Category Archives: Diabetes

Decaf Coffee Has Health Benefits Too

More than half of Americans drink a cup of coffee every day, and usually, it’s caffeinated. After all, that’s the whole point of drinking coffee, to get that nice little caffeine boost. However, science has made it a point to show us more about coffee, benefits like staving off Alzheimer’s, Type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. We talk about all of the nice little antioxidants in coffee, but up until now, all of the focus has been on caffeinated coffee.

Lead researcher Dr Qian Xiao says, Prior research found that drinking coffee may have a possible protective effect on the liver. However, the evidence wasn’t clear if that benefit may extend to decaffeinated coffee. So we kept asking ourselves, was it the caffeine or some other part of the coffee that was protecting a healthy liver?

Xiao published his study with other researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Hepatology, and they found that people who drank more coffee, even decaf, had lower levels of abnormal liver enzymes. In other words, it’s something else in coffee that has liver protective benefits.

The liver in turn is the largest organ in the body, outside the skin of course, and it aids in digestion, energy storage, and the removal of toxins from the body. When the liver is damaged or not functioning properly, it leaks certain chemicals into the bloodstream. Things like excessive alcohol consumption and obesity can contribute to elevated liver enzymes, as can higher doses of over the counter or prescription medications.

The researchers were able to gather 27,793 people 20 years old or older, and they monitored them over 24 hours. They specifically looked for certain markers of liver health and function like alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT).

People who were drinking 3 or more cups of coffee per day had lower levels of all three of these major liver enzymes compared to those who did not drink coffee at all. These same results showed up in those drinking decaf. Xiao says, These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health. Further studies are needed to identify these components.


Is It “Aging” Or Is It Diabetes?

You hear about the people who just got more and more tired as they got older, and then you hear about those who are lively, upbeat, keep walking and gardening, and some even become bodybuilders later in life. Yes, your body does break down as you age, but that doesn’t mean that these are necessary or typical ways of aging. Some typical signs of aging are actually typical signs of diabetes.

With over 8 million Americans unaware that they are suffering from diabetes as estimated by the American Diabetes Association, those who are 45 years old or older are at the highest risk. Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, registered dietitian and diabetes explains, A lot of people have prediabetes or diabetes for quite some time before it gets diagnosed……you could feel perfectly fine and have diabetes. This is especially true if you’re discounting things as just normal signs of aging. You should watch out for:

Hearing Loss or Blurred Vision

Some people will start to lose their hearing and sight gradually with age, but there are also cases where it’s not age. You don’t have to suffer through it. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that those with diabetes are twice as likely to experience hearing loss than those who do not have diabetes.

Part of what diabetes does is it damages blood vessels and nerves, and this includes those in the ears and eyes. Dobbins tells us, When the blood sugar is higher than what’s normal, that damages your circulation. This could lead to problems with hearing and sight loss.

Low Energy and Irritability

Older people have less energy, but at the same point, you see some senior citizens who are still quite active. This isn’t unexplained. Type 2 diabetes can explain exhaustion and the irritability that often comes with it. Dobbins says, Our body needs fuel in order to function. The body prefers glucose, and so when we don’t have enough of that – – it’s staying in our circulation and it’s not getting into the cells where it’s needed – then we are going to feel tired, hungry, and low energy, because that fuel pathway isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. In short, the calories you get from food aren’t being processed into energy, and the glucose just goes out with your urine.

Frequent Urination and Extreme Thirst

Some people urinate more as they age, and it could be because of diabetes. For those with diabetes, sugar can’t get into the body, instead going out with the urine.

The only way to get the sugar out of the body is to flush it in the urine, and that dehydrates you and makes you really thirsty. Naturally, if you’re more thirsty, diabetics will try to drink more orange juice, milk, soda, and other sugary drinks, which perpetuates the problem.

Unexplained Weight Loss

I have seen some elderly people who lose fat and muscle as they age. In some cases though, it might be diabetes. Dobbins notes, But any sort of unexplained weight loss – – if somebody is not trying to lose weight – – really needs to be looked at. You can’t just brush aside unexplained weight loss, even if it’s not diabetes.

There are other symptoms you might notice with diabetes such as tinglin and numbness for example. It’s a complicated disease. As you age though, it is essential not to simply write these types of potentially serious symptoms off.

Harvard Scientists May Be Working Toward a Cure For Diabetes

Scientists at Harvard may have the next big breakthrough in diabetes research, specifically for the elusive Type 1 Diabetes. We have known that diet and exercise can largely control Type 2 diabetes in many people, but could this mean a real cure for type 1 diabetes?

Researchers developed a procedure to convert stem cells into pancreatic beta cells that can produce insulin for the body. In other words, it replaces the ineffective cells that many with type 1 diabetes have. This helps to regulate metabolism, effectively making them healthy, you would assume anyway.

Doug Melton is largely responsible for the breakthrough, developing the new embryonic stem-cell treatment in part because his own 2 children were diagnosed decades ago. The study was published in Cell, and Melton worked with specialists Felicia W Pagliuca, Jeff Millman, Mads Gurtler, and over 50 graduate students over 15 years.

People with Type 1 diabetes currently lack the ability to generate enough insulin, and they rely on injections, medications, and diet to maintain the healthy blood sugar levels the rest of us take for granted. The JORF says that many factors, including stress, hormone changes, periods of growth, and illness can easily cause blood sugars to swing out of control. This could even be deadly.

Some previously believed that the only cure was a beta-cell transplant from someone who was recently deceased, which was too complicated. National Geographic reports fewer than 1,000 successful transplants. However, there have been many who have wondered if scientists could reproduce cells outside the body and therefore make the process more successful, not creating a response where the body would attack the foreign cells.

Melton saw just this kind of opportunity and jumped on it. His team produced immature beta cells for mass creation and distribution. The cells are still undergoing testing in non-human subjects, and they are working with MIT chemical engineering expert Daniel G Anderson to implant the systems properly. Mice have been able to continue producing insulin months later. So there is hope.

There are still technical hurdles to get over of course, such as testing this in humans. It’s too early in the process to promise a cure. But one can certainly hope.

Rosemary And Oregano May Help Fight Diabetes

If you love Italian food, there’s even more good news. It doesn’t just taste great, common herbs in Italian cooking rosemary and oregano may actually have major health benefits that can help you to fight diabetes.

Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia PhD, of the Division of Nutritional Sciences of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been involved in quite a bit of research and development with diabetes, but she hit a roadblock. 8% of Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes, but many patients cannot afford medication, and others struggle with lifestyle changes. She wanted to find less expensive and easier ways to ultimately control the disease.

She studied some herbs, finding that some could promote many benefits, including regulating blood sugar. They tested multiple herbs, seeing if any of them could interfere with a particular diabetes-related enzyme in a way that may be similar to diabetes drugs. Both rosemary and oregano as it turns out have that effect. The study was published in a paper in the Agricultural and Food Chemistry journal in June 2014.

The study authors wrote, There is a need to identify natural compounds that can aid in the management of this disease. The study specified that 8.3% of Americans currently suffer from diabetes and it costs $175 billion in 2012. Researchers were using both dried and fresh herbs and didn’t find a difference, both varieties seemed to be just as effective. This means that if you want to keep the dried stuff that doesn’t go bad so quickly around, that’s great.

Don’t rush out and drown your food in herbs just yet though. ACS researchers are optimistic, but they can definitely see that more testing is necessary.

De Mejia says, We need to test interaction studies with the current drugs to make sure there will not be an antagonistic effect and, on the other hand, may be a synergistic effect. We need clinical studies to demonstrate a dose-response of the products.

Is Sugar Hurting Your Brain?

A poor diet can obviously cause you to gain weight, get lethargic, and see other problems in the way you feel. However, you will find that a poor diet can also affect your brain health, and a recent study in Neurology is now telling us why that is. According to this study, if you eat a lot of sugar and carbs, it can negatively affect your brain structure and function.

For one thing, you may find that diabetes, which is an issue with your body not being able to regulate your blood sugar properly. This disease, especially when unregulated by diet, exercise, and the proper medication, can increase your risk of dementia (along with plenty of other complications including amputations and death). It leads to a smaller hippocampus just to start.

Even without diabetes though, studies are finding that glucose can affect memory negatively, increasing your risk of dementia just to start. The experiment was conducted at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin, looking at both short and long term glucose markers in 141 subjects who were non-diabetic, but older adults.

In the short term, higher glucose levels led to problems with memory and a smaller hippocampus, creating structural changes to the brain. Study author Agnes Flöel, neurologist at Charité, the results provide further evidence that glucose might directly contribute to hippocampal atrophy. In other words, sugar is really hurting your health and your brain, especially if you have diabetes.

Health Insurers Are Putting the Spotlight On Diabetics

Diabetics, your insurance company is looking at you. This wouldn’t be the first time. In the past, some insurance companies have done anything and everything they can to avoid diabetic clients. The treatments are expensive, and in many cases, diabetes is seen as being linked to obesity, which is partly personal responsibility. They are looking at diabetics who aren’t necessarily taking their medications or following their diet like they should.

Insurance companies may start calling you if you don’t pick up your prescriptions or miss appointments. They may even arrange transportation for you to get to the doctor’s office, sending nurses over on house calls to avoid more costly complications in the long run that would cost your insurance company more.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were allowed to refuse diabetics service due to pre-existing conditions. However, as you may have heard, the new law stops them from doing this or charging more, which makes early intervention essential to maintain the bottom line.

For the majority of people with Type 2 diabetes, they can prevent complications and side effects by maintaining a healthy diet plan and controlling blood sugar levels while exercising and watching their weight according to Dr. Sam Nussbaum, former endocrinologist at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and executive vice president for the insurer WellPoint. Conversely, if patients ignore the signs and symptoms, it can cause severe complications, such as amputations and even death. Experts say that diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, and loss of vision. They say that even a healthy diabetic patient can cost insurers $5000 a year.

Nussbaum says, But if you let any of those long-term, difficult complications develop, then you’re talking $100,000 plus.

Approximately 26 million Americans experience problems with diabetes, and 2/3 are also overweight or obese. 8% of Americans are estimated to have problems with diabetes, and insurers estimate at least 7.5 million of their clients will have diabetes under the new law.

In line with the law and to control costs, WellPoint started bringing diabetic client into a 6 week program last fall. They started workshops in Atlanta, Indianapolis, and St Louis to teach patients how to monitor blood sugar levels, find emotional support, and everything in between.

Kathy English, a former nurse heading up the program says, You’re talking about an improved quality of life, but a lot less expenses related to chronic conditions that develop later….hypertension, end stage renal disease, lots of different conditions.