Category Archives: diabetic

Top 10 Ways to Live Joyfully with Diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967, yet I How to live joyfully with diabeteshave very mixed emotions about how this month is handled. I grow weary of the constant stream of negativity shared related to all forms of diabetes. The standard message shared contains words such as, “devastating,” “deadly,” “stressful,” “all consuming,” “terrifying,” etc. 

I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes almost 50 years. None of those words or phrases applies to my life. Never has. Never will. Please know I’m not passing judgment on the views that are shared. I’m simply stating that those views are not a version of my truth. My heart breaks for those for whom it is true.

Based on the negative perspective I see shared so often during National Diabetes Awareness Month, I decided to share my personal tips for avoiding the potential stressors related to diabetes. My hope is that these tips will help you find joy and maintain peace in your journey with diabetes. 

Here are my tips for maintaining sanity and finding joy while living with any form of diabetes:

  • Work through the anger and let it go:  It is perfectly normal to be angry about having diabetes. Did you hear that? Completely, totally normal. Being angry is a standard part of the grieving process that follows diagnosis. Problems result when the anger becomes all-consuming and/or doesn’t dissipate with time. I experienced a lot of anger as a result of having diabetes. I didn’t start working through that anger until about 20 years after my diagnosis. The result of facing and working through the anger was profound. Getting rid of the negativity and learning to find joy in the daily trials of diabetes changed my life. Releasing the anger enabled me to let go of lots of negative junk that kept interfering with my ability to live abundantly. It also helped me finally accept the diagnosis instead of constantly railing against it. My health in general improved as a result. My clients with diabetes often find that emotional release work enables them to lower their A1Cs and feel better in general.
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  • Stop expecting perfectly normal blood sugars:  We all know how important it is to maintain blood sugars that are as close to “normal” as possible; however, you will never know peace if you become frustrated and upset each time your sugars stray outside of the normal range. I get that it can be frustrating to do everything right and have your blood sugar dip or spike for no apparent reason. Part of living with diabetes includes accepting that our bodies will rarely do what the text books say they should. Learn from the unexpected lows and highs and move on.
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  • Decide and choose to live abundantly:  Many people receive the diabetes diagnosis and instantly decide their life is ruined. That may partially be because ignorant medical professionals often tell newly diagnosed diabetics their lives are over and they will never be healthy again. That is not true. Living joyfully and maintaining peace with diabetes requires that we maintain a positive, hopeful attitude. Living with diabetes can indeed be stressful at times. Choosing to keep a good attitude and maintain a positive perspective on life makes a huge difference in how we function on a daily basis.
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  • Don’t let diabetes become your identity:  You are an amazing person with the capacity to live an amazing life. The fact you have some form of diabetes is absolutely irrelevant to who you are as a person. I meet many people whose entire identity is based on the fact they have diabetes. Everything in their life revolves around and is limited by a diagnosis. It doesn’t have to be that way. Having diabetes does not need to and should not affect every aspect of your life. Learning to control diabetes instead of letting it control you is key to maintaining joy and peace in the midst of the potential challenges. Living joyfully is a choice, plain and simple. You can choose to let diabetes control every facet of your life, or you can choose to live your life abundantly and make diabetes a very small part of who you are. It is possible to live that way and maintain good control. I promise.
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  • Learn to laugh at your frustrations:  Many aspects of diabetes are hilarious, but it takes a special person to learn to laugh at their frustrations. Commit to finding humor in the myriad of situations that can pop up while living with diabetes. Your entire perspective will change. You may also find people enjoy being around you more.
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  • Take time to count your blessings every single day:  I realize that advice is given far too often and may sound a bit cliche. In spite of that, taking time each day to remind yourself how incredibly blessed you are truly helps you live with joy. Focusing on our blessings instead of our challenges helps transform our perspective, attitude and outlook. Don’t believe me? Try it.
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  • Take time to help and encourage others:  It doesn’t make much sense, but taking time to help and encourage others is a great way of lifting ourselves up. Taking our focus off of our own problems and making an effort to encourage and help someone else automatically makes us feel better. It works every single time. As a wise man once said, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
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  • Stop expecting the worst:  I work with a lot of people with diabetes who assume blindness, amputations, heart disease, and other complications are inevitable. That is NOT true. Complications are possible, not definite. I find that people who expect to have complications wind up having them, while those who assume everything will be fine have far fewer. Our body has a funny way of listening to what we tell it. Assuming complications are inevitable and living our life waiting for them to happen increases the likelihood they will. I’ve seen that play out in people’s lives over and over again. After almost 50 years with Type 1 Diabetes, I don’t have any complications. It is possible.
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  • Celebrate and acknowledge your accomplishments:  Living with diabetes can be a challenge. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments! Celebrate and give yourself a pat on the back for everything you do that you thought might be impossible due to diabetes. Also take time to celebrate accomplishments other people foolishly said you couldn’t achieve. Short of a few legalities, there is nothing you can’t accomplish with diabetes. Travel across Europe by yourself? Got your motorcycle license? Worked a 15-hour shift with no highs or lows? Celebrate the heck out of that! Make a list of non-food rewards and reward yourself for every accomplishment you achieve.
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  • Consider what you wouldn’t have without diabetes:  Most of us can admit there are aspects of our personal development and life we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t been diagnosed with diabetes. Many of us eat healthier, exercise, and take better care of ourselves as a result of the diagnosis. Some of us have increased self confidence as a result of defeating the challenges of diabetes. Most of us have wonderful people in our lives we would never have met if we didn’t have diabetes.Take time to honestly assess the good things you’ve become or received as a result of living with diabetes. Remind yourself of those benefits when you’re tempted to get frustrated..

And one final word of advice:

  • If you need help, ask for it:  Depression is more common in folks who have diabetes than those who don’t. If you find you are having trouble coping or have sunk into a “funk” you can’t lift yourself out of, please seek professional help. There is no shame in that. Blood sugars directly affect brain chemistry. Depression is not something you can simply think your way out of. Counseling, a support group, or medication may be necessary. Accept that and get the help you need.

You are amazing. I know living with any form of diabetes can be challenging. If we choose to rise above those challenges and live abundantly, nothing can stop us. Go live abundantly!

Facts About Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1967. Since then, I have dedicated my life to researching Type 1 diabetes and to helping people with any form of diabetes maintain better control. I suffered from insulin resistance in Type 1 diabetes (after diagnosis) until I committed myself to improving my insulin sensitivity.

Many people have fallen prey to the myth that people with Type 1 diabetes cannot have insulin resistance. This is absolutely not Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetestrue. It is very common for people with Type 1 diabetes to also have insulin resistance. Carla Greenbaum, MD, who is a Member of the Benaroya Research Institute and serves as Director of the Diabetes Research Program and the BRI Clinical Research Center(1), has conducted multiple studies related to insulin resistance in people with Type 1 diabetes. An abstract from one of those studies states:  “Insulin resistance plays a larger role in the type 1 diabetes disease process than is commonly recognized.”(2) It is estimated that one in three people with Type 1 diabetes also has insulin resistance.(3) One study estimated that 25.8 million people in the US have Type 1 diabetes and insulin resistance; and that insulin resistance plays a large contributing role in the complications associated with Type 1 diabetes.(4) The phenomenon of people having both Type 1 diabetes and insulin resistance is sometimes referred to as “double diabetes” or “Type 1.5 diabetes.”

Sadly, many people with Type 1 diabetes do not believe it’s possible for them to have insulin resistance. This lack of knowledge and refusal to accept the truth can greatly inhibit their ability to control their blood sugars. Their lack of knowledge stems from the insistence that Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes have nothing in common. Although the causes of each type of diabetes are different, Type 1 and Type 2 have more in common than many people realize.

Before I go further, let’s review the three basic types of diabetes. There are others, but these are the most common:

Type 1 Diabetes:  An autoimmune condition characterized by insufficient insulin production due to the body attacking the beta cells in the pancreas which produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes used to be known as “juvenile onset diabetes” or “insulin dependent diabetes.” Neither of those terms is accurate in today’s world where adults are often diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and where people with Type 2 diabetes often require insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.

Type 2 Diabetes:  A chronic condition characterized by the body’s inability to properly use insulin. The body’s inability to correctly absorb and use insulin results in high blood sugars and many of the same side effects as Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has many other names, most of which are outdated and inaccurate.

Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA):  A slowly progressing form of diabetes in which the beta cells in the pancreas are slowly destroyed due to an autoimmune attack. Destruction of the pancreatic cells usually occurs much more slowly than it does in Type 1 diabetes, with the patient often not needing insulin for months or even years. Type 1 diabetes and LADA are very similar and have very similar control protocols once someone with LADA progresses to the point of needing insulin.

It is very true that insulin resistance is a characteristic of Type 2 diabetes, but it is also a characteristic of Type 1 diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes develop insulin resistance before they are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes; people with Type 1 diabetes usually develop insulin resistance after they develop Type 1 diabetes. Insulin resistance in Type 1 diabetes is very common, but there are ways to reduce its effects.

Symptoms of Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

The following symptoms may indicate insulin resistance in someone with Type 1 diabetes:

  • Elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain not associated with an increase in food or decrease in exercise
  • Needing increasing amounts of insulin to maintain normal glucose levels
  • Elevated liver enzymes:  High insulin levels are known to impair the liver’s ability to metabolize glucose, which may result in elevated liver enzymes in blood work.(4)
  • Coronary artery disease

It is somewhat interesting that many of the complications we associate with Type 1 diabetes may actually be caused by excessive use of insulin. Maintaining blood sugars as close to normal as possible is imperative, but there are things we can do to help reduce our need for insulin. My goal in my own control and when I work with clients who have Type 1 diabetes is to improve health by living a lifestyle that improves glucose control, lowers A1C levels, and requires less insulin to maintain normal glucose levels.

Potential Causes of Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

The following reasons explain why people with Type 1 may develop insulin resistance:   

  • Stress and illness:  Stress and illness can cause temporary insulin resistance in anyone, but the effects may be much more noticeable in a person who has Type 1 diabetes and is checking blood sugars frequently. This is one of several reasons people with Type 1 diabetes typically need significantly more insulin during times of illness or stress.
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  • Large insulin requirements:  A healthy pancreas produces 20-25 units of insulin each day. Many people who are clients of mine were taking 100-300 units of insulin daily when they first came to see me. I was taking more than 100 units of insulin daily when I began making lifestyle changes to control my blood sugars better. I now take 20-25 units of insulin daily and maintain A1Cs below 6.0. The high amounts of insulin my clients took were required to maintain blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible. The problem is that high insulin usage can have many negative side effects and can cause the body to become “overwhelmed” with insulin and stop absorbing it properly. This results in insulin resistance. Sadly, insulin resistance is very common in people with Type 1 diabetes. For more information in insulin, please read:  Surprising Facts About Insulin. The challenge is that maintaining normal blood glucose levels is essential, even if it requires large amounts of insulin. I’ll share more about effectively addressing that challenge later in this post.
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  • Ethnicity:  People with Type 1 diabetes who are African American, Eskimo, Asian or Hispanic typically have higher rates of insulin resistance than Caucasians with Type 1 diabetes. This is why people of the above ethnicities often require much higher amounts of insulin.
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  • High levels of insulin-binding antibodies:  It is common for people with Type 1 diabetes to have higher levels of insulin-binding antibodies than people who do not have any form of diabetes. (Insulin-binding antibodies are not the same antibodies that attack the beta cells in the pancreas.) Insulin-binding antibodies prevent the body from absorbing insulin and/or neutralize the insulin. This causes people with extremely high levels to require more insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels. Amounts of insulin-bining antibodies vary greatly from person to person. More research is being done about how to control these antibodies.(3)
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  • Obesity:  It is a well-known fact that obesity reduces insulin sensitivity. Unfortunately, insulin is a hormone that stimulates the body to store fat, so people with diabetes who are on large amounts of insulin often find it very difficult to lose weight.

Potential Ways to Reduce Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes

Although insulin resistance can make it very difficult to control Type 1 diabetes, there are certain lifestyle habits that can greatly improve insulin sensitivity in people with Type 1 diabetes. Those habits include:

  • Reducing carbohydrate consumption and eating mostly low-glycemic carbohydrates:  Reducing the amount of insulin the body needs is a first step to helping cells “reset” and restore insulin sensitivity.
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  • Exercise:  As little as ten minutes of exercise improves insulin sensitivity for up to six hours. One study found that people who engaged in exercise and who followed a low-glycemic eating style had improved insulin sensitivity within just a week. Heavy weight lifting can improve insulin sensitivity for up to 48 hours. I engage in aerobic exercise and heavy weight lifting at least three times a week. If you are not currently exercising, start out slowly and increase your activity very gradually.
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  • Limited use of supplements:  There are some supplements known to improve insulin sensitivity. I am not mentioning then here because they should be used with caution and because each person’s personal physiology needs to be considered when selecting an appropriate supplement. There’s nothing healthy about taking handfuls of pills every day, so I am very cautious when recommending supplements and rarely recommend more then two. I’ve seen A1C levels drop in some clients by as much as 30% after the addition of a single supplement, even if the client refused to make dietary and lifestyle changes.
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  • Working closely with your physician or endocrinologist:  As lifestyle and dietary changes are made, it is imperative to work very closely with one’s physician and to monitor blood sugars very closely so insulin dosages can be adjusted as needed.
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  • Medication:  Although it’s not my first choice, some people with Type 1 diabetes and insulin resistance find that using medication such as Metformin helps them maintain normal glucose levels. Some also find a short trial of Metformin helps them lose enough weight that their physician can then very slowly wean them off of their Metformin dose.

There are no “easy fixes” for insulin resistance in Type 1 diabetes, but a combination of dietary and llfestyle changes can help. I know, because I’ve been able to reduce my insulin resistance and improve my health dramatically using a variety of small changes. After almost 50 years with Type 1 diabetes, I have no complications and live abundantly with ample energy. It is possible!

References:

(1) https://www.benaroyaresearch.org/what-is-bri/scientists-and-laboratories/scientific-staff/carla-greenbaum

(2) Diabetes Metabolic Research Review. 2002 May-Jun;18(3):192-200.

(3) Wien Klin Wochenschr. 1985 Apr 12;97(8):359-63

(4) The Interplay of Autoimmunity and Insulin Resistance in Type 1 Diabetes, Nokoff, Rewers, Cee Green; University of Colorado School of Medicine, 2/14/2012

Diabetes Control: My Story

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967. Back then, there was no such thing as disposable syringes, glucose meters or Victory in Diabetessensible eating plans. Instead, syringes were glass, had to be boiled after each use, and were then re-used. That cycle continued until the needle became too dull to be efficient. (Discovering the needle was too dull was no fun. Injections with dull needles hurt.) It was impossible to test daily blood sugars at home, so doctors ordered morning and afternoon blood sugars for patients every three months. If patients were unlucky enough to wind up in the hospital, blood was drawn every three hours so blood sugars could be closely monitored. Many phlebotomists assume I’m a former heroin addict because my veins are so scarred from those frequent blood draws. Urine was tested for glucose instead of blood. The standard eating style prescribed to diabetics was to strictly avoid sugar, but very little attention was paid to the fact simple carbohydrates had the same effect.

I am incredibly thankful to have lived through what could be considered the “stone age” of diabetes control. I am blessed to now live in a time when research has found a multitude of ways to simplify controlling glucose levels. 

In 1967, standard treatment included one daily insulin injection with a blend of fast and slow-acting insulin. Dietary control involved avoiding all sugar. Urine tests were done up to three times daily to estimate glucose levels. Urine was tested with a Clinistix Test Kit that used urine and a tablet containing chemicals that reacted with glucose. The Clinistix reaction was performed by adding a few drops of urine and water to a test tube and then adding the reagent tablet. The blend would fizz and get very hot. When the reaction was over, the color of the end product was an indicator of the amount of glucose in the urine. Blue meant there was no glucose present; orange meant there were high quantities.

In my case, my parents were told to give me one sugar cube each time my urine test was negative. As a kid who had always been told sugar was forbidden, achieving negative test results was a strong incentive … to lie. I wasn’t usually a dishonest child, but that sugar cube was enough to push me over the edge. At that point, no one had ever truly explained how what I ate affected my glucose levels. I knew eating sugar caused them to rise, but no one had explained that breads, pastas and similar carbohydrates also did. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time with extremely high glucose levels. According to my mom, my body had become so accustomed to high blood sugars that I actually felt better when my sugars ran in the 300s. (Normal is 80-120.) I’ve spoken with other people with diabetes who experienced the same thing.

One of my biggest blessings is that my parents never made a big deal out of the fact I had diabetes. They never said I couldn’t participate in any activity due to having it, and they never played the “woe is me” card. Diabetes was simply a part of every day life. The fact my life was a little different from other people’s was irrelevant. That attitude stuck with me and served me well. Nothing breaks my heart more than speaking with a newly-diagnosed diabetic who is convinced they can never lead a normal life. My goal is to teach people how to control diabetes instead of letting diabetes control them.

When I was in second grade, I began vomiting one morning. My mother figured it was the flu and began giving me sips of 7-Up to calm my stomach. By the time my dad came home from work, I had deteriorated to the point my parents decided to take me to the hospital. My sister was just a few days old, so my poor mother went from bringing a new baby home to having a child in the hospital before she had fully recovered from giving birth. In the emergency room, I was on the verge of a coma and was so dehydrated they were unable to start an IV in my arm or hand. They wound up having to use a scalpel to access a vein to start an IV in my ankle. Did I mention they didn’t use any numbing agents? I don’t think they realized I was still conscious, and it was an emergency situation. I have no memory of the days that followed. I was incoherent and my body was trying desperately to heal itself. During that time, I was assigned an amazing endocrinologist, Dr. Paul Boyce, whose amazing compassion and skill changed my life. 

He was a firm believer in patient-led control, so I attended the hospital’s diabetes classes with my mother. The fact I was eight did not stop me from learning a lot. I also began giving my own insulin injections, which was very empowering. At the time, Dr. Boyce was using an eating plan that required every gram of carbohydrates, fats and protein to be calculated for each meal. I was given a specific allotment of each per meal and my mother was given a technique for figuring my totals. We began having to weigh everything I ate. We had a box of index cards where my mother stored a collection of meal plans that could be used again and again. The entire program was tedious and bothersome. I was thrilled when that eating style became outdated and the exchange system began being used.

During this time, I was still required to test my urine multiple times daily. I was supposed to test as soon as I woke up and before dinner at a minimum. My biggest act of adolescent rebellion was refusing to test. Having to urinate into a container and conduct the test was not something I enjoyed. The anger I felt about having diabetes also began to manifest in larger ways. Refusing to do urine testing was one way I compensated for feelings of helplessness caused by having diabetes. I wound up missing out on many fun activities because my parents thought not allowing me to participate would be an incentive to comply. They were wrong. Everyone with diabetes experiences grieving and anger about their condition. It is a normal part of life with diabetes. I now counsel many parents of children with Type 1 Diabetes about how they can help their child cope. I was in my early twenties before anyone encouraged me to work through my own anger. It was a long process and I still have times I have to work through anger, inferiority and other feelings associated with having diabetes.

Life continued, I attended college, worked, lived in Mexico and Costa Rica, married, and always lived life to the fullest. In the early 90s, portable glucose monitors became readily available and the ability to control blood sugars reached a new level. My entire care program changed as the result of using a glucose monitor. I was switched to taking 2-3 injections daily and the amount of insulin I took changed depending on how high or low my blood sugar was. I was also able to check for low glucose levels much more easily. Carrying my glucose meter, insulin and syringes with me at all times became my new normal. It was wonderful! As a result of having a glucose meter, both of my pregnancies were relatively normal and my children did not experience gross complications from having a mom with diabetes. (My daughter spent two weeks in neonatal intensive care due to physician error, but that’s another story for another day.)

Currently, I have no complications from diabetes and live an abundant life. I travel frequently, ride a motorcycle (as the driver, never a passenger), am very active. Having diabetes never stops me from doing anything. I am immensely grateful for that.

Diabetes care has become a specialty of my practice. I will soon offer a course on using natural methods to control diabetes. Please visit Victory in Diabetes to learn more about this class. I am offering it as an on-site seminar and as a webinar, so anyone in any location can attend.

References:

 A History of Blood Glucose Monitors and Their Role in self-monitoring of diabetes mellitus

Case Study: Eliminating a 20-Year Cough

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 Picture of a daisy with a heart centerDiabetes. 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.

Top 10 Ways to Live Abundantly with Diabetes

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 Diabetes Dreams Canceled?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: 

  1. Do what you know you need to. In other words, stay compliant and follow the rules. Ignoring your condition will only lead to problems.
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  2. 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.
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  3. 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.
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  4. 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.”
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  5. 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.)
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  6. 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.
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  7. 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.
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  8. 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.
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  9. 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.
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  10. 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. 

Why Mainstream Diabetes Diets Often Fail

Extremely High Glucose ReadingThose 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.

When Fear of Liability Prevents Diabetes Care

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 of an infusion set showing the cannulapicture. 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?

Surprising Facts About Insulin

Cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (Islets of Langerhans)

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.

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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.

Simple Solutions for Ingrown Toenails

I once heard a man say he couldn’t believe childbirth could hurt worse than an ingrown toenail. (I’ll Picture of healthy toenailswithhold comment on that statement.) Anyone who has an ingrown toenail knows how painful they are. An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the toenail starts to cut into the skin surrounding it. Toenails should typically grow upward, but occasionally start to grow in a way that cuts into the skin instead of growing over it. One hypothesis is that ingrown toenails have nothing to do with the nails and are caused because the weight placed on the foot causes the skin around the nail to “bulge” around the nail and puts enough force on the nail that the edge of nail cuts into the skin. If you think about the amount of pressure put on the foot with every step, this makes a lot of sense.

Regardless of the cause, ingrown toenails hurt. Although ingrown nails typically occur on the big toe, they can happen on any toe or finger if certain situations exist. Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can create an open wound and may become infected.

Please note that any wound on the foot needs immediate treatment. If you have diabetes or know you have poor circulation, please seek medical intervention for any foot wound. Left untreated, these wounds can worsen to create life-threatening situations caused by non-healing sores. The American Diabetes Association has estimated that the death rate from foot ulcers may be as high as 55% when ulcers are left untreated or when mainstream medical treatment fails. Please note that ANYONE can get a foot ulcer from a severe ingrown toenail, not just people with diabetes. My father died from a sepsis infection resulting from an ingrown toenail. Please do not ignore ingrown toenails. Please don’t continue self-treating any foot condition that does not respond quickly to home treatment methods.

Let’s look at some of the possible symptoms of an ingrown toenail, what potential causes are for an ingrown toenail, and what some possible treatments are. 

Symptoms 

Pain is the primary indicator of an ingrown toenail, but other symptoms may include:

  • Mild pain and faint redness and swelling may be seen in the early stages. This is the best time to take action and address the issue.
  • Pain may be extreme. Even a tiny bump of the affected toe can cause extreme, sometimes excruciating pain
  • In time, the redness and swelling around the ingrown portion of the toenail will increase.
  • Infection surrounding the ingrown toenail may occur, which may cause cloudy, white or yellow liquid to ooze from around the nail. 
  • The area around the toenail may be very hot to the touch. In extreme cases of infection, a person may develop a fever. If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Extra skin may begin to grow around the affected area as the body tries to protect itself

Causes

A variety of causes are suspected, although the specific cause for each person varies and is based on lifestyle habits, weight, shoe choices, etc. Causes of ingrown toenails may include:

  • Improper hygiene
  • Improper methods of trimming toenails
  • Wearing tight shoes
  • Excess weight
  • Fungal overgrowth – causes thickening of the toenail and may create an ingrown situation
  • Injury or trauma – past injury or trauma to a toe or finger may cause an ingrown nail in some situations
  • Genetics – whether it’s truly genetic or more a case of lifestyle habits being passed from generation to generation, people who had a parent with an ingrown toenail are more likely to have one themselves
  • Poor self awareness – people who ignore the early warning signs of an ingrown toenail tend to develop more severe problems as the problem progresses. People with circulatory problems need to check their feet on a daily basis to check for any developing issues.

Prevention

The following may help prevent ingrown toenails:

  • Don’t cut toenails too short: Cutting toenails extremely short, although more convenient, can potentially make it easier to develop an ingrown toenail because it allows the nail to grow into the skin instead of growing over it.
  • Cut toenails in a square shape, not tapered: Toenails should be left square, not tapered into pretty curves. This helps create separation between the skin and the nail and may help prevent ingrown toenails. Cut toenails straight across. It’s fine to file the corners if you find they snag socks and hose.
  • Stop wearing tight shoes: Yes, this includes high heels with tapered or pointed toes. One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is wearing shoes that are too tight. The cramped space in the shoe pushes the toenail into the skin and sets the stage for an ingrown toenail. If you must wear shoes that are tight for tapered, try to wear them only for short periods of time, or remove them frequently.

Home Remedies

The following methods may be used to assist ingrown toenails in the very early stages and to help prevent infection. If these techniques don’t bring quick relief, seek medical attention.

  • Switch shoes: Stop wearing any shoes that put pressure on the toes. Switch to shoes with wide toes and with a heel less than an inch high. In the summer, try to wear sandals that put no pressure on the toes and which expose the toes to fresh air.
  • Avoid colored socks: The dyes used to create colored yarns often leech out of the socks when the socks are exposed to damp, sweaty feet. An ingrown toenail may provide an opening for these toxic compounds to enter. Stick to white, cotton socks until your situation improves.
  • Wash feet twice daily: It is important to keep the area surrounding an ingrown toenail clean to avoid infection. Wash the foot twice daily with warm water and soap, then thoroughly dry it.
  • Soak the foot twice daily: Soaking the foot will help reduce inflammation and will soften the skin enough that the toenail may be able to withdraw from the inflamed area. Soak in a solution of one half gallon warm water with 1/4 cup Epsom salts, 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil and 1/2 cup of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. Soak for 10-20 minutes and then thoroughly dry the foot.
  • Elevate the toenail: If the toenail has not yet grown into the skin very far, roll a small piece of gauze into a small cylinder and insert it under the toenail. This may be slightly painful, but will help “redirect” the growth of the toenail. Leave the gauze in place for one week, changing the gauze after every wash or soak, at least twice daily.
  • Don’t go to extremes: Please don’t execute minor surgery on yourself. If none of these methods work to eliminate your ingrown toenail, please get professional help. Very simple surgery can be done by a podiatrist or MD to remove the portion of the toenail that is growing into the skin. The surgery is usually done in a doctor’s office and recuperation is very quick. For most people, the ingrown toenail does not occur after surgery.
  • Forget the V: There is an old wive’s tale that says cutting a “V” in a toenail will help eliminate an ingrown toenail. This is false. Toenails grow from the base of the nail upward, so cutting a V in the end of the nail has no effect on how the toenail grows. It’s also a great way to ruin socks and hose. 

I cannot stress enough that any foot ailment needs to be addressed quickly and should be handled by a professional if home remedies don’t bring relief quickly. As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. These statements are not intended to replace medical care and are solely shared for informational purposes.

Simple Ways to Cut Carbs from Your Eating Habits

It is a simple – although often overlooked – fact that most people in the US are obese because they are insulin resistant. It The word "Carbs" spelled in pastais 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!

Six Things People with Diabetes Rarely Tell Their Doctor

Lady holding her fingers to her lips as if saying, "Shhh!"

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.

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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.

The Joy of Fruitless Smoothies

Picture of a sliced avocado

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.

Following are some guidelines you can use as a basis for creating wonderful fruit-free smoothies:
  • 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.
Using these guidelines and a bit of creativity, you can create a multitude of uniquely delicious and nutritional smoothies. Your options are limitless! Following are a few smoothie recipes I enjoy. Please let me know what you think of them!

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.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
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
5-10 drops of a trace mineral
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)
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack.

Red Light District Smoothie

This smoothie is rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.

Ingredients:
 
1 diced organic tomato
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
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. Garnish with a sprinkling of cinnamon
 

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.

Ingredients:
 
1 avocado, diced
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)
Organic cinnamon  or organic nutmeg to taste if desired
 
Place ingredients in regular blender or high-powered blender and blend well.  Drink 1-2 cups for breakfast and save the rest for a mid-morning snack. This is one of my favorite treats.
 
Please consider these recipes to merely be a suggestion. Run with them and modify them to your heart’s content.
 
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
 
Have fun!

Common Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Medications

Prescription Bottle

Many people do not realize the prescription they are taking to address one health issue is depleting nutrients that may cause other health problems. Unfortunately, few patients are told about nutritional deficiencies that can be caused by prescriptions. This results in health issues developing which may be a mystery but which can typically be reversed very quickly simply by replenishing the nutrient that was depleted by the prescription medication. In a strange twist of fate, many of the prescription medications I listed below deplete the body of a nutrient that is essential for preventing or controlling the very condition the prescription is used to remedy. Unfortunately, many doctors are not aware of the nutritional deficiencies caused by the medications they prescribe. As a patient, it is imperative to look up each prescription medication you take to see if you should be supplementing to replace what it is depleting. In my office, I review each client’s prescriptions medications to ensure they are taking measures to prevent a potential deficiency.

The table that follows provides a list of just a few of the most common prescriptions that can cause a nutritional deficiency. I’ve provided information about the prescription medication, the nutrient(s) it is known to deplete in the body, and information on which supplement might be used to help counteract or prevent deficiencies. I’ve shown one possible supplement per deficiency, but many options exist. I’ve merely shown the one I like or use personally. Please note this is a very tiny list and is not complete. If you’d like to pick up a book providing excellent, detailed information on deficiencies caused by prescriptions, I highly recommend Suzy Cohen’s Drug Muggers: Which Medications are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients and Natural Ways to Restore Them.

Please also note this table does not list interactions which may occur between foods or supplements taken with prescriptions. Please consult your MD, read the information that comes with your prescriptions, and research to determine which supplements and foods should never be taken with your prescription medications.

NOTE: This information is being shared for educational purposes only. If this information concerns you, please discuss it with your MD before making any changes to your care plan. Please DO NOT begin taking any supplements without checking with your MD. Additionally, never stop taking a prescription medication or alter the dosage without the express consent of your MD or other healthcare practitioner. None of these statements were reviewed by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.

Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Prescription Medications

Medication Deficiency Caused Potential Source of Replenishment
  • Statin Drugs
  • Anti-Diabetics (Micronase, Glynase, DiaBeta, Dymelor,  Glipizide/Glucotrol, Metformin/Glucophage, Tolinase)
  • Pamelor and other Tricyclic Antidepressants
  • Beta-Blockers Used for High Blood Pressure (Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, Coreg, etc.)
Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) Co-Enzyme Q10 is essential for heart health, so it is concerning that statin and drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes cause a severe depletion in this nutrient. Some studies indicate congestive heart failure’s base cause is a deficiency in CoQ10. If you take a statin drug of any of the antidiabetics listed, I strongly encourage you to take a Ubiquinol Supplement on a daily basis. I recommend taking .5-1mg per pound of body weight. Your body must convert CoQ10 into Ubiquinol in order to absorb it, so it is much more efficient to simply take the Ubiquinol.
  • Metformin
  • Most Antibiotics (Azithromyzin/Z-Pack, Amoxicillin, Penicllin*)
  • Most heartburn and GERD medications (Cimetidine, Omprazole, etc.)
  • Colchicine and other anti-gout medications

*Almost all antibiotics deplete Vitamin B12. A complete list would not fit in this table.

Vitamin B12 There are many differing opinions about how much Vitamin B12 a person should take to replenish a deficiency caused by a prescription medication. Luckily, Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, so it is very difficult to develop an excess without taking ridiculously high amounts. My recommendation is to take a minimum of 2000mcg of sublingual, Methylcobalamin B12 on a daily basis. I also recommend having your B12 levels checked every three months if you are taking a medication known to deplete B12. Please see my post, Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Vitamin B12 for more information about how important Vitamin B12 is and how many health issues may result from a deficiency.
  • Ritalin
  • Most Blood Pressure Medications
  • Most Acid Blockers and Antacids
  • Most Antibiotics
  • Most Oral Birth Control
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids (Flonase, Nasonex, Flovent, Pulmicort, Rhinocort, etc.)
Magnesium Magnesium is essential for lowering blood pressure, yet almost all blood pressure medications deplete the body of this essential nutrient. Seems somehow backward, doesn’t it? Several studies found that 70-85% of the US population – children included – are magnesium deficient. (See my post Why You Need More Magnesium for more information on the importance of Magnesium and information on which types are most beneficial.)
  • Valium (Diazepam)
  • Xanax (Alprazolam)
  • SSRI Antidepressants (Fluoxetine/Prozac, etc.)
  • NSAIDS (Celebrex; Ibuprofen/Motrin, Advil, etc.; Naproxen/Aleve, Naprosyn, etc.; Lodine; Daypro; etc.)
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Prednisone
  • Beta-Blockers Used for High Blood Pressure (Lopressor, Toprol, Inderal, Coreg, etc.)
Melatonin Oddly enough, Melatonin is a hormone that is essential for maintaining serotonin balance and for maintaining a positive outlook. Deficiencies can cause depression and insomnia, and may also increase the effects of aging because Melatonin is such a strong antioxidant. Dosage of Melatonin varies from person to person. I generally recommend starting with 1-3 mg each night and increasing the dosage (up to 10 mg) until restful sleep is easily attained. If you take Melatonin and it does nothing for you, that’s a good indicator that you are not deficient. However, most people taking anti-anxiety medications are deficient and find their symptoms improve very quickly once a Melatonin supplement is started.
  • NSAIDS (Celebrex; Ibuprofen/Motrin, Advil, etc.; Naproxen/Aleve, Naprosyn, etc.; Lodine; Daypro; etc.)
  • Aspirin
  • Anti-GERD Medications, both OTC and prescription (Axid, Tagamet, Pepcid, Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, Protonix, etc.)
  • Hydrocodone
  • Anti-Cholesterol Medications (Cholestyramine, Collestipol, Questran, Colestid, Atromid-S, etc.)
  • Colchicine (anti-gout)

 

 Iron

Please read Facts About Iron-Deficiency Anemia to learn more about combating anemia.

A word of warning about iron: Do not take an iron supplement unless you know you need it. Additionally, iron may interfere with the absorption of many prescription medications. (One example is that it should never be taken with thyroid medications such as Synthroid or Armour.) For best absorption and to prevent interactions with medications, I recommend taking iron supplements on an empty stomach, at least two hours before or after taking prescription medications.Many forms of over-the-counter iron supplements are almost impossible to absorb. This is why many of them cause constipation. I prefer to use forms of iron which are very easily absorbed and therefore do not cause digestive upset or constipation. My recommendation is to never purchase iron supplements from standard drugstores, as I have yet to find one that carries iron in a form that is easily absorbed. (Please let me know if you find one!)

Have you suffered from a nutritional deficiency you later learned was due to a prescription? How did you counteract it? If you’re taking one of the medications listed, I’m curious to know if your doctor told you in advance about the possibility that it might cause a deficiency? Were you warned and given a list of recommended supplements? I hope you were!

My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Please note that the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links but that my use of an affiliate link in no way encouraged my listing of these supplements. They truly are my favorite supplements, most of which I use myself.

Diabetes Myths that Need to be Busted

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 Debunking Diabetes Mythscause 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.

References:
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

http://healthesolutions.com/the-cow-milk-connection-to-type-1-diabetes/

Nature Immunology 3″, 338 – 340 (2002), doi:10.1038/ni0402-338

http://content.nejm.org 

 There is a Cure for Diabetes, Gabriel Cousens, multiple references.

Important Facts About Chia Seeds

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.

How to Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients

This post is about pampering yourself and improving your health at the same time using a detoxification bath. One of my favorite Woman taking a relaxing detoxification bath ... Image by © Angelo Cavalli/SuperStock/Corbisways to detoxify is by taking a long, very warm detoxification bath two to three times per week. Why is it important to detoxify? Because toxins are “pollution” in your body and polluted cells don’t work well. As the cells become more and more toxic, the toxicity leads to illness and disease. It’s that simple. I can’t count how many times I’ve helped people dramatically improve their health and eliminate disease simply by eliminating toxic lifestyle habits and doing a systemic detox. This post covers a very simple way to detox several times a week. You’ll not only eliminate harmful toxins but will also feel wonderfully pampered and will probably sleep better! It’s a win-win!

Using baths to detoxify the body is a practice that has been used since ancient times. Hippocrates often used “bath therapy,” also called “balneotherapy,” for healing because he believed detoxification was a primary means of healing the body. The technique involves immersing the body in a detoxification bath containing ingredients that pull toxins out through the skin. The skin is the body’s largest elimination organ. It is a huge bi-directional “sponge” that can be used to absorb nutrients and to expel toxins. (Acne is typically an indicator of toxicity. Read my post The Smart way to Deal with Zits for more info on that topic.)

Note: Detoxification baths are typically not recommended for anyone with circulatory issues, heart problems or high blood pressure. Mainstream medicine says they are also not advised for anyone with diabetes, but this is mainly due to the circulatory problems some people with diabetes have. I strongly disagree that everyone with diabetes should avoid detoxification baths. I’ve had diabetes for almost 50 years and highly value detoxification baths as part of my weekly health regimen. I have never experienced negative effects from them, but I do not have circulatory problems.

The doses in this post are recommended for adults. Although these ingredients are generally safe to add to baths for children in smaller amounts, please consult a trained professional before using detoxification ingredients with children.

Please check with your practitioner if you have any concerns about whether or not detox baths are a good option for you. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD NOT USE DETOX BATHS UNLESS DIRECTED BY A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL AND SHOULD NEVER BATHE IN EXTREMELY HOT WATER.

As always, this information is shared for educational purposes only, has not been evaluated by the FDA, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition.

The act of bathing in warm water is a simple detox even if no additional ingredients are added to the bath water. The process typically induces the body to sweat, and sweat is one of the body’s best forms of detoxification. The simple act of rubbing the body with a wash cloth helps eliminate dead skin cells and open the elimination pathways in the skin. Please be very careful with temperature. Bathing in warm but not overly hot water is recommended. If you notice an increase in heart rate or begin to feel dizzy or light headed while bathing, exit the tub immediately. I recommend drinking purified water before, during and after a bath, as the body can become dehydrated due to the amount of sweat lost during a detoxification bath. Drinking water also helps the body eliminate toxins.

Most ingredients blend better if they are added to the tub while the water is running and the tub contains one to three inches of water. Adding ingredients to a bath can sometimes make the tub very slippery. Please use extreme caution when entering and exiting the tub during a detoxification bath. Please also note that I recommended soaking in a detox bath for no more than 20 minutes.

Here are my favorite detoxifying agents to add to a bath:

Epsom Salts: Epsom salts are a combination of minerals, primary of which is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is essential for multiple body functions (see Why You Need More Magnesium), yet 80% of people in the US are deficient. Bathing in a solution of Epsom salt allows the body to absorb magnesium through the skin. Magnesium sulfate aids detoxification by strengthening the body’s own detoxification methods and opening up primary detoxification pathways. It also helps eliminate heavy metals from the body, increases the body’s ability to eliminate toxins through the digestive tract, and increases the production of digestive enzymes produced in the pancreas. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is wonderfully relaxing, as it helps relax muscles. The nice thing about Epsom salts is that they are very inexpensive and can be found in any drugstore. If you want to try something more exotic, Masada makes a very nice detox blend called Mineral Herb Bath Detox. Dose: I recommend adding one to two cups of Epsom salt per bath. Some people recommend using much higher amounts, but 1-2 cups is a good starting dose. Epsom salts can be blended with any of the detoxification ingredients listed in this post.

Baking Soda (aluminum free): Baking soda is a powerful detoxifier for radiation poisoning. It is occasionally used intravenously during chemotherapy and radiation treatments for that reason. The US Army recommends its use internally to help remove radioactive ions from the kidneys following exposure to radioactive materials. Baking soda is a very alkalizing product, so soaking in a bath containing it can help alkalize an overly acidic body system. It is also helpful for reversing the toxicity of radiation absorbed from cell phones, pad devices, computers, microwaves, televisions, x-rays and other medical scans, etc. On a very timely note, adding aluminum-free baking soda to a detox bath at least once a week may be helpful for protecting against potential damage from any radioactive exposure we’ve had from Fukoshima. (Opinions vary widely about the true amount of exposure we’ve received, but the fact remains we have been exposed. This is a simple addition to a bath with no negative side effects, so why not?) Baking soda also softens the skin. Using it with 1/2 cup of Jojoba oil makes a wonderfully moisturizing bath. 

PLEASE make sure the baking soda you are using is aluminum-free. Many people do not realize the flow agents added to Baking Soda often contain high amounts of heavy metals. Soaking in a bath containing high amounts of a heavy metal could be damaging to your auto-immune and neurological systems. You can purchase four pounds of aluminum-free baking soda very reasonably on Amazon: Aluminum-Free Baking Soda. Dose: Start with 2 cups per bath, gradually working up to 1 pound per bath if you fear your exposure to radiation has been high. Bathing in higher doses of baking soda is especially helpful for anyone working in a medical setting who is exposed even indirectly to high amounts of radiation. Baking soda can be mixed with any of the other detoxification ingredients listed in this post, but be aware it will bubble furiously if combined with organic Apple Cider Vinegar. I recommend adding the baking soda at the beginning of running the bath, and adding the Apple Cider Vinegar once the tub is almost filled.

Ascorbic Acid Powder:  Ascorbic acid powder is known to neutralize chlorine, so it is a simple solution to use if you do not have a whole-house filtration system installed. One teaspoon is typically enough to neutralize the chlorine in the water. Amazon carries a wide variety of ascorbic acid powders. You can view their selection here.

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar: Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is high in vitamins and minerals which are absorbed through the skin while bathing. Apple Cider Vinegar baths are known to be highly anti-inflammatory and are known to help the body eliminate excess uric acid. For this reason, baths containing Apple Cider Vinegar are especially nice for anyone dealing with arthritic conditions or gout. Apple Cider Vinegar is also known to help the body eliminate excess mucous. My brother-in-law’s father swears that taking an Apple Cider Vinegar bath will help stop a cold dead in its tracks. The aroma will not linger on your skin, but some people rinse off in the shower after taking a bath containing it. I purchase it by the gallon and try to always have a gallon sitting on the edge of the tub. I actually have a large decorative basket sitting on the edge of my tub that I keep filled with detoxification ingredients, essential oils, moisturizing oils, etc. I use Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. (Click the link to view it and purchase.) Dose: Add one to two cups per bath. Apple Cider Vinegar can be mixed with any of the detoxification ingredients mentioned in this post, but be aware it will bubble vigorously if combined with baking soda.

Bentonite Clay: Bentonite Clay baths are a messy, although very effective, method of detoxification. Bentonite clay is a mineral-rich clay that is white in color and which is very effective at pulling a wide variety of toxins out of the body. It is known to be especially helpful for removing heavy metals and environmental toxins. It is also known to be very helpful for alleviating a wide variety of skin conditions. I use and recommend clays both internally and externally and am a huge believer in their effectiveness. I have seen and heard multiple “miracle stories” of clays being used to eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the body. The downside of clay baths is that they are very, very messy. The clay left behind in the tub is sometimes very sticky due to having absorbed so many toxins, so cleaning it from the tub can take time. However, a clay bath once a month is a very luxurious way of detoxifying and pampering yourself. I highly recommend it! You can purchase pure Bentonite Clay at a relatively low cost. NOW has a very nice product packaged in one-pound packages: NOW Bentonite Clay. I also like Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay.

Amount to add to bath: Anywhere from one cup to one pound may be used. Obviously, using less will create less of a mess to clean up. There is some concern that using excessive amounts of clay may clog pipes, so I don’t recommend using extremely high amounts. Clay can be mixed with any of the products listed in this post.

These ingredients are the tip of the iceberg in terms of ingredients that can be added to baths to aid healing and help the body detoxify. I did not include herbs, essential oils and other detoxifying ingredients because there are too many to list in a single post. If you are interested in learning more about using baths for healing, I highly recommend the book Water Magic: Healing Bath Recipes. It has a multitude of recipes for healing a wide range of physical and emotional issues.

If you have health concerns and would like to address them using natural methods, please contact me. I will work with you to identify the causes of your health challenges, and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.

What Does a Diabetic Look Like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diabetes and the Art of Motorcycle Riding

For some reason, the fact I have diabetes and two X chromosomes causes people to respond with shock and amazement when they find out I own and ride a motorcycle. The reasons for this are a mystery to me, but the phenomenon is universal and compelled me to share information about why there’s no reason to be shocked a female with diabetes rides a motorcycle. I’d also like to share some tips that will hopefully help others with diabetes step outside of the box, buy a bike and start living life in the fast lane!

Dr. Pamela's Motorcycle

This is my bike!

Much of the information in this post is related to information shared in my post: How Motorcycle Riding Improves Physical Health. Please read that if you need to prove to someone that riding a bike makes you healthier! 

There is absolutely no reason why a diabetic should not ride a motorcycle. However, folks with diabetes who want to travel on two wheels need to understand they must ride responsibly and exercise caution. This includes ensuring they maintain blood sugars at normal levels throughout their ride.

People with diabetes obviously need to check their sugar before riding. I recommend eating a snack including one or two servings of carbohydrates and at least one serving of protein prior to riding (without taking any additional insulin) to help prevent unexpected low glucose levels during the ride.

A rider with diabetes should always travel with a fast-acting source of glucose such as fruit juice, glucose tablets, a banana, etc. It’s that simple. Diabetics should never be without a source of glucose, anyway, so packing a snack is plain ol’ common sense. It is also wise to carry a form of protein, such as nuts or nut butter, to help maintain sugars at a stable level.

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 benefit 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 blood 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 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!