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Posts Tagged ‘Diabetes’

is diabetic diet worsening diabetes copy

If you have diabetes, whether it’s type 1 or type 2, your doctor likely recommended a diet endorsed by the American Diabetes Association. But did you know the diabetic diet recommends foods that could be slowly worsening your diabetes condition?

Turns out there is more to a diabetic diet than grams of carbs and sugar, although those are vitally important.

For people with type 1 diabetes and for an estimated 20 percent of people with type 2 diabetes, diabetes is an autoimmune disease.

This means the immune system is attacking and destroying the parts of the pancreas involved in insulin production and regulation. Over time destruction is severe enough the body can no longer adequately regulate blood sugar.

Certain foods on the diabetic diet, such as gluten and dairy, have been shown to both trigger autoimmunity and make it worse.

Many type 2 diabetics have autoimmune diabetes

People with type 1 diabetes, which begins in childhood, understand diabetes is an autoimmune condition.

However, many people with type 2 diabetes can go for years without knowing there is an autoimmune component to their diabetes, which generally sets in during adulthood.

This type of diabetes is called type 1.5 diabetes, latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA), or even double diabetes.

Type 1.5 diabetes involves the lifestyle components of being overweight or obese and eating a diet that promotes high blood sugar, along with the autoimmune component that slowly destroys the insulin-producing abilities of the pancreas.

Where the diabetic diet fails

Although grams of carbs and sugars are vital considerations for people with all types of diabetes, what is overlooked is the immune reactivity of foods.

Research shows a link between certain foods and the triggering or exacerbating of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 and type 1.5 diabetes.

If you have an immune reaction to certain foods and consume them daily, they are going to keep the immune system in a constant state of inflammation and attacking body tissue. This makes blood sugar continually difficult to manage, despite careful consumptions of carbs and sugars.

Foods to avoid with autoimmune diabetes

The two top foods to avoid if you have autoimmune diabetes are gluten and dairy. Both have been linked to a number of autoimmune diseases, including diabetes.

Gluten has been shown to trigger an autoimmune attack against the GAD enzyme  which plays a role in insulin regulation and brain function. Casein, the protein in dairy products, has also been linked with autoimmune diabetes.

If you have a sensitivity to these foods or other common immune reactive foods, it is worth getting tested or doing an elimination diet  Knowing which foods are provoking an autoimmune attack can help you better manage your type 1 or type 1.5 diabetes.

Ask my office for more advice on ways to tame inflammation and manage your autoimmune diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes, it’s important to rule out autoimmunity.

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diabetes management

Anyone with diabetes knows it’s important to manage insulin levels. Functional medicine offers unique tools to manage insulin and blood sugar — including diet, exercise, stress management, detoxification, and maximizing essential nutrients. To understand how all these tools apply, it’s helpful to know how insulin works.

Insulin and Blood Sugar: A Balancing Act

Insulin helps keep glucose (sugar) levels in the bloodstream within normal range. When you eat, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, our primary energy source. When glucose enters the bloodstream, the pancreas responds by producing insulin, which enables glucose to enter the body’s tissues. Excess glucose is stored in the liver; when needed to sustain blood sugar between meals, the liver releases sugar and the pancreas responds with more insulin to help it enter cells. This balancing act keeps the amount of sugar in the bloodstream stable.

When the pancreas secretes little or no insulin (type I diabetes), when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or when your cells are resistant to insulin (insulin resistance, common in type II diabetes), sugar levels in the bloodstream can get too high. Chronic high blood sugar can lead to complications such as blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage.

Managing Insulin with a Multi-Faceted Approach

Certain environmental and lifestyle factors increase the need for insulin, which is a problem when the body can’t produce enough.

Diet

What you eat directly affects your blood sugar and insulin levels.

  • Not eating regularly, and eating larger meals causes drops and spikes in blood sugar and insulin, driving insulin resistance  If blood sugar is a problem, better to eat smaller, more frequent meals to keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
  • Processed and fast foods drive inflammation, which causes insulin resistance and other disease processes. It also increases cortisol levels, which can increase blood sugar levels.
  • Food sensitivities cause immune and inflammatory responses, which causes insulin resistance. Many people have food sensitivities they don’t know about.
  • Pay attention to Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load. Glycemic index measures the insulin response your body has after eating a food. The higher the number, the more insulin your pancreas needs to secrete. Glycemic load is the amount of that food eaten.

Exercise

Fat cells have insulin receptors. Exercise burns calories and fat; fewer cells mean less need for insulin. And, when you exercise, your muscles need more energy to fire and insulin receptor sites become more receptive. Even a short walk can reduce blood sugar levels and insulin demands dramatically.

Stress

Up to 90 percent of doctor visits are related to chronic stress. Stress has big impact on insulin by:

  • decreasing insulin receptor sensitivity, which means the body must make more insulin to have the same response to blood sugar.
  • elevating cortisol, which can raise blood sugar levels.
  • causing the liver to raise blood sugar (the body’s way of increasing energy to handle stressful situations). Raised blood sugar means more need for insulin.

Toxins

Toxins are found throughout our environment — in body products, food, air, and water. The body gets overworked trying to deal with them, causing inflammation and increasing insulin resistance. Inflammation shuts down receptor sites, requiring the body to make more insulin.

Essential Nutrients

Essential nutrients are necessary for healthy bodily function. Key nutrients commonly lacking in patients with blood sugar issues are:

  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid — Alpha-lipoic acid is one of the main nutrients responsible for making sugar into energy. Anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, it helps reduce insulin resistance.
  • Magnesium — Diabetics tend to utilize magnesium faster than non-diabetics. Magnesium is responsible for making energy, helps muscles and nerves fire, and is responsible for over 300 processes in the body. Low magnesium can contribute to constipation, depression, and high blood pressure.
  • Zinc — Excess inflammation causes you to use more zinc than normal. Because diabetes is rooted in inflammation, a lot of diabetics are low in zinc. An important nutrient to the pancreas, it plays a role in almost 300 reactions in the body.
  • B-Vitamins — The b-vitamins play a role in almost every cellular process. Diabetic medications can deplete b-vitamins.
  • Chromium — Chromium helps make insulin receptor sites receptive to insulin, helping lower blood sugar levels.

A Multi-Faceted Approach is Key

For proper diabetes management, we must provide adequate exercise, proper nutrition, and manageable stress levels. As a functional health provider, I understand that you have unique needs and am prepared to help you develop a customized action plan to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels.

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sugar and diabetes

For years, medicine has pegged obesity as the number one cause of diabetes. However, results of a recent large epidemiological study suggest it’s sugar that plays a pivotal role in diabetes. The study also illustrates that how many calories you eat isn’t as important as what makes up those calories — the study found calories from sugar is more damaging than calories from other foods.

Researchers looked at the correlation between sugar availability and diabetes in 175 countries during the last ten years and controlled for such factors as obesity, calories consumed, diet, economic development, activity level, urbanization, tobacco and alcohol use, and aging.

They found the more sugar a population ate the higher the incidence of diabetes, independent of obesity rates. According to Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, the study’s lead author, “We’re not diminishing the importance of obesity at all, but these data suggest…additional factors contribute to diabetes risk besides obesity and total calorie intake, and that sugar appears to play a prominent role.” The study provides the first large-scale, population-based evidence for the idea that perhaps it’s not just calories, but the type of calories, that matter when looking at diabetes risk.

All calories are not created equal

One thing is clear from the study – although by definition all calories give off the same amount of energy when burned, sugar is uniquely damaging to the body.

The study showed an additional 150 calories from any food source caused a 0.1 percent increase in the population’s diabetes rate whereas an additional 150 calories of sugar caused it to raise a full 1 percent. That’s a ten-fold increase. To put it into perspective, a can of soda contains roughly 150 calories of sugar. Consider the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, or about 350 calories’ worth, and it’s clear why diabetes is the fastest growing disease in history.

The study also showed the longer a population was exposed to excess sugar, the higher the diabetes rates were. The clincher: Diabetes rates dropped when sugar availability dropped, independent of changes in calorie intake, physical activity, or obesity rates.

Does sugar cause diabetes?

Does sugar cause diabetes? It’s too early to say definitively, but this study clearly shows a correlation and spotlights the need for more research. Dr. Basu suggested sugar affects the liver and pancreas in ways that need more exploration.

What can you do to prevent or manage diabetes?

While there are various forms of diabetes, Type II diabetes, which is caused by diet and lifestyle, accounts for 90 percent of all cases of diabetes.

What can you do to minimize your risk for diabetes? Reducing your sugar intake is a great place to start. In functional medicine we understand that every body is unique. We start with a careful evaluation of your health history, lifestyle, heredity, nutritional status, and environmental risk factors. We help you customize a program that includes diet, exercise, stress management, nutritional support, detoxification, gut health support, and dampening of inflammation — all of which can dramatically affect your insulin and blood sugar levels and hence your risk of diabetes. This can reverse the path to diabetes and sometimes even the disease itself.

Ask my office for more information on support with blood sugar imbalances and diabetes.

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2 7 sugar makes you stupid

A recently published UCLA study shows what many have suspected all along: Eating too much sugar makes you stupid. Scientists found that just six weeks of bingeing on sweets and soda will sabotage both learning and memory. Fortunately, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can counteract some of the damage.

The study looked at the effects of fructose — in the form of cane sugar (sucrose), high-fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup — which is found in the American diet in everything from soft drinks to baby food. A whopping 156 pounds of sugar per year is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates an average American consumes, including 82 pounds of fructose, the sugar that was studied. In total, we Americans are consuming 150 more pounds of sugar per year than we did in 1822. Put another way, our sugar consumption has increased by almost a pound of sugar per person per year. Every year. That’s a lot of sugar.

Sugar lowers the brain chemical needed for memory

While sugar’s role in obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, and even Alzheimer’s Disease has been established, this is the first study to show how sweeteners directly affect the brain.

Sugar reduces the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain chemical necessary for the formation of memories and for learning and recall. As expected, those with diabetes or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance) show lowered levels of BDNF. Additional research links low BDNF levels to depression and dementia.

DHA can help protect the brain from sugar damage

In the UCLA study, two groups of rats were given a fructose solution for six weeks in addition to their regular feed. One group of rats also received omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flax seed oil and DHA, an omega-3 compound that protects the brain from damage and facilitates memory and learning.

The rats were trained to learn a maze in five days. After six weeks of being given the sugar solution, they were then put back into the maze to test their memory. The rats that received the omega-3 oil and DHA were able to negotiate the maze much faster. The brains of the DHA-deprived rats showed a decline in synaptic function, poor communication between neurons, and worsened memory. These rats also developed a resistance to insulin, a hormone necessary not only for blood sugar regulation but also for brain function. Insulin controls synaptic function, and so imbalances in insulin may disrupt neurons and cause memory loss.

The study clearly suggests that fructose impairs memory and learning. It also suggests that a daily intake of DHA, such as through salmon, walnuts, flax seed, or a supplement, can help protect the brain from the harmful effects of sugar.

DHA cannot stand up to 156 pounds of sugar

Of course, simply adding more DHA to your diet isn’t going to counteract the damage of eating 156 pounds of sugar a year. The best way to stay smart is to cut out the sweeteners and moderate your carbohydrate intake to a level that doesn’t disrupt blood sugar balance. A bonus side effect of this lifestyle change is a way out of your daily energy highs and lows, and who knows, maybe even a dropped pound or two.

For help getting started on a brain-healthy diet, contact my office.

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A new study found older women who take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs increase their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by almost 50 percent.

Statins diabetes cholesterol naturally

Researchers say it isn’t clear why the drug raises the risk of diabetes, and that the findings could be applied to men.

Many people don’t realize that inflammation, not a statin deficiency, underlies high cholesterol, and that the condition usually can be managed naturally.

The study looked at data of more than 150,000 women ages 50-79 for over 12 years. Interestingly, the risk was greater for Asian women and women of a healthy body mass index.

Statins most commonly prescribed drugs

Darlings of the health care industry, statins are the most commonly prescribed drug, accounting for $20 billion of spending a year. About one in four Americans over 45 take statins, despite such common side effects as muscle weakness and wasting, headaches, difficulty sleeping, stomach upset, and dizziness.

Beware low cholesterol

As a result, lab ranges for healthy cholesterol are skewed too low. Not only do statin users grapple with side effects and raise their risk of diabetes, but they also risk symptoms of low cholesterol. Cholesterol is necessary for brain and nerve health and to manufacture hormones, including the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Low cholesterol can imbalance hormones and increase the risk for anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

In functional medicine, we don’t like to see cholesterol go below 150 mg/dL.

Statins do not address cause

Although statins lower cholesterol, they do not address the underlying cause of high cholesterol, which is typically inflammation. The body uses cholesterol to patch up damage caused by inflammation. In fact, research shows inflammation is the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes, not high cholesterol.

Hypothyroidism, a condition estimated to affect more than 20 million Americans, raises cholesterol. Many find a gluten-free diet lowers cholesterol, as gluten is inflammatory for so many people.

Research also shows diets low in fat and high in carbohydrates increase the “bad” form of LDL (there are two to look at) and decrease the protective HDL.

Lowering cholesterol naturally

Functional medicine is highly effective for the person wanting to lower cholesterol naturally.

Management includes an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, and rooting out causes of inflammation. These include hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, bacterial infections in the digestive tract, poor blood-sugar handling, or other chronic health issues.

By addressing the cause of high cholesterol not only do you avoid the dangerous risks and unpleasant side effects of statins, but also you journey into your golden years with improved energy and well-being.

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