MILK 'N HONEY HEALTH FOODS

 

 

DEALING WITH DIABETES

FROM A NUTRITIONAL PERSPECTIVE

 

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM:

       Diabetes, also known as hyperglycemia, has become virtually epidemic in America and other industrialized nations of the world.  More than 135 million people worldwide have diabetes. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2025, 300 million people worldwide will have diabetes. Currently, some 16 million Americans have diabetes.  From 1990 to 2000, the incidence of adult-onset diabetes increased 33 percent in the United States and by an incredible 70 percent among people in their 30's. The American Diabetic Association shows diabetes to be the forth leading cause of death in America, resulting in 160 thousand deaths annually.  Hundreds of thousands more suffer from multiple complications of diabetes such as heart disease, stroke, blindness and amputations. Between 1993 and 1995, 67,000 diabetes related amputations were performed and 28,000 cases of end-stage kidney disease were identified.  Clearly, we have a major health problem relative to blood sugar metabolism. 

DEFINING THE PROBLEM:

       What is diabetes and how does it develop.  Simply put, diabetes is sustained high blood sugar. A person is defined as diabetic if, when waking up in the morning; their blood glucose level is above 120 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of blood.  Some health care professionals feel that any fasting blood sugar above 100 mg/dl is diabetic.  During a meal where carbohydrates are eaten, such carbohydrates are metabolized into the blood sugar glucose and transported by the action of the hormone insulin into the cells. Some glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as the carbohydrate glycogen for later use by the body. During and immediately after a meal, blood glucose levels raise and then slowly fall as glucose is removed from the blood stream. Doctors call this your postprandial (post-meal) curve.  The normal peak in this curve should be around 139 mg/dl.  Higher postprandial glucose levels can be indicative of diabetes. 

       There are two types of diabetes. Juvenile-onset diabetes occurs at a very early age, when the pancreas stops making the hormone insulin.  Insulin must then be injected to facilitate the processing of glucose from the blood into the cells.  Adult-onset diabetes, which is the most common type of diabetes, occurs when cells of the body gradually become resistant to insulin, resulting in elevated glucose levels.  With adult-onset diabetes, the pancreas is often producing adequate amounts of insulin but the cells are not accepting that insulin.  Eventually, the pancreas can become weakened and no longer produce adequate amounts of insulin. This can lead to the need for oral or injectable insulin and other pharmaceuticals to control blood sugar levels.  

       Is there an alternative to pharmaceutical intervention?  Making significant dietary changes and using nutritional supplements to regulate blood sugar will be my focus. 

       Adult-onset diabetes can largely be traced to the over consumption of refined carbohydrates.  Such carbohydrates are broken down quickly into glucose in the digestive process and require large amounts of insulin from the pancreas.  After a while, the cells become insensitive to insulin and even more insulin is required from the pancreas to facilitate the transfer of glucose to the cells. Elevated insulin and elevated glucose can lead to a host of health problems.  Elevated glucose levels generate large numbers of free radicals which damage tissues and lead to accelerated aging

      Excess glucose can also react with and damage the body’s proteins. The bi-products of these reactions include advanced glycation end-products abbreviated as AGEs.  AGEs involves glucose fusing with protein.  This fusing damages body tissue in much the same way as over-cooking toughens a steak.  AGEs contribute to heart disease by increasing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and creating cross-links in the proteins forming blood vessel walls.  This causes aging of the blood vessels, making them less flexible.

       Because excess glucose creates excessive free radicals and damaged protein, this condition can have devastating effects on the entire body.  It leads to blood platelets becoming stickier, thus increasing the risk for greater blood clotting.  Excess glucose interferes with blood circulation which leads to poor wound healing and deterioration of organ systems such as the kidneys.  Because of its damaging effect on the circulatory system, high glucose levels can lead to diabetic retinopathy which is damage to the retina of the eyes. This can lead to loss of eyesight and blindness.  Restriction of blood flow can cause diabetic neuropathy which is nerve damage.  Diabetic neuropathy can produce numbness, pain and even lead to amputations due to the dying of tissue.

       Excess glucose leads to increased levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides.  Triglycerides are the fatty acids that largely make up the fat content of the body.  Excessive glucose is converted in the body to triglycerides which leads to greater fat accumulation.  This conversion of glucose to triglycerides is the major reason for so much obesity in America.  Cutting back on the consumption of carbohydrates of all kinds (simple and complex) will result in weight loss.

       Insulin resistance results in the pancreas producing excessive insulin to deal with the excessive glucose levels in the blood.  This excessive insulin has its own damaging effects.  It can negatively affect the behavior of endothelial cells which line the walls of the arteries and therefore affect the health of the heart.  There is substantial evidence that elevated levels of insulin increase the risk of colon, liver, pancreatic, breast and endometrial cancer.  High insulin causes retention of sodium which causes retention of fluids. This fluid retention can lead to high blood pressure which can lead to heart problems.  Insulin mediates blood fats and high insulin can result in elevated triglyceride levels.

 SOLVING THE PROBLEM:

       Since a high glucose level in the blood is such a serious threat to the health of the body, it is imperative that this condition be addressed.  There are several areas that must be considered.  The most important area is diet.  The standard American diet is largely responsible for adult-onset diabetes.  Simple and refined carbohydrates make up a large segment of the typical American diet.  It is these types of carbohydrate that are broken down quickly into the simple sugar glucose by the digestive process.  This results in the need for large amounts of insulin being released by the pancreas to facilitate the transfer of glucose from the blood into the cells.

       White sugar, also known as sucrose, is a primary example of a simple carbohydrate.  White sugar is made of a chain of the two sugar molecules glucose and fructose.  This is called a disaccharide (di meaning two and saccharide meaning sweet).  This is a very simple carbohydrate which breaks down very quickly in the digestive process.  Many foods will naturally contain disaccharides such as sucrose.  The problem comes in when sucrose, fructose and other simple sugars are added to foods.  The addition of these sugars to foods greatly increases the amount of these simple sugars that we ingest.  Up to 25% of the standard American diet is simple sugar.  For teenagers, it’s much higher.

       White bread is a good example of a refined carbohydrate.  The making of white bread begins with whole wheat grain.  This grain has complex carbohydrate called starch.  This starch is composed of long chains of sugar molecules called polysaccharides (poly meaning many).  After removing the bran (the fiber part of the wheat), and the germ (the part that contains most of the vitamins and minerals), this grain is then ground into a very fine flour.  Because of the very small particle size of this flour, it is easy for water to be absorbed.  This adsorption of water greatly expands the surface area of each particle.  This expansion makes it easy for enzymes to break down this flour in the digestive tract. The removal of the fiber from the grain contributes further to its gelatinization.  Gelatinization is where water and heat expand the starch granules to where there is created much larger surface areas to which digestive enzymes can attach and, therefore, speed up the process of breaking down the polysaccharides into disaccharides and finally into the monosaccharides of glucose, fructose and galactose (mono meaning one).

       Even though the grain from which the white bread is made is a starch, and therefore, a more complex carbohydrate, because of the manner in which it is processed into fine flour, this carbohydrate breaks down quickly in the digestive process. This leads to an abundance of glucose which requires insulin to transfer it from the blood into the cells.  Many of the foods Americans eat are made from refined flours, including many bakery products, pastas, breakfast cereals and snack foods.  When you combine these refined flour products with the large amount of the simple sugar sucrose that is added to many of these products, you can easily see why diabetes has become the health problem that it is.    

FRUCTOSE IS NOT THE ANSWER:

       Since sucrose has become such a recognized contributor to high blood glucose levels, many food manufactures have begun to substitute the monosaccharide fructose in their products. It’s believed that this sugar is safer, as it is not immediately turned into glucose, but travels to the liver where it is largely converted to glycogen.  Glycogen, which is a stored starch made up of glucose, is released by the liver as needed by the body.  Upon its release, glycogen is broken down into glucose.   It is at this point that insulin gets involved in having to remove this glucose from the blood into the cells.  In 1980, the average person ate 39 pounds of fructose and 84 pounds of sucrose.  In 1994, the average person ate 83 pounds of fructose and 66 pounds of sucrose. You can see how fructose consumption has accelerated.  You can also see how total simple sugar consumption has increased.

       Fructose is naturally found in fruit, therefore its name.  The fructose being used by the food industry is not derived from fruit as that would be much too expensive. Commercially used fructose is instead derived from corn syrup and in reality is a blend of 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. While the fructose does not immediately convert to glucose, the glucose in this blend will raise blood sugar quickly and therefore must be processed out of the blood by insulin.  Substituting fructose for sucrose is not improving things very much.

       In addition to being converted to glycogen, fructose also stimulates the liver to produce triglycerides.  In research done with feeding men a high glucose or a high fructose diet, it was the high fructose diet that led to significantly higher triglyceride levels in the blood.  Fructose converts to fat more readily than any other sugar.  Other research has shown that fructose caused an increase in serum cholesterol and low density lipoproteins (LDL).  Fructose ingestion increases uric acid levels which can lead to inflammatory problems.

       It should be apparent that fructose from corn syrup is not the answer to improving blood sugar control. When fructose is analyzed relative to its fat generating effect, we have even more reason to avoid it.  Fructose found in fruit and vegetables is present in small amounts and is combined with fiber and a variety of nutrients.  This is the way you should eat your fructose.

THE ROLE OF DIET IN SOLVING THE PROBLEM:

       Diet plays the major role in regulating blood sugar levels.  As a general rule, the more processed and refined a food is, the faster it will breakdown into its component nutrients in the digestive tract and these nutrients be absorbed into the blood.  These nutrients then travel to the liver and get rerouted from there or are carried by the blood directly to body tissues.  As noted above, processed starches and simple sugars become absorbed quickly and the glucose derived from this breakdown must be removed from the blood into the cell.  This process is largely facilitated by the hormone insulin.  Insulin is secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas.

       Eating carbohydrates that have been minimally processed will, as a general rule, result in a slower release of glucose into the blood and subsequently result in a slower release of insulin.  Many foods have been categorized as to their glycemic (G.I.) response in the body.  Glycemic response has to do with the rate at which a carbohydrate will breakdown into glucose. The standard is set as pure glucose having a rating of 100.  The glycemic range is as follows: A low G.I. food is below 55, an intermediate G.I. food is between 55 and 70 and a high G.I. food is more than 70.  For example, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes have a G.I. of 84.  This means that this food has a high G.I. and its carbohydrates will rapidly turn into glucose.  Old Fashioned Oatmeal has a G.I. rating of 49 which means that this carbohydrate food will break down into glucose much slower.  The Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are much more processed and have sugar added, whereas the Oatmeal is much less processed.

       While, as a general rule, the more a carbohydrate containing food is processed the higher will be its glycemic rating, this is not always the case.  A baked potato has a rating of 93 where as French fries are rated at 75.  Why would the less processed baked potato have a faster blood sugar response than the more processed French fries?  The starch in the baked potato has a highly gelatinized (swollen) surface making it more accessible to digestive enzymes and therefore rapid breakdown into glucose.  The French fries have more fat because of being fried in oil.  The fat actually slows down the digestive process and therefore increases the time it takes the carbohydrate to break down into glucose.  It must be remembered, however, that both the baked potato and the French fries have high glycemic ratings which should be a consideration in developing a sugar control diet.  In addition, the French fries have more fat, including the dangerous trans fats, which makes them overall less healthy than the baked potato.

       There are two basic types of starch in foods. One is called amylose and the other amylopectin.  The ratio of one to the other in a food has a direct affect on the glycemic index of that food.   Amylose is a straight chain of glucose molecules tightly bound together and therefore hard to gelatinize and therefore slow to digest.   Amylopectin is a string of glucose molecules with lots of branching chains which results in a starch that is easier to gelatinize and, therefore, more easy to digest.

       Foods that have little amylose but lots of amylopectin have higher glycemic ratings. Wheat flour is an example of a high amylopectin carbohydrate.  Basmati rice and most legumes have a lot of amylose and therefore are examples of foods having lower glycemic ratings.  Pasta that is made from durum wheat (semolina flour) will generally have a low glycemic rating because durum wheat is very hard when milled. This results in larger particles with less gelatinization and therefore slower digestion.

       As a general rule, you will greatly improve your blood sugar control by avoiding white flour bakery products, processed breakfast cereals, candies, soda waters and most snack foods.  You will experience improvement in your blood sugar metabolism by eating more whole grains such as brown rice (G.I. of 55), legumes such as kidney beans (G.I. of 27), and lentils (G.I. of 30).  Unprocessed fruit is almost always a good choice.  An apple (G.I. of 38), a plum (G.I. of 39), and a grapefruit (G.I. of 25) are low glycemic foods that also provide good overall nutrition.   Pastas, by and large, have a low glycemic index. Try to eat pasta made from whole grain flours.  To obtain the glycemic index on a variety of food, you can visit www.glycemicindex.com.

SUGAR SUBSTITUTES:

       Many diabetics, wishing to continue consuming their favorite products, will switch to using sugar substitutes in their attempt to regulate blood sugar levels.  Some sugar substitutes have been shown to be safe and effective.  Others have not.  Here is a review of sugar substitutes and what the research shows.

       ASPARTAME:  Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal) is found in many beverages and a variety of food products.  Both NutraSweet and Equal contain sugar disguised as dextrose and/or maltodextrin.  Of greater concern is the fact that 75% of all non-drug complaints registered with the FDA concern aspartame and at least 70 different symptoms and five deaths have been associated with its use.  Some research has indicated that aspartame destroys neurons and contributes to the development of brain and nervous system disorders.  Aspartame has also been associated with reduction of sight, including blindness.  This sweetener is made from the amino acids phenylalanine, aspartic acid and the wood alcohol, methanol.  There are serious concerns as to how well these elements, as combined in aspartame, are metabolized by the body.  Methanol, in particular, is known to be toxic in even modest amounts. I would strongly recommend staying away from aspartame.

       ACESULFAME K (A-SCH-SUHL-FAYM-K): This non caloric sweetener, also known as acesulfame potassium, was approved by the FDA in 1988.  It is sold commercially as Sunette or Sweet One.  It is 200 times sweeter than sugar and retains its sweetness when heated.  It is synthesized from a combination of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, sulphur and potassium atoms.  This sweetener has undergone numerous studies over 15 years and has been found to be relatively safe.  However, concerns have been raised by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) as to acesulfame K being a potential carcinogen.  The CAPI has charged that previous tests done on asesulfame K did not follow adequate protocols.  I urge caution relative to this sweetener.

       SUCRALOSE: This sweetener, sold under the brand name Splenda, is a recent entry into the artificial sweetener market.  It is made by changing the chemical structure of sucrose by using chlorine.  Sucralose is non-caloric and about 600 times sweeter than sucrose.  Few human studies have been done with this sweetener.  Research with animals has identified a variety of problems, including shrinking of the thymus gland, enlarged liver and kidneys, and decreased red blood cell count.  A  recent study revealed that ingestion of sucralose destroyed as much as 50% of the friendly bacteria in the intestinal track.  Many European countries have yet to approve Sucralose until more research is done.  I personally will avoid products containing sucralose until I see some positive human trials.

       SACCHARIN: This is the oldest of the artificial sweeteners.  It was introduced over a hundreds years ago and is synthesized from coal-tar derivatives and is therefore completely artificial.  It has no calories and requires no insulin. Sold under the brand name Sweet-n-Low, this sweetener came under fire in 1977 when studies revealed that male rats given large amounts of saccharin developed bladder cancer.  This led the FDA to require a warning label on saccharin and it was also included in the FDA’s list of known carcinogens.  The 1977 rat study has since been shown not to apply to humans and the FDA has removed saccharin from its list of carcinogens and no longer requires a warning on labels of products containing this substance.  Saccharin appears to be completely eliminated from the body unchanged and therefore is not metabolized.  No current evidence suggests this sweetener is a threat to human health.

       STEVIA:  I can recommend the herb stevia as a sugar substitute.  This herb is non-caloric, has 200 to 300 times the sweetness of sugar and will not raise blood glucose levels.  Stevia can be purchased as a powder or liquid and can be used to sweeten drinks and foods. There are recipe books available that show how to use stevia in a variety of ways. This sweetener has been used all over the world for decades and proven to be safe.     

       AGAVE NECTAR: This sweetener is derived from the Blue Agave, a cactus-like plant native to Mexico.  It is best known for its use in making tequila.  This is not a non-caloric herbal sweetener like stevia, but it is 25% sweeter than sucrose, yet with a rating of only 11 on the glycemic index.  With such a slow rate of glucose response, this sweetener can be used by most diabetics.

      an cause bloating and diarrhea if consumed in excessive amounts. SUGAR ALCOHOLS:  Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are derived from monosaccharides (single molecule sugars such as fructose).  They also occur naturally in foods.  They provide about one-half to one-third less calories than regular sugar.  They convert to glucose more slowly and require little or no insulin for metabolism.  Common sugar alcohols are mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol.  These sugar alcohols are often found in products labeled as “sugar-free.  These products include such items as hard candies, cookies, chewing gums, soft drinks and candy bars. 

       Technicality speaking, these products are not sugar free. Part of the chemical structure of a sugar alcohol molecule does involve components of sugar with the other part having components of alcohol.  The sugar part of the molecule is still a carbohydrate and must be listed on a label as part of the total carbohydrates shown to be in the product.  The alcohol in a sugar alcohol is not ethanol alcohol as found in alcoholic beverages.  The advantage of sugar alcohols are that they require little insulin for their metabolism and are very low in calories. They appear to be relatively safe for human health. Their only known negative is they can cause bloating in some individuals.

DIABETIC DRUGS:

       Millions of diabetic Americans are using injectable insulin and/or are taking a variety of drugs to control their blood sugar levels. While such usage may be necessary in a number of cases, there are a variety of risks involved.  The drug Rezulin is known to cause liver damage and a number of deaths have been associated with this drug.  Glucophase (Metformin hydrochloride) comes with the warning that it increases the risk of overall mortality and heart disease.  This drug has been shown to lower levels of folic acid, vitamin B12 and increase levels of homocystene, a protein by-product that damages the arteries.  The drugs Tolbutamide and Phenformin have been implicated in an increase in cardiovascular problems.  The drug Acarbose (Precose) has shown some evidence of carcinogenicity to the kidneys and testicles.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS AND DIABETES:

       Very often, blood sugar can be controlled through dietary adjustments, weight loss, a consistent exercise program and specific nutritional supplements. The following is a list of supplements that have been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels without the potential side effects that drugs can produce.

       Glucocare:  This product from a company called Himalaya USA offers diabetics a safe, natural alternative to drug therapy.  This produce has had extensive testing to determine its usefulness.  Glucocare has undergone Phase I, II and III clinical studies to establish its complete safety, toleration and efficacy. This formula contains Gymnema Sylvestre, an herb that stimulates the production of insulin and increases glucose utilization by the tissues.  In other words, it reduces insulin resistance.  The bark extract Pterocarpus Marsupium in this formula  slows down glucose absorption and increases insulin release.  The herb Mormmodica Charantia stimulates insulin release by the pancreas, increases the liver’s ability to store glycogen and reduces elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  There are additional elements in this product that contribute to its overall effect.

       Alpha Lipoic Acid, sometimes referred to as lipoic acid or thictic acid, is one of the most important nutrients a diabetic can take.  This nutrient is found in many foods, including broccoli, spinach and beef.  Small amounts are produced in the body.  Its primary function is to convert glucose to energy.  Research shows that alpha lipoic greatly stimulates cell uptake of glucose. This results in a significant decrease in blood sugar and a subsequent drop in insulin levels.  Alpha lipoic acid serves as a very powerful anti-oxidant, and unlike many other anti-oxidants, it can function in both watery and fatty regions of the cells.  Alpha lipoic strengthens the activity of other anti-oxidants such as vitamins C, E, Coenzyme Q10 and glutathione.  A diabetic should take 100-300 mg’s per day.  For the non-diabetic, 50 to 100 mg’s per day is adequate.      

       Chromium is the most important mineral relative to glucose metabolism. Chromium is a trace mineral that must be present for insulin to remove glucose from the blood into the cell.  Chromium is generally deficient in the American diet and supplementation with chromium is a must for anyone with blood sugar problems.  Two to four hundred micrograms per day should be adequate for most diabetics, although higher dosages may be necessary with advanced diabetes.

       Zinc is necessary for the pancreas to produce insulin and to protect insulin receptor sites on the cells.  This trace mineral is often lacking in the American diet due to deficiency in the soil and loss of this mineral in food processing.  Supplementation with zinc can be helpful to increasing insulin efficiency. Thirty to fifty milligrams per day should be adequate.

       Milk Thistle is an herb traditionally used to detoxify the liver.  It has as its key ingredient the compound silymarin.  Research has shown that silymarin will reduce insulin resistance and block the toxic effect of excessive glucose on the kidneys. 

       Gymnema Sylvestre an herb from India’s Ayurevdic tradition, has been used effectively to increase insulin production by the pancreas and, therefore, improve glucose utilization.  This herb has proven to be one of the most effective remedies in treating diabetes without drugs.  It can be used by itself or in combination with other herbs as is true in the product Glucocare discussed above. 

       Vanadium is a trace element that works by mimicking insulin and therefore facilitating better utilization of   glucose.  This substance is available as vanadyl sulfate and should be used in conjunction with other glucose lowering substances.

       Magnesium is a major mineral that is necessary for the production of insulin and is required by the cells for maintaining insulin sensitivity and increasing the number of insulin receptors.  Magnesium is deficient in many American diets.  Eating a lot of green foods or taking a green food concentrate can help maintain adequate magnesium levels.

       Banaba Leaf is a medicinal plant that grows in India, Southwest Asia and the Philippines.  This plant contains a compound called corosolic acid which acts to stimulate the transport of glucose into the cell.  Studies have shown that banaba, at a dose of 16-48 mg per day for 4-6 weeks, has reduced blood sugar levels up to 30% while also effecting tighter control of blood sugar fluctuations.  No negative side effects   have been shown with using banaba.  

       American Ginseng has been found to help lower glucose levels.  Some research has shown that three grams of American ginseng lowered post meal glucose levels significantly.  You may want to add this product to your regimen to reduce blood sugar levels.

      Cinnamon, a common baking spice, at just a half teaspoon per day, has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.  Cinnamon has a water soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP which mimics insulin and activates insulin receptors. Research also shows cinnamon helps to lower blood fats and LDL cholesterol. The cinnamon commonly used as a flavoring agent is the variety known as cassia cinnamon which comes from China, Indonesia and Vietnam.  This cinnamon has high levels of a chemical called coumarin which can be toxic to the liver when consumed in high amounts or by people sensitive to this chemical. Another variety of cinnamon that is available is Ceylon cinnamon from the county Ceylon (Sri-Lanka). This variety is relatively low in coumarin.  When using cinnamon to regulate blood sugar it may be best to use Ceylon cinnamon. 

       Benfotiamine: Benfotiamine is a fat soluble form of the water soluble B-vitamin thiamin (vitamin B-1).  Benfotiamine has been shown to interfere with the effects of advanced glacation end-products (AGEs) discussed earlier in this essay.  Benfotiamine activates an enzyme called transketolase which converts substances produced by AGE's into harmless byproducts.

       Berberine: is an extract from various plants traditionally used in Chinese medicine.  This extract has been shown to reduce the livers production of glucose when glucose levels are two high.  Studies have shown berberine to be as effective in lowering blood sugar as the pharmaceutical drugs Metformin and glibenclamide. Berberine appears to do this by activating an enzyme called Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK).  AMPK is found in all our cells and plays an important role in regulating many metabolic functions including blood sugar utilization. When AMPK is not sufficiently present, metabolic function is compromised including blood sugar metabolism.  Research has shown Berberine is quite well absorbed and very quickly metabolized by the body.

       Green food concentrate: Using a high quality green food concentrate can promote better blood sugar metabolism.  Green food concentrates provide a very wide range of nutrition and will give the body the many nutrients necessary for proper metabolism at all levels, including sugar control.We recommend the green food concentrate BarleyLife.

       The foregoing supplements can be taken individually, and are also available in combination in diabetic formulas. For example, the Nutraceutical Company Kal has a product called Blood Sugar Defense, which contains zinc, chromium, alpha lipoic acid, vanadyl sulfate, gymenma sylvestre, and several other elements known to be helpful in regulating blood sugar.  We also carry Diabet-X from the company Life Seasons which has these same extracts plus the herb cinnamon which has been shown to be helpful in blood sugar control.  The company EuroPharma (Terry Naturally) offers a product called Sucontral D which features an extract from copalch bark which has been shown to be effective in regulating blood sugar.  All the supplements here discussed are available at Milk ‘N Honey.

COFFEE AND DIABETES:       

       Scientific research has show that regular coffee consumption significantly reduces the risk for type 2 diabetes, the type most people have.  A 2009 meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine combined data on over 450,000 people and found that every additional cup per day of caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee lowered the risk of diabetes by 5 to 10%.  Drinking just one cup of coffee a day, caffeinated or decaffeinated, was shown to decrease the risk of developing diabetes by 13%.

       The ingredient in coffee responsible for lowering blood sugar is a substance called chlorogenic acid.  Chlorogenic acid interferes with glucose synthesis and release in the body.  It appears to do this by inhibiting the pathway of glucose-6-phosphatase, an enzyme that regulates production of glucose from non-carbohydrate substrates and glycogen released by the liver.  This results in lowered glucose in the blood with the additional result of insulin activity being reduced which helps reduce production of fat-storing tissue.  

       There are diabetic drugs called alpha-glycosidase inhibitors which prevent the action of the enzyme alpha-glycosidase from breaking down complex sugars into glucose to facilitate their delivery and absorption into the blood stream.  Chlorogenic acid has been shown to reduce the action of this enzyme and thus reduce delivery of glucose into the blood.

       The company LifeExtension makes available a green coffee bean extract called CoffeeGenic. Each capsule is standardized to contain 50% chlorogenic acid.  This product is available at Milk 'N Honey.  For more information on this product go to out "PRODUCTS" page on this website. 

EXERCISE:

      A diabetic must exercise!   Exercise builds and strengthens muscle tissue. Conditioned muscles increase insulin sensitivity.  Conditioned muscles will burn glucose more efficiently.  Exercise requires fuel.  The primary body fuel is glucose.  Exercise will burn glucose and reduce glucose levels.  Exercise will also reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  Exercise is a must if a diabetic expects to experience better blood sugar control.  Exercise should be a daily activity and can include simple walking, jogging, biking, swimming, rebounding, stretching, weight training, etc.  Exercise should be a mix of cardiovascular and resistive exercise that will both improve oxygen uptake and increase muscle strength and size.  Stronger and larger muscles will burn more glucose. 

DIABETES AND YOUR WEIGHT:       

       As explained above, diabetes often results from the cells not excepting insulin to remove glucose from the blood into the cells.  The pancreas continues to produce adequate insulin, even to the point of excess, in an effort to remove glucose from the blood.  Since Insulin is involved in fat metabolism as well as glucose metabolism, excess insulin promotes the storage of fat.  Insulin resistance can promote weight gain by creating more fat.  It does this because it can’t get glucose into muscle cell receptor sites to be burned as energy so it converts glucose and other sugars into fat.  The accumulation of body fat increases the ratio of fat cells to muscle cells.  It’s primarily in muscle tissue where glucose is burned.  In contrast, fat cells don’t burn much of anything.  As weight is gained, it often becomes more difficult to exercise and muscle tissue begins to shrink.  This creates less and less receptor sites for insulin to try to move glucose from the blood into cells.  This leaves increasing amounts of insulin available to convert glucose into fat and weight continues to increase.

       As weight increases, cells become increasingly less sensitive to insulin.  This is why a diabetic, who is also overweight, must lose weight.  If insulin resistance continues to increase, and the pancreas becomes finally exhausted from having to produce so much insulin, this organ can ultimately fail.  Then there occurs a significant drop in insulin which results in glucose not being used by the body and instead leaving the body through the urine.  This results in rapid weight loss and the need to be given insulin to stabilize weight.  Maintaining a proper ratio of muscle tissue to fat tissue is of vital importance in the battle against diabetes.  Increasing muscle tissue and reducing fat tissue will provide more receptor sites for the acceptance of glucose and therefore reduce blood glucose levels and reduce pressure on the pancreas to produce insulin.  Depending on age, the target body fat range for men is between 12 and 20 percent and for women between 18 and 25 percent.

       Following a low glycemic diet along with the use of applicable supplements will facilitate better glucose metabolism and lead to better weight management.  Knowing your basal metabolic rate, overall calorie requirements, thyroid function and body mass index are also important dynamics relative to weight management and its role in diabetes. For a comprehensive article on weight loss, go to: The Pathway To Weight Loss.

MEASURING YOUR METABOLIC RATE:

       While exercise is an important factor in weight management, determining your daily calorie requirements in association with your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is also important to any sensible attempt at weight management.  The old adage, “calories in/calories out,” still applies.  Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) refers to the number of calories you require to maintain normal bodily processes when your body is at rest. Here is how you determine BMR.  We provide an example of a 130 pound woman:

       Step #1: Change pounds to kilograms by dividing your weight by 2.2.  (Our example: 130 divided by 2.2 kg = 59 kg).

       Step #2: Multiply weight in kilograms by the BMR factor to determine the number of BMR calories used per hour.  For men the factor is 1.0 and for women it is 0.9.  (Our example: 59 kg x 0.9 = 53 calories per hour).

       Step #3: Multiply the calories used in one hour by the hours in a day.  (Our example: 53 calories per hour x 24 hours = 1,272 calories per day).

       The number of total calories per day represents the BMR which is the number of calories that are needed to maintain life processes such as respiration, heart beat, body temperature, and other essential body functions.  Once you determine your BMR, you will need to calculate how many calories you expend throughout the day and therefore determine your calorie needs.  To do this you must add “activity calories” to your BMR.  Activity calories relate to the type and amount of activity you engage in on a daily basis.  Everything you do during the day that involves the use of your muscles must be considered.  Mental activity requires only slightly more energy than resting and therefore does not require much calorie usage.  Contraction of muscles is what burns up calories.  The following is a general guideline:

           For light activity (Example: office workers), add 50% of the BMR

           For moderate activity (Example: light industry, store workers), add 70% of the BMR

           For very active (Example: laborers, athletes), add 100% of BMR        

        If the women in the BMR example engaged in light activity, we would estimate her calorie needs by multiplying her BMR calories per day by 50%.  1,272 x 50% = 636 calories.  This 636 must then be added to her BMR of 1,272 which would give her a calorie requirement of 1,908 calories per day.  At moderate activity her calorie needs would be 2,162 per day and at the very active level her calorie needs would stand at 2,544.

        Calories consumed in excess of daily requirements can result in weight gain, whereas calories consumed at less than daily requirements can result in weight loss as the body will be forced to burn stored calories.  It should also be noted that your BMR will depend on the functional level of your glandular system, including the thyroid gland.  To determine thyroid activity, you can administer the following test.

THYROID TEST:

       On the night before the test, shake down an oral thermometer and leave it at an accessible place beside your bed. The very moment you awake, after a good nights sleep, stay in bed and place the thermometer firmly in the armpit and leave it there for ten minutes.  If your reading is lower than 97.8, (normal resting temperature), it’s an indication that your thyroid is underactive which could result in a lower metabolic rate and a subsequent slower burning of calories.  It is wise to repeat this test several times in a row in order to make a proper determination.  If you are a women of child bearing years, perform this test on only the second and third days of menstruation.  Low thyroid activity can result in a lower BMR and slower burning of calories in general.  This will impact a person’s ability to lose weight.

BODY MASS INDEX:  (BMI)

       Body mass index is an index of desirable weight for adults.  It is calculated by first determining a person’s weight in kilograms.  One pound equals 2.2 kilograms.  This weight in kilograms is then divided by the square of a person’s height in meters. One inch equals 2.5 centimeters and 100 centimeters equals one meter.

        Let’s take for example a 6.0 foot male weighing 180 pounds. 180 divided by 2.2 = 81.8 kilograms. Our male weighs 81.8 kilograms.  Our male is 72 inches tall.  2.5 X 72 = 180 centimeters or 1.8 meters.  1.8 meters squired is 3.24 (1.8 X 1.8).  We now divide 81.8 by 3.24 which gives us a BMI of 25.2 for our six foot, 180 pound male.  Our male is just slightly over the desirable BMI.   The range of BMI is as follows:                                                 

                                   Desirable BMI           Overweight BMI              Obese BMI

      Female:                18.7 - 23.5                   23.5 - 28.2                     Over 28.5

      Male:                    20.5 - 25.0                   25.0 - 30.0                     Over 30.0

 THE ROLE OF FIBER:

        The intake of 30 to 40 grams of various types of fiber in the diet on a daily basis will go a long way in slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates and fats and therefore help regulate sugar metabolism.  Fiber is the non-digestible part of foods that serve to facilitate good elimination of wastes through the colon.  Adding flax seed fiber, oat and wheat bran, apple pectin and other such fibers to the diet will slow down carbohydrate metabolism and create less demand for insulin.  Fiber will also improve bowel function and shorten the transit time for the elimination of waste after eating a meal.  Rapid elimination of the wastes of metabolism is vital to having a healthy body.          

TESTING FOR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS:  

        You can monitor your own blood sugar levels in the convenience of your home.  Simply purchase a blood glucose test kit from your local drugstore and follow the instructions.  Since diabetes is so wide spread in America, with many Americans not even knowing they have it, I recommend that all adults test their blood sugar levels from time to time. This is especially true for anyone over forty.  

SYNDROME X AND DIABETES:

        The term syndrome X has been coined to describe a group of symptoms which include insulin resistance, upper-body obesity, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and high blood pressure.  It is felt that insulin resistance, which results in elevated glucose and insulin levels, is the corner stone of this syndrome. While it is possible to have insulin resistance without having syndrome X, syndrome X will always include insulin resistance and compromised glucose metabolism. Excess insulin promotes increases in cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood pressure and abdominal obesity. This is why excess insulin, due to insulin resistance, tends to be the major dynamic in syndrome X. 

        Syndrome X is primarily caused by eating a diet high in carbohydrates and especially refined carbohydrates.  A diet high in refined carbohydrates not only keeps glucose levels high and increases insulin resistance, it also fails to supply the body with the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and multiple other nutrients that we need for repair and maintenance of body tissue.  Moving from a processed and refined food diet to a whole food diet is a key step in avoiding and/or reversing syndrome X.  Making vegetables and some fruit the primary source for your carbohydrates will help stabilize blood sugar.  Adding a high quality green food concentrate such as BarleyLife along with key nutritional supplements, such as a high quality multiple vitamin and mineral complex, additional vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, and other such nutrients, will contribute significantly to avoiding syndrome X.  

       Avoid taking synthetically produced mass market multiples which may be little utilized by the body. For information on how multiples are made and what choices you have, go to What You Should Know About Your Vitamin/Mineral Supplement

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