No names mentioned but someone we know has managed to misplace a whole month! On top of it - Breast Cancer Month! Where did it go? Although I know none of you have been holding your breath while you waited for my October newsletter to arrive, (Come on… you didn’t…..??) I do apologise for my tardiness. It’s just been one of those months where I’ve been away on and off and with unforeseen (and foreseen) circumstances cropping up. But here I am ready and willing to make up to you with a newsletter that hopefully will keep you riveted to your chair. ....HeHe. And, yes, I do have the audacity to call it the October newsletter because I still plan to fit in a November one this month!
Stop the diabetes pandemic!
Worldwide the number of people with diabetes in 1995 was 135 million and it is expected to rise to 300 million by the year 2025. More serious is that Type 2 Diabetes, generally regarded as an adult-onset disease, is now showing up in teenagers and children.
So why is diabetes increasing at such an alarming rate especially when Type 2 Diabetes, which is the real problem today, is largely preventable? That’s right, preventable! According to the Harvard School of Public Health website, 9 out of 10 cases could be avoided by taking a few simple steps: keeping weight under control, exercising more, eating a healthy diet and not smoking. Perhaps the medical profession should be pushing lifestyle change rather than concentrating on treating disease. Treating disease does not focus on improving health, but on removing the symptoms of the disease using drugs.
So how do people develop Type2 Diabetes? Well sugar/glucose is the basic problem here and all refined carbs are packed with sugar. The refining process removes the fibre which binds to the sugar molecules so that the sugar is easily absorbed, causing a rapid rise in blood glucose instead of a slow steady rise. Insulin regulates the level of glucose in the bloodstream by facilitating its transport across the cell membrane into the billions of cells that make up the body. A rapid rise in sugar initiates an equally rapid increase in insulin. The constant stimulation from refined white flour in all its forms, sugar in tea and coffee, sweets and cool drinks taken throughout the day causes a constant peaking of insulin. The cells can eventually develop a resistance to the insulin so that the pancreas then has to manufacture even more insulin to do the same job. Over the years the insulin producing cells become exhausted, insulin production falls and blood glucose remains high. This is the type 2 diabetic condition. Keep in mind that everyone is perhaps a diabetic candidate. Anyone who pushes their pancreas enough, has a chance of going over the edge and either developing insulin resistance, which is serious enough, or Diabetes Type 2.
For Type 2 diabetics the diet usually recommended is one based on low glycaemic index (low GI) foods – i.e. foods that release sugar relatively slowly into the bloodstream. Studies have shown that people on a lower GI diet do have improved blood sugar control and insulin action. However for diabetics this diet has clearly not worked and we continue to see Diabetes Type 2 increasing at a phenomenal rate while "experts" keep pushing carbohydrates as the base of their diet pyramid. It really doesn’t make sense to encourage diabetics to eat more of the very food group that raises blood sugar levels, no matter in what form these carbs may come.
Patrick Holford has tried to get around this problem by introducing the Glycaemic Load concept. Where the Glycaemic Index tells you whether the carbohydrate is 'fast' or 'slow' releasing of sugar, it does not tell you how much of the food is carbohydrate. The Glycaemic Load of a food is the quantity times the quality of its carbohydrate, and gives a better index of what the food will actually do in the body. Limiting the GL will not only control weight but stabilise the blood sugar. Eating low GL foods together with good quality protein and high fibre is essential to maintaining blood sugar levels. Holford's Book called "The Holford Low GL Diet” has tables with GL values for different foods and comes highly recommended to anyone looking for a balanced diet, not just diabetics.
What about Type 1 diabetics? Well type 1 is genetic and unfortunately comes with the package. Nothing one does is likely to get the pancreas producing insulin again however the right diet can at least stave off the nasty complications that come with diabetes and add many healthy years to the lifespan of a Type 1 diabetic.
In his book, Diabetes Solutions, Dr R. Bernstein, a Type 1 diabetic who has experimented on himself for more than 50 years to identify which foods push up the blood sugar, recommends a very low carb, high protein and moderate fat diet. The diet consists of carefully measured and prepared protein foods and non-starchy vegetables. No fruit or fruit juices, sugar or honey, grains or starchy vegetables. This diet seems to work well and at 76 years of age, Dr Bernstein is testimony to an extended life expectancy for a Type 1 diabetic following this diet plan. It is also appropriate for a Type 2 diabetic verging on having to take insulin.
Smoking and Dementia
In my quest to save all the smokers of the world and to make our planet a smoke-free zone, I simply have to warn smokers about a less known hazard of smoking.
According to a new observational study reported online October 25 2010 in the Archives of InternalMedicine, heavy smoking in midlife more than doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia two decades later.
The data comprised a cohort of 21,123 members who participated in a survey between 1978 and 1985, when they were 50 to 60 years old. During an average of 23 years of follow-up, 25.4% were diagnosed as having dementia. The study showed that participants who smoked more than 2 packs per day in middle age had a more than 100% increased risk for dementia compared with those who said that they were never smokers. People who reported smoking 1 to 2 packs per day had a 44% greater risk for dementia, and people who reported half a pack to 1 pack per day had a 37% greater risk.
Maybe you know smokers who have been fortunate enough to have escaped respiratory disease, cancer or cardiovascular disease thus far. They need to be warned that their brains are not immune to the long term consequences of heavy smoking such as dementia that can occur in later life. The good news is that individuals who had quit by the time they took the survey did not have a greater risk compared with never smokers. This means it is never too late to quit. Remember the 100% natural Vice-Breaker capsule can make quitting that much easier. See www.quitsmokingnaturally.co.za for more info.
All in all the study certainly confirms most of the recent literature that smoking is in fact a risk factor for dementia. The mechanism has probably got something to do with cerebral vascular disease and also the fact that smokers have higher levels of inflammatory factors also associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
According to two studies reported at the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2010 Annual Meeting held in March this year, an unusual type of bone fracture has been reported in women who have taken bisphosphonates for osteopenia and osteoporosis for more than 4 years. Apparently some women have spontaneously fractured their femur bones while simply walking or standing.
As a result of these studies, a task force was convened by the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research - the leading scientific organization on bone science – to investigate a possible connection between bisphosphonates and unusual femur fractures. In a most comprehensive scientific report published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research in September 2010, the task force reviewed 310 cases of "atypical femur fractures," and found that 94 percent (291) of patients had taken the drugs, most for more than five years.
The lack of awareness of atypical femur fractures, their warning signs and their association with long-term use of bisphosphonates is most concerning and needs to be addressed by the FDA. According to the report more than half of patients with atypical femur fractures reported groin or thigh pain for a period of weeks or months before fractures occurred, giving one a noteworthy, although somewhat late, warning sign. Secondly, more than a quarter of patients who experienced atypical femur fractures in one leg experienced a fracture in the other leg as well: good reason to reconsider if you have been on the drugs for a few years.
Concerns about a link between bisphosphonates and esophageal cancer first emerged a year and a half ago when an FDA report cited 23 cases of the cancer in Fosamax users in the US and another 31 cases in Europe and Japan. A study then showed that long-term users of the drugs had nearly double the risk of developing this rare but deadly cancer. Then there is the link between bisphosphonates and osteonecrosis of the jaw bone. This is a serious condition that can also cause disfiguration as the bone in the jaw dies and begins to decay. Symptoms include jaw pain, infection and loosening of your teeth. Some people experience no symptoms until they suddenly notice exposed bone. Other side-effects of bisphosphonate-type drugs include stomach ulcers, particularly in those taking bisphosphonates together with anti-inflammatory drugs, low blood calcium levels, irregular heartbeat and joint and muscle pain.
Thermography is kinder to boobies
Although Breast Cancer Month has come and gone and you’re probably thinking “enough already” I would still like to add my belated penny’s worth on the matter. Last month we ladies were bombarded by the media with reminders to go for our annual mammogram. I, however, always prefer to suggest self examination first (find out how to do this properly and perhaps even get hubby to do it for you) and then, if at all concerned, take yourself off for a thermogram, which by all reports is apparently safer, more accurate and above all painless. But you do not need to take my advice on this. We are all free to make our own choices in life. All I ask is that you make informed choices and that is exactly why I write this newsletter. For another opinion on thermography as opposed to mammography please visit this website.
While on the topic of breast cancer, may I remind you of the study I told you about in my July newsletter which concluded that Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can slash a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by approximately one third. Then there are a few studies that have shown that eating an apple a day can reduce the risk of breast cancer . There is just one small problem with apples.....
Apples and Pesticides
I have often read that apples are sprayed up to 16 times with about 36 different chemicals before they reach the supermarket shelves. I was hoping this was a fallacy however when I asked a local SA apple grower the reply was “Ja, that’s about right!”. And they cannot just be washed off either. Washing produce with water has little effect on these residues as many are formulated to resist being washed off by rain or sprinklers. Tests with potatoes, apples and broccoli showed that between 50 and 93 per cent of pesticide residues remained on the produce after washing with water. And of course the hazards include, you guessed it, greater risk of developing cancer. Pesticide exposure is especially worrisome when it comes to children, since their developing brains and bodies are more prone to negative health effects of chemicals in pesticides.
You will also have noticed how you just cannot get some bought apples wet! This is because they have been coated with a wax containing petrochemicals that were never meant for human consumption. So what to do? Washing fruit, and vegetables for that matter, in a solution of one part vinegar to 3 parts water seems to help to a certain extent and will also kill bacteria. At worst, and it pains me to say this, peel the apples after washing them. But whatever you do don’t stop eating apples! This is an excellent fruit with many health benefits. Time to search extra hard for organic ones.
Questions and Answers
My husband and I are planning our second child and I’d like to do all the right things this time. You will be glad to know we have both recently given up smoking. I’d like to start supplementing with Omega-3 fish oil even before conception but you seem to offer a few different ones. Which one would be best for me and my baby?
Without hesitation, the DHA Essentials, which is specially formulated for the needs of a pregnant woman. It contains both omega-3 essential fatty acids, DHA and EPA, but a higher ratio of DHA. DHA makes up a large part of the fat in the eye and in the grey matter in the brain and research suggests that during pregnancy and lactation, DHA levels are reduced in the mother. Reduced DHA levels in the blood are associated with reduced visual acuity in the infant, ADHD disorder in children and post-partum depression in new mothers. Supplementation with DHA has been shown to increase blood and breast milk levels of this fatty acid which will then be transferred to your baby.
Another thing: Although supplementing with the omega-3 fish oil essential fatty acids is very important during pregnancy, it is also thought that in pregnant women this may reduce levels of the omega-6 fatty acids, GLA and arachidonic acid. There is the potential that reduction in these fatty acids might compromise fetal development. This is why DHA Essentials capsules also contain Omega-6 borage oil. Read more here.
Finally congratulations to you and your husband for kicking the nicotine habit to where it belongs. Your child will one day thank you for that. Enjoy your pregnancy!
Did You Know?
Every patient in the cardiac care unit at the San Filippo Neri Hospital in Rome who survives a heart attack goes home with a prescription for purified fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids.
“It is clearly recommended in international guidelines” said Dr. Massimo Santini, the hospital’s chief of cardiology. He added that it would be considered tantamount to malpractice in Italy to omit the medication. Oh how I wish our medical professionals in SA would feel the same way instead of routinely offering more expensive and invasive treatments like statins to lower cholesterol.
The fact that heart patients receive such different treatments in sophisticated hospitals around the world highlights the central role that drug companies play in disseminating medical information. In a large number of studies, prescription fish oil has been shown to improve survival after heart attacks and to reduce fatal heart rhythms. But because prescription fish oil is not licensed to prevent heart disease, drug companies will never promote it which means doctors never get to hear about its effectiveness. Otherwise more patients would be on fish oil and medical aids would pay for it. Of course the fact that fish oil is sold as a nutritional supplement does make it more difficult for doctors to regard it as powerful enough, but powerful it is! (for my heart patients I recommend the Triglyceride form of our See Yourself Well brand due to its faster action and better absorption.
So why would fish oil be so popular in Italy? This is probably because so many cardiologists in this country participated in the studies and are aware of the results. In the largest study of fish oil — conducted more than a decade ago — Italian researchers from the Gissi Group gave 11,000 patients one gram of prescription fish oil a day after heart attacks. After three years, the study found that the number of deaths was reduced by 20 percent and that the number of sudden deaths by 40 percent, compared with a control group.
And this is where I rest my case. Till we chat again later this month, take very special care of yourselves because you ARE very special.