Monthly Archives: September 2011

Dark Circles Under the Eyes: Causes and Solutions

Many people consider dark circles under the eyes to merely be a cosmetic problem that is easily concealed using makeup. The truth is that most cosmetic issues have a physiological cause. Dark circles are no different. There are many different potential causes for dark circles. Some are easy to address and correct; others take a longer effort. Dark circles can also be hereditary to some extent.If you have extremely dark circles under your eyes consistently, please see your practitioner. The information that follows will help you know which blood tests to request Dark Circles Under the Eyeand which body systems to discuss with your practitioner. Please note that the following information does not apply to anyone receiving chemotherapy or other extreme drug therapies, as these therapies themselves may cause dark circles under the eyes. As always, this information is shared for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or health condition.
Potential Causes of Dark Circles Under the Eyes
  • Lack of Sleep: Women who complain about dark circles often say they only sleep 4-5 hours per night. Deep sleep allows your skin to heal. Lack of sleep may interrupt this healing and cause skin to sag. Lack of sleep also makes us more pale, which makes the blood vessels under the skin more visible and makes the skin under the eyes look purple.
  • Anemia: An iron deficiency (aka: anemia) can definitely contribute to dark circles under the eyes. The truth is that many nutritional deficiencies can cause dark circles under the eyes. Eating a healthy diet is key to preventing and eliminating dark circles. for tips on how to improve absorption, please read my blog post, The Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion.
  • Kidney Issues: Chinese medicine attributes dark circles under the eyes to any deficiency or challenge in kidney function. Although dark circles under the eyes can’t be used to diagnose kidney issues, I can say that dark circles under the eyes often accompany kidney issues.
    I can share a personal story related to this … when I started using electrodermal screening (EDS) in my practice, my husband volunteered to be a test subject. His kidneys tested poorly, so I recommended a kidney support supplement. Within a few months, the dark circles under his eyes began to disappear to the point that people commented on it. The transformation was amazing. The supplement I recommended and which tested very positively for him on the EDS unit was Premier Research Lab’s Kidney Complex. (Click the link to view it.) It’s one of my favorite combinations for kidney support.
  • Food Allergies & Other Allergies: More than one mom has seen that food allergies cause dark circles under the eyes. This effect is known as “allergy shiners” in food allergy circles. Seasonal and environmental allergies can also cause dark circles under the eyes. The basic effect is that the allergy causes congestion which creates increased blood flow to the nose. Because the skin under the eyes is somewhat thin, the increased blood flow creates the purple tint. The congestion caused by allergies can also cause enlarged blood vessels around the eyes and cause the dark tint. Many people with allergies sleep poorly and have adrenal fatigue, both of which can also contribute to dark circles under the eyes.
  • Adrenal Fatigue: Dark circles under the eyes are a primary indicator of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands are tiny glands located on top of the kidneys  that produce a multitude of hormones. The adrenals are our “flight or fight” glands. Because we live under a world that creates constant excess stress, many of us have adrenal glands that have become fatigued. Dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain and many other symptoms may be indicators of adrenal fatigue. I intend to write much more about this syndrome in future posts. I apologize I can’t adequately address it in a single paragraph.
If you have dark circle under the eyes, try to get more rest, drink more water, eat a healthier diet, and know you’re not alone. Work with someone to identify the cause of your dark circles, and then take measures to reduce them.

Corn in my Veins: Dextrose in IV Solutions

I wanted to share an update to follow up on what happened Sunday night. (See my last blog post, EMTs in My Bedroom, to catch up on that.) The good news is that I returned to complete health as soon as my blood glucose levels returned to normal … with one small exception.

To bring my blood sugar levels up rapidly Sunday night, I was given a 50% solution of dextrose. This would be fine, except that dextrose is directly derived from corn. The problem with that is that I have an allergy to corn. The incidence of corn allergies is rising rapidly, primarily due to the fact that so much of the corn grown in our country is genetically modified (GMO). I was very fortunate the reaction I experienced was not extreme. Many people with corn allergies experience anaphylaxis (deadly allergic reactions) when given dextrose intravenously. These allergic reactions typically include a swelling of the throat and mouth which often makes it impossible to breathe. Again, I was very, very fortunate.

On a side note, I’m also concerned that I had genetically modified material directly injected into my veins. Over 90% of corn grown in this country is GMO (genetically modified). Having that crap in my bloodstream concerns me gravely, but I’m taking measures to protect myself.

Although the physiology of an allergic reaction is the same, there is a huge difference between eating an allergenic food and having it directly injected into your bloodstream. Let’s look at what happens during an allergic reaction:

  1. The body is exposed to an allergen, triggering a complex cascade of cellular reactions.
  2. White blood cells release allergy-specific antibodies which then bind to mast cells, a very specific type of blood cell specifically designed to protect the body from allergens and antigens. Mast cells are most commonly found in the digestive tract and the respiratory system, which explains why allergic reactions typically affect those body systems first.
  3. The cells of the allergen bind with the chain created by the bonding of the antibodies and mast cells.
  4. When the allergen cells bind with bonded antibody and mast cell chain, it stimulates the mast cells to release multiple chemicals and hormones that create a chain reaction designed to kill the allergen and protect the body. 
  5. The most common chemical released from the mast cells are histamines. The histamines cause common allergy symptoms (inflammation, itching, etc.) that we are familiar with.

So that’s that. Obviously, eating a food and having it digested and absorbed through the digestive tract is very different from having a substance directly infused into the bloodstream. The reaction created by receiving an allergen via IV is typically much more rapid than that caused by eating a food. (The exception to this occurs with severe food allergies in which the sensitivity is so strong that the mast cells immediately release large amounts of histamines and chemicals that cause anaphylaxis.)

I received the dextrose Sunday night and experienced immediate nausea that persisted for four days. Remember those mast cells in the digestive tract? They sprang into action and did their job as soon as the blood containing the corn product circulated into my stomach and colon. (Nice, huh?) The next day, I was extremely congested (the mast cells at work again) and ached from head to toe.

The achiness is what signaled me that I had been exposed to an allergen. One of the most common, although often unrecognized, symptoms of food allergies is sore joints and achiness. This is created by the inflammation caused by the histamines and other chemicals released by the body in an attempt to protect itself from the allergen. I immediately began researching and realized very quickly that the dextrose was derived from corn. At that point, all I could do was help my body eliminate the allergen. I also treated the inflammation using natural methods.

The most visible allergic reaction I experienced occurred in the site where the IV was inserted, the back of my hand. The entire back of my hand and several inches of my arm turned stunning shades of black, blue and red with visible dark red blotches where blood vessels had burst. I wish I had taken a picture, because it was quite a sight. An IV typically produces a bruise, but not one that measures 6″ x 6″. The entire area was extremely tender, also a result of the inflammation created by the histamines. The inflammation created by the corn in the dextrose caused some of the smaller vessels in my hand to burst, and created leakages in the larger ones. Not at at all dangerous, just ugly and mildly inconvenient.

Was there an alternative? Yes. In my case, I could have been given a medication called glucagon. Glucagon stimulates the liver to produce sugar (glycogen) and to then release it into the bloodstream. Although glucagon has its own set of side effects, the use of glucagon could have eliminated the allergic reaction I had. It’s a minor point since the reactions I had were minor, but its use could have avoided disaster had my reaction been severe.

As I stated in my last post, the EMTs who came were amazing. I’m so thankful they were there. I do find it incredible that standard IV procedure does not include asking the patient’s family what allergies the patient has prior to the delivery of IV fluids. Dextrose is included in multiple IV solutions. Knowing that a patient has a corn allergy would enable the team to select an alternative solution and avoid disaster.

I’m sharing this to ensure that anyone with corn allergies is aware that some IV solutions contain corn derivatives. When possible, please ask about the contents of an IV solution before allowing it to be administered. Most glucose solutions contain corn derivatives. Be careful!

EMTs in My Bedroom

This is the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write. It’s hard because it forces me to admit that I am vulnerable. I hate doing that. Seriously hate it. I “have” to write this post because I need to be 100% transparent and because I want to use it to educate others and to encourage others that “vulnerable” does not mean “weak.” They are two very different concepts.

Let me clearly state I have Type 1 diabetes, not Type 2. People with Type 2 diabetes typically do not experience this degree of extremes in their blood sugars. I also want to clearly state that I was 100% fine as soon as my blood glucose levels returned to normal.

Last night, for some unknown reason, my blood sugar dropped to dangerously low levels. My husband, Terry, did everything right, but my sugar refused to come up. He was forced to call 911. Before the EMTs arrived, I had a seizure with mild convulsions. For the record, a seizure is caused when the brain receives conflicting signals. Symptoms vary but may include staring into space, appearing awake but being non-responsive, etc. Since the brain’s only source of “fuel” is glucose, it is not unusual for diabetics to have seizures – but not convulsions – when they have low glucose levels. A convulsion is a series of involuntary, rapid muscle contractions that are sometimes caused by the abnormal electrical charges occurring in the brain during a seizure. The belief that seizures always cause convulsions is false.

My heart breaks that my husband had to experience this. I can only imagine how frightening it must have been. As I said, he did everything perfectly. I spent today thanking God for him and his wisdom. From what he tells me, I fell asleep (probably due to a low blood sugar) and then awoke but was completely unresponsive. My eyes were open, but I was not acknowledging his presence and would not respond to verbal cues. I was having a seizure.

He fixed a solution of sugar and water and was able to get me to drink from a straw. (He’s brilliant, by the way!) He then took a blood sugar. It was 25. I’ve had sugars of 25 and lower before and been completely coherent. The fact I was still unresponsive with a sugar of 25 indicates my sugar had been much lower and that my brain function was still mildly affected by the seizure. (Which is very temporary and perfectly normal.) He called 911 when I failed to become responsive even after drinking the sugar water.

The EMTs gave me IV glucose and I finally “came to” about 25 minutes later. It took a total of over sixty minutes between the initial seizure and complete coherency. One of the interesting things the EMTs told me was that I appeared to be “ready to fight” when they arrived. The brain is an amazing organ. My survival instincts were fully functioning even when the rest of my cerebral functions were not. Seeing strangers enter my bedroom caused me to react belligerently. On some level I knew I needed their help, but they had to talk me into letting them help me. I apparently changed my mind in the middle of receiving the IV, because I jerked my hand away and succeeded in spraying the carpet with blood.

The EMTs who came were incredible. A man and lady, they were experts but were also very kind and personable. Unfortunately, I failed to ask their names. I owe them a debt of gratitude and need to call to find out who they were.

I want to share what I experienced and what I remember in the hopes it will help others understand what it’s like to have a seizure caused by low blood sugars. I remember becoming extremely tired and lying down. The sudden tiredness was a signal my blood sugar was low, but I was not capable of recognizing that at the time. I have no memory of anything until I began having a strange dream where strangers were in my room and a blond woman was speaking very firmly to me. I thought it was a dream, and then wished it were when the realization hit that the woman was an EMT and that my sugar had bottomed out. I became coherent when my sugar reached the mid-30s. The EMT checked my levels and got a 40 after I became coherent and was conversing in a way that made sense. As soon as coherency returned, I began eating fruit to continue the upward rise of my blood sugar. As I said previously, a blood sugar of 40 is low, but is not a level that typically causes incoherency for me. I’ve had diabetes for over 45 years, so my body has developed an ability to tolerate extremes that most people could not. That fact scares me more than anything else. I hate to imagine how low my sugar was when I first had the seizure. 

After coherency returned, I was embarrassed beyond belief. Was it wrong to feel embarrassed? Of course it was, but that’s how I felt. I was mortified to have needed the help and felt horrible to have put my husband through what he went through. Could I have prevented this event? Probably not. I maintain exquisite control of my blood sugars and work hard to maintain control. I probably didn’t eat enough yesterday, but there is still nothing that can explain having a sugar low enough to completely destroy my ability to function. Stranger still is that drinking a large amount of glucose failed to raise my blood sugar rapidly enough to restore coherency.

Strangest of all is that my liver had already released the store of glycogen (a natural sugar) that the body typically uses to raise blood glucose levels in emergency situations. My blood sugar should have been in the 400s after that combination of events, yet the highest it got was a very temporary 216. Drinking sugar water, eating fruit, receiving IV glucose and the liver’s release of glycogen should have sent my blood sugar through the roof, but did not. My sugar quickly dropped to 95 once the IV glucose wore off This can only mean that my pancreas actually kicked in at some point and did what it was supposed to. I’ve spent the last 10 years working hard to restore function to my pancreas. The fact my efforts appear to be working is very encouraging, but does mean I must be even more diligent in controlling my blood sugars. I’m ok with that.

The after-effects of an extremely low blood sugar and seizure vary. Mine included a splitting headache and a body temperature of 94 degrees. My body stopped maintaining a normal body temperature in an attempt to provide more glucose to the brain. In effect, I had hypothermia and a reduced core temperature without being exposed to cold. A long, hot bath was the only thing that worked to restore my core temperature to normal.

There you have it. I always want to be 100% transparent when it comes to my health. Sharing this was harder than you know. I hope it helped provide some education and understanding on some level. More than anything, please remember that people with diabetes can’t always control what happens with their blood sugar. We try our best, but our bodies sometimes do things that can’t be anticipated. Please read my follow-up post, Corn in my Veins, for the unexpected side effects I experienced from the IV solution I was given. Important info for anyone with a corn allergy.

How Much Food Do We Waste?

It is my incredible pleasure to share a guest post by Randy Clark. Randy is a top-notch marketer (his bio follows his post) who also has a great sense of humor and an interest in natural foods and community action. I highly recommend following him on Twitter and Facebook. It is an extreme honor to share his post.
How Much Food Do We Waste?
Last Friday evening, my wife and I attended a reception for the Hoosier Auto Show sponsored by the Circle City Corvair Club. Corvair owners, (It’s a car from the sixties) had driven from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio to show their cars. The event was catered. I understand last year they ran out of food. This year, there was plenty of food. As a matter of fact – there was too much food. There were four unopened containers of pasta, and bread. I sent a tweet asking who could use the food and Pamela suggested the Wheeler Mission. My wife and I left the reception to deliver the food. It was needed. It would have been thrown away. It would have been wasted.
The awards banquet was the following night. Jonathan Byrds  had been hired to cater the banquet. The food was excellent and the employee setting up the service was great. But, there was a lot of food left over, unopened containers of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. I asked the service person what happened to the food and he told me it was all carefully packed, put in a cooler at Jonathan Byrd’s, and donated to Second Helpings. This is as good of an example of corporate responsibility, community involvement, and caring from a business – as you will find. It made my night.  

Americans waste about one pound of food everyday for every American

According to an article published in the New York Times:  “Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.
Waste not, want not
The Jonathan Byrd service person shared a story with me. His Grandmother had lived in Europe before World War One when much of Europe was in a depression. After World War One she waited in breadlines with her family. As an adult she moved to America and experienced the great Depression. She had learned the hard way. She didn’t let much go to waste. They had some land on Long Island where they planted a large garden, raised livestock, and dogs. What the family didn’t consume was feed to the hogs, the dogs, or both. Like he said – not much was wasted, and the conservation lessons were not wasted on him. My new friend wondered aloud how much we could all learn from his grandmother today. I don’t have to wonder.
Every night 190,000 children go to bed hungry – in Indiana
Green Answers answered the question, “How many people go hungry everyday in America?” “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 500,000 households suffer from hunger each day.  They are classified as ‘food insecure.’ “  According to The Guardian over a million American children go hungry every day.”  Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) brings it home with this statement, “Every night 190,000 children in Indiana go to bed – hungry.”
Stop Wasting – Start Helping

What else do we waste?

Randy Clark

Randy Clark is the Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, where he blogs for TKO Graphix Brandwire  Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He is a beer geek and on weekends he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under The Radar. He is the proud father of one educator, one Principal, has four amazing grand children, and a public speaking wife who puts up with him. His twitter handle is @randyclarktko, Face book: Randy Clarktko.

Simple Ways to Evaluate the Validity of a Research Study

I know first hand that scientific studies often make claims which are not valid. I know this because I worked as a validation expert (the title is hysterical) as a member of research teams for a major pharmaceutical manufacturer. In this role, I saw statistics manipulated every day to change the conclusions drawn. Typically, statistics were manipulated to make dangerous outcomes appear safe. This practice is mainstream in the pharmaceutical industry. It is an insidious habit, but one that is not limited to the pharmaceutical industry. I’m not the only one to draw this conclusion. If you’d like more information, please read The Mainstream Manufacture of Misinformation.

The bottom line is that you can rarely trust the media’s reports on a study’s findings. Most media professionals don’t have time (or don’t take time) to actually read a study. Instead, they rely on other media reporting agencies to draw conclusions for them. The only true way to evaluate a study is to actually read it or to read a synopsis of it. Specifically, one must check the number of participants studied, the study protocol used, who sponsored the study and paid for it, and other factors that may influence the conclusions. More than once, the media has reported on a study but failed to share comments made by the people who actually performed the study. Instead, media channels reported on conclusions drawn by companies which could potentially be negatively affected by the study. Do your own research. Don’t trust mainstream media.

Before accepting the findings of a research study, one must evaluate the research techniques used, the study protocol, and other factors to determine if the study’s claims are valid. Let’s look at a few items that should be reviewed before accepting the findings of a research study:

  1. Number of Participants: A study using three participants is obviously not going to be as predictive as a study using a much larger group of participants. Yes, I have seen studies PUBLISHED which based a conclusion on three people. In the study I’m referencing, a Japanese study on the herb Lion’s Mane, the three people negatively affected by the herb had cancer and were receiving chemotherapy. The conclusion which was published was that Lion’s Mane unequivocally causes liver damage. In my mind, this study proved nothing, since chemotherapy is known to cause liver damage and the people studied had severely compromised health. When reviewing a study, always check the study protocol to see what size “control” group was used and what “controls” were in place. More on the control group follows.
  • Specific Study Protocol:When reviewing a study done on pharmaceuticals or herbs, very carefully review how the study was performed. Things to check include the dosage used, what effects were studied, how the effects were measured, which part of the herb was used, etc. A 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (Turner, 2005) claimed the herb echinacea had no effect on the duration or severity of colds. However, the study only used 900 mg of the herb on a daily basis. Herbalists typically recommend a minimum dosage of 2700 mg daily. A study which only used 900 mg was bound to fail. Additionally, this study used extracts that were created in the lab by scientists who knew nothing about how to make herbal extracts and who used chemicals to make the extracts. I’ve been an herbalist for 25 years. Trust me when I say the art and science of creating a valid herbal extract requires extensive training, practice and research. Additionally, an extract made using a chemical such as ethanol (one of the chemicals used in this study) will be contaminated in a manner which could negatively impact the herb’s effectiveness. I shudder to think what the study participants were actually taking.Another problem in this study was that the extracts were made using a single variety of the herb and were made from the herb’s root. A truly effective herbal extract of echinacea will include extracts from the three most common varieties and will include extracts from the roots and aerial portions of the herb. Quite simply, there was no way this study could have shown echinacea to have positive effects. The study protocols were so flawed that it leads one to believe the desired outcome of the study was to prove echinacea useless. This study had multiple other flaws, but I’ve shared the main ones. You can read an abstract of the study yourself here: you’re interested in seeing how one person tore apart a research study and effectively proved it to be invalid, I encourage you to read Kevin Trudeau’s research on one study done on Gardasil:
  • Study Sponsor and Resource Provider: It would be nice to think that all studies are commissioned purely for the sake of science and not because someone has a point to prove. The fact is that many studies are set up and paid for because the sponsor has a desired outcome. While this practice is in direct opposition to the scientific method, corporate greed guarantees that studies are often commissioned whose protocol is designed to have a specific outcome and to prove conclusions which were drawn in advance. I always get a bit leery of any study paid for by a pharmaceutical company (or a research facility highly funded by a pharmaceutical company) which claims to prove an herbal extract is absolutely ineffective. For instance, the Glaucoma Research Foundation sponsored several studies on natural remedies for glaucoma and reported that no natural treatments are effective. I know this is untrue because I reversed my own glaucoma using natural methods, have helped others do the same, and have spoken to natural practitioners who have had similar success with 100s of clients. Anecdotal evidence isn’t scientific, but substantial amounts of it should lead one to desire additional information.

To conclude, don’t assume the reported conclusions of a study are correctly reported and do not accept a study’s validity without digging a bit deeper. Being able to separate the wheat from the chaff when reviewing scientific evidence can help avoid being deceived.

What Does a Diabetic Look Like?

“Wow … you’re so healthy! You sure don’t LOOK like a diabetic!” I hear that comment frequently. I know it’s a compliment, and it’s one I appreciate, but I confess the comment offends me. There, I said it. Being told I don’t “look like a diabetic” offends the heck out of me. Why does it offend me? Because it implies that people with diabetes are sick, can’t function normally and should look like invalids or be morbidly obese. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for over 47 years. Yep. Almost half a century. In spite of that, I travel frequently, ride a motorcycle (as the rider, never a passenger), keep a crazy schedule, live life to the fullest, and prefer to say I have diabetes instead of referring to myself as a diabetic. (The difference in perspective is huge.) I control my blood sugars and other health factors using a method that works far better than that recommended by the American Diabetes Association. My A1Cs (a blood test that shows how well a person’s glucose levels have been controlled) are actually lower than many people who don’t have diabetes. I have zero complications from diabetes and consider myself immensely blessed.

Diabetes has NEVER stopped me from doing anything, and it never will. Well, ok … I confess having diabetes could have once stopped me from parasailing, but I lied and said I didn’t have it. (God forgave me.) There are laws that say I can’t get a commercial driver’s license, fly a plane or scuba dive, but I can darn well do everything else. Having diabetes means I have to plan ahead. It doesn’t mean I had to give up.

Although I have Type 1 diabetes (the type that is caused by an autoimmune condition and controlled using insulin), most people in the US have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is typically controlled using diet, exercise and oral medication if needed. Some things discussed in this post are more applicable to people with Type 1 diabetes, some are more applicable to people with Type 2. Regardless of which type of diabetes we are blessed to have, people’s perception of us changes the minute they hear we have “it.” The judgment and assumptions drawn are often incorrect and always unfair.

Based on what I see in the media and hear from people unfamiliar with diabetes, here’s what I suspect a diabetic is “supposed” to look like:

  • Diabetics have syringes for arms & legs, a pill bottle for a head, and one leg in the grave: The fact I have diabetes doesn’t mean my life is controlled by it. I have challenges and have to consider things others don’t, but I control it … it doesn’t control me. Period. I don’t spend my day thinking about it and obsessing about it. I just live!
  • Diabetics are all fat: Diabetes has become such a common disorder that it no longer has a “standard” demographic. People with diabetes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are rail thin, some are grossly obese, and most of us fall somewhere in the broad range between the two. Not all fat people have diabetes, and not everyone with diabetes is fat. Please let go of that stereotype and move on.
  • Diabetics spontaneously combust if they eat sugar: The myth that diabetics can never eat sugar is just that … a myth. People with diabetes do need to make careful food choices, but an occasional indulgence is not going to kill us. Frequent indulgences may cause problems, but please don’t freak out or cast judgment if we eat a cookie in front of you, ok? We’re smart enough to know what we can and cannot eat. People with Type 1 diabetes take extra insulin to counteract the effect an indulgence has on their blood sugar. People with Type 2 diabetes hopefully exercise or use other methods to counteract dietary indulgences. I don’t mean to imply that people with diabetes can eat like pigs. (Or like the rest of the people in the US eat.) People who have diabetes and eat whatever they want with no regard for how it affects their blood sugar typically suffer higher rates of complications, such as blindness, amputation, heart disease, etc. However, eating a single Twinkie won’t cause us to drop dead in front of you. I promise.
  • Diabetics are weak invalids who have a lot in common with Eeyore: Most people with diabetes lead full, vibrant lives. They do if they choose to, at least. They have challenges, but they choose to control diabetes instead of letting diabetes control them. Yes, it is true that diabetes has the capacity to kill us if we don’t control it, but many people with diabetes are invalids because a medical professional at some point convinced them their diagnosis meant they could no longer live a normal life. Many people with diabetes have told me the doctor who diagnosed them told them they had diabetes and went on to say their condition would continually deteriorate and that they would eventually die a horrid death from it. Instead of telling them they had diabetes and that their condition could be controlled or even reversed, their doctor sucked the hope right out of them and then sent them home to die. It’s criminal, but it happens more frequently than people realize. The truth is that there is no reason people with diabetes need to let it interfere with leading a full, vibrant life. None. 

There you have it. Apparently that’s what a diabetic is supposed to look like. I guess I can only thank God that people are surprised I don’t look like one. When people find out I have diabetes, I often see their foreheads crease with concern and their eyes glaze with pity. I don’t choose to spend much time with those folks. The people I adore are the ones who acknowledge I have diabetes but who form an opinion of me based on who I am, not what I have. They are the friends who hand me a bottle of juice when they know my blood sugar is low, but who don’t assume it’s low when I’m having trouble completing a sentence. They ask before assuming. I love them. Dearly.

I’m thrilled to see that others share my opinion of the assumptions made about folks with diabetes. This t-shirt sums it up well:

I’d like to have one in seven different colors to wear every day.

Natural Ways to Improve Cognitive Function

Our society assumes cognitive function “naturally” declines as we age. Although aging causes lower production of some chemicals affecting brain chemistry, many things affect cognitive health and a decline is not guaranteed. Aging is not a disease and loss of cognitive function is not a natural consequence.[i] The strongest factors known to help maintain strong cognitive function are a healthy (whole food, organic) diet, regular exercise, and participation in activities that stimulate and challenge thinking. The following supplements are known to assist brain chemistry and function (Note that some supplements can interfere with the function of prescription medications and that there is a potential for allergic reaction to any ingested product, so please ask a trained professional before combining supplements with prescription medications and discontinue use if any negative effects are experienced):

B Vitamins: Known to affect the formation and maintenance of nerve cells, B Vitamins are essential for maintaining cognitive function. Supplementing on a daily basis is advised because B Vitamins are water soluble and are not stored in the body long-term. Vitamin B12 is especially important for brain health. When taken in supplement form, B12 is best absorbed sublingually in the Methylcobalamin form. (The Cobalamin form is cheaper and more frequently used, so use care when reading labels.)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Naturally found in fish, algae and some nuts and seeds, Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been scientifically proven to improve the function of neurotransmitters in the brain.[ii] Omega-3s have been successfully used with Alzheimer patients and are often used to help children with ADD/ADHD.[iii],[iv] The purest Omega-3 supplements are sourced from wild-caught fish in cold waters or from algaes. Omega-3s are best absorbed when combined with Vitamin A. For those who have concerns about radiation poisoning from fish or who live a vegan lifestyle, Omega-3s can be obtained from seeds (flax and chia are good examples), but the body does not immediately absorb the Omega-3s and must convert them before they can be utilized.

Phosphatidyl Serine (PS): Phosphatidyl Serine naturally occurs in every cell in the body and is a potent modulator of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is one of my favorite supplements for improving cognitive function. Studies proved supplementation with PS may reduce, slow or even reverse cognitive impairment due to age-related decline.[v][vi] PS was shown to improve recall, learning, concentration, and even reflex response time.[vii] PS is also commonly used to help children with ADD/ADHD and is a well-known supplement used by college students to improve retention during finals week.

Huperzine A: Huperzine A is a chemical found in the herb Chinese Club Moss, which has been used for centuries in Chinese Medicine. Recent studies proved Huperzine A not only improved cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients,[viii] but that it effectively improved school performance in adolescents.[ix] Please note that Huperzine A is known to interact with several prescription medications used to change brain chemistry.

If brain chemistry interests you, please read my post: Stop the Winter Blues & Seasonal Affective Disorder:

My passion is helping people improve their health and lifestyle by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate their health challenges using a holistic approach. If you are ready to find a new level of wellness, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I will help you identify the cause of health challenges and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.

As always, these statements were not evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health issue.


i: Finch C. Longevity, Semescence, and the Genome . Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1990.
ii: Fotuhi M, Mohassel P, Yaffe K. Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer disease: a complex association. Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2009 Mar;5(3):140-52. Review.
iii: Ibid
iv: Burgess J, Stevens L, Zhang W, Peck L. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000; 71(suppl):327S-330S.
v: Cenacchi, B, Bertoldin T, Farina C, Fiori M.G., Crepaldi G. Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration. Aging (Clin. Exp. Res.), 1993, 5: 123-33.
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Why You Should NEVER Use Splenda (Sucralose)

The Dangers of Splenda (Sucralose)

I’m often asked which artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes I prefer. The answer, quite simply, is few of them because splendamost create a wide variety of negative side effects. The newest, Splenda (Sucralose), has its own dangerous history and set of dangerous consequences. The dangers of Sucralose and the side effects of Sucralose cannot be denied. Sucralose is marketed as Splenda. I use both names in this post.

If you’re interested in reading about another common product which research has proved to be dangerous, please read my post: Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer: The Dangers of Triclosan.

Let’s look at some surprising facts about Sucralose:

Sucralose History & Testing

Sucralose was discovered by a grad student in London in 1976 while working on a study focused on creasing new INSECTICIDES. That’s right. Splenda was “accidentally” discovered as part of a research study focused on creating new insecticides. (On a side note, DDT, a poison now banned, has a very similar chemical structure to Sucralose. Doesn’t that sound delicious?) McNeil Nutritionals, the manufacturer of Splenda, claims that 100s of studies were done on Splenda. The truth is that most of those studies were designed and paid for by McNeil (which puts their validity in question) and that almost all the studies were performed on animals, were very short term, and did not test safety but instead tested secondary effects such as tooth decay. The truth is that only six human studies were conducted, the longest of which was three months. (Most people use Splenda far longer.) For more information on the ways research studies and their results are often faulty, please read my post Simple Ways to Evaluate the Validity of a Research Study.

NO studies on Sucralose safety have been conducted on children or pregnant women, in spite of the fact that studies performed on rats showed the offspring of pregnant females fed Splenda had decreased intelligence, smaller sexual organs, failed to thrive and had a variety of behavioral problems. Independent human studies showed Splenda impaired liver function, caused enlarged kidneys and liver, decreased the number of red blood cells in the blood (caused anemia), impaired absorption of essential minerals such as magnesium and potassium, and caused significant shrinkage of the Thymus gland, one of the most important glands involved in immunity. Splenda side effects have also been strongly linked to psychological problems including dementia, severe depression and sleep disorders. Splenda has also been linked to increased rates of autoimmune disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Diabetes and others. The most common side effect of Splenda is digestive disturbances such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Increased cataract rates were also noted. The biggest insult is that use of Splenda has been linked to … you guessed it … weight gain. An independent study performed at Duke University and published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health confirmed that use of Splenda causes side effects such as weight gain and multiple digestive disorders, some with symptoms as severe as Crohn’s Disease. If you haven’t thrown away your box of Splenda yet, please read on.

Chemical Structure of Sucralose

Proponents of Sucralose claim that it is “natural” because it’s made from sugar. The truth is that chemists took the natural sugar molecule and combined it with chlorine. Chlorine is a known poison which is very commonly used in insecticides and in current and past biological warfare agents. (Remember the Chlorine Gas used in WWII? More recent biological warfare agents still use chlorine but are even more deadly.) McNeil claims chlorine occurs in nature and in our foods, another untruth. The truth is that chlorine only occurs in chemistry labs. Chloride occurs in nature, but only when combined with other chemicals that make it a non-poison. One of the reasons Splenda has no immediate effect on blood sugar is because your body does not recognize it and it cannot be absorbed by the digestive tract. The problem, which McNeil admits, is that your body does absorb 15-18% of the Splenda consumed, but your body has no means to eliminate it because it’s a chemical structure your body was not designed to eliminate. (GMOs loosely fall into this same category, but that’s another topic for another time.) So … your body is absorbing chlorine from Splenda, but the chlorine – a known poison – has an almost indefinite afterlife in your tissues. Tissues and cells which have absorbed a toxic substance do not function correctly. Period.

If those terms were overly simplified, here’s the chemical explanation: To create Splenda, the organic sugar molecule is treated with acetic anhydride, trityl chloride, hydrogen chloride, thionyl chloride and methanol. This all occurs in combination with toluene, dimethylformamide, 4-methylmorpholine, methyl isobutyl ketone, acetic acid, benzyltriammonium chloride, and sodium methoxide. The end result is not a sugar molecule, but is a chlorinated hydrocarbon molecule. The most common uses of chlorinated hydrocarbons include insecticides, chemical solvents and degreasers, and the production of plastics. Many chlorinated hydrocarbons are being banned from industrial use because of their environmental toxicity and because their use accelerates the destruction of the ozone layer. Does that sound like something you want to consume on a daily basis?

Needless to say, Splenda (and Nutrasweet) are banned substances in my home. The side effects and dangers of Splenda are too dangerous to allow. A fairly complete list of commercial products containing Sucralose can be found at: Sucralose US Product List. The list is shockingly huge and contains products aimed at children. This concerns me greatly.

Sugar Substitute Alternatives

My choice of a non-caloric sweetener and sugar substitute that has no glycemic effect is Stevia. Stevia is an herb which is 300 times sweeter than sugar but which has NO side effects. It is the only sweetener (other than coconut sugar and agave nectar) we use in our house. My favorite Stevia is made by SweetLeaf. I carry it with me everywhere. You can purchase it in most groceries or on Amazon at: SweetLeaf Packets or SweetLeaf Liquid.

If you want additional information on the dangers of artificial sweeteners, I highly recommend Dr. Mercola’s book, Sweet Deception. Click the link to learn more about the book.

Just out of curiosity, what sweetener do you use? Have you had negative effects from an artificial sweetener? If so, please share! Help others avoid the danger!


The Golden Corral Dilemma

Today my son turned 17. Birthday tradition in our house is that we go out to eat at a restaurant chosen by the birthday person. For some unexplained reason, Jared chose to eat at Golden Corral. Not Fogo de Chao, not Fujiyama … Golden Corral. Off we went! So what does one eat at Golden Corral that’s relatively healthy? Here’s what I had:

1) A huge salad loaded with every vegetable possible and some sunflower seeds
2) A small steak
3) A very tiny portion of baked tilapia
4) Green Beans
5) Cauliflower
6) A small piece of fudge and a coconut macaroon (we were celebrating, after all)

In a restaurant such as Golden Corral, “healthy” is obviously a relative term. Nothing organic and very few low-carb options, but there were options. My advice when eating in a restaurant that doesn’t have good options includes:

1) Load up on veggies and salad. Eating these foods first will help fill you up. Additionally, loading up with a high fiber food early in the meal will help slow the absorption of the carbs that are are bound to follow. Slowing the absorption of carbs will help keep blood sugars lower and will help prevent your body from needing to produce a lot of insulin. (Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so keeping insulin levels low can help with weight loss and maintenance.)

2) Keep portions small, or at least reasonable. When eating at a buffet, you have the advantage of being able to choose your own portion sizes. If you use discipline, you can avoid completely pigging out. When eating out, ask your server to bring a to go box when s/he delivers the food. That way you can box up the excess, stick it under your chair, and save it for lunch tomorrow. This is one of the most effective ways I know of to avoid overeating when eating out.

3) Set boundaries, enjoy every bite to the fullest, and move on. The worst thing you can do when splurging is to lay a guilt trip on yourself. My advice is to keep the splurges infrequent, but to enjoy every single bite to the absolute fullest. Set healthy boundaries about how much you’ll splurge, and then move on without looking back. NO ONE eats perfectly all the time, and beating yourself up mentally is unhealthy, so enjoy the splurge (in moderation) and then move forward without looking back.

By making careful choices and avoiding any blended foods, I was able to completely avoid my allergies. Folks with Celiac would have to be extremely careful to avoid cross-contamination when eating in a buffet.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to eat in such an abomination of a restaurant. Which goes to show that making careful choices and eating proper portion sizes is always possible.

I will write more about eating well when eating out. What are your tricks? Please share!