Why Almost Everyone Should Eat Low Carb

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By Dr. Jody Stanislaw
www.DrJodyND.com
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Diabetes takes constant vigilance. Every bite of food that enters your mouth matters. Every day brings different energy needs and different hormonal levels which affect blood sugar levels. The window for ‘good blood sugar levels’ is very narrow; yet staying within that window from day to day is a matter of life or death for every person living with diabetes, be they Type 1 or Type 2.

If you don’t have diabetes you may think you can eat all the sugar you want, but sugar levels higher than normal are unhealthy, not to mention the issues with processed foods. This is true no matter who you are. Achieving good blood sugar levels and eating wholesome foods is vital for everyone.

I know first hand, how every bite matters, because I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes since I was seven years old. My family raised me to adopt healthy eating, and to live an active lifestyle. For this I am extremely lucky, because good diet habits and exercise are essential for living a healthy life with this potentially fatal disease.

There are 2 distinct paths one can take when living with diabetes, be it Type 1 or Type 2…

The first involves eating whatever one pleases and living a sedentary life. This path creates a myriad of health dangers directly related to having too much sugar in the blood stream. The consequences are dire, such as losing toes or feet, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, depression, fatigue, and early death. Too much sugar in the blood is like having shards of glass scrapping along the internal walls of one’s arteries, causing severe damage and destruction to the cardiovascular system.

The second path takes daily vigilance. But to me, the gift you will receive of health and vitality make this choice absolutely worth it. I am a vibrant, 42-year-young woman and I’ve achieved this feat by keeping my blood sugar levels in a healthy range a priority, every day of my life.

I now share my recipe for success with patients all over the globe. Patients who work with me feel better than ever, because I teach them my simple formula: How to adopt healthy lifestyle habits that stick. I give details of how you can inquire about working with me below.

Normal blood sugar level is between 80 – 110 mg/dl. Eating just 15 grams of carbohydrates can raise that level by approximately 60 points. That equates to just 1 apple, ½ banana, 4 oz. juice, 1/3 c black beans, 1 small slice of bread, 1/3 c rice or ½ c pasta. Yet most people eat much bigger portions than these, so you can see how quickly and easily your blood sugar level can increase based on what you choose to eat.

If you have a healthy pancreas, anytime you eat carbohydrates and/or sugar, the pancreas should make enough insulin to keep your blood sugar in the healthy range of 80 – 110 mg/dl, no matter how many grams of carbohydrate you eat. Insulin’s job is to take glucose out of the blood and feed it to your cells.

The problem is, just like anything that gets over-used, things wear out. The more carbohydrates/sugar you eat, the more worn-out your insulin producing cells become. Over time, if you continue with a high carbohydrate diet, your body cannot keep up with the demands of making enough insulin to keep the blood sugar in the healthy range. So, slowly over time, the blood sugar levels stay higher and higher. This is a primary mechanism for how Type 2 Diabetes begins.

Alternatively, Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune attack against the insulin producing cells, which usually occurs in childhood. Now adults are being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at an alarming rate for an unknown reason, likely due to environmental triggers. Why the body attacks itself, almost overnight, is not well understood. In Type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing cells are literally killed off by the immune system over a span of a few months, and the patient is immediately put on insulin injections. Eating fewer carbs will not make their insulin producing cells grow back (which can be possible in Type 2), but it will make managing the disease and hitting the mark on healthy blood sugar levels significantly easier.

Every person can benefit from keeping his or her blood sugar in a healthy range. It can help prevent many long-term health issues and have immediate benefits such as more energy, better mood, clarity of thinking and focus.

The worst way to start your day, whether you are a diabetic or not, is by eating a bunch of sugar and carbs. The standard American breakfast is the worst! Cereal, toast, pastries, pancakes, muffins, a mocha. All of these foods can easily contain over 100 grams of carbohydrates. This gives you an immediate burst of energy, but at a high price. Over the next few hours, as your blood sugar level plummets after the initial spike, you become fatigued, cranky, and may feel ravenous or crave more sugar. So, then you want to grab another high carb snack, which just starts the roller coaster all over again.

Anytime one eats a high carb choice, be it at the start of the day or not, this roller coaster of energy ensues. The energy spike is usually followed soon after by fatigue, hunger, and/or irritation.

So what should you eat? If man made it, you probably shouldn’t eat it very often…shoot for less than 20% of your total daily intake from processed foods. Not only to avoid the refined sugar, but processed
foods have a double negative: they are not as nutrient dense as real food and they usually contain unhealthy preservatives and other additives.

I recommend following the 80/20 rule. 80% good stuff leaves room for your body to be able to handle 20% of the bad stuff. No need for perfection if overall you take good care of your body. (Having said that, individual needs vary greatly. Discuss with your diabetes care team before making changes to your dietary regimen.)

So I recommend to most of my patients to aim for eating wholesome foods grown by nature at least 80% of the time. And within that wholesome 80%, there are four categories of wholesome, nature-made carbohydrates: Fruits, Vegetables, Beans/legumes, and whole grains. These are where your carb choices should come from. Everything else…crackers, chips, cookies, white rice, cereal, bread, pasta, juice, and the like…is processed foods that are not needed as a part of a nutrient-dense, wholesome diet.

Of course, we all have our particular processed foods that we love and feel like we can’t live without. Making room for them occasionally might be fine, depending on how your diabetes care is overall. Discuss with your healthcare team what a healthy balance is for you.

Here are some wholesome meal ideas to help you get going:

Breakfast ideas:

  • Smoothie: protein powder, almond milk, berries/apple, and greens
  • Scrambled eggs with 1 piece of whole grain toast
  • Veggie omelet
  • Chicken stir-fry
  • Hard boiled egg with 1 piece whole grain toast
  • Avocado on seed crackers
  • Egg veggie muffins (see my recipe below)
  • Flaxseed muffin (see my recipe below)

Lunch & Dinner should be based around protein & veggies, such as:

  • Salad with chicken/beans/seeds/nuts
  • Sandwich fixings wrapped in butter lettuce instead of bread
  • Chicken stir-fry with veggies and 1/2c brown rice
  • Taco salad with lots of guacamole and salsa
  • Grilled chicken with grilled zucchini/eggplant/tomatoes…
  • Baked fish with asparagus/broccoli/green beans…
  • Grass-fed steak with 2 red potatoes and veggie
  • Fajitas: fish/chicken and veggies on a small 100% corn tortilla

These recipes are wholesome, low carb, nutrient dense options that are not only good for those with diabetes, but are good for almost everyone! Again, discuss with your health care team before making changes. For example, if you have kidney issues, less protein may be required. But eating a real food choice over a processed choice is pretty much guaranteed to be a good choice 100% of the time.

The information I just gave you is priceless because, if you follow my advice, it could save your life.

I would’ve paid thousands of dollars to know this when I was young because it would’ve saved me years of frustration with eating so many carbs and suffering the ill effects of high blood sugar levels.

Do you have questions? I’d love to help. Let’s chat. I make time in my schedule to connect with others living with diabetes because talking one diabetic to another can be life changing. My specialty is Type 1 but I help Type 2’s as well.

If you need help with what to eat to achieve better glucose control, or would like to learn how to avoid going low during exercise, or how to wake up with a perfect sugar level, or if you have any other diabetes related questions for that matter, schedule a complimentary phone consult with me here to get started: www.ConsultWithDrJody.com

You CAN be healthy and happy while living with diabetes and I’m here to help you make that happen. Let’s chat soon.

To your health!

Dr. Jody’s Delicious, Low-carb, Easy Flax Muffin-in-a-Minute:

The only carbs in this muffin come from the fiber in the flax seeds and so this muffin has a very low/no impact on blood sugar levels.

Put into an empty coffee cup:

  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 tea cinnamon
  • 1/2 tea baking powder (get one without ‘aluminum’)

….mix together in a coffee cup. Then:

  • Melt 1 tea butter or coconut oil on top of mixed dry ingredients
  • 1 tea vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • sweetener of your choice…stevia is the only one I recommend for diabetics

….mix it all up

Optional extra ingredients:

  • just a few small banana chunks (which make it super creamy & delicious)
  • a few blueberries
  • chopped nuts

Cook in microwave for 45-60 seconds and enjoy!

**Due to very high fiber content, be sure to drink 8oz water/tea/liquid with muffin.

Egg and Veggie ‘Muffins’

…make a bunch of these Sunday night so they are ready to grab & go each morning

Author: The Seasoned Mom

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole eggs + 4 additional egg whites
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • ½ of a carrot, grated
  • ½ of a red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ of a small zucchini, grated
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Coat 8 muffin cups with liners and cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, toss together all of the vegetables.
  • Spoon vegetable mixture into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about ⅔ full.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Use a ⅓-cup measuring cup to scoop egg mixture into each of the muffin cups, filling each cup to the top.
  • Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with about ½ – 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake muffins for 30 minutes, or until puffy, golden, and cooked through
  • Save in fridge and just heat one up each morning for a fast healthy breakfast

Is Your Prescription a Hall Pass or Lottery Ticket?

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Alan Christianson
Arizona-based naturopathic medical doctor
www.DrChristianson.com
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As much as I love learning, I did not always love school. We moved a lot, and I was too shy to do well as the new kid. At a new high school during my freshmen year, I discovered the joys of the hall pass. Being handed one gave me a feeling of freedom. With it, I was safe to evade the pressures of the classroom and wander the halls aimlessly. If a teacher stopped me to see if I should be in class, all I had to do was show my hall pass, and I’d be on my way. I think of a hall pass as something that is assured to protect you. Let’s say a hall pass works at least 8 out of 10 times.

There are hall passes, and then, there are lottery tickets. I’ve heard it said that lotteries are secret taxes for those with poor math skills. If you have a few dollars to spare, it may be fun to buy a lottery ticket and imagine striking it rich. On the other hand, if you are hungry, your last few dollars are better spent on a meal than on an infinitesimally small chance at fortune. You cannot rely on a lottery ticket when it really needs to count. I’m not a seasoned gambler, but for the purposes of our discussion, let’s say your odds of a lottery ticket working are lower than 1 in 10.

Last week, a new patient told me she wanted to stop taking her cholesterol pills but was afraid to do so. Her prior doctors gave her the medicine with the implication that it would keep her safe and definitely work. To her, the medicine felt like a hall pass that was protecting her from heart disease, but how well do these medicines really work?

Remember we said hall passes worked 8 out of 10 times, and lottery tickets worked less than 1 out of 10 times? Are cholesterol pills hall passes or lottery tickets?

In the case of my patient, she had never had a heart attack. She was in her mid-50s, had high LDL cholesterol and a family history of heart disease. Based on studies involving 65,229 participants, here are the odds of the medication helping or hurting her: [1]

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This is not a hall pass. At best, it is a lottery ticket. The odds of the cholesterol medication doing anything helpful are 1 in 104. That means if 208 people, like my patient, were divided into two groups, and one group took cholesterol pills and the other did not, the group on medicine would see one less heart attack. Interestingly, even though they would have one less heart attack, they would have no fewer deaths. Any reduction in death from heart disease would be outweighed by deaths from other causes. The odds of muscle damage were 10 times higher than the odds of preventing a heart attack. If this is not bad enough, the possible benefits may be even lower in women. [2]

Is this an indictment of cholesterol pills, such as statins? What about pills for blood sugar? Let’s look at some more numbers. Here are the results of over 35,000 people on medications to aggressively control blood sugar: [3]

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Medications had no chance at all for preventing diabetics from dying, having a stroke, a heart attack or kidney failure, yet they had a 1 in 6 chance of causing severe enough reactions to require hospitalization.

Here are the numbers for blood pressure medications from over 8,900 people with blood pressure as high as 159/99. [4]

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What do these outcomes prove? Medications do not work well for chronic diseases. Even when they do lower the marker of illness, like high cholesterol, high blood sugar or high blood pressure, they do nothing to prevent what matters: the complications.

I would argue that the dangers of these medications are even larger than it might seem because of the false sense of security they provide. Who will try harder to improve their health: someone who feels they need to, or someone who believes that a pill is protecting them? Many have the impression that radical, lifestyle change might be a nice idea, but pills are more powerful. After looking at the hard numbers, are pills hall passes, protecting us from chronic diseases? On the contrary, you can see that at best, pills are lottery tickets.

References:

  1. Ray KK, Seshasai SR, Erqou S, Sever P, Jukema JW, Ford I, Sattar N. Statinsand all-cause mortality in high-risk primary prevention: a meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials involving 65,229 participants. Arch Intern Med. 2010 Jun 28;170(12):1024-31. Review. PubMed PMID: 20585067.
  2. Virani SS1. Statins in the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in women: facts and myths. Tex Heart Inst J. 2013;40(3):288-9.
  3. Hemmingsen B, Lund SS, Gluud C, et al. Targeting intensive glycaemic control versus targeting conventional glycaemic control for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD008143. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008143.pub3.
  4. Diao D, Wright JM, Cundiff DK, Gueyffier F. Pharmacotherapy for mild hypertension. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD006742.

Seven Spices that Can Improve Your Life

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I know that it may sound like a little bit of hyperbole but I think by the time you finish reading this, you will agree that these are probably some of the most under-rated substances in the entire world. They’re gorgeous, easy to use and the amount of health benefits that accrue to them is just so under-appreciated. In fact, I call spices stealth health foods because of all the benefits that have been found to accrue. I’ve selected the following seven.

oregano            Let’s start with Turmeric; the spice that makes Indian food yellow. The active ingredient in turmeric is a group of compounds known as curcuminoids or collectively as curcumin. It’s really what gives turmeric its superstar status in the spice world. Research on curcumin shows its effects on regulatory mechanisms and the preventer of cancer, neurological, inflammatory diseases. We’re going to be talking a lot about inflammatory diseases because actually every disease is in a certain way an inflammatory disease. Andrew Wile, America’s integrative medical authority says three reasons to incorporate Turmeric to your diet are to prevent Alzheimer’s, arthritis and cancer.         How do you get turmeric in your diet? You can sprinkle it on scrambled eggs or make a turmeric tea?  I take turmeric as a supplement largely because as great as it is, it’s not well absorbed.

Ginger has the deserved reputation as being a wonderful calming substance for the stomach. Research has been done on ginger as a cancer preventative.

I’ve written a number of books in which I talk about four things that age the body and promote every disease and they are inflammation (top of the list), oxidation, stress and sugar in the diet. Inflammation is involved in diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and every degenerative disease. Anything we can do to lower inflammation is extremely important for our health. Oxidation: the damage done by free radicals that are found in oxygen. It’s kind of a rusting. Oxidative stress is a major part of aging and just about every degenerative disease you can imagine. Antioxidants help fight the damage done by these marauding free radicals.

A study by the American Chemical Society found oregano to have the highest ranking antioxidants of any herb. It appears to contain some diabetes fighting compounds as well. I prefer the oil of oregano, not really the spice itself. Oregano oil is anti-microbial. WebMD says it should be taken by mouth for parasites, allergies, a cold, the flu and fatigue.

The main beneficial compound in hot chili peppers is capsaicin. During the 2008 Democratic campaign, when she was running against Obama for the nomination Hillary Clinton was asked how she kept up through that grueling campaign and she attributed much of her endurance and energy to red hot peppers! Red peppers are easy to eat, easy to find, inexpensive, and have great health benefits.

Garlic is probably the number one medicinal food in the world. It goes back thousands of years. It’s been found to be helpful for the heart, for the immune system, helps kill parasites, it’s a natural antibiotic and it’s great for blood pressure. Matthew Boudoff, a cardiologist at the UCLA David Geffin School of Medicine, has done a lot of research on garlic. He found that it actually reduced plaque. Aged garlic extract was shown to inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis to lower blood pressure, improve oxidative stress and enhance circulation. Garlic has to be chopped up and broken down in order for two compounds to mix together and create allicin. There are studies showing the anti-cancer mechanism of sulfur-containing compounds of which garlic and onions are two prime examples.

Cinnamon. A 2004 study showed that cinnamon actually improves blood sugar, glucose and lipids of people with type two diabetes. In the eleven years since this study was done, not all studies have duplicated this. Some have shown great results with cinnamon, some have not. However, there’s just no downside to using it and there’s potentially lots of upsides. There’s a meta-analysis of all the studies of cinnamon use in type two diabetes, and on the whole, they’re very positive. Here again the effect of cinnamon tea on postprandial, just means after eating, postprandial glucose simply means your blood sugar after you eat and cinnamon has a nice muting effect on that. Here again, more experimental evidence, more reviews and here once again, big surprise, turns out that cinnamon may also have some anti-cancer properties which is a very nice little side benefit so if you’re taking it for blood sugar oh look at this, it may also have some effects on cancer cells, not a bad side effect.

Sage is an anti-oxidant and a powerful anti-inflammatory. It seems to have a great effect on memory in both younger people and in older. An interesting article shows that sage actually improved glycemic control and lipid profile in type 2 diabetics. In a study, they gave sage to a test group and they found that it lowered their fasting glucose; it brought down blood sugar. It lowered triglycerides which I consider to be a serious risk factor, far more important than cholesterol, and finally sage increased HDL cholesterol which is generally thought to be the good cholesterol; a list of great effects from a simple spice like sage.

I hope I’ve begun to open your eyes to what’s available in the spice world and the health benefits of these spices. There are spices for weight loss and they include the cayenne pepper because of its effect on energy balance and metabolism in general. There are the cancer fighting spices: garlic and ginger and cayenne pepper and turmeric. My new book, Smart Fat, has several principals: eating more fat, eating more fiber and the third one is about flavor and it’s in there for two reasons. One is when you use these spices it makes your food taste better and let’s face it, if health food tastes like straw and sawdust, nobody is going to eat it. The second stealth benefit of those flavors is all the anti-inflammatory and the antioxidant fire power that these spices have. So begin to use them, make friends with them, try them in every different kind of way. Ask your kids to be part of the whole cooking process and get friendly with these spices. Most of us have a spice rack in our kitchen that hasn’t been used. Get nice new fresh spices and start using them on everything. See what they taste like, get to know them, see how they mix and match with other flavors and you really will be opening up a whole world of flavor and a world of health.

 

By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”™