Diabetes

As diabetes approaches epidemic levels, it's more important than ever to learn safe, natural options for keeping blood sugar levels in the healthy range. The NorthStar blog on diabetes contains all the latest information to keep you fully informed and at the top of your game.

  1. Dr. Oz advises chromium and magnesium to control blood sugar levels

    Dr. Oz's blood sugar balancing advice

    I had to chuckle last week. A friend forwarded me a clip from the Dr. Oz show.

    No, I'm not going to put down Dr. Oz. I actually like the guy. He has a lot of good things to say, and he values "alternative" medicine...a very rare trait in a mainstream medicine doctor. That's why I wasn't surprised to hear him recommending supplements to help control blood sugar levels.

    But what made me chuckle was that this "new" two-supplement wonder mix was something that those of us on the alternative medicine side of the aisle have been talking about for YEARS now.

    Dr. Oz...and his guest...recommended magnesium and chromium for blood sugar support. And he's absolutely right! As I explained years ago, the trace mineral chromium can both help control blood sugar levels and convert glucose into energy. And magnesium is essential for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels because it helps your body convert carbs into energy.

    So, if you're concerned about blood sugar, my advice remains the same as it has been for many moons now, make sure you're taking magnesium and chromium either alone, or as a part of a comprehensive blood sugar-supporting supplement.

  2. Chemical phthalates risks linked to diabetes and cancer

    Common chemical may double your risk of diabetes

    Phthalates (pronounced thal-ates) are a group of industrial chemicals that are known as "plasticizers." And while you may not have heard of them before they, along with a number of phthalates risks, unfortunately, are a part of your everyday life. The chemicals are used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible, and also as solvents.

    And phthalates are in just about everything these days. They're found in a huge variety of products including shower curtains, vinyl flooring, children's toys, adhesives, candles, cosmetics, nail polishes, hairsprays, and even food packaging, to name just a few.

    Now, phthalates risks are nothing new. Organizations like the Environmental Working Group have been raising the red flag about them since as far back as 1998. And I've been warning you about these dangerous chemicals for years. Like back in 2008 when I urged Guide to Good Health readers to toss their hairspray, after European researchers had linked the chemicals with a two- to three-fold increase in a certain birth defect in boys.

    Phthalates linked to cancer and diabetes

    See, the problem is, these chemicals are endocrine disruptors, which means they can wreak all kinds of havoc with our sex hormones. Some phthalates have been found to lower sperm counts and others have been linked to defects in the reproductive systems of animals.

    One study of phthalates risks, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspective, highlighted the damage they may be doing to our children's brains. Researchers found that when moms were exposed to them while pregnant, their kid's mental and behavioral development, as well as their muscular coordination, could be harmed.

    According to a 2005 report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, studies have found a link between phthalates and liver cancer. Heck, even the snoozing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) woke up long enough to confirm that we ought to be concerned. In fact, for years now the EPA has been regulating phthalates as water and air pollutants.

    But their damage doesn't stop there. Now a new study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, has linked these common chemicals to an increased risk for type-2 diabetes.

    Swiss researchers measured the fasting blood sugars of 1,000 70-year-old volunteers. Their blood was also tested for traces of environmental toxins. They found that, of course, diabetes was more common among the participants who were overweight. But, unexpectedly, they also found that it was more common among those who had higher blood levels of phthalates.

    And we're not talking a small link here. Those with the higher phthalate levels were twice as likely to develop diabetes compared to those with the lowest levels.

    Now, as always, I have to point out that this kind of study doesn't prove a connection. It can only show an association between things. But in this case, at double the risk, it's one heck of an association. And considering what we already know about the dangers of these chemicals, it's high time we step up our fight against them.

    Spotting and eliminating the enemy

    As I mentioned earlier, phthalates are almost impossible to avoid. But you can start making the conscious decision to not buy anything with these chemicals in them. Seek out products that are clearly labeled phthalate free and choose non-plastic alternatives. Anything made of PVC is a no-no.

    Become a label reader. If you spot DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) or DEP (diethyl phthalate)--commonly used in personal care products--on a label don't buy the product. And be aware that the word "fragrance" on a label could be a mask for certain phthalate compounds. (For a complete list of these chemicals see the Environmental Working Group's list here.)

    And, my advice for avoiding that other evil endocrine disruptor Bisphenol A, holds true here as well. Avoid plastic containers marked with a 3 or 7 recycle number, because they're more likely to contain phthalates.

    And, finally, make sure manufacturers, and those in Washington, know that you want these chemicals out of our lives for good.

  3. Study finds success using licorice for diabetes

    Do you eat all of the jellybeans except for the black ones? You're certainly not alone if you do. Licorice is one of those love it or hate it flavors. But it turns out that the herb that's used to flavor those candies... licorice root... could be the key to using licorice for diabetes . Now, if you're a regular Guide to Good Health reader, you're probably not a stranger to licorice being used for medicinal purposes. I've written to you a number of times before about a specific form of licorice... De-Glycerrhizinated Licorice or DGL... that I've recommended for tough tummy troubles and cases of acid reflux. In fact, licorice (Glycyrrhiza) has been a staple in the medicine bags of traditional healers for centuries. It's frequently served in a tea. Besides soothing stomach troubles, the root is used to treat coughs, constipation, bronchitis, inflammation, and arthritis. And now, it looks like we might need to add diabetes to that list.

    Fight fat and wage war on glucose

    Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have pinpointed a substance in the herb that appears to have an anti-diabetic effect suggesting that licorice for diabetes can be effective. The substance amorfrutins... also found in the fruit of the less-well-know Amorpha fruticosa bush... appears to be able to reduce blood sugar, prevent fatty liver, and target inflammation. (Guess those traditional healers knew what they were doing all along, huh?) According to the German researchers, the amorfrutin molecules seek out a specific receptor in the nucleus of cells called the PPARy receptor. The PPARy plays an important role in the metabolism of fat and glucose in the body. When the amorfrutin molecule binds with the PPARy it serves, essentially, as an on switch for specific genes whose role it is to reduce the concentration of certain fatty acids as well as glucose in the body. And, of course, by reducing glucose levels in the body you're preventing the insulin resistance that eventually leads to full-blown type-2 diabetes.

    Big Pharma drugs...BIG side effects

    Drug companies have known about the PPARy receptor for years, and have churned out a number of drugs... starting back in the 1970's... that were created to take advantage of the effects that binding with the receptor can have on fat and glucose metabolism. This group of drugs--which includes clofibrate (Atromid-S), gemfibrozil (Lopid), ciprofibrate, bezafibrate (Bezalip), and fenofibrat--are known as fibrates, and were designed to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides. But drugs that target the PPARy receptor, of course, come with a long list of side effects ranging from weight gain and cardiovascular problems to severe muscle pain (rhabdomyolysis) and liver problems. According to one of the researchers from the Max Planck Institute, Sascha Sauer, these serious side effects occur because the drugs are not selective enough in their effect. And that's why licorice for diabetes is ideal. This all-natural alternative does the job without all the side effects. But there's a hitch (there always is, isn't there?), you probably can't get enough amorfrutin from just licorice tea or candy alone. Luckily, the researchers took their work one step further and developed a process for extracting the substance from the licorice, for diabetes. So, we're likely to be able to get our hands on amorfrutin extracts or supplements in the near future. Well, that is of course, if Big Pharma doesn't get its hands... and its patents... on the stuff first.

    Try the natural alternatives

    Meanwhile, you can already find licorice-root supplements and extracts online and in health food stores. And the root is often included in comprehensive stomach formulas. You should also be sure that you're getting enough vitamin D, since D deficiency has been linked to diabetes. In fact, one Australian study found that those with lower than average levels had a stunning 57 percent increased risk of developing the disease. And a review, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year, found that those with the highest level of vitamin D had a 43 percent reduced risk of developing diabetes. If you're interested in other herbs that may help with blood-sugar control try cinnamon and the Indian herb Gymnema Sylvestre. And the trace mineral chromium picolinate may also help balance your blood sugar and metabolism.
  4. The link between diabetes and vitamin D deficiency

    Is your diabetes caused by a dip in “this” vitamin?

    It’s the little vitamin that could. Could protect you from disease and even death that is, with a recent study linking lower risk of diabetes and vitamin D. Research has shown that if your levels of this vital nutrient are too low you might develop breast cancer or dementia. A deficiency of it has been linked with heart disease and may raise your risk of suffering from a stroke. And research has found that you can dramatically slash your risk of colon cancer by upping your levels of it. I’m talking about vitamin D and, to be honest, I’m really just scratching the surface here. The scientific journals are practically bursting at the seams with studies showing its critical importance to our good health.

    Dropping “D” is tied to diabetes

    Now it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you that type-2 diabetes and vitamin D deficiency have been linked. In fact, I’ve talked about it before right here in the Guide to Good Health when I told you about the Tufts University Medical Centers study that found that pre-diabetics who supplemented with vitamin D3 once a day for a month saw a significant improvement in their beta-cell function. Without getting too technical what that means is that vitamin D may be able to improve, or even correct, the main defect in type-2 diabetes, which is simply, as one endocrinologist put it, “worn out beta cells.” You see, beta cells line your pancreas and make and release insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. And with “worn out” ones you’ve got a problem with blood sugar control. Well, now yet another group of scientists is raising the flag for diabetes and vitamin D. This group of researchers, hailing from the Helmholt Zentrum München in Germany, has confirmed that those people with a good supply of vitamin D do, in fact, have a lower risk of developing type-2 diabetes. And, of course, the flipside of this finding was that those with lower concentrations of D in their blood have a higher risk of developing the disease.

    The majority of us may be “D” deficient

    This is a major problem because our modern lifestyle tends to deprive us of the number one best source of this vitamin…sunlight. And, as I told you about just last week, common painkillers can rob you of the vitamin as well. In fact, a major CDC study found that nearly 80 percent of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. And just last year another major study, conducting out of the University of Tennessee, backed up those findings. Well, except for the fact that the U of T researchers found that a stunning 87 percent of people may be mildly to severely deficient. Scientists are still working on the “why” part of the vitamin D and type-2 diabetes equation. The German research team theorizes that at least part of the answer may lie in the vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory effects. But one things for sure, regardless of the exact mechanism we’ve seen a lack of the vitamin tied to the disease too often now to just simply ignore it.

    Fight the dip and safely raise your “D”

    Your best bet is to commit to getting your blood-serum levels of D tested annually. If you find that like most Americans you are deficient you can safely get back on track by taking up to 5,000 IU of D3 daily until you reach optimal levels again. Remember, as I told you just last month, you should be shooting for 110 nanomoles of 25-hydroxyvitamin D NOT the woefully low 54 nanomoles per liter most mainstream docs would recommend. You can also spend 20 to 30 minutes outside each day without sunscreen (try the morning when the light is less intense) to get a healthy blast of about 10,000 IU of vitamin D. And don’t forget eating more eggs, salmon, tuna, and sardines can help boost your D levels as well.
  5. Type-2 diabetes and colon cancer

    A new study uncovered a strong connection between type-2 diabetes and colon cancer. In fact, men and women with type-2 diabetes are 38 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than other folks are. This connection persisted even after the researchers adjusted for factors such as obesity and smoking. However, in an article posted on the Reuters news wire, it said "the reasons for the connection, and what should be done about it, remain unclear." Uh, really? We don't know what to do about two diseases, like diabetes and colon cancer, caused by the same problem? It's pretty straightforward, really. First off, you've got to clean up your diet. You've got to get off the sugar and processed foods made with white flour. This may take 14 to 21 days. But trust me, once you do that, you'll feel like a teenager handed the keys to your father's Chevy on date night. Secondly, with all your new-found energy, start taking walks around the block a few times a week. Do this consistently and I guarantee you'll reduce your risk of getting two diseases for the price of one.
  6. Try this high-fat snack – it’s really a healthy snack for diabetics

    If you‘ve got blood sugar issues, stay away from muffins, even the whole wheat kind. Instead, replace your so-called "healthy" muffin with one of my favorite high-fat snacks and you may just lower your blood sugar...and even your "bad" cholesterol! Yes, there is actually a tasty and healthy snack for diabetics. Researchers from Tufts University divided 117 type-2 diabetics into three groups. For breakfast, one group ate a whole-wheat muffin with no sugar added. The other group ate a ½ cup of mixed nuts instead of the "healthy" muffin. The last group ate ½ a muffin and ½ a serving of mixed nuts. In just three months on this new regimen, the nut group lowered their blood sugar and "bad" cholesterol. The muffin eaters (even the ½ muffin eaters) saw no such improvements. Now, you probably know nuts are good for you. But if you‘re trying to lose weight, you may stay away from them all the same. But that‘s a mistake. You see, nuts have a unique role in your metabolism. They contain fiber and protein. Plus, they contain monosaturated fats, which help to improve your insulin sensitivity – meaning they make a great healthy snack for diabetics. Strive to eat a handful of fresh almonds, walnuts, or cashews each day. Just make sure you swap out some of the empty calories for this healthier snack. If you‘re not a nut lover, try avocados instead. Cut up a few slices and put think in your salads dressed with olive oil. Olive oil and avocados also contain monosaturated fats.
  7. This may be one of the best vitamins for diabetes yet

    Don‘t talk to me about diabetes drugs. You don‘t need them. You don‘t want them. They‘re linked to cancer. And they don‘t work they way one super vitamin does. In fact, this may be one of the best – if not the best – vitamins for diabetes yet. This super vitamin for diabetes naturally keeps your blood sugar right where it belongs. It goes straight to work on special cells in your pancreas called beta cells. In diabetics, these cells stop working. But with plenty of this key nutrient, your beta cells stay strong and healthy. They help make you virtually immune to sugar. In fact, a new breakthrough study found that men and women with the highest amount of this vitamin in their blood slash their risk of ever developing diabetes. Vitamin corrects "main defect" in diabetics Dr. Anastassios Pittas, MD, an endocrinologist at Tufts University Medical Centers, says worn-out beta cells are "the main defect in type-2 diabetes." But the "super vitamin" D3 may improve, even correct this main defect, which means it could be one of the best vitamins for diabetes you could take. Dr. Pittas and her Tufts team recruited 92 pre-diabetic men and women to take part in their study. The volunteers were all overweight with above-normal blood sugar levels. The researchers then divided the volunteers into four groups. One group took 2000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) one a day for four months. The second group took 400 mg twice daily of calcium carbonate for four months. The third group took both. And the fourth group took a placebo. After four months, the vitamin D3 group significantly improved their beta cell function. In fact, an expert estimated that beta cell function improved by 15 to 30 percent! Plus, the D3 group saw slight improvements in hemoglobin A1C, an indicator of blood-sugar levels over time. On the other hand... The other three groups saw no such improvements. Plus... The more you get, the stronger your protection In another phase of their studies with vitamin D, the Tufts researchers looked at 2,000 pre-diabetics. This time, they followed the pre-diabetics for three years, annually checking for vitamin D. (They checked vitamin D by measuring nanograms per milliliter or ng/mL in the blood.) They found that for every five ng/mL increase of vitamin D, diabetes risk dropped by eight percent! Plus, patients with the highest vitamin D numbers were 38 percent less likely to develop diabetes compared to those with the lowest numbers. When it comes to vitamins for diabetes, those are some impressive numbers. Men and women in the bottom third averaged just 13 ng/mL. But men and women in the top third averaged 30 ng/mL of vitamin D. Experts consider this to be the optimal vitamin D level even for healthy adults. Plus, these results held up even after the researchers accounted for other risk factors, such as body weight and physical activity. Dr. Pittas hasn‘t published these results yet. He just completed the research and presented it at a meeting of endocrinologists in San Diego. Once he publishes these results, hopefully you‘ll see more about vitamins for diabetes, and vitamin D in particular, in the mainstream press. Or maybe we‘ll just keep hearing about the deadly diabetes drugs. Either way, keep up with the D3, especially if you‘re prone to blood sugar issues. Consider up to 5,000 IU per day.
  8. Sugar and cancer connection: reducing carbs and sugar could save your life

    When you go on a low-carb diet, you’re usually trying to do one of two things. Either you want to lose weight. Or you want to lower your blood sugar. But there‘s a third reason why you should cut back on carbs and sugar. And this is something you never hear people talk about – the connection between sugar and cancer. Not even doctors. But it could save your life. A new study found a clear link between carbohydrates, sugar and cancer, the deadly disease that targets 12 million Americans each year. (The study is as legit as they come. Of course, the mainstream press ignored it. They‘d rather talk about blockbuster drugs. Good nutrition just isn‘t sexy.) For this study, 70 percent of the mice fed a typical Western diet with 55 percent of calories coming from carbs died before reaching maturity. They all developed the same killer disease. Yes, the study involved mice. But researchers firmly believe the same principles linking carbs, sugar and cancer apply to human subjects. And I agree. You see, this killer disease thrives on sugar. It needs sugar. And what do carbohydrates turn into once they hit your blood stream? You got it: Sugar. But once you cut out the sugar and starches, you cut your disease risk.

    Piecing the puzzle together

    There’s a reason why so many of us in the West develop cancer. It has to do with our diets. It contains too many carbs with too much sugar. And the link between sugar and cancer is clear. You see, research shows that cancer cells need more glucose compared to normal cells. They depend on it for energy. However... A low-carb diet forces the normal cells in your body to use fat for fuel, instead of carbs. Cancer cells can’t do this. They need glucose to grow. So when you limit carbs, you cut off the glucose. This limits the fuel supply to the tumors. Plus, by limiting carbs, you reduce your body’s insulin levels. This too is a good thing. Insulin is a hormone that promotes tumor growth in both humans and mice. Numerous independent studies confirm this. That‘s why every oncologist in the country should tell their patients about the link between sugar and cancer and the need to cut back on the carbs and the sugar. But they don‘t. They hand you a chemo calendar. They write you a prescription for anti-nausea medication and send you on your way. (They will tell you to avoid taking vitamins during chemo, though. This might interfere with how your body responds to chemo.) Never do they tell you about sugar and cancer.

    High-carb = high cancer rates in mice

    For the latest study, researchers from the renowned British Columbia Cancer Research Centre implanted mice with cancerous cells. Then, they assigned half the mice a typical Western diet. This means the mice got about 55 percent of their calories from carbs. About 25 percent came from protein and 22 percent came from fat. The other group of mice followed a diet similar to the South Beach diet. About 15 percent of the calories they got came from carbs. About 58 percent came from protein and 26 percent from fat. Now, remember all these mice had cancer cells growing in their bodies to start. But the tumors grew consistently slower in the South Beach diet group. Remember, the connection between sugar and cancer -- glucose = cancer fuel. In addition, some of the mice had a genetic predisposition to develop cancer. The researchers made a sub-group out of these mice. Almost half of the predisposed mice on the Western diet developed cancer within the first year of their life. On the other hand, none of the mice on the South Beach diet developed cancer within their first year. And remember, these mice were also predisposed to develop cancer. But they didn’t when given a low-carb diet. And that’s not all... Only one mouse on the Western diet reached a normal lifespan. The rest of the mice died prematurely. And 70 percent of them died of cancer. On the other hand, only 30 percent of the predisposed mice given the low-carb diet developed cancer. Plus, more than half of them either reached or exceeded the typical lifespan for a mouse. Lastly, all the South Beach mice had lower blood sugar and insulin levels compared to the other mice. The researchers say we can apply these results to humans. According to lead researcher Gerald Krystal, PhD, "This shows that something as simple as a change in diet can have an impact on cancer risk."

    Sending the wrong message

    If sugar is clearly so bad in the fight against cancer, how come we don’t hear more about it? That got me thinking... What does the American Cancer Society have to say about the connection between carbs, sugar and cancer? I searched "carbohydrates" on their web site to see what I would turn up. I brought me to a special report called: "Nutrition for the Person with Cancer During Treatment: A Guide for Patients and Families." Okay, good start. Let’s see what it had to say. I skimmed the article quickly looking for something that told you about the clear link between sugar and cancer cells . Again, this is a proven scientific fact. Numerous independent studies prove it. But apparently, the American Cancer Society doesn’t think this information is pertinent enough to include in a nutrition brochure for cancer patients. Oh well. I guess I didn’t really expect them to be so forthright. However, I did expect to see some better suggestions than this... Under, "nutritious snacks" at www.cancer.org, you will find these suggestions:
    • Cookies
    • Pudding
    • Custard
    • Sherbet
    • Egg Nog (pasteurized)
    • Gelatin
    • Muffins
    • Ice Cream
    Seriously? Since when is ice-cream a "nutritious snack" for anybody, much less someone taking on the fight of his or her life? Not only are these snacks laughably un-nutritious...they will very likely fuel any cancer cells growing in your body because of the link between sugar and cancer. Remember, glucose = cancer fuel! I wish I were making this stuff up. Apparently, the good folks at the American Cancer Society are more concerned about selling bumper stickers than saving lives. I, on the other hand, would like to save a life and skip the pink sweatbands on NFL linebackers. If you’re serious about breaking the sugar and cancer cycle and preventing or conquering cancer, cut out the "nutritious" ice-cream snacks. Instead, keep your carbs down and your protein up. Now, I’m not giving you a free pass to eat all the bacon you want. The type of protein you choose does matter. Skip the bacon and other cured meats. Instead, go for organic red meat two to three times a week. The other nights of the week, go for fish or fowl. And when you do choose carbs, make sure they are complex carbs like short-grain brown rice or barley. Your body takes longer to digest these carbs. So your body releases the glucose nice and slow into your blood stream.
  9. Mainstream press misses link between diabetes drug Actos and cancer

    I hate to say I told you so. But every time I come down tough on drugs, it turns out they really deserve it. Take for example, the diabetes drug Actos. A few weeks back, I slammed Actos, despite new research (covered in TIME and The New York Times) that it decreases your risk of developing diabetes. Turns out, I should have come down harder on that darned drug. In fact, this week researchers published a report that found an association between Actos and a certain form of cancer. Plus, this isn‘t the first study to uncover a link between Actos and increased cancer risk. I‘ll give you all the grisly details in a moment. But first, let‘s back up a few months...

    Proof that mainstream reporters eat whatever‘s fed to them

    A month ago, Actos sounded like a wonder drug. Everywhere you looked the mainstream press kept repeating the same statistic...men and women with pre- diabetes who took Actos lowered their risk of developing full-blown diabetes by 72 percent. Sounds impressive, right? Actos may prevent diabetes! But remember the key flaw I told you about (and the mainstream press conveniently omitted)? The study was exceptionally small. In the end, we‘re talking talking about a total difference of 35 people! Considering that 300 million pre-diabetics live in the U.S., how could any doctor give Actos to just one of them based on such slim evidence? And here‘s the icing on the cake... Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Actos, actually conducted this shaky study. In my book, it was purely a PR scheme to boost sales. Actos‘s patent expired in January of this year. But Takeda Pharmaceuticals struck a deal to delay entry of generic versions of the drug until August 2012. Was this their last-ditch effort to boost sales before the generics hit the market? Or maybe... Was it their last-ditch effort to boost sales before something far worse hit the fan...?

    Researchers link Actos to cancer

    The FDA tries to keep tabs on all prescription and OTC drugs once they hit the market. So when you take a drug, even a drug like Tylenol, and have a bad reaction, you‘re supposed to report it to the FDA. Similarly, when you go to see your doctor and talk about your bad reaction to a drug, your doc should report it to the FDA. The FDA keeps track of all these "adverse reactions" -- no matter how small -- in a massive database. This is called the FDA‘s Adverse Event Reporting Program. The FDA compiles and publishes the data annually. But in the case of Actos... A group of Italian researchers analyzed all the adverse events reported to the FDA between 2004 and 2009 for 15 diabetes drugs on the market, including Actos and metformin. When they analyzed the reporting odds ratio (ROR), they found a "definite risk" linking Actos and bladder cancer. The risk of bladder cancer and the other diabetes drugs was "much weaker." The researchers aren‘t sure why Actos may increase your risk of developing bladder cancer. But they think it may have to do with certain receptor cells in your body. You see, Actos works by opening receptor cells so they will become more responsive to insulin. But this may also encourage them to turn cancerous. Now here‘s what troubles even more...

    Actos may be linked to even more problems

    The FDA‘s Adverse Event Reporting System isn‘t perfect. (I know. It‘s shocking, right?) You see, it‘s completely voluntary. It stands to reason there could be more cases of bladder cancer that we don‘t know about. For example, say Joe Smith from Indiana began taking Actos in 2004 for diabetes. Then, out of the blue, he got bladder cancer in 2008. Maybe his doctor never thought to connect Actos to his bladder cancer. None of this business about bladder cancer had hit the press yet. Now, let‘s say Joe is one of the lucky ones and went on to survive bladder cancer. He‘s no longer in treatment. Now we know about the cancer link. But his doctor never reported it to the FDA back in 2008 because back then, no one did. Hopefully, this new study will start to spread some awareness. Just don‘t count on the FDA to move quickly. They have known about the possible link between Actos and bladder cancer for at least a year. In fact, last year the FDA began to take a closer look at Actos after receiving early results from a long-term study by Takeda Pharmaceuticals. That study showed patients with the longest exposure (or highest cumulative dose) to Actos had in increased risk of developing bladder cancer. It will be interesting to see if TIME or The New York Times follows up on their Actos report, won‘t it? (I‘m not holding my breath. Before sending this week‘s GUIDE TO GOOD HEALTH off to my editor, I ran a quick Google search. At that point, The NYT still hadn‘t run anything about the new data linking Actos to bladder cancer. That‘s a full three days after the research hit the newswire. I‘m betting they just let it slip on by.) Well, maybe TIME Magazine will run something in its next issue. After all, the mainstream press is our last unbiased bastion of truth. (Yeah right.)
  10. Will FDA admit link between food coloring and hyperactivity in kids?

    A few weeks ago, a friend emailed me a link about the FDA‘s decision to take a closer look at the possible link between artificial food coloring and hyperactivity in children. "Wow!" she wrote, "Do you believe it? The FDA‘s finally taking a stand!" My friend has four kids, so I can understand why she was interested. But, ever the cynic, I wrote back, "Yes, but it‘s just a ruse. They‘ll review the data and then say ‘we‘ve looked at it and determined there‘s no problem.‘ So go ahead, eat all the Froot Loops and Jello Jigglers you want!" Sure enough...I was right. The FDA panel decided that food coloring does not cause hyperactivity in most children. (There is plenty of scientific research that proves otherwise. To see the research for yourself, go www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/petition-food-dyes.pdf.) The panel did concede, however, that artificial food coloring might affect children who already suffer from hyperactivity. They called for more research into the matter, but stopped well short of banning artificial coloring. In addition, the panel voted 8 to 6 against adding warning labels to food products that carry eight types of food dye. (Actually, that‘s a much tighter margin that I would have ever predicted!) Apparently, it‘s too much of a hassle to add warnings to food packages. According to Tim Jones, Tennessee‘s deputy state epidemiologist and a member of the FDA panel, "If we put a label that long on every chemical and ingredient that hasn‘t been adequately studied, you wouldn‘t see the package anymore. It‘s a question of relative concern and severity, and that‘s a hard one." Okaaay...so, do I have Jones‘s argument right? We can‘t add warnings about these chemicals -- even though we believe some kids can‘t tolerate them -- because it would cover too much of the food package? Really, Tim, did you ever think about cutting out the mysterious chemicals? You wouldn‘t have such a packaging dilemma on your hands. But I have bigger concerns with the FDA‘s ruling and it doesn‘t have anything to do with warnings on wrappers...

    FDA ignores powerful data

    I‘m not sure which studies the FDA reviewed, but I have a feeling they did not consider this major study... A few years back, the British researchers found that common food dyes and the preservative sodium benzoate could cause healthy children to show signs of hyperactivity. For this study, British researchers recruited 300 children between the ages three and nine. They divided the children into three groups. One group received a fruit drink that contained artificial coloring and sodium benzoate. The second group received the same drink, just with lower levels of the additives. The third group received a pure fruit drink with no additives. Teachers then assessed the children throughout the week using standardized behavior tests. They found that children given the drinks with artificial colors showed "increased hyperactivity." In fact, these children scored poorer in areas of restlessness, concentration, fidgeting, and interrupting. Plus, the younger child was, the greater the problem. Because of this study and a few others, the European Parliament now requires that food manufacturers print those pesky warning labels to foods that contain certain types of food coloring and preservatives. (See Tim, it‘s really not that big of a deal.) Unfortunately, food dyes are only a fraction of the problem. There‘s also the problem of artificial preservatives, such as sodium benzoate...

    Beware of more hidden dangers

    Most foods that contain food coloring also contain preservatives. Food manufacturers use these to extend a product‘s "shelf life." That‘s why white bread stays "fresh" in your bread box much longer than natural whole grain bread. It‘s loaded with preservatives. Just pick up a product along the inside aisle of your local grocery store. Unless, you‘re standing in the health nut aisle, I bet the product contains a preservative. Here is a list of commonly-used preservatives:
    • Nitrates
    • Nitrites
    • Sulfites
    • Bisulfate
    • Sulfur dioxide
    • Propyll Gallate
    • BPA and BHT
    • Sodium benzoate
    • Potassium bromate (banned everywhere in the world but the U.S. and Japan)
    No matter your age, you‘ll want to avoid products containing these chemicals. Nitrites and nitrates are especially dangerous. Used to cure meat and prevent the growth of bacteria, these chemicals go hand-in-hand with processed meats such as hot dogs, lunch meat, and bacon. Recently, Harvard researchers reviewed 20 different studies using processed meat. They found that just one serving of it per day increased heart disease risk by 42 percent. It raised diabetes risk by 19 percent. Plus, nitrates are known carcinogens... In once recent study, Swedish researchers reviewed the eating habits of 4,700 people. They found that eating just one ounce of processed meat a day increased stomach cancer risk by up to 38 percent. That‘s incredible! If people knew that eating just one slice of ham per day could increase their stomach cancer risk by that much, the lines at the deli counter would probably disappear!

    How to choose safer options

    Hormel makes a line of additive-free lunch meat. You‘ll also find additive-free meat at organic grocery stores like Trader Joe‘s. Overall, try to keep natural foods the mainstay of your diet. Also, stay out of the center aisles at the grocery store. Stick to the perimeter and you‘re in much better shape. Here you will find 100 percent whole grains (bread, brown rice, pasta) foods and plenty of fruits and vegetables (organic, of course). Also, strive to eat fresh, wild fish several times a week. Some red meat is okay. Just make sure it‘s organic and hormone-free. For snacks, avoid the processed stuff. Instead, go for fresh nuts and seeds. Also, go ahead and try out that one "healthy aisle" in your grocery store. Believe it or not, you can find tasty additive-free snacks here. You just have to look a little harder...and be a little adventurous! NorthStar makes it easy to plump up the nutrition in almost any food with our "amazing superfood" BenVia Gold! In a gram-to-gram analysis, it packs awesome amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, plus 5 times more calcium than whole milk, 13 times more magnesium than broccoli, 3 times more antioxidant power than fresh blueberries, more fiber than flaxseed, and more protein than soy. You can blend it into your breakfast shake, sprinkle it on our yogurt, add it to your salad make mouthwatering dinners with it, bake cookies with it, or use it as thickener for sauces; it just makes everything more satisfying! We call it a "nutritional goldmine!" Get all the details here.
  11. TIME misses key flaw in bogus drug study encouraging Actos for diabetes

    Last month, The New York Times and TIME magazine both ran articles that reported on new research for a diabetes drug called Actos (pioglitazone). According to the new research, men and women with elevated blood sugar levels who took Actos were less likely to develop diabetes than a placebo group. You can make the case that the reporters wrote balanced arguments. In fact, both reporters raised concerns about giving a diabetes drug to patients without full-blown diabetes. Plus, both reporters warned you about the drug‘s very serious side effects. But there‘s one major problem with both articles: They fail to point out a key flaw in the new research. In fact, the results of this study are so shaky, TIME and The NYT had no business giving it any ink. (You‘ll learn exactly why the results are so shaky in a moment, I promise!) But first, I want to point out something about Big Pharma... The new Actos research reflects Big Pharma‘s new marketing strategy. Don‘t just take our drugs to treat disease. Take them before you develop the disease too! Unfortunately, the national news media seems all too willing to take this strategy seriously. But, in my book, it‘s all about boosting sales. Here‘s what they don‘t tell you... Actos‘s patent expired in January of this year. But Takeda Pharmaceuticals -- the company that makes Actos -- struck a deal to delay entry of generic versions of the drug until August 2012. So, this is the company‘s last-ditch effort to boost sales over the next 12 months. Get men and women who don‘t have diabetes to take a diabetes drug. What a novel idea! Is it any surprise, then, that Takeda Pharmaceuticals partially funded this bogus study? Yep. Who didn‘t see that coming from a mile away? The good news is there are lots of ways to prevent diabetes without resorting to a drug like Actos. In fact, a new study proved that even small amounts of one key mineral could lower your blood sugar by nearly 10 percent. I‘ll tell you all about that study in a moment, but first let‘s look at the details of the latest Actos research... Study raises red flags from the start U.S. researchers gave Actos to 602 men and women with pre-diabetes for two years. (To be clear, these folks did not have full-blown diabetes, just elevated blood sugar levels.) During that time, 7.6 percent of the volunteers who took a placebo developed diabetes. By comparison, only 2.1 percent of volunteers who took Actos developed diabetes. According to TIME and The NYT, this means volunteers who took Actos reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 72 percent. Sounds great, right? The lead researcher for the study called these results "astounding." Well, not so fast Dr. Ralph A. DeFronzo. Let‘s look at the results from your study using the raw data. Here‘s what really happened in your "astounding" study... Of the 602 men and women who started the study, 10 patients who took Actos developed diabetes. On the other hand, 45 patients who took the placebo developed diabetes. So...we‘re talking about a total difference of 35 people! Just 35 people. Talk about ignoring the big fat elephant in the room. Did the reporters omit this information because it lessens the argument? I can‘t be sure but what I do know is that the mainstream press needs to take a long hard look at the study data. There are 300 million pre-diabetics living in the U.S. alone. Should we really even consider giving this drug to any of them based on the results that 35 fewer people developed diabetes? In my opinion: No. I don‘t care how much The NYT and TIME warned their readers about weight gain and fluid retention. When you leave out a key piece of information like that, you‘ve really dropped the ball. And that‘s not all... Actos linked to heart risk and bladder cancer Many people consider Actos a safer alternative to other diabetes drugs, but it‘s not. Here‘s why... It belongs to the same class of drugs as Avandia. As you‘ll recall, the FDA greatly restricts the use of Avandia because it may increase your heart attack risk. So, how about Actos? Could it increase heart attack risk too? Of course, it could. In fact, a 2010 study found that Actos caused as many heart problems as Avandia. Plus, the FDA is investigating a link between Actos and bladder cancer. I suspect they will find the longer you take Actos, the greater your risk. Now, I promised you some good news in this whole mess. And here it is: there are non-drug solutions to getting your blood sugar under control... Tackle diabetes naturally First off, there‘s diet and exercise. As I mentioned earlier, this can cut your diabetes risk by 58 percent. Plus, a new study found that magnesium might help too. For this study, researchers divided 52 men and women with diabetes into two groups. One group got 365 mg of magnesium per day for six months. The other group got a placebo. Overall, the magnesium group improved in two out of three tests for insulin sensitivity. Plus, their blood sugar levels after fasting improved by about seven percent. Though this study is small in scope, researchers point to large-scale meta-analysis that confirms their results. In that analysis, researchers found that men and women lowered their diabetes risk by 15 percent with each 100 mg of magnesium taken. So, just think...taking 300 mg magnesium each day could lower your risk by 45 percent. Not too shabby. If you want to learn more about how to lower your diabetes risk without drugs, go back and look at my Guide to Good Health from 8-12-10. In this report, you‘ll find three important steps you can take to improve your blood sugar control.
  12. Vitamin D conspiracy leads straight to Big Pharma

    You've probably heard about the bad rap vitamin D has been getting lately. The argument goes something like this...the vitamin D crisis isn't as bad as we thought. You probably don't need as much of it as we thought. But it's a free country. So go ahead and take 400 IU of it per day, if you want. That's more than enough. Just don't go over 4,000 IU per day. "High doses" like that can increase your risk for "harm." These new guidelines come from the U.S. Institute of Medicine (or IOM), a powerful non-profit agency that advises the nation of matters of health. But here's the problem: Their report is pure propaganda. In fact, I believe these low doses of vitamin D are a deliberate attempt to keep the American public needing more drugs until the day they die. (I'll admit,that sounds a tad paranoid. But I'll explain why my paranoia is well-founded in a moment.) First, let's look at the three major problems with the IOM research.

    Leave it to the IOM to redefine "majority"

    First off, the IOM report states that the "majority" of adults living in the U.S. get enough vitamin D...and that's just nonsense. As you'll recall, last week I told you about a major CDC study that found almost 80 percent of Americans don't get enough vitamin D. Plus, another major study published late last year by researchers from the University of Tennessee came up with similar results. In fact, this time researchers found that 87 percent of the general population is mildly to severely deficient in vitamin D. Even the most conservative estimates put vitamin D deficiencies at about 50 percent of the population. So how the IOM can confidently claim the "majority" of Americans get enough vitamin D, I have no idea!

    Spend a minute in the sun each day

    The IOM report also states that "North Americans need on average 400 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D per day. People age 71 and older may require as much as 800 IUs per day because of potential changes in people's bodies as they age." Again, this is pure nonsense. But before I go any further, here's a quick biochemistry primer... The IOM says you only need 400 IU of vitamin D. But they actually mean 400 IU of vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol). Your skin makes this natural form of vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. In fact, spending just 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, your skin will produce anywhere from 10,000 IU to 50,000 IU of D3! Plus, you can also take D3 as a supplement. Next... Vitamin D3 passes through your liver and it turns into a pre-hormone called 25-hydroxycholecalciferol. This is abbreviated as 25(OH)D. When you get a vitamin D blood test, we really want to see how much 25(OH)D is in your blood. We measure 25(OH)D in nanomoles per liter or nmol/l. Now, stick with me, because here's where it gets interesting... According to the IOM report, taking just 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day will give 97 percent of us a blood serum level of 50 nmol/l. And that level will protect us from fractures. Sounds okay, I guess. But let me put this another way to show you just how silly the IOM recommendation really is... Let's assume that your body makes 10,000 IU of D3 for every 30 minutes spent in the sun without sunscreen. (Most experts say you make at least twice that much...but let's not get picky.) So, how long does it take for your body to make 400 IU of D3? Hurray! Just 1.2 minutes in the sun! That's all you need to keep your bones strong. Is it me, or does that just sound wrong? Well, here's the good news. It isn't just me. It is wrong. And there's some solid scientific proof to back me up...

    IOM gets their numbers wrong

    Two major meta-analysis' from 2009 found that 50 nmol/l of 25(OH)D in your blood isn't enough to protect you from a fracture or a fall. In fact, 28 separate studies found that 50 nmol/l isn't enough! Plus, the International Osteoporosis Foundation recommends men and women have 75 nmol/l of 25(OH)D. This is what it takes to protect you from accidental falls and fractures. Lastly, numerous studies over the years show that the more 25(0H)D in your blood, the greater your bone density. But to get up to those higher levels of 25(OH)D, you need more D3. Plus, here's another interesting twist. The authors of the IOM report most likely knew about all this research...they just chose to ignore it. You see, before publishing the new vitamin D guidelines, the IOM board consulted with Dr. Walter Willet. The board even thanked Dr. Willet at the end of their report. So who's Dr. Willet? He's a vitamin D expert and Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard. He also co-wrote one of the 2009 reports on vitamin D I mentioned earlier. The IOM, however, ignored his findings. But don't feel bad, Dr. Willet. Yours isn't the only research the IOM ignored...

    IOM report ignores research on vitamin D and disease

    Remember how I told you the IOM said 400 IU of D3 is enough to protect you against osteoporosis? Well, what about everything else...like cancer and heart disease? In a press conference, IOM chair Dr. Catherine Ross said "We could not find solid evidence that consuming more [vitamin D] would protect the public from chronic disease ranging from cancer to diabetes to improved immune function." And with that simple statement, Dr. Ross lost all credibility. Here are some of the best studies linking vitamin D and major diseases: Breast cancer: Women with vitamin D blood serum levels less than 50 nmol/mL are eight times more likely to develop an aggressive form of breast cancer. Colon cancer: Men and women with the highest vitamin D levels cut their colon cancer risk by 40 percent. Heart Disease & Stroke: Men and women with low vitamin D double their heart attack or stroke risk. Cognitive decline: Older women with low vitamin D are twice as likely to suffer cognitive impairment. Diabetes: A whopping 91 percent of diabetics have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Plus, the less vitamin D in their blood, the greater their blood sugar problems. And I'm just scratching the surface here! If you want to look at all the scientific data on vitamin D, the Vitamin D Council is a good place to start. They list the studies by disease, so you can see the all scientific data Dr. Catherine Ross and her colleagues missed. In closing, there's one last reason why the IOM report has the pungent smell of propaganda...

    There's a rat in the house

    Glenville Jones, PhD is one of the authors of the IOM report. He's a scientist and also the co-inventor of drug made by a company called Cytochroma. This drug is still in development....but what condition will they treat with their top-secret drug? You got it. Vitamin D deficiencies! (I'm not making this stuff up. You can see the patent for yourself at the U.S. Patent Office website.) Dr. Jones also sits on the scientific advisory board of a drug company called Receptor Therapeutics. These guys also made a synthetic vitamin D treatment for cancer...in fact THREE synthetic vitamin D treatments for cancer. (Drug companies use synthetic vitamin D because they can patent it and make a huge profit. You can't patent natural vitamin D.) Well, isn't that so thoughtful... You don't need to take vitamin D. But if you do happen to get cancer...guess who plans to have a vitamin D drug you can take? Here's the bottom line for you: Ignore anything published by the IOM. Take up to 5,000 IU of natural vitamin D3 each day. And avoid anything made by Cytochroma and Receptor Therapeutics. Want more facts about vitamin D? Look back at all the Guide to Good Health reports by following this link. In the search box, type "vitamin D" and you'll find 40 articles.
  13. Embrace the benefits of cinnamon: The world’s oldest spice

    Holiday spice slashes blood sugar in just 12 weeks

    If you‘re diabetic, there‘s one simple change you can make to your routine -- yes, even during the holidays -- to improve your blood sugar control: Eat more cinnamon.

    That alone could make the difference in how well you manage your blood sugar. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Diabetic Medicine found that cinnamon significantly improves blood sugar in just 12 weeks...plus, it even improves blood pressure in diabetics who take it every day!

    World‘s oldest spice has many health benefits

    I‘ve written before about the benefits of cinnamon. It is one of the oldest spices known to man and has been used medicinally for thousands of years. In fact, cinnamon contains powerful polyphenols, which have been shown to:

    • Boost brain function
    • Thwart infections
    • Zap bacteria
    • Speed healing
    • Relieve menstrual pain
    • Improve circulation
    • Soothe gastrointestinal discomfort
    Cinnamon is also beneficial to anyone at risk for heart disease or stroke...and that covers just about everyone! Cinnamon contains oils that naturally thin the blood. In fact, these compounds prevent platelets from clumping together in your arteries, so unwanted blood clots don‘t tend to form. Cinnamon also contains compounds that effectively reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and slash triglycerides.

    Lastly, cinnamon is widely regarded -- even among conventional docs -- for its role in regulating blood sugar. First off, cinnamon slows down how quickly your stomach empties after eating a meal.

    This means that -- even if you‘ve eaten a meal with a high-glycemic load -- not all of the sugar gets dumped into your blood stream at once. Instead, the sugar enters your blood a little bit at a time. This gives your body adequate time to respond and produce insulin.

    Cinnamon also re-activates your body‘s worn-out insulin receptors. It also blocks the enzyme that damaged these insulin receptors in the first place.

    A surprisingly small amount is all it takes

    For the most recent study, researchers recruited 58 men and women with diabetes and randomly divided them into two groups. One group received about ¼ a teaspoon of cinnamon each day for 12 weeks. To be more specific, they took 2 grams of cinnamomum cassia, the common variety cinnamon found on your grocery store shelf. But they took it as a capsule. The other group received a placebo.

    After the 12 weeks, the blood sugar levels of those taking the cinnamon fell eight percent. Plus, their systolic blood pressure came down about 3 ½ points and their diastolic number fell about 5 points.

    Not too shabby for something as simple as adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to your morning oatmeal or even your coffee.

    The placebo group didn‘t fair nearly as well. In fact, they didn‘t see any blood pressure improvements during the course of the study. In addition, their blood sugar actually rose 8 ½ percent over the 12 weeks!

    The USDA has even jumped on the cinnamon bandwagon!

    Last July government scientists found that diabetics who took cinnamon for just 40 days:
    • Lowered their fasting blood glucose levels by 18 to 29 percent
    • Slashed triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent
    • And cut total cholesterol 12 to 26 percent
    And that was just by taking ¼ to ½ of a teaspoon of cinnamon each day. When study participants stopped taking the cinnamon, all their improvements disappeared.

    Get control of your blood sugar this holiday

    Now, I realize that December isn‘t the month most of us choose to make major health overhauls. But you can do this: Sprinkle cinnamon on your apples, oatmeal, yogurt or coffee.

    Strive to get at least ¼ a teaspoon each day if you‘re prone to blood sugar issues. Then, by January, you may want to have your blood work checked to see if your levels have improved.

    There‘s nothing special to know about buying good cinnamon. Any variety off your grocer‘s shelf will do the trick. Though, I‘d go for "organic" cinnamon if it were available.

    Keep it in a sealed glass container in your cabinet. Ground cinnamon will stay fresh this way for about six months, and cinnamon sticks will last about a year. You can extend cinnamon‘s shelf life by keeping it in the refrigerator.

    To check for freshness, smell the cinnamon. It should smell sweet. If it doesn‘t smell sweet, throw it out. It‘s time has come to an end.
  14. Trim belly fat with whole grain foods?

    Today, I want you to throw out the white rice, white bread, and white pasta from your kitchen cabinets. Not only will you notice a difference in your digestive health, you‘ll probably see your waistline shrink too. In fact, a new study conducted by U.S. researchers confirmed that limiting refined grains translates into less belly fat. And that‘s important, because...
    Not all fat is created equal
    Visceral Adipose Tissue (or VAT) is a type of fat that‘s far more dangerous than thunder thighs or jelly arms. VAT surrounds the organs inside your abdomen. It also plays a major role in the development of some serious health issues. According to Paul Jacques, co-author of the new study, "Prior research suggests visceral fat is more closely tied to the development of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors including hypertension, unhealthy cholesterol levels and insulin resistance that can develop into cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes." But there‘s one easy way to reduce your visceral fat: Just eat whole grains instead of refined grains.
    Whole grains keep your waistline trim
    For the latest study, researchers examined questionnaires completed by 2,800 men and women ages 32 to 83. They found that men and women who ate three or more servings a day of whole grains had 10 percent less visceral fat. To reap these benefits, the men and women also limited their intake of refined grains to less than one serving per day. On the other hand, participants who ate three servings of whole grains, but also ate more than four servings of refined grains throughout the day did not see their VAT volume shrink. This means you can‘t just chow down on whole wheat bagel in the morning, then eat white bread the rest of the day and think you‘re on the right track. You‘re not. You‘ve got to replace all the refined grains in your diet with whole grains to cut away at that harmful visceral fat But...
    Not all grains are created equal
    Food manufacturers like to make it tricky for you to spot the whole grain foods. They throw around words like "made with whole wheat" or "made with whole grains." You‘ve probably picked up one of these products before. And you felt good, thinking you‘d made a healthy choice. Instead, they duped you. In reality, the product probably contained very little whole grain. So to help you become a more informed shopper, here‘s a basic primer about whole grains... An unrefined grain means it‘s left intact in its original state. It‘s not processed in any way. To get a true whole wheat bread, cereal, or pasta, the label must say "100 percent stone ground whole wheat." There shouldn‘t be any second grain listed (unless it‘s another whole grain). So read labels carefully! Also, here are some safe grains too look for when reading labels:
    • Short grain brown rice
    • Dehulled barley, not pearled
    • Whole oats (make your oatmeal the old-fashioned way!)
    • Quinoa
    • Millet
    • Amaranth
    • 100 percent stone ground whole wheat
    • Corn (pop it yourself on the stove top)
    • Rye (just be careful in choosing bread made with 100 percent rye)
    Plus, if you‘re a noodle lover like me, I‘ve got some great news! Whole grain noodles have come a long way. Some of the tastiest noodles I‘ve found come from artichokes or brown rice. You‘ll be surprised by the variety in most good grocery stores. I recommend choosing angel hair pasta. It‘s lighter than other wholegrain varieties and you won‘t need as much. Plus, your waistline will thank you!
  15. Manage your blood sugar safely, without Avandia side effects

    Last month, the FDA restricted sales of the diabetes drug Avandia. From now on, you can only get it if you‘ve tried every other drug on the market without success. Or, if you‘re already taking Avandia, you‘ll be allowed to continue to take it as well. (Hopefully, this one doesn‘t apply to you.) But you‘ll have to attest that you understand the serious risks involved...namely that taking Avandia ups your chances of having a heart attack and stroke. And that risk is nothing to sneeze at. According to a recent New York Times article, "One study estimated that from 1999 to 2009, more than 47,000 people taking Avandia needlessly suffered a heart attack, stroke or heart failure, or died." Sensibly, the European Union banned the drug all together. The good news is, in many cases, natural methods can help control your blood sugar. Visit www.northstarnutritionals.com and run a search of previous Guide to Good Health articles. Just type "DIABETES" into the Guide to Good Health search box. You‘ll find 42 recent articles about how to naturally lower your blood sugar. One recent article tells you how men and women with diabetes lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by up to 29 percent in just 40 days without drugs or major changes in their diet. How‘d they do it? Just click here to find out.
  16. Green leafy vegetables may decrease type-2 diabetes risk

    If you like spinach salad, I've got good news. Eating spinach (or any other type of green leafy vegetable) decreases the likelihood that you'll develop blood sugar problems down the road. That's according to a new study from the UK. Researchers analyzed data from six different previously published studies involving more than 200,000 men and women. They found that type-2 diabetes isn't tied exclusively to sugar intake. In fact, participants with the greatest intake of green leafy vegetables cut their type-2 diabetes risk by about 15 percent. According to Melanie Davies, the study's lead researcher, "The results support the growing body of evidence that lifestyle modification is an important factor in the prevention of type 2 diabetes." Gee, ya' think? Well, Dr. Davies may be a little slow coming to the table. But at least it's another solid study reaffirming what we've always known: What you eat affects your health. So just keep doing what you're doing. Eat something green and leafy every day. Stay away from the sweet stuff. And your blood sugar won't ever become an issue.
  17. Resveratrol benefits… could it be the “fountain of youth”?

    I'm a research junkie. I'll admit it. So I just about jumped out of my seat when I read that someone had finally tested resveratrol--the antioxidant superstar found in red wine and grapes--on actual human beings! Yes, nutritionists have known about resveratrol for decades. It helps tame inflammation and prevent oxidative stress. This is significant because unchecked inflammation and oxidative stress can lead to heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. Even the mainstream press picked up on resveratrol a few years back when scientists proved it could extend the lifespan of mice by 20 percent! They dubbed it the "fountain of youth." But until last month, there was one giant problem with this antioxidant phenom: Zero clinical proof actually existed that it works on humans. (And I mean, ZERO.) There was plenty of data showing that it can increase the lifespan of roundworms, fruit flies, mice, and yeast. But nothing on humans...until last month. Will the antioxidant superstar work on humans? You may be wondering, why all the fuss? If resveratrol is found in red wine...doesn't everyone know that drinking a glass of red wine is good for your health? And yes, that's true. But this study digs much deeper. In fact, it's the first- ever study showing why resveratrol may be a legit "fountain of youth" for humans after all. Specifically, scientists from the University of Buffalo wanted to see if resveratrol could decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy men and women. So the scientists recruited 20 healthy men and women and took samples of their blood. Then, they split the participants into two groups. One group received 40 mg of resveratrol each day for six weeks. And the other group received a placebo. And here's what they found...

    Anti-aging extract scores off the charts!

    Resveratrol performed just as we all had hoped. First off, it blocked the formation of free radicals (reactive oxygen species or ROS). These harmful, unstable molecules cause damage to healthy cells. Over time, widespread free radical damage can harm your DNA and lead to a disease like cancer. But the participants who took resveratrol for six weeks significantly lowered their ROS levels. Secondly, the resveratrol group also lowered their TNF levels. TNF (or tumor necrosis factor) is a harmful protein that creates inflammation throughout the body. A few weeks ago, we talked about this harmful protein and the role it plays in rheumatoid arthritis. But TNF doesn't just harm rheumatoid arthritis patients. It causes widespread inflammation that can affect your blood vessels, your organs, your skin, and even your brain. It also messes with your body's insulin production. In fact, endocrinologists believe that lowering TNF levels will improve insulin resistance in diabetics.

    Small study, big impact

    Now, unfortunately this study is terribly small in scope with just 20 participants. Nevertheless, I think that it will have a big impact in the years to come. First off, it proves that resveratrol can help control inflammation in humans. And that's huge! Inflammation is the underlying, biological cause of so many different uncured diseases -- from rheumatoid arthritis to Alzheimer's disease. Plus, it just builds more momentum for this superstar antioxidant. It will be interesting to see if one day scientists prove that resveratrol can extend your lifespan, as they proved with mice a few years back. So if you're not already taking something with resveratrol, now's definitely the time start! (Especially if you're over 50 or have an inflammatory disease.) And yes, you'll find resveratrol in red wine and grapes. But you'd have to drink gallons of wine (or eat bushels of grapes) to get 100 mg of resveratrol. That's the amount you'll find in any quality resveratrol supplement. Most of these are derived from the Japanese knotweed herb. So take action now to keep feeling and looking young.
  18. Natural ways to lower blood sugar without dangerous drugs

    How much does a heart attack cost? Five hundred thousand dollars? A million dollars? Two million? Truth is, it doesn't really matter. GlaxoSmithKline will pay it. And they'll pay it willingly a thousand times over just to keep you taking their diabetes drug Avandia. That's because even after the billions spent on lawsuits, damage control, and cover-ups, Avandia is still worth it for them. It makes a profit. Yes, Avandia appears to raise your heart attack risk. (And yes GSK knew about it and tried hard to cover it up).But you do have other options. And I'm not talking about taking one of those "safe" Avandia-replacement drugs advertised just about everywhere these days. I'm talking about non-drug options. Safe, effective options for diabetes patients Without a doubt, you can lower your blood sugar without taking drugs. But it's not a quick, easy fix. It will take commitment. But I promise you; it's worth all the effort. You'll safely lower your blood sugar and you'll probably lower your risk of heart attack as well (instead of raise it, like Avandia does). Here's where you've got to start:

    STEP 1: Get off the sugar. And that includes throwing out any refined and processed flour products, such as white bread, rice, cookies, pancakes etc. The good news is that complex carbs such as 100 percent whole wheat, de-hulled barley, bran, and oats are all okay. Pasta is fine as long as it's made from spinach, artichoke, brown rice, or 100 percent whole wheat. It's heavy, so try angel hair pasta and don't serve as much. You won't need it.

    STEP 2: Fortify your overall health by taking a good multi vitamin that contains at least 25 mg of B3. I'd also double up on vitamin C to help detoxify your system. Go for 1,000 mg three to four times a day. If you start to experience diarrhea, back off by 1,000 mg increments.

    STEP 3: Then, I'd start looking at some natural ways to lower your blood sugar. First off, I'd think about adding chromium to your daily regimen. Go for either chromium picolinate, or preferably chromium GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor). This trace mineral helps to support your body's overall metabolism. It also helps to balance blood sugar levels and convert glucose into energy.

    I'd also considering adding to the mix 400 to 800 mg of the Indian herb Gymnema Sylvestre (GS). It too helps support healthy blood sugar levels and glucose metabolism. Plus, some research suggests that GS even repairs special cells in the pancreas called beta cells. These cells are vital because they produce insulin and help control how much sugar gets dumped into your blood. But in diabetics, up to 80 percent of their beta cells aren't working. (In type-1 diabetes, none of their beta cells work.) In fact, these little cells are so critical to your health, scientists are even investigating ways to replace damaged beta cells in diabetics. Scientists from India actually just wrapped up the first-ever human trial using Gymnema Sylvestre with diabetics. It was a small trial using a patented version of GS, but the results look promising. After just 60 days of taking 500 mg of GS, 10 out 11 patients significantly lowered their fasting blood sugar levels. The patients also increased their insulin and c-peptide levels. If you are dealing with full-blown diabetes, I'd also suggest looking into taking small doses of vanadium (or vanadyl sulfate). This mineral has been shown in limited studies to improve how diabetics process sugar. But there's also some concern that high amounts of vanadium (far higher than 5 mg) may cause harmful oxidative stress in the body. So the question becomes: How much can you safely take? Unfortunately, there's no standard protocol here. So I'd only try vanadium under the careful guidance of a qualified naturopath. Safely lower blood sugar by 20 percent Cinnamon is another powerful, yet safe blood-sugar solution. Sprinkle it on apples, oatmeal, whole-wheat pancakes, or yogurt. This tasty spice improves how your body processes sugar. In fact, in one recent study, cinnamon significantly lowered blood sugar among diabetics. For the study, U.S. researchers divided diabetics into two groups. One group received one, three, or six grams cinnamon each day. The other group received a placebo. And the results--after just 40 days – were astounding! All three groups taking cinnamon made big improvements all around. They lowered their fasting blood glucose levels by 18 to 29 percent, slashed triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent, and cut total cholesterol 12 to 26 percent. So even taking just ¼ to ½ teaspoonfuls each day made quite a difference. But it's important to keep it going because when the patients stopped taking the spice, their blood sugar levels rebounded. Not surprisingly, the patients who received the placebo didn't experience any improvements in the markers of their disease. But be careful what you wish for... There's no doubt in my mind that if you follow this regimen, along with a little exercise, your blood sugar will come down. But just be careful. These natural efforts can be so effective that you MUST seek the guidance of a good naturopath or enlightened physician. In fact, it's possible to push your blood sugar down so far that you become hypoglycemic. So it's important that your doctor monitors your medications very closely and lowers them as your diet and supplements take effect.

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