FUNGENUT Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1417-27.

    A Protein Diet Plan for Diabetics

    It's easy to get the impression from diet books and muscle building guides that if you are cutting out the carbs and the fat, you need to load up on protein. Of the three macronutrients, protein, fat, and carbohydrate, overeating protein is the least likely to result in problems with blood sugar regulation, but the amount of protein needed for great health is a lot less than the protein supplement and meat industries would have us believe.

    In the twenty-first century, many of us have been trained to have an aversion to carbs or fat, but most people regard protein foods as safe foods. They absolutely are. But a lot of the things we are told about protein just aren't true.

    Exaggerations About the Body's Need for Protein

    Chances are you have heard at least one of these "facts" about protein:

    • Everybody needs to eat protein every 2 or 3 hours, about an ounce (30 g) the ideal serving size.
    • You have to eat protein after you work out so your muscles can rebuild and reshape themselves into a stronger, firm, larger form.
    • If you don't eat protein several times a day, you'll lose muscle mass.
    • Vegans and vegetarians can't build muscle mass.

    And, of course, we have all heard that the more protein you eat, the more muscle you'll build, even while you lose fat mass, or so some experts tell you. But what is the truth about protein?

    Amino Acids Are Like Lego Blocks

    The hundreds of thousands of different proteins in the human body, and in our food, are assembled from just 22 amino acids. These amino acids have to be linked together in an exact sequence for the protein they are used to make to function properly in the body. Your body assembles amino acids to make muscle, red blood cells, white blood cells, nerves, brain cells, inner organs, skin, hair, fingernails, toenails, and hormones. Every cell contains some protein.

    The process of digestion, however, doesn't break down long chains of amino acids in food into 100% single amino acids. Instead, protein digestion, which mostly takes place in the stomach, breaks food proteins down into double, triple, and longer chains of amino acids, along with some of the single, amino acids. This means your body has to fit the right blocks in the right places. And the body can transform an amino acid it does not need into an amino acid it does need, with nine exceptions:

    • Histidine
    • Isoleucine
    • Leucine
    • Lysine
    • Methionine
    • Phenylalanine
    • Threonine
    • Tryptophan
    • Valine

    These are the essential amino acids. There are also some amino acids that are conditionally essential, meaning that the body can make them only when their source amino acids aren't needed for something else. These amino acids are:

    • Arginine
    • Cysteine
    • Glycine
    • Glutamate
    • Histidine
    • Proline
    • Serine
    • Tyrosine

    Your body can make the other amino acids as they are needed. Meat, fish, eggs, and milk provide all 22 of the amino acids that the body needs to make protein. Certain plant foods provide almost all the 22 amino acids the body needs to make its own proteins:

    • Beans, peas, and lentils other than soy may be deficient in cysteine, methionine, and tryptophan.
    • Corn doesn't provide lysine and tryptophan.
    • Rice and wheat don't provide lysine.
    • Soy is usually deficient in methionine.

    It's not hard to get complete protein from plant foods, however. Rice and wheat and don't provide lysine, so eat them with beans, peas, lentils, or soy, which do. Corn (the grain and the vegetable, not the high-fructose corn syrup) is a little more problematic, but it is still very useful when you eat a lot of different plant foods. You can get all the amino acids your body needs by eating a variety of plant foods. Amaranth, buckwheat, hempseed, and quinoa, by the way, provide almost complete protein. So what's not to love about plant foods as your source of protein?

    The body not only can transform proteins into each other, it can also transform proteins into sugar and fat. When you eat a complete protein food, your body tends to process it into amino acids. When you eat an incomplete protein source, your body tends to process it into sugar and fat. Your body can't store amino acids. If you eat too many grains, your body will store them in your fat cells. The solution is not to eat too many grains, especially if you are eating other sources of protein.

    What about green vegetables as a source of protein?

    You may have heard that spinach, for example, provides more protein that steak. And the claim is not a complete fabrication. If you desiccate a piece of sirloin steak in a drying oven in the lab, protein analysis will find 26 grams of protein in 30 grams of your sirloin steak jerky. If you desiccate a serving of spinach in the same drying over, the analysis will show 10 grams of protein in 30 grams of dried spinach. It's an exaggeration only by about a factor of two.

    However, if you cook the steak, you'll get 26 grams of protein in 100 grams of steak. And you'll get 2 grams of protein in 100 grams of raw spinach, or 4 grams of protein in a nice, big bowl of spinach salad. The real question is, how much protein does your body really need?

    Protein requirements vary dramatically from person to person.

    Some vegans survive, and even thrive, on just 20 grams of protein a day. Some bodybuilders consume 500 grams of protein a day, the amount of protein in nearly 4 pounds (1750 g) of meat. Adult bodybuilders are never 25 times a big as adult vegans, so where does all the extra protein go?

    Once your body has all 22 of the amino acids it needs in the amount it needs for one day, more protein you eat, the greater the proportion that is converted to sugars and burned for energy or stored as fat. And in addition to the protein you get from the food you eat, your body "recycles" about 100 grams of protein a day. This means that even if you are the vegan who consumes just 20 grams of protein a day, your body actually processes six times that much, just to be sure you have all the amino acids you need in the right amounts and the right sequences. These proteins come from saliva, pancreatic juices, and red blood cells that have leaked into the small intestine.

    And just 100 grams of protein a day is about all your body can use to make muscle, no matter how hard you exercise. (Ironically, research sponsored by a protein powder maker found that consuming additional protein does not result in additional muscle mass.) You can eat more without harming your health, but you are just providing your body with a very slow and steady source of sugar, digested far more slowly than the sugars in carbohydrate foods.

    How often do diabetics need to eat protein? And how much?

    In 2007, a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported the results of an experiment in which volunteers were asked to eat one meal a day, or three meals a day, either diet providing the same amount of protein. At the end of eight weeks, the researchers found no difference in muscle mass.

    The scientific evidence is that we do not need to eat protein every three hours to prevent protein deficiency. Once a day is definitely enough. Once every three days may be enough, because our bodies recycle our own proteins from saliva and digestive juices.

    This means that you could live without meat as long as as you don't eat too many carbs. As a practical matter, most type 2 diabetics do eat meat, but a lot of the meat they eat actually gets turned into sugar because the body cannot use all the amino acids. A single serving of meat, the size of a deck of playing cards, usually provides more than enough protein for nutritional needs.

    Everything else is about your taste preferences. As long as you are not consuming vastly more protein than your body can use, and you do not have diabetes-related kidney disease, we don't see a lot of harm in eating meat, eggs, fish, and dairy at every meal. It's simply not necessary.

    When Diabetics Detoxify, Weight Loss Follows

    When diabetics detoxify, weight loss follows. But the best way to detoxify is to make a simple change in the food you eat.

    There are at least two ways to detoxify. One is to purge your system of toxins. The other is to let your body take care of toxins at its own rate. All you need to do is to stop adding to the problem.

    Water fills your stomach and blunts your appetite, at least until it passes out of your stomach and into your intestines, which takes only a few minutes on an empty stomach. When you consume water that is incorporated with food, however, that water stays in your stomach, making it easier to feel full while eating less, until the food that contains it is fully digested. And the process of digestion breaks down organic particles that have toxic and allergic effects.

    Soup Isn't Just Good Food, It's Detoxifying

    Soups that are simmered a long time (at least two hours) create unique particles of food chemically combining their ingredients in ways that take a long time to digest. As long as these particles linger in your stomach, the whole contents of the soup, water included, will stay in your stomach along with them.

    Nutritionist Barbara J. Rolls of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and Penn State University has conducted over 250 clinical trials of soup and other moist foods in regulating appetite and food consumption. She's found that beginning any meal with a bowl of soup (and it doesn't have to be a big bowl, one cup/240 ml is enough) allows eaters to feel satisfied eating 100 to 250 calories less during the rest of the meal.

    What If You Have the Urge to Re-Toxify?

    Feel hungry later? Instead of reaching for pretzels or walking down to the candy machine, have another bowl of soup. It takes a little planning, but you can make soup in a big batch up to a week ahead.

    Salad is good food, too. Plant cells hold water inside walls of fiber. As you chew raw vegetables and fruit, some of the juices inside are released. As these foods are digested in your stomach, more of the watery juices inside the cells of the food are released into your stomach, filling you up, but the whole contents of the meal stay in your stomach until the whole meal is digested.

    Salads and raw vegetables are not as complicated as soup, so they don't take as long to digest. It takes more salad to fill you up than soup. Again, we don't recommend stuffing yourself on salad. Starting a meal with salad or soup, or both, is just a great way to slow down your appetite so you fully enjoy your meal. You may enjoy the food so much that you don't even eat all you can.

    Isn't this a lot easier than doing a liver flush or a colon cleanse? The body can take care of its own detoxification, if we just give it the space. Soup and salad are simple, detoxifying interventions that help the body recharge with pain.

    Do Diabetics Need Protein Powders?

    And what about whey protein, branched-chain amino acids (BCAA's) plus glutamine taken after workouts?

    Most diabetics don't really need protein powder supplements. There are always exceptions, but it's mostly professional athletes who happen to be diabetic who may (or may not) benefit from protein powders.

    For elite athletes doing resistance training every day to put on muscle, these supplements do make a difference, about half a pound (225 g) of muscle in 10 weeks for whey powder, and 1-1/2 pounds (750 g) of muscle in 10 weeks for elite athletes using the BCAA's plus glutamine. Protein shakes, protein powders, and protein bars taste good and may be OK for you, too, but they won't help you put on muscle or take off fat.

    There is one supplement that can help you put on muscle, and that supplement is creatine. The way creatine works is that it incorporates water into muscle, literally pumping it in to pump you up. But don't use creatine before you have achieved the weight you want. Creatine not only incorporates water into muscle cells, it also incorporates water into fat cells, and water in fat cells is the main reason weight loss diets fail.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    The Diabetic Pain of Dieting

    The overlooked diabetic pain is dieting. If you have diabetes, it can literally hurt not to eat. However, going off your diabetes diet is not the only thing you can do about it.

    No doubt you have heard the old adage, “Out of sight, out of mind.” If you are a type 2 diabetic struggling to stay on a diet, it's a no-brainer that it's easier for you if you keep the cupboards closed, if you put the salad at the front of the shelf in the refrigerator, and you don't stop to take a call on your cell phone in the parking lot of the all-you-can-eat buffet.

    Ghrelin's Yellin'

    But the really hard part of staying on your diabetes diet may be dictated by your fat cells. If you are both a type 2 diabetic and overweight, and even more if you are a type 2 diabetic, overweight, and under a lot of stress, your body is slow to turn off its responses to a hormone called ghrelin. America's TV doctor Mehmet Oz is fond of saying, “If you are making ghrelin, your stomach's yellin'.” Ghrelin increases your central nervous system's sensitivity to pain until you eat.

    Consuming food, however, turns off the pain signal. If you are overweight and even more if you are overweight and have type 2 diabetes, unfortunately, ghrelin keeps on yellin' even after you have eaten your meal.

    Ghrelin Makes Diabetics Stray from Diabetes Diets

    The action of ghrelin on the brain is to encourage risky behaviors that have reasonable payoffs. In overweight diabetics, this means that you will tend to risk running up your blood sugar levels by eating a big dessert or a big helping of potatoes or anything else that looks tasty, and your dietary adventurism is stimulated by the act of eating!

    If you don't eat, you'll feel hungry. And if you do eat, you'll feel hungry. It is just not fair! But there really is something you can do about this dreadful complication of type 2 diabetes that seldom receives a sympathetic understanding.

    Getting Your Zzzz's Helps You Stay in Charge of Your Eating

    First of all, be sure to get enough rest. Six or more hours of uninterrupted sleep enables your body to “detox” excess ghrelin so you will not have the urge to eat, and eat some more, at every meal. Then, be sure to leave time to eat every meal slowly and enjoy your food. Put off eating extra at least until your body has had a chance to turn off the ghrelin signals, at least 20 minutes after you eat what is in your plan. If you rush a meal you will almost certainly want to eat more. Slow down, and you will find it easier to eat less.

    Diabetic Dieting and Weight Control Made Easy: The Rate Your Plate System

    Every diabetic encounters situations in which it is impossible to count exchanges or measure carb and fat grams. When this happens, there is an easy way to stay on track with your diabetes diet goals. It's a system that is very popular in Australia and New Zealand although it is pretty much unknown in the United States, UK, Canada, and the rest of the English-speaking world. The method is called Rate Your Plate.

    With Rate Your Plate, there are no hard and fast choices among foods, other than avoiding the foods you know your body cannot handle. There are no absolutely forbidden foods, and you do not have to go out and buy any special foods. There are no hard and fast diabetic dieting tips you have to follow all the time.

    This system is especially helpful when you are eating out, especially at a cafeteria or buffet line. All you need to do is to rate your plate. Here is how you do it.

    Eat One Plate of Food Per Meal

    Eat one plate of food per meal. Every last bit of food you eat at any one meal should fit on a single, round, 13 inch (325 mm) plate. Cover half of your plate with vegetables. Cover one-quarter of your plate with a protein food. Any starchy food, fruit, bread, grains, and dessert must fit in the final quarter of your plate.

    There are no penalties for piling food on your plate, although there actually will be a time, after you have kept your blood sugar levels in control for weeks or months, that you probably will not want to pile food on your plate. The absolute limit is set by the plate, and you absolutely, positively must not eat more than you can fit on your plate. Moreover, any “problem” foods must fit in their section, all together. You never get an extra plate, or bowl, for dessert!

    If food is runny, put it in a tiny bowl, but balance that little bowl on your plate, too. If you don't know what the food is, don't eat it. Mystery meats and mass-manufactured sweets and starches don't deserve a place on your plate. But should you decide to ignore your diet guidelines and our suggestions, at least limit how much you eat to a single plate of food at a single meal, no more often than every five hours, no more often than three times a day.

    That's your dieting schedule. Three meals a day, no more. Nutrient timing is not as critical as simply eating three meals a day, instead of four or five or more. This approach is more suitable for a type 2 diabetes diet than a type 1 diabetes diet, but even type 1's with portion control issues will benefit.

    It's Really That Simple

    Could limiting yourself to just three plates of food a day really be the answer to controlling your blood sugar levels and losing weight?

    Yes! If you have type 2 diabetes, the insulin-producing beta cells in your pancreas are literally dying for you to give them less work to do. If you are eating 4000 calories a day eating plate after plate of food, just limiting yourself to 3000 calories a day from three plates of food will get your blood sugar levels going back down.

    When you notice how much better you feel just by eating your fill, without stuffing yourself, then it will be easier to make more changes in your diet that will eventually help you reach your impressive weight and blood sugar goals. Rate Your Plate is a great place for many diabetics to start, and it's a safe haven when staying on a restrictive plan is impossible, especially during holidays and on special occasions.

    Your belly fat is also waiting for you to give it less work to do. If you can just change your diet in ways that keep your blood sugar levels in control, then your fat itself will generate the hormones that regulate your appetite.

    Shrink Your Waistline By Shrinking Portion Sizes for Certain Fatty Foods

    When you are using the Rate Your Plate system, it is especially important to limit your servings of certain source of dietary fat. The foods to avoid happen to be high in trans- fat, but the problem fat is not the trans- fat but rather arachidonic acid. This is the fatty acid that is abundant in eggs and products made from eggs, especially mayonnaise. It is also found in beef,especially beef jerky, salami, cold cuts, and most sausages. The average breakfast buffet offers a feast of arachidonic acid-laden foods.

    Arachidonic acid is the building block for a number of hormones associated with inflammation. It is important to understand that a little inflammation is a good thing. Pro-inflammatory hormones activate the immune system to fight infection and they seal off cuts, scrapes, and scratches.

    The problem is that eating too many foods containing too much arachidonic acid creates so many pro-inflammatory hormones that you get swelling around your midsection. When you are rating your plate for eggs, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, ham, and breakfast treats, be sure your fatty foods do not creep onto the parts of your plate for healthier starches, fruit, and vegetables.

    Lower-Fat Protein Foods Are Better than Higher-Fat Protein Foods

    On the other hand, we think it is OK to fill up on beans, peas, lentils, natural sources of soy, like tofu, and even lean meats and fish, as long as you don't get a second plateful! Cold-water fish such as mackerel and tuna is especially helpful for diabetics, because it is a good source of the n-3 essential fatty acids that help balance the arachidonic acid and other n-6 essential fatty acids so abundant in high-fat protein foods.

    Keeping the amount of fatty protein foods on your plate to an absolute maximum of one-quarter of your plate and preferably less keeps the fat in your diet down, and helps your liver take LDL (“bad”) cholesterol out of your bloodstream. When you reduce the amount of fat you get from dried beef, hot dogs, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, and the like, your body makes less of an inflammatory hormone called interleukin-6, also known as IL-6. The less IL-6 in circulation, the more readily the liver can take LDL out of the bloodstream and process it into heart-healthy fats.

    Help Your Immune System Shrink Your Belly Fat

    If you have been eating unlimited amounts of food, limiting yourself to just one plate of food three times a day will do more than just lowering your blood sugar levels. It will also help your immune system shrink your fat cells. Sure, you say, anything you don't feed as much is going to shrink. And you are absolutely right. In your belly fat, however, there is an additional process going on.

    Old cells die, including old fat cells. They have to be removed. The immune system sends out clean-up cells known as macrophages, literally “big eaters,” to engulf and consume dead tissue in the same way they also engulf and consume bacteria, virus-infected cells, and parasites. The macrophages burn fat for fuel.

    That's why belly fat is a particularly attractive place for macrophages. It is a great place for these white blood cells to take their rest stop and refuel before continuing their travels through the bloodstream. The problem is that when your fat cells are filled with storage fat, the capillaries between them are squeezed, and macrophages can literally get stuck in your belly fat.

    In some people, up to one-third of the entire mass of “belly fat” is actually white blood cells stuck where they do not belong. Since inflammatory chemicals attract even more macrophages, and the macrophages themselves always die of old age and need to be removed, your immune system is an important factor in your weight.

    And since these fat cells trapped in a mass of inflammation are only slowly supplied by the bloodstream, they are not as available to take sugar out of the bloodstream. The inflammation around your waist, not just the fat mass, keeps your blood sugar levels high.

    Simply Eating Less Can Revitalize Your Life

    If you can just manage to fill your plate with foods that do not encourage inflammation, eventually your belly fat will stop being as inflamed. It usually takes about four to six weeks to notice that you feel trimmer after you have totally given up the foods that are rich in arachidonic acid, banishing them from your plate altogether.

    When you do this, you will lose the water weight that has been trapped in the connective tissues in your belly fat, and you may also notice that your body has fewer problems with carbohydrates. When your belly fat is not inflamed, then your bloodstream can deliver sugar to the fat cells that absorb it for making triglycerides. It will be easier to keep your blood sugar levels right. You will feel more energetic, and you will also notice more benefits from exercise.

    Is an Epigenetic Therapy for Skin Cancer on the Way?

    The news services are abuzz with the discovery of a new "master gene" for obesity. What the stories are leaving out is that this gene also regulates the growth of slow-growing skin cancers. An epigenetic therapy, a sway to "switch off" the gene, eventually may treat both obesity and some kinds of cancer.
    Scientists in the UK and Iceland have announced the discovery of KLF14, a gene that seems to determine how much fat the body stores and how the liver and muscles change to accommodate the signals to store more fat. We store more fat when our muscles and liver become less sensitive to insulin, leaving more insulin in circulation for the storage of free fatty acids into fat cells. This also raises blood sugars. Increased blood sugars lead to high triglycerides, and surplus triglycerides may be transformed into cholesterol.

    But that isn't all that KLF14 does.

    KLF14 also protects "young" cancer cells. These are cells that have recently been created and are just activating their inner energy making machinery. These are also cells that are especially susceptible to attack by the immune system (although most drugs for cancer intervene at a different phase).

    Scientists have long known that KLF14 and two other genes in the same family protect basal cell carcinoma, a slow-growing skin cancer, from the immune system. Now scientists know that the same gene is a master control switch for many other processes.

    We all get one copy of the KLF14 gene from our fathers and the other from our mothers, but only the copy from our mothers is active, scientists now know.

    What is the practical value of this new information? It seems likely that:

    • If your mother had issues with obesity, high cholesterol, or diabetes, then you should also be on the lookout for basal cell carcinoma.
    • If you have your own issues with obesity, high cholesterol, or diabetes, then you should limit your sun exposure to the 20 minutes or so you need for vitamin D, and then use sunscreen to prevent basal cell carcinoma.
    Epigenetic cancer therapies are probably still 10 to 15 years away.


    the MuTHER Consortium, Small KS, Hedman AK, Grundberg E, Nica AC, Thorleifsson G, Kong A, Thorsteindottir U, Shin SY, Richards HB; the GIANT Consortium; the MAGIC Investigators; the 
    DIAGRAM Consortium, Soranzo N, Ahmadi KR, Lindgren CM, Stefansson K, Dermitzakis ET, Deloukas P, Spector TD, McCarthy MI. Identification of an imprinted master trans regulator at the KLF14 locus related to multiple metabolic phenotypes. Nat Genet. 2011 May 15. [Epub ahead of print]

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    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    How Low is a Low-Carb Diet for Type 2 Diabetes?

    Does the thought of bread fill you with dread? Have you been told that tofu is terrific but taffy is toxic? Is a low-carb diet the only type 2 diabetic diet for you?

    Type 2 diabetics are often given dietary advice that is more appropriate for type 1's and for people with MODY. More than other diabetics, type 2's have a need for enough carbohydrate so they can think clearly, stick to their diabetes treatment plans and achieve their goals, leading happy and functional lives as they keep their blood sugar levels well controlled. This article tells you how much carb is enough carb without being too much for managing type 2 diabetes.

    Type 2's often can tolerate more carbohydrate, without long-term damage to their health, than type 1's, especially after they have had a recovery period of several months to several years of consistently normal blood sugar levels. Even type 2's in remission, however, typically can tolerate a lot less carbohydrate than they used to eat.

    Type 2's are often told that tofu is terrific but taffy is toxic. I think it is more helpful to focus on too much carbohydrate and too little carbohydrate rather than on carbohydrates as good and bad. As time goes by you will find yourself eating healthy carbs for the simple reason that they taste better to you and they are more filling. A low-carb diet does not have to be a no-carb diet, especially if you exercise.

    Carbohydrates Are Brain Fuel

    Carbs and diabetes aren't compatible, but the best diet is low-carb, not no-carb. Mainstream nutritionists tell diabetics that they have to consume about 130 grams of carbohydrate each ever day, because that is the amount of glucose the brain needs for fuel. There may be some discussion whether these 130 grams, or about 520 calories, of carbohydrate, all of which is transformed by the digestive tract into sugar, has to come from celery or sugar plums or some variety of foods in between. Even a ketogenic diet requires at least a tiny amount of carbohydrate.

    Most nutritionists will allow for a minimum of 10 to 15 servings of starchy or sugar foods (including one or two servings of fruit) each and every day, however, even in diabetic diets. This amount of carbohydrate not only fuels the brain but also helps amino acids travel across the blood-brain barrier so the brain can use them to make necessary proteins.

    The brain seems to require at least 40 to 70 grams of glucose every day . This sugar has to be derived from starchy, sugary, or plant foods. Moreover, the release of glucose from protein depends on whether the protein is needed for tissue repair first, so extreme low-carb diets can lead to “brain fog,” due to fluctuations in the availability of sugar to fuel the brain.

    These diets also usually induce constipation, bad breath, odd body odors, and changes in the skin, although
    these problems may be much more easily tolerated that the diseases the ketogenic diet is used to treat. We find that most type 2's fare better on diets that are low-carb and that emphasize slow-carb, rather than on no carb at all.

    How Low is Low-Carb?

    The right amount of carbohydrate in your diet is the amount that never causes your blood sugar levels to run higher than about 170 mg/dl (9.4 mmol/L). If you are extremely thin and extremely insulin resistant, you may find that you can't eat much more than a side salad and maybe a single serving of starchy food at any given meal. If you are heavy set and you have been making progress in reversing insulin resistance (remember, controlling diabetes comes before controlling your weight), then you may even be able to tolerate a tiny amount of dessert once in a while, especially if you go out and burn it off in exercise.

    Testing your blood sugar levels is the key to finding the right amount of carbohydrate in your diet, and, as we mentioned in the Introduction, for identifying trigger foods that send your blood sugar levels soaring out of proportion to the amounts you eat.

    Generally speaking, however, it is not a good idea for any diabetic consume much more carbohydrate than the 130 grams or so the brain needs every day for its fuel. The fact is that some of the protein in the diet will become fuel for the brain even if you do eat more carbohydrate, and these 500 calories worth of food can be the most filling, the most nutritious, and the tastiest part of your diet.

    Fast Carbs Taste Good But Leave You Wanting More, Slow Carbs Fill You Up

    Sugary sweet carbohydrates and wholesome plant-based carbohydrates alike end up as sugar in the bloodstream. It is not true that every speck of carbohydrate that you eat becomes sugar; some complex carbohydrates cannot be broken down by the human digestive tract.

    It is also not true that every last gram of carb that you ever eat raises your personal blood sugar levels; this may be true if you have type 1 diabetes or MODY, but if you have type 2 diabetes, sometimes your pancreas can keep up, and sometimes it can't.

    And despite what advocates of the glycemic index might have you believe, there are no simple numbers that tell you how fast any given food will turn into sugar after it enters your bloodstream. To compute the glycemic index, scientists recruit a group of volunteers who agree to fast and then come into the lab, where they are served a 50-gram (approximately 2-ounce) serving of a reference food such as bread or glucose, and nothing else.

    Blood is drawn to see how fast blood sugar levels rise after the food is consumed. Then the volunteers come back to the lab a second time, after they have had a chance to fast again, and eat a 50-gram serving of the test food. Once again, the researchers draw blood to test how fast blood sugar levels rise. The speed of digestion of the test food is compared to the reference food, and the average across the volunteers becomes the glycemic index.

    The problem with this approach is that nobody eats that way. We don't fast, eat a small serving of a single food, and then wait for it to be digested before we eat anything else. We eat varying amounts of food that take varying amounts of time to be digested in the stomach. We eat acidic foods that slow down digestion and we eat bitter foods that speed up digestion. We eat hot foods that are digested faster, and cold foods that are digested slower. And protein and fat are not digested into sugar at all (although the liver can convert some amino acids into glucose over a period of 24 hours or so).

    Combinations of Foods Slow Down Sugar Absorption

    Combinations of foods change the glycemic index. White bread eaten by itself has a glycemic index of 100, but a sandwich made with white bread and a pickle has a glycemic index of 45. Hot instant mashed potatoes have the impossible glycemic index value of 110 (that is, they appear to be digested into glucose faster than pure glucose itself), but steamed new potatoes have a glycemic index of 83, and cold mashed potatoes with butter have a glycemic index of 58.

    Many of the systems of glycemic index measurement that give glucose a value of 100 given other foods ratings of more than 100, suggesting that somehow a food can be broken down into glucose faster than glucose can travel through the digestive tract by itself. This seems highly improbable. It's more likely that additives and preservatives cause a stress reaction that causes the adrenal glands to release cortisol to stimulate the liver to release sugar even before the food is digested. And isn't that a sign that this is a food a diabetic should never eat?

    If you eat a small serving of well-chewed food, which is a better way to eat for a variety of reasons, that food will be digested more quickly. If you stuff yourself with any kind of food, low-carb or high-carb, low-calorie or high-calorie, or if you begin your meal with soup, or if combine fat with carbohydrate, your meal will be digested more slowly. But if you eat carbs, fat, and protein all together, in sufficiently large quantity, then you have the issue of whether insulin transports sugar out your bloodstream first, lowering your blood sugar levels, or it transports the amino acids from protein and the fatty acids from fat — and protein and fat always win.

    Your blood sugar levels are not just about what you eat.

    They are also about how much you eat.

    There's nothing wrong with using the glycemic index chart as a reminder for healthy carbohydrate choices. But if you are dealing with situations where you are not selecting, buying, and cooking your own food, you may not be able to follow a strictly low glycemic index diet. And even if you can, you may find that you experience cravings that cannot be satisfied with a big serving of bean sprouts and that can lead you to go off your diabetes diet entirely.

    As a rule of thumb for most type 2 diabetics, it's a good idea to plan diabetic diet meals to:
    • Get about two-thirds of your carbohydrates from raw leafy greens and lightly cooked, colorful vegetables.
    • Get most of the remainder of your carbs from whole grains and fruit.
    • Eat only small amounts of pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice, never eating more than a single serving of starchy food at any given meal.
    Most of the time (the exceptions being diets for diabetics who also have colon ailments), crispy, crunchy raw vegetables are preferable to dull, limp steamed or stir-fried vegetables. Foods with texture are preferable to foods that are limp or mushy. One of the things you will discover as you keep your blood sugar levels in good control over a period of at least several weeks is that you will begin to taste the natural sugars in all kinds of plant foods, and you simply won't crave as much white sugar or artificial sweeteners.

    Dental and digestive problems keep some diabetics from eating crisp, crunchy, raw plant foods. If you are limited in the kinds of foods you can eat, and you find that you have to eat foods that are higher on the glycemic index, we want you to remember just three words: Small is beautiful. Small deviations from healthy diet are easier to correct. Always save something for later to help keep your blood sugar levels normal now. The best diiabetic diet programs to lose weight always work better if you eat in small amounts at regular meal times, and small meals are the very best way to keep your blood sugar levels in good control.

    Healthy Diabetic Snacks

    What is it about Cheetos and Ding Dongs and stale donuts and similar junk foods that make them so appealing to so many people with type 2 diabetes? Is it that diabetics have no taste, or that they lose their sense of taste if their disease goes uncontrolled? Actually diabetes itself robs diabetics of their ability to taste and enjoy food--but there are many things diabetics can do about that, so they actually enjoy healthy diabetic snacks.

    Diabetes and Dry Mouth

    One of the reasons so many type 2 diabetics eat too much is that they cannot taste their food. Years of high blood sugar levels interfere with nerve function all over the body. There can be nerve damage in the hands, in the feet, in the heart, in the sex organs, and also in the salivary glands.

    Changes in salivation happen so slowly that many type 2's just do not know that they suffer a condition called xerostomia, or dry mouth. Their salivary glands don't water when they chew their food, so the full flavor and aroma in food is not released. Many type 2 diabetics lose their ability to taste certain flavors, especially sweetness, so they naturally want more, more, more.

    The good news is that just a few months of careful blood sugar control can restore both normal salivation and normal taste sensation in most type 2's. And in the meantime it is possible to change your food so you can enjoy it much more.

    How Taste Perception Works

    Up until a few decades ago, scientists used to think that the different kinds of taste buds resided in different part of the tongue. The tongue sense sour flavors on one side, scientists believed, and salty flavors on the other.

    Sweet tastes were sensed up front, and bitter tastes were sensed in the back. If you had diabetes, of course, the nerves at the tip of your tongue would deteriorate first, so you would lose your ability to taste sweetness while you still have your ability to taste bitterness. Diabetics would want more and more sugar, causing higher and higher blood sugar levels, leading to still further damage to the sense of taste.

    Nowadays scientists know that the taste buds on the tongue are not as clearly segregated as once thought. There are “islands” of taste sensitivity scattered across the tongue, although there are still definite differences in the intensity of taste perceptions on the different parts of the tongue.

    These islands of taste perception work something like the pixels on a computer or TV screen. The brain combines information from the tongue with information from aromas sense by smell to create the sensory experience of food.

    Just as you would see a strange picture on your screen if one of the colors went out, many type 2 diabetics sense strange flavors in their food when their mouths don't water or their nerves for taste perception are damaged. You get strange taste sensations when the sweet, salty, sour, and bitter receptors on your tongue are not balanced. If you also lack salivation, the you will not enjoy the full benefits of aroma.

    Dealing with Dry Mouth Caused by Diabetes

    If food tends to taste like cotton or cardboard, chances are that you have a deficiency of salivation, also known as xerostomia or dry mouth. Diabetes causes dry mouth by the same process that it causes neuropathy in the hands and feet. High blood sugar levels, over time, simply wear out the nerves that control salivation. They cannot make new mitochondria fast enough to power the nerve all the way down to its terminus in the salivary gland.

    Ironically, diabetics who suffer dry mouth often want more and more of the dry, salty, high-carb foods that never satisfy their needs for taste, but that do satisfy the need for food with a crunch.

    The way most diabetic nutritionists will tell you to satisfy your need for crunchy food (and it's not a bad one) is to eat crisp, raw vegetables, such as carrot sticks, celery sticks, radishes, turnip root, and jicama. Vegetables for diabetics are supposed to be a freebie. It is theoretically possible to eat too many carrot sticks, but in the real world, people are usually satiated long before carb counts would become a problem for controlling blood sugar levels. Vegetables are a diabetic-friendly food.

    These raw plant foods and their kin provide a range of nutrients, a spectrum of flavors, and also natural moisture. They are better for you than chips, crisps, and crackers.

    A Way to Eat Less Your Nutritionist Won't Tell You About

    But if you simply must have your munchies, here is a way to eat less:

    Eat a smaller number of crackers, crisps, or chips with visible grains of salt on the surface.

    Don't eat the whole bag. It's never a good thing to be overshooting your sodium levels. But if you eat the smallest possible serving of a salty snack that makes your mouth water, you will enjoy the food.

    Of course, if the food itself is tasteless, then you will just want to eat and eat and eat. Don't suffer tasteless food. Throw out what has no nutrition and no taste. Eat slowly, taste each bite, and see if you really want more. You may find that you are satisfied with less. Covering your salty snacks with cheesy spreads and salsas, by the way, dilutes the power of the salt to make your mouth water.

    When Sugar-Free Sweeteners Just Aren't Sweet Enough

    A other common problem among type 2 diabetics − in fact, is an early warning sign of the disease − is an inability to taste sweetness. Here is what to do if neither sugar nor sugar-free sweeteners give you enough flavor.

    Before you know you have type 2, you're likely want to add more and more sugar to your coffee or tea or cereal to get the sweetness level right. After you know you have diabetes, you might switch to artificial sweeteners, but find that you need two or three packets of sweetener instead of one. And you guzzle down diet drinks without ever feeling satisfied.

    One way of dealing with a lack of sweet perception is to be conscious of the tip of your tongue. Take a smaller bite of food or a smaller sip of drink. Roll it to the front of your mouth. Even if your nerve endings have been damaged by diabetes, you will still have your greatest concentration of sweet receptors at the tip of your tongue.

    Let the tip of your tongue do all the work of tasting, and don't spread the food or beverage over the parts of your tongue where there are no receptors to note the sweet flavor. Simply eating and drinking more slowly, keeping the food or drink at the front of your mouth, will enable you to taste more sweetness with less sweetener.

    Before you give up on sweeteners for diabetics altogether, see if this trick doesn't work. You may enjoy food and drink more and reach for your sweetener packets a lot less often--or at least take one instead of two.

    Make Boring Diabetic Foods Tasty without the Carbs

    Are the diabetes foods in your diet sugar-free, fat-free, and taste free? Food manufacturers transform cheap ingredients into tasty, if not nutritious, meals with the help of chemical colorants and flavorings. They also use lots of table salt, dowses of fat, and surfeits of sugar. You can transform diet ingredients into tasty meals without the sugar, fat, and salt with the help of sea salt, stevia, lemon juice, and olive oil on your diabetic foods list. It only takes a little bit.

    Start with Sea Salt

    If diet food tastes blah, start with the addition of a tiny pinch of sea salt. Sea salt contains a range of minerals not found in common table salt and it's healthier for you, but that is not why we are recommending it here. Sea salt also contains a range of mineral flavors that make the other tastes noticeable. Just a tiny pinch of sea salt is like turning up the volume on the other tastes. When you get the taste you are looking for, you don't have to keep eating more and more.

    Make Stevia Your Second Step

    If diabetic food still tastes bland, add just a pinch (as little as 1/10 of a packet) of stevia. Adding salt is like turning up the volume on your stereo. Adding sweetness is like adding speakers. Tiny amounts help your taste buds notice more kinds of flavors, helping you hone in on the flavor profiles of the foods that help you keep your blood sugar levels in check.

    Rescue Culinary Miscues with Lemon Juice

    A few drops of fresh lemon juice is a great way to rescue cooking mistakes. Lemon juice, preferably fresh, is a great way to correct culinary errors. If you have added a bit too much salt, lemon juice helps you to taste the flavors that salt masks. Just a few drops of lemon juice also helps keep your mouth moist. I recommend that you squeeze your lemon juice into a bowl and then use a teaspoon to drop just a tiny amount of the juice

    Don't Go Totally Fat-Free

    A quarter to half a teaspoon (just 1-2 ml) of olive oil can help you enjoy spices more. Spices tend to have complex flavors that are mixtures of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Fully appreciating a spice requires the use of your entire tongue. A tiny amount of healthy fat added to your food coats your tongue and ensures that your entire tongue is involved in capturing the range of flavors in a spice. Olive oil is best with savory floods, while a nut oil is better on a food that is intended to be sweet. Oils added to food will also help your digestive tract absorb plant nutrients such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and vitamin A.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Is Diabetes One of the Major Causes of Cancer?

    A study recently published in the journal Diabetes Care states that women who have diabetes are nearly twice as likely to develop cancer, and men who have diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop cancer. But can these findings that diabetes might be one of the major causes of cancer be taken at face value?
    Diabetics are at risk for horrendous complications. Blindness, kidney failure, and limb amputations can and do occur when blood sugars are not well controlled for long periods of time.

    Diabetics are also at higher risk for heart attacks, Alzheimer's disease, and even acne, freckles, and age spots. Now another study reports that diabetics are at higher risk for cancer.

    The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia did a telephone survey of 400,000 adults in the United States, asking them whether they had diabetes or cancer. Among men responding to the survey, 7% of men who did not have diabetes said they had had cancer, while 16% of men who did have diabetes said they had had cancer. Among women responding to the survey, 10% of women who did not have diabetes said they had had cancer, and 17% of women who did have diabetes said they had had cancer.

    These findings are not unique. Dr. Fred Brancati of Johns Hopkins University has found that diabetics are 40% more likely to die of cancer than non-diabetics.

    Are these reliable cancer facts?

    There are possible methodological problems with the CDC study. It is possible that more diabetics are home-bound, and therefore more likely to pick up the phone when researchers called, so that relative rates of cancer are lower than the study found. It is also possible that more diabetics died earlier from their cancers, so that relative rates of cancer are higher than the study found. And the data in the CDC study are correlational. They don't prove cause and effect. But is there anything a diabetic can do that might reasonably lower the risk of cancer?

    There just is not any proven relationship between "good" blood sugar control and the risk of cancer. I'm hesitant to report it, but the data actually show that "tight control" of blood sugar levels results in more tumors and higher rates of cancer deaths, although not "significantly" higher. That isn't a reason to go out and eat two pieces of coconut cream pie, however.

    The medication metformin seems to lower cancer risk in diabetics, but not because of lowering blood sugars. Metformin acts on a specific tumor suppressor gene. And there are many reasons it is a preferred (and quite inexpensive) medication for type 2 diabetes.

    Telling diabetics they are at risk for one more disease does not seem to do much good unless there is also information about what to do about it. Right now, the scientific evidence points to metformin. The commonsense evidence points to taking care of diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels low, but not necessarily being compulsive about it--at least because of cancer risk.


    Micic D, Cvijovic G, Trajkovic V, Duntas LH, Polovina S. Metformin: its emerging role in oncology. Hormones (Athens). 2011 Jan;10(1):5-15.

    Stefansdottir G, Zoungas S, Chalmers J, Kengne AP, Knol MJ, Leufkens HG, Patel A, Woodward M, Grobbee DE, De Bruin ML. Intensive glucose control and risk of cancer in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetologia. 2011 Apr 21. [Epub ahead of print]

    Can You Take Prevacid When You Have Type 2 Diabetes?

    A reader asks, "Can you take Prevacid when you have type 2 diabetes?" Yes, but here is what to watch out for.
    The frequently unmentioned problem with Prevacid is that reducing acid reduces the completeness of digestion. If there is some food protein to which you are sensitive, the stress of the allergic or inflammatory reaction may run up your blood sugar levels more after each meal. Your digestive tract will still, unfortunately, manage to convert starch into sugar.

    Long-term users of Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Prilosec (omeprazole) may also problems with:

    • Bone maintenance
    • Vitamin absorption
    • Detoxification of ACE-inhibitors, glipizide drugs for diabetes, and many medications for cholesterol.
    These medications compete for liver enzymes that are also needed to activate and detoxify the drugs.

    Don't base your decisions for medication on anything your read on the Internet. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and your pharmacist. Bone health, vitamin absorption, food reactions, and the effectiveness of other medications are prime areas for concern.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Are Onions and Garlic a Cure for Cancer?

    The Liverpool Leader reports that Mr. Munir Haidar, an immigrant to the UK from Lebanon, has been cured of "terminal" prostate cancer after eating 200 grams (about half a pound) of raw onions daily for two years.

    "How your breath smells means little when your life is hanging in the balance," Mr. Haidar told The Leader. Mr. Haidar also quit eating meat and sweets and started taking hormones as cancer therapy.

    Why should raw onions cure prostate cancer? While no investigators have ever run a clinical trial (and it is likely none ever will), there was an epidemiological study sponsored by Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri," in Milan, Italy. The researchers found that persons who ate the most onions and garlic enjoyed:

    • 39 to 84% reduction of risk for mouth and throat cancers (in 2521 people studied),
    • 26 to 56% reduction of risk for colon cancers (in 7045 people studied),
    • 10 to 25% reduction of risk for breast cancers (in 6020 women studied),
    • 22 to 73% reduction of risk for ovarian cancer (in 3442 women studied), and
    • 19 to 71% reduction of risk for prostate cancer (in 2745 men studied).
    The large numbers of people involved in the studies suggest that the results are not a fluke, although the exact effect of onions are garlic could not be determined (hence the probability ranges). The greatest reduction in cancer risk was found in people who consumed at least 7 servings of onions and garlic weekly. A serving of onion is at least 80 grams (a little less than 3 oz) of onions, and a serving of garlic was at least one clove.

    The Italian researchers did not know which chemical in onions and garlic might protect against cancer. They even speculated that perhaps people who lead healthier lifestyles just happen to eat more onions and garlic.

    So should you buy a truckload of breath mints and start eating onions and garlic to prevent or treat cancer? Mr. Haidar would tell you the answer is a definite yes. The scientific data to date, however, only suggest that it definitely won't hurt and might actually help, assuming your loved ones and friends either have a limited sense of smell or enjoy their onions and garlic, too.


    Carlotta Galeone, Claudio Pelucchi, Fabio Levi, Eva Negri, Silvia Franceschi, Renato Talamini, Attilio Giacosa and Carlo La Vecchia. Onion and Garlic Use and Human Cancer. merican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 5, 1027-1032, November 2006.

    "Forget Bad Breath: Onions Bring Joy of Life to Cancer Sufferer," Simone Roberts, The Liverpool Leader, 1 May 2011.

    Scientists Announce a Diet That Reverses Diabetic Kidney Failure

    Researchers at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York have announced that extremely high-fat, extremely low-carb diet can reverse diabetic kidney failure, in mice.
    The researchers secured specially bred diabetic rodents and allowed them to develop diabetic kidney failure. They then put half the mice on a high-fat, low-carb diet similar to the ketogenic diet used for treating epilepsy in children, and let the other half of the mice eat high-carb. In just eight weeks, which is a very long time in the life of a rodent, the mice eating high-fat experienced a reversal disease.

    Generalizing the results of this study to humans, researcher Dr. Charles Mobbs was quoted in Science Daily as saying that this was the first study showing that diabetic nephropathy (kidney failure) could be reversed by diet alone. Even though humans have much longer lifetimes than rodents, Dr. Mobbs reportedly told the online news service that people with diabetic kidney disease might go into remission even faster than rodents, in just four weeks on this extreme diet.

    When rodents, or people, eat high-fat diets, cells all over the body start burning ketones instead of sugar.The brain continues to need a small amount of glucose, although even central nervous system tissue can operate largely on ketones released from fat. Since glucose is what "clogs" the filtration system of the kidneys, a short break from high glucose levels should allow them to recover.

    Actually, this is what happens when people in the early stages of kidney failure start taking good care of their blood sugar levels. In the early stages of diabetic kidney failure, eating less usually is what is required. The farther the disease progresses, the more there is a need for fat in the diet.

    But the kind of diet this study describes is more than low-carb. A single peanut could upset the metabolism of fat. A bowl of salad a day is out of the question. This diet requires mayonnaise, cream, butter, and a little high-fat cheese, with lots of vitamin supplements. It's not something anyone should try at home.

    And if you already have kidney disease, high-fat along with high-protein just isn't going to work. In kidney disease, protein is as big a problem as sugar.

    Don't run to the doctor asking to be put on a ketogenic diet just yet. But do take care to keep your blood sugar levels as normal as possible as long as possible so diabetic kidney disease never has a chance to develop.


    Poplawski MM, Mastaitis JW, Isoda F, Grosjean F, Zheng F, Mobbs CV. Reversal of diabetic nephropathy by a ketogenic diet.
    PLoS One. 2011 Apr 20;6(4):e18604.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Salt Doesn't Cause High Blood Pressure?

    The Journal of the American Medical Association reports a study that found that people who consumed the least salt had the most heart disease. But there are some issues with the details.
    For over 50 years doctors have been telling patients that taking the salt shaker off the table and avoiding salty and processed foods is essential for reversing high blood pressure. The famous DASH studies took this advice a step further and found a beneficial role for increased potassium, from fruits and vegetables, along with decreased sodium from salt. Now a European study involving 3,861 people in Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, and Russia reports that people who consume the least salt have higher blood pressure and more heart disease.

    Scientists with the European Project on Genes in Hypertension measured the amount of sodium in patients' urine when they were admitted into the study and at least one more time during the course of their researcher. They assumed that higher concentrations of sodium in urine corresponded to higher amounts of salt in the diet. The researchers then tracked the health of the participants and looked for correlations between sodium excretion/salt in the diet, blood pressure, and heart disease.

    In this study, the researchers found that:

    • Consuming more salt raised systolic blood pressure, but not diastolic blood pressure, and did not correlate to a diagnosis of high blood pressure.
    • The people who consumed the least salt had the most cardiovascular disease.
    The group that had the lowest consumption of salt had 50 deaths from cardiovascular disease. The group that had "average" consumption of salt had 24 deaths from cardiovascular disease. The group that had the highest consumption of salt had just 10 deaths from cardiovascular disease, less than 20% as many heart and stroke deaths as among those who ate the least salt. 

    More in the low-salt group had high blood pressure, 27%, compared to the high-salt group, 25%. The difference was statistically significant although not very large.

    These findings, of course, contradict most of the last 50 years of research. Is it really possible that salt is good for people?

    Well, yes, it is.

    However, another explanation for these findings is that people who already had high blood pressure or heart disease were put on low-salt diets, so naturally they would continue to have more high blood pressure or heart disease than healthy people.

    I wouldn't stock up on salt and salty food just yet. But if you are a diabetic who has normal blood pressure, avoiding salt does not seem to be a very high priority.


    Katarzyna Stolarz-Skrzypek, Tatiana Kuznetsova, Lutgarde Thijs, Jan A. Staessen, et al. for the European Project on Genes in Hypertension (EPOGH) Investigators. Fatal and Nonfatal Outcomes, Incidence of Hypertension, and Blood Pressure Changes in Relation to Urinary Sodium Excretion.
    JAMA. 4 May 2011;305(17):1777-1785.

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Healthy Diabetic Breakfasts

    Creating healthy diabetic breakfasts is a tough nutritional challenge. But with a little flexibility, most diabetics can find food that tastes good and is good for them.

    First, let's start with what you can't have.

    It's not a big surprise that diabetics can't have donuts, is it? Likewise, a big bowl of sugar-sweetened breakfast cereal, flapjacks with syrup, or what my Georgia-bred all-American mother would have called a "bate" of biscuits and gravy just won't work. Some diabetics who do heavy physical work or who do intense exercise routines immediately after breakfast might get away with some of these foods, but most diabetics just have to leave them alone.

    Then there are maybe-foods for a healthy diabetic breakfast.

    Eggs do not, as often advised, raise cholesterol. And they don't raise blood sugar levels, unless you happen to be allergic to them. The activation of the immune system causes the liver to release sugar stored as glycogen in allergic reactions. Egg allergies are more common than most people think, so here's a test. If you eat eggs for breakfast, try skipping them for 2 or 3 days. See if there is a difference in your blood sugar levels. If your blood sugars are improved, then make a habit of saving them for special occasions.

    If you are allergic to apples, by the way, you are probably allergic to eggs. And if you are allergic to eggs, you are probably allergic to eggs. Try avoiding both foods for a while and see if you feel different or you note changes in your blood sugar levels.

    Pork products are a bugaboo for a number of reasons. Observant Jews and Muslims, of course, never eat them. And there is no such thing as vegan pork bacon.

    The problem with pork is that it is pro-inflammatory. Of all the commonly consumed meats, pork is the highest in arachidonic acid. This essential fatty acid gets turned into two especially potent inflammatory hormones, leukotriene B4 and prostaglandin E2. The production of these hormones is faster when insulin levels are higher (as in, when your poor pancreas is trying to cope with your eating two jelly donuts before your sausage biscuit).

    The effect of arachidonic acid on the pancreas is minimal, but inflammation can certainly pack water weight around the belly and raise blood pressure. And there are some foods that can counteract the effect:
    • Prunes
    • Raisins
    • Dill
    • Oregano
    • Turmeric
    • Licorice whips (if they are made with real licorice)
    The problem with having bacon and sausage and eggs and Raisin Bran and prune juice gets back to the total amount of carbohydrate you can eat at one time. Prunes and raisins, however, not only alkalize the urine, they also offset some of the ill effects of pork.

    What about those other easy breakfast favorites, wheat toast and hashed browns? Even if you eat them in small amounts, not raising your blood sugar, I'd still call them a no-no. The problem with potatoes, wheat, and oats is that they activate pro-inflammatory genes in belly fat. More inflammation, more fluid, larger fat cells, more fat, poorer circulation. You can avoid this effect by eating small amounts of sourdough wheat products and, better, rye bread or rye crisps. Even if the amount of carbohydrate is not a problem, the amount of lectins in potatoes, wheat, and oats is.

    Where does this leave diabetics seeking a hearty breakfast? I suggest thinking outside the cereal and Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit boxes. Here are some foods that are safe in moderate amounts:

    • Fish. 
    • Salads--try them, you might like them. A spinach salad has special benefits.
    • Quinoa, easy to cook, high in minerals, complete protein, interested side dish to your protein food
    • Fresh, whole fruit, but only one piece.
    • Meat other than pork.
    • Miso, tofu, or edamame, in small amounts.
    • Beans, in small amounts.
    • Rye crisps and cheese spreads or cheese, again, in small amounts.
    • High-protein bars (make your own, they are a lot cheaper that way).
    • Grits or polenta, in small amounts.
    • Soup, if you make a simmered soup ahead and reheat for breakfast (don't use canned, too many carbs, not enough simmered food particles to blunt your appetite).
    • Any food you would eat at any other meal, in moderate quantities,
    Do you get the impression that not eating too much is key to a healthy breakfast for diabetics?

    If you eat absolutely the same thing every morning, then it probably is worthwhile to see how changing your breakfast selection changes your blood sugar readings. And it's also helpful to avoid food that cause allergic reactions that raise your blood sugars. Not only are eggs and apples a common pairing of allergies, but:
    • Corn and bananas, 
    • Pork and black pepper,
    • Juniper (called "mountain cedar" in Texas, where it is abundant) and beef,
    • Ragweed and milk, and
    • Elm and milk.
    If you are allergic to one you are probably allergic to the other. And what about a nice, tall glass of milk for breakfast?

    Here again, allergies may be a bigger problem than carbohydrate content. If you have been using cow's milk products for years, try goat's milk. If you grew up on goat's milk or sheep's milk, try cow's milk. Or almond milk, low in carbs, high in calcium. The more variety you have in your breakfast beverages, the more likely you are to get good nutrition while keeping blood sugars in control. In a diabetic breakfast, coffee is usually OK.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Is Curcumin a Colon Cancer Cure?

    Curcumin, the antioxidant found in turmeric, has some potent anti-cancer effects. It's an exaggeration to call it a "cure-cumin" for colon cancer, but it may be extraordinarily helpful.
    Curcumin exerts health effects not just by interacting with important chemicals involved in the body's response to cancer, but also by activating or inhibiting important genes. At least in laboratory experiments, curcumin may have these roles in colon cancer cures:
    • Activates the genes that code the enzyme glutamate cysteine ligase, which controls how much of the antioxidant glutathione the cells can make to protect its DNA.
    • Eliminates colon cancer "stem cells" when applied with the chemotherapy agent 5-FU.
    • Inhibits the p53 gene that causes apoptosis ("cellular suicide") in colon cancer cells.
    • Inhibits the metalloproteinases that help a cancerous tumor develop its own blood supply.
    • Inhibits the action of the Apc (adenomatous polyposis coli) gene that is associated with formation of numerous precancerous polyps.
    • Inhibits the action of the liver enzyme CYP1A1, which makes the aromatic hydrocarbons in gasoline and solvents toxic.
    If you read this list closely, you will notice that all the effects of curcumin in colon cancer are not beneficial. Interfering with the p53 gene makes colon cancer more likely to multiply, not less. However, the p53 gene is more important in stage III colon cancer than stage I or stage II.

    And because curcumin is difficult to absorb, it is more useful in treating stomach and colon cancers than cancers in other parts of the body. There is a low-tech approach to making curcumin more readily avaiable to the colon, mixing it with guar bean gum so that it "sticks" to the colon longer. There is also a high-tech approach to making curcumin more readily available to the colon, encapsulating it in nanoparticles, a method developed at West China Medical School of Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

    If you have colon cancer or you are concerned that you might be at high-risk for colon cancer, does it make sense to take curcumin? Here are some basic considerations:

    • Curry powder is about 3% curcumin. It's simply a lot easier to get more curcumin from supplements than food.
    • Clinical studies have found that curcumin is safe for colon cancer patients (although you should not take it or any other supplement without having a discussion with your doctor first). Up to 8 grams (8,000 mg) a day has not produced ill effects.
    • Clinical studies of advanced colon cancer patients who were also receiving chemotherapy found that curcumin extended life in about 10% of cases.  There are no reliable studies on the effect on colon cancer survival rates.
    • Scientists at Baylor Medical School in Houston, Texas report that curcumin increases the sensitivity of cancer cells to chemotherapy with doxorubicin, 5-FU, paclitaxel, vincristine, melphalan, butyrate, cisplatin, celecoxib, vinorelbine, gemcitabine, oxaliplatin, etoposide, sulfinosine, thalidomide, and bortezomib.
    • Baylor Medical School scientists also report that curcumin may protect the heart and mouth from side effects of radiation treatment.
    There just haven't been any studies in which colon cancer patients were given curcumin as their sole treatment. Most doctors consider it unethical not to give a cancer patient chemotherapy, even if the objective of the study is to find out if curcumin might work better by itself. Within the framework of standard cancer treatment, however, curcumin seems to make conventional cancer treatments work better, so it might be possible to have fewer treatments or lower doses. 

    These are issues colon cancer patients have to work out with their doctors. Chances are that your oncologist has at least heard of curcumin in colon cancer treatment. Be absolutely sure that you and your doctor are on the same page, and then try adding curcumin to your daily routine to see if conventional treatments work better.

    Saturday, May 7, 2011

    A Gene-Based Diabetes Cure?

    UCLA scientists believe it may be possible to cure diabetes by creating new insulin-producing cells from similar tissues.

    The pancreas contains both beta cells and alpha cells. The beta cells make insulin, which lowers blood sugars. The alpha cells make glucagon, which raises blood sugars.

    The crucial difference between the two types of cells is the activity of a gene called ARX, which has to be "turned up" by a process called methylation to make insulin and "turned down" by a process called demthylation to make glucagon. The problem in diabetes is that ARX has been "turned down" so much that insulin production eventually is essentially turned off. The cells that are supposed to make insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, instead make glucagon, which raises them.

    In turn, another gene called Dnmt1 controls the chemical processes that activates the gene that controls the production of insulin. Dr. Anil Bhushan of the David Geffen School of Medicine told Diabetes in Control that believes that it may be "simple" to reactivate Dnmt1 to restart the production of insulin.

    Of course, insulin resistance would still be an issue, so this would not mean that diabetics could suddenly start eating anything they wanted. However, for type 1 diabetics and for advanced type 2 diabetics, a treatment to restart insulin production would be a significant first step in curing the disease. UCLA scientists believe it may be possible to cure diabetes by creating new insulin-producing cells from similar tissues.

    The pancreas contains both beta cells and alpha cells. The beta cells make insulin, which lowers blood sugars. The alpha cells make glucagon, which raises blood sugars.

    The crucial difference between the two types of cells is the activity of a gene called ARX, which has to be "turned up" by a process called methylation to make insulin and "turned down" by a process called demthylation to make glucagon. The problem in diabetes is that ARX has been "turned down" so much that insulin production eventually is essentially turned off. The cells that are supposed to make insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, instead make glucagon, which raises them.

    In turn, another gene called Dnmt1 controls the chemical processes that activates the gene that controls the production of insulin. Dr. Anil Bhushan of the David Geffen School of Medicine told Diabetes in Control that believes that it may be "simple" to reactivate Dnmt1 to restart the production of insulin.

    Of course, insulin resistance would still be an issue, so this would not mean that diabetics could suddenly start eating anything they wanted. However, for type 1 diabetics and for advanced type 2 diabetics, a treatment to restart insulin production would be a significant first step in curing the disease.UCLA scientists believe it may be possible to cure diabetes by creating new insulin-producing cells from similar tissues.

    The pancreas contains both beta cells and alpha cells. The beta cells make insulin, which lowers blood sugars. The alpha cells make glucagon, which raises blood sugars.

    The crucial difference between the two types of cells is the activity of a gene called ARX, which has to be "turned up" by a process called methylation to make insulin and "turned down" by a process called demthylation to make glucagon. The problem in diabetes is that ARX has been "turned down" so much that insulin production eventually is essentially turned off. The cells that are supposed to make insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, instead make glucagon, which raises them.

    In turn, another gene called Dnmt1 controls the chemical processes that activates the gene that controls the production of insulin. Dr. Anil Bhushan of the David Geffen School of Medicine told Diabetes in Control that believes that it may be "simple" to reactivate Dnmt1 to restart the production of insulin.

    Of course, insulin resistance would still be an issue, so this would not mean that diabetics could suddenly start eating anything they wanted. However, for type 1 diabetics and for advanced type 2 diabetics, a treatment to restart insulin production would be a significant first step in curing the disease. MZGWTM8SR886