Category Archives: blood sugar
The CDC estimates that 29% of adults (one in three) in the US have high blood pressure.1 Unfortunately, many people who have high blood pressure are not aware of it. The National Institutes of Health defines high blood pressure as any pressure above 149/90, and prehypertension as any pressure above 120/80. It is common for doctors to put their patients on medications while they are in the prehypertension phase without encouraging any lifestyle changes, even though multiple studies proved lifestyle changes can be as effective as medication for lowering blood pressure.2
I want to be very clear that high blood pressure must be treated. Period. Allowing chronic blood pressure to remain elevated and untreated can lead to permanent physical damage and may result in death. The potential dangers of high blood pressure means it can be dangerous to refuse high blood pressure medication when a physician prescribes it. My encouragement is to use the medication while making lifestyle changes, and to then work with your physician to determine whether or not you can reduce the dose. Consider the medication a potentially temporary necessity. Reversing high blood pressure requires a commitment to making multiple lifestyle and eating style changes, but many people are able to work with their physician to reduce or sometimes eliminate their blood pressure medication after making the changes.
High blood pressure always has a cause. Mainstream medicine often addresses the symptom without taking time to determine its cause. My personal philosophy is that it is imperative to figure out WHY a symptom developed in order to correctly address it. Potential causes of high blood pressure vary, but may include (among other things) food allergies, excess alcohol consumption, obesity, systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, cardiac disease, high blood sugar, insufficient cellular oxygen, and many others. If diagnosed with high blood pressure, accept the prescription and then work with your physician to determine why your body raised blood pressure. High blood pressure doesn’t just happen. The body always has a specific reason for raising blood pressure. Take time to figure out the cause.
Sadly, medical literature rarely mentions the most common root cause of hyptertension: Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells stop absorbing insulin the way they should. This may occur due to chronic high blood sugars, excess consumption of sugars and high-glycemic carbohydrates, or other metabolic imbalances. When the body produces high amounts of insulin over a long period of time, the body’s cells can become “overwhelmed” by all the insulin and stop absorbing insulin in the quantities the body needs. Insulin is an inflammatory chemical, so the cell’s reduced absorption of insulin is a protective measure, but Insulin Resistance can have devastating results including elevated blood sugars, magnesium deficiency, vision problems, and more. For more information on the potentially negative effects of insulin, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin.
Insulin resistance may cause the following situations, each of which can cause high blood pressure:
- The cell’s refusal to absorb the insulin in the blood stream means the blood stream contains excess insulin. Insulin is extremely inflammatory, so the excess insulin in the blood stream may cause blood vessels to become inflamed. It is harder for the heart to pump blood through inflamed blood vessels, so this situation can quickly increase the pressure inside the vessels and may lead to measurable high blood pressure.
- When insulin is not adequately utilized, the blood stream may also become filled with excess sugar. Sugar is highly acidic and causes inflammation. In the presence of high blood sugar, the body will elevate blood pressure to help it more efficiently attempt to lower the amount of sugar in the blood stream. Raising blood pressure also helps the body more efficiently carry oxygen to the tissues.
- One of insulin’s primary functions is to carry magnesium into the cells. If the body reduces the amount of insulin it absorbs, the body’s cells therefore cannot absorb the amount of magnesium they require. magnesium’s most important job is to relax the blood vessels to maintain normal blood pressure. When a person is deficient in magnesium, it is likely the person will develop high blood pressure. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes usually have insulin resistance and a magnesium deficiency. They therefore have a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure. Some doctors automatically prescribe blood pressure medication to their diabetic patients. These physicians assume there is no way to avoid high blood pressure in the presence of any form of diabetes. They are wrong. As someone who has had Type 1 diabetes for almost 50 years, I know high blood pressure can be avoided and/or reversed because I’ve done both.
- Excess insulin can cause water retention. When water is retained in the tissues, it is more difficult for the heart to push blood through the vessels. The body therefore raises blood pressure to pump the blood more efficiently through tissues experiencing water retention..
Many people who have hypertension also have Insulin Resistance. I believe there is no such thing as “hereditary” high blood pressure. As the old adage states: Genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. (Anonymous.)
So what lifestyle changes can potentially benefit insulin sensitivity and high blood pressure? Here are my top three starting recommendations:
- Exercise! Even ten minutes of exercise (three to five times weekly) is known to improve insulin sensitivity for four or more hours.
- Eliminate most grains and sugars (including natural ones) for one to three months. Grains are metabolized into simple sugars that can make insulin resistance worse. Eliminating grains and sugars can help the body re-set its insulin sensitivity. This dietary change, combined with other lifestyle changes, can help the body lower blood pressure.
- Discuss with your physician the possibility of taking daily magnesium and/or potassium. (Take a form of magnesium other than oxide, as it cannot be absorbed by the body and is worthless as anything except a laxative.) Magnesium and potassium are known to help relax the blood vessels and may help reduce blood pressure. For more information on the importance of magnesium, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.
The above steps are merely a starting point. There are other options that may help. If you have high blood pressure and wish to lower it using natural methods, please find a natural practitioner who can assist you. Until then, please keep taking your blood pressure medication and make sure your blood pressure stays within normal limits.
1: Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V, Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the US: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS Data Brief, No. 133. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2013.
Chronic insomnia is a fairly common problem, but it is often addressed by prescribing a sleep medication instead of finding and addressing the cause of the insomnia. In my opinion, it is imperative to identify and address the cause of sleep disturbances instead of merely patching the symptom. I support the use of sleep medications on a short-term basis during times of insomnia and if other remedies have not been effective, but most of those medications have serious side effects and should only be used when absolutely necessary.
We’re all familiar with transient insomnia caused by excess caffeine consumption, stress, grief, pain, etc. Chronic insomnia is characterized by insomnia that lasts for at least a month but which may stretch on for years. Per the National Institutes of Health, most cases of chronic insomnia are side effects of other health problems which may or may not have been diagnosed and addressed.
There are a wide variety of issues that can cause prolonged bouts of insomnia. The list that follows describes some of the most commonly missed causes of insomnia. When possible, I discuss how to identify these causes and how to address them.
The following causes of insomnia are rarely considered when someone has insomnia:
- Blood Sugar Fluctuations: The body has an amazing desire to maintain stable blood glucose levels. Its desire to maintain normal blood sugars is strong enough that it will not allow someone to fall asleep who has a low or high blood sugar. It is also very normal for people with a low or high blood sugar to wake up and not be able to fall back asleep until their sugar is at a normal level. Eating a snack before bed that contains low glycemic carbohydrates combined with protein can sometimes help avoid overnight blood sugar drops. Those who struggle with high glucose levels should work with your doctor to find the perfect insulin dose and eating style to avoid high or low overnight sugars.
- Hormonal Imbalances: This issue is most commonly experienced by women. Progesterone is a reproductive hormone that is known to induce sleep. The highest levels of progesterone occur in the days immediately preceding menstruation. This is why sleeping more is a normal part of PMS for many women. Women who have a progesterone deficiency or estrogen excess often experience insomnia. Depending on the severity of the deficiency or excess, their insomnia may only occur during specific days of their cycle or may occur every night. The best way to identify this type of imbalance is with a saliva hormone test. My favorite can be purchased online: Hormone Level Saliva Test Kit. After identifying any existing imbalances, steps can be taken to bring hormone levels back into balance. Please work with a trained practitioner to address any imbalance identified.
- Neurotransmitter Imbalances: Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers the brain uses to send signals throughout the body. Imbalances in neurotransmitters can have a broad range of effects, but often include sleep disturbances. Neurotransmitter imbalances can be identified via Neurotransmitter Testing. It is important to work with a trained professional to bring neurotransmitter levels back into balance.
- Adrenal Fatigue: The adrenal glands are the body’s “fight or flight” organs. They spring into action anytime the body is exposed to stress. Stressors can result from external environmental sources or from internal, physical challenges. If the adrenals are exposed to stress over a long period of time, they sometimes become fatigued and stop producing normal levels of adrenal hormones. The adrenals secrete over 400 different hormones, so any deficiency will be felt in a wide variety of ways. The most common symptom of Adrenal Fatigue is extreme fatigue, but insomnia can also be an unfortunate symptom. Although saliva hormone testing can be used to test for deficiencies in some adrenal hormones, there is no definitive test to identify Adrenal Fatigue. The most common method of identifying Adrenal Fatigue is identification of symptoms and ruling out other potential physical issues. Adrenal Fatigue is best addressed via changes in eating style, rest, and herbal supplementation.
- Thyroid Imbalance: Many people know that excessive thyroid activity (hyperthyroidism) interferes with sleep, but many people do not realize that insufficient thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) may also cause insomnia. Unfortunately, hypothyroidism is rarely suspected in cases of insomnia and correct testing is rarely ordered. Please read How to be Your Own Thyroid Advocate for more information on how to identify a thyroid imbalance.
- Prescription and OTC Medications: Many medications cause insomnia. Medications for coronary issues, blood pressure, pain, high cholesterol, antidepressants, allergies, stimulants, steroids, decongestants and products for weight loss may interfere with sleep. if insomnia develops, discuss the medications you are taking with your physician.
Have you suffered from chronic insomnia? What was the cause?
In my next post, I’ll discuss natural ways to address insomnia. Thanks so much for reading!
Many people assume the only people who need to pay attention to their blood sugar are those who have diabetes, hypoglycemia or who are grossly obese. The truth is that everyone should be aware of how blood sugars affect their overall health and wellness. Glucose is one of the body’s primary sources of energy, and is the only fuel the brain can effectively utilize. It is therefore very important for everyone to have a basic knowledge about blood sugars. Insulin resistance is a common syndrome that causes the body’s cells to have difficulty absorbing insulin. The person’s pancreas works fine and secretes plenty of insulin, but the body cannot use it correctly. For more information about insulin and insulin resistance, please read: Surprising Facts About Insulin and Modern Epidemic: Metabolic Syndrome.
The following facts about blood sugars may surprise you:
- Blood sugars impact emotions in huge ways: A blood sugar that is even mildly low or high changes brain chemistry enough to influence emotions. Low or high blood sugars tend to increase irritability, anger and may even cause feelings of paranoia. Two studies done in 2010 found that couples who had the highest degree of aggression and antagonism toward each other also had the lowest blood sugars. The study leaders concluded that maintaining stable blood sugars was a key to a happy marriage. That may be a stretch, but I believe they are on the right track.
- Exercise sometimes raises blood sugars: Most people assume that exercise lowers their blood sugar. Unfortunately, that is not always true. Exercising without eating a meal, or exercising when blood glucose levels are already above 250, may cause the body to release glycogen (a potent form of sugar) from the liver. Why does the body do that? Because it does not feel it has enough energy to fuel the exercise. Exercising without eating an hour or so before a workout sends the body into emergency mode and may result in higher blood sugars. Many Type 1 diabetics (myself included) can vouch that blood sugars may rise to dangerous levels if exercise is engaged in without providing adequate fuel. This is also pertinent to those trying to lose weight, as glycogen causes a healthy pancreas to secrete high levels of insulin, and insulin is a hormone that signals the body to store fat. It is therefore advisable to eat a snack containing a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fat prior to working out. An apple with almond butter is a perfect choice.
- Dehydration raises blood sugar: Those of you who follow me know I recommend that everyone drink half their weight (in pounds) in ounces of water daily. Drinking this much water ensures cells remain hydrated. When dehydration occurs, the sugar in the blood stream becomes concentrated. This causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin. As I explained above, insulin is a fat storage hormone that has negative effects on weight loss or weight maintenance. Drinking water is a simple fix to helping maintain stable blood sugars.
- Intravenous Vitamin C can cause false readings of high blood sugar: IV Vitamin C is commonly used in a variety of nutritional IV therapies. Those with blood sugar imbalances need to be very careful following the administration of a Vitamin C IV, as blood sugar readings will appear high when they actually are not. This can lead to taking excess insulin, thereby causing dangerously low blood glucose levels. If receiving intravenous Vitamin C, work with your practitioner to track glucose readings and determine how to adjust your bolus and sliding scale.
- Hormones other than insulin impact blood sugars: Most women with diabetes know their sugars tend to run high during the week prior to their period. Although this affects women with diabetes most strongly, the effect also occurs in women who do not have diabetes. The hormones released prior to menstruation tend to decrease insulin sensitivity. The end result is higher than normal blood sugars. For best results, cut back on carbohydrates and increase exercise to naturally reverse this effect of PMS.
- High cholesterol is usually caused by high blood sugars, not by fat consumption: People who have high cholesterol levels should always ask their doctor to check their blood insulin level. (See The Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request for more info.) When the body has excess sugar in the blood stream which it cannot lower due to insulin resistance, the body will – in simple terms – convert the sugar to fat. This conversion tends to cause high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. When people reduce their carbohydrate consumption and improve their insulin sensitivity, cholesterol and triglyceride levels often return to normal fairly quickly.
- A lack of sleep can raise blood sugar levels: According to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Care, people who get less than 4 hours of sleep a night often have decreased insulin sensitivity and increased blood glucose levels. Again, this effect negatively affects everyone, not just diabetics.
- Hot temperatures affect blood sugar levels: On a very hot day, blood vessels dilate, which can increase the speed of insulin absorption. This can cause lower than normal blood sugars for many people. Other people experience very hot days in the opposite extreme. The stress caused by extremely hot conditions cause their body to excrete glycogen to provide energy to deal with the stress. This raises blood glucose levels and will cause a rise in insulin secretion in those who do not have Type 1 diabetes.
- Coffee raises blood sugars, even if nothing is added to it: The caffeine in coffee causes a spike in blood sugar that may last throughout the day. The caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands, which in turn stimulate the liver to secrete glycogen. (See a trend, here?) The glycogen causes blood sugars and insulin levels to significantly raise. This can have a negative effect on anyone trying to lose weight. For best results, drink organic, Swiss Water Process decaffeinated coffee without added sweeteners or creamers.
- Some foods lower blood sugars: Some foods are known to contain insulin imitators that effectively lower blood sugar. The lowering effect may be minimal depending on the quantity eaten and the person’s personal physiology, but these foods are known to be helpful for weight loss and for blood sugar control. (Please note that these foods should never be substituted for insulin injections.) The following foods are known to contain insulin imitators: avocado, cinnamon, fenugreek, Jerusalem artichokes, bitter melon, and nopal (prickly pear) cactus.
Did any of these surprise you? Which one was the biggest surprise?
Gastroparesis is a condition that causes food to empty too slowly from the stomach. When digestion is normal, food remains in the stomach for approximately 2-3 hours before moving into the small intestine. (High fiber foods may remain much longer and take significantly longer to digest.) Gastroparesis delays the normal emptying of the stomach because the muscles in the stomach fail to correctly transport food into the small intestine.
Gastroparesis is a very uncomfortable condition. It can interfere with nutrient absorption and definitely affects quality of life. Unfortunately, Gastroparesis is becoming more common as the incidence of diabetes and degenerative neurological disease increases. In my practice, I have many clients who deal with Gastroparesis on a daily basis.
Causes of Gastroparesis
Gastroparesis can happen when nerves associated with the stomach are damaged or don’t work as they should. The most common causes of Gastroparesis include:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Auto-immune disorders
- Inflammatory conditions (such as pancreatitis) that interfere with the delivery of nerve messages to the stomach
- Anorexia and/or bulimia
- Heavy cigarette smoking
- Idiopathic (unknown)
Symptoms of Gastroparesis
Gastroparesis may cause one or more of the following symptoms. These symptoms may occur continually but typically intensify in the hours following a meal:
- Feeling full after eating just a few bites of food
- Stomach pain, either vague or intense
- Belching and hiccuping
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
There is no known cure for Gastroparesis. The most commonly used approaches to address or diminish the symptoms may include:
- Eating much smaller meals more frequently
- Blending foods in a blender and switching to much softer foods
- Using ginger or other digestive aids
- Using homeopathic remedies known to diminish symptoms and improve digestion
- Using liquid meal replacements to boost nutrition
- Strictly limiting fiber consumption and avoiding certain foods known to cause problems
- In my practice, I usually recommend the use of supplements known to improve nerve function and slow nerve deterioration
Prescription medications may also be used to diminish the symptoms of Gastroparesis. Many of the most commonly used prescription medications lose effectiveness with continued use and/or have severe side effects.
If muscle and nerve deterioration continues and symptoms worsen, Gastroparesis may also be treated with a device called a Gastric Pacemaker. A Gastric Pacemaker uses electrical stimulation to reduce symptoms. Extreme cases of Gastroparesis are treated with a feeding tube.
Gastroparesis may affect quality of life in horrendous ways. Those who experience it may become weak and malnourished. Some come to dread eating due to the pain and discomfort it can cause. Depression is a very common side effect of Gastroparesis. Many people are able to rise above the symptoms by making lifestyle changes and committing to remaining positive.
Are you affected by Gastroparesis? What techniques do you use to improve your quality of life?
Photo courtesy of Peter Gerdes
I recently promised to share more case studies so you could gain a better grasp of what I do on a daily basis and the types of cases I handle. Please note I have permission to share this information, will never use the person’s real name and may change minor details of the case to protect the client’s identity.
This case study is about “Eleanor,” a woman in her 50’s who came to see me because she wanted to lose weight and was trying to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. She was on Metformin, a nasal inhaler, two different allergy medications, asthma medication, high blood pressure medicine, a statin drug, Levothyroxine and Nexium. During her initial consultation, she casually mentioned she had constant post nasal drip with a cough and had to clear her throat constantly. She said this had begun over 20 years ago and nothing had worked to eliminate it. She had grown so used to this she didn’t even consider it a problem. I thought it was a significant issue we needed to address. Eleanor also shared she was exhausted and was often too tired to participate in social activities she was invited to attend.
As I reviewed Eleanor’s medical history and eating habits, I noticed she ate a large amount of carbohydrates and had bread or crackers with every meal and snack. The fact she was eating so much wheat made me suspect she had developed an allergy to it. A further review of her physical symptoms and a check of her allergy point with the EDS unit confirmed this. “EDS” stands for “Electro Dermal Scan” unit. It is a unit I use to check nerve centers associated with body systems and health conditions. Eleanor’s allergy point scored extremely high, meaning there was a large probability she had one or more allergies. Using a piece of bread, I was able to identify that wheat was a likely culprit.
I made the following recommendations:
- I recommended that Eleanor eliminate wheat for three weeks. I encouraged her to keep a diary during those three weeks to record any changes she experienced physically, mentally or emotionally.
- I recommended a revised eating plan known to help reverse insulin resistance.
- I encouraged her to engage in some form of movement ten minutes each day.
- I recommended three supplements known to help insulin resistance, thyroid function and systemic inflammation
At Eleanor’s next visit, she burst into my office grinning from ear-to-ear. She was visibly more energetic, happier and her skin looked better. When I asked her to share what changes she had seen, she said her cough and need to clear her throat had completely disappeared. After 20 years, she was finally able to sit through a movie without embarrassment, sleep soundly and leave home without tissues. She went on to say her energy levels had improved and she had lost ten pounds. Not bad!
After six months, Eleanor had lost 30 pounds, was off the Metformin, the statin drug, all allergy medications, the inhaler, Nexium, the asthma medication, and her blood pressure medication. In addition, she was on a lower dose of her thyroid medication, Levothyroxine. She had gone from taking nine daily prescription medications to only taking one. She said she no longer turns down social invitations, got a raise at work because her productivity improved dramatically, and she was training to run a mini-marathon. She thanked me profusely, but she gets all the credit. She recognized she needed to make changes and she committed to making them. I am so proud of her!
Currently, I meet with Eleanor via telephone about once a year. She is truly a different woman from the one who first walked into my office. Stories of transformation and progress such as hers are why I do what I do. How can I help you? Please contact me if you would like to schedule a consultation.
Agave has become a subject that elicits much passion among the health conscious. Who would have thought a simple little cactus could elicit so much emotion? I’m a firm believer that common sense and moderation are always best. Having said that, here are my thoughts on Agave:
- Agave syrup is NOT low glycemic. I once sat in a meeting with an agave salesman who claimed agave is so “low glycemic” diabetics can drink gallons of it without having it affect their glucose levels. He didn’t get the sale, and I had to politely yet firmly intervene and explain that agave is a SYRUP that is extremely high glycemic and raises blood sugars rapidly. Some studies found it has a higher glycemic rating than high fructose corn syrup and that agave has more fructose than any other sweetening agent, including HFCS. The bottom line is that it raises glucose levels very rapidly and can elevate them to a very high level. Agave is loaded with sugar. Don’t be fooled. This means it is not a good option for anyone trying to lose weight, control blood sugars or control Candida overgrowth.
- Agave is not an ancient sweetener. The agave cactus was traditionally used to make tequila. Using it to make agave syrup as a sweetener has only been popular for about 20 years. It is a new product and therefore hasn’t been on the market long enough for its health effects to be studied in detail. In addition to raising blood glucose levels very rapidly, it is also known to raise blood pressure in some people, and has been implicated in heart disease. (The fact it affects blood glucose levels means it probably raises triglycerides and therefore affects heart health.) The fact agave syrup has such a high amount of fructose in it also means it is very difficult for the liver to process. There is mounting evidence agave strains liver function and may lead to liver damage. In my opinion, agave syrup is not a healthy sweetener, but it is also not as “evil” as many accuse it of being.
- Most agave syrups are not truly natural and are not raw. Although it is possible to make agave syrup from the actual plant syrup at low temperatures, that process is extremely time-consuming and expensive. Most manufacturers prefer to make syrup by exposing the plant fibers to heat and a chemical process that converts the starch in the plant (usually the root) into a syrup. This process is obviously neither natural nor raw and creates a sweetener that is amazingly similar to high fructose corn syrup both in how it is manufactured and in how your body responds to it.
The only agave syrup I’ve found that is truly raw (never heated above 120 degrees) and which is processed in a manner that replaces some of the fiber is Xagave: http://amzn.to/13BW7Tp. I’m more comfortable with it than with any other, but do not believe it’s a good choice for daily use.
So should you use agave, or not? In my opinion, there are better options. I still encourage everyone to use more stevia and fewer sweetening agents in general. If you must use a sweetening agent, I prefer coconut (AKA palm) sugar because it has higher mineral content and is slightly lower glycemic. I think using a high-grade agave syrup occasionally is fine, but do not recommend using it as a daily sweetener.
Last week I participated in an online diabetes discussion and was accused of not having diabetes. Since I’ve had Type 1 diabetes since 1967, this accusation surprised me. The reason for the accusation? Among other things, this person said it was “obvious” I don’t have diabetes because I don’t mention it in any of my social media profiles and do not talk about it constantly. As a result of this, I began reviewing profiles of people I know have diabetes. Out of over forty profiles, I was the only one who does not mention having diabetes in the first 30 characters of the profile. For people who are diabetes advocates or who work in the diabetes industry, that’s fine. For anyone else, I find it heartbreaking.
Why heartbreaking? Because these people have made diabetes the sole focus of their journey. Instead of viewing diabetes as a challenge that is a secondary part of their life, they view it as the primary matter that defines their existence. I find this heartbreaking! Yes, diabetes is a serious disease; and yes, it requires constant vigilance, but it should never become the factor that defines how a person views him or herself. In fairness, there are many medical conditions which people allow to become their identity instead of being a tiny part of their life. This phenomenon is not limited to diabetes, but seems to be exceptionally common in people with diabetes.
Sadly, this has become very common. Medical professionals often encourage patients to become victims and tell the newly-diagnosed that their disease must become the focus of all their attention. They also often tell patients that diabetes will impair their quality of life and eventually kill them. I consider this the worst form of malpractice. Patients need to be educated about their diagnosis and need to be told about its seriousness, but they should never be convinced they must become invalids who cannot live normal lives. They must be encouraged and trained to control diabetes instead of letting diabetes control them. Diabetes is a fickle condition that doesn’t always obey the rules and rarely does what the textbook says it should. It can be frustrating, but should never become all-consuming. In my case, I have never and will never allow diabetes to prevent me from doing something I wish to. I maintain normal glucose levels by eating a unique diet, exercising and using insulin. (For those who are familiar with diabetes control, my A1Cs run under 6.0. I intend to keep them in the normal level.) I’m not non-compliant and I certainly don’t ignore the fact I have diabetes, but I don’t let it control my life, either. I control it and I’ve learned to deal with unexpected occurrences with humor and acceptance.
It drives me crazy to constantly see diabetes “support” organizations make statements such as, “Having diabetes is hard,” or “Diabetes is a constant stressor.” (Those are direct quotes taken from national diabetes support groups with online channels.) Having diabetes is only hard or stressful if you choose to view it as such. Diabetes is a serious disease, but it should NEVER become such a large focus of someone’s life that they cease to live normally. I talk to many people who tell me they “can’t” do things because of diabetes. My consistent response to that is, “Why the heck not?!” Having diabetes can be challenging, but shouldn’t be limiting. There is absolutely no reason people with diabetes cannot live full, abundant lives. People who control diabetes instead of allowing it to control them feel free to travel, participate in sports, ride motorcycles, stay active, and enjoy every minute of their life. (For more info on having diabetes and riding motorcycles, please see Diabetes and the Art of Motorcycle Riding.)
Here are my top ten ways to live abundantly with diabetes:
- Do what you know you need to. In other words, stay compliant and follow the rules. Ignoring your condition will only lead to problems.
- Learn to laugh about it. Let’s face it, blood sugars are affected by so many different factors they sometimes don’t do what they should. Learn from every unexpected occurrence, but keep a sense of humor about the developments.
- Plan ahead, but be prepared for the unplanned. Always carry a fast-acting source of glucose and your blood sugar meter. If an unusual situation develops, test glucose levels more frequently.
- Get support. By “support,” I don’t mean someone who will let you whine. I mean find people who will listen and provide encouragement, but who are not afraid to hold you accountable if you start holding pity parties. I also give you permission to tell people to stop telling you what to do and to stop asking, “Are you sure you should do/eat that?” Educate those folks, set firm boundaries, and then move on if they continue trying to be the “diabetes police.”
- Let the grieving end. Every person with diabetes goes through a period of grieving. Unfortunately, many folks with diabetes get stuck in the “anger” stage of grieving. As a result, they are constantly angry about everything related to diabetes. Do whatever is needed to release your anger and bitterness so you can start living abundantly and enjoying your life. If needed, seek professional counseling. This is especially true if depression is starting to limit your ability to live a normal life. (And … YES … people with diabetes can live normal lives.)
- Stop talking about it constantly. It isn’t necessary to tell every new acquaintance you have diabetes. Try focusing on other conversation topics. You will probably find your circle of friends widens and you start receiving more social invitations.
- Hold yourself accountable. At the end of every day, take a personal inventory of what your thoughts focused on the most during the day. If diabetes consistently wins the prize, it’s time to start focusing on other things.
- Find a doctor who views you as part of the team and who allows you to control things without constant supervision. Many doctors are horrified if patients change their insulin dose or dietary plan, yet most people with diabetes have to do so to maintain control. Find a doc who recognizes you know more about controlling your glucose levels than s/he does and who welcomes your involvement in making changes.
- Cut yourself some slack. Even those of us who do “everything right” sometimes experience unusual highs or lows in glucose levels. Don’t blame yourself and don’t assume that every unusual occurrence was caused by you. Review what happened prior to the high or low and then think about anything you could have done to change it. Let the unexpected become learning situations. Also recognize that unusual fluctuations may occur which cannot be attached to a specific cause. Accept it, learn from it and move on.
- Stop limiting yourself! Make a list of five things you think you “can’t” do because you have diabetes. Now create a schedule of ways you can gently attempt each of those things. Don’t try to go from zero to sixty overnight. Venture into the new activity in small doses. (Limit the list to legal things, please. In the US, diabetics cannot be astronauts, scuba dive, hold a pilot’s license, be police officers in some states or drive passenger vehicles. Set your sights on legal activities which are similar.) Evaluate things you’ve been told you should “never” do to see if it makes sense to not do it. Were you told you should never get a pedicure? Think about potential risks and then devise a work-around, such as taking your own tools. For the record, I think there are a variety of common activities diabetics are often warned against that make no sense at all. If you want to get a piercing or tattoo, wear open-toed shoes, have a body part waxed, etc., consider the risks and take proper precautions.
How ’bout you? Is diabetes your identity or a tiny part of what defines you?
Note: I know many people will respond negatively to this post. This is purely my opinion. Please keep your comments balanced and kind.
“Metabolic Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms that are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and other developed countries. Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as an “epidemic” because the number of people affected by it is increasing so rapidly. Why does this matter? Because Metabolic Syndrome is a set of conditions created by lifestyle and dietary habits. Metabolic Syndrome is known to increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, stroke and more.
Although experts disagree on the specific causes of Metabolic Syndrome, they all agree that obesity, a high carbohydrate diet, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are contributing factors. Other factors which may increase your risk include heredity, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, smoking and possibly toxic exposure from food, air and water.
The problem with Metabolic Syndrome is that no single definition of what it is and no specified set of diagnostic criteria have been defined. Many practitioners in the mainstream medical community do not believe Metabolic Syndrome exists and do not believe early identification can help improve health outcomes. There is also controversy about whether the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome truly represent a “syndrome” or are merely a group of related symptoms which each has its own risk factors. The concern is that we have created a “disease” which truly doesn’t exist.
The bottom line is that whether you group the symptoms together and label them or not, they each represent a very real risk to health and longevity. In my practice, I work with many people who have multiple symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Addressing the issues quickly restores health. It also often results in improved self esteem and a restored positive outlook. I find that people who address Metabolic Syndrome typically experience better overall health on a long term basis.
Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
The most common symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:
- Weight gain in the stomach and abdomen, often in spite of exercise and decreased food intake
- Increased triglycerides and cholesterol
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL
- Higher than normal blood levels of insulin (Please see The Top 3 Blood Tests Everyone Should Request for more info)
- Mild to moderate kidney damage resulting in excess protein in the urine
- Increased systemic inflammation which may cause joint pain, water retention and other symptoms
- Increased liver enzymes due to insufficient detoxification and/or a condition called “fatty liver”
- Excess growth of Candida (yeast) in the body
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women
- Low Testosterone in men
- Abnormal development in children
- Mental and psychological issues, ranging from mild to extreme
If you have three or more of those symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your practitioner. Ask him or her to order blood work including a complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, insulin level, A1C and complete thyroid panel. (If your doctor is unsure how to interpret these tests related to Metabolic Syndrome risk factors, please feel free to contact me to schedule a half-hour blood work interpretation consultation.)
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome
The good news is that Metabolic Syndrome can often be reversed using simple lifestyle changes. Supplements may also be used in some cases. The purpose of the recommended changes is to improve insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system. Potential changes may include:
- Improving an exercise regimen and combining it with weight training
- Decreasing the type and quantity of carbohydrates eaten on a daily basis
- Increasing the amount of healthy fat consumed on a daily basis
- Identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies
- Improving digestion to ensure foods are adequately digested and absorbed
- Other recommendations based on the person’s specific health needs
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome is very possible, but requires the direction of a qualified practitioner. If you suspect you have Metabolic Syndrome and would like to start the process of reversing it, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Photo courtesy of Keith Ramsey
I want to take this opportunity to wish you a joyous night of celebration and a very Happy New Year. Please celebrate with caution and be careful! This post is dedicated to ways to avoid hangovers.
- Alcohol causes dehydration, which leads to inflammation and feeling generally horrible.
- Alcohol contains two highly toxic compounds: acetaldehyde and malondialdehyde. These two chemicals create massive cell damage throughout the body. The damage caused by these chemicals is so severe it resembles the damage caused by radiation. There’s a good reason you feel so bad!
- Alcohol lowers blood sugar and can cause hypoglycemia. Typical symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, dizziness, nausea, and more. Sound familiar? If you ever notice someone acting far drunker than their consumption warrants, chances are they have a low blood sugar. Get them something to eat!
If needed, use the following ten tips for avoiding hangovers:
1) Don’t drink. (This is the only certain way to avoid hangovers. You know it.) Please don’t waste your money on products claiming to be a hangover “cure.” There is no such thing. The only way to avoid hangovers is to not drink, or to drink very small amounts of alcohol.
2) Alternate every alcoholic drink with a big glass of water or other beverage. Dehydration is one cause of hangovers, so drinking a non-alcoholic beverage between each alcoholic beverage will help limit your intake and will help keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding hangovers.
3) Add trace minerals to every drink. In addition to replacing essential electrolytes, trace minerals help counteract alcohol’s acidic effects. My favorite trace mineral is I like this one: Premier Polar Mins, but drinking coconut water is also an excellent way to replace trace minerals. It makes a good mixer, so it’s a win-win.
4) Don’t mix different types of alcohol. Stick to one type. Mixing beer and wine and distilled liquors puts a heavy load on your body’s ability to metabolize both the alcohol and the other ingredients in the drinks. There’s no guarantee that only drinking one kind of alcohol will avoid a hangover, but it may diminish the symptoms.
5) Drink lighter colored forms of alcohol. Darker alcohols (bourbon, dark rum, etc.) contain higher amounts of congeners, the toxins in alcohol which cause hangovers. Cheap booze also has higher amounts of congeners, so splurging on name brands which are more expensive may reduce hangover symptoms.
6) Avoid bubbly mixers. The gases in bubbly mixers can cause alcohol to enter the bloodstream more rapidly and may make it more difficult for the body to eliminate the toxins in the alcohol. Instead of carbonated mixers, use coconut water (loaded with electrolytes), fruit juice, water, etc.
7) Eat before you start drinking. Eating slows the absorption of alcohol and helps your body eliminate alcohol’s toxins. Eating a meal high in healthy fats is known to reduce hangover symptoms.
8) Order drinks on the rocks. The ice will melt and dilute the alcohol and will help keep you hydrated.
9) Ask for a larger glass. Ask your server to put your drink in a 16-ounce glass and fill the empty space with water.
10) Use supplements. Yes, supplements can reduce the effects of a hangover. Many hard core alcoholics know that taking Lecithin and Milk Thistle before, during and after drinking can help reduce hangover symptoms. The added bonus is that these also help repair the liver, so there is some value in using them.
Alcohol depletes the body of B Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium and other essential nutrients, so taking a multi-vitamin before you drink and a B Complex vitamin can help. Taking potent antioxidants can also help prevent the damage done by alcohol’s damaging chemicals. Taking all of the previously mentioned supplements as soon as you wake up may also help.
Those of you who know me, know I have a deep passion for helping anyone affected by any form of diabetes. This is partly because Type 2 diabetes has become an epidemic, partly because the incidence of Type 1 diabetes is increasing, and partly because I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1967. I’m blessed to say I’ve lived on both sides of the “diabetes fence” and have learned a thing or two along the way.
The first thing I learned about dealing with diabetes is that what my doctor and diabetes educator told me frequently did not work. Their recommendations seemed to guarantee I used excessive amounts of insulin, had sky high blood sugars and never truly felt well. More than once I’ve had a client storm into my office, slam a sheaf of papers on my desk, and exclaim: “She’s trying to kill me!” They were referencing the dietary plan provided by their diabetes educator. This post explains why the mainstream approach often fails. (Please note the photo used in this post is courtesy of DeathbyBrokeh and is not a picture of one of my blood sugars.)
NOTE: Please follow your physician’s instructions. Do not make any changes to your care protocol without first discussing them with your physician and care team. People with Type 1 diabetes must use extreme caution and test blood glucose levels frequently when making any change to lifestyle or eating habits.
Before I dive into criticism, let me say the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has come a long way in the past forty years. They have ceased recommending a single dietary approach and are beginning to recognize that alternative eating styles “may” (in their words) have value. They admit a low glycemic eating style improves control, yet refuse to endorse it or encourage its use. They believe people with diabetes won’t comply with a diet rich in low glycemic foods, and they fail to recognize the other benefits gained from this eating style. The battle to overcome tradition in mainstream medicine is huge, so I’m encouraged to know the ADA is starting to cautiously embrace eating styles different from the status quo.
Let me also say I am NOT a fan of extreme eating styles which claim to reverse all forms of diabetes. I have seen many people’s health harmed, sometimes irreversibly, by following diets that greatly restrict nutrition. These extreme attempts at healing scare me. I prefer to use a much more balanced approach that supports the body’s own healing ability and which allows the body to rebuild and rebalance itself. It is also important to state that many people are able to reverse Type 2 diabetes, but there are less than 20 documented cases of Type 1 diabetes being reversed. I believe it’s possible, but I do not believe we know enough about autoimmune illnesses to consistently combat Type 1 diabetes and restore pancreatic function. I help people reverse Type 2 diabetes every day in my practice, but each person is very different. Not everyone is able to reverse it, and extreme caution must be used. I have tried many extreme eating styles. Each extreme style has benefits, but almost all ultimately create systemic imbalances which harm health.
The standard eating style endorsed by the ADA recommends that every person with diabetes, regardless of age, sex, weight, activity level, or type of diabetes, eat a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. A single serving of carbohydrates is 15 grams, so consuming 130 grams of carbs every day equates to eating 8.7 servings. That is a lot of carbs! The large amount of carbs recommended concerns and shocks me. I eat 2-4 servings of low-glycemic carbohydrates every day. Doing so allows me to avoid gaining weight, maintain normal glucose levels, and use less insulin. (Please read Surprising Facts About Insulin for information on the damaging effects excess insulin has on the body.) I currently maintain A1C’s* between 5.5-6.0 and have no diabetes complications. I am extremely blessed to enjoy vibrant health in spite of having had diabetes for more than 46 years.
* In simple terms, the Glycosulated Hemoglobin (A1C) is a blood test that measures blood sugar averages. Normal is considered 4.5-6.0.
The concept of encouraging diabetics to eat high amounts of carbs and then telling them to take large amounts of insulin to counteract the effects those carbs have on blood sugar makes no sense.
The primary reason the ADA form of eating does not work is that it does nothing to improve insulin sensitivity and fails to combat the cause of high blood sugars. Effectively controlling all forms of diabetes requires maintaining adequate insulin sensitivity and eating in a way that does not greatly elevate blood sugars. The ADA style of eating tends to decrease insulin sensitivity in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics because it encourages eating large amounts of high-glycemic carbohydrates. (Insulin resistance is as large a problem in Type 1 diabetics as it is in Type 2 diabetics. Learn more about it here: Top Ten Signs You Have Insulin Resistance.) This approach often leads to higher levels of diabetic complications.
The ADA recommends such high amounts of carbohydrates because it fails to recognize how the body converts food to energy and believes carbohydrates are necessary for normal brain function and normal energy levels. This is simply not true. The body’s best source of energy is fat. Yes, fat. Healthy fat, not hydrogenated oils and inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids. The body converts fat to energy 80% more efficiently than it converts carbohydrates to energy. Fat is essential for the health of cell membranes, neurotransmitters in the brain, and cardiac cells. For more information on fat and to bust a few myths, read Why You Need to Eat More Fat and Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.
The fact is our bodies don’t need high amounts of carbohydrates. Your body can very effectively function on small amounts of carbs. (I spent two years eating NO carbohydrates that affected blood glucose levels, so I know it can be done, but I don’t recommend it.) The ADA believes carbohydrates that raise blood sugar are necessary for proper brain function. This is not true. The brain runs on pure glucose. As long as there is adequate glucose in the blood stream, the brain will function well. People with Type 1 diabetes rarely need to eat carbohydrates to maintain adequate levels of glucose in the blood stream. The only time they truly require carbohydrates is their blood sugar falls below normal levels. Again, the concept of encouraging diabetics to eat large amounts of carbohydrates and then making them take high amounts of insulin to counteract the effect on blood sugars is counterproductive.
So what style of eating is best for diabetics? The simple fact is that each person’s style of eating must be customized to their metabolism, lifestyle, schedule and many other factors. There is no single style that works for everyone. Each person with diabetes or metabolic challenges must work to find the best style of eating that works for them. In general, an approach that does not encourage excess carbohydrate consumption, focuses on incorporating exercise and healthy eating habits, and one which focuses on using low-glycemic carbohydrates works best for most diabetics.
I am committed to helping diabetics improve their control and live life more abundantly. I have high success rates because I have spent almost 50 years living with diabetes every single day and have an intimate familiarity with what it takes to successfully incorporate diabetes control techniques into daily life. I’ve lived both the good and the bad of diabetes. Nothing brings me more joy than helping others achieve increased control and health. If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your options, please contact me via email or call 317.489.0909.
A study at the University of Michigan found people with diabetes have a 35% higher chance of having Glaucoma than people who do not. The study went on to say the reason for the higher rates of glaucoma in diabetics is “unknown.” My purpose for writing this article is to explain the nutritional reasons that diabetes and glaucoma often go hand in hand.
Before going further, let me state this very clearly: The purpose of this article is to provide education. Both diabetes and glaucoma are serious conditions requiring medical intervention. All eye conditions must be diagnosed and treated by an ophthalmologist. It is imperative that everyone with diabetes have an eye exam including a retinal exam and a glaucoma screening once yearly at a minimum. Never change your medication dosage without consulting your MD and/or ophthalmologist. If you wish to reduce the amount of glaucoma medication you take, consult with your ophthalmologist. Ask him or her to check your ocular pressure every three months, adjusting your dosage as needed. Failure to work with your ophthalmologist could result in blindness. Please do not take matters into your own hands. None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, cure, prevent or treat any health condition.
I was diagnosed with glaucoma in April of 2000. I reversed my glaucoma in less than six months using simple lifestyle changes and it has never returned. (I know it has not returned because I continue receiving ophthalmologic care on a yearly basis.) As someone who has had diabetes for over 45 years, I have dedicated my life to researching the biochemical effects of diabetes and to helping those who have it avoid complications. My research led me to draw distinct conclusions about why diabetics are more likely to have glaucoma.
In the simplest terms, glaucoma is an increase in the internal pressure of the eye. (This is known as the “intraocular pressure.”) In the most common form of Glaucoma, Open Angle Glaucoma, the increase in intraocular pressure often occurs because the eye’s drainage system, the trabecular meshwork, fails to drain excess fluid from the eye. This creates increased pressure within the eye. Left untreated, the increased pressure harms the ocular nerve, causing loss of peripheral vision in the early stages and blindness as the disease advances. Glaucoma typically has no symptoms. Those who have it rarely notice its effects until it progresses to the point it harms vision.
Why do diabetics have such high rates of glaucoma? Some suspect it’s due to peripheral nerve and vessel damage caused by high glucose levels. This may be true, but if we dig into the chemistry of diabetes – and insulin – a much simpler cause comes to light. Glucose has a very similar molecular structure to Vitamin C. When cells become resistant to and stop absorbing insulin, they therefore also may stop absorbing vitamin C. (Insulin resistance occurs in Type 2 Diabetes due to excess insulin produced by the body; and in Type 1 Diabetes due to the need to inject high amounts of insulin.) What is one of the first effects of a Vitamin C deficiency? Increased interocular pressure. (For more information on insulin, read: Surprising Facts About Insulin.)
Other deficiencies known to contribute to increased intraocular pressure include deficiencies in vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, iron and others. All of these deficiencies are very common in people with diabetes. The fact that nutritional deficiencies contribute to or may cause glaucoma cannot be denied. Scientists in Russia have known this for years and very successfully treat glaucoma using a much different protocol than what is used in the US. Quite frankly, the US is one of few countries where glaucoma is treated purely with prescription medications. Other countries combine prescription medications with nutritional support.
Multiple studies showed taking oral Vitamin C reduces interocular pressure by as much as 30% within half an hour. In spite of this being a known fact, very few ophthalmologists tell their patients to take a Vitamin C supplement. For many patients, taking 500 – 2000 mg of Vitamin C on a daily basis reduces their interocular pressure to the point they no longer need prescription medication. One study found Vitamin C was very effective at reducing eye pressure even for patients who did not respond to prescription medication.
So can we reduce ocular pressure simply by taking Vitamin C? In part, yes; however, additional change must occur to allow the body’s cells to adequately absorb the Vitamin C. A key factor to allowing the body’s cells to absorb Vitamin C is to reduce the amount of insulin needed (or being produced by the body) and to improve the cells’ insulin sensitivity. This is typically accomplished by eating a low-carbohydrate diet, eating high amounts of antioxidant-rich foods on a daily basis, and other lifestyle changes.
I recommend taking oral vitamin C throughout the process of improving insulin sensitivity and reducing insulin levels. Some people use vitamin C eye drops to bypass the digestive tract and get the vitamin C directly to the eye tissues, while others use intravenous vitamin C to deliver it directly to the blood stream. Although all three delivery methods are known to be effective, taking vitamin C orally is certainly the most convenient.
Vitamin C is known to benefit diabetics in a variety of ways. In addition to aiding glaucoma, the antioxidant effects of vitamin C are known to help prevent cataracts by preventing the formation of compounds that can lodge in the lens of the eye. Vitamin C is also known to be beneficial for diabetic retinopathy and other diabetic complications. Vitamin C has also been shown to be effective at helping reduce high blood pressure when used in conjunction with other lifestyle changes. The use of vitamin C for both diabetes and glaucoma is beneficial in most cases.
For me personally, the combination of high doses of oral Vitamin C, a strict low-carbohydrate eating style, and high intake of antioxidants quickly restored my intraocular pressure to normal. Since then, I continue eating limited amounts of carbs and still eat high amounts of vegetables, but reducing the amount of insulin I take on a daily basis seems to have been the key to permanently reducing my intraocular pressure. Reducing the amount of insulin I need on a daily basis allowed my cells to absorb Vitamin C and naturally decreased systemic inflammation. One of the greatest joys of my life is knowing I was able, by God’s grace, to permanently eliminate my need for glaucoma medication.
I’ve had diabetes for over 46 years. I’ve lived on both sides of the “medical fence” and have devoted my life to helping other diabetics and anyone dealing with metabolic disorders. I have helped 100’s of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics improve their glucose control, reverse their need for medication, lose weight and more. I have higher success rates than other practitioners because I live this on a daily basis. I know I can help you. Please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Virno M, Bucci M: Oral treatment of Glaucoma with Vitamin C, The Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Monthly, Vol. 46, 1502-1508, Dec. 1967
Liu KM, Swann D, Lee P, Lam KW . Inhibition of oxidative degradation of hyaluronic acid by uric acid. Curr Eye Res 1984;3:1049-1053
Schachtschabel DO, Binninber E. Stimulatory effects of ascorbic acid in hyaluronic acid synthesis of in vitro cultured normal and glaucomatous trabecular meshwork cells of the human eye. Z Gerontol 1993;26:243-246
This post is a very personal one. I’d like to share a tale of what happens when an insured diabetic needs medication but can’t get it.
Current estimates show there are over 90 million people in the US who have diabetes or pre-diabetes. That equates to almost 30% of the population. Approximately 8 million people have diabetes but are not aware of it. The end result of this epidemic is that diabetes has become a huge liability for the mainstream medical community. In the midst of trying to help everyone they can, the medical community has developed a fear their efforts will result in someone’s death. (This fear exists for other medical conditions, but nowhere is it stronger than in diabetes.)
Three weeks ago my insulin pump stopped working. The manufacturer replaced the pump, yet 12 hours later the same problem occurred. Still assuming the problem was related to equipment, I insisted the pump manufacturer replace the insertion sets I was using. Insertion sets attach the insulin pump to the body and have a short tube – a “cannula” – which sticks into the skin to a depth of about ¼ – ½”. (See picture. The cannula is the tiny piece of plastic at the far right.) Unfortunately, the new box of insertion sets had the same problem. After about 12 hours, the insulin pump returned error messages stating it could not deliver the insulin. The area where the cannula entered the skin was always inflamed, a bit itchy and very painful, but had no indicators of infection.
I experimented with multiple locations on my body and always had the same problem. Final conclusion? I had developed an allergy to the plastic used in the insertion set’s cannula. This meant I had to take a “pump holiday” and return to using injections to control my blood sugars while I researched insertion sets with a stainless steel cannula. Not using my insulin pump presented a problem because the only insulin I had a prescription for was fast-acting Humalog, which has a lifespan of about two to four hours, This short duration of effectiveness meant I had to inject insulin every two to three hours. It also meant controlling my sugars while I slept was virtually impossible. I needed a prescription for Lantus, a long-acting insulin with a lifespan of approximately 24 hours. This is where the story gets interesting.
I called my GP, who told me she would not give me a prescription for Lantus because the liability was too high since I had never taken it before. I offered to come in for an appointment, but she refused. She told me to go to an emergency room. I called an emergency room and was told the physicians there would be unwilling to prescribe Lantus for a patient whom they had no history on and for whom they could not follow as an in-patient. I called my endocrinologist, whom I had not seen for almost two years*. I knew they could not prescribe for me without seeing me, and I begged for an appointment. The best they could do was to “squeeze” me in ten days later. They also suggested I go to an emergency room to get the insulin I needed.
*Please note: The fact I had not seen my endocrinologist for over two years does NOT mean I was not receiving care. I adjust my insulin levels as needed, and I was getting necessary blood work such as A1C, thyroid profile, etc. from my GP. I was staying on top of things and consistently maintain A1C’s between 5.7-6.0. I want to clarify that I maintain very strict control over my diabetes and always get the blood work needed to monitor my control. I was recently told my experience was “my fault.” Please know it was not and that I was doing everything necessary to maintain perfect control of my glucose levels.
In the midst of this, my blood sugar control went haywire. I typically awoke with sugars higher than 500, even if I got up at 3 am to take insulin. During the day, I had to inject every one to two hours in order to maintain decent control. I quit eating carbs completely and still had to inject frequently. My energy levels plummeted, and I began to fear my poor control would have a permanent effect. At this point, I had gone almost two weeks without my pump. The early days were spent negotiating with the pump manufacturer; the later days were spent begging providers for a Lantus prescription.
Determined to get what I needed, I went to an immediate care center. The triage nurse told me the doctor would not be willing to prescribe what I needed. I begged and confess I bullied a tiny bit. Luckily, the on-call physician was in the reception area and heard my tale. He asked me a few questions and agreed to prescribe what I needed. He was the first physician who had shown more concern for my health than for his own liability. I am forever grateful to him.
Let’s review: I’m fully insured. My glucose levels were above 500, meaning I was in an emergency situation and desperately needed different medication. I have 45 years of experience controlling diabetes, so I am not a new diabetic who presents a large risk. I’m a Naturopath who speaks nationwide on endocrine disorders and controlling diabetes, so I have knowledge and training most people with diabetes do not.
In spite of all of that, not one of the MD’s I spoke with was willing to prescribe what was obviously a medically-necessary medication. Failure to prescribe this medication could have resulted in my death. Even when I shared that my glucose levels were running above 500, no one was willing to incur the liability of prescribing the medication that was desperately needed. My best option for care would have been to allow myself to go into a diabetic coma, at which point they would have gladly assisted. I instead chose to take matters into my own hands and be my own advocate in a very strong way.
If I had any other condition, physicians would have prescribed what I needed without question. ALL medications have side effects. ALL medications can result in death if not taken correctly. Only a diabetic would be denied care due to physician’s fears of liability. Physicians regularly prescribe narcotic pain medication to patients, often without providing adequate instruction. Those narcotics could just as easily cause death from overdose as insulin could, yet getting them is incredibly easy.
There’s something wrong with this picture.
The current medical system has put so many shackles on physicians that a patient in desperate need of care cannot receive it. When an insured patient is refused care by an emergency room, solely based on fears of liability, there is a desperate need for change. Based on current trends, I predict things are going to get worse, not better.
What are your thoughts?
Insulin is an important hormone for everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. It performs many functions in the body that most people are completely unaware of. The purpose of this article is to show you how important insulin is and why you may need to start paying more attention to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people’s cells have stopped absorbing the insulin their body produces. This insulin resistance creates a domino effect of negative consequences, even though many people never have elevated blood sugars. All of us have insulin resistance to some degree. The resistance is partially caused by aging, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. However, it is very simple to regulate insulin production and insulin sensitivity. (The picture you see is a cross section of the beta cells of the pancreas that create insulin.)
Let’s get started! The following facts about insulin may surprise you.
Insulin is found in almost every life form, including single-celled creatures
Any chemical that is found in every life form on earth must be vitally important. For most single-celled organisms, insulin’s role is to control and advance aging. The older the life form becomes, the more insulin it produces. Insulin is therefore vitally connected to the aging process. When people become insulin resistant, causing their body to produce excess insulin, their cells age and deteriorate much more rapidly. Controlling insulin production and resistance is vital to slowing the aging process.
Insulin allows the body’s cells to store and create energy
We’ve all been convinced that insulin’s role is to lower blood glucose levels. Truth is, that is not insulin’s job. Insulin’s primary role in the body is to create energy. Plain and simple. The insulin your body creates should allow your cells to create energy. When cells become resistant to insulin, it means those cells can no longer create energy. Fatigue and exhaustion follow. This is why many people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are often so tired.
Insulin signals the body to store fat
Insulin is a fat storage hormone, especially when it is not absorbed by the body’s cells. Excess insulin in the blood stream tells the body to start storing as much fat as possible. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes often find it impossible to lose weight. It is also why people with those challenges often have extremely elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s just that simple.
High cholesterol has a stronger connection to insulin than it does to fat consumption. I recently worked with a lady who came to me with a cholesterol reading of over 300 and a triglyceride level of over 1500. What did I do? I recommended an eating plan that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in healthy fats. (Yes. You read that right. I gave her body what it needed. A low fat diet does not help weight loss, nor does it improve coronary health.) She lost forty pounds in three months and had normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels within six weeks. Focusing on insulin instead of her blood lipids made the difference.
Insulin delivers magnesium
One of the most important jobs insulin fulfills is to carry magnesium into the cells. Experts currently estimate that seventy percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. There is a large probability this deficiency is not solely due to bad eating habits, but is also linked to insulin resistance. For information on the negative effects of magnesium deficiency, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.
One of magnesium’s jobs is to relax the blood vessels. A primary result of a low magnesium level is that blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. Over 80% of people with diabetes or insulin resistance also have high blood pressure. The connection is purely related to insulin. Unfortunately, the cells in blood vessels never become resistant to insulin. These cells continue absorbing all the insulin that is present. The excess insulin in the walls of the blood vessels makes them hard and predisposes them to being covered with plaque. Both of these factors create elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, these factors create serious heart disease. Few people speak about regulating insulin levels as a means of preventing and reversing coronary disease, but it is one of the simplest ways to improve heart health.
Insulin triggers hormones that create a feeling of fullness
Insulin is a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to stop eating. This makes perfect sense. As we eat a meal, our body releases insulin to turn that food into energy. As those insulin levels rise, it should trigger a feeling of fullness once a sufficient amount of food has been eaten. When the body stops absorbing insulin, it prevents the signal that tells the person it’s time to stop eating and allows people to eat far more than they need without feeling full. This is another reason why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have such a hard time losing weight. The key is to improve the body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is very simple to improve insulin sensitivity using lifestyle changes and sometimes a few inexpensive supplements.
Insulin lowers blood glucose levels
Last on the list is that insulin lowers blood sugar. Insulin’s least significant role in the body is lowering glucose levels. The fact is that elevated glucose is merely a nasty side effect of poor insulin metabolism.
Do you deal with insulin resistance? Is this a new concept for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of improving your health and slowing the aging process by improving your body’s ability to absorb insulin.
I am often asked what my thoughts are about whether or not coffee is “healthy.” As with most health issues, your personal physiology determines whether or not coffee is beneficial for you. Many people are shocked that I am not opposed to coffee. To be quite honest, I recognize that coffee does have health benefits. I also recognize that some people have such poor diets that a morning cup of java provides the only antioxidants they receive during the entire day.
If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.
In the points that follow, please note that a “cup” of coffee is 8 ounces. Most coffee mugs hold far more, so use caution.
Coffee may provide the following benefits. Please note that some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine sensitivity may counteract some of the positive effects I’ve shared below.
- Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants.
- Coffee contains certain minerals that are lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD), including magnesium, potassium, chromium (necessary for proper blood sugar control), zinc, and others.
- A Harvard study found that women who drink two to three cups of coffee per day have a 15% lower risk of depression than women who do not drink coffee.
- Coffee is rich in Trigonelline, a chemical that helps protect your teeth from bacteria that can cause decay.
- Over 17 different studies found that people who drink one to four cups of coffee daily have lower rates of Type 2 Diabetes and some forms of cancer.
- In addition to antioxidants, coffee contains high levels of 3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid, a chemical that protects cells from free-radical damage.
- Coffee is rich in niacin, a B vitamin that is essential for cardiovascular health, normal brain function, normal digestion, cell health, energy production and more.
- Multiple studies found that those who drink two to four cups of coffee daily have lowered rates of Alzheimer Disease, liver disease, gallstone formation, Parkinson’s Disease, coronary rhythm disorders, heart attacks and more.
- Several studies found that coffee consumption does NOT elevate blood pressure and actually improves coronary health. Hallelujah! If you have high blood pressure, test your pressure before drinking a cup of coffee and 20 minutes after to determine if drinking decaf might be a better option due to your personal sensitivity to caffeine.
- A 13-year study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 found that coffee drinkers who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 10-15% lower rate of mortality than those who did not. The researchers said this effect cannot be directly attributed to coffee and that further research is needed, but those numbers are certainly interesting!
Coffee beans contain over 1600 different chemicals. Unfortunately, not all of them are healthy. Drinking coffee may have the following harmful effects:
- Coffee has been shown to increase levels of LDL cholesterol, although the exact reason is not known.
- Consumption of two or more cups of coffee per day has been associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia. Percolated or drip coffee is very, very acidic, which creates an overly acidic pH in the body. To counteract the acidity, the body will pull calcium out of the bones and teeth to alkalize the body’s pH. My personal belief is that acidic brewing methods lead to osteoporosis and not the coffee. See the section below for healthy ways to brew coffee.
- Coffee is known to interfere with sleep and may cause irritability and anxiety in some people. Drinking naturally decaffeinated coffee may lessen this effect.
- Coffee hampers the absorption of iron and has been connected to iron deficiency anemia. Women who take iron supplements should never take them within two hours of drinking coffee. (Iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, so taking them right before bed – at least two hours after eating – works best for most people. Please note that iron interferes with the absorption of some prescription medications. Check with your pharmacist to find out which medications should not be taken with iron supplements.)
- Brewed and percolated coffee can irritate the lining of the digestive tract and may worsen the symptoms of digestive disorders, heartburn (GERD), ulcers and more.
- Combining coffee with Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is known to cause liver damage.
The Healthiest Way to Make Coffee
Here are my tips for enjoying coffee in a healthy way:
- ONLY DRINK ORGANIC COFFEE. I cannot stress this enough. Coffee plants are often sprayed with gallons of chemicals. Since most coffee is grown outside of the US, those chemicals may not be regulated. Although it would be nice to think that roasting the beans removes those toxins, the opposite is actually true.
- Enjoy it in moderation. Try to drink no more than 16 – 24 ounces per day.
- Don’t substitute coffee for water. Coffee is a strong diuretic which can cause dehydration. Always drink extra water for every cup of coffee you drink.
- If you drink decaffeinated coffee because you are sensitive to caffeine, only drink coffee that was decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process method of decaffeination. The standard method of decaffeination uses chemical solvents, some of which remain in the coffee after processing. These chemical solvents may be toxic and should be avoided.
- Coffee is known to challenge the adrenal glands. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete hormones. Anyone who has adrenal fatigue should avoid coffee. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
- Coffee raises blood sugar. When the adrenal glands are stimulated, the hormones they secrete stimulate the liver to release glycogen, a form of sugar the body stores for energy. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
- Don’t drink it for dessert. Many people immediately ruin coffee’s health benefits by loading it up with sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical creamers, flavored syrups, whipped cream and more. Black coffee is the healthiest. Adding a bit of stevia or a tiny amount of natural milk or milk alternative is fine, but don’t go crazy.
Healthy Brewing Techniques
My personal belief, based on much of the information shared above, is that cold brewed coffee is the healthiest. Cold brewing is very simple and provides all the taste (and caffeine, if you choose) of drip coffee without the acidity. I will share the cold brew method I use in my next blog post. Trust me when I say my method is far simpler than the methods shared online. I can brew a pot of cold brew in less than 15 minutes.
If you prefer drip coffee, please only use a non-bleached filter. There is some evidence that a non-bleached, paper filter removes some of the chemicals in coffee that could potentially have a harmful effect.
If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.
Did this article surprise you? I help many people evaluate their lifestyle habits to identify changes that may help improve their wellness or help them avoid future challenges. To schedule, please email me or call 317.489.0909.
What are your thoughts about coffee? Do you drink it? How do you ensure you get the benefits without the risks? Please share!
It is a simple – although often overlooked – fact that most people in the US are obese because they are insulin resistant. It is true that we live in a society that constantly overeats, but the rising rates of obesity are primarily due to the fact our bodies simply cannot process and metabolize the high amounts of unhealthy carbohydrates we eat. (I use the term “we” very loosely.) If weight loss were a simple math equation where weight loss occurrs if more calories were burned than were eaten, obesity would not be an epidemic. The simple fact is that our society subsists on foods laden with low-quality, high-glycemic carbs. The Standard American Diet (which I like to refer to as the “SAD”) creates metabolic imbalances that cause weight gain. If losing weight has been a problem for you, please read my article, The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight for more information on the potential physical reasons that prevent weight loss. I promise to share more about battling insulin resistance in future posts. For today, let’s simply acknowledge that insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Eating excess carbs causes your body to secrete high amounts of insulin, which causes the body to produce and store fat instead of burning it for energy. When people eat high amounts of foods requiring the body to produce large amounts of insulin, their cells may eventually become “overwhelmed” with the constant flow of insulin. Cells which are overwhelmed with insulin will protect themselves by not absorbing and using the insulin. The excess insulin in the blood stream causes the body to store even more fat. This is what is commonly referred to as “Insulin Resistance.” If someone has even low levels of insulin resistance, it means their body does not use the insulin their body produces. This causes their body to produce higher amounts of insulin to try to lower blood sugars, which causes worse insulin resistance and increased weight gain. The solution to this problem is to reduce the amount of insulin being produced. The most direct way of allowing the body to produce less insulin is to pay close attention to the types and quantities of carbohydrates eaten. Please note that in this blog post, I use the word “carbs” to refer to simple carbohydrates your body metabolizes into simple sugars. Foods that fit this category include breads, cookies, rice, juices, candy, desserts, donuts, pastas, processed grains, etc. I am not referring to vegetables. Fruits are natural, but must be treated respectfully when dealing with insulin resistance. Some fruits elevate blood sugar very rapidly and require high amounts of insulin, which can contribute to weight gain for some people. The simplest – although not complete – approach to weight loss involves eating fewer carbohydrates. Following are simple tips to help cut the carbs without losing nutrition:
Substitute lettuce or kale wraps for bread
Not all bread is bad, but it is ALL extremely high in glycemic impact. High glycemic foods rapidly raise blood sugars and require large amounts of insulin. It is a very sad truth that almost all gluten free grains (with the exception of quinoa and millet) have a higher glycemic impact than wheat and require more insulin to be metabolized. This explains why some people experience extreme weight gain when going gluten-free. (Some people lose weight, but the incidence of people gaining weight after going gluten-free is rising rapidly.) Eating a grain-free diet is ideal for a variety of reasons, but most people have such a strong emotional attachment to grains that eliminating them completely seems impossible. Wrapping your sandwich ingredients in lettuce or kale may take some adjusting, but it’s a great option and the lettuce requires zero insulin.
Be extremely careful with portion sizes
People from Europe are often astonished at how much food people in the US eat at every meal. Europeans eat to live, whereas people in the US live to eat. Europeans eat extremely small (aka: NORMAL) portion sizes and don’t snack as often as we do. In the US, we supersize everything … especially portions. Here’s a quick run down of recommended portion sizes of popular carbs:
- Rice: 1/2 cup (Yes, seriously.)
- Pasta: 1 cup
- Grapes: 10
- Beans and Lentils: 1/2 cup
- French Fries: 10 (I’m not kidding. Probably best to skip this one.)
- Dairy: 1 cup (Dairy counts as a carbohydrate serving, even though it contains protein.)
Start every meal with a salad or big bowl of veggies
Filling up on veggies before attacking the other items on your plate often leads to eating fewer carbohydrates. It is also a very easy way to increase your consumption of veggies, and you know you need more.
Eat veggies first, protein next, then carbs
The order you eat foods can affect how much of it you eat. Again, filling up on veggies first and then eating your protein will leave less room in your stomach for the carbohydrate on your plate.
Stick to one carb per meal
You don’t need more than one carb serving per meal. Trust me. The simple act of limiting yourself to one carb serving per meal will often create rapid weight loss. It also eliminates the “3 o’clock slump” many people experience when their blood sugar plummets after a high-carb lunch.
Think about breakfast in a new way
The dietary surveys I use with my patients reveal that most people eat 3-5 servings of carbs and no protein every morning before they leave the house. I’m not sure why we associate carbs with breakfast, but we need protein and healthy fats to boost energy and keep us going until lunch. A typical breakfast I see listed includes three or more of the following: bowl of cereal or oatmeal, banana on the cereal, toast, pancakes/waffles, glass of orange juice, fruit smoothie, etc., etc. Mega carbs and zero protein or fats. This creates a syndrome where your blood sugar skyrockets after breakfast, but plummets a few hours later. This can make you hungry and may make you crave sugar around 10 am. Adding protein to your morning regimen can make a huge difference in how you feel mid-morning and right before lunch. Combining protein with healthy carbohydrates for breakfast helps stabilize blood sugars. Having a huge veggie omelet with a single piece of toast is a great option. I know one lady who has guacamole on zucchini slices with a slice of turkey most mornings. She feels great and has lost 10 pounds doing this. For more creative low carb breakfast ideas, read Top 11 Low Carb Breakfasts. Other great breakfast options include:
- An apple with almond butter
- 1 cup of berries in a smoothie with an avocado, handful of spinach and a cucumber
- 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal with 1/2 cup nuts and seeds and 1/2 cup almond milk
- Two eggs and 1/2 cup of mixed berries.
Let yourself think outside of the box and stop eating nothing but carbohydrates for breakfast … you’ll feel and look better as a result. Are you eating to live or living to eat? What changes can you make to help you make better choices at every meal? I wish you luck and success!
I’ve recently received many questions about whether or not Green Coffee Extract and Raspberry Ketones actually work. These questions multiplied after a well-known MD with a nationally-syndicated television show promoted these supplements. I’ve also been receiving multiple spam email messages about both supplements. I confess the spam made me question the validity of these supplements, so I decided I needed to do more research. I also have to admit my research was difficult, as most of the sites containing “research” were also trying to sell one or both of the products.
Update, May 8, 2013: I do not recommend using these supplements. Please do not contact me to ask if I think it’s a good idea for you to take them. I do not, regardless of your health issues. Thank you.
Please be aware there are no “magic bullets.” Weight gain or an inability to lose weight always has a cause. Eliminating the cause is key to finally losing weight. Please read my article, The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight, for more information on weight loss and on physiological issues that may prevent it.
If you are struggling with weight loss and need help or coaching, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I have literally helped hundreds of people lose many thousands of pounds. I use an approach that provides coaching and education in nutrition, fitness, metabolic balancing, and eliminating sabotaging thought patterns. I would love to help you reach your health goals. I will not let you fail. Please feel free to contact me at 317.489.0909 or via email. PLEASE NOTE I CANNOT ANSWER MEDICAL QUESTIONS VIA EMAIL. You must schedule a consultation to receive advice.
Very few double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have been done on these supplements. The ones that were done were either very, very small (less than 20 participants) or were done on mice and not humans. The information that follows shares what I found when I researched both supplements. As always, this information is shared for informational purposes only and was not evaluated by the FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness. Please do not take any supplement without first discussing it with your physician and checking for prescription interactions.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
The only study I could find that researched the effectiveness of Green Coffee Bean Extract on weight loss was done by JA Vinson,BR Burnham, and MV Nagendran. This study did find the extract helped with weight loss, but was only conducted on 16 people and was conducted over a very short period of time. In my opinion, a study of 16 people does not qualify as a valid study, as the control group is simply too small to prove the effects would be the same in a larger group. Additionally, I could find zero information on how the “control” group was chosen, which again causes me to question the validity of the study. It is also important to note that the company who paid for the study is a company which manufactures and sells green coffee bean extract. (Please read my article, Simple Ways to Evaluate the Validity of a Research Study for more information on ways to know whether published conclusions are valid or not.)
Potential Positive Benefits of Green Coffee Bean Extract:
- Green coffee bean extract is known to contain many anti-oxidants, which are known to boost health and protect cells from damage from toxins, aging, and free radicals. (That does not mean it helps with weight loss.)
- Green coffee bean extract contains chlorogenic acid, a chemical which is thought to help balance blood sugar levels. (Insulin encourages the body to store fat instead of burning it, so reducing blood sugars and reducing the amount of insulin produced is a proven method of assisting weight loss. However, there is no evidence to prove this supplement works or that it effectively reduces insulin levels.)
- Some studies have shown that green coffee bean extract may help suppress appetite and may have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure.
Potential Negative Effects of Green Coffee Bean Extract:
- The frenzy surrounding green coffee bean extract has caused a multitude of supplements to be released which don’t actually contain green coffee bean extract, which contain harmful fillers or which contain a very low-quality extract. Use caution when purchasing green coffee bean extract and only purchase from highly reliable suppliers.
- Some people respond negatively to the supplement. (Any supplement has the potential to create an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.)
- The supplement does not work for everyone. Physical and hormonal issues preventing weight loss may not be helped by this supplement.
- The caffeine in green coffee bean extract may have a negative affect on some people.
My Conclusions About Green Coffee Bean Extract:
As with most products claiming to boost weight loss, green coffee bean extract is no magic bullet. There are many other methods of reducing insulin in the body, so taking this supplement may boost weight loss efforts a little bit, but won’t produce dramatic results for most people. My recommendation is to follow a low-glycemic eating plan and to use your head. On an interesting side note, roasted coffee also contains chlorogenic acid, so drinking a single, eight ounce cup of ORGANIC coffee may have the same effect as taking these supplements.
The only studies I could find that have been done on raspberry ketones were done on mice, and one was only done on mice who were being fed a high-fat diet. Raspberry ketones have been around for a very long time. The only “new” thing about them is that the marketing. Let’s be honest, the fact a supplement was recommended by a doctor on TV doesn’t mean it works, it just means it gets an insane amount of marketing attention. There is plenty of anecdotal “evidence” stating raspberry ketones assist with weight loss, but I could not find any scientific evidence that proved it.
Potential Positive Benefits of Raspberry Ketones:
- There is some evidence that indicates raspberry ketones might alter the levels of a adinopectin, a hormone that is typically lower in obese people and which has been shown to be a factor in insulin resistance. (Insulin resistance is often a precursor to and major factor in Type 2 Diabetes. That does not mean this supplement helps with weight loss.)
- Raspberry ketones may also stimulate the release of the hormone norepinephrine, an adrenal hormone which affects metabolism. (The problem is that it may negatively affect the adrenal glands and ultimately reduce one’s ability to lose weight.)
- As with green coffee been extract, raspberry ketones do contain anti-oxidants which may have some health benefits, but no weight loss benefits.
Potential Negative Effects of Raspberry Ketones:
- The supplements sold are artificial raspberry ketones created in a lab and are not the real thing
- Norepinephrine can have a very negative effect on health. It can cause anxiety, raise body temperature, and raise blood pressure.
- Stimulating the adrenal glands to release norepinephrine could cause adrenal fatigue, which would ultimately have a very negative effect on weight loss efforts.
- All of the potential negative effects I cited for green coffee bean extract also apply to raspberry ketones.
My Conclusions About Raspberry Ketones:
Similar to the conclusions I drew about green coffee bean extract, I think the claims made about raspberry ketones are all hype. They may assist with weight loss in a very small way, but they are not extremely effective. The fact raspberry ketones affect adrenal hormones concerns me. Adrenal function directly affects weight gain and loss. Taking raspberry ketones has the potential to harm adrenal function, which would ultimately result in weight gain. I can’t honestly recommend taking this supplement. As with any supplement, if you choose to take it, please discuss it with your physician first. Please monitor blood pressure carefully. If elevated blood pressure occurs, or if you begin to notice anxiety or hot flashes after taking it, please discontinue use immediately.
If you are struggling with weight loss and need help or coaching, please contact me to schedule a consultation. (Liability issues prevent me from answering questions or providing advice if you are not an established client.) I have literally helped hundreds of people lose many thousands of pounds. I use an approach that provides coaching and education in nutrition, fitness, metabolic balancing, and eliminating sabotaging thought patterns. I would love to help you reach your health goals. I will not let you fail. Please feel free to contact me at 317.489.0909 or via email
Update added October 24th: Yes, these products can be taken together, but I do not recommend their use. They both do basically the same thing, so taking them simultaneously will not necessarily boost your weight loss efforts. There are much easier ways to lose weight which are free.
This post covers a variety of behaviors and lifestyle habits that people with diabetes rarely tell their doctor. I need to state a disclaimer before diving into this post. Please note I am not condoning the activities and actions I’ve shared below. I’m simply sharing what I know to be true and what I see occur frequently in the diabetic community. Please follow your doctor’s instructions exactly and do not deviate from them.
Most of you know by now that I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes (the auto-immune, insulin-controlled type) for over 45 years. In the time I’ve had it, I’ve devoted years of research to the disease of diabetes. I have also dedicated myself to understanding how diabetes affects a person’s emotions, not just their body. One of the most fascinating things I’ve discovered from chatting with thousands of people with diabetes is that there are some very common habits many of them share, but which few of them tell their medical staff. Some of these habits are harmless, while others could be potentially harmful.
Why do diabetics break the rules? The most common reason is because the rules don’t work for them. Although MDs live in a world of black and white absolutes, every diabetic knows that much of what they’re told about controlling their disease does not work for them or apply to their specific case. Their body never read the diabetes text book and doesn’t do the things the text book says it should. Most of us wish our doctors understood that control is highly individualized and that not all care guidelines work for all people. People with diabetes soon learn which topics are “safe” to discuss with their doctor and which will earn them a quick lecture. They grow weary of being told they’re “wrong” or being told one of the control tactics they rely on “can’t possibly work.” The truth is that every person’s body and lifestyle is highly unique and requires a unique approach to maintaining control. What works for me may not work for anyone else, and what works for them may not work for me. Doctors don’t have time to consider these “gray areas,” so diabetics keep this “secret info” to themselves.
The list that follows includes the top six things I’ve found diabetics rarely tell their doctor. Do you know of others? Please share!
I take a lot of supplements to help control my diabetes
This one is perhaps the most common. I hear this not only from diabetics, but from many different people with many different health conditions. Why do people not tell their doctor about their supplements? People I chat with share one of three basic reasons: 1) They are tired of their doctor telling them the supplement doesn’t work (even though using it has improved their health); 2) They are taking the supplement(s) instead of taking a prescription (see the next point); or 3) They know their doctor doesn’t believe in supplements and don’t want to risk upsetting him or her.
Obviously, it is IMPERATIVE to tell your doctor about every supplement you take. Your MD needs to know what you’re taking so that s/he can advise you about any potential interactions with your prescriptions. A growing group of MDs is learning about supplements and accepting their use. If yours is not one of them, perhaps it’s time to find one who is more accepting of the lifestyle you’ve chosen.
There are a wide variety of supplements that can help people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes maintain better control. However, these supplements must be very carefully researched before being added to one’s regimen. It can be dangerous for a Type 1 diabetic to begin taking supplements without checking their blood sugar more frequently. No one taking a prescription medications should begin taking a supplement without first discussing the potential interactions with their doctor or pharmacist. My favorite resource for researching potential interactions between prescription medications and natural supplements is the PDR for Non-Prescription Drugs, 33rd Edition.
I don’t take some of the prescriptions you write for me
This is another very serious item. If you are not going to take a prescription your doctor prescribed, you must tell him or her. It is your choice to not take a prescription, but you owe your MD the courtesy of being honest about it. When you share this information with your MD, take your research, be direct without being emotional, and make it clear your decision is final. If your MD has an issue with this, perhaps it’s time to find someone who is a better fit for your needs. (On a side note, there are times it may be better to take the prescription. Please do significant research before deciding to not take a prescription. As an example, I take insulin. There are no viable alternatives that are 100% effective, so I consider myself blessed to have it available.)
I don’t use alcohol when I take my shot or check my blood sugar
I can’t say that 100% of diabetics fall into this category, but a huge number of them do. Remembering to pack alcohol swabs is just one more thing on an already long list of items that have to be carted around on a daily basis. Many diabetics have found – contrary to what their MD told them – that not using alcohol doesn’t make much difference. They don’t wind up with skin infections, and their insulin continues working perfectly. It’s a personal choice. (This is only true if they are healthy and are under good control.) From a bird’s eye perspective, I don’t think this is a big deal, provided their blood sugars are under good control, they don’t have any other auto-immune conditions, and they are not in a dirty environment filled with toxins. It’s always best to use alcohol, but the likelihood of developing a complication if none is available is fairly small.
I use my syringes and lancets more than once
Most people are horrified to learn that many diabetics re-use their syringes. Let me make it perfectly clear they are not sharing their needles, they are simply using them twice in order to save money The same is true of the lancets used to prick their finger to check their blood sugar. Is it the best way to treat their disease? No. Is it one that has a huge negative effect? Not really. I don’t recommend it, but based on the hundreds of diabetics I know who do this, the effects are too small to even be measured. Re-using syringes is never a good idea, but the effects will probably be minimal for someone who is under good control, is in a clean environment and who does not have other auto-immune conditions affecting their immunity.
In all honesty, if a diabetic cannot afford syringes and lancets, I’d much rather they re-use them than not take insulin at all. A diabetic who needs insulin and stops taking it will wind up in the hospital and deathly ill very quickly. Diabetics who re-use needles run a risk of infection and run a risk of injecting bacteria into their insulin bottles. The potential for disaster is huge, but the fact is that very few ill effects are seen. I don’t advise re-using syringes, but if you’re in a situation where you’re forced to re-use one, please do not exert much energy to worrying about the after-effects. Again … this does not refer to people sharing needles. I’m not talking about a family of diabetics using each other’s syringes. I’m talking about an individual who re-uses their own syringes.
I leave my insertion set in for more than 3 days and refill my reservoirs
This item applies to people with diabetes who use an insulin pump. Insulin pumps use a reservoir that looks somewhat like a short, squat syringe with no needle. The diabetic fills the reservoir manually and then inserts it into the pump. One end of the reservoir is connected to a long tube. The other end is connected to the body via an insertion set. The insertion set contains a very tiny plastic cannula (a form of tiny needle) that is inserted into the abdomen, arm or buttocks. The pump injects insulin into the diabetic’s body on a continuous basis. The amount of insulin infused into the person’s body is controlled by information the diabetic (or his/her support staff) programs into the pump. Programming the pump and inserting the insertion set is a very simple process. An insulin pump is the closest thing we have to a functioning pancreas.
Most pump companies instruct their users to change insertion sets and reservoirs every three days to avoid infection and to ensure insulin delivery continues at the correct dosage. Many diabetics I know leave their insertion sets in for longer periods. I also know a few who refill their reservoir instead of replacing it. These diabetics swear they can’t tell a difference. (One told me she can leave her insertion set in for more than 10 days before infection develops. I would say that’s pushing the limit on the insertion set’s ability to maintain adequate delivery.)
Why do they do it? It’s very simple. Many diabetics are uninsured, and many are underinsured. Many insurance companies have changed their deductible program and have raised deductibles above $10,000 per family. This means that most diabetics receive NO assistance with their pump supplies, in spite of having insurance. On my insurance plan, our regular prescriptions are filled for a co-pay and don’t apply to the deductible, but my insulin pump supplies do not. My insurance company will not pay a dime toward my supplies until my family meets our $10,000 deductible. There is no logic behind this, as helping their insureds maintain good control is the best way insurance companies can avoid more expensive claims. Almost four billion dollars each year are spent on diabetic amputations. That number could potentially be lowered if insurance companies would re-think their approach to handling insurance claims for basic care needs.
A 90-day supply of infusion sets and reservoirs costs anywhere between $500-900 dollars. That’s a huge expense for many people. It is an expense that motivates many diabetics to stretch a 90-day supply of materials into a 180-day supply or longer. They don’t do it as a form of rebellion; they do it because they have no other choice.
The diet you told me to follow kept my sugars sky high, so I found a new one that works for me
I hear this more than any other concern voiced by people with diabetes. A mother with a 10-year old recently came into my office and said her son’s dietitian recommended he eat seven servings of high-glycemic carbohydrates per day. She said he used over 100 units of insulin per day eating that diet because his blood sugars were so high. He also felt horrible most of the time. I worked with her to create an eating plan her son could easily work into his daily activities. The plan I recommended focused on low-glycemic carbohydrates in smaller quantities. Within two weeks, this young man’s energy had returned to normal levels and his insulin needs had lowered to around 60 units per day. (Lowering the amount of insulin needed to maintain control is helpful because of the hormonal side-effects of insulin.) I’ve also had clients come to my office who said they argued with their diabetes educator because they felt the amount of sugars and carbohydrates they were eating was excessive. These patients typically get a slap on the wrist and are told they must obey. Sadly, many who find they can maintain better control using a different eating style than the one their doctor’s staff recommended are labeled “non-compliant.”
This brings us back to individuality. Every person’s body responds to carbohydrates and other types of foods in different ways. Most people with diabetes know which foods affect them more than others. (For me, a quarter cup of white rice will send my blood sugar through the roof in about five minutes. I can’t eat it, even though it was one of the main foods recommended by the diabetes educator I saw many years ago.) It is impossible to use a “cookie cutter” approach to eating styles for people with diabetes. Each person must start with a basic recommendation and then tweak it to fit their needs. Many endocrinologists and their staffs are not willing to allow their patients to deviate from their strict guidelines. This is sad, because it makes many diabetics think they have to hide things from their endocrinologist.
I recognize and fully expect this post will generate controversy. I’ve shared the truth, but I know many will react in anger. I’m ok with that.
Do you have diabetes? Do you hide things from your doctor? What do you think needs to change in the world of diabetes to encourage more open dialog between endocrinologists/doctors and people with diabetes? I firmly believe change occurs one person at a time. Let’s start here!
*Links in this post are affiliate links shared to provide a visual representation of the mentioned item.
Many people are currently trying to eat less sugar and fewer carbohydrates. The reasons for this are related to attempts to lose weight, eliminate Candida or pursue a new level of wellness. Most of these people look at smoothie recipes and sigh with frustration because they believe it’s impossible to create a delicious smoothie that is low in carbohydrates. (Even carbohydrates from natural fruit sugars can be challenging to anyone with Candida, insulin resistance or diabetes.) It is very possible to make delicious smoothies that are sugar-free, fruit-free and very low in carbohydrates. Fruitless smoothies can be delicious and can easily become a very addicting habit. Fruitless smoothies are the perfect solution for anyone trying to embrace a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, lose weight, reduce Candida overgrowth, etc. The smoothies I’ve shared below are also perfect fits for the Paleo lifestyle which is currently very popular, and make great options for anyone with insulin resistance or diabetes.
A wide variety of creamy, great tasting smoothies can be made without fruit. My breakfast many mornings is a delicious, all-vegetable, smoothie that is low in carbs, high in protein and which keeps me going strong for many hours. This type of smoothie not only provides huge amounts of energy, but also keeps me feeling full until lunch and beyond due to the tremendous nutrition provided. By using a low-carbohydrate, high-protein blend, my bloodsugars stay very stable. Fruit-laden smoothies that don’t contain protein can cause blood sugar spikes. These blood sugar spikes later fall because they don’t have protein to keep them stable. These falls may cause hunger and fatigue mid-morning as blood sugar levels plummet. A combination of carbohydrates with protein creates a slower, smaller rise in blood sugar and helps maintain blood sugar levels at a more stable level.
- Use sweet veggies such as yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, etc., to add natural sweetness to smoothies
- Add avocado to make smoothies creamy and thick without using sugar-laden yogurt
- Use Stevia as a sweetener if needed
- Use neutral tasting veggies such as cucumbers and zucchini to add bulk to smoothies without adding a lot of taste
- Add dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, etc., to increase the nutritional content of smoothies
- Use liquids such as coconut water, aloe vera juice, coconut water kefir, unsweetened nut or coconut milk, the leftover soak water from sundried tomatoes or nuts, or vegetable juices to add flavor, sweetness, and additional nutrition to smoothies
- Add a protein powder to balance blood sugars and extend the feeling of fullness
- Use organic spices to taste to add flavor. Don’t limit yourself to sweet spices … have fun with spicy spices to create soups and gazpachos!
- Strategically add ingredients such as protein powders, green powders, superfoods, seaweeds, powdered greens, maca, raw cacao powder and others to add unique flavor and increase the nutritional content of smoothies.
Vitamineralicious Smoothie Delight
A lack of minerals can wreak havoc on health. The smoothie that follows is rich in minerals from vegetables, but also adds an extra punch by including a liquid trace mineral. You can boost the mineral (electrolyte) content of this smoothie by using coconut water or coconut water kefir as the liquid.
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 scoop Hemp Protein Powder
1 tomato, diced
1 handful kale or spinach (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon organic lemon Juice
1 serving green powder
1 cup unsweetened milk alternative of choice OR 1 cup of coconut water kefir or coconut water
1/2 – 1 cup Purified Water (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
Stevia to taste (optional)
Red Light District Smoothie
This smoothie is rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.
1 diced organic red pepper
1-2 cup(s) water from soaking sun-dried tomatoes, purified water or organic tomato juice (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
1 handful red lettuce
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon
1 avocado (optional)
Stevia to taste (optional) or experiment with many flavored stevias
Diabetic Chocolate Shake
This smoothie is delicious! Add ice to make it more like a shake. If you really want to make it shake-like, add a scoop of So Delicious Dairy-Free Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. (It’s to die for! That’s not an affiliate link … I just love their products!) Be aware that adding the coconut ice cream will increase the carbohydrate content of this shake.
1/2 cup organic cacao powder or organic cocoa
1/2 – 1 cups unsweetened milk alternative of choice
Stevia to taste (I use chocolate liquid stevia)
There are a multitude of diabetes myths still perpetuated and shared as “fact” even though they are blatantly false. Myths get perpetuated in odd ways. Case in point: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) recently allowed Krispy Kreme donuts to sponsor a fundraising run. During the run, participants – many of whom have diabetes – ran a single mile, ate a dozen donuts, and then ran a mile back. The JDRF spokesperson defended this run by stating that “food doesn’t cause Type 1 diabetes.” Guess what? Studies done in Finland since 1991 prove she’s wrong!
I was blessed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967 and have been researching it through life experience or active study ever since. I’ve studied the mainstream approaches to Diabetes control and have also studied and experimented with many natural wellness approaches. My desire is to help people with any form of Diabetes live life abundantly and realize that having Diabetes doesn’t mean their life is over. Following are a number of myths related to diabetes that need to be busted right now:
Myth #1: Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition that has nothing to do with food
Fact: While Type 1 Diabetes is indeed an autoimmune condition, autoimmune reactions are caused when the body secretes antibodies that attack cells of the body. Studies have connected dairy antibodies (antibodies the body produces to cow milk, not human breast milk) to an attack on the beta cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin. Countries having the highest intake of bovine dairy products (Sweden, Denmark and Finland) also have the highest incidence of Type 1 Diabetes in children. The connection cannot be denied. The studies found that children who were not given bovine dairy prior to the age of 7 months had significantly lower incidence of Type 1 Diabetes than those who were. My recommendation is to not give babies cow milk, cheese, ice cream or other dairy products prior to the age of 12 months. (Avoid soy, too, as other studies found that boys given soy formula had lower sperm counts as adults and that girls given soy formula developed breasts and began menstruating at an earlier age.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group on Cow’s Milk and Diabetes Mellitus issued this statement in 1994: “The evidence incriminating cow-milk consumption in the cause of type 1 diabetes is sufficient to cause the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue this warning, ‘Early exposure of infants to cow’s milk protein may be an important factor in the initiation of the beta cell destructive process in some individuals.’ and ‘The avoidance of cow’s milk protein for the first several months of life may reduce the later development of IDDM or delay its onset in susceptible people.'”
Having said that, let me add that dairy antibodies are not the sole causative factor of Type 1 Diabetes. Many other factors may be associated with Type 1 Diabetes, including viral infections, bacterial infections and some genetic factors. There is also some evidence that toxins in vaccinations may be associated with auto-immune over-stimulation that may contribute to Type 1 Diabetes. Genetic factors also play a role in whether or not a child’s body can counteract certain antibodies.
Myth #2: Only fat people get Type 2 Diabetes
Fact: I personally know several very thin, athletic people who have Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is caused when the body develops insulin resistance, or when the body’s cells no longer absorb and use insulin as they should. Although insulin resistance is much more common in people who are overweight, thin people may also develop it.
The pancreas of most – not all – people with Type 2 Diabetes typically works as it should. It works so well, in fact, that it over-produces insulin in response to elevated glucose levels. The excess insulin in the blood stream causes the body’s cells to become “overwhelmed” by the excess insulin, which creates worsening insulin resistance. Please read my article, “The Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request” for information about having your insulin level checked. Unfortunately, insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so excess insulin in the blood stream may make weight loss very difficult if it is needed.
There are multiple potential causes of insulin resistance, and every person with Type 2 Diabetes may have very distinct issues that led to their body’s resistance. The fact does remain, however, that people who are overweight and who eat diets which are extremely high in high-glycemic carbohydrates are much more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes than those who are thin and who eat a more balanced diet. Luckily, many people with Type 2 Diabetes have reversed their insulin resistance and reduced or even eliminated their need for prescription medication simply by making a few simple lifestyle changes.
Myth #3: My doctor says I have “pre-diabetes,” which means I don’t need to make any changes
Fact: The prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes has become so high that a new term – Metabolic Syndrome – was developed for people who have the early stages of insulin resistance but who may not have highly elevated blood glucose levels. Those who are in the very beginning stages of insulin resistance, or “pre-diabetes,” often reverse insulin resistance by making simple lifestyle changes.
When I have clients whose blood work shows elevated insulin levels, I recommend the same regimen I recommend to people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Placing a prefix before the word “diabetes” doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about, it simply means early intervention is needed.
Myth #4: People with Diabetes have to eat a very restricted diet
Fact: This myth floors me. People with any form of Diabetes need to eat a very nutritious diet, but not one that is severely restricted. I will admit that my research and personal experience with diet cause me to disagree with the typical regimen prescribed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA encourages people with Diabetes to eat high amounts of carbohydrates and to avoid fats, stating that carbohydrates are essential for energy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client come to see me and claim their dietitian is trying to kill them. People with Diabetes can eat carbohydrates, but I encourage them to primarily eat low-glycemic carbohydrates that don’t require large amounts of insulin. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so weight loss is often dependent upon eating in a fashion that allows the body to produce less insulin. Eating in this manner may also improve insulin resistance, as a lower amount of insulin in the blood stream may help the body’s cells not be “overwhelmed” by it. For more information on effective eating styles for controlling glucose levels, please read: Why Mainstream Diabetes Diets Often Fail.
The typical eating style I recommend for people with any form of diabetes is highly personalized to meet the physical and personal needs of each person. I typically encourage the use of low-glycemic carbohydrates in somewhat limited quantities. I basically encourage my clients to use a similar eating style to that which I use. Why? Because the eating style I use – which is not at all restrictive – allowed me to cut my insulin needs to less than a third of what they were ten years ago and to reduce my Hemoglobin A1C from 8.5% to a typical reading of 5.7%. Hemoglobin A1C is an “average” of blood glucose levels over a three-month period. “Normal” levels are said to be between 4.5 – 6.0%. I know people who are not diabetic who have higher A1C readings than I do. Not bad for someone who’s had Type 1 Diabetes for more than 46 years! (On a side note, I recommend asking your doctor to run an A1C after age 40 simply to establish a baseline that can be used to spot any changes.)
The program I recommend to people who have insulin resistance or full-blown Diabetes is always very personalized. Cookie-cutter approaches don’t work. I customize the approach to be suitable for anyone of any age and any body size, including pregnant women and children – with physician approval.
Myth #5: I had gestational diabetes, but I’m no longer pregnant so I don’t need to worry about it
Fact: The incidence of developing Type 2 Diabetes is significantly higher for women who had Gestational Diabetes. Those women obviously need to make careful dietary changes while pregnant in order to maintain normal glucose levels and protect their baby, but should consider continuing to consume fewer carbohydrates and lower-glycemic carbohydrates after giving birth. Making post-partum dietary changes may help improve insulin sensitivity and may reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Note: None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. This information is shared for informational purposes only and should never be used to replace standard medical care. Always check with your physician before making any changes to diet or lifestyle, and never adjust medication or begin taking supplements without your physician’s recommendation.
Infant Feeding in Finnish Children <7 yr of Age With Newly Diagnosed IDDM. 10.2337/diacare.14.5.415 Diabetes Care May 1991 vol. 14no. 5 415-417.
Cow’s milk consumption, HLA-DQB1 genotype, and type 1 diabetes: a nested case-control study of siblings of children with diabetes. Childhood diabetes in Finland study group. 10.2337/diabetes.49.6.912. Diabetes June 2000 vol. 49no. 6 912-917
Infant feeding and the risk of type 1 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr May 2010vol. 91 no. 5 1506S-1513S
There is a Cure for Diabetes, Gabriel Cousens, multiple references.
UPDATE, October 5, 2015: A new effort was launched last year with the aim of protecting children who have health issues that make Halloween candy (any candy) a serious risk. This effort is called the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can learn more about it here: Teal Pumpkin Project. That page also has a link where people can get teal pumpkin window clings in exchange for a donation to FARE (Food Allergy Resource and Education.)
Since no single food item would be safe for every child and/or every health condition, the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages everyone to hand out non-food items. Those who choose to distribute non-food goodies are asked to place a teal pumpkin on their front porch (or a picture of one on their front door) to indicate they are not distributing food items.
This approach is one I’ve endorsed and encouraged for many years. The article that follows provides a list of non-food alternatives that are inexpensive and safe.
Please note that the TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).
I’ve shared some of this information before. It was met with snorts of laughter and threats to toilet paper my house. I’m ok with that.
It’s that time of year when fall is in the air and kids aged 2-90 across the US are excitedly planning their costumes. Most families I know put far more thought into costumes than they put into selectively choosing treats to distribute to trick-or-treaters. This concerns me. Following are a few quick reasons why it is so important to carefully plan what we put in our Halloween treat bowls:
- Every teaspoon of sugar decreases immunity for 2-4 hours. Think the weather causes kids to get sick around the holidays? Think again! I have pediatrician friends who tell me they can count on having packed offices starting the first weeks of November … immediately following Halloween. There is a connection between sugar consumption and illness.
- Food allergies are on the rise: Some day when you have absolutely nothing better to do, wander down the candy aisle and read labels. You’ll be amazed how many candies contain more than one of the top seven allergens: dairy, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts & tree nuts. Almost all chocolate contains dairy, and wheat flour is often used as a thickener. (Twizzlers candy contains wheat. You must read labels.) I realize it is not your responsibility to protect kids who have food allergies, but why not choose a treat that presents fewer risks? For the record, most parents of kids with food allergies don’t let their kids trick-or-treat or only take their kids to homes of friends and family who have approved treats. I’m also encouraged that many allergy-support groups host allergy-free Halloween parties for kids affected by food allergies.
- Almost all candy contains Genetically Modified ingredients: 90% of corn and sugar beets grown in the US are genetically modified. Why is this a problem? Because inserting gene particles from insects or other plant species into a plant’s existing gene structure is extremely dangerous. Additionally, when our bodies are subjected to foods having genetic structures our bodies were not designed to recognize, our bodies react by launching an allergic attack. Food allergies and digestive disorders have skyrocketed since genetically modified foods were introduced. Please visit the Institute for Responsible Technology website for in-depth education on the dangers of GMO’s and the scientific studies that prove those dangers.
So what can you give that kids will love but that won’t have the potential to cause negative health effects? My favorite alternatives follow. For safety, it may be wise to tell kids if an item is not edible:
- Skip Halloween and hold a fundraiser for starving children instead: People in the US spend an average of $80 per person on Halloween festivities. Imagine the powerful change that could occur if we celebrated by donating that money to a worthy charity instead.
- Nickels or Dimes: Depending on what you buy and where you shop, distributing nickels or dimes can be cheaper than buying candy.
- Temporary tattoos
- Coupons for kid-friendly activities
- Tiny toys: Pick up toys sold for insertion in birthday treat bags, or check out the Oriental Trading Company for oodles of great options at a low cost. (Put together a large order with several friends to decrease shipping costs. That way you can divvy up the toys so that you have a wider variety, too.)
- Colored pencils, markers, crayons, etc.: If time allows, let the kids pick their own. Little kids actually love this and get excited about it! Older kids may not visibly show they like it, but most do.
- Patterned shoe laces: Some stores sell these in bulk at a great price.
- Tiny containers of glitter. (Moms hate this one.)
- Character erasers: Please be sure to tell kids these are NOT edible for safety’s sake.
- Glow sticks or glow jewelry (added bonus is that these increase visibility)
Wander the aisles of dollar stores and craft stores for additional ideas.
Ok … GO! What other candy-free ideas for goodies can you share? Please share in the comments!
Photo courtesy of John Puett