Friday, October 29, 2010

The Healthy Answer to Diabetes :: Terry Talks Nutrition

Did you know that by the year 2050, one third of all Americans could have Type 2 diabetes? The real shame of this is that it’s a preventable disease. Sugar and starch cravings and their consumption is one of the major reasons for weight gain, mood swings, most degenerative diseases today, and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. And despite all the studies showing the huge health dangers of refined carbohydrates, we still see empty calorie foods and snacks on the store shelves in abundance—especially at this time of year. I see them advertised in all forms of media, and I especially dislike the commercials targeting children. Because of the rise in obesity and diabetes, our children may actually have a shorter potential life-span than we were blessed with as children! That is just wrong.
People who have Type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for developing 24 different types of cancer, according to a new study. They are four to six times more likely to get these cancers. If that wasn’t bad enough, diabetes has recently been shown to also increase the risk of other diseases as well, including glaucoma, tuberculosis, uric acid stones, heart disease, and stroke.
But do not despair. Whether your blood sugar is just starting to creep up, or you already have type 2 diabetes, there are natural interventions that can make a real difference in your health. In this issue of Terry Talks Nutrition, we are going to look at supplements that have a powerful impact on blood sugar.
The Blood Sugar and Diabetes Connection
Insulin is a hormone that picks up sugars in the blood stream and carries them into cells to burn for energy. Not enough insulin = higher and higher levels of sugar left in the blood, which in turn can trigger a whole cascade of adverse health events, including increasing blood vessel inflammation and plaque (atherosclerosis) deposits.
If cells start to ignore insulin (called “insulin resistance”), they do not respond to insulin’s signals to accept sugar into the cell for energy production. When not enough sugar gets into the cells, the cells are starved for energy and cannot do their job. If starved for too long, they start to die.
Diabetes is classified as Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder that usually manifests in childhood or the teen years. The body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, which are damaged significantly. This results in an inability to make insulin, and people with Type 1 diabetes generally must take injectable insulin for the rest of their lives to replace their lost insulin. However, those with Type 1 diabetes can live long, healthy lives by monitoring their blood sugar and keeping a healthy diet. However, only 5 to 10% of people with diabetes have Type 1.
Type 2 diabetes is far more common, and is highly preventable. The basic problem is that the body stops making enough insulin, or the cells start to ignore insulin’s message. Sometimes both can occur.
Type 2 Diabetes on the Rise
I find the rise in cases of Type 2 Diabetes one of the biggest health catastrophes in America. Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. And of the 22 million Americans with diabetes, half are unaware they even have the disease until so much damage occurs that they start to have physical complications.
Did you know that children born in the year 2000 and after have a 1 in 3 chance of developing this disease in their lifetime? In 1985, experts reported that about 1 to 2 percent of children with diabetes had Type 2. By 1995, the number stood at about 17 percent having Type 2. More recently, in some areas of the country, 30 to 40 percent of children with diabetes now have Type 2!
Certainly, there is a genetic component to Type 2 diabetes. It tends to run in families, and is more prevalent among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans. These groups may struggle more when adopting modern European or American refined carbohydrate foods as opposed to healthy, traditional diets.
But genetics aside, you have to wonder why there is such a huge increase in Type 2 diabetes? The major contributors are diet, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. We just aren’t taking care of ourselves the way we should. Though there may be many contributing factors, doctors agree that Type 2 diabetes is basically a disease of nutrition. With the right interventions, especially in the beginning stages of the disease, great progress can be made in preventing, reversing, or even curing this illness. Three things you can do to have the best chance of curing or preventing Type 2 diabetes are: make smart food choices, get moving, and use the right supplements.
Food Choices – Choose treats that make good sense
The more food you eat, the more insulin you have to produce. But different types of food affect insulin differently. The worst culprits are white sugar and high fructose corn syrup. After that comes a class of foods called simple carbohydrates. These are foods that convert quickly to sugar in the body, and generally have the natural fibers removed. An old adage, and a good one to follow, is “Don’t eat anything white unless it is cauliflower!” Avoid white bread, white rice, white pasta and white potatoes. Even if you don’t give them up entirely, but start experimenting with substitutes like brown rice and whole grains you may not have tried before. Many people do better if they eat gluten-free grains. Since proteins and fats are burned more slowly, they are not as burdensome on insulin production.

Try to make sure you have protein with each meal. It is healthy and satisfies hunger, so you aren’t ready to go for a candy bar an hour or two later. If you eat between meals, make it a protein, as this is less taxing on your insulin system. Some choices might be hard boiled eggs or a piece of organic cheese. Low carbohydrate vegetables, like salad greens, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, pickles, and olives are good choices, too. As for fats, they are not the enemy! Olive oil, for instance, is one of the healthiest choices you can make. There are people over a hundred years old in Italy who have drenched their food in olive oil every day. But stay away from too many animal fats (like butter) or, worse yet, something called partially-hydrogenated fats, found in margarine, many baked goods, cookies, and snacks. These chemically altered fats are dangerous to your health. When you eat higher carbohydrate foods like grains, and sweet vegetables and fruits like carrots and tomatoes, try to do so with meals that also contain protein and low-carb vegetables. This will help to balance things out and minimize the stress on the insulin system.

But, one of the worst things you can do is drink sodas (or other beverages with sugar or sweeteners) or snack on high carbohydrate foods like chips, crackers, candy, or cookies between meals. This revs up your insulin system and is very stressful to your body as it tries to manage this constant tweaking of blood sugar. I don’t like artificial sweeteners for a number of reasons, but they are a problem for people with blood sugar issues. First, they keep your craving for sweets active. Second, they trick your body into thinking a lot of sugar is on the way, and can disrupt the insulin system even if they have no calories. And it is not true that artificial sweeteners help people lose weight!

Get Moving
Find something physical you love and do it. If you hate it, you won’t stay at it. It could be walking, bowling, square dancing—even window shopping can be good exercise if you keep moving. If you love TV and movies, then set up your treadmill and walk as you watch. Start slow and don’t expect changes overnight. Find a buddy who will exercise with you and help keep you motivated. When you move around, you burn calories and help balance your blood sugar. If you don’t move, the system falls further and further into disrepair. Because I have been asked about this information so many times, I have outlined a meal plan and an exercise program that is simple and effective. Look for Terry’s Menu for Health and Longevity and Terry’s Exercise Plan on my website at

The Right Supplements
There are natural herbs and minerals that have been clinically studied and proven to lower blood sugars, slow their absorption, and help bring the insulin system back into balance. There are five I like to use in a formula, because each ingredient has strengths that work even better together.
Chromium is an essential mineral that has been shown in clinical studies to improve how the body handles blood sugar and insulin. In a study published in Diabetes: the Journal of the American Diabetic Association, chromium supplementation significantly improved fasting blood sugars and another blood test called hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), an important indicator of insulin system balance. I recommend at least 500 mcg a day.

Vanadium is another mineral to add to your regimen. If your blood levels of vanadium are too low, you’re likely to have more problems with high blood sugars. A dose of 1.5 mg a day can significantly raise blood levels of vanadium to a more optimal range. Besides minerals, there are three botanical ingredients getting a lot of attention: mulberry leaf, purslane, and apple extract.

Mulberry Leaf is More Effective than Glibenclamide
Mulberry leaf extract shows impressive results. Patients with Type 2 diabetes treated with a Mulberry extract significantly improved their glycemic control compared to glibenclamide (a drug) treatment. Comparing the two, fasting blood glucose after treatment with glibenclamide decreased by 8% and after mulberry treatment decreased by 27%. In a different scientific study, mulberry leaf extract was also more effective in controlling fasting blood glucose levels than the oral hypoglycemic drug glibenclamide.

How mulberry leaf works:
Mulberry leaf contains substances that inhibit an enzyme (alpha glucosidase) responsible for breaking down carbohydrates into sugars. That means that the absorption rate of these sugars is reduced and delayed, which lessens the stress on the insulin system. Make sure that the mulberry leaf extract is standardized for alpha glucosidase inhibition for it to be effective. Additional benefits of mulberry leaves in people with diabetes: reduces high blood sugar levels, works as an antioxidant, slows the onset of retinopathy (damage to the retina of the eye common in people with Type 2 diabetes), and curbs the cravings for foods that can worsen diabetic conditions.

Mulberry has been tested for safety, too. In one study, doctors gave Mulberry leaf extract to both healthy people and to people with Type 2 diabetes. Neither group showed any significant adverse effects when following the recommended dosage.

Purslane is an ancient herb discussed in Greek medical scripts, and was even mentioned in the book of Job in the Bible. Some experts call it “The best vegetable you’ve never had,” because it is not well known, but enormously healthy.

In a clinical study of people with Type 2 diabetes, purslane extract outperformed the placebo group by 44%, returning blood sugar levels to normal ranges. In an observational study over five weeks, purslane herb extract normalized blood glucose in individuals with elevated levels. It was also safe and well-tolerated.

By stabilizing blood glucose concentrations, purslane may help to control blood glucose related appetite cravings, and help protect the body from the negative effects of high blood sugar levels.
Purslane works in three ways to target diabetes: It helps the cell respond to insulin more favorably; it reduces sugar absorption from the intestine into the blood stream, and it helps move the sugars out of the blood and into the cells where they can be burned for fuel. I prefer a 7:1 extract, which means it takes 7 pounds of purslane to make a pound of purslane extract, as it is a more concentrated and effective form.

The idea that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” has a lot of evidence to back it up. The apple is chock full of amazingly healthy nutrients. But there is a very special, uncommon apple that is rarely in cultivation, called the sour green cider apple. Most apples today are bred for taste and sweetness, but these little sour apples have a rare plant compound called phloridzin that has been shown to help lower blood sugars safely by impacting how carbohydrates are absorbed, lessening stress on the insulin system, and helping the body to better metabolize carbohydrates that have been converted to sugars. It can also impact cellular fat storage.
Another ingredient in apple is quercetin, which also influences how sugars are managed in the intestines and works as a wonderful antioxidant. For any apple extract you use, there should be standardization for phloridzin and quercetin for full effectiveness. Always check the label for this.
Because these ingredients in apple extract moderate blood sugar, you don’t get so many blood-sugar related peaks and valleys that make you crave sweets or high carbohydrate foods throughout the day. Some people also use sour green cider apple extract as part of a weight loss diet, and there are studies on this as well. In one scientific study, supplementation with this extract caused a shift in body mass—11% less fat and 5% more lean muscle, compared to the group with no apple extract.

Having more lean muscle is good for many reasons. It’s important for people with Type 2 diabetes because muscle burns more calories at rest than any other tissue in the body, and this helps you keep blood sugar in balance and keep your weight in check. For example, two identical twins, each weighing 150 pounds, with the only difference being the percentage of fat vs. percentage of lean muscle in their bodies, can have vastly different health outcomes. The twin with more lean muscle can eat more calories each day without gaining weight because that twin burns more calories just by being alive.

You Can Control Your Blood Sugar
We’re coming into a difficult season for anyone who is trying to control their blood sugar and watch their weight, but blood sugar issues and Type 2 diabetes don’t improve on their own. You have to take active steps to change how your body interacts with the food you eat. I strongly urge you to consider my recommendations – by changing just 3 things—food choices, how much you move, and the right supplements, you can fight this potentially disabling and life-threatening illness. You have the power to take control and make a difference. Getting your blood sugar under control can add years to your life and give you many healthy

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