August 7, 2015

Apple Cider Vinegar in the News Again

This topic is back in the news again. It now happens once or twice a year and is done to excite people new to diabetes into trying apple cider vinegar in hopes of helping them maximize blood glucose management. What they don't tell us is more important than what they do tell us.

Do not drink apple cider vinegar straight. It's so acidic that it could harm your tooth enamel and esophagus. That is told to us, but it is not emphasized. As a folk remedy, apple cider vinegar has been credited with curing everything from the flu to warts. Many of its supposed benefits are unproven, but some experts think that adding a little of this sour liquid to your life may have some health benefits.

Apple cider vinegar does appear to help with diabetes and blood glucose management in the short term. Carol Johnston, PhD, directs Arizona State University’s nutrition program. She has been studying apple cider vinegar for more than 10 years and believes its effects on blood sugar are similar to certain medications yet she refuses to say which medications.

According to Johnston, apple cider vinegar's anti-glycemic effect is well documented. She explains that the vinegar blocks some of the digestion of starch. It doesn’t block the starch 100%, but it definitely prevents at least some of that starch from being digested and raising your blood sugar.

We are fortunate that not everyone feels as confident about apple cider vinegar.
Michael Dansinger, MD, director of Tufts University’s diabetes lifestyle coaching program says, “Trying to use vinegar to treat diabetes is like trying to bail out a flooded basement with a teaspoon.” He advises patients to focus instead on their overall diets -- a strategy backed by a lot more research.

I agree with him when he says. “If you have gastroparesis, a common problem with diabetes that slows stomach emptying, be careful. Early research shows apple cider vinegar may make this problem worse.” "I’m concerned that drinking vinegar, even diluted in water, increases acid in your system, which puts a strain on your kidneys and bones,” Dansinger says.

If you have diabetes and want to try apple cider vinegar, let your doctor know, and keep an eye on your blood sugar levels. Johnston stresses that if you are on medication for diabetes, you shouldn’t stop taking it and substitute vinegar. If you're thinking about using vinegar to help manage your blood sugar, talk to your doctor first. Then follow his directions carefully.

If you drink apple cider vinegar with a starchy meal, then the starches you don't digest will feed the good bacteria in your gut. This has not been proven in a clinical trial and is just the opinion of Carol Johnston.

An unidentified source says, “He recommends using unfiltered apple cider vinegar, “the cloudy kind, where you can see a blob in the bottle.” “That blob is known as “the mother,” and it’s full of probiotics and other beneficial bacteria. “This kind of vinegar can support immune function and, for some people, even help with constipation”

Carol Johnston has only two small studies to her credit and there are a few more small studies by others, but because of the lack of funds, no more studies have been done. Yet, she claims to be the “expert” about apple cider vinegar.

August 6, 2015

Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose – Part 2

Continued from the previous blog.

One exception to hand washing is when you have not been eating fruit (and have fruit juice on your fingers) or are away from an area where you can wash, then using an alcohol pad is better than not cleaning you finger where you will test. Occasionally it might be wiser to use the second drop of blood and you may read my blog here about this.

The purpose or goal of SMBG is to collect information about blood glucose levels at different times during the day to assist you in creating a more level blood glucose. You will use this information to adjust your regimen in response to the blood glucose values. This will mean adjusting your food intake, physical activity, and possibly medications with your doctor’s direction.

This is the reason for testing in pairs. One reading postprandial is worthless and tells you nothing. It does not tell you what the increase may have been from the food consumed, or even if you need to reduce your food consumption. Okay, if the preprandial dinner reading was 105 mg/dl and at 90 minutes postprandial, the reading is 148 mg/dl, then this means that the increase was 43 mg/dl. Now this says something and depending on the goals you have set, you can make adjustments. Do you need to reduce your food consumption (the carbohydrates), do more physical activity, or if on insulin adjust the dosage injected? I would always encourage reducing the number of carbohydrates. With the information given, you need to potentially do a correction injection of insulin, but this is not the action you should take on a daily basis.

I found the extra expense for test strips well worth the money. I was able to determine what my high point after meals were. Yes, this has changed over time, first more minutes and now less. Presently, my high point is normally reached at 105 minutes. When I started testing, I quickly found out what foods needed to be eliminated from my food plan and which foods needed to be limited. Even this has changed, but not drastically. Learning what 'new to me' foods do to my blood glucose has helped.

Yes, in the first five years, I used a lot of test strips. I am happy that I did, as I often know when a food may spike my blood glucose and drastically limit it. Most of the time I am right and have good results. Yes, occasionally I have a surprise. Most of the time for the good, but some bad as well.

It is wise for anyone with type 2 diabetes to learn self-monitoring of blood glucose and what the readings mean. Testing in pairs is the best way to learn. Today's doctors do not have the time or the desire to teach. This applies to certified diabetes educators as well. The registered dietitians will be more than happy to teach anyone that isn't knowledgeable because then they can promote whole grains and other foods promoted by Big Food. I keep meeting people that learned the hard way that these teachings damage your health rather then manage diabetes.

August 5, 2015

Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose – Part 1

Why is it that type 2 bloggers are the only ones that urge other type 2 people to test regularly? And yes, it can be tough on a budget. I will not deny that, but with the testing supplies and meter that can be purchased at Walmart, this should help many people. Other people can write the manufacturer of their meter and request financial assistance. You will need to follow their instructions carefully or financial assistance will be denied.

A great way to manage diabetes is through self-monitoring of blood glucose levels (SMBG). There are limitations and barriers to SMBG, which ultimately affect outcomes related to adherence of medications. Most people do not care and that is a shame that they are willing to let diabetes manage their lives. Even this article in Diabetes in Control does little to educate people about SMBG.

The study researchers felt the study revealed barriers to blood glucose testing and integration of testing in the lives of patients. The main outcome of this study was to find out the perspective of patients of SMBG in a clinical setting. The study suggests that patients are having a difficult time incorporating SMBG in their lives. Many patients are not even sure of their target glucose goal, which diminishes their motivation of SMBG. More education is needed to promote best practice for SMBG.

Most people on a budget refuse to use the supplies necessary to help them manage their diabetes. This forces them to operate in the blind and not manage their diabetes and then they become upset when their A1c trends upward. Others refuse to test because they don't want to prick their fingers because they fear the pain. I can only say that if the testing is done properly, there should be little pain and while I will admit that occasionally I test outside the best area on the side of my finger tips, I seldom have much pain.

This is wrong and you should expect pain here.

Still the wrong area and expect more pain here.

Image result for blood glucose testing This is the area that is generally the best for testing.

Many people do not take the necessary steps to properly test. You should wash your hands with warm (or as hot as you can tolerate) water and soap. Then rinse and thoroughly dry your hands. Do not handle test strips with wet hands, as you will make the reading unreliable. Been there, done that, and it is a great way to waste test strips. Once your hands are washed and dried, then you may consider yourself read to test.

First, have the lancet device ready for use. Second, remove one test strip from the test strip container and carefully insert it into the slot on the meter. Now set the prepared meter down and use the lancet device to prick your finger. If you do not receive enough blood, it may be necessary to increase the depth the device will penetrate the skin and reprick your finger. It may be necessary to gently squeeze the finger to obtain sufficient blood. Now, take the meter with the test strip inserted and gently guide the test strip into the blood, letting the blood wick into the test strip. Gently set the meter, with the test strip still in place, on the counter so that the number that appears after about five seconds can be easily read. Now, you are ready to record the time and the reading.

Continued in the next blog.

August 4, 2015

Joslin Pushes Carbohydrates

No, they are not pushing a certain number of grams, but pushing just the same. For those of us using a low carb/high fat food plan this should be unacceptable. The Joslin site receives many new to diabetes people and their promotion of carbohydrates will lead these people down the path to poorer A1c's and other problems.

Quote - Everyone needs carbohydrates or “carbs” to give our bodies the energy necessary to work and play. Carbs are made up of starches, sugars, and fibers. Carbs also provide us with lots of vitamins and minerals. People with diabetes need to pay particular attention to carbohydrates, as these foods become glucose in your blood. They are not the enemy. - Unquote.

Fat also is used by our bodies for energy for work and play. Often other sources of food provide us with more vitamins and minerals. Yes, we need to pay a lot of attention to carbohydrates because this is the cause of high triglycerides and is converted to glucose, which causes our blood glucose levels to spike to unreasonable highs. Many people do find that carbohydrates are our enemy.

Quote - But be selective; some carbs are really healthy and others are merely empty calories. We all know that cereal, pasta, rice, and breads are rich in carbs. Go for the whole grains, the brown rice and high fiber foods- check that food label! - Unquote

Yes, we all know that cereal, pasta, rice, and breads are heavy in carbohydrates. Be very careful about whole grains, brown rice, and high fiber foods as they don't affect everyone the same. Learn the value of “testing in pairs” as this will reveal how badly these foods raise your blood glucose levels. Joslin will not tell you about this.

Quote - Some other healthy carb choices include starchy vegetables, such as peas, corn and winter squashes. And I bet you didn’t know that beans such as those in chili or three bean salad also contain carbs. Fruits are another delicious healthy carb choice- but watch out for fruit juices. They are loaded with carbs and the very important fiber you get from eating a piece of fresh fruit is gone. So forget the juice- eat the orange! - Unquote

Starchy vegetables are loaded with carbohydrates and this includes carrots. Yes, beans also contain carbohydrates. If you need a list of low carbohydrate vegetables, please read this. Now most fruits have very few carbohydrates, but contain more sugars and fructose. Joslin is correct in their statement of forgetting the juice and eating the whole fruit if you insist on having fruit. Limiting the amount of fruit consumed is often wise unless you have done your research. Many berries can be healthful unless over consumed.

Mindless eating at crowded gatherings or while watching TV needs to be replaced with mindful eating. When we are distracted, we tend to eat more than when we are consciously watching what we eat, savoring our food, and chewing it thoroughly.

And the last part of this blog is important. We all need fiber for our systems. This helps our intestines move the waste through our system as will the fat and
help the bacteria that are naturally there do its work in moving the nutrients into our blood stream where it can be utilized.

August 3, 2015

SGLT2 Diabetes Drugs May Cause Diabetic Comas

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently posted a warning that three drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes—canagliflozin (brand name: Invokana), dapagliflozin (Farxiga), and empagliflozin (Jardiance)—may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA. As if this wasn't enough, several cable channels have ads for joining a class action lawsuit against the makers of canagliflozen. The other two companies may also be victims of this action in the future.

This is one reason I will never use a new drug until it has been on the market for several years. Granted I will probably never use any of the oral diabetes drugs other than metformin (this is now off the medications list for me because of stage 3 kidney disease). Thank goodness, insulin is still working wonderfully! More people with type 2 diabetes should actually consider insulin as the course of treatment.

Ketoacidosis is a condition that can lead to diabetic coma and even death. The signs and symptoms of DKA include difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, and unusual fatigue or sleepiness. Normally, those with type 1 diabetes are at risk for DKA, whereas it is a rare condition for those with type 2 diabetes. Read my recent blog on DKA here.

This is another in a long line of examples of the harm Big Pharma’s drugs can and do cause. When it comes to the development of new ways to treat diseases, the current system drives the creation of increasingly exorbitantly priced drugs

It is possible for many diabetics to keep their blood sugar levels close to a truly normal range with an integrative approach. Below are some natural ways to control or even reverse diabetes. Please remember that any significant changes to your diet, supplement regime, testing, or lifestyle should be made only after consultation with your doctor or diabetes specialist.
  1. Diet. A diet loaded with leafy greens and other low-starch veggies, high-quality fats, and clean sources of protein are helpful in controlling blood glucose. Be sure to look for a nutritional advisor who is independent, however! Organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Society for Nutrition receive major funding from corporate food interests, including junk food companies. In stark contrast, the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists is not similarly compromised.
  2. Botanicals. Jonathan Wright, MD, notes that several studies show that berberine, an alkaloid found in the herb goldenseal, can lower blood glucose as effectively as the drug metformin at similar doses (500 mg 3x/day). Indian kino gum resin (Pterocarpus marsupium) has been found to regenerate the beta cells that make insulin in the pancreas. This finding validates its long use in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for diabetes. Other herbs or food ingredients researched for control of blood glucose include cinnamon, bitter melon, and the fruit Garcinia cambogia to enhance insulin sensitivity.
  3. Supplement wisely. According to Dr. Julian Whitaker, the water-soluble antioxidants and other nutrients that protect against damage may be lost in the excessive urination that accompanies diabetes. For this or other reasons, people with diabetes are more prone to develop kidney disease. All vitamin, mineral, and amino acid levels should be checked, monitored, and kept in normal range with supplements if necessary, along with checking blood glucose, insulin, and A1c, a longer-term marker for blood glucose. Dr. Whitaker particularly recommends supplementing with magnesium and chromium, and alpha lipoic acid and acetyl-L-carnitine for peripheral neuropathy.
  4. Exercise at least thirty minutes every day. This will also control blood pressure.
  5. Take care with prescription drugs. Besides the above warnings, the FDA has launched a safety review of the diabetes drug Actos in light of new data suggesting that the drug may increase risk of bladder cancer. And a combination of two common drugs, one an antidepressant, the other a statin used to lower blood cholesterol, may put people at risk for developing diabetes. This finding is especially important because so little is known about how drugs interact with each other, and so many people are prescribed multiple drugs together. The good news is that it is often possible to control diabetes without the use of any drugs.