24 September 2010

Rogue protein – problem for several health issues

More information about potential causes of type 2 diabetes and markers for type 2 diabetes keep making the news lately. The latest bit was originally published by the BBC about a rogue protein that seems to attack insulin-producing cells and lays down protein deposits that are implicated in Alzheimer's disease. So this is disturbing news on several fronts.

Then the same information appeared in Diabetes in Control. The one positive is that now more studies can be done and a possible way to stop this rogue protein from malfunctioning. This study does add more complexity to the causes of type 2 diabetes. Who said this was not an individual disease for type 2.

The researchers in Dublin state that future drugs could target this process. The amyloid protein causes inflammation in the pancreas which in turn destroys the beta cells. The problem comes in that some people with type 2 do not have the amyloid protein while others do. So there is much that needs to be considered in the development of drugs and a test for determining the present of this amyloid protein, to avoid treating people that do not have the protein present.

Dr. Eric Hewitt, a researcher into amyloid related disease at Leeds University says “what we have is a second indirect mechanism which can lead to the destruction of beta cells, and this could be helpful when looking at other diseases which may involve amyloid, such as Alzheimer's.”

This is an interesting study and I am sure will create some solutions which may well help in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases. Here is hoping for the best.

23 September 2010

Using food labels to your advantage

When you have diabetes or some other chronic diseases, reading and understanding food labels is a necessity. Please know that labels can be off and are not necessarily 100% accurate. They have limits that they must be within and there are often items that are not measured because they are not required by law.

Also key to reading the labels is reading the list of ingredients to discover what also may not be on the label. This is sometimes impossible to determine the more processed the food has become and when foods from other suppliers are included.

Read the following article (page 1 and page 2) on WebMd to learn what the rules are for ingredients and labels are. I was aware of some of them, but this has been an education for me as well even after being in the food industry for almost twenty years, but never involved in the labeling department.

Reading and understanding food labels is more an art than science as the USDA would lead you to believe. Words are often changed, not so much to mislead, but to lull you into believing everything is okay. An example is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) which can be labeled as corn syrup, corn products, and now if approved, we will see it as corn sugar. We will continue to see it as corn products, and maybe corn syrup. This is just an example of how the manufacturers will try to muddle the ingredients.

To see how some companies are making claims that are often not totally honest, please take time to read this article which has nine slides of the deceptive practices of food manufacturers. And these are some of the worst practices, but far from from being the end of fraudulent practices that are not even mentioned. So when you are shopping for foods, it is truly a “buyer beware” and an art to avoid all the misleading labels and problem foods for people with chronic illnesses.

It will take a reworking of our labeling laws and increasing of enforcement powers with very heft fines of both the FDA and USDA to reign in the deceptive claims of our food manufacturers.

Some more articles you might be interested in reading.

Site 1. While aimed the younger generation, there is much valuable information.
Site 2. Same type of information.
Site 3. More good information about understanding labels.
Site 4. Many examples of the labels in use today arranged by food category.
Site 5. A good reference about labels and a link to the USDA food database - 3 pages.
Site 6. A good reference about label terminology.

This list is only a sampling of the articles available on the internet to assist in your education of reading food labels and deciphering the false claims from the real ones.

I also suggest a small pocket sized book “Food Additives” by Ed Blonz, Ph.D.. This defines many of the additives found on labels and tells you about them whether they are good or harmful and why. On page five there is a discussion on nitrites and why they are both good and bad at the same time, why they are used to preserve red meats and protect us from botulism, but present a risk for cancer at the same time.
Also use this pocketbook to read some of the labels on the foods already in your home.  You may find some surprises.

22 September 2010

AADE to stress weight loss

Surprise, the American Association of Diabetes Educators issued a position statement that runs somewhat contrary to established practices. This is going to present a conundrum for the CDE's that until now openly advised people to eat over 200 grams of carbohydrates per day.

Some have properly taken up the challenge, reducing the recommended amount of carbohydrates, but some are going to insist on the old American Diabetes Association (ADA) position. I do applaud the AADE for at least taking this position.

This is going to be most interesting to find out how they are going to accomplish following the new position. Many people with obesity problems have not been diagnosed with diabetes so my question is how they are going to be able to intervene and work with these people to meet the position statement, especially since the doctors must refer these people and many insurance programs will not cover preventative medicine.

This is going to be a challenge for them to be reimbursed for their work. Now I can see something that could possibly help – if the new blood markers for diabetes do create a new tool for diagnosis or determining risk, then the AADE may have some valid tools for billing for their time.

This may also be another opening for more lay volunteers to step into the gap and assist doctors and other diabetes professionals to educate people. But first the American Medical Association and other medical associations and organizations are needing to step forward and be willing to work with lay volunteers and get the states to approve these programs.

There are a lot of “if's” to be answered and retraining before the AADE is going to have success with their new position statement.

21 September 2010

Blood markers for Type 2 diagnosis or risk?

This is an interesting article. It is covered by at least two sources – A Sweet Life on September 17, 2010, and by Dr. Bill Quick on September 19, 2010. The good news came out of a study that was not originally about diabetes. Even those in charge of the study were surprised at the outcome.

Dr. Quick titles his blog “A New Test for Diabetes?”, but I have to wonder where else this may lead. It is true we need more accurate tests for determining whether someone has type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or not. The current tests are not as reliable as they could be. The A1c is the least reliable and the OGTT still misses too many that have diabetes.

While there will need to be more study about this, at least those doing the study recognized that they were on to something and did not ignore what the data was telling them.

This is something that I hope will be researched as rapidly as possible with the possibility of having a more accurate test for determining who is at high risk for developing diabetes and those that are not. This could possibly be extended to developing a precise test for those that have diabetes and what stage they are at.

Dreaming? Possibly, but this is for diagnosis value and at present not of curative value.

20 September 2010

Sodium and its dangers

Since my discovery that reducing my sodium intake helped with my neuropathy and edema, my research has led to other reasons that those of us with diabetes need to watch our sodium levels.

Our increased risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure is a big benefactor of reduced sodium. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association both suggest 2400 milligrams of sodium for the upper limit. This equates to one teaspoon of salt.

In my research I have not discovered a lower limit for sodium. This is disappointing as the body does need sodium on a daily basis. Even the doctors I have talked to are not able to suggest a lower limit, only quote the 2400 milligrams. For me personally, I have reduced my sodium intake to nearer the 1200 milligram level with occasional excursions to near the 600 milligram mark. Presently this is my lowest limit, but I do not encourage others to do the same.

Sodium does affect too many areas that people with diabetes are at risk for. There is a relationship between diabetes and epilepsy, diabetes and retinopathy, neuropathy, diabetes and heart disease, and diabetes and hypertension. These are all reasons to keep you sodium intake limited.

There are many foods that we need to eliminate to reduce the amount of sodium that we eat. Two sources of lists agree but the second is more complete about what we should carefully consider eliminating from our food intake.

Canned meats, soups, vegetables, and packaged processed meats lead the list. Then prepared and pre-mixed products, packaged snacks, some cereals, and some other foods like commercially prepared salad dressings and soy and steak sauces. Both sources did not but should have added most frozen TV meals for any meal. They also forgot to include most fast foods like french and other fries, meats and some salads. So read their lists and add your own items that you know are high in sodium.

Another concern is all the forms sodium is included in foods. Sodium, sodium nitrate, sodium chloride, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, sodium phosphates, sea salt, and salt. These are just some of the forms of sodium that are added to foods.  Here is a list of spices and herbs that can work as a substitute for salt and that help add flavor to your foods.  There are a lot of ideas in the article, and excellent food for thought.

One of the best ways to help limit your sodium intake is eating fresh foods as much as possible.  For those of us in the midwest and northern US, the local farmers markets are near the end of their offerings.  Some grocery chains will be getting fresh foods from the Southern Hemisphere and Mexico during the winter months.

For more to read, use your search engine for “diabetes and sodium”. There are many good sources and some that you might want to avoid. At least read them carefully.

19 September 2010

Sneaky quizzes

Ever notice that you are interested in a topic because of a headline or come-on title, and when you click on it, you are asked to take a quiz, short survey, or view some ad before you can read what you thought you had an interest in. Many of the well respected diabetes sites are now doing this, much to my dislike.

This seems to be the new way of advertising and gathering data for studies to help advertisers direct their ads. While this is the majority purpose, there are some less than honorable reasons behind some quizzes.

Why do I say this? Some sites are gathering personal data about you. First they can identify your location and site address as can anyone. Next they gather data through quizzes. When they have collected a good amount of data, they look for your personal and public information and match the two and voila, instant profile. Now they know what to direct at you for identity theft and what scams may be profitable against you.

This is the reason I stop when quizzes are presented and look at the site and view it in another perspective. If I question the honesty, I mark the site banned and never go to it again. If the site is generally okay, I ignore the topic and use my search engine to see if I can find the topic elsewhere.

Does this happen, yes. So some words of caution for people that think all quizzes are fun and challenging. Just be careful about the information they are collecting. Many innocent questions can gather enough information about you to be scary.