Category Archives: weight
The CDC estimates that 29% of adults (one in three) in the US have high blood pressure.1 Unfortunately, many people who have high blood pressure are not aware of it. The National Institutes of Health defines high blood pressure as any pressure above 149/90, and prehypertension as any pressure above 120/80. It is common for doctors to put their patients on medications while they are in the prehypertension phase without encouraging any lifestyle changes, even though multiple studies proved lifestyle changes can be as effective as medication for lowering blood pressure.2
I want to be very clear that high blood pressure must be treated. Period. Allowing chronic blood pressure to remain elevated and untreated can lead to permanent physical damage and may result in death. The potential dangers of high blood pressure means it can be dangerous to refuse high blood pressure medication when a physician prescribes it. My encouragement is to use the medication while making lifestyle changes, and to then work with your physician to determine whether or not you can reduce the dose. Consider the medication a potentially temporary necessity. Reversing high blood pressure requires a commitment to making multiple lifestyle and eating style changes, but many people are able to work with their physician to reduce or sometimes eliminate their blood pressure medication after making the changes.
High blood pressure always has a cause. Mainstream medicine often addresses the symptom without taking time to determine its cause. My personal philosophy is that it is imperative to figure out WHY a symptom developed in order to correctly address it. Potential causes of high blood pressure vary, but may include (among other things) food allergies, excess alcohol consumption, obesity, systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalances, cardiac disease, high blood sugar, insufficient cellular oxygen, and many others. If diagnosed with high blood pressure, accept the prescription and then work with your physician to determine why your body raised blood pressure. High blood pressure doesn’t just happen. The body always has a specific reason for raising blood pressure. Take time to figure out the cause.
Sadly, medical literature rarely mentions the most common root cause of hyptertension: Insulin Resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the body’s cells stop absorbing insulin the way they should. This may occur due to chronic high blood sugars, excess consumption of sugars and high-glycemic carbohydrates, or other metabolic imbalances. When the body produces high amounts of insulin over a long period of time, the body’s cells can become “overwhelmed” by all the insulin and stop absorbing insulin in the quantities the body needs. Insulin is an inflammatory chemical, so the cell’s reduced absorption of insulin is a protective measure, but Insulin Resistance can have devastating results including elevated blood sugars, magnesium deficiency, vision problems, and more. For more information on the potentially negative effects of insulin, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin.
Insulin resistance may cause the following situations, each of which can cause high blood pressure:
- The cell’s refusal to absorb the insulin in the blood stream means the blood stream contains excess insulin. Insulin is extremely inflammatory, so the excess insulin in the blood stream may cause blood vessels to become inflamed. It is harder for the heart to pump blood through inflamed blood vessels, so this situation can quickly increase the pressure inside the vessels and may lead to measurable high blood pressure.
- When insulin is not adequately utilized, the blood stream may also become filled with excess sugar. Sugar is highly acidic and causes inflammation. In the presence of high blood sugar, the body will elevate blood pressure to help it more efficiently attempt to lower the amount of sugar in the blood stream. Raising blood pressure also helps the body more efficiently carry oxygen to the tissues.
- One of insulin’s primary functions is to carry magnesium into the cells. If the body reduces the amount of insulin it absorbs, the body’s cells therefore cannot absorb the amount of magnesium they require. magnesium’s most important job is to relax the blood vessels to maintain normal blood pressure. When a person is deficient in magnesium, it is likely the person will develop high blood pressure. People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes usually have insulin resistance and a magnesium deficiency. They therefore have a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure. Some doctors automatically prescribe blood pressure medication to their diabetic patients. These physicians assume there is no way to avoid high blood pressure in the presence of any form of diabetes. They are wrong. As someone who has had Type 1 diabetes for almost 50 years, I know high blood pressure can be avoided and/or reversed because I’ve done both.
- Excess insulin can cause water retention. When water is retained in the tissues, it is more difficult for the heart to push blood through the vessels. The body therefore raises blood pressure to pump the blood more efficiently through tissues experiencing water retention..
Many people who have hypertension also have Insulin Resistance. I believe there is no such thing as “hereditary” high blood pressure. As the old adage states: Genetics may load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. (Anonymous.)
So what lifestyle changes can potentially benefit insulin sensitivity and high blood pressure? Here are my top three starting recommendations:
- Exercise! Even ten minutes of exercise (three to five times weekly) is known to improve insulin sensitivity for four or more hours.
- Eliminate most grains and sugars (including natural ones) for one to three months. Grains are metabolized into simple sugars that can make insulin resistance worse. Eliminating grains and sugars can help the body re-set its insulin sensitivity. This dietary change, combined with other lifestyle changes, can help the body lower blood pressure.
- Discuss with your physician the possibility of taking daily magnesium and/or potassium. (Take a form of magnesium other than oxide, as it cannot be absorbed by the body and is worthless as anything except a laxative.) Magnesium and potassium are known to help relax the blood vessels and may help reduce blood pressure. For more information on the importance of magnesium, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.
The above steps are merely a starting point. There are other options that may help. If you have high blood pressure and wish to lower it using natural methods, please find a natural practitioner who can assist you. Until then, please keep taking your blood pressure medication and make sure your blood pressure stays within normal limits.
1: Nwankwo T, Yoon SS, Burt V, Gu Q. Hypertension among adults in the US: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2011-2012. NCHS Data Brief, No. 133. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services, 2013.
Most of us find it easy to make good choices when we’re at home and only have healthy options to choose from. Since never leaving the house is not a reasonable option, we need to find easy ways to make positive choices when eating out. Questions about eating out are one of the most common questions I receive. I have many suggestions that can help. and have shared them below. Please note that these suggestions are not directly related to those with food allergies, but all of the suggestions can fit within pre-existing restrictions due to food allergies and other health issues.
Top Ten Suggestions for Making Healthy Choices When Eating Out:
- Order a side salad with dressing on the side as an appetizer and eat it before ordering: The salad will fill you up and keep your hands busy, allowing you to leisurely peruse the menu and enjoy time spent with friends. Many people overeat simply because they feel they need to “keep busy” in a social setting. Eating a salad therefore meets a variety of needs. The salad will also make it easier to not gorge yourself once dinner arrives, or to share a single entree with a friend.
- Ask the server to skip the before-dinner bread (or chips): No one needs that much bread or chips prior to dinner. Ask your server to not deliver the bread, or to only bring one slice of bread per person. You’ll wind up being able to enjoy your entree more as a result. Not eating the bread will also greatly reduce your carbohydrate consumption for the evening.
- Ask the server to bring real butter instead of margarine: Most restaurants have real butter available, but serve margarine due to the common myth that margarine is “healthier.” Real butter is far healthier than the hydrogenated oils in margarine. Go for it! (For more information about myths related to fat consumption, read: Why You Need to Eat More Fat.)
- Stick to the basics: Opt for a salad, steak and vegetable; fish and rice; etc. Try to avoid veggies covered in cheese or other sauce. Keep it simple. Whole food is delicious!
- Ask to have all sauces and dressings served on the side,and request a side of olive oil: Sauces are delicious, but often contain MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial additives and more. Asking to have sauces served on the side allows you to use less, especially if you blend half of the sauce with a portion of the olive oil. If you want to skip the high fructose corn syrup and soy oil used in most commercial salad dressings, use olive oil as your dressing and squeeze a lemon over it to add more flavor and a bit of zing.
- When meals include two or more choices from a list of side dishes, choose veggies and salad as your sides: You’ll benefit from the added nutrition from the veggies and from not eating as many carbohydrates and artificial additives. If guacamole is an option and the restaurant makes it instead of using a commercial product, choosing the guac is a great way to load up on healthy fats and nutrients. Guacamole is also very filling, so it can help prevent overeating.
- Ask the server to bring a “to go” box as soon as the meal is served: Since most restaurant meals are huge, you should be able to box up half your meal before taking the first bite and still wind up feeling full and satisfied. The bonus is that you wind up having tomorrow’s lunch ready to go!
- If ordering cocktails, drink a distilled liquor with soda water instead of beer or wine: Beer and wine have high amounts of sugars, carbohydrates and yeasts, all of which can wreak havoc with blood sugars, digestion and more. A single shot of distilled liquor (vodka, tequila, rum, etc.) served in soda water with a wedge of lemon or lime will have fewer negative effects. Sticking to a single cocktail will help diminish the negative effects of the alcohol. Better yet, skip the alcohol completely and order water!
- Choose broth-based soups instead of cream soups: You’ll save on calories, sugars and artificial additives. You may find your digestion also improves.
- Cut yourself some slack: Assuming you don’t eat out five days a week, give yourself permission to splurge once in a while. When you splurge, enjoy every bite to the fullest and move on without looking back. Sometimes it’s ok to splurge. If you make great choices 90% of the time, a few splurges won’t do irreparable harm. Give yourself permission to splurge and don’t beat yourself up about it!
What suggestions do you have for making healthier choices in restaurants?
For more information about Dr. Pamela Reilly and her innovative approach to wellness and chronic disease, please visit her Facebook page.
The word “exercise” has many negative connotations for many people. My preference is to stop using the dreaded “E” word and replace it with “fun, sweaty activity.” Getting over our emotional hangups related to exercise can be the first step toward creating a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. If we learn to look forward to movement instead of dreading it, we are much more likely to continue having fun, sweaty activity.
We also need to give up our rigid ideas about what types of activities can be considered “exercise.” In the simplest sense, any form of movement is exercise. We should all engage in some form of movement on a daily basis, with an effort to engage in higher levels of fun, sweaty activity at least three times a week. If going to the gym bores you, but you feel alive when you dance, then dance! Activities such as gardening, chasing our children or grandchildren, playing fetch with the dog, dancing, shopping (at a rapid pace), riding a motorcycle, having sex, and more can all be considered valid forms of exercise. (I’m sure you’ll agree some of those are a lot more fun than others!)
We all know we need to exercise, yet many of us have a hard time committing fitting exercise into our daily routine.
My advice for starting and sticking to scheduled exercise is to:
- Find something you enjoy doing.
- Schedule exercise in your calendar just as you do other commitments.
- Exercise with a friend to increase the fun and hold you accountable.
Surprising Benefits of Exercise
We are all aware of the basic benefits of exercise. There are other benefits which deserve attention but are rarely mentioned. The following list includes ten measurable benefits of exercise which often get ignored:
- Insulin Sensitivity: Exercise is an effective way to make the body’s cells more receptive to insulin. Even ten minutes of exercise can improve insulin sensitivity for eight hours or more. Insulin resistance, also known as Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X, is a leading cause of obesity in the US and other developed countries. Getting even a small amount of exercise is the first step toward improving your body’s metabolic health. For more information about this topic, please read Surprising Facts About Insulin or Top Ten Signs You Have Insulin Resistance.
- “Feel Good” Hormones: Have you heard of a “runner’s high?” It occurs because physical activity increases levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Those chemicals are mood boosters that greatly improve mental outlook. In other words, they are “feel good” chemicals. The natural rush of feel good hormones that occurs during exercise is a benefit of exercise that is often overlooked. It is also a great motivator. Exercise is a wonderful way of improving the health of body, mind and spirit. Scientists at Harvard University found regular exercise to be more effective than antidepressant medications for the treatment of depression in some people. (Some forms of depression are due to imbalances which require medication. Please work with a physician to find the best combination of therapies for your personal situation.)
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Even tiny amounts of non-strenuous exercise and movement have been shown to greatly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. One more reason to start scheduling weekly times of movement!
- Bone Density: Weight-bearing and muscle-building exercise has an effect on bone density and is known to strengthen bones. Whether you run on a treadmill or wear two-pound wrist weights for a few hours, those activities are known to improve bone density.
- Detoxification and Cleansing: Sweat is one of the body’s best cleansers and detoxifiers. As we exercise, the blood flow to internal organs supports the body’s own efforts to eliminate toxins. For more information about detoxification and cleansing, please read How to Cleanse and Detoxify on a Daily Basis, How to Tell You Need to Detoxify, How Does the Body Detoxify Itself, and How to Tell You Need to Detoxify.
- Memory: Regular exercise is known to improve neurotransmitter function in the brain and to improve memory. It is a simple truth that those who exercise have a better memory than those who do not.
- Maintaining Heathy Skin: Exercise improves blood flow to the skin’s surface, which has been shown to improve the skin’s overall health and appearance. Exercise’s detoxifying effects also benefit the skin.
- Digestion: Many people do not realize that a few minutes of exercise can improve digestion for several days. It does so by building abdominal muscles and increasing the quantities of digestive enzymes secreted while eating. Good digestion requires strong contractions of the muscles surrounding the stomach. Strengthening those muscles directly improves digestion by making the contractions more efficient and more effective. For some people, engaging in regular movement also reduces constipation.
- Increase Metabolism: Your body’s metabolic rate is dependent upon your muscle mass. Doing muscle-building exercise increases the body’s resting metabolic rate, which increases your metabolism. People who have a high amount of muscle mass also have a high metabolic rate. This means they burn more calories while lying still than other people do. Doing small amounts of muscle building activities each week can greatly improve your body’s metabolic rate.
- Hormones: For both men and women, regular movement and exercise has a balancing effect on hormones. Men who regularly exercise tend to have fewer symptoms of “Low T,” and women who exercise usually have fewer symptoms of PMS and pass through menopause with fewer negative side effects.
Are you feeling more motivated to start engaging in fun, sweaty activity? Go for it!
If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.
I’m always hesitant to write about weight loss, as it’s a topic that has been overdone and which seems to attract many wacky, over-the-edge perceptions that have no foundation in science. It is also a topic I receive many questions about. My goal in this article is to share facts that will surprise anyone who believes calories are the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight.
Let me state very clearly that weight loss is not a healthy goal. I recommend setting goals that focus on improving your health and feeling better. Steps taken to achieve those goals typically lead to the desired loss of inches. Weight is a very finicky goal, so I also encourage my clients to take measurements before making changes to their lifestyle and eating habits. That way they have more than one metric to use to gauge how their body is responding to the changes they make. Aim for health and forget about weight. Improving lifestyle and eating habits will have the result you want.
I’ve shared a few surprising facts about metabolism and weight loss in the paragraphs that follow:
- If you are eating healthy foods, eating less and moving more, but still can’t lose weight, chances are you have a metabolic imbalance. Metabolic imbalances may be caused by one or more of the following: excess toxicity, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, insomnia, a thyroid imbalance, adrenal fatigue (often caused by excess stress), one or more prescription medications, malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a reproductive hormonal imbalance, etc. It is imperative to find a practitioner who will take steps and use assessments to identify the true cause of weight gain and who will then work with you to address that cause. For more information on this topic, please read: The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight.
- Your body does not metabolize all calories the same. It is a myth that weight loss is a simple equation involving calories consumed vs. calories burned. That myth ignores scientific facts about metabolism and digestion. Our body reacts to different types of foods in different ways. Foods with different chemical structures, pesticide residues, etc. will affect our hormones and metabolism differently.
- Short term diets can cause harm. Healthy, long-term weight loss requires a lifestyle change and may require emotional work related to how we view food. Fad diets may cause a temporary loss of weight, but the long-term consequences of an extreme eating style involving a lack of nutrition and calories can negatively affect metabolism and may cause long-term health problems. The long-term effects are not worth anything perceived as a short-term benefit.
- Eating too few calories causes our metabolism to slow down. Subsisting on 500-1,000 daily calories will literally cause your body to go into a status where it slows metabolism to a halt and refuses to burn fat. Some would call this “starvation mode.” Fasting for a few days or doing a crazy fad diet may cause rapid weight loss for a few days, but extending it beyond a few days is dangerous. The prolonged lack of nutrition and calories will negatively affect every body system and will cause your metabolism to dramatically slow down. The end result is that extremely rapid weight gain will occur once a normal eating style is resumed.
- It is impossible to achieve a weight loss goal using only eating changes (diet) or only exercise. Weight loss requires a change in eating habits and an increase in movement. It is a simple fact that long-term weight loss and improvements in health require long-term lifestyle changes. Programs designed to sell supplements may promise fast results, but those results will not last very long. Exercise is essential, as it encourages the body to burn fat, improves insulin and leptin sensitivity, assists with toxin elimination, improves cellular oxygenation and builds muscle. Exercise requires “fuel” in the form of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates, so it is essential to combine a healthy eating style with gradual increases in exercise and muscle-building activities to lose weight and maintain the loss. Building muscle is important because muscle mass is a determining factor in metabolic rate. The more muscle we create through exercise, the faster our metabolic rate will become. Good nutrition is essential to maintaining the metabolic boost, so increasing movement and adopting a healthy eating style are both essential to weight loss. Please note that some eating styles designed to eliminate a medical problem may result in temporary weight loss, but that exercise is still necessary to continue improving health.
- There are no “quick fix” options for healthy weight loss and health improvement. There are a few supplements that may assist the body with balancing metabolic imbalances, but the supplements cannot be used by themselves. They only work when combined with better eating habits, exercise, and an increase in healthy lifestyle habits. For more information on two popular supplements, please read: Green Coffee Bean Extract and Raspberry Ketones: Truth or Hype?
- You are not a cookie, so please don’t rely on cookie-cutter diets. We are each wonderfully unique with very unique personal needs related to nutrition, lifestyle and exercise. There is no such thing as a single style of eating or exercising that is perfect for everyone. What worked for one person may not work for us. That’s ok. It is unrealistic to expect changes someone else made to affect us exactly the same way. Our metabolic and nutritional needs are unique and should be celebrated.
If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.
If you need to lose weight and want to improve your health without joining a program, please find a practitioner who will work with you and who will help you identify and address potential metabolic imbalances. One of the best approaches to losing weight and improving health is to reduce consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates and to engage in a combination of aerobic and muscle-building exercise each week. Set small goals and celebrate every milestone you reach. You deserve it!
Until a few weeks ago, I was blissfully unaware of the new madness sweeping among some teenage girls. The new fad is the “Thigh Gap.” What is a thigh gap, you ask? (I had to ask, too!) A “thigh gap” occurs when there is a tiny triangle you can see through between the tops of the thighs. In my opinion, most women who have a thigh gap either look skeletal or bowlegged, neither of which is attractive. Having a thigh gap is simply not natural for most women. Women who have one naturally can celebrate that fact. Many who do not have a natural thigh gap are turning to extreme and often dangerous methods to create one. Please note I am not criticizing women who have a natural thigh gap. I am, instead, hoping to encourage women to love their body as it is and to take a balanced, healthy approach to fitness and wellness.
Here are eight reasons to NOT have a thigh gap if your body does not have one naturally:
- It’s a scam: The thigh gap focus was created by modeling agencies who wished to “guilt” their models into losing weight. They created an absurd focus that had never existed before. The thigh gap had almost been forgotten until social media brought it back. Unfortunately, girls between the ages of 12-21 are spreading the focus and perpetuating the dangerous fixation. Teen girls often learn about the thigh gap from social media, and then use social media to share and perpetuate the misinformation. Parents need to be aware of their daughters’ views on body image and to provide education about good nutrition, healthy eating and normal anatomy.
- Most people can never achieve a thigh gap: Most people, regardless of how thin or fat they are, cannot achieve a thigh gap. The reason is quite simply because the female body is not designed to have a thigh gap. The structure of the pelvis and femur (thigh bone), combined with the natural flesh and muscles of the thighs, do not allow for a gap. The upper thighs are very muscular. Having a thigh gap may be impossible without losing muscle, which is dangerous for a wide variety of reasons. Muscle loss slows metabolism and leads to weaker bones. The methods used to lose muscle, such as starvation and ketoacidosis, negatively affect and weaken other muscles, including the heart muscle. Taking extreme measures to reduce muscle mass in order to create a gap that shouldn’t be there in the first place is dangerous. Period. The desire to lose muscle scares me more than the fixation on having a thigh gap large enough to read the billboard behind you.
- Many of the thigh gaps you see are faked: It is a simple fact that you can create a thigh gap simply by changing how you stand. Spreading the heels, sticking the buttocks out, or turning the legs a bit, These are all “valid” ways of creating a thigh gap for the camera. For the record, those methods are far safer than eating cotton balls or subsisting on less than 500 calories per day.
- Having a thigh gap doesn’t matter if you’re dead: Many young women are going to extremes to achieve a thigh gap. Rates of anorexia and bulimia were starting to fall but are now on the rise again. I’ve read stories of young women literally starving themselves in an attempt to gain a thigh gap. Nothing is worth destroying your health. Nothing.
- Diet and exercise won’t change genetics: Your pelvic width and the angle of your legs are structural commodities which cannot be changed by losing weight. Both of those factors are largely genetic. Although food has the capacity to turn some genes on and off, it does not have the power to change the bone structure you were born with.
- A healthy body image does not focus on a single attribute: Most women have a very negative perspective about their body. They have been brainwashed to believe someone else’s definition of a perfect body is the only acceptable way to look. This breaks my heart. Body image should be a healthy acceptance of all parts of our body and should not solely focus on a single attribute. Many of the teen girls whose Tumblr pages I reviewed while researching this article were so obsessed with thigh gap that the girls ignored the fact they had sculpted abs, gorgeous arms or other attributes most women crave. Body image needs to be a loving and accepting attitude of our entire body, not a measuring stick that deems all body parts a failure if a single area does not meet an unrealistic goal. ,
- It serves no purpose: Having a thigh gap does not provide any benefit other than being able to say you have one. Most other forms of fitness and exercise improve wellness and have measurable health improvements. Having a thigh gap does not improve the world, will not improve your social life and will not result in living happily ever after. Contrary to what the Tumblr boards say, it also will not guarantee that men will want to get to know you better. Creating a physical attribute that can only be seen when you’re almost naked will not attract the types of people who will support and encourage you in the real world. Trust me.
- If it requires elective surgery, you’d best not elect it: The recent trend in thigh gap obsession has led more than one plastic surgeon to use “new” procedures to create a thigh gap. Procedures including liposuction, surgical reduction and lipoglazing (a less invasive procedure that melts and then freezes fat cells) are being used. The end result may create a thigh gap, but at what cost? The procedures are all very expensive, and most have a large list of risks. Some create pain and bruising that can last for several weeks. Using invasive and risky procedures to create a thigh gap is an extreme measure I strongly advise against..
Are you aware of this craze? What are your thoughts?
Graphic courtesy of Pierre Nel.
I recently promised to share more case studies so you could gain a better grasp of what I do on a daily basis and the types of cases I handle. Please note I have permission to share this information, will never use the person’s real name and may change minor details of the case to protect the client’s identity.
This case study is about “Eleanor,” a woman in her 50’s who came to see me because she wanted to lose weight and was trying to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. She was on Metformin, a nasal inhaler, two different allergy medications, asthma medication, high blood pressure medicine, a statin drug, Levothyroxine and Nexium. During her initial consultation, she casually mentioned she had constant post nasal drip with a cough and had to clear her throat constantly. She said this had begun over 20 years ago and nothing had worked to eliminate it. She had grown so used to this she didn’t even consider it a problem. I thought it was a significant issue we needed to address. Eleanor also shared she was exhausted and was often too tired to participate in social activities she was invited to attend.
As I reviewed Eleanor’s medical history and eating habits, I noticed she ate a large amount of carbohydrates and had bread or crackers with every meal and snack. The fact she was eating so much wheat made me suspect she had developed an allergy to it. A further review of her physical symptoms and a check of her allergy point with the EDS unit confirmed this. “EDS” stands for “Electro Dermal Scan” unit. It is a unit I use to check nerve centers associated with body systems and health conditions. Eleanor’s allergy point scored extremely high, meaning there was a large probability she had one or more allergies. Using a piece of bread, I was able to identify that wheat was a likely culprit.
I made the following recommendations:
- I recommended that Eleanor eliminate wheat for three weeks. I encouraged her to keep a diary during those three weeks to record any changes she experienced physically, mentally or emotionally.
- I recommended a revised eating plan known to help reverse insulin resistance.
- I encouraged her to engage in some form of movement ten minutes each day.
- I recommended three supplements known to help insulin resistance, thyroid function and systemic inflammation
At Eleanor’s next visit, she burst into my office grinning from ear-to-ear. She was visibly more energetic, happier and her skin looked better. When I asked her to share what changes she had seen, she said her cough and need to clear her throat had completely disappeared. After 20 years, she was finally able to sit through a movie without embarrassment, sleep soundly and leave home without tissues. She went on to say her energy levels had improved and she had lost ten pounds. Not bad!
After six months, Eleanor had lost 30 pounds, was off the Metformin, the statin drug, all allergy medications, the inhaler, Nexium, the asthma medication, and her blood pressure medication. In addition, she was on a lower dose of her thyroid medication, Levothyroxine. She had gone from taking nine daily prescription medications to only taking one. She said she no longer turns down social invitations, got a raise at work because her productivity improved dramatically, and she was training to run a mini-marathon. She thanked me profusely, but she gets all the credit. She recognized she needed to make changes and she committed to making them. I am so proud of her!
Currently, I meet with Eleanor via telephone about once a year. She is truly a different woman from the one who first walked into my office. Stories of transformation and progress such as hers are why I do what I do. How can I help you? Please contact me if you would like to schedule a consultation.
“Metabolic Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms that are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and other developed countries. Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as an “epidemic” because the number of people affected by it is increasing so rapidly. Why does this matter? Because Metabolic Syndrome is a set of conditions created by lifestyle and dietary habits. Metabolic Syndrome is known to increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, stroke and more.
Although experts disagree on the specific causes of Metabolic Syndrome, they all agree that obesity, a high carbohydrate diet, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are contributing factors. Other factors which may increase your risk include heredity, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, smoking and possibly toxic exposure from food, air and water.
The problem with Metabolic Syndrome is that no single definition of what it is and no specified set of diagnostic criteria have been defined. Many practitioners in the mainstream medical community do not believe Metabolic Syndrome exists and do not believe early identification can help improve health outcomes. There is also controversy about whether the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome truly represent a “syndrome” or are merely a group of related symptoms which each has its own risk factors. The concern is that we have created a “disease” which truly doesn’t exist.
The bottom line is that whether you group the symptoms together and label them or not, they each represent a very real risk to health and longevity. In my practice, I work with many people who have multiple symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Addressing the issues quickly restores health. It also often results in improved self esteem and a restored positive outlook. I find that people who address Metabolic Syndrome typically experience better overall health on a long term basis.
Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
The most common symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:
- Weight gain in the stomach and abdomen, often in spite of exercise and decreased food intake
- Increased triglycerides and cholesterol
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL
- Higher than normal blood levels of insulin (Please see The Top 3 Blood Tests Everyone Should Request for more info)
- Mild to moderate kidney damage resulting in excess protein in the urine
- Increased systemic inflammation which may cause joint pain, water retention and other symptoms
- Increased liver enzymes due to insufficient detoxification and/or a condition called “fatty liver”
- Excess growth of Candida (yeast) in the body
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women
- Low Testosterone in men
- Abnormal development in children
- Mental and psychological issues, ranging from mild to extreme
If you have three or more of those symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your practitioner. Ask him or her to order blood work including a complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, insulin level, A1C and complete thyroid panel. (If your doctor is unsure how to interpret these tests related to Metabolic Syndrome risk factors, please feel free to contact me to schedule a half-hour blood work interpretation consultation.)
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome
The good news is that Metabolic Syndrome can often be reversed using simple lifestyle changes. Supplements may also be used in some cases. The purpose of the recommended changes is to improve insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system. Potential changes may include:
- Improving an exercise regimen and combining it with weight training
- Decreasing the type and quantity of carbohydrates eaten on a daily basis
- Increasing the amount of healthy fat consumed on a daily basis
- Identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies
- Improving digestion to ensure foods are adequately digested and absorbed
- Other recommendations based on the person’s specific health needs
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome is very possible, but requires the direction of a qualified practitioner. If you suspect you have Metabolic Syndrome and would like to start the process of reversing it, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Photo courtesy of Keith Ramsey
Those of you who know me, know I have a deep passion for helping anyone affected by any form of diabetes. This is partly because 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.
- Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. (This post refers to it as a “vitamin” because that is the common terminology used.)
- Vitamin D is a powerful anti-inflammatory
- 90-95% of Vitamin D is produced by the skin through sun exposure
- The natural form of Vitamin D the skin produces is Vitamin D3
- The Vitamin D that is added to milk and other products is Vitamin D2, which is not well absorbed
- Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning the body stores it
- Experts estimate that 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in Vitamin D
- Vitamin D regulates more than 200 genes in the body
- Grass fed beef contains Vitamin D3; mainstream beef does not
- Vitamin D is a powerful immune booster
- Studies proved 2000 IU/day is more effective than flu shots at preventing the flu
- Vitamin D is known to protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Multiple Sclerosis, and over 800 different cancers
- It is very difficult to get adequate D3 through the diet
- Ten to thirty minutes of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost levels
- Pregnant women need twice as much Vitamin D as other people
- Dark-skinned people typically do not produce Vitamin D well and are often deficient
- The best test to check Vitamin D levels is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D test
- The 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D blood test is very inaccurate and may return false levels if D levels are low
- The ideal range of D in the blood is 50-75 nmol/L. Higher and lower amounts may cause or worsen health challenges.
- Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been connected to depression, inflammatory conditions, cancer, fatigue, digestive disorders, metabolic disorders, weight gain, headaches, bladder disorders, and much more
Do you take Vitamin D? I generally recommend starting with 2000-5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day. Check your blood levels every three months, adjusting the dose as needed. The goal level of Vitamin D should be 50-75 nmol/L.
If you do not have a doctor, you can order a home test kit at: Vitamin D Home Test Kit
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, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Insulin is an important hormone for everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. It performs many functions in the body that most people are completely unaware of. The purpose of this article is to show you how important insulin is and why you may need to start paying more attention to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people’s cells have stopped absorbing the insulin their body produces. This insulin resistance creates a domino effect of negative consequences, even though many people never have elevated blood sugars. All of us have insulin resistance to some degree. The resistance is partially caused by aging, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. However, it is very simple to regulate insulin production and insulin sensitivity. (The picture you see is a cross section of the beta cells of the pancreas that create insulin.)
Let’s get started! The following facts about insulin may surprise you.
Insulin is found in almost every life form, including single-celled creatures
Any chemical that is found in every life form on earth must be vitally important. For most single-celled organisms, insulin’s role is to control and advance aging. The older the life form becomes, the more insulin it produces. Insulin is therefore vitally connected to the aging process. When people become insulin resistant, causing their body to produce excess insulin, their cells age and deteriorate much more rapidly. Controlling insulin production and resistance is vital to slowing the aging process.
Insulin allows the body’s cells to store and create energy
We’ve all been convinced that insulin’s role is to lower blood glucose levels. Truth is, that is not insulin’s job. Insulin’s primary role in the body is to create energy. Plain and simple. The insulin your body creates should allow your cells to create energy. When cells become resistant to insulin, it means those cells can no longer create energy. Fatigue and exhaustion follow. This is why many people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are often so tired.
Insulin signals the body to store fat
Insulin is a fat storage hormone, especially when it is not absorbed by the body’s cells. Excess insulin in the blood stream tells the body to start storing as much fat as possible. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes often find it impossible to lose weight. It is also why people with those challenges often have extremely elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s just that simple.
High cholesterol has a stronger connection to insulin than it does to fat consumption. I recently worked with a lady who came to me with a cholesterol reading of over 300 and a triglyceride level of over 1500. What did I do? I recommended an eating plan that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in healthy fats. (Yes. You read that right. I gave her body what it needed. A low fat diet does not help weight loss, nor does it improve coronary health.) She lost forty pounds in three months and had normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels within six weeks. Focusing on insulin instead of her blood lipids made the difference.
Insulin delivers magnesium
One of the most important jobs insulin fulfills is to carry magnesium into the cells. Experts currently estimate that seventy percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. There is a large probability this deficiency is not solely due to bad eating habits, but is also linked to insulin resistance. For information on the negative effects of magnesium deficiency, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.
One of magnesium’s jobs is to relax the blood vessels. A primary result of a low magnesium level is that blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. Over 80% of people with diabetes or insulin resistance also have high blood pressure. The connection is purely related to insulin. Unfortunately, the cells in blood vessels never become resistant to insulin. These cells continue absorbing all the insulin that is present. The excess insulin in the walls of the blood vessels makes them hard and predisposes them to being covered with plaque. Both of these factors create elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, these factors create serious heart disease. Few people speak about regulating insulin levels as a means of preventing and reversing coronary disease, but it is one of the simplest ways to improve heart health.
Insulin triggers hormones that create a feeling of fullness
Insulin is a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to stop eating. This makes perfect sense. As we eat a meal, our body releases insulin to turn that food into energy. As those insulin levels rise, it should trigger a feeling of fullness once a sufficient amount of food has been eaten. When the body stops absorbing insulin, it prevents the signal that tells the person it’s time to stop eating and allows people to eat far more than they need without feeling full. This is another reason why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have such a hard time losing weight. The key is to improve the body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is very simple to improve insulin sensitivity using lifestyle changes and sometimes a few inexpensive supplements.
Insulin lowers blood glucose levels
Last on the list is that insulin lowers blood sugar. Insulin’s least significant role in the body is lowering glucose levels. The fact is that elevated glucose is merely a nasty side effect of poor insulin metabolism.
Do you deal with insulin resistance? Is this a new concept for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of improving your health and slowing the aging process by improving your body’s ability to absorb insulin.
I once heard a man say he couldn’t believe childbirth could hurt worse than an ingrown toenail. (I’ll withhold 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
It is a simple – although often overlooked – fact that most people in the US are obese because they are insulin resistant. It is true that we live in a society that constantly overeats, but the rising rates of obesity are primarily due to the fact our bodies simply cannot process and metabolize the high amounts of unhealthy carbohydrates we eat. (I use the term “we” very loosely.) If weight loss were a simple math equation where weight loss occurrs if more calories were burned than were eaten, obesity would not be an epidemic. The simple fact is that our society subsists on foods laden with low-quality, high-glycemic carbs. The Standard American Diet (which I like to refer to as the “SAD”) creates metabolic imbalances that cause weight gain. If losing weight has been a problem for you, please read my article, The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight for more information on the potential physical reasons that prevent weight loss. I promise to share more about battling insulin resistance in future posts. For today, let’s simply acknowledge that insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Eating excess carbs causes your body to secrete high amounts of insulin, which causes the body to produce and store fat instead of burning it for energy. When people eat high amounts of foods requiring the body to produce large amounts of insulin, their cells may eventually become “overwhelmed” with the constant flow of insulin. Cells which are overwhelmed with insulin will protect themselves by not absorbing and using the insulin. The excess insulin in the blood stream causes the body to store even more fat. This is what is commonly referred to as “Insulin Resistance.” If someone has even low levels of insulin resistance, it means their body does not use the insulin their body produces. This causes their body to produce higher amounts of insulin to try to lower blood sugars, which causes worse insulin resistance and increased weight gain. The solution to this problem is to reduce the amount of insulin being produced. The most direct way of allowing the body to produce less insulin is to pay close attention to the types and quantities of carbohydrates eaten. Please note that in this blog post, I use the word “carbs” to refer to simple carbohydrates your body metabolizes into simple sugars. Foods that fit this category include breads, cookies, rice, juices, candy, desserts, donuts, pastas, processed grains, etc. I am not referring to vegetables. Fruits are natural, but must be treated respectfully when dealing with insulin resistance. Some fruits elevate blood sugar very rapidly and require high amounts of insulin, which can contribute to weight gain for some people. The simplest – although not complete – approach to weight loss involves eating fewer carbohydrates. Following are simple tips to help cut the carbs without losing nutrition:
Substitute lettuce or kale wraps for bread
Not all bread is bad, but it is ALL extremely high in glycemic impact. High glycemic foods rapidly raise blood sugars and require large amounts of insulin. It is a very sad truth that almost all gluten free grains (with the exception of quinoa and millet) have a higher glycemic impact than wheat and require more insulin to be metabolized. This explains why some people experience extreme weight gain when going gluten-free. (Some people lose weight, but the incidence of people gaining weight after going gluten-free is rising rapidly.) Eating a grain-free diet is ideal for a variety of reasons, but most people have such a strong emotional attachment to grains that eliminating them completely seems impossible. Wrapping your sandwich ingredients in lettuce or kale may take some adjusting, but it’s a great option and the lettuce requires zero insulin.
Be extremely careful with portion sizes
People from Europe are often astonished at how much food people in the US eat at every meal. Europeans eat to live, whereas people in the US live to eat. Europeans eat extremely small (aka: NORMAL) portion sizes and don’t snack as often as we do. In the US, we supersize everything … especially portions. Here’s a quick run down of recommended portion sizes of popular carbs:
- Rice: 1/2 cup (Yes, seriously.)
- Pasta: 1 cup
- Grapes: 10
- Beans and Lentils: 1/2 cup
- French Fries: 10 (I’m not kidding. Probably best to skip this one.)
- Dairy: 1 cup (Dairy counts as a carbohydrate serving, even though it contains protein.)
Start every meal with a salad or big bowl of veggies
Filling up on veggies before attacking the other items on your plate often leads to eating fewer carbohydrates. It is also a very easy way to increase your consumption of veggies, and you know you need more.
Eat veggies first, protein next, then carbs
The order you eat foods can affect how much of it you eat. Again, filling up on veggies first and then eating your protein will leave less room in your stomach for the carbohydrate on your plate.
Stick to one carb per meal
You don’t need more than one carb serving per meal. Trust me. The simple act of limiting yourself to one carb serving per meal will often create rapid weight loss. It also eliminates the “3 o’clock slump” many people experience when their blood sugar plummets after a high-carb lunch.
Think about breakfast in a new way
The dietary surveys I use with my patients reveal that most people eat 3-5 servings of carbs and no protein every morning before they leave the house. I’m not sure why we associate carbs with breakfast, but we need protein and healthy fats to boost energy and keep us going until lunch. A typical breakfast I see listed includes three or more of the following: bowl of cereal or oatmeal, banana on the cereal, toast, pancakes/waffles, glass of orange juice, fruit smoothie, etc., etc. Mega carbs and zero protein or fats. This creates a syndrome where your blood sugar skyrockets after breakfast, but plummets a few hours later. This can make you hungry and may make you crave sugar around 10 am. Adding protein to your morning regimen can make a huge difference in how you feel mid-morning and right before lunch. Combining protein with healthy carbohydrates for breakfast helps stabilize blood sugars. Having a huge veggie omelet with a single piece of toast is a great option. I know one lady who has guacamole on zucchini slices with a slice of turkey most mornings. She feels great and has lost 10 pounds doing this. For more creative low carb breakfast ideas, read Top 11 Low Carb Breakfasts. Other great breakfast options include:
- An apple with almond butter
- 1 cup of berries in a smoothie with an avocado, handful of spinach and a cucumber
- 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal with 1/2 cup nuts and seeds and 1/2 cup almond milk
- Two eggs and 1/2 cup of mixed berries.
Let yourself think outside of the box and stop eating nothing but carbohydrates for breakfast … you’ll feel and look better as a result. Are you eating to live or living to eat? What changes can you make to help you make better choices at every meal? I wish you luck and success!
I’ve recently received many questions about whether or not Green Coffee Extract and Raspberry Ketones actually work. These questions multiplied after a well-known MD with a nationally-syndicated television show promoted these supplements. I’ve also been receiving multiple spam email messages about both supplements. I confess the spam made me question the validity of these supplements, so I decided I needed to do more research. I also have to admit my research was difficult, as most of the sites containing “research” were also trying to sell one or both of the products.
Update, May 8, 2013: I do not recommend using these supplements. Please do not contact me to ask if I think it’s a good idea for you to take them. I do not, regardless of your health issues. Thank you.
Please be aware there are no “magic bullets.” Weight gain or an inability to lose weight always has a cause. Eliminating the cause is key to finally losing weight. Please read my article, The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight, for more information on weight loss and on physiological issues that may prevent it.
If you are struggling with weight loss and need help or coaching, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I have literally helped hundreds of people lose many thousands of pounds. I use an approach that provides coaching and education in nutrition, fitness, metabolic balancing, and eliminating sabotaging thought patterns. I would love to help you reach your health goals. I will not let you fail. Please feel free to contact me at 317.489.0909 or via email. PLEASE NOTE I CANNOT ANSWER MEDICAL QUESTIONS VIA EMAIL. You must schedule a consultation to receive advice.
Very few double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have been done on these supplements. The ones that were done were either very, very small (less than 20 participants) or were done on mice and not humans. The information that follows shares what I found when I researched both supplements. As always, this information is shared for informational purposes only and was not evaluated by the FDA. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness. Please do not take any supplement without first discussing it with your physician and checking for prescription interactions.
Green Coffee Bean Extract
The only study I could find that researched the effectiveness of Green Coffee Bean Extract on weight loss was done by JA Vinson,BR Burnham, and MV Nagendran. This study did find the extract helped with weight loss, but was only conducted on 16 people and was conducted over a very short period of time. In my opinion, a study of 16 people does not qualify as a valid study, as the control group is simply too small to prove the effects would be the same in a larger group. Additionally, I could find zero information on how the “control” group was chosen, which again causes me to question the validity of the study. It is also important to note that the company who paid for the study is a company which manufactures and sells green coffee bean extract. (Please read my article, Simple Ways to Evaluate the Validity of a Research Study for more information on ways to know whether published conclusions are valid or not.)
Potential Positive Benefits of Green Coffee Bean Extract:
- Green coffee bean extract is known to contain many anti-oxidants, which are known to boost health and protect cells from damage from toxins, aging, and free radicals. (That does not mean it helps with weight loss.)
- Green coffee bean extract contains chlorogenic acid, a chemical which is thought to help balance blood sugar levels. (Insulin encourages the body to store fat instead of burning it, so reducing blood sugars and reducing the amount of insulin produced is a proven method of assisting weight loss. However, there is no evidence to prove this supplement works or that it effectively reduces insulin levels.)
- Some studies have shown that green coffee bean extract may help suppress appetite and may have a positive effect on lowering blood pressure.
Potential Negative Effects of Green Coffee Bean Extract:
- The frenzy surrounding green coffee bean extract has caused a multitude of supplements to be released which don’t actually contain green coffee bean extract, which contain harmful fillers or which contain a very low-quality extract. Use caution when purchasing green coffee bean extract and only purchase from highly reliable suppliers.
- Some people respond negatively to the supplement. (Any supplement has the potential to create an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.)
- The supplement does not work for everyone. Physical and hormonal issues preventing weight loss may not be helped by this supplement.
- The caffeine in green coffee bean extract may have a negative affect on some people.
My Conclusions About Green Coffee Bean Extract:
As with most products claiming to boost weight loss, green coffee bean extract is no magic bullet. There are many other methods of reducing insulin in the body, so taking this supplement may boost weight loss efforts a little bit, but won’t produce dramatic results for most people. My recommendation is to follow a low-glycemic eating plan and to use your head. On an interesting side note, roasted coffee also contains chlorogenic acid, so drinking a single, eight ounce cup of ORGANIC coffee may have the same effect as taking these supplements.
The only studies I could find that have been done on raspberry ketones were done on mice, and one was only done on mice who were being fed a high-fat diet. Raspberry ketones have been around for a very long time. The only “new” thing about them is that the marketing. Let’s be honest, the fact a supplement was recommended by a doctor on TV doesn’t mean it works, it just means it gets an insane amount of marketing attention. There is plenty of anecdotal “evidence” stating raspberry ketones assist with weight loss, but I could not find any scientific evidence that proved it.
Potential Positive Benefits of Raspberry Ketones:
- There is some evidence that indicates raspberry ketones might alter the levels of a adinopectin, a hormone that is typically lower in obese people and which has been shown to be a factor in insulin resistance. (Insulin resistance is often a precursor to and major factor in Type 2 Diabetes. That does not mean this supplement helps with weight loss.)
- Raspberry ketones may also stimulate the release of the hormone norepinephrine, an adrenal hormone which affects metabolism. (The problem is that it may negatively affect the adrenal glands and ultimately reduce one’s ability to lose weight.)
- As with green coffee been extract, raspberry ketones do contain anti-oxidants which may have some health benefits, but no weight loss benefits.
Potential Negative Effects of Raspberry Ketones:
- The supplements sold are artificial raspberry ketones created in a lab and are not the real thing
- Norepinephrine can have a very negative effect on health. It can cause anxiety, raise body temperature, and raise blood pressure.
- Stimulating the adrenal glands to release norepinephrine could cause adrenal fatigue, which would ultimately have a very negative effect on weight loss efforts.
- All of the potential negative effects I cited for green coffee bean extract also apply to raspberry ketones.
My Conclusions About Raspberry Ketones:
Similar to the conclusions I drew about green coffee bean extract, I think the claims made about raspberry ketones are all hype. They may assist with weight loss in a very small way, but they are not extremely effective. The fact raspberry ketones affect adrenal hormones concerns me. Adrenal function directly affects weight gain and loss. Taking raspberry ketones has the potential to harm adrenal function, which would ultimately result in weight gain. I can’t honestly recommend taking this supplement. As with any supplement, if you choose to take it, please discuss it with your physician first. Please monitor blood pressure carefully. If elevated blood pressure occurs, or if you begin to notice anxiety or hot flashes after taking it, please discontinue use immediately.
If you are struggling with weight loss and need help or coaching, please contact me to schedule a consultation. (Liability issues prevent me from answering questions or providing advice if you are not an established client.) I have literally helped hundreds of people lose many thousands of pounds. I use an approach that provides coaching and education in nutrition, fitness, metabolic balancing, and eliminating sabotaging thought patterns. I would love to help you reach your health goals. I will not let you fail. Please feel free to contact me at 317.489.0909 or via email
Update added October 24th: Yes, these products can be taken together, but I do not recommend their use. They both do basically the same thing, so taking them simultaneously will not necessarily boost your weight loss efforts. There are much easier ways to lose weight which are free.
Many people are currently trying to eat less sugar and fewer carbohydrates. The reasons for this are related to attempts to lose weight, eliminate Candida or pursue a new level of wellness. Most of these people look at smoothie recipes and sigh with frustration because they believe it’s impossible to create a delicious smoothie that is low in carbohydrates. (Even carbohydrates from natural fruit sugars can be challenging to anyone with Candida, insulin resistance or diabetes.) It is very possible to make delicious smoothies that are sugar-free, fruit-free and very low in carbohydrates. Fruitless smoothies can be delicious and can easily become a very addicting habit. Fruitless smoothies are the perfect solution for anyone trying to embrace a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, lose weight, reduce Candida overgrowth, etc. The smoothies I’ve shared below are also perfect fits for the Paleo lifestyle which is currently very popular, and make great options for anyone with insulin resistance or diabetes.
A wide variety of creamy, great tasting smoothies can be made without fruit. My breakfast many mornings is a delicious, all-vegetable, smoothie that is low in carbs, high in protein and which keeps me going strong for many hours. This type of smoothie not only provides huge amounts of energy, but also keeps me feeling full until lunch and beyond due to the tremendous nutrition provided. By using a low-carbohydrate, high-protein blend, my bloodsugars stay very stable. Fruit-laden smoothies that don’t contain protein can cause blood sugar spikes. These blood sugar spikes later fall because they don’t have protein to keep them stable. These falls may cause hunger and fatigue mid-morning as blood sugar levels plummet. A combination of carbohydrates with protein creates a slower, smaller rise in blood sugar and helps maintain blood sugar levels at a more stable level.
- Use sweet veggies such as yellow and red peppers, tomatoes, etc., to add natural sweetness to smoothies
- Add avocado to make smoothies creamy and thick without using sugar-laden yogurt
- Use Stevia as a sweetener if needed
- Use neutral tasting veggies such as cucumbers and zucchini to add bulk to smoothies without adding a lot of taste
- Add dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, etc., to increase the nutritional content of smoothies
- Use liquids such as coconut water, aloe vera juice, coconut water kefir, unsweetened nut or coconut milk, the leftover soak water from sundried tomatoes or nuts, or vegetable juices to add flavor, sweetness, and additional nutrition to smoothies
- Add a protein powder to balance blood sugars and extend the feeling of fullness
- Use organic spices to taste to add flavor. Don’t limit yourself to sweet spices … have fun with spicy spices to create soups and gazpachos!
- Strategically add ingredients such as protein powders, green powders, superfoods, seaweeds, powdered greens, maca, raw cacao powder and others to add unique flavor and increase the nutritional content of smoothies.
Vitamineralicious Smoothie Delight
A lack of minerals can wreak havoc on health. The smoothie that follows is rich in minerals from vegetables, but also adds an extra punch by including a liquid trace mineral. You can boost the mineral (electrolyte) content of this smoothie by using coconut water or coconut water kefir as the liquid.
1/2 cucumber, diced
1 scoop Hemp Protein Powder
1 tomato, diced
1 handful kale or spinach (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon organic lemon Juice
1 serving green powder
1 cup unsweetened milk alternative of choice OR 1 cup of coconut water kefir or coconut water
1/2 – 1 cup Purified Water (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
Stevia to taste (optional)
Red Light District Smoothie
This smoothie is rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin C.
1 diced organic red pepper
1-2 cup(s) water from soaking sun-dried tomatoes, purified water or organic tomato juice (adjust amount to achieve desired thickness)
1 handful red lettuce
1 teaspoon organic Cinnamon
1 avocado (optional)
Stevia to taste (optional) or experiment with many flavored stevias
Diabetic Chocolate Shake
This smoothie is delicious! Add ice to make it more like a shake. If you really want to make it shake-like, add a scoop of So Delicious Dairy-Free Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream. (It’s to die for! That’s not an affiliate link … I just love their products!) Be aware that adding the coconut ice cream will increase the carbohydrate content of this shake.
1/2 cup organic cacao powder or organic cocoa
1/2 – 1 cups unsweetened milk alternative of choice
Stevia to taste (I use chocolate liquid stevia)
I recently realized my dosage of thyroid medication was too high. This was great news, as it means my thyroid gland is coming back to life and doing what it’s supposed to. Although I considered this good news, it took a while to convince my practitioner it was possible for me to recognize a wrong dosage and that blood tests are not the only way to truly tell if a dosage is wrong.
I will spare you the details and will simply share it took two weeks before my practitioner agreed to change my dose, even though I knew within two days that the dose was wrong. My symptoms were severe enough to negatively impact my ability to function normally. I could not wait two weeks to return to normal, so I changed my dosage on my own without her approval. (Please don’t do that. Always discuss dosage changes with your physician and never make changes without his or her direction and approval.)
Every thyroid patient I’ve ever met or interviewed says they know within two days whether a new dosage will work or not. Unfortunately, many doctors and mainstream practitioners don’t believe this and insist on waiting SIX WEEKS before performing blood work and agreeing to change a dose. If your thyroid gland stopped producing adequate levels of hormones, you would know something was terribly wrong within a few days. The same is true for medication dosage changes. Making a thyroid patient suffer for six weeks … or even ten days … is simply not acceptable and indicates a lack of understanding of the severity of thyroid conditions. It also indicates a lack of understanding of how sensitive patients are to what is occurring in their own body. There are multiple Facebook groups and international thyroid support groups that repeat this over and over again. Thyroid patients are tired of having practitioners ignore their symptoms. The fact these groups have hundreds of thousands of members from all over the world is valid proof there is a problem and lack of understanding related to adequately and effectively treating thyroid disease.
Being hypothyroid – or having insufficient levels of thyroid hormones – is a form of hell on earth that no one can understand unless they’ve experienced it. This is why many mainstream practitioners just don’t get it. They think thyroid patients should happily endure incredibly rapid and consistent weight gain unrelated to food consumption, edema that causes “cankles” and makes it impossible to see the bones in one’s feet, bald spots, depression, fatigue, itchy skin, severe aches that resemble arthritis, loss of balance with vertigo, weak muscles, muscle cramps, constipation, irritability, memory loss, slurred speech, feeling cold all the time (even in 100+ degree heat), and more. I’m here to say: NO MORE. (What I would actually say can’t be posted in a family-friendly article such as this one.)
It is estimated that 10-20% of US citizens have a thyroid disorder that requires intervention. Unfortunately, many of these thyroid conditions get ignored due to improper testing and doctors who don’t recognize the common symptoms. There is also a tendency for practitioners to dismiss symptoms, saying things such as, “You work full time and have four kids. Of course you’re tired!” Many doctors assume that complaints of fatigue, weight gain and more are simply “whining” and are not genuine symptoms or are indicators of psychological issues. There is also an assumption that weight gain is related to laziness and that patients who insist they are doing everything right are lying. That attitude, my friend, brings me closer to cussing than anything shared previously.
So what can you do? Be the squeaky wheel. If you know you have something physically wrong or that your thyroid medication dosage is wrong, INSIST your doctor change the dosage. Do your research and share your symptoms, stating the symptoms you are experiencing are obvious indicators the dose is wrong and that waiting several weeks to perform blood work will cause further damage. Be blunt and be insistent. If this doesn’t work, go ahead and get the blood work run early. Although docs insist blood work requires six weeks to show true results, your blood levels of thyroid hormones will show enough change after two weeks to show an imbalance and a need for a medication change.
Let’s review … to truly check how your thyroid is functioning, you must have the following tests run every time:
- Free T3: A measure of the active T3 thyroid hormone.
- Free T4: A measure of the less active T4 thyroid hormone. The body should convert T4 to T3 but often does not.
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH): A measure of a pituitary hormone the body uses to stimulate the thyroid gland. Many doctors ONLY order this hormone, which is a grave error. Only measuring TSH – a hormone produced by a different gland entirely – is similar to checking the the temperature of your radiator fluid in order to gauge whether you need more oil or not. It is indirect and very inaccurate. Measuring the true thyroid hormones (Free T3 and Free T4 at a minimum) is the only way to tell where your levels are for sure. TSH levels may also fluctuate greatly in thyroid conditions caused by an autoimmune condition, so their use is highly unreliable.
- Reverse T3: Reverse T3 is a hormone that counteracts the T3 your body is producing. It is important to test this because your TSH, T3 and T4 could potentially be “normal,” but overproduction of Reverse T3 could cause you to be extremely symptomatic because your body is “killing” the T3 that’s produced. Excess insulin and insulin resistance often cause excess RT3, so it is important to test this hormone each time thyroid hormone levels are checked.
- Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO): TPO measures the amount of anti-thyroid antibodies in your blood stream and is used to identify an auto-immune thyroid issue. TPO typically should be measured multiple times, because levels vary and it may take several tests before levels are high enough to be identified in a blood test. (Remember that a blood test is a very tiny “snapshot in time” and that the results shown in that instance may not always be 100% accurate for some measures.)
- Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb): This is another measure of autoimmune antibodies that is typically only used when hyperthyroidism exists.
When a dosage is changed, it is imperative to have new blood work run (TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 at a minimum) within 3-6 weeks to ensure the new dosage is correct. It breaks my heart when people tell me their provider changed their dosage of thyroid medication and told them to come back in six MONTHS for blood tests. Severe physical harm can occur in six months of hypo- or hyperthyroidism. Waiting that long is not acceptable.
Did you notice your thyroid gland makes two hormones? (It makes more, but T3 and T4 are two of the most important ones and affect health the most.) Be aware that commonly prescribed medications such as Synthroid and its many derivatives only contain T4. Your liver should convert the less active T4 into the active T3, but many people’s bodies just don’t do that. This means many people suffer needlessly while taking Synthroid because their bodies desperately need more T3. There is a mainstream prescription, Cytomel, that contains T3. Many people find their hypothyroid symptoms disappear once they add T3 to their regimen. Natural thyroid medications such as Armour and Naturthroid contain both T3 and T4 and work far better for most people. For me personally, switching to a combination of T3 and T4 was a true life-changer. My symptoms began to disappear within a few days and I could actually begin living again.
To receive the best care possible, you must be your own advocate and seek the best care you can. Have you done that? If not, please do!
If you are a thyroid patient who can’t make sense of your blood test results, please contact me. I would love to help you interpret the results and will help guide you to discuss the results with your practitioner. Please feel free to call me at 317.489.0909 to schedule a 15-30 minute test results review consultation.
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There are a multitude of diabetes myths still perpetuated and shared as “fact” even though they are blatantly false. Myths get perpetuated in odd ways. Case in point: the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) recently allowed Krispy Kreme donuts to sponsor a fundraising run. During the run, participants – many of whom have diabetes – ran a single mile, ate a dozen donuts, and then ran a mile back. The JDRF spokesperson defended this run by stating that “food doesn’t cause Type 1 diabetes.” Guess what? Studies done in Finland since 1991 prove she’s wrong!
I was blessed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967 and have been researching it through life experience or active study ever since. I’ve studied the mainstream approaches to Diabetes control and have also studied and experimented with many natural wellness approaches. My desire is to help people with any form of Diabetes live life abundantly and realize that having Diabetes doesn’t mean their life is over. Following are a number of myths related to diabetes that need to be busted right now:
Myth #1: Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune condition that has nothing to do with food
Fact: While Type 1 Diabetes is indeed an autoimmune condition, autoimmune reactions are caused when the body secretes antibodies that attack cells of the body. Studies have connected dairy antibodies (antibodies the body produces to cow milk, not human breast milk) to an attack on the beta cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin. Countries having the highest intake of bovine dairy products (Sweden, Denmark and Finland) also have the highest incidence of Type 1 Diabetes in children. The connection cannot be denied. The studies found that children who were not given bovine dairy prior to the age of 7 months had significantly lower incidence of Type 1 Diabetes than those who were. My recommendation is to not give babies cow milk, cheese, ice cream or other dairy products prior to the age of 12 months. (Avoid soy, too, as other studies found that boys given soy formula had lower sperm counts as adults and that girls given soy formula developed breasts and began menstruating at an earlier age.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics Work Group on Cow’s Milk and Diabetes Mellitus issued this statement in 1994: “The evidence incriminating cow-milk consumption in the cause of type 1 diabetes is sufficient to cause the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue this warning, ‘Early exposure of infants to cow’s milk protein may be an important factor in the initiation of the beta cell destructive process in some individuals.’ and ‘The avoidance of cow’s milk protein for the first several months of life may reduce the later development of IDDM or delay its onset in susceptible people.'”
Having said that, let me add that dairy antibodies are not the sole causative factor of Type 1 Diabetes. Many other factors may be associated with Type 1 Diabetes, including viral infections, bacterial infections and some genetic factors. There is also some evidence that toxins in vaccinations may be associated with auto-immune over-stimulation that may contribute to Type 1 Diabetes. Genetic factors also play a role in whether or not a child’s body can counteract certain antibodies.
Myth #2: Only fat people get Type 2 Diabetes
Fact: I personally know several very thin, athletic people who have Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes is caused when the body develops insulin resistance, or when the body’s cells no longer absorb and use insulin as they should. Although insulin resistance is much more common in people who are overweight, thin people may also develop it.
The pancreas of most – not all – people with Type 2 Diabetes typically works as it should. It works so well, in fact, that it over-produces insulin in response to elevated glucose levels. The excess insulin in the blood stream causes the body’s cells to become “overwhelmed” by the excess insulin, which creates worsening insulin resistance. Please read my article, “The Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request” for information about having your insulin level checked. Unfortunately, insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so excess insulin in the blood stream may make weight loss very difficult if it is needed.
There are multiple potential causes of insulin resistance, and every person with Type 2 Diabetes may have very distinct issues that led to their body’s resistance. The fact does remain, however, that people who are overweight and who eat diets which are extremely high in high-glycemic carbohydrates are much more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes than those who are thin and who eat a more balanced diet. Luckily, many people with Type 2 Diabetes have reversed their insulin resistance and reduced or even eliminated their need for prescription medication simply by making a few simple lifestyle changes.
Myth #3: My doctor says I have “pre-diabetes,” which means I don’t need to make any changes
Fact: The prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes has become so high that a new term – Metabolic Syndrome – was developed for people who have the early stages of insulin resistance but who may not have highly elevated blood glucose levels. Those who are in the very beginning stages of insulin resistance, or “pre-diabetes,” often reverse insulin resistance by making simple lifestyle changes.
When I have clients whose blood work shows elevated insulin levels, I recommend the same regimen I recommend to people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Placing a prefix before the word “diabetes” doesn’t mean there’s nothing to worry about, it simply means early intervention is needed.
Myth #4: People with Diabetes have to eat a very restricted diet
Fact: This myth floors me. People with any form of Diabetes need to eat a very nutritious diet, but not one that is severely restricted. I will admit that my research and personal experience with diet cause me to disagree with the typical regimen prescribed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). The ADA encourages people with Diabetes to eat high amounts of carbohydrates and to avoid fats, stating that carbohydrates are essential for energy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a client come to see me and claim their dietitian is trying to kill them. People with Diabetes can eat carbohydrates, but I encourage them to primarily eat low-glycemic carbohydrates that don’t require large amounts of insulin. Insulin is a fat-storage hormone, so weight loss is often dependent upon eating in a fashion that allows the body to produce less insulin. Eating in this manner may also improve insulin resistance, as a lower amount of insulin in the blood stream may help the body’s cells not be “overwhelmed” by it. For more information on effective eating styles for controlling glucose levels, please read: Why Mainstream Diabetes Diets Often Fail.
The typical eating style I recommend for people with any form of diabetes is highly personalized to meet the physical and personal needs of each person. I typically encourage the use of low-glycemic carbohydrates in somewhat limited quantities. I basically encourage my clients to use a similar eating style to that which I use. Why? Because the eating style I use – which is not at all restrictive – allowed me to cut my insulin needs to less than a third of what they were ten years ago and to reduce my Hemoglobin A1C from 8.5% to a typical reading of 5.7%. Hemoglobin A1C is an “average” of blood glucose levels over a three-month period. “Normal” levels are said to be between 4.5 – 6.0%. I know people who are not diabetic who have higher A1C readings than I do. Not bad for someone who’s had Type 1 Diabetes for more than 46 years! (On a side note, I recommend asking your doctor to run an A1C after age 40 simply to establish a baseline that can be used to spot any changes.)
The program I recommend to people who have insulin resistance or full-blown Diabetes is always very personalized. Cookie-cutter approaches don’t work. I customize the approach to be suitable for anyone of any age and any body size, including pregnant women and children – with physician approval.
Myth #5: I had gestational diabetes, but I’m no longer pregnant so I don’t need to worry about it
Fact: The incidence of developing Type 2 Diabetes is significantly higher for women who had Gestational Diabetes. Those women obviously need to make careful dietary changes while pregnant in order to maintain normal glucose levels and protect their baby, but should consider continuing to consume fewer carbohydrates and lower-glycemic carbohydrates after giving birth. Making post-partum dietary changes may help improve insulin sensitivity and may reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Note: None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. This information is shared for informational purposes only and should never be used to replace standard medical care. Always check with your physician before making any changes to diet or lifestyle, and never adjust medication or begin taking supplements without your physician’s recommendation.
Infant Feeding in Finnish Children <7 yr of Age With Newly Diagnosed IDDM. 10.2337/diacare.14.5.415 Diabetes Care May 1991 vol. 14no. 5 415-417.
Cow’s milk consumption, HLA-DQB1 genotype, and type 1 diabetes: a nested case-control study of siblings of children with diabetes. Childhood diabetes in Finland study group. 10.2337/diabetes.49.6.912. Diabetes June 2000 vol. 49no. 6 912-917
Infant feeding and the risk of type 1 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr May 2010vol. 91 no. 5 1506S-1513S
There is a Cure for Diabetes, Gabriel Cousens, multiple references.
There is a fairly large percentage of people who truly cannot lose weight. Their extra weight has nothing to do with poor lifestyle choices or lack of exercise, but is instead the cause of a metabolic disorder or other physiological imbalance. I work with many people (typically women) who are working out six days per week and eating a very healthy diet but who absolutely cannot lose weight. The horror stories they share of being told they are “lazy” or “dishonest” by their physician are even more heartbreaking. There are a number of different physiological issues that may cause the body to refuse to release excess weight. Those possible reasons include:
- Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance, often a precursor to diabetes, occurs when the body produces adequate insulin, but the insulin produced is not absorbed and used by the body’s cells. This causes the body to produce even more insulin, which makes insulin resistance worse as the cells become “overwhelmed” by the high amounts of insulin in the bloodstream. As insulin levels increase, the cells’ ability to absorb it decreases even more. Those with insulin resistance may not have elevated glucose levels during a fasting blood test, but often have elevated glucose following meals. The problem with insulin resistance is that insulin is a fat storage hormone. If your body is producing excess insulin, the excess insulin in the blood stream stimulates the body to store fat instead of releasing it. This may manifest as an inability to lose weight, and may also result in elevated liver enzymes as the body begins to store fat in the liver as a result of the excess insulin and excess glucose in the blood stream. The best way to check for insulin resistance is by having your blood insulin levels checked. (See my post, The Top Three Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request for more info on this test.) Although most labs state that “normal” insulin levels are anything below 17, I usually start addressing insulin resistance with any result above 8, especially if symptoms of insulin resistance exist. Unfortunately, many mainstream physicians check glucose levels during a fasting blood test but never check insulin levels. Anyone who has more than ten pounds of excess weight should have their insulin level checked. Checking it yearly serves to establish a baseline and recognize changes. If your insulin levels are elevated, following a low glycemic impact eating plan is the first step toward reversing the issue and losing weight.
- Excess Toxicity: Many people do not realize that toxins are typically stored in our fat cells. It is not unusual for people who are exposed to high toxin levels from their diet or from environmental exposure to find it difficult to lose weight. This is because their body is using fat to protect itself and trap the toxins. Eliminating the toxins stored in fat cells and limiting toxic exposure is often key to boosting weight loss. When I lead my clients through a thorough detoxification regimen, it is not unusual to see them lose anywhere from 10-20 pounds they had been unable to lose before the detox. The elimination of toxins helps with weight loss because the body will release excess fat when the fat cells are no longer needed as a protective mechanism against toxins. Please work with a professional when doing a detoxification program, and make sure you are aware of the potential detoxification symptoms so that you aren’t caught by surprise when they hit. A very simple detox is to eliminate all caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods for anywhere from three days to three months. There are also a wide variety of supplements and cleansing kits that can be used to assist with cleansing, but please work with a trained professional to help choose the correct one for your specific needs. People who detoxify often report having higher energy levels and feeling better, so it’s a win-win.
- Undiagnosed or Undertreated Thyroid Issues: We live in a world where hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid activity) has become an epidemic. Unfortunately, hypothyroidism is a very common cause of unexplained weight gain.One of the reasons hypothyroidism is so frequently missed is because many MDs test a pituitary hormone (TSH, or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) instead of measuring the level of actual thyroid hormones in the blood stream. In my opinion, this is similar to checking the amount of water in the radiator to see if the car needs oil instead of measuring the actual level of oil. It’s indirect and inaccurate and has devastating results. It is not unusual for people to have “normal” TSH levels but to have subnormal levels of one or both of the most important thyroid hormones, T3 and T4. Physicians are sometimes challenged to diagnose hypothyroidism because the current health insurance protocols only allow them to prescribe medication based on test results instead of prescribing based on physical symptoms. A growing number of physicians and endocrinologists recognize that the “normal” levels assigned by labs are based on a demographic to which their patient does not belong. These physicians are willing to prescribe based on symptoms. I adore those physicians and am thrilled to see their numbers growing. Please ask your doctor to run a full thyroid panel instead of merely testing TSH levels if you suspect you have a thyroid imbalance. (Hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid function, is also a potential although less common cause of weight gain. Hyperthyroidism typically causes weight loss, but causes weight gain in 20% of cases.)
- Adrenal Fatigue: The adrenal glands are itty-bitty little glands located on top of each kidney that are responsible for secreting over 400 hormones that affect every system in the body. In spite of that, the adrenals are given little or no attention by mainstream medicine unless they quit completely. The adrenal glands deserve much more attention than they receive. Adrenal fatigue can create a multitude of symptoms, but unexplained weight loss is one of the most common. Currently, there are no blood tests to test for adrenal fatigue. The best test method is a saliva hormone test. There is also a simple test that measures blood pressure while lying down and immediately upon rising that is very accurate. I use an electrodermal scan (EDS) unit, Iridology and facial indicators to confirm subnormal adrenal function and nutritional deficiencies that may cause it. (Please read, Dark Circles Under the Eyes, Causes and Solutions for more info on some of the facial indicators of adrenal fatigue.) Adrenal fatigue can be reversed, but it is a condition that does not disappear overnight and which requires changes to lifestyle habits, eating habits and which may require supplements.
- Malabsorption and/or Food Sensitivities: People who have severe digestive disorders, food sensitivities, or both sometimes lose weight rapidly. It is also common that a digestive disorder may manifest as an inability to lose weight. This occurs because the body believes it is starving, even though the affected person may be eating a healthy diet loaded with nutrients. The body’s inability to absorb the nutrients being eaten may cause the body to protect itself by slowing the metabolism and refusing to release any stored fat. Malabsorption can be caused by a wide variety of digestive disorders, but may also be caused by parasites. Please work with a physician or other trained professional to identify and address the cause of any digestive disorders.
- Leptin Resistance: Leptin is a hormone that stimulates the hypothalamus to signal the body to burn fat. Leptin is stored in fat cells, so in a perfect world, higher levels of fat on the body should create an increase in stimulation to burn fat. Similar to insulin resistance, when the body has excess levels of leptin circulating in the bloodstream, the cells may become resistant to the leptin and may stop absorbing it the way they should. This can result in a decrease in the amount of fat burned, even when the person is exercising and eating correctly. Leptin resistance can usually be addressed using dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments and specific supplements which improve leptin metabolism.
- Imbalance in Reproductive Hormones: An imbalance in reproductive hormones, such as excess estrogen levels or insufficient testosterone levels, can have a direct impact on one’s ability to lose weight. This occurs because the reproductive hormones not only affect the body’s basal metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories at rest), but also affects adrenal function, insulin metabolism, thyroid function, leptin metabolism and more. Saliva hormone tests or blood tests can help pinpoint hormone imbalances. Please never take a supplement which claims to affect hormone levels unless you know your specific deficiency or excess. “Playing” with hormones based on assumption can have serious consequences. Please get your levels measured before starting any supplement. This is also true for prescribed hormones. Please never allow your practitioner to prescribe a hormone replacement – even bio-identical hormones – without first testing to see what imbalance(s) you have.
As these points explain, weight gain and inability to lose weight are not always lifestyle issues but often have a true physiological cause. If you have been exercising and making better lifestyle choices but still cannot lose weight, please ask your doctor to dig deeper. Identifying the cause of your inability to lose weight is often the first step toward finally losing the weight.
Please also be aware that stress and psychological issues can negatively impact weight loss. Work with a counselor or other trained professional to help work through any emotional or psychological issues you feel may be affecting your ability to lose weight.
If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! The program addresses each of the items mentioned in this article. Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.
As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your physician before making any major changes to diet or lifestyle or before taking any new supplement.
One question I get asked fairly frequently is, “What do you eat?” That is a great question, so I thought I’d start by sharing what I don’t eat. I also want to share that our eating habits should never become set in stone or overly rigid, but will need to evolve and be “tweaked” as our health changes and as deficiencies or weaknesses are eliminated. I eat a much different variety of foods now than I did three years ago. I encourage everyone to listen to your body and to make adjustments to lifestyle habits when you begin noticing issues that indicate a change is needed. As always, work with and rely on your health practitioner to help you identify problem areas and to provide medical intervention when needed.
Before I share my list, let me share that I try to eat “whole” foods, meaning I strictly avoid processed foods. A “whole food” eating style includes foods that are fairly close to how they appear in nature. Does it require a lot of cooking from scratch? Yes. Is it more time consuming? Not when done simply. I didn’t list processed foods on my list of foods I avoid, but know that few foods enter my kitchen in a box. Here are the top 10 foods you’ll never find in my kitchen:
- Margarine (all hydrogenated/trans fat oils): In my house, we use good ol’ butter … the real thing … and have no worries about high cholesterol. Hydrogenated oils, also known as “trans fats,” are known to contribute to heart disease, are known to be highly inflammatory, and are created in a chemical process that attaches a hydrogen molecule to natural oil molecules to make them solid at room temperature. They are patently unhealthy. The nice thing about eliminating trans fats and hydrogenated oils from my kitchen is that it automatically eliminates most baked goods, donuts, and other high-carbohydrate foods. An interesting note is that even though a food’s label states “0 Trans Fat,” the food can contain up to .5 grams of trans fat/hydrogenated oils and still be labeled “0.” Since many companies’ labels list the nutritional information for “serving sizes” which are incredibly small, this means that a “normal” serving size may deliver a high amount of trans fats but the label can still legally say, “Contains no trans fat.” It makes no sense. The bottom line is that absolutely no serving of trans fats is acceptable in terms of health, so the current FDA guidelines allowing 0.5 to be labeled “0” are in need of major overhaul. In our kitchen, we use extra virgin olive oil for cold products (salad dressings, etc.) and extra virgin coconut oil for any cooking that requires oil. The coconut oil does not deteriorate in heat and contains very healthy medium-chain fatty acids which are known to assist with balancing cholesterol levels. (The rumors that coconut oil is a saturated fat that is bad for coronary health are false and completely ignore coconut oil’s very special chemical structure.)
- Soy: I know including this on my list is controversial, but I avoid soy at all costs. Over 90% of soy in this country is genetically modified, it is one of the most rapidly rising allergens in the US, it is known to harm thyroid function, and it is highly estrogenic and may interfere with normal reproductive cycles in children, men and pre-menopausal women. The only form of soy I can advocate is organic and fermented, and then no more than once or twice a week. On a side note, I was a vegan for over two years and ate no soy. It is very possible to be a vegetarian or vegan, not eat soy, and still get more than enough protein.
- Artificial Sweeteners: I only use pure stevia, an herbal sweetener. I carry stevia with me at all times so I never need to use saccharin, sucralose, aspartame or any of the other potentially dangerous sweeteners. Please read Why You Should Never Eat Splenda (Sucralose) for more information. Let me also state that many products claiming to be stevia are actually highly processed chemical versions of stevia and are not much better than other artificial sweeteners. My favorite stevia is a pure extract that is well filtered. My brand of choice is Sweet Leaf. Click the link to view samples of their products.
- Non-organic meat and dairy: I refuse to purchase meat from animals which were given antibiotics and hormones during their life cycle. Ingesting meat containing those items is simply not healthy. My preference is to eat meat that was locally grown, pasture-raised/free range, and which was fed foods that it would choose to eat naturally. The reason for this is that the meat from organically, sustainably raised animals has a healthier fatty-acid content, lower acidity, and is healthier in general. I am willing to purchase meat that is raised this way but which is not organically certified. I ask a lot of questions of the farmer to ensure the very best methods for animal and environment were used while the animals were being raised.
- Genetically modified foods: This is one I really can’t do justice to in a single paragraph, but I aim for a 100% organic diet so that I can avoid having genetically modified foods in my home. I will share that I don’t always eat at home. I am very aware that the foods I eat in restaurants may contain many of the items included on this list. I make good choices when eating out and trust that my exposure is far too limited to cause grave damage. The most prevalent genetically modified foods include: soy & all soy products, canola oil, cottonseed oil, beet sugar (most white sugar is beet sugar unless specifically identified as cane sugar), corn, papaya, zucchini and summer squashes, cassava, golden rice and flood-resistant rice. Organic produce cannot be genetically modified, but there is rising concern that organic crops have been contaminated by cross-pollination from genetically modified crops. A group of almost 300,000 farmers in the US are currently suing the Monsanto company for cross-contaminating their crops. My hope is that these farmers win their suit.
- White sugar and flour: Processed sugars and flours obviously don’t fit the “whole food” lifestyle. They additionally have been stripped of almost all nutritional value. For this reason, they are banned from my kitchen, and I try very hard to ignore it when my son purchases white bread for his own consumption. (Teenagers … what’re you gonna’ do?)
- High fructose corn syrup: The commercials paid for by the Corn Refiners Association are lying to you. (It is interesting to note that the Center for Science in Public Interest has challenged these commercials and is lobbying to have them removed from the air.) High fructose corn syrup, now hidden and listed as “corn sugar” on food labels, is metabolized very differently from white sugar in the body. Multiple studies proved that rats fed high amounts of high fructose corn syrup developed pre-diabetic symptoms, metabolic syndrome, high triglycerides, gained weight around the abdominal area, and gained as much as 45% of their body weight in a short time. (Rats fed sugar-water instead of the high fructose corn syrup did not experience the same effects.) This same pattern is being repeated in the US population. One estimate I saw said the average person in the US eats 41.5 POUNDS of high fructose corn syrup each year. In addition to being excessively high in sugar and high glycemic impact carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup has a metabolic effect that “turns off” the hormone in your body that tells you when you’re full. Ever notice you just can’t get enough to eat when you’re eating a food that contains high fructose corn syrup? There’s a true, hormonal metabolic reason. High fructose corn syrup is in everything. Start looking for it on labels. It’s in most condiments, many soft drinks, juices, many cereals and baked goods, many fruit-flavored yogurts, many breads, and many products you would never suspect to contain it. Eliminating this single ingredient has had an amazing effect on blood sugar and weight loss for some people. I encourage you to consider eliminating it.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Clinical Journal of Epigenics recently released a peer-reviewed study that definitely connects rising rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders to high fructose corn syrup and other environmental toxins. I STRONGLY encourage all mothers of young children and all pregnant women to please completely eliminate this food ingredient from your diet.
- Microwave meals: I never use a microwave. Period. I’d rather eat food cold than heat it in a microwave. There is a lot of controversy associated with microwave ovens, but the following facts remain: a) Microwaves convert the active, bioavailable from of B12 contained in food to an inactive form that is not easily absorbed (the same effect is noticed in other B vitamins); microwaving breast milk eliminates the protective antiviral and immune-boosting properties of the milk; microwaving garlic completely eliminates garlic’s antiviral and antibacterial properties; blood levels of hemoglobin were found to dramatically fall after a microwaved food was eaten but this drop did not occur when the same food was eaten after being cooked on the stove or in an oven. It is also very true that microwaving meats (blood-containing foods) changes the chemical structure of the meat. Among other things, the amount of carcinogens in the meat is increased. (A highly-publicized court case in the 90s occurred when a nurse gently microwaved blood before transfusing it into a patient. The chemical structure of the blood was modified in such a way that the patient’s body rejected it and the patient died.) It’s also interesting to note that chemists discovered long ago that chemical processes which should have taken days or weeks to complete were dramatically sped up if they were microwaved a short time. This correlates to other studies which showed that cell death (apoptosis) was hastened by microwaves. Those reasons are enough for me. I prefer to not change the molecular structure of my food before eating it. Period.
- White processed salt: There is absolutely no truth to the myth that sodium is bad for heart health. What is bad for heart health is processed white salt, the same type that is most commonly used in processed foods and restaurants. (And let’s be honest … any food in a box is processed. Read the labels and familiarize yourself with what you’re eating.) Every cell in your body maintains a very delicate balance of sodium and potassium. Sodium is essential for human life, but not in the the form most commonly added to foods. True salt has some color to it and contains essential trace minerals. I actually find that many people’s high blood pressure falls when they start using a mineral-rich salt (in small amounts) such as Himalayan Sea Salt (which is pink) or Celtic Sea Salt (which is gray). The truth is that common, iodized white table salt has been so heavily processed that all other trace minerals have been removed. The end result is a non-organic chemical – sodium chloride – which your body does not recognize. The water retention and elevated blood pressure caused by common table salt occurs because your body exerts so much energy to eliminating the salt from your body. Your body will isolate the sodium and chloride and will pull water out of your cells and tissues to surround the sodium and chloride molecules with water in order to neutralize them. This causes water retention and elevated blood pressure. Many sea salts sold today as “natural” are also highly processed and bear little or no advantage over common table salt. Another issue with regular sea salt is that it contains pollutants common to sea water. My favorite salt is Himalayan Sea Salt. Its pink color is an obvious indicator that it contains higher amounts of minerals than white salt does. Himalayan sea salt was deposited in the Himalayas thousands of years ago, so contamination is not a concern. Using an unprocessed, natural salt is definitely healthier than using a salt that is the result of a chemical process. On a side note, my husband often comments that Himalayan Sea Salt just plain tastes better, so it’s a win-win.
- Bacon, salami, sausage, hot dogs and lunch meats with nitrates: In addition to being highly processed, loaded with unhealthy fat and high in white salt (see above), these meats – sometimes of questionable origin – also contain preservatives called sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite. These chemicals interfere with red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body and have been implicated in erectile dysfunction and blue baby syndrome. They break down into nitrosamines in the body, which are a chemical known to be highly carcinogenic. The good news is that it is possible to find nitrate-free bacon and lunchmeats in many grocery stores. Unprocessed bacon actually tastes better to me than the processed variety. I don’t eat bacon very often, but when I do it’s always nitrate-free.
There you have it. Can you think of any foods that need to be added to this list? Please share!
Photograph courtesy of Daniel Y. Go