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Probiotics & Diabetes

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Probiotics & Diabetes

Probiotics & Diabetes

Probiotics & Diabetes

The Microbiome

The word bacteria conjures up images of creepy crawly organisms scurrying about the inner workings of your body, maybe even give you the shivers.  But to think that as many as 39 trillion are in the human body sounds alarming since that’s more than the number of cells we have.  Now although bacteria can be harmful, there are also helpful kinds that facilitate health and prevention of diseases.

Our digestive tract that houses these bacteria is known as the microbiome or gut flora, comprised of microorganisms which can be viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria.  As mentioned before some of these microorganisms can be potentially unfavorable, but many are actually able to ward off disease or illness.  All microbiomes are different due to various factors ranging from DNA, date of birth, breast fed versus formula fed to environmental factors and diets can all influence the different types of microorganisms found.  The more variety in the gut, the better chance of good digestion, mineral absorption, and healthier immune system can be expected.  Other factors that affect this balance of the microbiome is the use of antibiotics that eliminates good and bad bacteria, and illnesses.  An unhealthy balance of gut flora can lead to digestive issues, weight gain, skin disorders, infections, colds, and even mental health issues.

How it affects Diabetes

Seemingly probiotics can improve a number of health issues, pending further research.  But as far as diabetes specifically, studies show that probiotics along with a healthy diet, lowered their A1C by 8.9% as compared to healthy diet alone which lowered A1C by 3.4%.  Other studies show that probiotics can also lower glucose and insulin levels with diabetics, as well as better glucose tolerance & hyperglycemia in animals.  Human studies have shown promise as well but have usually been limited to fewer than 20 participants and makes it hard to determine what factors contributed to the improved glycemic control.

While it is too early to recommend diabetics to take probiotic supplements or eat specific foods to reduce blood sugars, there is conclusive evidence that probiotics can support overall health.  In particular, a healthy microbiome promotes heart health which is of upmost importance for people with diabetes.  In the meantime it is best to select foods that are natural sources of probiotics.  But if checking with your health provider and given the approval, probiotic supplements with multiple strains (at least 30 billion Colony Forming Units) is best.  Also look out for a USP Verified seal as well as monitoring your glucose levels for signs of improvement afterwards.

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Vitamin D vs. Diabetes

Vitamin D vs. Diabetes

Vitamin D vs Diabetes

With diabetes on it’s meteoric rise, new innovations are being discovered to help quell it’s rising numbers.  New research is looking into vitamin D as a possible treatment option for the now 30 million people living with type 2 diabetes in the U.S.  Obesity is rising as well, raising type 2 diabetes risk factors that in turn ends up causing deficient beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas.  These inadequate beta cells produce little or no insulin at all, causing glucose to build up in the blood damaging other cells and muscle tissues.  This new study looks for a new way to protect these beta cells using vitamin D compounds slowing the development of diabetes.

Vitamin D is produced by the skin as a reaction to sunlight exposure.  In the past, connections have been discovered between low vitamin D levels and risk of diabetes, although the details of how exactly they correlate has eluded researchers for some time.  This is partly due to the wide range of uses the body has for vitamin D, including serving as an inflammation reducer which was a critical factor for this study.

The Research

The study required the creation of beta cells utilizing embryonic stem cells to test the effects of different compounds on them.  One compound in particular iBRD9, when combined with vitamin D molecules increased operations of vitamin D receptors.  This in turn protected beta cells needed for proper insulin production thus bringing glucose levels back down to normal in mouse test subjects.  Correlations of high vitamin D in the blood has been found to lower risk of diabetes but it takes more than just vitamin D alone.  The key is in the way genes are decoded for the production of proteins.  When iBRD9 is introduced it causes the decoding of genes with the “protective effect” on beta cells to be decoded at a faster rate, thus protecting beta cells resulting in more efficient insulin production.  This “protection” is actually a reduction in inflammation of beta cells for better survival under strenuous conditions in the body.

The Conclusion

While the evidence is emerging for future possibilities of drugs that boost the effect of vitamin D on diabetics and pancreatic cancer patients, further research is still in order.  While no side-effects were observed on test mice, it must further be tested for safety on humans.

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Child Food Allergies are on the Rise

Child Food Allergies are on the Rise

Child Food Allergies are on the Rise

As modern medicine continues to find ways to treat and prevent illnesses from occurring, at least one issue affecting children is on the rise, allergies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, food allergies in children have risen by 50 percent over the past couple of decades with peanut or tree nut allergies more than tripling during roughly the same period. Complicating matters further, about 30 percent of children with one food allergy are allergic to more than one type of food.

It’s important to identify food allergies so that steps can be taken to avoid that food and prevent harmful reactions. Food allergies can be cause severe reactions, like anaphylaxis, a serious, fast acting reaction that causes itchy rash, swelling of the throat and tongue, breathing problems, vomiting and light-headedness. A dose of epinephrine is usually required to mediate the symptoms.

About 200,000 people seek medical attention for food allergies each year, and roughly 40 percent of children with allergies will experience a serious incident at some point. Events are most common outside of the home when it is more difficult to determine the ingredients of prepped food and cross-contamination is more likely.

There are a lot of theories for why allergies are on the rise and one idea gaining traction is the hygiene hypothesis. CNBC explains that this theory speculates that a lack of exposure to allergens, bacteria, and other infectious agents early in a child’s life can cause the immune system to register food proteins as a germ in the body. Although not conclusive, the FDA is currently investigating the issue, along with others, to help explain the sudden rise in allergies among American children.

It is possible for many allergies, such as milk, wheat, and eggs, to resolve themselves during childhood but it is uncommon for those to tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and fish to go away on their own. As of yet, there is no medical cure for food allergies at any age, and the only real way to avoid issues is to avoid the problem foods.

10 ways to curb overeating

10 ways to curb overeating

10 Ways to Curb Overeating

It is a little known fact that people with type 1 diabetes lose production of what is called Amylin.  Amylin is a hormone secreted by beta cells that are responsible for making us feel full after a meal.  It also impedes the emptying of the stomach along with regulating rising glucose levels.

There are various factors involved that causes one to overeat such as habit, nutritional deficiencies, and food addictions/disorders.  For those with type 1 diabetes the loss of Amilyn can be a compounding issue when it comes to staving off hunger to reduce overeating.

Healthy Solutions

Here are ten things we can do to mitigate the chances of overindulging on meals, although some suggestions might work better for some than others:

  1. Start off by tracking the foods they eat and weather they provide sufficient nutrients, so that those deficiencies don’t contribute to hunger and overeating.
  2. Increasing Protein intake can promote satiety leading to an overall feeling of “fullness” after meals.
  3. During low-carb diets your body excretes more salt which can lead to lower sodium levels which in turn leads to cravings for sodium, usually mistaken for hunger and food cravings.
  4. Regular lab work during checkups can screen out potential Iron-deficiencies such as in Anemia and hormone imbalances such as in Hypothyroidism, which cause the urge to continue eating.
  5. We can often confuse dehydration for hunger, for this reason drinking plenty of water such as a large glass before eating can help you feel more full.
  6. Measuring food intake by pre-storing them into separate containers helps control portions, which can reduce temptations for second servings.
  7. Staying active, especially with outdoor activities, can distract you from wanting to eat unnecessarily.  Avoid the kitchen where it is most  likely  to tempt you to eat more.
  8. Intermittent fasting can help your body feel actual hunger and re-set your body. Just take into account glucose levels if you are diabetic and adjust basal insulin dosage properly.
  9. Eat slowly and pay close attention to what you are eating, notice the details such as color, texture, smell, & taste.  It can be benificial to focus on what exactly are you putting into your body.
  10. There are medications such as Contrave and/or Symlin can help lower appetite, lower blood glucose levels, and in turn lose weight.


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Cinnamon May Help Fight Against Obesity.

Cinnamon May Help Fight Against Obesity.

Cinnamon May Help Fight Against Obesity.

New studies from the University of Michigan found how a common spice—cinnamon—can help fight against obesity.

Researchers had previously noticed that cinnamaldehyde (a basic oil responsible for cinnamon’s flavor) seemed to defend mice against obesity and hyperglycemia, but it was not well comprehended what prompted this effect.  More study on this process was necessary to see if it would carry over to humans with similar results.

According to their more recent findings, cinnamaldehyde promotes metabolic health by inducing fat cells (adipocytes) to start burning energy utilizing thermogenesis (the process of heat production in organisms).

When donated human fat cells were treated with cinnamaldehyde, some changes in the genes and enzymes improved lipid metabolism (the breaking down of fats in a cell).  An increase in some key proteins that affect thermogenesis was also observed.

Fat cells store energy in the form of lipids, a long-term storage strategy beneficial to our ancestors, as foods high in fat were hard to come by in those times.  These lipids could then be utilized during times of food scarcity or extreme conditions, by converting this stored energy into heat.  It’s in these fairly recent modern times that energy surplus has become problematic, whereas energy deficiency has always been the main problem.  This drastic change has caused our fat-burning process to turn off, so scientists are looking for ways to activate them again.

Research like this is important because the possibility of fighting obesity with cinnamon-based treatments is much easier and better received than traditional drugs.  Further studies are necessary though, to determine how to efficiently control cinnamaldehyde’s benefits and mitigate any side-effects.

Obesity as a major health risk for Diabetes.

Obesity (especially childhood obesity) is also one of the major risk-factors associated with type 2 diabetes and usually begins with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in where muscle, liver, and fat cells do not process insulin well.  Because of this resistance to insulin, the pancreas must compensate with even more insulin to keep glucose levels in check.  Over some time though, the Pancreas is not able to meet the body’s demand causing glucose levels to rise.

Other risk-factors include sedentary lifestyles, increasing age, bad diet, and even genetics in where genes can increase tendencies to become overweight.

Treatments for people with diabetes involve low carb / low calorie diets, regular blood glucose testing, insulin injections/pumps, and medication that helps improve response to insulin.


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Low-Sugar Fruits for Diabetic Diets

Low-Sugar Fruits for Diabetic Diets

Low-Sugar Fruits for Diabetic Diets

Naturally occurring sugar can be found in all fruits, although some may contain more than others.  Those trying keep sugar consumption under control usually give up a lot of the usual culprits such as soda pop and candy, but quite often overlook fruit.  Although a healthier way of satisfying a “sweet-fix” fruits such as watermelon have a greater amount of sugar than others.  Here are some examples of low-sugar fruits suitable for diabetics to consume:


  • Strawberries 1 gram of sugar per strawberry of medium size, high in fiber and vitamin C as well.


  • Blackberries For every 100 grams you get 5 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, and 1.40 grams of protein.


  • Peaches One peach of medium size contains approximately 13 grams of sugar.


  • Oranges – 14 grams of digestible sugar and excellent source of vitamin C.  Steer clear of fruit juices with added sugars and go for the actual fruit instead.


  • Lemons / Limes Not the most intuitive snack to reach for, but with rich levels of vitamin C and only 2 grams of sugar, it can be a great part of a person’s diet.


  • Grapefruit – Half a grapefruit can have 11 grams of sugar.  Some honey or Stevia on top of this fruit may mitigate tartness.


  • Honeydew Melon – Contains 11 grams of digestible sugar, along with potassium, vitamin C, and iron.


  • Avocados – Virtually no sugar found in avocados, but has good fats and fiber.


Adding low-sugar fruits into you diet


Some benefits of having daily fruit in your diet include things such as weight loss, healthy skin, increased energy levels, and reduced risk of diseases such as cancer. The American Cancer Society suggests at least 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.  You can implement them into any meal of the day in a variety of ways to keep things fresh and appealing for consumption.  For example, during breakfast some yogurt or non-sweetened cereal can be topped with peaches or chopped berries.   Snacks can be easily made by cutting up fruit into smaller edible-sized chunks and refrigerated for later consumption.  Lunch and dinner can include fruits as well, fruits and berries make perfect salad toppings and lemon or lime juice as dressing.  Desserts can be healthier with whole fruits and combined into a fruit salad topped with honey to sweeten the deal.


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What’s all the fuss about gluten?

What’s all the fuss about gluten?

What’s all the fuss about gluten?

It’s nearly impossible to go to a restaurant or a supermarket now and not be bombarded with labels touting “gluten free” ingredients and recipes. Today people are acutely aware of an allergy to a protein in wheat, barley and rye. This allergy is called celiac disease.

With all of the sudden attention to this disease, it almost seems like a recent discovery. But, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it has been acknowledged for nearly 2,000 years.

It was ancient Greece, in fact, where a physician first noticed patients that presented with diarrhea and malabsorption. They used the term “coeliac,” from the Greek word for abdominal, to describe the condition and the modern name evolved from there. Much later, during the food supply shortages of World War II, European doctors noticed that fewer children were dying from this disease as wheat became a rare commodity. This link started the decades-long research of wheat, gluten, and celiac disease.

The Mayo Clinic explains that when those with celiac disease eat gluten, it creates an immune reaction in the small intestine. With continued exposure, this response will damage the lining of the intestine and affect the way the body digests food and absorbs nutrients from it. Side effects from this malabsorption can include chronic diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, and more. At this time, there is no reliable cure for this disease but abstaining from gluten entirely can prevent nearly all of the complications from the disease.

Despite the widespread coverage of celiac disease recently, Stefano Guandalini, a doctor at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, points out that gluten has been around since wheat was cultivated over 10,000 years ago and has remained largely unchanged over the years. It is estimated that about 1 percent of the population has celiac disease and many of those people are currently undiagnosed. More alarming is that celiac disease does seem to be becoming more common as only about .2 percent of the population were estimated to have it in the 1950s. Although many people probably don’t have to worry about this affliction, greater awareness of any illness is always helpful with prevention and finding a cure.

Gluten-free lifestyle may not boost heart health

If you don’t have celiac disease, your heart won’t get a boost from going gluten free, according to a new study.

The gluten-free lifestyle is crucial for people with celiac disease. For them eating wheat, barley, and rye triggers the body to attack the small intestine, causing inflammation and leading to malnutrition and gastrointestinal distress. The inflammation then increases heart disease risk. Eliminating gluten stops the attack on the small intestine and reduces inflammation.

What the May study in The BMJ asked is whether people without celiac disease would benefit from going gluten free.

The Harvard research team did not find much of a difference in heart attacks between people who ate the most gluten and those who ate the least.

On the other hand, people who avoided nutritional whole grains had an increased risk of heart disease.

The lesson: If you don’t have celiac disease, don’t cut whole grains out of your diet and don’t worry about going gluten free, according to the Harvard Heath Letter.

New Food Nutrition Labels Now List ‘Added Sugars’

New Food Nutrition Labels Now List ‘Added Sugars’

New Food Nutrition Labels Now List ‘Added Sugars’

The useful nutrition labels on foods now contain a new element: Added Sugars.

The listing now allows consumers to tell how much sugar is naturally occurring and how much is added.

This can be important when comparing products.

One example, according to the Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter: Compare 12 ounces of lemon-lime soda to 100 percent pineapple juice. Twelve ounces of either drink contain 38 grams of sugar. The difference is that all of the sugar in soda is added, while the pineapple juice contains all naturally occurring sugars that are also good sources of vitamin C, Thiamin, folate and vitamin B6.

The information can also help with food choices. Higher intake of added sugars has been associated with heart disease and metabolic syndrome, according to Alice Lichtenstein of Tufts.

So you want to keep your consumption of added sugars low. On the new labels, you will be able to see the percentage of daily value of the added sugars. If the value of added sugar is 5 percent or less, it is a low-sugar food. If the value is 20 percent or more, it is a high sugar food.

It’s a good idea to limit the added sugars to less than 10 per-cent of daily calories.

In evaluating nutrition, first look for the total gram weight of sugar in the product. Below that total sugar number you will find the amount of sugar that was added. So a product with a total of 12 grams of sugar might be comprised of 10 grams of added sugar. This means that only 2 grams of sugar naturally occur in the product itself.

Added sugars are not just cane sugar, but also ingredients like concentrated fruit juices, maple syrup, molasses and even honey — anything that is added to the food to create extra sweetness. These always raise the calorie count but may not necessarily add nutrition.

Did You Know Herbs Can Affect Prescription Medications?

Did You Know Herbs Can Affect Prescription Medications?

Are you taking prescription medications?

Millions of people take herbal supplements and consider them completely safe, but there are nearly 1,500 documented interactions between herbs and prescription medications.

According to, about 20 percent of North Americans take herbal supplements.

Humans have been using herbs for thousands of years for common ailments. In fact, many medicines today, such as morphine and penicillin, have botanical origins, according to Some herbs do have an impact on the body but the question is whether the impact is good.
For one thing, just because herbs grow naturally, doesn’t mean they are processed safely. Consumers rarely know if pesticides have been used on herbal ingredients, for example.

Most importantly, there are few warnings about potential interactions with prescription drugs.

Interaction with heart medications

According to the Mayo Clinic, eight of the 10 most commonly used herbal supplements dangerously interact with the blood-thinning medication, Warfarin.

  •  Garlic increases the risk of bleeding when taken with Warfarin, aspirin and Plavix.
  •  Ginkgo increases the risk of bleeding with Warfarin, aspirin and Clopidogrel.
  •  Ginseng decreases the effectiveness of Warfarin.
  •  Hawthorn decreases blood pressure and heart rate when taken with Beta blockers and propranolol. Also beware of taking Hawthorn with calcium channel blockers such as Cardizem and other and nitrates, such as Nitro-Bid.

Other herbs that can dangerously interact with heart medicine include evening primrose, CoenzymeQ10 (also known as ubiquinone or CoQ10), and St. John’s wort.

  •  Never mix Valerian with muscle relaxants, other sleep or anxiety medicines, pain medicines, antidepressants, or other medicines that cause drowsiness.
  •  Saw Palmetto reduces effectiveness of estrogen and oral contraceptives, and hormonal therapies.
  •  Melatonin should not be taken with benzodiazepines, sedatives and hypnotics, some antihistamines, opioid analgesics or muscle relaxers. It can also interfere with diabetes medications.

Many herbal medications can interfere with medicines metabolized in the liver and even cause liver damage.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking an herbal supplement.