Category Archives: carbohydrates
“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
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 diabetes has become an epidemic, and partly because I have had diabetes since 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. Type 1 diabetics 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 diabetic, 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. This is a lot of carbs! The large amount of carbs recommended concerns and shocks me. I eat 2-4 servings of 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.) 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. My next article will share more information about the necessity of fat in the diet. Until then, please read Surprising Facts About Cholesterol for more information.
The fact is our bodies don’t need carbohydrates at all. Your body can very effectively function if you never eat a single carbohydrate that affects your blood sugar. (I did it for two years, so I know this to be true.) The ADA believes carbohydrates that raise blood sugar are necessary for proper brain function. This is not true. The brain runs on pure glucose. Diabetics do not need to eat carbohydrates to maintain adequate levels of glucose in the blood stream. The only time a diabetic truly requires carbohydrates is when his or her 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 and one which focuses on using low-glycemic carbohydrates work 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 diabetes 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.
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.
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 physiological 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 very 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 to boost energy levels 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. Other great 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!
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 Diary-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.
I found an amazing buy today in a location that surprised me. While cruising through Costco with my hubby, we found a 32-ounce back of organic Chia Seeds for $6.89. For those who are familiar with chia seeds, you know that price is amazing. If you don’t have access to a Costco, you can also purchase chia seeds here: Two Pounds Chia Seeds.
I grabbed a bag and began using my new stash of chia seeds as soon as I got home. While pondering what to make first, it occurred to me that not everyone is familiar with chia seeds. This blog will hopefully change that. If you can make it to the end, you’ll find my favorite recipe.
The Latin name for chia seeds is Salvia hispanica. Please note: This variety of salvia is NOT the salvia that became a popular drug a few years ago due its hallucinogenic effects when smoked. (If you purchase chia seeds, you may want to explain this to your teenagers.) Chia seeds are, however, the same seeds that are used on Chia Pets. The seeds make great grass seed, too.
Chia seeds began being cultivated over 5000 years ago in Mexico. They were a dietary staple of the Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” is actually a derivative of the Mayan word for “strength.” One Aztec legend claims Aztec warriors could survive for days on a very tiny amount (about a tablespoon) of chia seeds soaked in water. Modern-day athletes often find that chia seeds improve endurance and strength and help boost the effects of workouts. I find this very easy to believe, because the nutrient content of chia seeds includes extremely high quantities of the following nutrients:
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Chia seeds are known for having strong anti-inflammatory properties, primarily because of the high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids they contain. One of the amazing things about chia seeds is that they provide a form of Omega 3s that does not have to be converted for use in the body, and the seeds are easily broken down during the digestive process. Many people rely on flax seeds as a vegetable source of Omega 3s, but the omega 3s in chia seeds are much more easily absorbed and do not need to be converted to be absorbed. The omega 3s in flax seeds must be converted before they can be absorbed by the human body, and the only way the essential fatty acids in flax seeds can be released for absorption is if the seeds are ground. Whole flax seeds pass through the digestive tract intact, providing little more than fiber. Chia seeds, on the other hand, have a seed casing that is easily broken down by the digestive process, allowing all of the nutrients in the seeds to be easily absorbed. The seeds also provide significant amounts of fiber. It’s a win-win! Ad additional advantage chia seeds have over flax seeds is that chia seeds can be stored up to two years in an air-tight container without having the oils in the seeds go rancid. The oils in flax seeds go rancid very quickly if the seeds are not refrigerated.
- Calcium and other essential minerals: Ounce for ounce, chia seeds have 500% more calcium than milk (in a much more absorbable form) and also contain significant amounts of phosphorous, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, strontium, and other minerals. Because chia seeds are so easily digested and absorbed, some people consider them a “superfood” that is a viable alternative to multivitamins when combined with a green drink. Their large content of highly bioavailable calcium and strontium also make them a viable option for improving bone density.
- Protein: Chia seeds are 20% protein, providing a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids the body requires but cannot manufacture for itself. This means that eating chia seeds by themselves provides a sustainable form of protein. Four tablespoons (two ounces) of dry chia seeds provides 8 grams of protein, which is a full serving. The protein in chia seeds is very easily absorbed. For that reason, chia seeds are often recommended to anyone needing additional protein in their diet, including children, pregnant women, and anyone recovering from surgery or trauma. Chia seeds have also recently become a popular food for body builders.
- Fiber: One ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, which is about 1/3 of what most people require for good digestive health. Increased fiber intake is also often recommended to anyone trying to lose weight. An added benefit for weight loss is that one ounce of chia seeds contains 12 grams of carbohydrates. This makes chia seeds an extremely low glycemic-index food that impacts blood sugar very, very slowly. For me personally, I can eat a large amount of soaked chia seeds without seeing any increase in blood glucose levels and without requiring any insulin. Some diabetics report including chia seeds in any meal containing carbohydrates because the chia seeds help to delay the impact the carbohydrates have on blood sugar.
- Antioxidants: Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants. They have more antioxidants per ounce than blueberries, providing 844 ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) per ounce. Antioxidants are known to fight free radicals and slow the aging process, so eating high amounts is always advised.
- Vitamins: Chia seeds contain significant amounts of all B vitamins, significant amounts of Vitamin C, and also contain high amounts of the fat-soluble vitamins E, D and K.
- Water: Although dry chia seeds do not contain any water by themselves, they are capable of absorbing up to 20 times their weight in water, and they absorb it very quickly. This is helpful for anyone struggling with dehydration, as they can drink the soaked seeds and know the water will reach their large colon for absorption. Their ability to absorb large amounts of liquid also provides ample opportunity for experimentation making drinks and puddings. More on that in a bit. They make a great gel that has a variety of uses. To make a “pudding,” I typically blend three to four parts liquid to one part chia seeds by volume. Simply add more or less liquid to control the thickness of the blend. (A quick and easy pudding can be made by blending 3/4 cup chocolate hemp milk with 1/4 cup chia seeds and allowing to soak for 10-20 minutes. Delicious!)
- Energy: I guess this isn’t a nutritional content topic, but most people find that eating chia seeds provides solid energy that doesn’t fade. Their nutritional content helps maintain stable blood sugars and provides plenty of protein and nutrition to keep a body going. I highly recommend!
You now know how wonderful chia seeds, so let’s talk about how to incorporate them in your daily meals. Please start with very small amounts if you have never tried Chia seeds before or if your diet does not contain high amounts of protein. Their high protein content can create some issues (diarrhea, bloating) if people start with too much too quickly. I also don’t recommend chia seeds to anyone with diverticular disease, as their tiny size easily fits into inflamed pockets.
By themselves, they are a bit crunchy and have a very slight nutty flavor. (Their flavor is so slight they are virtually unnoticeable when added to dishes or beverages.) They make a great addition to smoothies and taste wonderful sprinkled over salads, stirred into yogurt or cottage cheese, etc. Following are some unique ways to add them to common foods:
- Sprinkle them over sandwiches (they are especially delicious in any sandwich containing almond or peanut butter)
- Stir into protein drinks
- Add to ice cream when making home made ice cream
- Add to coffee beans before grinding to get a few of the health benefits without adding much taste to the coffee
- Add them to salsa: they help prevent salsa from becoming “watery” as the juice leaks out of the tomatoes and add a nice texture to salsa
- Sprinkle them over pizzas
- Sprinkle over cucumber salads
- Stir two tablespoons (or more based on your taste) into 16 ounces of fruit juice and allow to “gel” for ten minutes – this makes a drink called “Chia Fresca” that is very popular in Mexico and Central America. Several companies now make chia drinks that can be purchased in health food stores. The ones made by Mamma Chia are my favorites. (Their high carbohydrate content is somewhat offset by the chia seeds, but diabetics should consume them cautiously.)
- Stir into hummus or any dip or spread
- Stir a tablespoon or two into a 16-ounce glass of lemonade or other flavored drink
- Mix one teaspoon of chia seeds with 1/4 cup water and use as an egg substitute
- Grind and substitute for up to 1/4 any flour
- Add to sauces you’re using to brush over meat while it cooks
- Add to meat marinades
- Grind and use in place of flour or bread crumbs in meatloaf
- Add to pancakes (this is especially delicious if you soak them in fruit juice first)
- Sprout the seeds and add to salads (or cover a terra cotta head … your choice)
- Add to oatmeal or other hot cereal
- Add to granola and include while making
- Blend with butter and honey for a delicious spread for toast or bagels
- Add to soups or to slow cooker masterpieces
- In all honesty, I haven’t found any dish that can’t have chia seeds added successfully … have fun experimenting!
Here’s my favorite breakfast “pudding” blend. I love this because I can toss the jar in the car on my way to work and munch on the pudding throughout the day. It’s delicious, filling and very energizing!
Protein-Packed Chia Pudding
In a quart-size Mason jar, blend the following:
- 24 ounces (3 cups) purified water or milk substitute of choice (You can also use regular milk, but I prefer not to)
- 1 scoop protein powder of choice – use flavored or unflavored based on choice. My favorite is Vibrant Health PureGreen Protein in either vanilla, chocolate or berry.
Blend well and then add 1 cup of dry chia seeds. Stir and then shake the jar well. Allow to soak for five minutes and stir well. Stir again after ten minutes. If you want to enjoy the pudding immediately, allow it to soak 10-20 minutes. I blend mine at night and let it soak overnight. That way it’s ready to go as I walk out the door in the morning. Since I don’t use any ingredients that can spoil, I don’t refrigerate the pudding overnight, but do refrigerate it once I get to work.
If you would like to receive additional information about ways to improve your health using simple dietary changes, please feel free to schedule a consultation. You may email me or call 317.489.0909 to schedule.
Have you tried chia seeds? What did you think? Please share your experiences and thoughts.
One question I get asked fairly frequently is, “What do you eat?” That is a great question, so I thought I’d start by sharing what I don’t eat. I also want to share that our eating habits should never become set in stone or overly rigid, but will need to evolve and be “tweaked” as our health changes and as deficiencies or weaknesses are eliminated. I eat a much different variety of foods now than I did three years ago. I encourage everyone to listen to your body and to make adjustments to lifestyle habits when you begin noticing issues that indicate a change is needed. As always, work with and rely on your health practitioner to help you identify problem areas and to provide medical intervention when needed.
Before I share my list, let me share that I try to eat “whole” foods, meaning I strictly avoid processed foods. A “whole food” eating style includes foods that are fairly close to how they appear in nature. Does it require a lot of cooking from scratch? Yes. Is it more time consuming? Not when done simply. I didn’t list processed foods on my list of foods I avoid, but know that few foods enter my kitchen in a box. Here are the top 10 foods you’ll never find in my kitchen:
- Margarine (all hydrogenated/trans fat oils): In my house, we use good ol’ butter … the real thing … and have no worries about high cholesterol. Hydrogenated oils, also known as “trans fats,” are known to contribute to heart disease, are known to be highly inflammatory, and are created in a chemical process that attaches a hydrogen molecule to natural oil molecules to make them solid at room temperature. They are patently unhealthy. The nice thing about eliminating trans fats and hydrogenated oils from my kitchen is that it automatically eliminates most baked goods, donuts, and other high-carbohydrate foods. An interesting note is that even though a food’s label states “0 Trans Fat,” the food can contain up to .5 grams of trans fat/hydrogenated oils and still be labeled “0.” Since many companies’ labels list the nutritional information for “serving sizes” which are incredibly small, this means that a “normal” serving size may deliver a high amount of trans fats but the label can still legally say, “Contains no trans fat.” It makes no sense. The bottom line is that absolutely no serving of trans fats is acceptable in terms of health, so the current FDA guidelines allowing 0.5 to be labeled “0″ are in need of major overhaul. In our kitchen, we use extra virgin olive oil for cold products (salad dressings, etc.) and extra virgin coconut oil for any cooking that requires oil. The coconut oil does not deteriorate in heat and contains very healthy medium-chain fatty acids which are known to assist with balancing cholesterol levels. (The rumors that coconut oil is a saturated fat that is bad for coronary health are false and completely ignore coconut oil’s very special chemical structure.)
- Soy: I know including this on my list is controversial, but I avoid soy at all costs. Over 90% of soy in this country is genetically modified, it is one of the most rapidly rising allergens in the US, it is known to harm thyroid function, and it is highly estrogenic and may interfere with normal reproductive cycles in children, men and pre-menopausal women. The only form of soy I can advocate is organic and fermented, and then no more than once or twice a week. On a side note, I was a vegan for over two years and ate no soy. It is very possible to be a vegetarian or vegan, not eat soy, and still get more than enough protein.
- Non-organic meat and dairy: I refuse to purchase meat from animals which were given antibiotics and hormones during their life cycle. Ingesting meat containing those items is simply not healthy. My preference is to eat meat that was locally grown, pasture-raised/free range, and which was fed foods that it would choose to eat naturally. The reason for this is that the meat from organically, sustainably raised animals has a healthier fatty-acid content, lower acidity, and is healthier in general. I am willing to purchase meat that is raised this way but which is not organically certified. I ask a lot of questions of the farmer to ensure the very best methods for animal and environment were used while the animals were being raised.
- Genetically modified foods: This is one I really can’t do justice to in a single paragraph, but I aim for a 100% organic diet so that I can avoid having genetically modified foods in my home. I will share that I don’t always eat at home. I am very aware that the foods I eat in restaurants may contain many of the items included on this list. I make good choices when eating out and trust that my exposure is far too limited to cause grave damage. The most prevalent genetically modified foods include: soy & all soy products, canola oil, cottonseed oil, beet sugar (most white sugar is beet sugar unless specifically identified as cane sugar), corn, papaya, zucchini and summer squashes, cassava, golden rice and flood-resistant rice. Organic produce cannot be genetically modified, but there is rising concern that organic crops have been contaminated by cross-pollination from genetically modified crops. A group of almost 300,000 farmers in the US are currently suing the Monsanto company for cross-contaminating their crops. My hope is that these farmers win their suit.
- White sugar and flour: Processed sugars and flours obviously don’t fit the “whole food” lifestyle. They additionally have been stripped of almost all nutritional value. For this reason, they are banned from my kitchen, and I try very hard to ignore it when my son purchases white bread for his own consumption. (Teenagers … what’re you gonna’ do?)
- Sugar substitutes: The only sugar substitute used in my home is stevia and occasionally agave nectar and molasses. If I’m making a recipe that requires sugar, I use organic Coconut Palm Sugar. My adherence to the no-substitute rule is so strong that I carry stevia with me everywhere I go. Read my article on Why You Should Never Use Splenda for more info.
- High fructose corn syrup: The commercials paid for by the Corn Refiners Association are lying to you. (It is interesting to note that the Center for Science in Public Interest has challenged these commercials and is lobbying to have them removed from the air.) High fructose corn syrup, now hidden and listed as “corn sugar” on food labels, is metabolized very differently from white sugar in the body. Multiple studies proved that rats fed high amounts of high fructose corn syrup developed pre-diabetic symptoms, metabolic syndrome, high triglycerides, gained weight around the abdominal area, and gained as much as 45% of their body weight in a short time. (Rats fed sugar-water instead of the high fructose corn syrup did not experience the same effects.) This same pattern is being repeated in the US population. One estimate I saw said the average person in the US eats 41.5 POUNDS of high fructose corn syrup each year. In addition to being excessively high in sugar and high glycemic impact carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup has a metabolic effect that “turns off” the hormone in your body that tells you when you’re full. Ever notice you just can’t get enough to eat when you’re eating a food that contains high fructose corn syrup? There’s a true, hormonal metabolic reason. High fructose corn syrup is in everything. Start looking for it on labels. It’s in most condiments, many soft drinks, juices, many cereals and baked goods, many fruit-flavored yogurts, many breads, and many products you would never suspect to contain it. Eliminating this single ingredient has had an amazing effect on blood sugar and weight loss for some people. I encourage you to consider eliminating it.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Clinical Journal of Epigenics recently released a peer-reviewed study that definitely connects rising rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders to high fructose corn syrup and other environmental toxins. I STRONGLY encourage all mothers of young children and all pregnant women to please completely eliminate this food ingredient from your diet.
- Microwave meals: I never use a microwave. Period. I’d rather eat food cold than heat it in a microwave. There is a lot of controversy associated with microwave ovens, but the following facts remain: a) Microwaves convert the active, bioavailable from of B12 contained in food to an inactive form that is not easily absorbed (the same effect is noticed in other B vitamins); microwaving breast milk eliminates the protective antiviral and immune-boosting properties of the milk; microwaving garlic completely eliminates garlic’s antiviral and antibacterial properties; blood levels of hemoglobin were found to dramatically fall after a microwaved food was eaten but this drop did not occur when the same food was eaten after being cooked on the stove or in an oven. It is also very true that microwaving meats (blood-containing foods) changes the chemical structure of the meat. Among other things, the amount of carcinogens in the meat is increased. (A highly-publicized court case in the 90s occurred when a nurse gently microwaved blood before transfusing it into a patient. The chemical structure of the blood was modified in such a way that the patient’s body rejected it and the patient died.) It’s also interesting to note that chemists discovered long ago that chemical processes which should have taken days or weeks to complete were dramatically sped up if they were microwaved a short time. This correlates to other studies which showed that cell death (apoptosis) was hastened by microwaves. Those reasons are enough for me. I prefer to not change the molecular structure of my food before eating it. Period.
- White processed salt: There is absolutely no truth to the myth that sodium is bad for heart health. What is bad for heart health is processed white salt, the same type that is most commonly used in processed foods and restaurants. (And let’s be honest … any food in a box is processed. Read the labels and familiarize yourself with what you’re eating.) Every cell in your body maintains a very delicate balance of sodium and potassium. Sodium is essential for human life, but not in the the form most commonly added to foods. True salt has some color to it and contains essential trace minerals. I actually find that many people’s high blood pressure falls when they start using a mineral-rich salt (in small amounts) such as Himalayan Sea Salt (which is pink) or Celtic Sea Salt (which is gray). The truth is that common, iodized white table salt has been so heavily processed that all other trace minerals have been removed. The end result is a non-organic chemical – sodium chloride – which your body does not recognize. The water retention and elevated blood pressure caused by common table salt occurs because your body exerts so much energy to eliminating the salt from your body. Your body will isolate the sodium and chloride and will pull water out of your cells and tissues to surround the sodium and chloride molecules with water in order to neutralize them. This causes water retention and elevated blood pressure. Many sea salts sold today as “natural” are also highly processed and bear little or no advantage over common table salt. Another issue with regular sea salt is that it contains pollutants common to sea water. My favorite salt is Himalayan Sea Salt. Its pink color is an obvious indicator that it contains higher amounts of minerals than white salt does. Himalayan sea salt was deposited in the Himalayas thousands of years ago, so contamination is not a concern. Using an unprocessed, natural salt is definitely healthier than using a salt that is the result of a chemical process. On a side note, my husband often comments that Himalayan Sea Salt just plain tastes better, so it’s a win-win.
- Bacon, salami, sausage, hot dogs & lunch meat: In addition to being highly processed, loaded with unhealthy fat and high in white salt (see above), these meats – sometimes of questionable origin – also contain preservatives called sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite. These chemicals interfere with red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body and have been implicated in erectile dysfunction and blue baby syndrome. They break down into nitrosamines in the body, which are a chemical known to be highly carcinogenic. The good news is that it is possible to find nitrate-free bacon and lunchmeats in many grocery stores. Unprocessed bacon actually tastes better to me than the processed variety. I don’t eat bacon very often, but when I do it’s always nitrate-free.
There you have it. Can you think of any foods that need to be added to this list? Please share!
Before reading this post, please read my prior two posts related to Candida: Candida 101 and Dietary Options for Candida. Those two posts provide a great foundation of information that will help provide perspective for this post.
One of the most common issues I see when people try to battle Candida is that they only attack it from one direction. Unfortunately, Candida requires a multifaceted approach that requires changes to dietary intake, lifestyle habits, and usually requires a supplement regimen. Carefully selected supplements are used to kill the biofilm Candida uses to protect itself, restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract, and kill Candida cells. I also find that many people benefit from including a liver-cleansing supplement to assist the body in eliminating the dead yeast cells; and many people require immune-boosting assistance and/or digestive assistance. The program I use has a 12-week regimen that addresses each of these factors. The regimen starts very slowly and gradually increases the intensity of the approach so that my clients don’t have to endure horrific die off symptoms.
A summary of the changes required to combat Candida follow. Please note that each person’s needs will be very unique, so the program must be tailored to fit the specific physiology and systemic needs of the person.
I cannot stress enough that Candida cannot be effectively addressed without making dietary changes. You could take mountains of pills on a daily basis, but the supplements will be useless if your diet still contains high amounts of foods that feed the Candida. Please read Dietary Options for Candida for an overview of a typical Candida diet.
The primary lifestyle changes that are necessary to stop Candida overgrowth may include:
- Avoid antibiotics if at all possible. Work with a trained practitioner who can provide advice on alternatives. If an antibiotic is necessary during the 12-week program, the dosage of certain supplements may need to be increased and some may need to be taken at different times of day. Related to this, I strongly encourage my clients to only eat organic meat if possible so that they are not exposed to low levels of antibiotics contained in commercially farmed animals. (There are times that an antibiotic is absolutely necessary. Please never refuse an antibiotic if your doctor deems it necessary and/or if natural approaches have not reversed the issue.)
- Elimination of alcohol (It’s temporary … you can do it!)
- In a perfect world, birth control should be discontinued during the program, as most birth control pills used in the US create an environment that feeds Candida. If switching to a barrier method is not possible or desired (which I completely understand), some supplements may need to be taken in a higher dosage
- Elimination of heavy metals in body – This may require removal of amalgam fillings or going through an internal heavy metal cleanse. Heavy metals have a tendency to create an environment that is acidic and devoid of oxygen, situations which Candida thrive on.
- Depending on the person’s health, I sometimes recommend an immunity-boosting regimen before starting the Candida protocol. I also sometimes work to adjust the bacterial balance in the digestive tract before diving into the Candida protocol full force.
- Depending on the person’s symptoms, there are sometimes other lifestyle changes that may be necessary. These changes may include temporary changes in clothing worn, sexual habits or toilet habits.
Please note that I never use a “prescriptive” approach to helping people address their health challenges. I always select specific supplements to address specific issues, but I make sure the supplement(s) used are appropriate for other challenges the person is addressing. Having said that, the following types of supplements are typically needed during a Candida regimen. This is merely a starting point, as many people require additional systemic support during a cleanse. Please consult a trained practitioner to determine which options are best for your specific needs.
- Probiotics: I generally recommend taking a probiotic of at least 30 billion active cultures once daily on an empty stomach, but also recommend taking a probiotic of lesser strength with every meal. The importance of regulating the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract cannot be underestimated. My favorite probiotics include any of the following:
I also like the products shown below. (Click to view):
- Anti-Candida Enzymes: Enzymes are an essential part of the Candida battle plan because they consume the protective layer Candida surrounds itself with and ultimately consume the yeast cells and the dead yeast cells. These enzymes MUST be taken on an empty stomach (at least 30 minutes before or two hours after eating) to be effective. The enzymes not only help kill the yeast cells, but can also help diminish the inevitable die-off symptoms. I like either of the following:
- Antimicrobials/Antifungals: There are a wide variety of options available for killing live yeast cells. The problem is that yeast are very adaptive and soon grow resistant if the same antimicrobial agent is used for too long. Some of the most commonly used antimicrobials, such as Oregano Oil and Garlic, are no longer as effective as they used to be. I like the following, although a wide array of other options exists:
- Agrisept-L: A powerful citrus seed extract that is antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial … pretty much anti-everything. This is a powerful remedy to keep on hand for a wide variety of uses. One word of warning: It tastes horrible. (Must be honest.) I recommend starting with 5-10 drops in two ounces of water with 1-2 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil added to diminish the awful taste.
- Solaray Candida Cleanse: This is a simple-to-use antifungal combination supplement that combines a fantastic array of antifungal agents. Each bottle lasts two weeks. Starting with this cleanse and then graduating to 20-30 drops of Agrisept-L on a daily basis is usually a nice approach for many people.
As I stated previously, this is merely a starting point of options. Most people require other assistance during a Candida cleanse. Please note this information is shared for informational purposes only. None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please consult your physician or a trained practitioner before making major lifestyle changes or before taking new supplements.
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate the challenges caused by Candida overgrowth If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
What are your thoughts? Have you battled Candida? What worked for you? Please share!
Before I dive into this post, I want to welcome you to my new website! I’m excited to offer a new site and am working hard to fill in the areas that are missing content. Was it backwards to launch the site before it was done? Maybe … but desperate times call for desperate measures. Please forgive me. I welcome your feedback!
Let’s get down to business. Before reading this post, please read my previous post, Candida 101, to familiarize yourself with what Candida is, how it becomes overgrown and which issues it can cause in the body.
- Any (organic) meats and eggs, excluding processed meats and sushi with rice
- Most organic nuts and seeds (I eliminate cashews and peanuts because they are typically high in fungal growth)
- All veggies other than the starchy ones, beets and carrots
- Unsweetened milk alternatives
Subsequent phases re-introduce some of the ancient grains, low glycemic-index fruits, and legumes. During this phase, all condiments containing sugar and vinegar are also eliminated. (Vinegar is one of yeast’s favorite foods. Yeast cells grow very quickly when exposed to vinegars.)
Most people can return to a fairly normal eating pattern following the 12-week program, although they still need to be careful to limit sugars and grains. Is it possible to go back to eating Snickers for lunch after completing the program? Unfortunately, most people need to be cautious on a long-term basis. This doesn’t mean they can never enjoy a dessert or a dinner roll, it simply means they need to limit their intake of these foods and to listen to their body to recognize when Candida starts to rear its ugly head again. Most people report that they feel so much better and have so many health issues disappear while following the protocol that continuing to eat well becomes much easier.
My next post will cover the types of supplements that can be used to kill Candida and its bio-film, restore balance, and reduce die-off symptoms. The final post in this series will discuss common symptoms of “die-off” which may occur as the body works to eliminate dead yeast cells. You can view the next post here: Candida Battle Plan.
What do you think?
The most important factor to remember is that riding a motorcycle requires greater physical exertion than driving a car. Because of that, diabetics who ride may discover they need far less insulin or medication and/or need to eat more frequently when they ride. I sometimes find I’m able to turn my insulin pump completely off on the days I ride long distances. This is a wonderful additional perk to riding! The increased physical exertion, which borders on a mild form of exercise, also increases insulin sensitivity for 8-12 hours, further adding to the health benefits of riding a motorcycle. I’ve learned to eat some carbs and protein before I ride and to turn down the basal rate on my pump (or turn it off entirely) to avoid an unexpected low while I’m on the road. I’ve also learned that if I kill the bike when starting from a stop light, I need to pull over and check my sugar immediately. That simple indicator that my reflexes may not be at 100% is worth paying attention to!
The amount of insulin I use on the days I ride long distances is often 1/2-1/4 what I use on a normal day. This means that riding a motorcycle boosts my mood, increases life satisfaction, is more fun than words can describe, and improves my health! It just doesn’t get any better than that. Regardless of how many wheels you choose to travel on, be smart, travel safe, and live abundantly!