Tag Archives: Diabetes

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: No-Calorie Artificial Sweetener

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Non-calorie, Artificial sweeteners (AS) are thought to help those who want to lose weight by cutting calories and allow those with blood sugar issues to expand on food options because there is a negligible effect on blood sugar, therefore aiding in health promotion.

However, on the same line as the calorie theory (a calorie deficit consumed equals weight loss), AS are building a track record of doing just the opposite.

Research suggests that AS have multiple negative effects on body systems that include changing taste receptors (increasing expectation for a greater sweetness  in food), altering brain signals and responses (by providing sweetness without accompanying fuel or calories) and changing good gut bacteria (effecting immune system digestive issues). None of which falls into the “this is good because it has zero calories” theory.

While it is true AS do not provide calories or carbs, once ingested the metabolic effects have a much greater consequence on weight and health than chomping down on some bacon or, for that matter, any other food with calories or carbs like olives, berries or nuts.

Burke and Small explain this in the 2015 issue of Physiological Behavior, Their paper, “Physiological mechanisms by which non-nutritive sweeteners may impact body weight and metabolism”, explains that  AS “are not physiologically inert compounds and consider the potential biological mechanisms by which NNS (AS) consumption may impact energy balance and metabolic function, including actions on oral and extra-oral sweet taste receptors, and effects on metabolic hormone secretion, cognitive processes (e.g. reward learning, memory, and taste perception), and gut microbiota”.

A powerful and very important message don’t ya think?

This may even explain how we spend $2-4 billion dollars/ year on non-calorie artificial sweeteners and yet continue to watch the diabesity ( epidemic grow. After all these years of throwing our money down the drain (paying more for calorie-free products) and acting as human guinea pigs we now find out this food ingredient causes the very same problems it is trying to correct.

In 2014, Eran Elinav et. al., from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, conducted and published consecutive trials in the scientific journal Nature,  The study found that AS changed gut bacteria causing fluctuations in sugar metabolism that mimic diabetes. Admittedly the study sample size is small but regardless of size, if you are the one person that the results apply then it is very relevant to you. Here is what they found:

  1. Mice were fed plain water, water with Sweet’ N Low, Splenda or Equal, water with sugar or glucose. The mice who drank water with artificial sweeteners “developed marked glucose intolerance” as a result of changes in the natural gut flora. The mice with glucose intolerance were then given antibiotics that killed the gut flora and the glucose intolerance went away.
  2. Researchers also took a sample of the gut bacteria in the mice that were glucose intolerant and then injected the bacteria in mice that had never consumed artificial sweetener. The injected mice then developed glucose intolerance. “DNA sequencing showed the artificial sweetener changed the variety of bacteria in the guts of the mice that consumed it.”
  3. Then the researchers compiled data on 381 non diabetic individuals and found a connection  between “the reported use of any kind of artificial sweeteners and signs of glucose intolerance. In addition, the gut bacteria of those who used artificial sweeteners were different from those who did not.”
  4. For one week, seven human volunteers (who normally did not use artificial sweeteners) “consumed the maximum amount of saccharin recommended by the United States Food and Drug Administration. In four of the seven, blood-sugar levels were disrupted in the same way as in mice.” Then they used bacteria from the four volunteers who developed glucose intolerance and injected it into the gut of mice. The mice, then also developed glucose intolerance.

Seems pretty straight forward right?  Yes but there is more to take from this if you read between the lines:

  1. Gut bacteria seems to be another point of interest in understanding blood sugar disorders.
  2. This research seems to suggest that there may be a variety of ways blood sugar abnormalities occur and some may at least originally be independent of insulin abnormalities.

While this information is compelling, is it really shocking? We know there is no magic bullet for weight loss or blood sugar control. We also know of similar situations  like the creation of trans fats (to make foods healthier by removing naturally occurring fat) and how that turned out (they proved to promote heart disease and negatively effect blood sugar and health).

Eat smart. Make REAL food choices. Understand how what you eat effects you.


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Statins: The Drug Deal

Image result for simvastatin image

I think most people understand the  “drug deal” relating to the pharmaceutical industry,, but we seem to forget that prescribed drugs by a physician can be just as dangerous as any drug on the street. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug dependence,, “an estimated 48 million people have abused prescription drugs, representing nearly 20% of the U.S. population ” and it is not just addiction as there are serious health consequences to these legal drugs. Statins are no exception to the rule recently proving to have similar side effects to other drugs already taken off the market;  you can read about “35 FDA-Approved Prescription Drugs Later Pulled from the Market,”

Make no mistake prescription medications are created to make a ton of legal drug money. In my opinion anyone taking any prescription drug within the first 5-10 years of its release is a human guinea pig.

If you listen to Michael Roizen, MD ( the colleague of Dr. Oz),, “15 million Americans are now taking a statin drug, according to the large pharmaceutical survey organization (IMS, Instructional Management Systems), most don’t take the drug as they should. Only 32 percent take statins as their doctor prescribed — many skip taking over 50 percent of their pills or even any pills. Furthermore, even though the National Institutes of Health recommends that 35 million Americans take statins, considerably more than that actually do. If all the benefits we think statins provide actually prove to be true, perhaps statins should be taken regularly by almost all of us, as aspirin is, and started at about the same time, age thirty-five or forty.”

Most doctors would agree but there is mounting evidence that statins are not all that! And maybe those who have given up on taking statins are smarter than those who are using them.

As I mention in a previous blog entitled, “A Statin Standoff or Much More?” ,, statins have been shown to help only a small group of individuals but most of the people taking them are playing Russian roulette.

A new retrospective study from the VA just surfaced,, data was collected during 2003-2012 from approximately 26,000 beneficiaries of Tricare, the military health system. Healthy individuals who were prescribed and using statin drugs to control their cholesterol were 87 percent more likely to develop diabetes, 250 percent more likely to develop diabetic complications and 14 percent more likely to become overweight or obese than their non-statin-using peers. To make matters worse, there was also a dose dependent connection. Findings showed “the higher the dose of any of the statins, the greater the risk of diabetes, diabetes complications, and obesity”.

The authors published more results tying statin use to cataracts and muscle injury:

  1. Leuschen J1,Mortensen EM,Frei CRMansi EAPanday VMansi I. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013 Nov;131(11):1427-34. Association of statin use with cataracts: a propensity score-matched analysis”

“The risk for cataract is increased among statin users as compared with nonusers. The risk-benefit ratio of statin use, specifically for primary prevention, should be carefully weighed, and further studies are warranted.”

  1. Mansi I1,Frei CR,Pugh MJMakris UMortensen EM. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jul 22;173(14):1-10. “Statins and musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies, and injuries”

“Musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies, injuries, and pain are more common among statin users than among similar nonusers. The full spectrum of statins’ musculoskeletal adverse events may not be fully explored, and further studies are warranted, especially in physically active individuals.”

Make sure that if you are taking any prescribed or over the counter medication,, that you really need it.

Otherwise, just like any other drug deal, you may just be putting your health and life on the line.

There are natural alternatives to statins. The first step is to speak with your doctor about eating a ketogenic diet, like the one I write about in my book, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” and using the supplements mentioned here,


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Cruising Down Memory Lane With The 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise

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In honor of the 8th Annual Low Carb Cruise 2015,, hosted by my friend and colleague Jimmy Moore. I thought I would repost an interview we did awhile back and share a great conversation that discusses the health benefits of The Atkins Diet from my perspective as a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator and the book I co-authored, “The Stubborn Fat Fix” (,, We discuss:

  • how you can identify reasons behind stubborn fat that just refuses to come off
  • why exercise may not be a good idea if you are experiencing metabolic overdrive
  • social and emotional interference with your diet
  • practical and creative solutions to help you stick with your nutrition plan
  • supplement solutions and much much more…

It is with great regret that I have only been able to attend one of the cruises but the memories are like yesterday. I met people who I will be friends with for life!

So here is my interview with Jimmy,!

I hope you have the opportunity to listen as this interview really hits on many aspects of weight loss and health regardless of diet preference and it may help spark a fire to that will help fix whatever obstacles are getting in the way of getting to your goal(s).


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Eat Your “Diabesity” Out

Diabesity (worth a look see, excellent site)

The past two weeks I have written about Diabesity, what it is,, and how to identify it, This week it is all about the simple solution.

While eating right is not always the easiest answer. It is simple, ideal and the most effective solution with absolutely no downside. So do not eat your “heart” out.  Eat your “diabesity” out. Eat diabesity right out of your system.

If you have been eating “healthy” low fat foods and staying away from nutrient dense high fat foods (foods that do not affect hormones, help to stave off hunger, help control appetite and maintain consistent blood sugar in normal range) or eating  a combination of high carbohydrate and high fat foods then my best nutritional advice is to eat your way out of diabesity.

Eating low fat “healthy” meals are loaded with the precise nutrients that feed diabesity and make it worse especially when the majority of what is consumed is carbohydrate. This will happen when insulin and blood sugar are at the root of any medical condition such as heart disease, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), metabolic syndrome…

Consuming foods that do not cause blood sugar or insulin spikes and also contribute to burning fat are the best selection for weight loss, blood sugar control, eliminating diabesity symptoms and optimizing clinical lab outcomes. Fat is the only nutrient that has minimal effect on either blood sugar or insulin. So eating a majority of calories from fat is hands down the healthiest choice to make, Nutrition. 2015 Jan;31(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.06.011. “Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: critical review and evidence base”, One hundred percent of starch and carbohydrates turns into sugar (this includes healthy foods like fruit) after consumption and excess protein has been shown to increase insulin levels.

Forget about the calories! Eat to beat diabesity by choosing the foods that keep your body in balance. You will experience a big difference in how you feel, in your ability to lose weight and controlling blood sugar.

Lowering carbs between 30- 50 grams each day and eating more fat begets fat burning. Lowering carbs also minimizes blood sugar spikes because 100% of carbohydrates or any form of sugar will catapult blood sugar out of range and into “health hell”.

Does your breakfast consist of cereal? A bagel or English muffin? How about low fat fruited yogurt? None of these contain fat or much protein. So therefore all of the food consumed hits your body and infiltrates it like a tsunami, first thing in the morning. Blood sugar soars, hormones are disrupted, hunger is ignited and non-fat calories are easily stored as fat. However, most of us think that calories matter more than anything and few of us think about what happens to the body on the inside when we pick our next morsel.

If you want to prevent diabesity, strategize meal plans to rest the liver and pancreas. Once these overworked organs get a chance to relax and are restored to good health, with the foods you avoid and choose to eat, you will be as good as new in no time.

Try this as a sample meal or switch out foods in the same food groups with foods you like.


Eggs (prepared your choice) sautéed kale sliced cheddar cheese


Smoked salmon cream cheese tomato, onion and avocado “cigars”


Chef salad


Tuna and chicken salad (“banana boat”) scoops with celery sticks , cucumber and tomato salad


–includes side salad for either entree

Double cheeseburger (no bun or ketchup) or steak, mashed cauliflower with butter (faux mashed potato), sautéed spinach garlic and oil


Salmon, broccoli, miracle noodle teriyaki


  1. celery with peanut butter or cream cheese
  2. fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato
  3. cottage cheese with sprinkled cinnamon or 1/4 cup berries
  4. protein shake
  5. >85% cocoa chocolate with 6 almonds

Take matters into your own hands, use a simple solution to the diabesity epidemic, eat to free yourself of obesity and diabetes. What are you waiting for?


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Diabesity: Tell Tale Signs and Symptoms

Diabesity is found in both overweight and TOFI ( Thin Outside Fat Inside) individuals, This bears repeating because we understand a consequence of being overweight is having diabetes but we assume that someone who is thin and looks good on the outside is immune to health issues.

I cannot emphasize the importance of everyone paying attention to the tell tale signs of diabesity. Be aware of these symptoms no matter who you are, no matter how much you weigh, REGARDLESS of family history.  Why? because 8.1 million people or approx. 28% of the US is walking around with diabetes and they don’t know it,  

So if family history is what you use as a guiding risk factor DON’T!

In other words there are many people walking around with blood sugar issues and don’t even know it. If these “clueless” individuals are family, you do not have a “known” family history. But not being diagnosed with diabetes, insulin resistance or glucose toxicity does not mean you do not have a health condition that needs attention.

Discuss Tell Tale Precautionary Symptoms of Diabesity and Insulin Resistance With Your Doctor

  • Abdominal obesity (apple shape)
  • Sugar/carbohydrate cravings
  • Hunger after meals
  • Fatigue after meals
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst and appetite
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Gut issues (bloating, symptomatic of Decreased stomach emptying
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Vision problems
  • Numbness and tingling in lower extremities
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Sudden nervousness
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Headache
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin tingling
  • Skin tags
  • Gum disease
  • Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating

Ask About Tell Tale Clinical references:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Dyslipidemia (low HDL, high LDL and high triglycerides)
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Hyperglycemia (fasting above 100 mg/dL, Hb1Ac above 5.5)
  • Systemic Inflammation (elevated insulin production, C-reactive protein)
  • Hypercoagulable State (tendency to form blood clots)

Ask Your Doctor To Include Tell Tale Blood Tests as Part of Routine Check-ups:

  • Fasting glucose: blood glucose level after fasting for at least 8 hours
    • Normal: 70 – 89 mg/dl
    • Borderline: 90 – 99 mg/dl
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes : 100 – 125 mg/dl
    • Diabetes: >126 mg/dl
  • Oral glucose tolerance test: blood glucose level 2 hours after a 75 gram glucose drink (adjusted based on weight)
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: glucose level less than fasting level
    • Normal: less than 140 mg/dl
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes: 141 – 199 mg/dl
    • Diabetes: > 200 mg/dl
    • Diabesity : Work-up
  • Fasting Insulin level: insulin level after fasting for at least 8 hours
    • According to Stephen Guyenet, University of Washington, the average insulin level in the U.S. for men is 8.8 mIU/ml and women is 8.4 mIU/ml
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: less than 3.0 mIU/ml
    • Normal : 3.0 to 8.3 mIU/ml
    • Elevated levels : >8.4 mIU/ml
  • Fasting C-peptide level:  a  substance produced by the pancreatic beta cells when proinsulin splits apart to form one molecule of c-peptide and one molecule of insulin
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: less than 0.9 ng/ml
    • Normal : 1.0 – 3.0 ng/ml
  • Leptin: a hormone that is essential for regulation of metabolism and hunger. Blood levels are directly correlated with the amount of triglycerides stored in adipose tissue.
    • Normal for men: 1.2 -9.5 ng/ml
    • Normal for women: 4.1 – 25.0 ng/ml
  • HgbA1c: average blood sugar level for the past 2 to 3 months. This test measures what percentage of your hemoglobin is glycated (coated with sugar)
    • Reactive hypoglycemia: less than 5.0 percent
    • Normal : 5.0 to 5.6 percent
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes : 5.7 -6.4 percent
    • Diabetes: >6.5 percent
  • Fructosamine: a glycated serum protein that measures average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 weeks
    • Normal : 200 – 257 umol
    • Impaired glucose tolerance/Pre-diabetes: 258– 287 umol
    • Diabetes: >288 umol

The first step to maintaining or attaining good health is to be self aware of the early signs and symptoms of diabesity, glucose toxicity and insulin resistance. Use these lists to communicate with your doctor.  What can you do if you have a blood sugar or insulin issue? The solution, may or may not be easy but you have a choice and it is a powerful one that you can manage. The simple solution is up next week.


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Stop Diabesity In Its Tracks!

Diabesity is the combination of diabetes and obesity and it just may very well be the largest health epidemic in human history. The epidemic is expected to plague 366 million people in 2030 (2. Wild S, Roglic G, Green A, Sicree R, King H. Global prevalence of diabetes: estimates for the year 2000 and projections for 2030. Diabetes Care. 2004 May;27(5):1047-53.)

Right now:

  • Nearly 60% of the population has a genetic predisposition for the development of diabetes and/or obesity. The predisposition is accelerated with poor diet and leads to chronic illnesses.
  • 2 out 3 patients are overweight or obese.
  • 1 out 3 adult patients have pre diabetes.
  • 1 out 10 adult patients will have diabetes.

What most people do not realize is that thin people are not immune to blood sugar problems and they get diabetes, likely due to food choices, just like those who are overweight. Yes, TOFI (thin outside fat inside) is a new term used to describe those who are thin in appearance but have the same health risk factors as those who are obese. Diabetes does not discriminate based on weight.

Over consumption of sugars and low quality carbohydrates can lead to glucose toxicity and chronic illness well before diabetes is diagnosed. Glucose toxicity means a decrease in insulin secretion and an increase in insulin resistance due to chronic hyperglycemia. It is now generally accepted that glucose toxicity is involved in predisposing about 60% of individuals to carbohydrate intolerance and the worsening of diabetes by affecting the secretion of β-cells.

Increases in any type of sugar consumption even from “healthy sources” like fruit, dairy or starch will lead to high blood sugar and elevated insulin levels.

High insulin levels promote inflammation and chronic poor health conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) autoimmune diseases (e.g. Celiac disease), acanthosis nigricans, cancer and so many other conditions.

Diabesity or TOFI diabetes is a silent killer and can go undetected for many years because symptoms are not recognized and therefore ignored and untreated. Blood sugar disorders do not have to plague the world.

Knowing the tell tale signs of abnormal blood sugar and how to take action to normalize it will help keep you healthy.

You are the most important part of your health care team. Communication with your doctor and early identification of any symptoms with appropriate testing is an important part of a very doable diabetes solution. The first step to treatment is to be self aware of the symptoms. There are signs that you, not your doctor, will experience. So you are the critical factor in keeping yourself healthy at the earliest stage of any medical condition. Then it is your job to communicate the how and what with your doctor. Your physician can then confirm any suspiscions you have with clinical lab tests.

Check in next week and read all about the tell tale signs, clinical references and lab tests that can help you stay well.


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Steer Clear of Artificial Sweeteners

 Image result for artificial sweeteners

Artificial sugar (AS) substitute was created for those who are looking to cut calories for weight loss or cut carbs/sugar to obtain blood sugar control (BSC). It seemed like a simple solution. Eat the same foods replace sugar calories in foods (soda, cookies…) with a sweetener that has no calories and weight loss or BSC should occur. Sounds good and maybe true on paper but when it comes to real life, it may not necessarily be so simple.

Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener made available for mass consumption in the early 1900’s and it is safe to say that it has not done its intended purpose as a weight loss aid. We continue to face a diabesity (obesity and diabetes) epidemic.

A  recent study, , published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society found that drinking diet soda may contribute to “cardiometabolic risk” factors (obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance etc..). The authors concluded that there is an association between drinking more diet soda and gaining more belly fat.

Belly fat is associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease and much more. But, if this is not enough to make you drop the diet soda right out of your hand then take a look at these:

·         “Fueling the Obesity Epidemic? Artificially Sweetened Beverage Use and Long-Term Weight Gain”

·         “Artificial Sweetener May Disrupt Body’s Ability To Count Calories”

  • “Consumption of Artificially and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Incident Type 2 Diabetes in the Etude Epidemiologique Aupres Des Femmes de la Mutuelle Generale de l’Education Nationale-European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort”

These discuss the other ingredients in diet soda if you are interested:

One explanation for the association between AS and weight and health is due to its sweetness. Normally, consuming sugar would trigger a signal communicating that with sweetness comes calories and then satiety. AS are 200-8,000 times the sweetness of natural sugar  but there are no accompanying calories with the sweetness. The body is confused, it expects calories but is not getting them and therefore appetite increases as the body wants the calories it is not getting from the AS. Increases in appetite increases the likelihood of  eating more.

Another reason is that the brain’s “reward system” dictates an individual’s response (motivation, drive, incentive)  to a particular “reward” (food, sex, drugs, medication). The intensity of the AS engages the reward system at greater than 200 times that of natural sweetness creating an addictive response to these foods containing AS.

Of course, you cannot discount the “cheater” instinct. When you think you are consuming less calories by eating foods with AS, you may just choose to eat more because you think you can get away with it.

Despite these findings, “The global market for Artificial Sweeteners is projected to reach US$1.7 billion by the year 2018, primarily stimulated by widespread weight reduction efforts, development of low sugar food for diabetic and diet conscious consumers, growing preference for diet beverages, rising concerns over dental caries and the growing need to reduce risk associated with volatility in sugar prices,”

Get the message these science studies are sending. Artificial sweeteners are chemistry experiments that may have been a good initial idea but as a test with years of human guinea pigs it seems AS add risk to your weight and health.

Steer clear of AS. There are better, less addictive, healthier ways to lose weight and control blood sugar.

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Posted by on March 24, 2015 in Diabetes, diet, diet soda, weight loss


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