The Dietary Way to Avoid, or Reverse, Type 2 Diabetes

July 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Diets, Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

It is estimated that by 2050 as much of thirty percent of the American population could suffer with diabetes and usually where they lead we in the UK do tend to follow. As new studies show that diabetics also have nearly double the risk of cancer compared to the rest of the population it seems only sensible to be proactive and diet is the first and simplest step on that road.

All of the following have been shown to help prevent diabetes so stock up your larder and add them to your regular shopping list:

• It may seem odd that a sweet substance is on the list, but maple syrup can protect against both diabetes and cancer and contains a newly identified substance called Quebecol, formed when the sap is boiled, and is full of antioxidants.

• Ayurvedic medicine has long suggested the use of spices that offer some protection against diabetes: turmeric, curcumin and fenugreek. All are found in Indian cooking so makek a weekly date with your favourite restaurant or take away.

• The link between obesity and diabetes has been challenged by a recent study involving the Yup’ik people of Alaska where 70% are classified as obese, but only 3.3% of them have diabetes. The key may be in consuming indicates that consuming the type of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, salmon, lake trout, herring, tuna and salmon.

• A 2006 Italian study found that dark chocolate reduces the risk of insulin resistance, but the best comes from raw, unprocessed cocoa without any refined sugars added so minimal processing and maximum cocoa content is the key here with cocoa powder and baking chocolate containing the highest levels of the protective flavonoids.

• Coffee, in moderation, increases blood levels of testosterone and oestrogen. These hormones have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

• Polyphenols, the natural chemicals found in red grape skin and red wine, help the body regulate glucose levels, preventing potentially dangerous plunges and surges in blood sugar levels – same advice as for chocolate – in moderation!

• Phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants – found in blueberries, cranberries and strawberries can also reduce your risk of diabetes, with the added benefit of helping you lose belly fat, according to a 2009 University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study.

• Cherries are abundant in natural chemicals called anthocyanins, which increased insulin production in animal pancreatic cells by 50% in laboratory trials. Other sources include strawberries, red grapes and blueberries.

• Red and black beans can help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels so can help prevent diabetes, or minimize its effects if you are already diagnosed.

• Coconut oil has smaller, easily absorbed medium chain molecules that supply the cells with essential fatty acids without glucose and without inhibiting insulin production.

• Almonds and walnuts prevent diabetes by regulating blood glucose, particularly if eaten before a meal as that can help regulate blood sugar levels, and regular consumption did improve insulin levels in a 2009 study.

• Buckwheat helps control blood sugar levels and in an animal trial t heir glucose levels went down by twelve to nineteen percent. Easier to find as Japanese soba noodles in the supermarket.

• Cinnamon provides antioxidants and the powdered bark is also effective against diabetes. It improves blood sugar regulation by significantly increasing your glucose metabolism and has insulin-like effects in the body. Proanthocyanidin, a bioflavonoid found in cinnamon, changes the insulin-signalling activity of your fat cells.

• Tea: Green tea lowers blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics and reduces associated complications such as cataracts and cardiovascular disease Black tea contains polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that includes starch and cellulose, that may benefit people with diabetes by slowing glucose absorption. A Scottish study found that natural chemicals found in black tea may protect against diabetes by mimicking the effects of insulin in the body.

• Seaweed, in the form wakame, helps promote fat-burning protein and promotes the synthesis in the liver of DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), a fatty acid also found in fish oil. It is also said to help prevent prostate cancer, support thyroid function, and assist in blocking the growth of breast cancer tumours.

Some of these changes are easy, others may be harder, but if you vary your diet and expand your culinary horizons you will definitely reap the benefit. Eating out from India to Japan and China won’t be too hard will it?

Diet Dangers for Type 2 Diabetics

May 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Health

Being overweight is a risk factor for diabetes, and there are a million diets out there if you are looking to lose a few pounds, or even stones. However, for diabetics the right diet is crucial as it is essential to have the right balance of foods to keep blood sugar levels under control.

The most popular diet advocated generally has been one that is low fat and high carbohydrate based, but many diabetics have struggled to lose weight, and keep it off, on this. More recently there has been a surge of interest in low carbohydrate and high protein diets (Atkins and similar) which have proved highly effective, but have not previously been suggested for diabetics. This has prompted Diabetes UK, the UK’s leading charity for people with diabetes, to state their position as their previous dietary recommendations have focused on the type of carbohydrate in the diet of people with diabetes and they have clarified this to say that the priority for people with Type 2 diabetes wanting to lose weight should be reducing overall energy intake whilst ensuring that the diet still provides all essential nutrients.

Everyone responds differently and what suits one person’s metabolism does not necessarily work for another and so you may need to try a number of different variations in your diet to achieve, and maintain, optimum weight loss. Diabetes UK does not say that low carbohydrate diets are best for all people with Type 2 diabetes, but that it may be suitable for some. Information to date has suggested that low-carbohydrate diets can reduce weight and lead to improvements in blood glucose control but the charity only found convincing evidence that this was effective for up to 1 year. Thus far there is insufficient evidence to support the safety and benefit of low-carbohydrate diets in the longer term.

If you want to lose weight on a low carbohydrate diet, and are diabetic, then you must discuss this with your dietitian so they can alert you the possible side effects of such a diet. If you are on a low carb diet then your blood glucose levels should be closely monitored and medications adjusted where necessary. Carbohydrate foods mainly provide energy for physical activity, so it is sensible to tailor the amount of the foods to how much exercise you do. Few people today get recommended daily minimum amount of physical activity, so it is little wonder that the old advice to eat more starchy foods would lead to weight gain for many.

This is good news for diabetics to try the high protein, low carb diets but remember you do need some carbohydrates – just make sure they are wholegrains and in moderate quantities. The best diet is the simplest; one that is low in saturated fats and salt, and rich in vegetables and fruits and includes wholegrains and oily fish. The two main factors that promote weight gain are having a sedentary lifestyle and eating too much refined carbohydrate from heavily processed foods.
If you want more information on living with diabetes visit

Testosterone Replacement Could Decrease Deaths in Men With Type 2 Diabetes

April 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing, Mens Health

A new study reported at the Society for Endocrinology by Professor Hugh Jones shows that men with low levels of testosterone may die sooner unless they are given testosterone replacement therapy.

Professor Jones’ team conducted a six year study of 587 men with type 2 diabetes, splitting them into three groups: those with normal and low testosterone levels and those with low testosterone levels treated with testosterone replacement therapy for two years or more during the follow up period.

The findings show for the first time that low testosterone puts diabetic men at a significantly increased risk of death. 36 of the 182 diabetic men with untreated low testosterone died during the six year study, compared to 31 of the 338 men with normal testosterone levels (20% vs 9%). Furthermore, only 5 of the 58 diabetic men that were given testosterone replacement therapy died during the study (8.6%), meaning they showed significantly better survival compared to the non-treated group.

It is well known that men with type 2 diabetes often have low testosterone levels, so it is important that we investigate the health implications of this. We now need to carry out a larger clinical trial to confirm these preliminary findings. If confirmed, then many deaths could be prevented every year.

This is the first study to show testosterone treatment can improve survival in men with type 2 diabetes and testosterone deficiency. Further studies now need to be carried out to fully investigate the potential therapeutic benefit of testosterone replacement in diabetic men with low testosterone but such men might well consider looking at natural testosterone supplements in consultation with their doctor.

The Benefits of Fish Oil in Avoiding Complications of Diabetes

December 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health

There are 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and it’s estimated that there are a further 850,000 undiagnosed people with the condition. Unfortunately, there are many serious complications associated with diabetes including nerve damage, amputation, blindness or heart disease and new research currently being funded by leading health charity Diabetes UK aims to determine if regular doses of medication derived from fish oil could be used to improve this situation.

Keith McCormick at the University of Southampton is to conduct an 18-month clinical trial on 100 people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to determine whether taking high-doses of purified n-3 long chain fatty acids can improve the function of nerves and small blood vessels in the feet of those with a higher chance of developing the condition.

This will be done by giving them a medication derived from fish oil found in Norwegian sardines (named OMACOR) but whether that is each individual sardine or their family name isn’t quite clear – at least to me. The object of the study is to use the data obtained to improve our knowledge of the link between nerve function and blood vessel damage.

People with diabetes are susceptible to develop serious health complications as previously described and this is as a result of neuropathy where the nerves and small blood vessels become damaged. Sensory neuropathy is the most common form and mainly affects the nerves in the feet and legs. The loss of sensation in these limbs can make people with diabetes vulnerable to foot wounds and these complications can develop even before diabetes is diagnosed.

Apparently those OMACOR sardines have already proved to be extremely successful in the treatment of high triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood, so I sincerely hope there are plenty of such fish in the sea and they don’t fall fall foul of fishing quotas.

This is a valuable area to explore as diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today. It takes approximately 10 per cent of NHS spending, £9 million a year, and neuropathy and blood vessel damage are behind many of the complications of diabetes, which ultimately lead to 100 amputations each week in the UK.

Because Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for up to ten years, 50 per cent of people already have complications, such as neuropathy, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and stroke, by the time they’re diagnosed. The research being funded at the University of Southampton therefore has the potential to identify a readily available treatment to prevent some of the serious complications of diabetes and protect those at risk.

If you would like more information on diabetes, then The Diabetes UK Careline offers information and support on any aspect of managing diabetes. The line is a low cost number (0845 120 2960) and opens Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. Recorded information on a number of diabetes-related topics is also available on this number 24 hours a day.

Dark Chocolate Is Good For Diabetics – Oh Really?

October 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Strange But True

You may have seen a similar headline that in your daily newspaper this week (without the boom really of course) and it relates to results from a study by a group of researchers from the University of Hull and the Hull York Medical School.

I never thought I would be the one to try and dissuade anyone from eating chocolate, but there are some serious drawbacks to my mind with this research.

The study reports that dark chocolate has significant health benefits for people with Type 2 diabetes as HDL (high density lipoprotein) or ‘good’ cholesterol is improved and overall cholesterol balance is enhanced when patients consume 45g of dark chocolate each day over 16 weeks.

The patients were given 85% cocoa solids or a placebo which contained no cocoa solids but was dyed the same colour as the dark chocolate. No mention is made of how the poor group, placebo fared, rather than having to consume something that sounds quite unpleasant.

Steve Atkin, Professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology, who led the study says: “People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease and since one of the main contributory factors to heart disease is a low level of HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol, the findings that dark chocolate can improve this, means the results of this study are hugely significant.”

Hmm, I agree with the first part of the sentence but not at all convinced about his conclusion. He goes on to say “Chocolate with a high cocoa content should be included in the diet of individuals with Type 2 diabetes as part of a sensible, balanced approach to diet and lifestyle. This study demonstrates that it can offer a potential reduction in cardiovascular risk without detrimental risks on weight, insulin resistance or glycaemic control.”

I do wonder about doctors I do really — however as he is a professor perhaps he is slightly different — but firstly there is rarely such a thing as a sensible approach chocolate intake for many people and secondly I do not see how a chocolate bar does not have a detrimental risk for weight or glycaemic control.

I’m certainly no expert, but Dr. Iain Frame, Director of Research at leading health charity Diabetes UK, is and takes the same view and he should know what he’s talking about. This was his response to that piece of research:

“On no account should people take away the message from this study, conducted in only 12 people, that eating even a small amount of dark chocolate is going to help reduce their cholesterol levels. The tiny health benefit of this compound found in cocoa-rich chocolate would be hugely outweighed by the fat and sugar content. The design of the study is also somewhat unrealistic as they asked participants to eat only around half the size of a normal, dark chocolate bar every day for eight weeks.

That is something that I can agree with, but the really critical element for me in this research is that yet again it is being paraded as a result on an incredibly tiny sample. 12 people might make up a jury but they do not weigh very heavily for me against the 3 million diabetics estimated in the UK.
This research is on far too small scale to draw such a huge and potentially damaging conclusion from and although there certainly might be some benefit in investigating further. I will let Dr. Iain Frame, of Diabetes UK, have the last word. “It would, however, be interesting to see if further research could find a way of testing whether polyphenols could be added to foods which weren’t high in sugar and saturated fat such as chocolate.”

Until then by all means each chocolate if you are diabetic, but very little and not very often would be my advice and if you would like further information on diabetes please visit

Weak Bone Risk for Diabetic Children

September 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Health

Menopausal women are not the only ones at risk for bone loss according to the researchers at Georgia Medical College in the USA.

Osteoporosis is generally considered a condition that is primarily affects women during and after menopause but now it seems there is another group who could also be at risk. We know that one of the risk factors for diabetes in childhood is being overweight and a recent study of 140 overweight children age 7-11 and who got little regular exercise has found that the 30 percent with signs of poor blood sugar regulation had 4-5 percent less bone mass.

Now bone mass is a measure of bone strength and Dr. Norman Pollock, bone biologist at MCG’s Georgia Prevention Institute, has confirmed that this study is the first to suggest the association between weaker bones and type 2 diabetes risk in children.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes in adults and sadly is now becoming more common in children as it is often associated with being overweight and taking little exercise. The study has just been published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and according to. Dr. Pollock “while overweight children may have more bone mass than normal-weight kids, it may not be big, or strong enough, to compensate for their larger size.”

Though of course it is not the case that everyone who is overweight has weak bones, Dr. Pollock feels it may have more to do with how fat is distributed throughout the body. For instance pre-diabetics tend to have more fat around their abdominal area, specifically visceral fat, a type of fat deep in the belly that is linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In this study, higher amounts of visceral fat were associated with lower bone mass while more body fat overall was associated with higher bone mass. “Taken together, it seems that excessive abdominal fat may play a key role linking pre-diabetes to lower bone mass,” Pollock said.

The good news is children — or more accurately their parents — have time to fix this problem which can have the potential for lifelong health consequences. Two of the simplest solutions are to engage children in regular exercise that can be maintained because they enjoy it and will continue it into adulthood and to pay real attention to their diet.

If parents truly want to enhance bone strength and ultimately reduce the risk of osteoporosis during childhood, then these two simple measures will not only improve their health but research has shown can also improve their ability to learn.

Weight Loss and Help For Diabetes – the Fibre Solution

August 24, 2010 by  
Filed under Health

Simply increasing the amount of fermentable carbohydrates found in foods such as asparagus, garlic, chicory and Jerusalem artichokes could be used to aid weight loss and prevent Type 2 diabetes according to new research currently being funded by leading health charity Diabetes UK.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 per cent of all those diagnosed with diabetes and, if left untreated, can lead to serious health complications including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation. It’s also estimated that there are up to half a million people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes in the UK, which can remain undetected for 10 years or more. This means that around half of the population who are diagnosed and begin treatment for Type 2 diabetes may already have diabetes-related complications.

Sustained weight loss can delay and even prevent Type 2 diabetes and research in recent years has suggested that certain foods are particularly good at stabilizing blood glucose levels. Fermentable carbohydrates are one such example and, unlike most of our dietary carbohydrates, are fermented by bacteria in the colon rather than absorbed in the small intestine. As a result these carbohydrates cause the release of gut hormones that could reduce appetite and enhance insulin sensitivity, which could lead to improved blood glucose control and weight loss.

The research is being carried out by the Nutrition and Research Group at Imperial College, London, where dietitian Nicola Guess has been awarded a three-year Fellowship to investigate the role fermentable carbohydrates could play in Type 2 diabetes prevention. The carbohydrate will be given to participants as a daily supplement during three periods of investigation, each examining different mechanisms involved in the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.

Risk Factors for Type 2 diabetes

The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight, more than 40 years old, being of Black or South Asian origin and having a family history of the condition. It is also increasingly becoming more common in children, adolescents and young people of all ethnicities. There is also a more specific risk for women who contract diabetes as adults as research has shown that they are more vulnerable to both ovarian and bowel cancer.

If any of those risk factors apply to you, then some simple dietary adjustments could make all the difference and if you would like more help with diabetes information the Diabetes UK Careline (0845 120 2960) offers information and support on any aspect of managing the condition. The line is a low cost number and opens Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm or visit

The hidden benefits of oysters for women

March 25, 2009 by  
Filed under featured, Food & Nutrition, Womens Health


The benefits of oysters as an aphrodisiac are well known, but eating them could actually be a great way of avoiding type 2 diabetes – but only if you are a woman.

There has been a long running data survey running in the USA that has yielded some fascinating results. Over 25 years of medical and nutritional data on over 80,000 nurses has been studied by the Harvard School of Public Health and interesting information on the relationship between zinc in their diet and the chance of developing type 2 diabetes has come to light.

The nurses were all over the age of 33, and when their dietary intake was analysed it was found that there was between an eight to ten percent lower risk of diabetes in women who showed the highest zinc intake. That seems impressive enough, but when they looked at their figures and took other factors into account the figure jumped to a 25 percent lower risk for those with the greatest amount of zinc in their diet.

Oysters of course are a great source of zinc, each one can give you around 40-250mg, plus other essential minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. However you have to eat them raw to get the benefit, and have a healthy bank balance as well. If you are looking for more economical ways of upping your zinc intake then you should include red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, cabbage, and dairy products – or buy a decent supplement.

If you are over 50, then you should definitely check your zinc intake as it declines with age and it is an essential element for a healthy immune system.

Plastic Problems

October 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

Plastics are one of those wonderful technical breakthroughs that have proved a huge boon – but we are starting to see the downside, particularly for health. We now have plastic products all around us and as well as being bad for the environment, they do you no favours either. Don’t think you are affected? Do you have a DVD or computer and have any plastic kitchen appliances? Do you wear spectacles or have contact lenses, use reusable plastic containers for your water on the move or use plastic feeding bottles for your baby? Plastics are used in construction materials, paints, as well as in linings for food and drink cans. You literally cannot avoid them.

The health culprit is Bisphenol A, (BPA), an organic chemical which is the essential basic building block for high performance polymer plastics and coatings. Scientists first synthesized it in the late 1800s and just 40 years later it was found to have oestrogenic properties which we now know are linked to cancer. Scientists continued to develop ways to use BPA in making plastic containers and resins that now line most food and soft drink cans.

The problem is that BPA polymer decays over time, so traces of the synthetic oestrogen are released into canned foods, water in plastic bottles and even baby formulas and the dummies and plastic cutlery that children are often given. Research continued into the effects of BPA on animals, and the results showed reproductive and hormone-related problems. It wasn’t at this stage being tested on humans, but the use of plastics was becoming increasingly popular.

In the updated 2008 Risk Assessment Report on BPA published last June, the European Commission concluded that products made from BPA, were safe for consumers and the environment when used as intended. Worldwide, that has been the conclusion of other regulatory bodies including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

So everything is ok – except that it isn’t. In September, in the Journal of the American Medical Association they published a study which concluded that high urinary BPA concentrations might be linked to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and abnormal concentrations of liver enzymes. Is this relevant? Well, according to a Columbia University scientist, more than 90% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their urine and I don’t imagine we are that far behind in the UK.

The Journal’s editorial does not hold out any hope of things changing in the near future. They said: “One factor that may be contributing to the refusal of regulatory agencies to take action on BPA in the face of overwhelming evidence of harm from animal studies…is an aggressive disinformation campaign using techniques (‘manufactured doubt’) first developed by the lead, vinyl, and tobacco industries to challenge the reliability of findings published by independent scientists.”

That’s fairly clear, and once again the responsibility for taking care of our health and wellbeing is placed squarely back on the individual’s shoulders. A simple first step is just to eliminate the use of plastics wherever possible, particularly for children, so buy bottled water in glass containers and avoid canned food. China, glass and metal containers offer you a safer alternative for your food and drink so pack away the picnic plates and upgrade to the china ones!

Diabetes and memory loss solution

Another story that interested me this week, also came from Canada and the Baycrest Center. This time they were reporting on the link between diabetes, high-fat foods and memory loss.

Apparently, adults with type 2 diabetes who eat unhealthy, high-fat, meals can suffer from some reduction in their ability to remember things immediately after eating such a meal. Possibly because they have fallen asleep while digesting such a heavy meal, but there is hope as the temporary memory loss can be offset by taking antioxidant vitamins C and E with the meal.

It is already known that diabetes is linked to the ability to retain information, but now it seems that adults with type 2 diabetes are especially vulnerable to acute memory loss after eating unhealthy foods. The new findings appeared in a recent issue of Nutrition Research, a professional peer-reviewed journal, and suggests that taking high doses of antioxidant vitamins C and E with the meal may help minimize those memory slumps.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with chronic oxidative stress, a major contributor to cognitive decline and Alzheimer disease. If you have an unhealthy diet, then that raises your level of free radicals and those unstable molecules can damage tissue, including brain tissue. These destructive molecule reactions typically occur over a one-to-three hour period after you have eaten but don’t think that popping a supplement pill will do the trick on its own. It’s a place to start, and the study used vitamin C of 100mg and vitamin E of 800 mg taken with the meal, but do check with your doctor as there are contraindications for taking high doses.

Specifically, tell your doctor if you are taking warfarin as you may not be able to take vitamin E without special monitoring during treatment, and also consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding a baby.

Ideally you will change your diet to one that is high in antioxidants to chase down those free radicals – look back at the article on the Mediterranean Diet as it is generally accepted to be one of the most health-giving there is.

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