What Causes Diabetes?

Nutritional Facts

· June 26th 2015 ·

Saturated fat can be toxic to the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, explaining why animal fat consumption can impair insulin secretion, not just insulin sensitivity.

Doctor’s Note

This is an installment in my year-long intermittent video series on the intricacies of the development of diabetes. Here are the first four with a bunch more to come:

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How to Treat High Blood Pressure with Diet

· June 17th 2015 ·

The first-line treatment for hypertension is lifestyle modification, which often includes the DASH diet. What is it and how can it be improved?

This is the companion video to How to Prevent High Blood Pressure with Diet.

The DASH diet is one of the best studied, and consistently ranks as US News & World Report’s #1 diet. It’s one of the few diets that medical students are taught about in medical school. I was so fascinated to learn of its origins as a compromise between practicality and efficacy.

I’ve talk about the patronizing attitude many doctors have that patients can’t handle the truth in:

What would hearing the truth from your physician sound like? See Fully Consensual Heart Disease Treatment and The Actual Benefit of Diet vs. Drugs

For more on what plants can do for high blood pressure see:

Science Confirms Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs

Science Finds Ancient Spice Turmeric As Effective As 14 Drugs

Turmeric is one the most thoroughly researched plants in existence today.  Its medicinal properties and components (primarily curcumin) have been the subject of over 5600 peer-reviewed and published biomedical studies.  In fact, our five-year long research project on this sacred plant has revealed over 600 potential preventive and therapeutic applications, as well as 175 distinct beneficial physiological effects. This entire database of 1,585 ncbi-hyperlinked turmeric abstracts can be downloaded as a PDF at ourDownloadable Turmeric Document page, and acquired either as a retail item or with 200 GMI-tokens, for those of you who are already are members and receive them automatically each month.

Given the sheer density of research performed on this remarkable spice, it is no wonder that a growing number of studies have concluded that it compares favorably to a variety of conventional medications, including:

  • Lipitor/Atorvastatin(cholesterol medication): A 2008 study published in the journal Drugs in R & D found that a standardized preparation of curcuminoids from Turmeric compared favorably to the drug atorvastatin (trade name Lipitor) on endothelial dysfunction, the underlying pathology of the blood vessels that drives atherosclerosis, in association with reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress in type 2 diabetic patients. [i]  [For addition curcumin and ‘high cholesterol’ research – 8 abstracts]
  • Corticosteroids (steroid medications): A 1999 study published in thejournal Phytotherapy Research found that the primary polyphenol in turmeric, the saffron colored pigment known as curcumin, compared favorably to steroids in the management of chronic anterior uveitis, an inflammatory eye disease.[ii]  A 2008 study published in Critical Care Medicine found that curcumin compared favorably to the corticosteroid drug dexamethasone in the animal model as an alternative therapy for protecting lung transplantation-associated injury by down-regulating inflammatory genes.[iii] An earlier 2003 study published in Cancer Lettersfound the same drug also compared favorably to dexamethasone in a lung ischaemia-repurfusion injury model.[iv]  [for additional curcumin and inflammation research – 52 abstracts]
  • Prozac/Fluoxetine & Imipramine  (antidepressants): A 2011 study published in the journal Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica found that curcumin compared favorably to both drugs in reducing depressive behavior in an animal model.[v] [for additional curcumin and depression research – 5 abstracts]
  • Aspirin (blood thinner): A 1986 in vitro and ex vivo study published in the journal Arzneimittelforschung found that curcumin has anti-platelet and prostacyclin modulating effects compared to aspirin, indicating it may have value in patients prone to vascular thrombosis and requiring anti-arthritis therapy.[vi]  [for additional curcumin and anti-platelet research]
  • Anti-inflammatory Drugs: A 2004 study published in the journalOncogene found that curcumin (as well as resveratrol) were effective alternatives to the drugs aspirin, ibuprofen, sulindac, phenylbutazone, naproxen, indomethacin, diclofenac, dexamethasone, celecoxib, and tamoxifen in exerting anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative activity against tumor cells.[vii] [for additional curcumin and anti-proliferativeresearch – 15 abstracts]
  • Oxaliplatin (chemotherapy drug): A 2007 study published in theInternational Journal of Cancer found that curcumin compares favorably with oxaliplatin as an antiproliferative agenet in colorectal cell lines.[viii][for additional curcumin and colorectal cancer research – 52 abstracts]
  • Metformin (diabetes drug): A 2009 study published in the journalBiochemitry and Biophysical Research Community explored how curcumin might be valuable in treating diabetes, finding that it activates AMPK (which increases glucose uptake) and suppresses gluconeogenic gene expression  (which suppresses glucose production in the liver) in hepatoma cells. Interestingly, they found curcumin to be 500 times to 100,000 times (in the form known as tetrahydrocurcuminoids(THC)) more potent than metformin in activating AMPK and its downstream target acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). [ix]

Another way in which turmeric and its components reveal their remarkable therapeutic properties is in research on drug resistant- and multi-drug resistant cancers.  We have two sections on our site dedicated to researching natural and integrative therapies on these topics, and while there are dozens of substances with demonstrable efficacy against these chemotherapy- and radiation-resistant cancers, curcumin tops both lists:

We have found no less than 54 studies indicating that curcumin can induce cell death or sensitize drug-resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[x]

We have identified 27 studies on curcumin’s ability to either induce cell death or sensitize multi-drug resistant cancer cell lines to conventional treatment.[xi]

Considering how strong a track record turmeric (curcumin) has, having been used as both food and medicine in a wide range of cultures, for thousands of years, a strong argument can be made for using curcumin as a drug alternative or adjuvant in cancer treatment.

Or, better yet, use certified organic (non-irradiated) turmeric in lower culinary doses on a daily basis so that heroic doses won’t be necessary later in life after a serious disease sets in.  Nourishing yourself, rather than self-medicating with ‘nutraceuticals,’ should be the goal of a healthy diet.  [learn more at Sayer Ji’s new collaborative project EATomology]

Resources

600 Reasons Turmeric May Be The World’s Most Important Herb

FRN

Dec 28, 2014

By Sayer Ji • Originally published on Greenmed.info

There is a medicinal spice so timelessly interwoven with the origins of human culture and metabolism, so thoroughly supported by modern scientific inquiry, as to be unparalleled in its proven value to human health and well-being.

Indeed, turmeric turns the entire drug-based medical model on its head. Instead of causing far more side effects than therapeutic ones, as is the case for most patented pharmaceutical medications, turmeric possesses hundreds of potential side benefits, having been empirically demonstrated to positively modulate over 160 different physiological pathways in the mammalian body.

While no food or herb is right for everyone, and everything has the potential for unintended, adverse side effects, turmeric is truly unique in its exceptionally high margin of safety vis-à-vis the drugs it has been compared with, e.g. hydrocortisone, ibuprofen, chemotherapy agents. Furthermore, nothing within the modern-day pharmaceutical armamentarium comes even remotely close to turmeric’s 6,000 year track record of safe use in Ayurvedic medicine.

Despite its vast potential for alleviating human suffering, turmeric will likely never receive the FDA stamp of approval, due to its lack of exclusivity, patentability and therefore profitability. Truth be told, the FDA’s “gold standard” for proving the value of a prospective medicinal substance betrays the age old aphorism: “he who owns the gold makes the rules,” and unless an investor is willing to risk losing the 800+ million dollars that must be spent upfront, the FDA-required multi-phased double-blind, randomized clinical trials will not occur. For additional details on this rather seedy arrangement read my article on the topic: Why The Law Forbids The Medicinal Use of Natural Substances.

At GreenMedInfo.com, we have reviewed over 5,000 study abstracts from the National Library of Medicine’s bibliographic database known as MEDLINE and have discovered over 600 potential health benefits of turmeric, and/or its primary polyphenol known as curcumin. These can be viewed on ourturmeric research page which is dedicated to disseminating the research on the topic to a larger audience.

Some of the most amazing demonstrated properties include:

Again, what is so amazing is not that turmeric may have value in dozens of health conditions simultaneously, or that it may improve conditions that are completely resistant to conventional treatment, but that there are over six hundred additional health conditions it may also be valuable in preventing and/or treating. Consider also the fact that turmeric grows freely on the Earth, and you will understand why its very existence threatens billions of dollars in pharmaceutical industry revenue.

Learn more about this research in the video below (keeping in mind that it is several years old and needing some updating), and please spread the information to others who may benefit from learning more on the topic.

From Ocean Robbins, Food Revolution Network CEO:

Many of our members have been asking how much curcumin to take, how to take it in a bioavailable form, and where to get curcumin from a source they can trust. The challenge with taking full advantage of the curcumin in turmeric is low bioavailability. Personally, I love mixing fresh and dried turmeric into all sorts of foods – and I always try to include black pepper with it, because studies show that piperine (found in black pepper) helps to increase absorbability. But now Quantum Wellness Botanical Institute has developed a curcumin supplement that includes a potent delivery enhancer (made using organic lecithin and organic turmeric oil) which they say has been found to increase bioavailability by 500%. Their supplement is 100% vegetarian, organic, soy-free and non-GMO. Click here if you’d like to find out more.

About Sayer Ji: Sayer Ji is the founder of GreenMedInfo.com, an author, educator, Steering Committee Member of the Global GMO Free Coalition (GGFC), and an advisory board member of the National Health Federation.

Click here for some tips on how to enjoy turmeric. Or post your favorite ways in the comments, below!

Ginger for Migraines

Nutritional Facts

· June 10th 2015 ·

An eighth teaspoon of powdered ginger found to work as well as the migraine headache drug sumatriptan (Imitrex) without the side-effects.

Doctor’s Note

These are my favorite kind of videos to do, offering something that is immediately practical, cheap, safe, and effective to reduce suffering. If this kind of information helps you or someone you love I hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible donation to help keep this website going. I don’t personally accept any financial compensation but do have a growing staff and server costs to cover and any help you could give would be much appreciated (and there are perks!).

For more on ginger root:

Avoiding aspartame (Aspartame and the Brain) and using lavender may also help (Lavender for Migraine Headaches). If you have cluster headaches, ask your physician about capsaicin (Hot Sauce in the Nose for Cluster Headaches?).

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

Discover the Surprising Truth About the GI

GI.

Short for the Glycemic Index.

Okay, maybe you’ve heard of it.

Maybe you haven’t.

But the weight loss industry is currently abuzz about your Glycemic Index; on the cover of a recent diet book The New Glucose Revolution, it’s even being touted as ‘the dietary solution for lifelong health.’

So what’s the real truth?

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Fruit pile isolated on white background

The Glycemic Index was conceived in 1981 by a scientist named David Jenkins at the University of Toronto. It was initially developed as a tool for the dietary management of type 1 diabetes; Jenkins was investigating the impact of different carbohydrates on blood sugar levels.

The Glycemic Index (GI) ranks carbohydrate-containing food based on how quickly they elevate blood sugar levels. High GI values are associated with carbohydrates that are quickly ingested, spiking blood sugar levels. Conversely, a low GI value is given to carbohydrates that are slowly digested, releasing glucose gradually into the bloodstream. Most refined carbohydrate-rich foods have a high GI while non-starchy vegetables, fruits and legumes tend to have a low GI.

While an interesting concept, the Glycemic Index remains both problematic and incomplete in terms of giving us real nutritional guidance.May14_GI_Illustrative7

To begin with, the GI is highly variable and somewhat unreliable. A number of factors influence the GI value including the physical structure of the carbohydrate, how the food is processed and prepared and the presence of other nutrients in the food (protein, fat). Complicating matters more, the GI can vary between individuals and even fluctuate in the same individual.

Secondly, the GI is incomplete as an assessment tool. When choosing the best foods to eat, it is essential to consider its nutrients rather than evaluating it solely on its GI. Some high GI foods are brimming over with nutrients while some low GI foods are poor in nutritional value. A potato chip enjoys a lower GI but is devoid of nutritional value while a baked potato with its higher GI is packed with healthful nutrients.

Probably the biggest flaw with the GI is it assesses carbohydrates in isolation. The reality is that most of the time carbohydrates are consumed within the context of a ‘mixed meal’ alongside proteins and fats. This is extremely important because proteins and fats also have a direct effect on the blood glucose response and GI.Heap of mixed rice on white background

Several studies clearly demonstrate that when you add protein to a meal containing carbohydrates, the blood sugar may decrease but your insulin response spikes dramatically. In other words, the presence of protein exponentially increases the insulin spike compared to what it would be if the carbohydrate had been ingested on its own. (The same is true when you mix fat with carbohydrates).

What’s more, some protein- and fat-rich foods release as much insulin as carbohydrate-rich foods (and meat protein alone may induce insulin secretion as high as pure glucose.) This is all the more important given the fact that high insulin levels are linked to a number of diseases including obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.

Ample evidence exists showing that a plant-based diet—i.e. a diet that is 100% free of animal protein–naturally optimizes blood sugar levels and enjoys a relatively low daily insulin secretion (despite its high consumption of carbohydrates.)

Not convinced? David Jenkins (the man who invented the GI in the first place!) himself eats a whole food plant-based diet. He explains that plant-based eaters are thinner, have lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and lower cancer rates.

So maybe it’s time to stop worrying about a food’s GI count. And simply start digging into all the whole grains, fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds with their great wealth of enriching nutrients.

Why Do Heart Doctors Favor Surgery and Drugs Over Diet?

on June 2nd, 2015

Fully Consensual Heart Disease Treatment
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When he was a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. published a controversial paper in the American Journal of Cardiology, highlighted in my video, Fully Consensual Heart Disease Treatment, noting that heart bypass operations carry significant risks including the potential to cause further heart damage, stroke, and brain dysfunction. Angioplasty isn’t much better, also carrying significant mortality and morbidity, and often doesn’t work (in terms of decreasing the risk of subsequent heart attack or death). “So,” he writes, “it seems we have an enormous paradox. The disease that is the leading killer of men and women in Western civilization is largely untreated.” The benefits of bypass surgery and angioplasty “are at best temporary and erode over time, with most patients eventually succumbing to their disease.” In cancer management, we call that palliative care, where we just kind of throw up our hands, throw in the towel, and give up actually trying to treat the disease.

Why does this juggernaut of invasive procedures persist? Well one reason he suggests is that performing surgical interventions has the potential for enormous financial reward. Conversely, lack of adequate return is considered one of the barriers to the practice of preventive cardiology. Diet and lifestyle interventions lose money for the physician.

Another barrier is that doctors don’t think patients want it. Physician surveys show that doctors often don’t even bring up diet and lifestyle options because they assume that patients would prefer to be on cholesterol-lowering drugs every day for the rest of their lives rather than change their eating habits. That may be true for some, but it’s up to the patient, not the doctor, to decide.

According to the official AMA Code of Medical Ethics, physicians are supposed to disclose all relevant medical information to patients. “The patient’s right of self-decision can be effectively exercised only if the patient possesses enough information to enable an informed choice. The physician’s obligation is to present the medical facts accurately to the patient.” For example, before starting someone at moderate risk on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, a physician might ideally say something like:

“You should know that for folks in your situation, the number of individuals who must be treated with a statin to prevent one death from a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke is generally between 60 and 100, which means that if I treated 60 people in your situation, 1 would benefit and 59 would not. As these numbers show, it is important for you to know that most of the people who take a statin will not benefit from doing so and, moreover, that statins can have side effects, such as muscle pain, liver damage, and upset stomach, even in people who do not benefit from the medication. I am giving you this information so that you can weigh the risks and benefits of drugs versus diet and then make an informed decision.”

Yet, how many physicians have these kinds of frank and open discussions with their patients? Non-disclosure of medical information by doctors—that kind of paternalism is supposed to be a thing of the past. Today’s physicians are supposed to honor informed consent under all but a very specific set of conditions (such as the patient is in a coma or it’s an emergency). However, too many physicians continue to treat their patients as if they were unconscious.

At the end of this long roundtable discussion on angioplasty and stents, the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiologyreminded us of an important fact to place it all in context. Atherosclerosis is due to high cholesterol, which is due to poor dietary choices, so if we all existed on a plant-based diet, we would not have even needed this discussion.

The lack of nutrition training in medical school is another barrier. See, for example, my videos Doctors’ Nutritional Ignorance andDoctors Know Less Than They Think About Nutrition.

Shockingly, mainstream medical associations actively oppose attempts to educate physicians about clinical nutrition. See my 4-part video series:

  1. Nutrition Education Mandate Introduced for Doctors
  2. Medical Associations Oppose Bill to Mandate Nutrition Training
  3. California Medical Association Tries to Kill Nutrition Bill
  4. Nutrition Bill Doctored in the California Senate

For more on why doctors don’t make more dietary prescriptions, see my video The Tomato Effect, Lifestyle Medicine: Treating the Cause of Disease, and Convincing Doctors to Embrace Lifestyle Medicine.

Heart disease may be a choice. See Cavities and Coronaries: Our Choice and One in a Thousand: Ending the Heart Disease Epidemic.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

Vegan diet may reduce pain from Type 2 diabetes: study

A low-fat vegan diet may help people with Type 2 diabetes reduce physical pain related to the condition, suggests a small new study.

“This new study gives a ray of hope for a condition where there are no other good treatments,” said Dr. Neal Barnard, the study’s lead author and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit organization that promotes a vegan diet, preventive medicine and alternatives to animal research.

Most people with Type 2 diabetes will develop peripheral diabetic neuropathy, the researchers write in Nutrition and Diabetes. People with the condition may feel pain, burning and numbness in their body’s extremities.

“For an individual patient, it can be miserable and depressing because there are no good treatments, and it just gets worse and worse,” said Barnard, who is also affiliated with the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington.

“By setting aside animal products and oily foods, you can become healthier, and your pain can diminish and perhaps even go away,” he told Reuters Health in an e-mail.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and is often linked to obesity. In Type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells are resistant to the hormone insulin, or the body doesn’t make enough of it. Insulin gives blood sugar access to the body’s cells to be used as fuel.

The disease is thought to interfere with the ability of nerves to signal the brain about pain, light touch and temperature. Anti-seizure medications and antidepressants help relieve nerve pain in some patients, but it may also have unpleasant side effects.

For the new study, the researchers recruited 35 adults with Type 2 diabetes and painful diabetic neuropathy. They randomly assigned 17 participants to follow a low-fat vegan diet and take B12 supplements for 20 weeks, with weekly support classes. The other 18 were instructed to take B12 supplements but maintain their normal diet.

The vegan diet focused on vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes. Over all, most participants on the vegan diet appeared to avoid animal products and about half stuck to low-fat diets throughout the study.

After 20 weeks, those on the vegan diet lost an average of about 15 pounds, compared with about one pound among those in the comparison group. Several other measures of health, including blood pressure, improved among the participants on the vegan diet compared with the control group.

Those on the vegan diet also reported a much greater drop in pain compared with the control group, the researchers report. A test of the nerves in the foot also suggested the vegan diet may have slowed or halted nerve function decline compared with the control group.

There was also a suggestion that the overall quality of life of those on the vegan diet improved compared with the control group. The difference may have been due to chance, however.

Barnard and his team acknowledged larger trials would still be needed to show a vegan diet helped relieve pain related to Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, said the study was “kind of cool,” though the number of participants was small and the length of the study was short.

“We always talk about diabetes and diabetes control being about diet and exercise, but we end up prescribing a lot of medications and don’t really focus that much on diet and exercise because that’s not easy,” said Weiss, who was not involved in the study.

Weiss told Reuters Health he typically advises patients to eat fewer processed and refined foods and not overeat.

“It might be that eating less of that in a plant-based diet might be helpful (in reducing inflammation), but again it was just 20 weeks and it takes years and years for neuropathy to develop,” Weiss said. “We need to see long-term [results], and nobody’s going to pay for that.”

While Weiss said it was exciting that researchers were looking for an alternative to medication, he cautioned that not everyone would go for a vegan diet.