Tag Archives: diabetes

No Shortcuts to Health

Lisa Says: The Virginian Pilot printed my letter to the Editor today (copied below) in response to the front page article that ran 2/25 on “America’s ‘queen of coupons’”.
Virginian Pilot 12 March 2010 | 5:00 AM
No shortcuts to health
Re ‘Grocery coupon queen,’ front page, Feb. 25: The report shows the disconnect in understanding what gets us [...]

Lisa Says: The Virginian Pilot printed my letter to the Editor today (copied below) in response to the front page article that ran 2/25 on “America’s ‘queen of coupons’”.

Virginian Pilot 12 March 2010 | 5:00 AM
No shortcuts to health

Re ‘Grocery coupon queen,’ front page, Feb. 25: The report shows the disconnect in understanding what gets us ’sick’ and how to save real money.

Americans need to choose between saving pennies at the grocery store and promoting chronic disease or saving thousands in medical care and enjoying robust health.

The article lists items clinically shown to promote such issues as diabetes, obesity and cancer, and shortsightedly promotes using these products and lowering your food budget, while medical costs are bankrupting you.

But you can eat healthy foods you enjoy and save money at both the grocery store and the doctor’s office. With a little research, you can learn to stretch your food dollar with healthier choices.
Lisa G Hamaker, Co-Director, Hunger For Health
Virginia Beach

Here’s the original article that ran. ‘Nuff said.

America’s ‘Coupon Queen’ shares her supermarket savvy
By Carolyn Shapiro
The Virginian-Pilot
© February 25, 2010

Susan Samtur stands in the cereal aisle and calculates.

A box of MultiGrain Cheerios normally costs $3.69. Harris Teeter supermarket has them on sale: two boxes for $5, or $2.50 each. Samtur has a coupon for 75 cents off, which the store will double, for a savings of $1.50. Her final price is $1.

The self-described “Coupon Queen,” who has written books on her grocery-shopping strategies, stopped Wednesday in Hampton Roads to demonstrate her skills at the Harris Teeter in north Suffolk. Up and down the aisles, she consults her coupon filing system, which her mother helped her make decades ago, as well as her shopping list and the store’s latest advertising flyer.

“This is another good one,” she says, heading toward the crackers. “They have the Ritz on sale for $2.99.”

Her coupon will take an additional $2 off the crackers with a purchase of any Coca-Cola product, so her cost for the Ritz comes to 99 cents. “I’ll always use Ritz crackers,” she explains. “I use them for crust when I’m baking.”

Her Harris Teeter visit is on Samtur’s East Coast supermarket tour. While preaching her gospel of grocery savings, she hopes to promote her fourth book, due this fall. On her Web site, she sells subscriptions to her quarterly magazine, Refundle Bundle, and a DVD called “Supershopping with the Coupon Queen,” which comes with an envelope of coupons worth $25 for the shipping price of $6.95, to cover costs, she says.

Samtur, 65, is a petite purchasing powerhouse, standing well under 5 feet. She has big eyes and a bigger Bronx accent, from her childhood in the New York City borough. A resident of Scarsdale, N.Y., her supermarket of choice at home is A&P.

Coupon competency requires preparation. Before shopping, Samtur says, she spends a half hour preparing a list, studying the store’s weekly flyer and comparing it against her pile of coupons to find the steepest discounts. For Harris Teeter, she also checked the chain’s Web site and other sources of online coupons. Some supermarkets don’t accept those, but Harris Teeter does.

Good coupon shoppers, Samtur says, must dispense with brand loyalty. They must forgo favorites for the best deal. In certain categories, such as laundry detergent, she has coupons for as many as 10 brands “because I don’t know what’s going to be on sale.”

In the dairy case, she gets six of Dannon’s Light & Fit yogurt cups Wednesday for 15 cents each. Harris Teeter had marked them down to 10 for $4, or 40 cents each. Samtur had a coupon for 75 cents off six, and Harris Teeter doubles coupons up to 99 cents. So that’s $2.40 in yogurt cups, less $1.50 with her coupon, for six for 90 cents.

Samtur grows excited about a can of Edge shaving gel on sale for $1.99. She has a 75-cent coupon, doubled for a savings of $1.50. “For 49 cents, where are you going to get a brand-name shaving cream?” she says.

She talks a mile a minute, scanning the shelves for sale prices and deals. Her keen eye catches freebies and value-added pitches that most shoppers would ignore.

She notices packages that say “20 percent more!” of a product for the same price as the usual size. She spots “free DVD” on a box of cereal – for five box “tokens,” the shopper can choose from a number of movies. She points out instant coupons attached to product packages, an offer of “free bananas” on a box of Nilla Wafers cookies, and a Tropicana orange juice carton that pitches “up to $15 savings.”

Samtur takes advantage of most of these deals. “Sometimes there are offers where you send away a part of your package and you get coupons back.”

Many of those coupons are for free items – no strings attached or other purchase required. Samtur’s file includes several of these. At Harris Teeter, she gets a $5.19 box of Cascade dish detergent and a $7.49 container of Folgers coffee – each for the price of a 44-cent stamp.

When Samtur reaches the cash register at Harris Teeter, she has a cartful of items culled from her list and a pile of coupons to match. While on tour, Samtur doesn’t actually buy the groceries. The store, which approves her visit ahead of time, returns items to the shelves and gives back her coupons.

The cashier rings her up at $156.93, including the savings from her VIC (Very Important Customer) frequent-shopper card, which gives her the in-store discounts. Then the store manager scans her coupons.

Her final total: $35.82. She saved 77 percent.

“The longer you do it, the better you get at it,” Samtur says, promising that any consumer can excel at coupon use. “It’s not like I have some special or unique gift.”

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Senate Investigation Sharply criticizes GlaxoSmithKline over withholding warnings about Diabetes Drug

Lisa Says: When I read the first story by Gardiner Harris of the New York Times 02202010, I was shocked by the FDA’s sharp criticism of GlaxoSmithKline’s handling of their drug Avandia whose sales were $3.2 BILLION in 2006. Mike Adams from Natural News.com then posted similar info. But on 02222010, Gardiner Harris of the [...]

Lisa Says: When I read the first story by Gardiner Harris of the New York Times 02202010, I was shocked by the FDA’s sharp criticism of GlaxoSmithKline’s handling of their drug Avandia whose sales were $3.2 BILLION in 2006. Mike Adams from Natural News.com then posted similar info. But on 02222010, Gardiner Harris of the NYT prints another article (below) about how a brave cardiologist taped a meeting with GSK execs in 2007 and the intimidation tactics used smack of something out of a John Grisham novel. The quote that struck me was “The recording and events surrounding it offer a rare window into an unusual confrontation between a prominent cardiologist and one of the world’s biggest drug makers. Since industry is the source for much of the money and studies available in academic medicine, executives normally drive the agenda in such meetings.”
Will I continue to see my mainstream doctor and use prescription medications if indicated? YES. Will I weigh the benefits, side affects (there are ALWAYS side affects), use common sense, and look to see how to rebalance my body naturally? Absolutely. This information is about taking responsibility for our health, making more informed decisions, and understanding that corporations are run by humans and their motives are not always in your best interest. Even when it’s life or death.

A Face-Off on the Safety of a Drug for Diabetes
By GARDINER HARRIS
February 23, 2010 The New York Times

Three years ago, Dr. Steven E. Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, conducted a landmark study that suggested that the best-selling diabetes drug Avandia raised the risk of heart attacks. The study led to a Congressional inquiry, stringent safety warnings, a sharp drop in the drug’s sales and a plunge in the share price of GlaxoSmithKline, Avandia’s maker.

The battle between Dr. Nissen and GlaxoSmithKline was waged from afar in news releases and published papers. But on May 10, 2007, 11 days before Dr. Nissen’s study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, he and four company executives met face to face in a private meeting whose details have not been disclosed until now.

Fearing he would face pressure and criticism from executives, Dr. Nissen secretly recorded the meeting — which is legal in Ohio as long as one party to the conversation is aware of the taping. On a recent day in his sunny office at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Nissen shared the contents of the recording with The Times.

What was said at the 2007 meeting raises questions about science and ethics that have suddenly become keenly relevant. A Congressional investigation released Saturday concluded that GlaxoSmithKline had threatened scientists who tried to point out Avandia’s risks, and internal memorandums from the Food and Drug Administration show that some government health officials want Avandia withdrawn. The drug is still being taken by hundreds of thousands of patients, and sales last year were $1.19 billion.

So the battle over Avandia has begun anew, and issues raised in the meeting between the four executives and Dr. Nissen are likely to be raised again. For instance, during the meeting, company executives repeatedly promised to begin a crucial analysis of the safety of Avandia “within days.” Nearly three years later, such a study has not been published in a medical journal, although the company has posted results on its Web site.

Also during the meeting, Dr. Ronald L. Krall, GlaxoSmithKline’s chief medical officer, predicted almost exactly the results of another crucial study of Avandia that was two months from publication and whose results, according to scientific protocols and the company itself, should have been kept secret from the company. In an interview, Dr. Nissen said the recording showed that the executives hoped to persuade him not to publish his study by suggesting that they had contradictory information they would share with him in a joint study.

“In retrospect, it seems clear that neither statement was true,” Dr. Nissen said. “They did not have contradictory data, and they never intended to cooperate in any analyses.”

In response to questions, GlaxoSmithKline said that its executives went to see Dr. Nissen to discuss a possible research collaboration and to review the safety information surrounding Avandia. “G.S.K. was not aware that Dr. Nissen secretly recorded the May 10 meeting and is disturbed to learn that he did so without advising G.S.K.,” the company said in an e-mail message.

Dr. Krall, in an e-mail message on Monday, said he did not recall discussing potential results of the Avandia study in the meeting, but added that he did not learn the results “until many days after the meeting with Dr. Nissen.”

The recording and events surrounding it offer a rare window into an unusual confrontation between a prominent cardiologist and one of the world’s biggest drug makers. Since industry is the source for much of the money and studies available in academic medicine, executives normally drive the agenda in such meetings.

But GlaxoSmithKline was sued in 2004 by Eliot Spitzer, who was New York’s attorney general at the time, over the company’s failure to publicize studies that helped to reveal that antidepressants could lead children and teenagers to engage in suicidal behavior. The company settled the lawsuit by agreeing to post all of its clinical trial data. These Internet postings became the grist for Dr. Nissen’s analysis.

During the meeting with Dr Nissen, the four executives spoke as if they did not know the results of Dr. Nissen’s still-unpublished study. And Dr. Nissen did not mention that he had already sent it to the journal, the recording shows.

But a week before the meeting, the Congressional investigators said, GlaxoSmithKline had been secretly and inappropriately faxed a copy of Dr. Nissen’s manuscript by a journal reviewer who also worked as a consultant to GlaxoSmithKline.

The company confirmed that the faxed copy of Dr. Nissen’s study had been read by its executives, “some of whom attended the meeting with Dr. Nissen.” Revealing this knowledge to Dr. Nissen was not the point of the meeting, the company said.

This game of cat-and-mouse became, in retrospect, almost comical. At one point, the executives said that studies showed that Avandia had no impact on cardiac death rates. Dr. Nissen’s study had concluded that the risk was increased by 64 percent.

“I get different numbers on this, but we’ll talk about it later,” Dr. Nissen said.

“Hmm!” one executive responded. “I would like to hear more about that.”

Another executive said, “That would be interesting to see.”

“This is one that is important to us,” Dr. Krall concluded.

At another point, Nevine Zariffa, a company statistician, asked what Dr. Nissen was studying. “So you’ve done a summary type meta-analysis looking at” heart attacks and heart-related deaths? she asked, precisely describing Dr. Nissen’s study.

“That’s right,” Dr. Nissen answered, then asked rhetorically, “Now, what am I going to do? What is my responsibility? I mean, answer the question for me. Do I sit on it? Drug’s being used by how many people?”

He was told that he should do an analysis that included information about when patients in trials suffered problems. Such detailed analyses are more reliable than the kind of study Dr. Nissen performed.

Dr. Nissen lost patience regarding the increased risk of heart attacks, or myocardial ischemia, in Avandia patients. “I hope you guys understand how much trouble G.S.K. is in here,” he said. “You’ve got a bunch of people who are incredibly vulnerable to myocardial ischemia, and you’ve had evidence that you’re provoking ischemia in those people, and that is of grave public health consequences.”

Dr. Krall asked Dr. Nissen if his opinion of Avandia would change if the Record trial — a large study then under way to assess Avandia’s risks to the heart — showed little risk. Dr. Krall said he did not know the results of Record.

“Let’s suppose Record was done tomorrow and the hazard ratio was 1.12. What does…?” Dr. Krall said.

“I’d pull the drug,” Dr. Nissen answered quickly.

The interim results of Record were hastily published in The New England Journal of Medicine two months later and showed that patients given Avandia experienced 11 percent more heart problems than those given other treatments, for a hazard ratio of 1.11. But the trial was so poorly designed and conducted that investigators could not rule out the possibility that the differences between the groups were a result of chance.

“Dr. Krall did not know what the point estimates of the Record interim analysis would be on May 10” because the company did not officially get access to the data until four days later, GlaxoSmithKline said.

Even as Dr. Krall and the other executives tried to corral Dr. Nissen, executives were strategizing over how to blunt the impact of his study if it were published. But according to internal documents, the company’s own scientists had concluded that Dr. Nissen’s work was sound.

In one internal e-mail message, the Congressional investigation found that a company statistician stated that “there is no statistical reason for disregarding the findings” of Dr. Nissen’s study. In another, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, head of research at GlaxoSmithKline, wrote that federal drug regulators, Dr. Nissen and the company’s own researchers all seemed to agree that studies of the drug showed that it substantially increased the risks of death and heart attacks, also known as ischemic events:

“F.D.A., Nissen and G.S.K. all come to comparable conclusions regarding increased risk for ischemic events, ranging from 30 percent to 43 percent!” Dr. Slaoui wrote.

In public comments after Dr. Nissen’s study was published, company executives insisted that the study had been “based on incomplete evidence and a methodology that the author admits has significant limitations.”

Indeed, this battle was foreshadowed in the May 10 meeting when executives asked Dr. Nissen why he would publish his study if a more detailed look at the data — called a patient-level analysis — would provide a more reliable result.

“But suppose we did this patient-level analysis and it looked very different from what you have?” Dr. Krall asked.

“But there’s no way it can,” Dr. Nissen soon said. “Come on, guys. You already did your patient-level analysis for 42 trials. You’re about to add in two trials that went the wrong way. What do you think’s going to happen?”

Dr. Krall said the two sides disagreed on the numbers.

“And, you know, frankly, the last thing we want to do is get into a public debate about whose analysis is right. Now, sometimes that happens…” Dr. Krall said.

“No, public debates are just fine,” Dr. Nissen interjected. “In fact, in science, the best way I know of to get to the truth is you just get it all out there and you let the chips fall where they may.”

One of the executives responded: “And I supposed the science is the issue. And that’s why we think this patient-level approach is the right one.”

“It is the right approach,” Dr. Nissen said. “Now I’m going to be equally blunt: you should have done this a long time ago.”

That approach still has not been published in a medical journal.

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(Food) Rules Worth Following, for Everyone’s Sake

Lisa Says: here’s a New York Times article published last week highlighting Michael Pollan’s new book “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” as a response to the rapidly declining health in this country. Many of these suggestions are similar to how we addressed Rex’s cancer naturally and have had such success reclaiming our health. [...]

Lisa Says: here’s a New York Times article published last week highlighting Michael Pollan’s new book “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” as a response to the rapidly declining health in this country. Many of these suggestions are similar to how we addressed Rex’s cancer naturally and have had such success reclaiming our health. Enjoy the article, and thanks for the info Bert !

Rules Worth Following, for Everyone’s Sake Published: February 1, 2010 By JANE E. BRODY
New York Times

In the more than four decades that I have been reading and writing about the findings of nutritional science, I have come across nothing more intelligent, sensible and simple to follow than the 64 principles outlined in a slender, easy-to-digest new book called “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” by Michael Pollan.
Mr. Pollan is not a biochemist or a nutritionist but rather a professor of science journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. You may recognize his name as the author of two highly praised books on food and nutrition, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” (All three books are from Penguin.)

If you don’t have the time and inclination to read the first two, you can do yourself and your family no better service than to invest $11 and one hour to whip through the 139 pages of “Food Rules” and adapt its guidance to your shopping and eating habits.

Chances are you’ve heard any number of the rules before. I, for one, have been writing and speaking about them for decades. And chances are you’ve yet to put most of them into practice. But I suspect that this little book, which is based on research but not annotated, can do more than the most authoritative text to get you motivated to make some important, lasting, health-promoting and planet-saving changes in what and how you eat.

Reasons to Change

Two fundamental facts provide the impetus Americans and other Westerners need to make dietary changes. One, as Mr. Pollan points out, is that populations who rely on the so-called Western diet — lots of processed foods, meat, added fat, sugar and refined grains — “invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.” Indeed, 4 of the top 10 killers of Americans are linked to this diet.

As people in Asian and Mediterranean countries have become more Westernized (affluent, citified and exposed to the fast foods exported from the United States), they have become increasingly prone to the same afflictions.
The second fact is that people who consume traditional diets, free of the ersatz foods that line our supermarket shelves, experience these diseases at much lower rates. And those who, for reasons of ill health or dietary philosophy, have abandoned Western eating habits often experience a rapid and significant improvement in their health indicators.

I will add a third reason: our economy cannot afford to continue to patch up the millions of people who each year develop a diet-related ailment, and our planetary resources simply cannot sustain our eating style and continue to support its ever-growing population.

In his last book, Mr. Pollan summarized his approach in just seven words: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” The new book provides the practical steps, starting with advice to avoid “processed concoctions,” no matter what the label may claim (“no trans fats,” “low cholesterol,” “less sugar,” “reduced sodium,” “high in antioxidants” and so forth).

As Mr. Pollan puts it, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Do you already avoid products made with high-fructose corn syrup? Good, but keep in mind, sugar is sugar, and if it is being added to a food that is not normally sweetened, avoid it as well. Note, too, that refined flour is hardly different from sugar once it gets into the body.
Also avoid foods advertised on television, imitation foods and food products that make health claims. No natural food is simply a collection of nutrients, and a processed food stripped of its natural goodness to which nutrients are then added is no bargain for your body.

Those who sell the most healthful foods — vegetables, fruits and whole grains — rarely have a budget to support national advertising. If you shop in a supermarket (and Mr. Pollan suggests that wherever possible, you buy fresh food at farmers’ markets), shop the periphery of the store and avoid the center aisles laden with processed foods. Note, however, that now even the dairy case has been invaded by products like gunked-up yogurts.

Follow this advice, and you will have to follow another of Mr. Pollan’s rules: “Cook.”

“Cooking for yourself,” he writes, “is the only sure way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors.” Home cooking need not be arduous or very time-consuming, and you can make up time spent at the stove with time saved not visiting doctors or shopping for new clothes to accommodate an expanding girth.

Although the most wholesome eating pattern consists of three leisurely meals a day, and preferably a light meal at night, if you must have snacks, stick to fresh and dried fruits, vegetables and nuts, which are naturally loaded with healthful nutrients. I keep a dish of raisins and walnuts handy to satisfy the urge to nibble between meals. I also take them along for long car trips. Feel free to use the gas-station restroom, but never “get your fuel from the same place your car does,” Mr. Pollan writes.

Treating Treats as Treats

Perhaps the most important rules to put into effect as soon as possible are those aimed at the ever-expanding American waistline. If you eat less, you can afford to pay more for better foods, like plants grown in organically enriched soil and animals that are range-fed.

He recommends that you do all your eating at a table, not at a desk, while working, watching television or driving. If you’re not paying attention to what you’re eating, you’re likely to eat more than you realize.

But my favorite tip, one that helped me keep my weight down for decades, is a mealtime adage, “Stop eating before you’re full” — advice that has long been practiced by societies as diverse as Japan and France. (There is no French paradox, by the way: the French who stay slim eat smaller portions, leisurely meals and no snacks.)

Practice portion control and eat slowly to the point of satiation, not fullness. The food scientists Barbara J. Rolls of Penn State and Brian Wansink of Cornell, among others, have demonstrated that people eat less when served smaller portions on smaller plates. “There is nothing wrong with special occasion foods, as long as every day is not a special occasion,” Mr. Pollan writes. “Special occasion foods offer some of the great pleasures of life, so we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of them, but the sense of occasion needs to be restored.”

Here is where I can make an improvement. Ice cream has been a lifelong passion, and even though I stick to a brand lower in fat and calories than most, and limit my portion to the half-cup serving size described on the container, I indulge in this treat almost nightly. Perhaps I’ll try the so-called S policy Mr. Pollan says some people follow: “No snacks, no seconds, no sweets — except on days that begin with the letter S.”
More Articles in Health » A version of this article appeared in print on February 2, 2010, on page D7 of the New York edition.

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Diabetes Cases and Costs to Skyrocket, Study says

Lisa Says: Yet another study posted here projecting the increase of those with diabetes to rise another 20 million (to 44 million) in 25 years, and ‘Medicare spending on diabetes…could exceed current projections for All Medicare costs.” Yet there is an answer, says the study’s co-author Dr. Elbert Huang, professor of medicine at the [...]

Lisa Says: Yet another study posted here projecting the increase of those with diabetes to rise another 20 million (to 44 million) in 25 years, and ‘Medicare spending on diabetes…could exceed current projections for All Medicare costs.” Yet there is an answer, says the study’s co-author Dr. Elbert Huang, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “The study reinforces the importance of public health efforts to prevent diabetes” by changing eating habits and exercising more. There are many balanced programs designed to assist in healthier lifestyle choices such as Dr. Neal Barnard’s Reversing Diabetes program through Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. http://www.pcrm.org/health/diabetes/. Enjoy the article and empower yourself !

chicagotribune.com
Diabetes: New cases and spending to surge over 25 years, study says
By Deborah L. Shelton
Tribune reporter
November 27, 2009

Even if the percentage of Americans who are obese stays the same, diabetes cases will nearly double in the U.S. in the next 25 years and the cost of treating the disease will almost triple, according to a new study by researchers based at the University of Chicago.

The study, published Friday in the journal Diabetes Care, found the number of people with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes will climb from almost 24 million this year to about 44 million in 2034. Over the same period, annual diabetes-related treatment costs are expected to increase from $113 billion to $336 billion in 2007 dollars.

Alarmingly, Medicare spending on diabetes is expected to jump from $45 billion to $171 billion and could exceed current projections for all Medicare costs, the researchers said. Much of the increase in cases and costs will be driven by aging baby boomers, the 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1957.

“It’s a combination of the increasing numbers of people who have diabetes along with the cost of treating diabetes that gives us these frightening numbers,” said study co-author Dr. Elbert Huang, professor of medicine at the U. of C. “The study reinforces the importance of public health efforts to prevent diabetes — by transforming the way we eat and increasing the amount of exercise we do — and emphasizes the importance of finding new ways of treating diabetes efficiently.”

Huang also said the study’s findings could be considered conservative because the researchers’ estimates are based on stable obesity rates.

The number of people becoming obese has risen steadily for many years, though the authors predict that obesity levels among people who don’t have diabetes will top out in the next decade, then decline slightly, from 30 percent today to about 27 percent by 2033.

Costs related to diabetes are rising in part because the disease is striking people at younger ages, which can mean more time to develop expensive complications. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, amputations and end-stage kidney disease.

“The study was entirely consistent … with previous reports that the growth in diabetes is substantial and ever-increasing, and the costs of diabetes also are substantial and ever-increasing,” said Dr. David Kendall, chief scientific and medical officer for the American Diabetes Association.

Earlier this month, a separate team of researchers at Loyola University Health System reported that more diabetics are becoming morbidly obese. It found that one in five people with Type 2 diabetes are morbidly obese, or 100 pounds or more overweight.

About 90 percent of diabetics have Type 2, which occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow glucose in the food we eat to enter cells to produce energy.

Dr. Holly Kramer, lead study author and professor of preventive medicine at Loyola University Medical Center, said the two studies go hand-in-hand because obesity is the main environmental risk factor for diabetes.

The greatest growth in obesity has been among obese diabetics who are getting heavier, Kramer said. Focusing solely on overall obesity rates minimizes the magnitude of a massive public health problem, she and her colleagues wrote in their report, published online in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications.

“When you are 100 pounds or more overweight, losing a substantial amount of weight and keeping it off is incredibly difficult,” Kramer said. “The cost of care is going to rise substantially because these people are going to have co-morbid conditions in addition to their diabetes — likely more than one — such as heart disease, end-stage kidney disease, arthritis, sleep apnea and fatty liver disease.”

Kramer and colleagues reported that about 62 percent of adults in the U.S. with Type 2 diabetes are obese and about 21 percent are morbidly obese. Among African-American adults with diabetes, 1 in 3 is morbidly obese.

Obesity is defined in terms of body mass index, a measure of body fat based on height and weight.

Huang and his colleagues analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (known as NHANES) and the National Health Interview Survey regarding people ages 24 to 85. The study developed a new model of forecasting of future direct spending on diabetes and was conducted to help predict the impact of various policy scenarios as Congress debates health reform, particularly possible changes to Medicare.

Kramer and her research team worked with data from NHANES surveys completed from 1976 to 2006.

dshelton@tribune.com
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

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How Sugar affects your Immune System

Lisa Says: Kudos to Amy Frostick for a fabulous time at the first annual Blue Moon Wicked 10K. Then on to more fun as we all ventured to Halloween/Fall Festival Parties ! It struck me however as I sat in my dirndl passing out glowstick bracelets (QUITE the hit actually) as an alternative to [...]

Lisa Says: Kudos to Amy Frostick for a fabulous time at the first annual Blue Moon Wicked 10K. Then on to more fun as we all ventured to Halloween/Fall Festival Parties ! It struck me however as I sat in my dirndl passing out glowstick bracelets (QUITE the hit actually) as an alternative to refined sugar (even the Obamas passed out healthy alternatives yesterday), that I needed to remind everyone of the clinical data surrounding how refined sugar suppresses the immune system. I googled that and got over 1.6 MILLION hits. Right when we are going into ‘cold and flu season’ and need to boost our natural defenses. http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4568832_does-sugar-affect-immune-system.html

but NO WORRIES ! consider rationing the sweets (tell the kids it makes it LAST longer) and focus on nurturing the immune system

http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/health/cough/boost-childs-immunity/

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Sweeten the health care pot: Tax sugar

Rex Says: “A regular 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar (almost 6 TABLESPOONS) and 250 calories. The avg. American drinks 50 gallons of sugared beverages annually.” This is info from a great article from Kelly D. Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and David S. [...]

Rex Says: “A regular 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar (almost 6 TABLESPOONS) and 250 calories. The avg. American drinks 50 gallons of sugared beverages annually.” This is info from a great article from Kelly D. Brownell, Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University and David S. Ludwig, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Most Americans do not understand the amount of refined sugars that they are consuming, and the devastation it has their health.

A nationwide surcharge on syrupy beverages would provide both revenues and health benefits.

By KELLY D. BROWNELL and DAVID S. LUDWIG

The United States needs a health care sweet spot — a way to raise revenue now and to lower health care costs in the future. Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages — those with added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or so-called fruit juice concentrates — would answer that need.

There are already minor surcharges on soda in many states — fractions of a cent per ounce in most cases. That’s not enough. What’s needed is a penny per ounce of sugary beverages. That amount would raise about $150 billion nationally over the next 10 years. At the same time, the reduced consumption of soft drinks produced by a penny-per-ounce national tax would have direct health benefits, estimated to be at least $50 billion over the decade. This $200 billion could make an enormous difference in addressing the nation’s mounting health care costs.

The average American drinks 50 gallons of sugared beverages annually. The marketplace, once dominated by a few flagship beverages such as Coke and Pepsi, has exploded into a wide array of fruit drinks, sweetened teas, energy drinks, sports drinks and other versions of sugar water. But two companies still reign: Together, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo control three-quarters of the world beverage market.

Sugared beverages are marketed with fierce precision, using sports stars and other celebrities and promising benefits ranging from increased energy to better memory. Product placements in television shows, such as Coca-Cola on “American Idol,” expose vast numbers of children to hidden marketing. Portions are also an issue — the 8-ounce bottle of the 1950s has morphed into a 20-ounce behemoth.

A regular 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar and 250 calories.

For full article http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentary/63806572.html?page=2&c=y

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Cholesterol, Statins (and Diabetes)

Lisa Says: at the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse, here is another post on the vital role cholesterol has in our health, concerning clinical data on status use, and in the case, recommendations on use with diabetes. Dr. Mercola gives a good overview with a link to 900 studies showing statin drugs to [...]

Lisa Says: at the risk of beating the proverbial dead horse, here is another post on the vital role cholesterol has in our health, concerning clinical data on status use, and in the case, recommendations on use with diabetes. Dr. Mercola gives a good overview with a link to 900 studies showing statin drugs to be dangerous. You can also review the clinical data at Dr. Graveline’s website can review Dr. Graveline’s research at http://www.spacedoc.net/ as well as http://www.thincs.org/.

Here is the article:
Mayo Clinic DEAD Wrong on Diabetic Recommendations

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Mayo Clinic have developed a computer model that is intended to determine the best time to begin using statin therapy in diabetes patients to help prevent heart disease and stroke.

According to the lead author, “The research is significant because patients with diabetes are at high risk for cardiovascular disease and statins are the single most commonly used treatment for patients at risk of heart disease and/or stroke.”

The new model incorporates patient-specific data. An established risk model calculates each patient’s probability of heart attack and stroke based on risk factors, such as their cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. This overall risk “score” is used to weigh the medical advantages of beginning statin therapy against the financial cost of the statins.

Sources:

Science Daily July 26, 2009

Medical Decision Making May 2009; 29 (3): 351-367

Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Statins, which are a class of drugs used to lower your cholesterol, are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world, and I believe, one of the most unnecessary drugs there are.

This is one class of drugs that I am dedicated to sound the alarm about. We are actually in the process of seeking to replicate a campaign similar to what was done to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking, to inform the public about the dangers and combat the media fraud, deception and manipulation that causes people to believe otherwise.

They could have saved loads of time and money here by reading this website, because the answer to the question, “When should you begin taking a statin?” is “never.” No computer models required.

Why?

Because it’s safe to say that a drug intended to prevent heart disease which actually causes heart failure is not the right treatment for most people. Statin drugs offer a “cure” that is far worse than the disease.

Why It’s Highly Unlikely You’ll Ever Need a Statin Drug

At least 12 million Americans are already taking statins, and based on new expert recommendations another 23 million “should” be taking them.

Now, there are a small group of people with genetic enzyme defects that have cholesterols levels above 325-350 who seem to benefit from statins. However, in my clinical experience over more than two decades and tens of thousands of patients, there have been a grand total of three patients that required statins to control this relatively uncommon genetic problem.

What This Computer Model Will NOT Tell You

It’s the emergence of these kinds of dangerous diagnostic strategies that make it so important to remain educated on this issue and not simply go along with what the media and professionals claim.. Especially since statin drugs are linked to many, many dangerous side effects. And I can guarantee you this computer model will not evaluate your risk of being harmed by the drug, even though there are over 900 studies showing statin drugs to be dangerous.

For example, Bayer’s statin, Baycol, was pulled from the market in 2001 after 31 people died from rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle tissue breaks down resulting in kidney failure.

Other serious and potentially life threatening side effects include, but are not limited to:

Polyneuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy, which is characterized by weakness, tingling and pain in the hands and feet, as well as difficulty walking

Heart failure

An increase in cancer risk

Immune system suppression

Potential increase in liver enzymes, so patients must be monitored for normal liver function

Another example is Zetia, a cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to about 1 million people each week. It was not only found to have no medical benefits, but the trial also discovered that arterial plaque growth increased, growing nearly twice as fast in patients taking Vytorin, a drug that combines Zetia with Zocor (another statin drug).

Despite these disturbing facts, Zetia and Vytorin account for about 20 percent of the cholesterol drugs on the U.S. market.

What You Need to Know About Cholesterol in Order to Understand the Dangers of Statins

Statin drugs work by preventing the formation of cholesterol, and reduce LDL cholesterol, which is considered the “bad” cholesterol.

There is no argument that these drugs do work very well at lowering your cholesterol levels. However, was has not been proven is that they significantly lower your risk of dying from heart disease. In no way, shape or form, do they treat the cause of your problem. They are nothing more than a toxic band-aid.

So just what makes statins so dangerous, and why are they not the answer for managing your cholesterol levels?

First you need to understand the biological workings of cholesterol.

In fact, there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol. Both HDL and LDL cholesterol perform vital functions in your body, which is why it’s actually dangerous to bring your LDL levels down too low.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein) are actually proteins that transport the cholesterol to and from your tissues.

Cholesterol in turn is a precursor to steroid hormones. For example, you can’t make testosterone or estrogen, cortisol, DHEA or pregnenolone, or a multitude of other steroid hormones that are necessary for health, without cholesterol.

Even more importantly, your cells cannot regenerate their membranes without it. The reason you have LDL to begin with is to transport the cholesterol to the tissues in order to make new cells and repair damaged ones.

However, there are different sizes of LDL particles and it’s the LDL particle size that is relevant, and statins do not modulate the size of the particles. Unfortunately, most people don’t know about that part, and very rarely, if ever, get tested for particle size.

The particles are sticky, so very small LDL’s can easily get stuck in different areas, and the build-up eventually causes inflammation and damage.

The only way to make sure your LDL particles are large enough to not cause damage is through your diet. In fact, it’s one of the major functions of insulin.

Conveniently enough, a healthy diet is also the answer for type 2 diabetes, so by focusing on what you eat, you’re treating both your diabetes and your cholesterol levels, and reducing your associated risk of heart disease.

If you eat properly, which is really the only known good way to regulate LDL particle size, then it does the right thing; it takes the cholesterol to your tissues, the HDL takes it back to your liver, and no plaque is formed.

The second thing you need to know is that statins work by reducing the enzyme that causes your liver to make cholesterol when it is stimulated by high insulin levels.

Again, you can achieve the same, or better, result by simply reducing your insulin levels by eliminating sugar and most grains, which is also what you need to do to successfully address type 2 diabetes.

What Most Doctors Fail to Tell You When Prescribing Statins

Another important aspect that most doctors fail to tell you about is that statins are non-specific inhibitors of not just one, but a number of very important liver enzymes, one of of the most important being Coenzyme Q10.

CoQ10 is a vital enzyme that your body needs for energy and cardiovascular health.

It is widely recommended to repair heart damage, boost the function of the heart and acts as a protectant against heart attacks and valve damage. Additionally, CoQ10 has been shown to be beneficial in heart and lung cancer, as well as maintain cognitive function.

Thus, when you take statins your production of this enzyme is dramatically depleted and you do not reap the health benefits associated with it. Unfortunately, few patients are ever told about this fact and their health suffers accordingly.

How to Normalize Your Cholesterol Without Dangerous Drugs

Just about every person, other than thesmall minority with the genetic enzyme defects mentioned above, can normalize their cholesterol levels with the Total Health Program, which includes modifying your eating habits based on your body’s unique nutritional type.

If you truly want to normalize your cholesterol levels, following these simple lifestyle changes can get you there:

Normalize your insulin levels by eliminating sugar and grains.

Take a high-quality animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil or fish oil

Most men, and women who is in menopause, should check your iron levels as elevated levels of iron can cause major oxidative damage in the blood vessels, heart and other organs. Excess iron is also one of the major contributing factors of cancer risk

Regular exercise is another important tool that can help

Energy Psychology methods such as meridian tapping techniques can also be helpful for cholesterol. Read this press release for the possibilities.

As I stated earlier this week, one of our top priority goals is to spread the message that statin drugs are clearly not the weapon of choice for high cholesterol. I urge you to share this information as well, by forwarding this article to your friends and family.

Related Links:

The Truth About Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs (Statins), Cholesterol and Health

The Dangers of Statin Drugs: What You Haven’t Been Told About Cholesterol-Lowering Medications

Cholesterol Drugs Actually Cause Heart Disease

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Easy Ways to Balance an Acidic Diet

Lisa Says: when Rex started addressing his cancer naturally, he started by balancing his pH, or acid-alkaline, level. Think of it as balancing your body chemistry, and if this isn’t balanced, your cells aren’t getting the right amount of oxygen, and that causes inflammation which leads to all KINDS of trouble (like diabetes, [...]

Lisa Says: when Rex started addressing his cancer naturally, he started by balancing his pH, or acid-alkaline, level. Think of it as balancing your body chemistry, and if this isn’t balanced, your cells aren’t getting the right amount of oxygen, and that causes inflammation which leads to all KINDS of trouble (like diabetes, cancer, etc). The typical American diet/lifestyle is very acidic which is contributing to the host of ills plaguing our country now. But you have the power ! The lifestyle changes we made were gradual and now second nature. The health benefits have been amazing, resolving not only Rex’s cancer, but multiple issues (like allergies) that have plagued us for years. If anyone would like individual suggestions, email us at hungerforhealth@verizon.net.

ARTICLE from NaturalNews:
Easy Ways to Balance an Acidic Diet
by Dr. Phil Domenico, citizen journalist
See all articles by this author
Email this author

(NaturalNews) The American diet is anything but balanced. The mass consumption of meat, grains and processed foods causes the body to become overly acidic, which strips it of minerals. Over the long haul, those who do not balance their diet with alkaline foods (fruits and veggies, primarily) become prone to weak bones, joints and muscles, heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and a host of other health problems. In other words, long-term health and longevity have everything to do with acid-alkaline balance.

Consider the Inuit (a.k.a., Eskimos), who do not have access to many fruits and vegetables. Their diets consist largely of seal meat, fish and whale blubber. While they eat few grains, their diet is nevertheless highly acidic. Though a sturdy bunch, with healthy hearts, their bones start breaking down prematurely. Indeed, the Inuit people have the worst longevity statistics in North America.

In contrast is Okinawa, where more people live to 100 years of age than anywhere in the world. While meat, rice, soy and seafood (highly acidic foods) are squarely in the diet, so are a vast range of different vegetables and fruits, rich in anti-oxidants, as well as minerals that counteract acidity. A wealth of fascinating anthropologic and scientific evidence exists that supports the acid-alkaline theory of health and longevity; there is much information to research this further.

The typical American diet is similar to that of the Inuit in that there is entirely too much meat and not enough alkaline vegetables to balance it. Factory farms in the US manufacture meat and animal products in unhealthy ways, leaving them loaded with toxins and inflammatory compounds. Furthermore, charring meat adds flavor, as well as cancer-causing substances.

To make matters worse, the acidity of the American diet is compounded by all the starches and sweets consumed. Many of these processed foods can be as acidic as meat, chicken, fish and seafood (colas are even more acidic), but are not nearly as full of nutrients. Acidic foods are also generally lacking in fiber, which helps control blood sugar and improves bowel health. The friendly bacteria in the gut need fiber to function. Without them, not only does the digestive system suffer, but also the immune defenses.

The problem is not so much any particular food, but rather the cumulative effect of a highly acidic diet over many decades that eats away at our health. For some, the answer is to give up meat. However, this choice is not that easy or fun, and could lead to protein, zinc, iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies. There is also nothing easy about giving up sweets and starches, as most people crave these foods, especially if there is delicious fat, salt, or caffeine in them. The food industry knows how to get us hooked, and it is not easy going cold turkey.

So, where does that leave us? What can we do to reduce the impact of an acidic diet? For one, reduce the serving sizes of the acidic foods, while increasing the amount of greens and other alkaline veggies during a meal. Think of it as a deck of cards (the acidic food serving size) surrounded by a forest of greens. This markedly reduces the total number of calories consumed, while reducing the acid impact. Eating organic foods (especially animal foods) helps, because it reduces the toxins present while increasing the nutritional content and alkaline balance. Learning about what foods are highly acidic or alkaline can help one balance the diet better.

Yet, to make it easy, here are a few highly alkaline foods that – if used liberally at breakfast, lunch and dinner – would go a long way towards improving the diet. It is as easy as sprinkling a bunch of black pepper on everything. Consider adding paprika, parsley and horseradish as well, or squeeze lemon or lime juice on fish, salads, or in your beverage. Add onions to everything. Munch on pumpkin seeds, or add them to the salad. Use sea salt (Celtic, French or Himalayan preferred) rather than regular table salt. Substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes. Use Apple cider vinegar rather than Balsamic vinegar. Choose miso soup with seaweed. Drink ginger tea, or add crushed ginger to your morning eggs and other foods. If you like radishes, eat them like candy. If you want something sweet, eat unsweetened pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, tangerines, mandarin oranges, kiwi and assorted berries. Let watermelon or vegetable juice be your summer thirst quencher. Quell a hunger with celery smeared with nut butter. Smear half of an avocado on toast, rather than margarine. Add asparagus, winter squash and chestnuts to round out the list of extreme alkaline foods.

Along with green leafy vegetables (especially collard or mustard greens, endive and kale), the foods mentioned above can make a major difference in the balance of things, and protect the bones, joints, muscles, heart, brain, liver and kidneys. Alkaline bodies are also much more resistant to infection and cancer.

As diets go, these are not boring foods by any means. Indeed, there is a great variety to choose from, and hundreds of simple recipes to play with. In addition, many other healthy and tasty foods are alkaline forming, though not with the same impact as the foods listed above. There are also alkaline mineral supplements, such as the citrates of potassium, magnesium and calcium, which can have profound effects on health and well-being.

Who knows? You may enjoy these foods and the health benefits so much you will wean off the refined grains, sodas and toxic meats – the easy way…one alkaline food at a time.

Sources:

http://www.diseaseproof.com/…/die…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/…

http://www.naturalnews.com/023478.html

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler: “The End of Overeating” Rodale Books, 2009.
Susan E. Brown & Larry Trivieri, Jr., “The Acid-Alkaline Food Guide” SquareOne Publishers, 2006.

http://www.naturalnews.com/Report_a…

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High Glycemic Foods Damage Arteries

Lisa Says: Here is a New Study of data published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “For the first time, scientists have documented how eating these foods can directly damage artery walls and cause cardiac problems,” reports NaturalNews.com in this article below. Those ’stuck’ on white bread/white sugar tend to [...]

Lisa Says: Here is a New Study of data published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “For the first time, scientists have documented how eating these foods can directly damage artery walls and cause cardiac problems,” reports NaturalNews.com in this article below. Those ’stuck’ on white bread/white sugar tend to not believe you can transition to whole grains – I certainly used to think that. But if you start gradually with “white” wheat, then ‘light wheat’, etc., it really does work. If I can convert teenage boys, ANYBODY can do it.

High Glycemic Foods Damage Arteries
by S. L. Baker, features writer

(NaturalNews) Anyone interested in healthy and nutritious foods has probably heard that whole grains are far better for you than the processed variety like white bread and sugar-laden cereals. There are several reasons for this, including the fact whole foods tend to be richer in fiber and they also have low glycemic indexes. That means they keep blood sugar and insulin levels steady without wide fluctuations. But a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology concludes there’s another important reason to avoid high glycemic foods like white bread and corn flakes. For the first time, scientists have documented how eating these foods can directly damage artery walls and cause cardiac problems.

“It’s very hard to predict heart disease,” Dr. Michael Shechter of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine and the Heart Institute of Sheba Medical Center, said in a statement to the media. “But doctors know that high glycemic foods rapidly increase blood sugar. Those who binge on these foods have a greater chance of sudden death from heart attack. Our research connects the dots, showing the link between diet and what’s happening in real time in the arteries.”

For his study, Dr Shechter and colleagues worked with 56 healthy volunteers who were divided into four groups. One group ate cornflake cereal mixed with milk, a second consumed a pure sugar mixture, the third group ate bran flakes and the last group took water (as a placebo control). Over the course of four weeks, Dr. Shechter applied brachial reactive testing to the research subjects in each group. This test, a clinical and research technique pioneered by Dr. Shechter’s laboratory, uses a blood pressure type cuff on the arm that is able to visualize what happens inside arteries before, during and after eating various foods.

Before any of the study participants ate, the function of their arteries was essentially the same. After eating, however, all except the placebo group had reduced arterial functioning — especially the research subjects who ate cornflakes and sugar. In fact, the testing documented that during the consumption of these foods high in sugar, there was a temporary and sudden dysfunction in the endothelium, the thin layer of cells that line the inside of arteries and reduce turbulence as blood flows throughout the entire circulatory system.

This is a critical finding because, when repeated over time, a sudden expansion of artery walls can cause a host of negative effects on health including damage to endothelial cells. That can reduce elasticity in arteries, resulting in heart disease or even sudden death. In fact, according to Dr. Shechter, endothelium dysfunction can be traced back to almost every disorder and disease in the body.

“We knew high glycemic foods were bad for the heart. Now we have a mechanism that shows how,” Dr. Shechter explained in the press statement. “Foods like cornflakes, white bread, French fries, and sweetened soda all put undue stress on our arteries. We’ve explained for the first time how high glycemic carbs can affect the progression of heart disease.”

Dr. Shechter agrees with natural health advocates who have long advised staying away from highly processed, high glycemic foods and eating a diet rich in low glycemic whole foods such as oatmeal, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. In addition to helping protect your heart, this style of eating has other advantages. According to the Harvard School of Public Health web site, these healthy foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a host of important phytonutrients.

On the other hand, white bread, white rice, pastries, sugared sodas, and other highly processed foods tear down instead of build health — they contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease. As reported earlier in Natural News, processed foods have also been linked with an increased risk for cancer (http://www.naturalnews.com/022025.html) and recent studies indicate many processed foodstuffs, from bread to candy bars, may be contaminated with toxic mercury, too (http://www.naturalnews.com/025442_m…).

For more information :

http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?pag…

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutriti…

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The Truth about Agave Syrup: Not as Healthy as You May Think

Lisa Says: We’ve already had so many hits about the agave post, I decided to do more research. After scrolling past the info from the agave manufacturers, I found this compelling article by John Kohler of www.living-foods.com. More to think about. Just this morning, Rex grabbed a leaf off our stevia bush on our way [...]

Lisa Says: We’ve already had so many hits about the agave post, I decided to do more research. After scrolling past the info from the agave manufacturers, I found this compelling article by John Kohler of www.living-foods.com. More to think about. Just this morning, Rex grabbed a leaf off our stevia bush on our way to walk with our “girls” (2 delightful border collies), and commented again on how wonderfully sweet it was. PLUS, you get all the antioxidant value, enzymes, etc. in the ‘raw’ leaf. Next, I’ll review stevia.

The Truth about Agave Syrup:
Not as Healthy as You May Think

by John Kohler

A relatively recent trend in raw food preparation is the use of agave syrup (also called agave nectar) as sweetener is called for in raw recipes. I am often asked about my views on this sweetener.

When I first switched to a raw food diet in 1995, agave syrup was unknown and was NOT USED IN RAW FOODS! I first learned about agave syrup back in 1999 or 2000 at a trade show for the health food industry, which I attend regularly to keep up with the latest in the health and nutrition field. I asked several questions, got some samples, and inquired on how the company processed the agave syrup. At that time, I learned that it was processed at roughly 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit11, so I certainly didn’t consider it a raw food by any means. Just like agave, some people consider maple syrup a raw food, but all maple syrup is heat-treated and is therefore not raw at all.

Unfortunately, there are no “raw labeling laws.” Anyone, anywhere, at any time can put “RAW” on their label and to them it can be supposedly raw since it is made from a “raw” material or simply not roasted. Just because it says “RAW” doesn’t necessarily mean that it was processed at a temperature under 118 degrees and still has all its enzymes, nutrients, and “life force” intact. For example, when you notice the difference between raw carob powder and roasted carob powder in the store, it is my understanding that the “raw” carob powder has been heated to about 250 degrees, whereas the “roasted” carob powder has been heated to about 450 degrees. The additional heat applied to the “roasted” carob powder causes the carob to “carmelize,” thus making it darker in appearance and different in taste as compared to the “raw” carob powder. Some stores sell “truly raw” carob powder, it has a more chalkier texture than supposedly “raw” carob powder. Jaffe Bros in Valley Center, California is a source of the “truly raw” carob powder. There are several raw food snack bars that say “RAW” but have ingredients such as cooked cocoa powder (that can’t be raw) and cashew nuts (most of which are not truly raw).

An except on how Agave is processed

…Agave plants are crushed, and the sap collected into tanks. The sap is then heated to about 140°F for about 36 hours not only to concentrate the liquid into a syrup, but to develop the sweetness. The main carbohydrates in the agave sap are complex forms of fructose called fructosans, one of which is inulin, a straight-chain fructose polymer about ten eight to 10 fructose sugar units long. In this state, the sap is not very sweet.

When the agave sap is heated, the complex fructosans are hydrolyzed, or broken into their constituent fructose units. The fructose-rich solution is then filtered to obtain the desired products that range from dark syrup with a characteristic vanilla aroma, to a light amber liquid with more neutral characteristics. Excerpt from: FoodProcessing.com

So agave needs to be hydrolyzed so that the complex fructosans are “broken down” into fructose units or it won’t be sweet!! Great now im eating hydrolyzed raw agave syrup!

Let’s suppose for arguments sake, and to give agave the benefit of the doubt, that even with “new” technology companies are somehow able to process agave syrup below 118 degrees so it could be considered actually “raw”. We still need to ask the question, is it good for us? Some foods, even if they truthfully are raw, may not actually be HEALTHY. Based on what I have learned about agave syrup, I believe it to be one of these foods.

My answer to the question, “Is agave nectar good for us?” would be “NO” based on my research. Here is a sample of my findings:

Agave Syrup is not a “whole” food. It is a fractionated and processed food. Manufacturers take the liquid portion of the agave plant and “boil” it down, thus concentrating the sugar to make it sweet. This is similar to how maple “sap” that comes directly from a tree is heated and concentrated to make maple “syrup.” Agave Syrup is missing many of the nutrients that the original plant had to begin with.
Agave Syrup was originally used to make tequila. When Agave Syrup ferments, it literally turns into tequila. The enzymatic activity therefore MUST be stopped so that the syrup will not turn into tequila in your cupboard. Raw or not, if there is no enzymatic activity, it is certainly not a “live” food. As Raw Foodists, we want the enzymes intact.
According to my research, there are three major producers of agave syrup. Some of these companies also have other divisions that make Tequila. For the most part, agave syrup is produced in the Guadalajara region in Mexico. There are those within the industry who I have spoken to at various trade shows who say that some of the agave syrup is “watered down” with corn syrup in Mexico before it is exported to the USA. Why is this done? Most likely because Agave Syrup is expensive, and corn syrup is cheap.
Agave Syrup is advertised as “low glycemic” and marketed towards diabetics. It is true, that agave itself is low glycemic. We have to consider why agave syrup is “low glycemic.” It is due to the unusually high concentration of fructose (90%) compared to the small amount of glucose (10%). Nowhere in nature does this ratio of fructose to glucose occur naturally. One of the next closest foods that contain almost this concentration of glucose to fructose is high fructose corn syrup used in making soda(HFCS 55), which only contains 55% fructose. Even though fructose is low on the glycemic index, there are numerous problems associated with the consumption of fructose in such high concentrations as found in concentrated sweeteners:
A. Fructose appears to interfere with copper metabolism. This causes collagen and elastin being unable to form. Collagen and elastin are connective tissue which essentially hold the body together.1 A deficiency in copper can also lead to bone fragility, anemia, defects of the arteries and bone, infertility, high cholesterol levels, heart attacks and ironically enough an inability to control blood sugar levels.2

B. Research suggests that fructose actually promotes disease more readily than glucose. This is because glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body, and fructose must be metabolized by the liver. 3 Tests on animals show that the livers of animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrohosis of the liver. This is similar to the livers of alcoholics.

C. “Pure” isolated fructose contains no enzymes, vitamins or minerals and may rob the body of these nutrients in order to assimilate itself for physiological use.4

D. Fructose may contribute to diabetic conditions. It reduces the sensitivity of insulin receptors. Insulin receptors are the way glucose enters a cell to be metabolized. As a result, the body needs to make more insulin to handle the same amount of glucose.5

E. Consumption of fructose has been shown to cause a significant increase in uric acid. An increase in uric acid can be an indicator of heart diease.6

F. Fructose consumption has been shown to increase blood lactic acid, especially for people with conditions such as diabetes. Extreme elevations may cause metabolic acidosis.7

G. Consumption of fructose leads to mineral losses, especially excretions of iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc compared to subjects fed sucrose.8

H. Fructose may cause accelerated aging through oxidative damage. Scientists found that rats given fructose had more cross-linking changes in the collagen of their skin than other groups fed glucose. These changes are thought to be markers for aging.9

I. Fructose can make you fat! It is metabolized by the liver and converts to fat more easily than any other sugar. Fructose also raises serum triglycerides (blood fats) significantly.10

Agave Syrup and other concentrated sweeteners are addictive, so you end up trading a cooked addiction (eating candy bars or cookies) for a “raw” addiction which is not much better. Eating concentrated sweeteners makes it harder to enjoy the sweet foods we should be eating – whole fresh fruit since they don’t seem as sweet by comparison.
Long-time raw foodist and Medical Doctor, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D. says that agave nectar raises blood sugar just like any other sugar. Dr. Cousens wrote a book, “There Is a Cure for Diabetes”.
Whole fruits generally contain a much smaller amount of fructose compared to sucrose and glucose. In addition, fruits contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and other nutrients. Our bodies are designed to digest a complete “package” of nutrition that appears in whole, fresh, ripe fruits. Could nature be wrong? For example, it’s always better to eat fruits whole or blend them rather than juice them. When you juice fruits you remove the fiber which helps to slow down the absorption of the sugars. Concentrated sweeteners also contain no fiber and have much greater concentrations of simple sugars than are found in fresh fruit or even juices.

Now that you have a better understanding about Agave Syrup, hopefully the companies selling “raw” agave won’t dupe you. They are out to make a buck, which in this case is unfortunately at the expense of your health. If you are making a “raw” recipe and it does require a concentrated sweetener, I have some recommendations for some better options to use instead of agave: (Listed in order of preference.)

1. Use ripe fresh fruits. Ripe fruits contain nutrients, fiber and water, a complete package, as nature intended. I find that ripe and organic fruits are usually sweetest.

2. Use fresh whole stevia leaves. Stevia is an herb that actually tastes sweet but contains no sugar. This herb can be very hard to find fresh, so I personally grow my own. If fresh leaves are not available, get the whole dried leaves or the whole leaf powder. Avoid the white stevia powder and the stevia liquid drops as they have been highly processed.

3. Use dried fruits. If you need a “syrup” consistency, just soak the dried fruits in some water and blend them up with the same soak water. Dates, figs, and prunes are some of the sweetest dried fruits that tend to work well in recipes. Try wet Barhi dates blended with a little water for an amazing maple syrup substitute. Please note: Since there are no raw labeling standards, some dried fruit may be dried at higher than 118 degrees, and thus, not really raw. If you want to ensure you are eating really raw dried fruit, it is best do dehydrate it yourself.

4. Raw Honey is a concentrated sweetener, and although not recommended, in my opinion it is better than agave syrup because it is a whole food and occurs naturally in nature. Of course, honey is not vegan and that may be a concern for some. I recommend purchasing local honey from a beekeeper.

Other “concentrated sweeteners” that are often seen in raw food recipes include:

1) Maple Syrup which is not raw and heat processed. If it is not organic, it may also contain formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals.

2) Sucanat or evaporated cane juice is pure dried sugar cane juice. Unfortunetly this is processed at a temperature above 118 degrees and therefore can’t be considered raw.

3) Yacon Syrup is a syrup from the root of the yacon plant in South America. It is once again, a concentrated sweetener processed at a temperature of up to 140 degrees farenheight.

The moral of this article: Eat whole fresh fruits and vegetables, they are always best. Always question processed and concentrated foods that are not found in nature, even if “raw”.

References:

1. Fields, M, Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 1984, 175:530-537.

2. Klevay, Leslie, Acting Director of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D.

3. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2002 Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922.

4. Appleton, Nancy Ph.D., Fructose is No Answer For a Sweetener, http://www.mercola.com/2002/jan/5/fructose.htm.

5. H. Hallfrisch, et al.,The Effects of Fructose on Blood Lipid Levels, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 37: 5, 1983, 740-748.

6. J. MacDonald, Anne Keyser, and Deborah Pacy, Some Effects, in Man, of Varying the Load of Glucose, Sucrose, Fructose, or Sorbitol on Various Metabolites in Blood, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 31 (August 1978)): 1305-1311.

7. Hallfrisch, Judith, Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fructose, FASEB Journal 4 (June 1990): 2652-2660.

8. A. E. Bergstra, A. G. Lemmens, and A. C. Beynens, Dietary Fructose vs. Glucose Stimulates Nephrocalcinogenesis in Female Rats, Journal of Nutrition 123, no. 7 (July 1993): 1320-1327.

9. Roger B. Mc Donald, Influence of Dietary Sucrose on Biological Aging, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 62 (suppl), (1995): 284s-293s.

10. H. Hallfrisch, et al.,The Effects of Fructose on Blood Lipid Levels, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 37: 5, 1983, 740-748.

11. Method of producing fructose syrup from agave plants.

About the author, John Kohler has been on the living and raw foods diet for nearly a decade; he turned to living foods for healing from a life threatening-illness (spinal meningitis) and has enjoyed dynamic health ever since. One of Johns goals is to educate the world about the power of living and raw foods. He is the founder and webmaster of the largest living and raw food website on the internet, www.living-foods.com, and www.rawfoodsupport.com. John is also the number one expert on raw foods appliances and gadgets in the world. He is widely sought out and regularly speaks and instructs at many raw food festivals and events. His area of expertise include recipe demos with 5-7 ingredients or less, young coconut recipes, traveling while raw, raw food appliances, successful transition to the raw foods diet, and the importance of a fresh organic whole foods diet. He believes that by using fresh, organic, and whole ingredients, that simple, healthy, and delicious recipes can be made with few ingredients and without the use of salt, oil, spices, refined sweeteners or chemical additives. He is known for his pragmatic approach to raw foods and has coached and helped thousands of people to incorporate more fresh raw fruits and vegetables into their diet. John is also available to individual raw food coaching.

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