Category Archives: Nutrition

Amylose In Relation To Diabetes

Amylose In Relation To Diabetes: Amylose is a molecule that is found in starch. While most people who have not been science majors may be either disinterested or even overwhelmed by a discussion of the chemical composition and purpose of Amylose, diabetics who need to regulate their diets may appreciate an overview of what Amylose is all about.

In general, attempting to make radical changes to regulate your diet without the advice of a physician is not recommended. Even if you already know a great deal about the subject, only your physician has enough knowledge of your particular medical needs and how something will affect you.

As studies show that an ongoing diet which contains foods that are rich in Amylose can be beneficial to a diabetic, this is something which you might like to discuss with your doctor. Simply finding out which foods Amylose is present in, and attempting to adjust your everyday diet accordingly, can be greatly helpful to some diabetics but harmful to others. Not only does your physician know your own specific range of insulin levels, he will also be in the best position to advise you as to whether providing a “boost” with starch can be in your best interest.

While stabilizing blood sugar levels is the primary concern for diabetics, many diabetics also struggle with weight issues. This is yet another reason why your physician should be consulted, rather than making this decision on your own. While foods which are rich in Amylose can be beneficial in causing long term stabilization of blood sugar, some diabetics may be in the position of avoiding it because the starch that is most difficult to digest can impede their efforts to control their weight.

These days it is becoming more and more popular for patients with a variety of medical concerns to elect to “take charge of their own healthcare.” It is essential to recognize that this does not mean the patient has all of the relevant facts on hand to make serious health decisions without the assistance or input of his own doctor. Even though it has been shown that regulating one’s use of starch can have a positive effect, there are enough factors involved in this to make it clear that the average patient is not in a position to come to a conclusion. As each person’s system is different, only a physician can make a qualified decision regarding how such dietary changes are likely to affect the individual patient.

When it comes down to making the final decision as to what types of dietary adjustments are best for your specific situation, only your personal physician has enough information about your particular health issues to make the most well-informed decision. In the interest of your long term health, and to avoid the possibility of any unnecessary complications, it is essential that you do not try to switch to either a high-Amylose diet for the purpose of blood sugar regulating, nor to eliminate Amylose-rich foods altogether in an attempt to lose weight.

Furosemide

Furosemide is a diuretic which works directly on the kidneys. It is most commonly used to aid in relieving excess fluid in patients who have conditions such as congestive heart failure or progressive kidney problems. The reason why a diuretic is necessary in such cases is that excessive fluid build-up can be life-threatening.

As there are quite a few medications, both prescription and over-the-counter varieties, which can interact with furosemide and cause serious complications, it is absolutely essential that your physician be made aware of anything that you may be taking. Even something as basic as plain aspirin can pose potential difficulties when used with furosemide! The effects of drug interactions can range from problematic to deadly, so make sure that you do not take anything without your doctor’s knowledge.

A frequent complication from diuretics in general is that this type of medication tends to deplete the body from the electrolytes which it needs in order to function properly. In other words, relieving the body of its excess, potentially-damaging fluid often results in loss of important nutrients, such as potassium. If your physician has recommended that you use furosemide, it is necessary for him to also make recommendations as to how to keep this all-important balance in your body; depending on your own personal health factors, he may advise a specific type of vitamin and mineral supplements, or he may think it best for you to begin including foods in your everyday diet that are rich in these elements.

Even if you may be tempted to think that using a diuretic like furosemide is not serious, this is a mistake. In addition to the possibility of losing important nutritional elements from your system, it also has the potential of causing many side-effects, some of which are minor and some of which are quite severe. The side-effects generally associated with furosemide include, but are not limited to, difficulties and reactions in the gastrointestinal system, negative effects to the blood, problems in the central nervous system, and a variety of allergic reactions which differ greatly from person to person.

If your doctor has prescribed furosemide for you, you should take some common-sense precautions. One is that you should not use alcohol or any type of other drugs without first checking with your doctor. You should also be aware of the risks for side-effects, and consult your physician immediately if you begin to experience any of them. Side-effects can be problematic enough in themselves; but left untreated can have even more serious results, possibly even death.

As is the case with most prescription medications, when furosemide is used correctly, in accordance to instructions, it can be an excellent tool for treatment and improving your overall health; but as is also the case with any medication, one of the largest factors in how effective and how safe it ultimately is rests on cooperating with your physician and using it exactly the way that he directs.

Drink Deep, Live Long The 2,000 Year-old Diabetic Tea

Drink Deep, Live Long The 2,000 Year-old Diabetic Tea: Would you like a cup of Gymnema Herbal Tea? If you were to visit either India or Sri Lanka you might be offered a cup. It appears that if you suffered from diabetes it might be beneficial to drink.

For more than 2,000 years gymnema sylvestre has been used as both a medicine as well as a common drink in India. Today a growing body of evidence seems to support the use of this herb in the treatment of diabetes.

According to WiseGeek.com, “The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) find ‘good scientific evidence’ that gymnema sylvestre can be helpful in controlling blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes when used in conjunction with insulin and other medications as prescribed by a doctor. It is important that people with existing blood sugar issues talk to their doctors before adding gymnema sylvestre to their diet, as insulin or other medications may need to be reduced.”

A plant extract from the rainforests of India, gymnema sylvestre has been subjected to multiple scientific tests and the end result seems to be that science would agree that taken with a doctor’s prescribed insulin regimen this herb can provide relief from certain diabetic symptoms. Specifically this product may serve to encourage the body to produce additional insulin. King’s College in London produced a study in 2005 that indicated the herb does in fact increase insulin secretion.

One rather remarkable attribute is that the tea provides a short-term desensitization to the taste of something sweet. In other words if you were to eat a piece of candy following consumption of Gymnema Herbal Tea it would not taste sweet. Even eating a piece of fruit would find that your taste buds do not recognize the sweet taste of the fruit. This effect is generally gone within 30 minutes of completing a cup of tea, but if taken with meals it may reduce your desire for desert.

Preliminary research also suggests that drinking Gymnema Herbal Tea might serve to lower bad cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Many researchers also view the effects of gymnema sylvestre as cumulative. In other words the longer you use the herbal supplement the greater the end results will be. You may not see or feel much change in the first few days or even weeks of using this product, but over time it may prove helpful.

The Hindi refer to this herb as Gur-mar, which is literally translated ‘sugar destroyer’.

As with all herbs the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate nor do they test the assertions made by herbal manufacturers. That being said the scientific community has done a service for those who appreciate a more holistic approach to managed care. By discovering the primary compounds within gymnema sylvestre they have found that there is good reason for the people of India to rely on the herb for assistance with diabetes. India’s good news is now a common export.

Gymnema Herbal Tea can be found online, but it may also be found in many health food stores. You may benefit by asking your primary care physician if the use of this herb may be helpful in the care of your diabetes.

Combining the Natural With the Medicinal

Combining the Natural With the Medicinal: As early as 1982 researchers at the Pritikin Center saw something that seems to have since been swept under the rug. Their findings showed a significant number of members in their study group able to eliminate diabetes drugs after following a revolutionary diet that in many ways stopped diabetes in its tracks.

What was it? A diet rich in vegetable based foods and poor in animal products.

Today this notion may be thought of as simply an alternative medical approach or perhaps even a fad. Doctors will still provide answer to diabetes that include drugs first and common sense solutions second. Many will say it is large pharmaceuticals driving this trend toward a magic bullet solution. Indeed the research that is routinely conducted today seems to rely on drugs and surgical procedures as viable solutions.

This scenario has essentially placed natural remedies and other alternative medicines as the stuff of Witch Doctors and Voodoo health. This may be unfortunate in that medicine has always benefited from using what occurs naturally in our environment to help in the healing arts.

T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of the book The China Study indicates that when patients intentionally increase plant-based foods and reduce animal derived foods, “the number of deaths from diabetes plummets from 20.4 to 2.9 per 100,000 people.”

This article in no way seeks to lure patients away from the care of their physician in favor or a remedy that may not fully take your current medical condition into account. The notion set forth here is to explore options that can enhance therapies you may already be using to improve your health and reduce diabetic symptoms.

Many argue that Americans have become so enraptured with a pill to cure everything they may not be taking a vested interest in their own health.

With diabetes there is a need to work at self-managing your disease. This includes monitoring your blood glucose, watching what you eat and exercising. This is stressed strongly by health care workers to help diabetics understand the need to alter their lifestyles. The problem is this common sense set of standards never seems to be taken to heart until the disease is already in place.

A gentleman was relating details of a family reunion he attended where, as he describes it, “I looked around at family members eating and drinking whatever they want and then pop a few pills for their diabetes and hope for the best. I don’t want that for me, so I’m doing something about it.”

This gentleman has lost more than thirty pounds and has improved vitality and interest in life since he made that decision. He is now close to sixty years of age and remains free of diabetic symptoms (something that is common in his family).

When I talk about ‘vested interest’ this is the individual that comes most immediately to mind. His conscious decision to do what he could to resist dependence on medication is inspiring and a visual I wish many Americans would take heed to and imitate.

This site provides several articles on natural elements that can aid in curbing diabetes or managing its care.

Interestingly there was a time not so long ago when pharmaceutical medicine and natural remedies were lumped together as a complete approach to the care of patients. Somewhere the two were separated and they don’t always play well together in the 21st century.

In the end you will need to do what is best for you so learn all you can about different diabetic therapies and get your doctor’s input.

What We Didn’t Know About Protein

What We Didn’t Know About Protein: We’ve all heard that protein in our diets is a good thing – especially if it is ‘good’ protein. In order to completely understand the idea of  ‘good’ protein we consulted with WebMD and discovered that they recognize the following as good protein; “Fish & seafood, white-meat poultry, milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, beans, pork tenderloin, soy and lean beef.”

However, as affirming as that might sound, WebMD also released findings of a new study that indicates too much of a good thing is actually bad, “A high-fat diet may lead to insulin resistance, a major step on the path to type 2 diabetes. But cutting back on fat may not help those who continue to eat too much protein.”

Protein is the staple of many highly regarded diet plans including the Atkins diet. In many cases protein is strongly recommended to the exclusion of carbohydrates. Many have lost weight using this method, but this new data may have limiting implications for these plans.

Christopher Newgard, PhD, director of the Sarah Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center at Duke University told WebMD, “There’s not only fat in that hamburger but plenty of protein. We are overconsuming calories composed of all the different macronutrients, and together they have harmful effects.”

The original emphasis of the study was to learn how fat metabolizes in individuals who are lean as opposed to those who are obese. What researchers learned came as a surprise, “Under circumstances of overconsumption, not only does excess fat and carbohydrate have injurious effects, but also the protein component of the diet can lead to some of the co-morbidities of obesity,” said Newgard.

The WebMD report helps define the metabolic differences between the Duke University test group, “Lean people’s bodies tend to make new proteins out of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids). In obese people this process gets overloaded. Instead of making new protein, the BCAAs are diverted into a deviant pathway that leads to insulin resistance.”

Part of the key to this study was the total number of BCAA proteins in food. It is estimated that there are about 20% of all protein supplies that include BCAAs. In rats that were used in this test there was an equal amount of insulin resistance with a lower fat diet that included BCAAs as there was in a high fat/high protein diet. The rats that had the low fat, but high BCAA diet ate less and still had an equal insulin resistance as their high fat rat counterparts.

Ronald B. Goldberg, MD, director of the lipid disorders clinic at the University of Miami said, “What [this] shows is that the combination of high fat and protein might be what’s important in developing insulin resistance. The truth is that in Western diets we do eat a high-protein, high-fat diet. The stress previously has not been on the high-protein component.”

These findings are logically going to be reviewed and studied from multiple angles, but it does offer some interesting ideas about the near epidemic status of diabetes. What if it’s possible the diet we have thought was beneficial to the American public is actually part of the problem associated with onset diabetes? What if the very foods we look to for good health are actually contributing to the rapid growth of Type 2 diabetes?

Yes, the ultimate results of this study may indeed provide profound ‘implications’.

Good and Bad Fat Proteins and What They Mean for Diabetes

Good and Bad Fat Proteins and What They Mean for Diabetes: studies just released deal with fat proteins in your blood system that can either be a marker for diabetes development or a signal that diabetes may be avoided. This apparently hinges on the type of fat proteins found in your system.

You might think of this in much the same way you might good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). The first type of fat protein is known as PEDF (pigment epithelium-derived factor). This protein is linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes. The second type is Adiponectin and this has been linked to diabetes avoidance.

There has been long standing evidence that obesity and diabetes are often strongly linked. A study by Monash University suggests, “When PEDF is released into the bloodstream, it causes the muscle and liver to become desensitized to insulin. The pancreas then produces more insulin to counteract these negative effects,” according to Associate Professor Matthew Watt in a ScienceDaily.com interview.

When the body is forced to produce significant amounts of insulin it effectively wears out and stops making enough. This is the reason why PEDF can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

Watt does have good news, “Our research was able to show that increasing PEDF not only causes Type 2 diabetes like complications but that blocking PEDF reverses these effects. The body again returned to being insulin-sensitive and therefore did not need excess insulin to remain regulated.”

Meanwhile WebMD reports that a separate fat protein may actually signal a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. “Adiponectin is a protein produced by fat cells that has anti-inflammatory properties. It also makes the body more sensitive to insulin.”

More than 15,000 individuals were included in study statistics and the results indicate strong Adiponectin levels indicated a reduced risk for diabetes.

Because Adiponectin is found in fat researchers are careful to reiterate that increasing fat content in and of itself is likely to be harmful. The reason is tied to the protein PEDF that can actually be a causal agent in the development of diabetes.

Fat consumption can provide both proteins leading to both good and bad results. This is likely why researchers are looking at the possibility of developing medications that will block PEDF (bad fat protein) while boosting the intake of Adiponectin (good fat protein).

As science becomes more capable of defining individual components we gain a much clearer picture of why medical complications arise based on how our bodies react to what we consume and how we take care of them.

In both cases researchers point to the fact that a decrease in body weight is likely to make the debate over fat proteins a moot point. Rob M. van Dam told U.S. News and World Report, “Avoid obesity. So many things get better as you lose weight.” Professor Watt told ScienceDaily.com, “Type 2 diabetes patients will benefit knowing the two conditions are linked. We already know that weight-loss generally improves the management of blood glucose levels in diabetes patients.”

Most pharmaceuticals for diabetes are developed when weight loss goals are either ignored or cannot be met for other physical reasons. When an overweight individual who weighs 200 pounds looses 10-20 pounds many of the symptoms associated with diabetes or pre-diabetes go away. The guideline is 5-10% weight loss. If you are struggle with your weight consider making small changes that can make for great results. This includes better and more informed food choices along with greater physical exercise.

The Type 1 Diabetes Wheat Link

The Type 1 Diabetes Wheat LinkThe Type 1 Diabetes Wheat Link: Research partially funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) suggests a possible link between the consumption of wheat products and the development of Type 1 diabetes in certain individuals.

According to ScienceDaily.com, “Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa have discovered what may be an important clue to the cause of type 1 diabetes. Dr. Fraser Scott and his team tested 42 people with type 1 diabetes and found that nearly half had an abnormal immune response to wheat proteins.”

Wheat protein is a staple in an American diet. It can be found in virtually all baked goods and has traditionally been thought of as healthy for all consumers. However, in the case of this study there is something else going on within the body of the potential Type 1 diabetic to indicate oncoming danger.

Dr. Scott, a Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Professor of Medicine at the University of Ottawa said, “The immune system has to find the perfect balance to defend the body against foreign invaders without hurting itself or over-reacting to the environment and this can be particularly challenging in the gut, where there is an abundance of food and bacteria. Our research suggests that people with certain genes may be more likely to develop an over-reaction to wheat and possibly other foods in the gut and this may tip the balance with the immune system and make the body more likely to develop other immune problems, such as type 1 diabetes.”

Science Daily also indicated Dr. Mikael Knip of Finland reiterated the findings by saying, “These observations add to the accumulating concept that the gut is an active player in the diabetes disease process.”

It is estimated that between 15-25 million individuals have Type 1 diabetes. This figure represents less than 10% of all diabetic cases. Type 1 is describes as the most severe type of diabetes simply because the pancreas is attacked from within rendering is essentially useless in producing insulin the body needs to regulate blood glucose levels.

In explaining the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes Mayoclinic.com reports, “Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin.”

The news about a possible link to wheat may have many parents considering the potential of eliminating the food item from their children’s diet. After all allergic reaction to wheat can coincide with the onset of Type 1 diabetes.  Research suggests other autoimmune disease may also be linked to wheat such as celiac disease.

Previous studies do indicate that a wheat-free diet can reduce the risk for the development of Type 1 diabetes in animal studies. The problem is it can be almost impossible to assure a diet completely devoid of wheat, but there’s another reason not to go overboard. Dr. Scott explains, “It’s impossible to predict who will develop diabetes — 90 per cent of people who develop Type 1 diabetes don’t have a relative with Type 1.”

For up to date information on proper nutrition for Type 1 diabetics always visit with your heath care provider.

Glucose Management: The Carnitine Connection

Glucose Management: The Carnitine Connection: What if blood glucose could be flushed from the system using a common nutrient found in many foods? But what if eating some of those foods might in turn make you more liable to develop diabetes? This is a puzzle potentially solved in the nutrient carnitine.

The National Institute on health describes carnitine as one that “Plays a critical role in energy production. It transports long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria so they can be oxidized (“burned”) to produce energy. It also transports the toxic compounds generated out of this cellular organelle to prevent their accumulation. Given these key functions, carnitine is concentrated in tissues like skeletal and cardiac muscle that utilize fatty acids as a dietary fuel.”

Beefsteak has one of the highest concentrations of carnitine, but most medical professionals would not urge a diabetic to consume large quantities of steak in order to gain the benefit of this desirable nutrient.

In typical adults there is enough existing carnitine in their body to allow for proper regulation of blood glucose. However, there may now be evidence to suggest that in some individuals the addition of a carnitine supplement could prove valuable in diabetes management.

Duke University conducted tests on rats using carnitine. According to ScienceDaily.com, “After just eight weeks of supplementation with carnitine, the obese rats restored their cells’ fuel burning capacity (which was shut down by a lack of natural carnitine) and improved their glucose tolerance, a health outcome that indicates a lower risk of diabetes.”

Plans are in place to transfer the study from rats to humans in an effort verify the original findings. Researchers believe that the addition of carnitine could allow for improve glucose tolerance in both obese and older individuals. This is exciting news because it could mean a new therapy that allows at risk individuals to avoid developing diabetes while allowing those already diagnosed with an improved means of blood sugar control.

Deborah Muoio, Ph.D., of the Duke told ScienceDaily.com, “We suspected that persistent increases in acylcarnitines in the rats were causing problems, and we could also see that the availability of free carnitine was decreasing with weight gain and aging. It appeared that carnitine could no longer do its job when chronic metabolic disruptions were stressing the system. That’s when we designed an experiment to add extra carnitine to the rats’ diet.”

When carnitine was added fat burning functions improved and the rats lost weight and improved vigor.

Experts agree that tighter control on blood glucose allows for the best long-term health outcomes for diabetic patients. Carnitine supplements could provide the fuel-burning boost needed to achieve reduced weight and flush excess blood glucose from the body.

The NIH adds, “Insulin resistance, which plays an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes, may be associated with a defect in fatty-acid oxidation in muscle. This raises the question as to whether mitochondrial dysfunction might be a factor in the development of the disease. Increased storage of fat in lean tissues has become a marker for insulin resistance. Early research suggests that supplementation with L-carnitine intravenously may improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics by decreasing fat levels in muscle and may lower glucose levels in the blood by more promptly increasing its oxidation in cells. A recent analysis of two multicenter clinical trials of subjects with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes found that treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine (3 grams/day orally) for one year provided significant relief of nerve pain and improved vibration perception in those with diabetic neuropathy. The treatment was most effective in subjects with type 2 diabetes of short duration.”

Antioxidants vs. Free Radicals: An Unexpected Finding

Antioxidants vs. Free Radicals: An Unexpected Finding: The long-playing mantra in personal health has been, “Eliminate free radicals!” Antioxidants have been added to vitamin supplements and teas. ‘Super foods’ have been elevated to the status of health saviors. However a new report indicates that free radicals can be either good or bad depending on which side of the diabetic diagnosis you’re on.

The report originated in Cell Metabolism and suggests that free radicals known as ROS (reactive oxygen species) may actually be important in retarding the development of Type 2 diabetes. According to ScienceDaily.com, “The researchers show that low levels of ROS – and hydrogen peroxide in particular — might actually protect us from diabetes, by improving our ability to respond to insulin signals.”

Is it possible that by adopting antioxidants as a means of advancing personal health we have actually placed ourselves in jeopardy of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? It’s actually more complicated than that. You see antioxidants may be very helpful once a diabetic diagnosis has been made. There seems to be an unusual tipping point between when antioxidants are bad – and when they are good.

Tony Tiganis of Monash University in Australia who participated in the research said, “Our studies indicate that ‘physiological’ low levels of ROS may promote the insulin response and attenuate insulin resistance early in the progression of type 2 diabetes, prior to overt obesity and hyperglycemia.”

The data seems to suggest that ROS can provide your body with the ability to maintain proper insulin response in non-diabetic or prediabetic patients. Once high blood sugar is noted it may be important to eliminate free radicals (ROS) with antioxidants.

The ScienceDaily.com reports indicates, “Tiganis’ team found that mice with a deficiency that prevented them from eliminating physiological ROS didn’t become insulin resistant on a high-fat diet as they otherwise would have. They showed that those health benefits could be attributed to insulin-induced signals and the uptake of glucose into their muscles. When those animals were given an antioxidant, those benefits were lost, leaving the mice with more signs of diabetes.”

There have been other studies that have suggested antioxidants may actually reduce an individual’s lifespan. Studies on worms show that a removal of free radicals actually served to cause their premature death. Tiganis is quoted as saying, “In the case of early type 2 diabetes and the development of insulin resistance, our studies suggest that antioxidants would be bad for you.” Under some conditions, treatments designed to selectively increase ROS in muscle – if they can be devised – might even help.”

Tiganis further suggests a two-prong approach to the information he’s uncovered. The first step is to stop taking all pill forms of antioxidants. The second step is to exercise. Tiganis notes that exercise actually promotes ROS development that could work to improve insulin receptivity within the body. Perhaps there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all pill that can eliminate the need for physical activity after all.

The research does provide scientists with information they may be able to use to develop alternative therapies that balance the bodies need for ROS with the role of antioxidants if/when they are ultimately needed.

There has been some suggestion of working toward a therapy that can replace ROS striped from the body by antioxidants. As with most startup research there will be more testing to take place before new therapies emerge, but the research provided by Tiganis offers compelling data to suggest the value of free radicals may have been misdiagnosed.