Sugar: The Bitter Truth

imagesRobert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the PublicRobert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the PublicRobert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public

Adjusting your Diabetic Diet for Special Occasions

Birthday parties, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and more are holidays and special occasions that are centered on food.  For most people these are times to anticipate the celebration and the eating.  For a diabetic it can be a stressful time, you want to partake in all of the good food too but most times it is not made with a diabetic in mind.  If the frequency of these events is not too often, you can adjust your diet for special occasions so you too can have some of the treats available.

The hardest part about preparing for a special occasion is if you do not know what is going to be served.  If this is the case, a quick call to your host or hostess can be made.  Most people will not mind you asking especially if you have dietary needs that need to be taken into consideration.  Once you do know what is being served, plan your meals for that day accordingly.  You may want to have fewer carbohydrates with your breakfast and snack to make up for the extra ones you will have at a birthday party where pizza is being served.

Another option for special occasions is to offer to bring a dish for everyone to share.  Make it something that you enjoy as a treat but still follows the guidelines for your diabetic diet.

For family favorites and traditions, be creative and look for ways to make the same dishes with less fat or sugar.  You can do this by substituting regular sugar for sugar substitutes or choose whole wheat flour instead of white for the extra fiber content.

During the holidays and other occasions, closely monitor your blood sugars.  Even with extra care, the change in your diet can still result in a blood sugar that is too high or low.

Brain Diabetes

Type 3 Diabetes is also referred to as Brain Diabetes, and has only been a recognized phenomenon since 2005. This dangerous hybrid form of Diabetes was confirmed during a study which took place at Brown University’s Medical School. That study showed for the first time exactly how the brain produces and uses insulin, which very closely mirrors the way that the pancreas makes it. The problem with Type 3 Diabetes is Protein Plaque. The way the brain makes insulin can result in the formation of this plaque which resembles that found in Diabetes Type 1 and Diabetes Type 2 sufferers. However, the attack of the brain’s functions is the result withType 3 Diabetes, and memory loss and improper memory creation and formation are the result.

How it works

Your body needs insulin to convert food to energy. Insulin itself is a wonderful, amazing and much-needed tool in your body’s makeup. Too much or too little insulin is the problem. But another function of insulin is to help form memories between the small spaces in your brain where the cells talk to each other. These spaces are called synapses, and these insulin receptors are needed for every memory you have. Sufferers of Type 3 Diabetes see these insulin receptors depart as the brain loses the energy that is required to form memories. No receptors, no memories.

And they flee because the brain has not made enough insulin. Studies have showed that giving Alzheimer’s patients insulin prevents and slows down memory loss by protecting your synapses that make your memories. The research at Northwestern University on insulin and memory loss has gone a long way to helping us understand what exactly the correlation is, and how we can prevent and treat Type 3 Diabetes.

Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease and Type 3 Diabetes tend to have much lower levels of insulin, or are insulin-resistant. The Northwestern researchers discovered that memory creation fails when insulin is in short supply because insulin is good at warding off dangerous amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligands (ADDLs). These bad guys destroy receptors in your brain when insulin is not around to shield them, and they can not connect the synapses, and thus also can’t form memories.

Cholesterol relationship

Since Alzheimer’s Disease is so closely linked to low insulin levels and Type 3 Diabetes, researchers for the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry are studying the effects of a known Alzheimer’s correlative, cholesterol. Cognitive decline and memory loss are found to be greater in those Alzheimer’s patients with cholesterol than without, and an application of lipid lowering drugs has shown to effectively halt memory loss, and even in some cases help turn around the insidious effects of Alzheimer’s. Why are we talking about Alzheimer’s when the discussion is Type 3 Diabetes? Not all is known about the relatively new disease, and if researchers can find curatives for diseases with similar symptoms, the hope is the cure will be transitive, and can be passed on to Type 3 Diabetes sufferers as well.


Is there a Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Connection?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) makes it clear that research on Type 3 Diabetes is still ground-breaking and cutting edge, and is hesitant to give a hard definition for it. However, one trait of Type 3 Diabetes is that it shows up frequently in Type 1 Diabetes sufferers that also show Type 2 (insulin resistant) symptoms, thus earning the deadly moniker Double Diabetes.

The Verdict

The jury is still out on this harrowing disease, but one thing is known for certain. The ADA states that a balanced diet, moderate exercise three to five times a week and lots of water go a long way in decreasing your chances of contracting any form of Diabetes, including Type 3 Diabetes.


Diabetes, Glaucoma Put Millions At Risk for Unexpected Blindness

Unexpected sight loss is more common than you may think. Blindness often happens without prior warning signs and in people unaware they are at risk.

The two most common culprits of unexpected sight loss are diabetes and glaucoma. These diseases are known as the “sneak thieves of sight” because symptoms may not occur in the early stages. By the time a person realizes something is wrong, irreversible vision loss often occurs.

In fact, diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of blindness in adults. An average of 55 Americans go blind from the disease each day. The numbers threaten to rise sharply as diabetes becomes increasingly common due to poor eating habits, infrequent exercise and an aging population. One in three children born in the United States five years ago are expected to become diabetic during their lives.

Diabetes causes partial or complete loss of vision in as many as 70 percent of those who have it. Yet 30 percent of all people who have diabetes don’t even know they have it. Even people who know they have diabetes downplay the risks they face.

According to a survey of diabetics sponsored by Lions Clubs International, 60 percent were not worried about going blind or losing a limb. In reality, 74 percent of diabetics will develop serious complications that could lead to loss of sight or a limb or kidney failure.

Glaucoma, on the other hand, is a group of eye diseases that slowly damage the fine nerves that connect the eye to the brain. For most people, this damage occurs when pressure in the eye is too high. When these nerves are damaged, vision loss may result.

Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness in the United States. But like diabetes, not enough people know about it: An estimated 4.2 million Americans have glaucoma but half are not aware of it.

Diabetes and glaucoma are especially prevalent among blacks and Hispanics. These groups are believed to have a genetic predisposition to the diseases and are much more at risk than Caucasians. Others particularly at risk for glaucoma are people over 60, those with a family history of glaucoma, diabetics and the very near-sighted.

The good news for those at risk is that a dilated eye exam can detect the two diseases and early treatment can prevent vision loss. Vision experts urge at-risk people to have regular eye exams.

Raising awareness of diabetic eye disease and glaucoma is key to preventing unnecessary blindness. Lions Clubs International works with Lions clubs, community groups and individuals to publicize the need for early detection and timely treatment of the two diseases. The Lions Eye Health Program provides materials for distribution at health fairs, senior citizen centers and similar gatherings. It also offers strategies for raising awareness of the eye diseases.


Why Alzheimer’s is called `type 3 diabetes’

January 22, 2010


Katherine’s father is battling dual enemies in the twilight of his life.

One has been slowly stripping him of his energy and eyesight; the other has been robbing him of his memories.

The two work insidiously in tag-team fashion: With dementia, her father forgets the last time he’s eaten; because of Type 2 diabetes, his body is unable to properly convert glucose into energy.

While both can be age-related diseases, a growing body of research is showing an even stronger link that connect the two: Insulin.

So strong is the link, some call Alzheimer’s disease, “type 3 diabetes.”

Just as insulin produced by the pancreas helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body, scientists discovered that the brain also produces insulin of its own, critical in the formation of new memories.

Couple two growing, national epidemics – obesity and diabetes – with an aging population, and this double threat becomes poised to become a public health concern, experts say.

“Not long ago, it was thought that there was no connection between insulin and the brain, that the brain was insulin-insensitive,” said William Klein, a professor of neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern University in Illinois.

“But we now know that’s not the case. What’s surprising everyone is that it has a specialized function, tied to learning and memory.”

The role of insulin in the brain and the link between Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s is a multi-faceted one.

Studies have shown that diabetics have a 30 to 65 per cent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

The diabetic brain is much like the diabetic body, explains Dr. Jack Diamond, scientific director of the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

Either the brain isn’t producing enough insulin, which is crucial for memory formation, like Type 1 or juvenile diabetes, or the brain has become insulin-resistant, like Type 2 diabetes.

In Alzheimer’s, brains aren’t using glucose properly,” Diamond said.

David Schubert, professor of cellular neurobiology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, didn’t mince words when he explained the wider implications of raising a generation of lazy and overindulged children.

“Childhood obesity is a parental responsibility,” he said. “People who let their kids get fat should know they’re putting their future at risk.”

In an online study published last year in Neurobiology of Aging, Schubert conducted an experiment proving that Type 2 diabetes predisposes animals to Alzheimer’s. After inducing diabetes in young mice, the animals suffered from significant memory loss and an increase in inflammation of the brain.

His team also found that damage to the blood vessels in the brain occurred well before any overt signs of Alzheimer’s disease – like nerve cell death or the accumulation of toxic amyloid deposits in the brain – could be detected. Read More…

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