Archive for the 'Diabetes' Category

Skip the Highly Processed, Refined Grains in Your Diet

Whole grain foodsWhite is bad, at least when it comes to weight control and a healthy diet.  White bread, white, flour, white rice, white sugar, and even white pasta are all highly refined, have less fiber, and are thought to contribute to obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

The more you substitute whole grain carbohydrates for the white, highly processed foods, the easier it’ll be to control weight and avoid such diseases as Type 2 Diabetes.

A recent study from Harvard found that having more than five servings a week was associated with a 17% higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes, whereas having two servings of brown rice a week was associated with a decreased risk of developing diabetes.

In an article by MedPage Today, Carl J. Lavie, MD, who was not involved in the study, cautioned that the data is “not strong enough to suggest to patients to increase their consumption of brown rice. Rather, the data is stronger to suggest that instead of consuming high quantities of white rice, it would be preferable to replace this with either brown rice and even better to replace white rice with other whole grains that have even lower glycemic indices.”  Another obesity researcher added that “whole grains are likely more important than brown rice alone”.

More Information:

SOURCE: Sun Q, et al “White rice, brown rice, and risk of type 2 diabetes in U.S. men and women” Arch Intern Med 2010; 170(11): 961-69.

SOURCE: “Brown Rice over White to Cut Diabetes Risk”, MedPage Today, June 14, 2010

A Simple Way to Make a Major Difference in your Health

Vitamin D supplementsA recent study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah has found that people who increase their vitamin D blood levels to 43 or higher may lower their risk of diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Heralded as “One of the Top 10 Medical Breakthroughs of 2007″, Vitamin D continues to surface in new research as a critical nutrient in maintaining good health and preventing disease, yet almost half of the world’s population has lower than optimal levels of vitamin D.  

It is well known that hip fractures and muscle weakness, in people over 50, are linked with a deficiency in Vitamin D.  Many recent studies have also found that low Vitamin D levels are associated with a number of serious, chronic diseases, such as diabetes, gum disease, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, peripheral neuropathy, osteoporosis, cancer, stroke, mental decline, depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.

A Vitamin D deficiency can be treated with a simple daily supplement and a blood test can measure the circulating Vitamin D levels in your blood.  A level of 30 nanograms per milliliter of vitamin D is considered normal, although this may vary from lab to lab.

Many doctors are routinely drawing blood levels of Vitamin D to to make sure patients are getting enough vitamin D to optimize good bone health and prevent chronic disease. Ask your doctor about this.

Important Note: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, thus toxicity can occur from high intakes of vitamin D. Overdosage can occur from large amounts of supplements or cod liver oil, but it is unlikely to result from sun exposure or diet. Parents should consult with their pediatrician before giving any child vitamin D supplements. Excess vitamin D can reach toxic levels and be harmful.

  Source: “Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good”, HealthDay News, March 15, 2010 


Stolen Insulin Being Sold in the U.S.

InsulinThe FDA has reported that some stolen vials of the long-acting insulin Novo Nordisk (Levemir) are being sold in the U.S. market. They may not have been stored and handled properly and thus may be dangerous for patients to use. The FDA is advising patients who use Levemir insulin to:

  • Check your personal supply of insulin to determine if you have Levemir insulin from one of the following lots: XZF0036, XZF0037, and XZF0038. 
  • Do not use your Levemir insulin if it is from one of these lots.
  • Always visually inspect your insulin before using it. Levemir is a clear and colorless solution.
  • Contact the Novo Nordisk Customer Care Center at 1-800-727-6500 for what to do with vials from these lots or if you have any other questions.
  • Read the complete MedWatch 2009 Safety Summary, including a link to the FDA News Release, at:


Actos Linked with Slowed Rate of Atherosclerosis Progression

Plaque build up on the artery wallActos (pioglitazone), an oral drug used in Diabetes, appears to slow the rate of atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries, according to researchers at the Phoenix VA HealthCare System.  

In their recent study, prediabetic patients taking pioglitazone preventively had a 38% lower rate of change in atherosclerotic progression in the carotid artery over three years compared to patients taking placebo.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver, but also is found in certain foods.  Throughout life, beginning in childhood, there is a gradual build up of cholesterol and other substances on the inner lining of an artery referred to as atherosclerotic plaques.  In Diabetes, the rate of atherosclerosis progression is even more accelerated. 

Over time, these plaques can harden and narrow an artery enough to slow or even block blood flow. The illustration above shows the build up of an atherosclerotic plaque on an artery wall.

Atherosclerotic plaques are often unstable and can rupture into the vessel lumen causing a blood clot to form.  This can result in a sudden blockage of an artery.  This is often the process by which people experience heart attacks or strokes.  In some people, the first sign of atherosclerosis might be a heart attack or even sudden death.

Diagram courtesy of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Reaven PD, et al “Pioglitazone reduces long-term progression of carotid atherosclerosis in IGT” ADA 2009; Abstract 15-LB.

The Truth About Coffee

Cup of coffeeMost of us truly love our coffee and especially look forward to that first cup in the morning.  It’s delicious, it helps you wake up, and quite honestly, most of us are addicted to this wonderful brew.  But are we going to regret this delicious indulgence some day? 

A number of researchers have recently investigated the health benefits of coffee and found that drinking regular coffee on a routine basis was associated with many important health benefits such as a decreased risk of stroke, diabetes and dementia.  Also, several studies have found that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s.  Other research shows that compared to not drinking coffee, at least two cups daily was linked to a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in liver cirrhosis risk, and nearly half the risk of gallstones.

Coffee has been found to be helpful in people who have asthma.  It also has been known to stop a headache,  improve mood, increase concentration and give you that extra energy needed to get through the day.  

Some of the health benefits of coffee are merely from the caffeine.  An eight ounce cup of drip-brewed coffee contains about 85 mg of caffeine, whereas eight ounces of black tea only has about 45 mg of caffeine and 12 ounces of Coke has 35 mg of caffeine. Many of the so called “Sports/Energy Drinks” on the market are loading up on caffeine for that extra jolt and may contain over 150 mg of caffeine.

Researchers believe that most of the health benefits from coffee probably originate from substances other than caffeine. Phenolic compounds in coffee have strong antioxidant properties, which may improve endothelial function.  Caffeinated coffee appears to have beneficial effects on glucose metabolism, inflammation, and endothelial function which would account for protection against diabetes and stroke.

Of course adding cream which is loaded with fat may counteract some of the health benefits of coffee, and pouring several spoons full of sugar into the cup adds another carbohydrate load that is not beneficial. 

While these studies are very good news for coffee drinkers, be aware that coffee can lead to a number of health problems. These can include fast heart rate, tremors, irritable bladder, excessive urination, stomach irritation, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), nausea, vomiting, restlessness, anxiety, depression,  and difficulty sleeping.

Caffeine is notorious for interfering with much-needed sleep. Many people get in a viscious cycle of using caffeine to mask their sleep deprivation, but then the excess caffeine keeps them from falling asleep the following night. The best way to break this cycle is to avoid all caffeine eight to ten hours before your desired bedtime.  Drinking coffee later in the day is more likely to cause insomnia as well as stomach irritation and reflux for many people. 

Another drawback of coffee is that certain drugs can interact with caffeine. Pregnant women and people with coronary heart disease or peptic ulcers are often advised to restrict or avoid using caffeine altogether. 

Contrary to the popular belief that coffee will sober you up after drinking too much alcohol, it can actually worsen the problem.  A recent study found that a high caffeine energy drink mixed with vodka actually reduced the participants’ perception of motor coordination compared with vodka alone.  This could obviously lead to disasterous consequences in a person who is drinking heavily away from home and has several cups of coffee to sober up before driving home.

So, is coffee good for us?  It depends on who you are, how much you drink, and when you drink it.  It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about the amount of coffee you drink. 

Source: “High Coffee Consumption Linked to Lower Stroke Risk for Women”, MedPage Today, February 17, 2009
Source: Lopez-Garcia E, et al “Coffee consumption and risk of stroke in women” Circulation 2009; 119: 1116-1123.

Caffeinated Coffee May Be Linked with Lower Stroke Risk

CoffeeDrinking caffeinated coffee regularly may be linked with a lower stroke risk, according to Harvard and Madrid researchers. Women who drank two to three cups a day had a 19% reduction in the risk of all strokes but consumption of tea and caffeinated soft drinks was not significantly associated with a lowered stroke risk. The association was significant only in women who had never smoked or who had quit.

Other recent studies have also found that drinking coffee was associated with a decreased risk of diabetes as well as dementia.  

Researchers believe the health benefits from coffee probably originate from substances other than caffeine. Phenolic compounds in coffee have strong antioxidant properties, which may improve endothelial function.  Caffeinated coffee appears to have beneficial effects on glucose metabolism, inflammation, and endothelial function which would account for protection against diabetes and stroke.

While these studies are very good news for coffee drinkers, be aware that more research needs to be done.  Also keep in mind that some people should not drink coffee at all, and for others, drinking too much coffee can be problematic and lead to a number of health problems.  

Source: “High Coffee Consumption Linked to Lower Stroke Risk for Women”, MedPage Today, February 17, 2009
Source: Lopez-Garcia E, et al “Coffee consumption and risk of stroke in women” Circulation 2009; 119: 1116-1123.

Many OTC weight-loss pills are from China and dangerous

PillsMore and more products with  unidentified and harmful ingredients are finding their way into the U.S. marketplace, and the FDA is quickly taking action to file criminal charges and help ensure that these products are removed from the store shelves.  It is an extensive process, however, and dangerous products are still advertised on the TV and radio and readily available online as well as on the shelves of local grocery stores, pharmacies, and health food stores in the U.S. 

Most of the dangerous and illegal products are for weight loss, but there are also many for erectile dysfunction, diabetes and hair loss.  Usually they are labeled as dietary supplements or supplements. Often the manufacturer is not listed on the label or in the advertisements.  However, the FDA has discovered that most of the products with illegal and undeclared ingredients have been manufactured in China.

Some of these ingredients are known to be carcinogenic and cause damage or mutations to DNA.  Other known side effects include increased blood pressure, stroke, tachycardia, seizure, depression, anxiety, insomnia, aggressiveness, and suicidal thoughts.  

The FDA urges all consumers to be aware of the following signs of health fraud:

  • Promises of an “easy” fix for problems like excess weight, hair loss, or impotency.
  • Claims that the product is safe because it is “natural.”  
  • Claims such as “scientific breakthrough,” “miraculous cure,” “secret ingredient,” and “ancient remedy.”
  • Impressive-sounding terms, such as “hunger stimulation point” and “thermogenesis” for a weight loss product.
  • Undocumented case histories or personal testimonials by consumers or doctors claiming amazing results.
  • Promises of no-risk, money-back guarantees.

In other words, if it’s too good to be true, it is.  The only OTC drug approved for weight loss in the United States is Ally.  Orlistat is the active ingredient in Ally which helps produce weight loss by decreasing the intestinal absorption of fat.  Some people have lost weight with Ally, but there are a number of people who shouldn’t take Ally.  Click on the link below for more about Ally.

Read more:

Avandia dropped from list of recommended drugs for Diabetes

PillsNew medical guidelines released, with regard to treating people with type 2 diabetes, which excludes the use of the drug Avandia.  A related  drug, Actos, remains on the list of recommended treatments.

Amid concerns over a possible link with an increased risk of heart attack, the FDA has issued black box warnings for Avandia regarding the potential for myocardial infarction.  Both rosiglitazone (Avandia)  and pioglitazone (Actos) carry black box warnings for congestive heart failure. 

Sales of Avandia this past year have plummeted yet the drug remains on the market. The FDA has asked for extensive long-term trials to determine Avandia’s cardiovascular safety.

Further troubling news about both Avandia and its’ cousin, Actos, includes a link with an increased risk of osteoporosis.  While there has been a growing body of evidence that both Actos and Avandia promote bone loss, a concerning study by Swiss researchers, published in April 2008, found that both drugs may actually double or even triple the risk of broken bones after a year or two of use.  The researchers did not find any increased risk for bone loss related to any of the other diabetes drugs.

via MedPage Today, October 22, 2008

via Nathan D, et al “Medical management of hyperglycaemia in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a consensus algorithm for the initiation and adjustment of therapy” Diabetologia 2008; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-008-1157-y

Don’t delay in starting treatment for type 2 diabetes

In a recent article in MedPage Today, “It’s Never Too Early for Intensive Glucose Control in Type 2 Diabetes” was the key message from major trials reported at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Diabetes was known in ancient times and remains today a world-wide and increasing health problem.  One of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, diabetes is a life-long disease that currently affects about 18 million Americans (6% of the country), but unfortunately nearly one-third of these people are unaware that they have the disease.

via Diabetes from Bay Area Medical Information

via Never Too Early for Intensive Glucose Control, MedPage Today, Sept. 10, 2008

via Overview of Diabetes from the American Diabetes Association

Low testosterone levels common in young men with type 2 Diabetes

Finger stick test for blood sugarMen aged 18 to 35 with type 2 Diabetes tend to have low testosterone levels, according to Paresh Dandona, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues, of the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Dr. Dandona had previously found an association of lower testosterone levels in middle-age men with type 2 diabetes, as well.

Low testosterone levels have been thought to be the cause of erectile dysfunction, diminished libido, Infertility, decreased bone mass, loss of skeletal muscle, weight gain, and worsened insulin resistance. 

Diabetes was known in ancient times and remains today a world-wide and increasing health problem, yet nearly one-third of the people who have the disease are unaware that they have it.  If you haven’t been tested for Diabetes, now is a good time.

via Chandel A, et al “Testosterone concentrations in young patients with diabetes mellitus” Diabetes Care 2008; DOI: 10.2337/dc08-0851.

via “Young Men With Type 2 Diabetes Have Low Testosterone” MedPage Today, Sept 5, 2008