February 17, 2012

Infants at Risk from Arsenic Levels in Baby Formulas

Think organic is the only way to get your food? You will want to read this article in WebMD and maybe revise your thinking for some organic products. I know I am changing my purchases until the Food and Drug issues their report on the arsenic levels in some organic products.

Presently there are no regulations governing the arsenic (As) levels in food or food products. Arsenic levels in water is regulated and many of the foods tested were three to five times higher in arsenic levels than is allowed in water.

A study, which is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives states that researchers analyzed arsenic levels in 17 different brands of formula made for infants and toddlers. They also tested 29 energy bars and 3 energy gels, which are portable sources of carbohydrates often used by endurance athletes.

They also tested three organic brown rice syrups that are sold in natural or organic sections of some supermarkets and in many health food stores. Some people use brown rice syrup as a sweetener substitute for sugar or corn syrup in baked goods.

The researchers stated that products that did not list rice or rice syrups as the top ingredients were all low in arsenic. They also stated that rice syrups themselves and products listing rice or rice syrups as one of the first five ingredients, all contained high arsenic levels. Most of the arsenic found in the energy bars or gels was the inorganic arsenic believed to be the most toxic.

Rice products are now being tested for arsenic levels as is some juices after recent tests turned up high levels in some apple juice brands. The big concern is the levels for infants because of the relative exposure based on body size. Hopefully, FDA will have guidance published in the near future.

Please take time to read the WebMD article. Then read the abstract here. If you are still interested in reading more, on the abstract page in the upper right corner you may print a copy of the full study, or download a PDF file to read the full details of the study.

February 16, 2012

Children with OSA Benefit from CPAP

This was a most timely article as it fit with an email question I received from someone discovering a blog of mine on obstructive sleep apnea surgery. The parent was wondering about why the two doctors he had taken his child to were so insistent on doing surgery. The blog was this one and he was thinking there could be more about this since October 2010. I also gave him this blog from February 2011.

After replying to the email with this article, he emailed me back asking for my phone number. I supplied it and his wife called shortly after. I supplied her with the sites I had and a listing of doctors that handled sleep apnea in their area. She discovered that the nearest sleep study lab was about 60 miles from them, but she has a sister living in the town so that was a huge plus as she would have a place to spend the night.

Both parents had read my blogs and were wondering why the doctors wanting to do the surgery had not informed them about the side effects and problems that could result. We discussed their medical insurance and I suggested they should call there for doctors and what equipment would be covered. I had given them three sleep apnea equipment sites so they could familiarize themselves with some of their options.

Two hours later, I received another phone call saying that two of the different types of equipment would be covered and she was to receive a schedule of how often replacement parts could be obtained through the policy. She found out that the doctor she was now going to call for an appointment was indicated by the medical insurance and they encouraged her to make an appointment.

Today, February 15, I received a call saying that at first it was going to be about two weeks before their appointment. Then they had received a call from the doctor this morning asking them to be there by 3:00 PM for an appointment and if a sleep lab was needed, they had a cancellation for this evening and their son would be using this appointment. The mother said the doctor asked her many questions, but her conversations with me had given her the knowledge to answer them.

She and her husband had taken time last night to count the number of apneas at two different times that their son had for a half hour period. She had counted 39 apneas when she observed her son and her husband counted 44 apneas during his time. She said the doctor was very surprised they had done this, but said this helped him know that the sleep study lab was needed. The doctor did ask her to inform the insurance company that he would be participating in the sleep study lab tonight and have the insurance company call him if they had any questions.

The husband just called me and stated that the doctor had done an evaluation and agreed that the sleep study lab was needed. The doctor had discussed with his wife and son what would happen during the study, and then clearly stated that until after the sleep study lab results were available, he could not make any recommendations. He did list the options which included surgery, but that until he knew that CPAP (continuous positive air pressure), if needed, did not work, he would prefer leaving surgery as a last resort. The father also stated that exercise was also part of the treatment options to have their son lose weight to near normal for his body structure.

I hope that I will hear what the results are, the course of action prescribed, and be able to do a follow-up blog. Here is a second article about the same study, which I had given the parents.

February 15, 2012

What Is So Discouraging About Diabetes Forums

I am talking about diabetes forums in general and not pointing out any particular forum. Diabetes forums can be a source of some valuable information – when people do not take offense to the information given. What people need to understand, but seldom do, is there are many ways to approach any given topic and you will find many of them in answers to some inane questions.

On several of the forums lately, there have been some excellent questions and many equally good answers. However, for three questions on three different forums, the persons asking the question were looking for answers they thought they should see. When the answers were not what they were looking for, they dropped out of the discussion. All the questions were for people with type 2 diabetes

Two of the questions were about carbohydrates and fat content of foods. They were looking for confirmation of some information they believed in and that is promoted by the American Diabetes Association. This did not happen; all answers were low to medium carbohydrate and medium to high fat answers. The original posters came back with the studies have shown that fat was bad for us and whole grains were good for us. None of the responders agreed and so the discussions ended on both forums.

The third forum had a question about insulin and when to go on insulin. I thought this could be an interesting discussion, but for every answer, the original poster would ask about another insulin myth. There were some good responses, but the person was not convinced. Finally, one person listed many of the insulin myths and the correct answers to them. This infuriated the original poster and she said there had to be some truth to the myths. She then stated that was the reason she would avoid insulin as long as she could as insulin was only for people with severe complications and near the end of life.

I had not participated in the discussion about insulin since the other answers were good and to the point. The last statement above is the myth to end all myths. This is because insulin for people with type 2 diabetes is thought to be the treatment of last resort. Many doctors and most type 2 patients hold this to be true. By doing this, they are diminishing their quality of life and their lifespan by possibly years if not a decade, or longer.

People with type 2 diabetes should become knowledgeable about insulin and the myths so they can understand the value of insulin and how it can enhance their life and prevent the complications from gaining a foothold in their lives. I have now been on insulin for a full eight years and am very happy that I have this medication to hold the complications at bay. Yes, I have neuropathy, but I had this several years before the diabetes diagnosis. I can say that it has not gotten worse since diabetes and going on insulin.

So if you are an active participant on any diabetes forum, be aware that many that come to the forums do so only for confirmation of what they believe and not for the truth. They believe in many of the myths about diabetes and are fearful of insulin. Some are more fearful of the needles, but they can learn to overcome this. Insulin can be a very powerful tool in the battle to manage diabetes. There is a need for education, but the information is available, whether in printed form, or online.

February 14, 2012

Diabetes Support Groups Aren't for Everyone

Diabetes support groups can be a valuable asset for some and a pain in the backside for others. They do have advantages and disadvantages like any other group, club, or meeting. In the last four years, I have been involved in six different support groups in a 100-mile radius. I thought a regional group would get it going, but in three months it has flopped – fees for meeting places were probably to blame. Is it the region, area, or the general population that causes diabetes support groups not to succeed? I don't have an answer.

I do know what has been the bane of several of the groups – the diabetes police. No, I am not talking about the diabetes food police, as this is another topic. The diabetes police are well-intentioned spouses (male and female) that come to the meetings for whatever reason. Then at some point during the meeting, they make inappropriate comments that many dislike and do not want to put up with in a meeting for support. The atmosphere was supposed to be supportive and nourishing to allow attendees to ask the questions they needed answers to for assistance and to help guide them. However, these well-intentioned spouses cannot stand to be left out and feel they have to add their drivel even if they are wrong and demeaning to others.

This has happened at every support group I have been a participant in and it casts the death knell on the meeting, if not the group. This is one reason I will not allow my own spouse to attend – which sometimes means I do not attend. Some of the comments by the spouses have been very caustic and others have been almost innocent at the start, but later evolve into belittling attitudes of why we are not able to manage our weight, food consumption, and even our feelings. We do not need these comments when we are in a discussion about depression, testing, or changing lifestyles.

I thought one group (type 2 only) had moved past this problem until a new member came with his family – spouse and her parents. Not even ten minutes into the meeting, and his family was berating people for allowing themselves to get diabetes, inability to manage their diet, and lack of self-discipline. It only took five minutes for the meeting to disband, and people were gone. This group does still meet (thanks to the doctor that leads the group), but they are not allowing new members until they have been talked to by several of the members and understand that spouses and other family members (non-diabetic) are not allowed.

Another death sentence for diabetes support groups is certified diabetes educators as group leaders. Those that insist following the American Diabetes Association guidelines cut off discussions that are outside of the guidelines and stifle personal experiences being shared. They will not allow discussions about low carb, high fat, or other discussions that are of interest to members of the group.

I have now limited myself to the small – intentionally – informal group that I participate in and we are now seven members. Two are women and do not attend that often. All but one of us now are on insulin and we are all type 2, with the newest member now officially off all medications thanks to her diet and exercise regimen. Two of the group are still working and therefore unable to attend every time we get together. We do get together more frequently now that all of us have Skype. We exchange emails and all of us do research and we discuss this among ourselves. I am the only one of the group that blogs publicly, but I am supported by the group. In a way they can be my best supporters and harshest critics, but I thank them.

This is just a guess on my part, but another reason for limited participation in diabetes support groups is the secrecy that people want to maintain. This may or may not have anything to do with the diabetes police or the diabetes food police.

February 13, 2012

Foods Topping the List of Sodium Culprits

A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study says that about 90 percent of the people in the United States consume too much sodium per day. It is not surprising that the largest contributors of the excess sodium come from your grocery store purchases and foods you eat at restaurants.

An average person consumes about 3300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. The US published guidelines are for less than 2300 mg of salt per day. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, are an African-American, or are over the age of 51, then you should limit your salt to 1500 mg per day.

The study lists the top ten foods that are the largest contributors of the sodium we consume on a daily basis. The 10 foods are responsible for 44 percent of our sodium intake.

  • Breads and rolls
  • Luncheon meats such as deli ham and turkey
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Soups
  • Cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
  • Cheese
  • Pasta dishes
  • Meat dishes
  • Snack foods including chips, pretzels, and popcorn”

It is very interesting that the majority of our sodium comes from outside the home. We do need to be concerned about the salt contained in processed foods and work to reduce the sodium we purchase. This graph makes one sit up and take notice:

Some food manufacturers are working to reduce the sodium content of their foods, but I have to wonder if the 10 percent reduction in sodium is not a token gesture to appease those asking for sodium reduction. However, a 10 percent reduction in all foods is a start.

What the WebMD article fails include is the tips on how to reduce your salt consumption. Read the source information by the CDC.

  • Choose to purchase healthy options and talk with your grocer or favorite restaurant about stocking lower sodium food choices.
  • Read the Nutrition Facts label while shopping to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods.
  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce.
  • Limit processed foods high in sodium.
  • When eating out, request lower sodium options.
  • Support initiatives that reduce sodium in foods in cafeterias and vending machines.”

These are good tips and ways to attempt to limit your sodium.