Salutations!

As the cost of "Sick"care skyrockets so to do the cost associated with every aspect of the sick care industry (insurance premiums, co-pays, pharmaceutical drugs, sick leave, etc.). The time to act and take care of ourselves while jealously guarding our health has come. We can no longer afford to hand over our health or our wealth to others and hope to live happy, productive lives. The goal of this blog is to wade through some of the more mundane as well as a few sensational health issues that affect us today and how to get over them.







Monday, August 18, 2014

Diabetes - A 21st Century Scourge: Nutrients for Blood Sugar Stabilization



We covered a substantial portion of the "doom and gloom" associated with diabetes whether it be grim statistics or the physical ailments it causes. With that being covered we have finally come to the portion of this series where we can bring light, hope and great health to those who are most afflicted and their loved ones. 

We will start by identifying three key areas that will assist greatly with stemming the tide of this scourge. These areas will include nutrients for blood sugar stabilization, nutrients to assist in weight loss and important tests to consider if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. The test will provide important information that will help you figure out what nutrients are most relevant in your fight and what foods to focus on once dietary concerns are addressed.

In this article will begin with nutrients for improving and supporting blood glucose (sugar) stabilization. As we begin to expound on these supplements it is important to remember that no supplement can replace a healthy eating plan, physical activity, and stress reduction techniques.

Vitamins

A good multivitamin is a must. Even if you are following the meal plans and consuming organic or natural products chances are you are not receiving enough vitamins for optimum health. The key word is ‘optimum’ because the government standards for vitamin and mineral intake are for minimum health outcomes. When choosing a multivitamin ensure the vitamins are natural (not synthetic). Synthetic vitamins are not readily bioavailable (able to be absorbed by the body) and can create inflammation which is to be avoided as much as possible. Below are a few vitamins to focus on but all vitamins are important.

o   Biotin - this B vitamin is instrumental in preventing and overcoming insulin resistance. Reversing insulin resistance will cause a decrease in blood sugar levels which should be monitored closely.

○    Vitamin D3 - this super vitamin acts more like a hormone and has a host of healthy responsibilities. In particular for diabetics D3 reduces blood glucose levels and increases sensitivity to insulin making insulin more effective. The optimum range for this nutrient in the body is 50 -­ 100 ng/ml so you may be required to take 2,000 ­- 10,000 IU of D3 daily until optimum levels are reached.

Minerals

Mineral deficiencies is a significant issue for diabetics and prediabetics. Without the proper minerals the body cannot utilize enzymes that control many bodily functions and also help control blood sugar levels. Below are some of the minerals we need to focus on in the fight to reverse diabetes.

o   Chromium Picolinate - this stealth mineral assists the body in the metabolizing of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Most importantly for diabetics is that it is the mineral that causes blood cells to “receive” glucose essentially overcoming insulin resistance. An optimum range for chromium levels is 35 micrograms for men and 25 micrograms for women. However, for most diabetics it will be necessary to consume 200 ­- 1,000 micrograms per day until optimum levels are reached. The form taken should be a picolinate. Highly refined and processed foods rob the body of chromium since these items requires heavy use of chromium for metabolization.

o   Magnesium - essential for pancreatic repair and support. Magnesium assists in stabilizing blood sugar levels by increasing the number of insulin receptors on blood cells. It also restores or repair beta cells (responsible for producing insulin) in the pancreas.

Other Essential Nutrients

o   Cinnamon - cinnamon has been well established as a blood sugar lowering nutrient. 3­6 grams daily have been shown to decrease fasting blood sugar levels by 18­29%. A high quality cinnamon extract is recommended at 250 milligrams twice daily.

o   Omega 3 Fatty Acids - omega 3’s decrease inflammation, lower triglyceride levels, may help prevent insulin resistance and improve glucose tolerance. Those with impaired gallbladder function or had their gallbladder removed will need to supplement with ox bile to sufficiently breakdown fatty acids such as omega 3’s. 500 - 1,000 milligrams of omega 3 fish oil three times per day is recommended. Those with high triglyceride levels should take 4,000 - 5,000 milligrams daily.

o   Alpha Lipoic Acid - this acid reduces oxidative stress which is very important to diabetics. It is both water and fat soluble allowing it to work in all areas of the body. It also reduces insulin sensitivity and impedes oxidation of LDL cholesterol. 300 milligrams twice a day.

This short list is by no means exhaustive but should give some insight on where to start. As always be sure to consult with a medical professional before starting a supplement regimen.


No recommendations or dosages in this article should be construed as medical advice (because it is not).

Friday, August 8, 2014

Diabetes: A 21st Century Scourge - The Facts and Figures



The causes of diabetes and how it ravages the body is sobering. The shocking reality of diabetes is that despite all of the medical advances and its worldwide prevalence it continues on a skyward rise into the stratosphere. As if that is not sobering enough the facts listed below will help bring the point home.

  • Nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States (nearly 8.5 % of the population) have diabetes
  • 79 million Americans are thought to be prediabetic
  • 1.9 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year
  • Nearly 10% of the entire U.S. population has diabetes, including over 25% of seniors
  • As many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 if present trends continue
  • The economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion per year
  • 1.9 million Americans aged 20 years or older are newly diagnosed with diabetes                each year (5,205/day)
  • Compared to non-Hispanic whites the risk of diagnosed is 1.2 times higher among Asian Americans, 1.7 times higher among Hispanic Americans, and 1.8 times higher among African Americans
  • Diabetes is the primary cause of death  for 71,382 Americans each year
  • Diabetes contributes to the death of 231,404 Americans annually (combining death certificates that list diabetes as the primary and a contributing cause of death)
  • $245 billion annually attributable to diagnosed diabetes, including $176  billion in direct costs and $69 billion in indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality)
  • People with diagnosed diabetes have health care costs 2.3 times higher than what expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes
  • About 60% to 70% of people with diabetes have mild to severe forms of neuropathy
  • More than 60% of nontraumatic lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes
  • About 65,700 nontraumatic lower-limb  amputations are performed in people with diabetes annually (180/day)
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44% of all new cases of kidney failure
  • Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes, and the risk for stroke is 2 to 4 times higher among people with diabetes
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20–74 years
  • The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. increased by 128% from 1988 to 2008
  • Diabetes kills more Americans every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined
 In the next few articles in this series we will strike a happier tone by covering some of the ways diabetes can be mitigated or reversed. There is plenty of hope and good news so there is no need to despair despite the statistics. We will also discuss the psychology of diabetes and its effect on the lives of those that have it and the people who help care for them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Diabetes: A 21st Century Scourge - The Ravages of Diabetes Continued

Uncontrolled blood sugar levels is the calling card of Type II diabetes that eventually leads to circulatory issues that are life changing. Foot ulcers, peripheral nerve damage and the accompanying pain, and blindness can result when blood vessels are weakened by the inflammatory action of unregulated blood sugar. Nightmarish as those conditions may be the complications of diabetes can worsen overtime leading to renal failure, heart attacks and stroke.




Diabetic Nephropathy

Silently and slowly high blood glucose levels damages the kidneys of diabetics and pre-diabetics takes its toll. The kidneys help filter the blood and flush the body of unwanted toxins. Overtime high sugar levels cause the thickening and scarring of nephrons. The process eventually leads to renal (kidney) failure. To make matters worse it can take anywhere from 5 – 10 years before the symptoms of acute kidney damage are experienced. Some of the symptoms include nausea with vomiting, swelling of the legs, headaches, chronic fatigue, and poor appetite. Kidney damage is a leading cause of death in diabetics. As it is kidney function can be a direct correlation to the quality of a person’s life.




Strokes

High blood glucose levels create all sorts of negative domino effects in the body. One part of the domino effect is the scarring and deterioration of blood vessels that occur. The body attempts to repair these blood vessels that are constantly under attack. In doing so the material used to make the repairs “builds up” in the blood vessels creating blockages. Sometimes these blockages occur in arteries and blood vessels that supply blood to brain. When the blockages are severe enough a stroke soon follows. The result of the stroke could lead to paralysis, speech loss, inability to coordinate movement or even death. Smaller strokes could lead to dementia or senility.




Heart Attacks

Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases seem to go hand in hand. Primarily because of the circulatory issues created by having diabetes in the first place. From there it becomes much easier for cardiovascular disease to gain a foothold especially if poor lifestyle habits and predisposition to these diseases exist. Diabetics experience heart attacks more frequently than non-diabetics. Diabetics are also twice as likely to die following a heart attack as non-diabetics.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Diabetes: A 21st Century Scourge - The Ravages of Diabetes

So far we have discussed some of the causes of diabetes mellitus (aka Type II diabetes). Now it is time to look at what diabetes does or can do to the body if reversal or proper mitigation is not undertaken (*Note: I did not use the word “management” purposefully which will be discussed later). Diabetes has a methodical way of slowly shutting down very important body processes. At first it is a silent thief roaming the body undetected causing painless harm. Later the harm becomes great enough to cause discomfort, outright pain or worse. The silent portion of the process can take years and could remain undiscovered for much of that time. The resulting complications are life changing.



Our Poor Eyes

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness affecting 4.1 million adults in the U.S. The blindness is caused primarily by a condition called diabetic retinopathy. One of the most devastating aspects of diabetes is how it affects blood flow and circulation. As blood flow to the retinas decrease due to diabetes the body attempts to compensate by creating new blood vessels. Unfortunately these blood vessels tend to be weak and they rupture. Bleeding in the retina obstructs vision and the laser treatments used to stop the bleeding often destroys portions of the retina. Retinal hemorrhaging and treatments for it can separately or in combination cause permanent blindness.  



On Pins and Needles

Circulatory issues figure prominently with Type II diabetes. It can cause blindness and it can also cause another condition called neuropathy. Neuropathy occurs as blood vessels that supply the peripheral nervous system begin to weaken. The peripheral nerves, starved of nourishment, begin to degenerate creating pain. At first it could feel like being pricked by pins and needles as numbness begin to set in. A downward spiral ensues with ever decreasing circulation causing ever increasing pain.



Ulcers and Infections

Foot ulcers, because of poor or insufficient blood supply, can become a common problem. Blood vessels have the tendency to become clogged in diabetics especially in the extremities robbing them of nourishment and proper attention from the immune system. No nourishment causes tissues to degenerate causing ulcers. In addition, simple cuts or bruises can result in life threatening infections. Both conditions can lead to the onset of gangrene and require amputation of the infected limb. There are approximately 185,000 amputations per year in the U.S. with more than half of those (54%) attributed to vascular diseases (either diabetes or peripheral arterial disease). Diabetics are cautioned to take good care of their feet paying close attention to them. Most practitioners would advise diabetics to never go barefoot and to keep their feet warm, dry and clean.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Diabetes: A 21st Century Scourge - Causes of Diabetes Continued



As we continue to discuss the causes of diabetes there are two significant contributors that must be discussed. Seldom mentioned in most dialogue regarding this scourge are the massive amounts of medications that is consumed the world over and the staggering result of unmitigated stress on our bodies.



Medications

Watch most any pharmaceutical commercial and you will likely notice that about 20 seconds of a 30 second commercial is about all the terrible things the medicine may do to you. Of those 20 seconds a few sound something like this: “Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a liver condition or poor liver function” or “Liver test may be necessary to check liver function”. There are a multitude of reasons why these pronouncements are important but for the sake of this article we will stick with the diabetic angle.

Poor liver function is a death sentence. This may sound ominous and a bit over the top but consider what the liver does (e.g. cleanse the blood, regulate metabolism) and the picture becomes clear. A Poor liver leads to a poor life and possibly diabetes. Medications can slow liver function by creating the need for continuous cleansing of highly toxic substances. These substances may be specifically toxic to the liver breaking down cellular function which decreases the organ’s efficiency.

Also, some medications can actually slow down metabolic processes in the liver causing it to become fatty and sluggish. A fatty liver has great difficulty controlling fasting glucose levels. A fatty liver also increases the incidence of insulin resistance. It is estimated that some 80% of people suffering from Type II diabetes have fat in their liver.



Stress

When it comes to silent killers stress, in my opinion, is second only to inflammation. Chronic stress is a major health issue these days and it comes from multiple sources. Family and other relationships, traffic jams, even video games can induce stress responses in the body. One of the chief responses is elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is released into the blood stream to give the body a boost of energy to accommodate the “fight or flight” response to stressful situations by increasing blood glucose levels. When cortisol is constantly released it increases blood glucose constantly and insulin resistance is not far behind because the cells do not actually need the energy. Once insulin resistance sets in Type II diabetes rears its hideously ugly head.


In addition, because the body does not actually need to fight or run the extra glucose in the blood stream has to go somewhere. That is when the body produces visceral and abdominal fight to store the unused glucose. This type of fat is extra special and not in a good way. It tends to adversely affect the metabolism essentially becoming its own endocrine system and affecting the hormones that either stimulate or decrease hunger. The net effect is a downward spiral alternating between unmitigated stress, increased abdominal and visceral fat, and increased appetite. All this leads to continuous elevated blood glucose levels and increased insulin resistance. Combined with the cumulative effect of chronic stress we are left with nothing short of diabetic trouble.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Diabetes: A 21st Century Scourge - Causes of Diabetes



Where and how does one of the most prolific medical scourges of the 21st century begin? Let's start at the table. Whether that be at home, work or your favorite restaurant what we put on it can sometimes be the beginning of the end. Our sugar laden, artificial and bleached foods combined with an abundance of alcoholic drinks, prescriptions and over the counter medications has helped to establish what is and continues to be a tragic epidemic on a global scale.



Artificial Sweeteners - The Zero Calorie Killer

Along with diabetes artificial sweeteners are linked to other adverse health conditions including weight gain. It is one of the most insidious food additives on the market today. The sweeteners cause spikes in blood insulin levels. How is this possible? The body is wired to prepare for the introduction of carbohydrates since carbs are the chief and most energy efficient forms of fuel. When artificial sweeteners wash over the tongue the brain signals the body to prepare for sugar intake. But this is no normal preparation. Consider the fact that artificial sweeteners are up to 300% sweeter than regular sugar. The body thinks it is getting tons of it which drives insulin production sky high. The cells in the body continuously seeing insulin in the bloodstream for seemingly no reason begin to build a sensitivity towards it thus the term insulin sensitivity. This is not the only way cells become sensitive to insulin but it is one of the main reasons. To add insult to injury what blood sugar is in circulation gets swept up by the excess insulin driving blood sugar levels low. The low blood sugar levels are detected by the body and triggers the production of a hormone called ghrelin. This hormone makes us feel hungry and usually we will eat. The weight gain trap is sprung as most people will alternate between artificially sweetened products (especially soda) and eating highly processed foods mostly unaware of the weight gain connection. Zero calorie foods tend to make people consume more calories of other foods and that is a killer both figuratively and literally.

These diabetes inducing sweeteners can be found in almost anything like: prescription medication, cough syrup, aspirin and other over-the-counter drugs, chewing gum, anything labeled 'sugar free', and drink powders to name a few.



Highly Processed Foods and Our Love Affair with Bleach

Walk down the aisle almost any grocery store and pick up a prepackaged item containing wheat. These would be your breads, cereals, cookies and pastas. Read the list of ingredients on the back. If it is not organic some of the first words you will see are bleached or enriched. This is code for 'we have stripped the goodness out of this product and added what we think you would like to taste'. Why would anyone do this? To make us eat more and eat more often. Bleached and enriched foods undergo chemical processes that converts them from complex carbohydrates (good) to simple carbohydrates (really bad). Once this happens the producer of that food experiences an increase in profit because you will eat more of it and you will eat it more often. As their profits increase so does our waist lines and risk of diabetes. I am sure that there will be some who read this and decide this is a conspiratorial view but consider the chart from the previous article. As food distribution around the world increases (usually simple carbs) so too does the incidence of diabetes.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Americans consume an astounding 60 lbs. of HFCS every year. What's so astounding about this? Consider the fact that fructose is metabolized in the liver into fat more readily than glucose. When bombarded with fructose all at once the liver becomes sluggish and fatty itself. Fatty livers usually precedes insulin resistance which can ultimately lead to the development and persistence of Type II diabetes. The reason Americans can consume 60 lbs. of HFCS on average is because it is found in many processed foods and is often one of the first three ingredients in a product. Some of the products include soft drinks, pancake syrup, yogurt, canned fruits, barbecue sauce, pasta sauce and fruit drinks that are not 100% juice just to name a few. HFCS is a metabolic nightmare that many of us are unaware of including diabetics. Are you or do you know someone who is diabetic or pre-diabetic? Have you or they ever been warned to stay away from HFCS? If not, please consider this a warning.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Diabetes: A 21st Century Scourge - Part I



The Introduction

Sadness is staring an avoidable tragedy in the face and blinking. Have you had the chance to ponder the chart above? In each block are a group of numbers representing various regions of the world. The number at the top of the box represents the number of known Type 2 diabetics as of 2003. The number under it is the projected number of diabetes cases in 2025 with the correlating percent increase under each. By 2025 it is projected that there will be a 62% increase in diabetic patients worldwide. The cynic in me says to invest heavily in diabetes medications and paraphernalia. The optimist in me says I should lend a hand. Digressing to my better nature and refusing to enrich myself on the backs of those who suffer by causing suffering I offer the beginning of my multi-pronged diabetes project (more information will be given on the project at a date sometime in the future). 

Sadness is also having to witness triple digit increases projected in parts of the world that are already stressed and void of much hope. It is interesting that shortages of the most basic needs (food, water, medical attention) in these areas abound but a metabolic syndrome often associated with indulgent eating or consuming way more sugar than the body can handle would become a scourge. More on this point and why it is happening in a later article. 

Type 2 diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the cells in the body become so resistant to insulin that blood sugar levels can no longer be controlled by the body (this is a simplistic definition and will be expounded upon later). Often medical intervention is undertaken and treatment can include having to take insulin shots, prescription medications and the need to check blood sugar levels often. The American Diabetes Association estimated that diabetes treatment in the U.S. alone cost more than $245 billion in 2012. If price levels remain the same that would mean an increased expenditure of $140 billion bringing the total to $385 billion annually by 2025 just in the U.S.! That would be more than the GDP of the Federated States of Micronesia (in other words a small country).

Sadness surrounds us but it does not have to remain or persist. We have the power to change it and ourselves. There is a growing contingent of well informed and well-meaning people who are helping to either prevent the scourge of diabetes or bring balance to those who have the condition reversing it and freeing would be lifelong diabetics from their conditional prisons. Let the word go out, if it is not already known, that diabetes is a condition not a disease. It is not something you catch but something you develop and what is done can be undone no matter what the cynics and robbers of joy and health say.

This series will focus on some of the causes, health implications, and modalities concerning diabetes mellitus and is designed to offer and inspire hope for what is a seemingly overwhelming epidemic. Have faith, be strong and let us share this ride together!