Tag Archives: auto-immune issues

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.

Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Vitamin B12

This post provides an introduction to Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies I see in my Vitamin B12practice. It’s important to discuss Vitamin B12 because it is a nutrient that is essential to many body functions and because many people are deficient and are suffering unnecessarily. (Magnesium is another nutrient that is vital for health but which many people are deficient in. Please read Why You Need More Magnesium – and how to get it for more info on that.) I plan to cover B12 in several blog posts, because I believe deficiencies in Vitamin B12 cause more severe health issues than other nutrient deficiencies, yet 80% of the general public is deficient and is completely unaware of the importance of B12. The symptoms caused by a B12 deficiency can be so severe that they limit one’s ability to function normally, yet replenishing this vitamin is very easily accomplished. Many people associate Vitamin B12 with boosting energy or assisting in weight loss, but it can help improve health in a multitude of different ways. Unfortunately, a severe deficiency may cause damage to brain and nerve cells that is very difficult to reverse.You can read more about Vitamin B12 in Tests for and Sources of Vitamin B12.

B12 deficiencies are a personal passion of mine because I have an autoimmune condition (Pernicious Anemia) that destroys cells in my digestive tract (the parietal cells) which are responsible for absorbing Vitamin B12. I suffered horrible symptoms for many years simply because no one ever ordered the correct tests to identify this issue and because no one ever tested my B12 blood levels. I realized through my own research that I was deficient and began taking a supplement, but it was still several years before I a physician who confirmed my suspicions using specific blood tests. He was the first doc in over 20 years to order the proper tests and to give me a prescription for multiple high-dosage B12 injections per week. I’ll discuss proper testing and ways to replenish low levels later in this post. My primary concern is helping people recognize and eliminate the symptoms a B12 deficiency can cause because I know personally how severe they can be.

What is Vitamin B12 responsible for?

Vitamin B12 is present in, used by and necessary for the proper functioning of every single cell in the human body. Obviously, I can’t cover everything Vitamin B12 is responsible for in a singe blog post, so stay tuned for future info on B12. The most important roles Vitamin B12 plays in the body include:
  • Creation and repair of DNA
  • Creation and maintenance of the myelin sheath that insulates nerves in the body and neurons in the brain
  • Regulation of the production of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM-e), a mood-regulating chemical
  • Support of methylation and detoxification
  • Metabolism of fatty acids and proteins
  • Maintenance of proper function of nerve cells and brain chemistry
  • Energy production
  • Production of red blood cells and hemoglobin
  • Reduction of inflammatory homocysteine – excess homocysteine is associated with coronary disease, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis and more (See Three Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request for more info on homocysteine.)

Symptoms of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Based on the above list, it is obvious that a B12 deficiency can cause severe health issues. Although all of the B vitamins are essential for true health, a deficiency in Vitamin B12 can affect health in ways that impact daily life more strongly than some of the other B Vitamins. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 may cause any or all of the following symptoms:
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue, sometimes severe
  • Feeling of heaviness in arms, legs and head
  • Muscle weakness
  • Depression and despondency
  • Easy bruising
  • Sleep disturbances and insomnia
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Diarrhea, constipation or other digestive woes such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and/or bloating
  • Red, swollen tongue
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pale skin
  • “Brain fog,” problems concentrating, memory loss
  • Shortness of breath on even mild exertion
  • Numbness or tingling in extremities (neuropathy in severe cases)
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Ataxia (lack of balance, may affect gait)
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • White spots on the skin of the forearm (may be misdiagnosed as Vitiligo)
  • Irritability and extreme mood swings
  • Tachycardia, skipped heart beats, irregular heart rhythm
  • Eye twitches and tics
  • Irregular periods, heavy bleeding, infertility
  • Decrease or disappearance of normal reflex responses
  • Some people report pain in their ring finger and palm

Causes of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The following are all potential causes of a B12 deficiency:
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking
  • Vegan or vegetarian lifestyle
  • Excessive junk food consumption
  • Digestive diseases and conditions which block absorption (Celiac, Crohn’s, IBS, malabsorption, etc.)
  • Removal or resectioning of the small bowel
  • Use of antacids and prescription drugs used to treat ulcers or GERD (Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, Nexium, Zantac, Tagamet, Axid, Alternagel, Maalox, Mylanta, Riopan, Tums, etc.)
  • Gastric bypass surgery
  • The following prescription drugs are known to cause deficiencies in B12: Zoloft, Metformin, Glucophage, Glucovance, K-Lor, K-Lyte, Klotrix, K-Dur, Micro-K, Slow-K, Colchicine (and other prescriptions used to treat gout), and some prescription antibiotics and cholesterol medications.
  • Parasitic infection
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Aging – everyone absorbs less B12 as they age. Some experts recommend that anyone over age 50 should take a B12 supplement
  • Pernicious Anemia – an autoimmune condition which destroys the parietal cells in the digestive tract which are responsible for creating a chemical necessary for absorbing Vitamin B12
If any of the above points apply to you, or if you take any of the prescription medications mentioned, chances are you would benefit from using a B12 supplement or from having your B12 levels checked. The blood test to check B12 levels is very common and very inexpensive. Most insurance companies pay for it without question since a B12 deficiency can cause so many symptoms. I recommend having your B12 levels checked at least yearly, or more frequently if a deficiency is found. Alternative methods used to check B12 levels include Electrodermal Screening (EDS) and Kinesiology (Muscle Response Testing). Although I use both of those methods in my practice, the blood test is quick and easy and I recommend asking your doctor to add it the next time you have blood work done. It is especially important for vegans and vegetarians to have their B12 levels checked regularly. The liver can store extra B12 for several years, so it may take time before a deficiency occurs. It is important to check your levels regularly to recognize any change or decrease early. If your B12 levels are consistently low, you may also want to ask your doctor to order a test for Antiparietal Antibodies to check for Pernicious Anemia. (Pernicious Anemia sounds horrible but is very easily combated by taking B12 injections or using sublingual supplements. More about that in my next post.)My next blog post will discuss the different types of B12 supplements that can be used to boost levels in the body. Foods that contain Vitamin B12 include all animal products: all meat (shellfish and calf liver are especially high, but fowl and fish also contain B12), eggs, dairy, etc.
 
For the record, it is a myth that seaweeds contain B12. Seaweeds contain a chemical that is not B12, but which is close enough in chemical structure that it “fits” into cell receptors for B12, thereby preventing those cells from absorbing true B12. PLEASE DO NOT USE SEAWEED TO RAISE BLOOD LEVELS OF B12.Because plant materials do not contain Vitamin B12 in high enough amounts to improve health, it is IMPERATIVE that vegans supplement with Vitamin B12 on a daily or weekly basis.I’ll discuss ways to boost B12 levels and share my favorite form of B12 in my next post. Until then … live large and pursue wellness!
 
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate their health challenges using a holistic approach. If you are ready to improve your health, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I will help you identify the cause of health challenges and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.