Skip to content

Soda Credit: Wikipedia

All of us should be concerned about harmful health effects from a sedentary lifestyle, along with drinking lots of sugary soda. However, according to a (very) small study, ten days of adopting this lifestyle seems to have more of a negative effect on healthy young men than on women, at least in the short term.

Even just 10 days of reducing physical activity (from greater than 10,000 steps to less than 5000 steps per day) and increasing soda intake (to 6 cans a day!) was enough to have a negative effect on insulin levels (vascular insulin resistance) in healthy young men. But the Univ. of Missouri researchers found no real effect on the young women.

From Medical Xpress: Sedentary lifestyle and sugary diet more detrimental to men, study finds

A new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine is the first evidence in humans that short-term lifestyle changes can disrupt the response to insulin of blood vessels. It's also the first study to show men and women react differently to these changes. ...continue reading "Ten Days of Unhealthy Lifestyle Has Greater Effect on Young Men than Women"

Another study finds beneficial health effects from eating real foods - this time eating Montmorency tart cherries reduces blood pressure and insulin levels up to 5 hours after ingestion. Of course. It was a small study done in the United Kingdom, with only 11 middle-aged participants, all with metabolic syndrome (increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels). It is estimated that about a third of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome, which significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

It was a nicely designed study, and the Montmorency tart cherries were taken in either juice form or capsules which contained freeze-dried Montmorency tart cherry powder. Drinking the juice had slightly better health effects than the freeze dried capsules. It would have been nice if they had also looked at a group of people eating fresh Montmorency tart cherries, rather than just juice or freeze dried cherries.

Keep in mind that this study found positive health effects from real food. However, in contrast, studies find that taking supplements and vitamins generally don't result in health benefits (e.g. calcium, omega-3, niacin, antioxidants), and can even cause harm - unless one has a nutritional deficiency. Studies also don't find that there are "superfoods" - instead, what is beneficial or not is the overall dietary pattern. Studies show that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes has many health benefits (something along the line of the Mediterranean dietary pattern). Try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables - each has different micronutrients, and even different microbes (good!). Eating that way also results in a high fiber intake, which has many health benefits.

From EurekAlert!: Montmorency tart cherries may provide benefits for adults with metabolic syndrome

Montmorency tart cherries reduced systolic blood pressure, insulin levels and insulin concentrations in adults with metabolic syndrome participating in a small pilot study published in the Journal of Functional Foods.  ...continue reading "Add Cherries To Your Diet"

Studies finding health effects from BPA keep appearing. BPA (bisphenol-A) is a chemical used in many everyday products (e.g. the lining of soda and food cans, store receipts) and so almost all humans are exposed to it daily. Researchers are getting increasingly worried about BPA and related chemicals (including substitutes for BPA such as BPS) because they are endocrine (hormone) disruptors with health effects in humans and animals. This chemical is so widely used that more than 7 billion metric tons of it are produced annually throughout the world.

Unfortunately the US government keeps agreeing with the chemical industry that the chemical is "safe", and disregarding the results of studies finding health effects (reproductive effects, obesity, etc). Of course the chemical industry is fighting tooth and nail to discredit studies done by independent researchers - a lot of money is at stake.

The following are excerpts from an article describing the latest study finding health effects from low dose exposure from BPA - it altered the amount of insulin released by the person (and so perhaps influencing the development of type 2 diabetes). What was worrisome is that the dose is considered "safe" by the US government - and in the study people were exposed to it once, while in real life humans are exposed to such doses multiple times daily.

The good news is that BPA is excreted within a day, but the bad news is that we the keep being exposed to it. By the way, substitutes for BPA (such as BPS) are just as bad, and are also endocrine disruptors - after all, they're all related chemically. So buying BPA-free canned food or plastic won't help a person avoid endocrine disruptors - these also leach into food. From an article written by Lynn Peeples at Environmental Health News:

In a scientific first, researchers gave people BPA — and saw a link to precursor of type 2 diabetes

In a scientific first, researchers gave people BPA — and saw a link to precursor of type 2 diabetesThe controversial study suggests that BPA exposure deemed safe by the feds could alter the amount of insulin released and elevate people's type 2 diabetes risk. 

A first-of-its-kind study of a small group of people exposed to a very small amount of bisphenol-A (BPA) is raising questions about the federal government's stance that low doses of the common chemical are safe — as well as the ethics of conducting such an experiment on humans.

...continue reading "Exposure to BPA Has An Effect on Insulin Levels"

This study gives hope to those with type 2 diabetes that it may be reversible - even if they've had it for up to 10 years. Researchers demonstrated that in 40% of the 30 study participants on a very low calorie diet (VLCD) of 600 to 700 calories daily for 8 weeks achieved remission of their diabetes for as long as 6 months (the length of the study). They returned to nondiabetic blood glucose levels, had improvement in acute insulin secretion, normalization of liver fat content and insulin sensitivity, and were off all diabetes medicine. The average weight loss was 31 pounds and they maintained this weight loss over the length of the study, even though most remained obese or overweight. The researchers mention that there is already evidence that diabetes reversal lasts for at least 3 years, as long as weight is not regained.

What they did: A) 3 diet shakes per day and 240 grams (1 cup or 1/2 pound) of non-starchy vegetables taking in between 600 and 700 calories per day for 8 weeks, B) volunteers then gradually returned to eating normal food over the next two weeks with very careful instruction on how much to eat, C) volunteers were seen once a month and supported with an individualized weight maintenance program over the next 6 months, D) to keep weight steady after the weight loss, they were eating around one third less than before the study.

Overall, 12 patients who had had diabetes for less than 10 years reversed their condition, and 6 months later they remained diabetes free. In fact, after 6 months a thirteenth patient had reversed their diabetes. The 30 people with diabetes in the study had it between 0.5 and 23 years. The best results were in those who had it for a shorter time. Thus, while 40% of study participants overall reversed their diabetes, 60% of those with short-duration of diabetes (under 10 years) reversed their diabetes. These are fantastic results!

The researchers say that the study results "...supports our theory of a Personal Fat Threshold. If a person gains more weight than they personally can tolerate, then diabetes is triggered, but if they then lose that amount of weight then they go back to normal. Individuals vary in how much weight they can carry without it seeming to affect their metabolism -- don't forget that 70% of severely obese people do not have diabetes." The researchers say type 2 diabetes can now be understood to be a metabolic syndrome that is potentially reversible by substantial weight loss, and that this is an important paradigm shift. They also comment that studies and population data indicate that type 2 diabetes is solely a response to overnutrition.

Excerpts from Diabetes Care:  Very Low-Calorie Diet and 6 Months of Weight Stability in Type 2 Diabetes: Pathophysiological Changes in Responders and Nonresponders.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is generally regarded as an irreversible chronic condition. Because a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) can bring about acute return to normal glucose control in some people with T2DM, this study tested the potential durability of this normalization. The underlying mechanisms were defined.

People with a T2DM duration of 0.5-23 years (n = 30) followed a VLCD for 8 weeks. All oral agents or insulins were stopped at baseline.....Weight fell (98.0 ± 2.6 to 83.8 ± 2.4 kg) and remained stable over 6 months (84.7 ± 2.5 kg). Twelve of 30 participants achieved fasting plasma glucose <7 mmol/L after return to isocaloric diet (responders), and 13 of 30 after 6 months. Responders had a shorter duration of diabetes and a higher initial fasting plasma insulin level....A robust and sustainable weight loss program achieved continuing remission of diabetes for at least 6 months in the 40% who responded to a VLCD by achieving fasting plasma glucose of <7 mmol/L. T2DM is a potentially reversible condition.

However, restoration of normal glucose control is possible after weight loss in some individuals with T2DM . Although most commonly seen after bariatric surgery, reversal of diabetes can occur after any sharp decrease in calorie intake. In short-duration T2DM, fasting plasma glucose becomes normal within days on a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) because of a rapid decrease in liver fat and return of normal hepatic insulin sensitivity, and normal b-cell function returns over 8 weeks.

This prospective, longitudinal, single center study comprised three phases: VLCD for 8 weeks; a stepped return to isocaloric intake of normal food over 2 weeks; and a structured, individualized weight maintenance program over 6 months. Assessments were carried out before the VLCD, after return to isocaloric eating, and at the end of the 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome measure was fasting blood glucose at 6 months in the group achieving nondiabetic levels after VLCD and return to normal eating, and the primary comparison was the change between post– weight loss and 6 months in responders.

We demonstrate that in 40% of study participants who responded to a VLCD by achieving fasting plasma glucose ,7 mmol/L, remission of T2DM lasts for at least 6 months. Return to nondiabetic blood glucose levels was characterized by improvement in acute insulin secretion, and this was sustained while off all hypoglycemic agents. Hepatic insulin sensitivity improved in both responders and nonresponders....Weight loss brought about normalization of liver fat content and insulin sensitivity in both responders and nonresponders. Of note, no redistribution of fat was seen to the liver from the subcutaneous or other deposits over 6 months of weight stability, even though the participants remained obese or overweight.

The present demonstration of ongoing reversal of T2DM (in 41% of the cohort overall or 60% of individuals with short-duration diabetes) is reflected in population data that indicate that T2DM is solely a response to overnutrition. Ready access to low-cost food is uniformly accompanied by high rates of T2DM, and when food supply becomes limited for any reason, the prevalence of T2DM falls.....The present data confirm reversal of T2DM for at least 6 months in those who achieve nondiabetic plasma glucose levels after VLCD. However, the critical question for health-care delivery is whether truly long-term reversal of T2DM can be achieved in primary care.

The likelihood of VLCD responders remaining free of diabetes indefinitely must be considered. After media coverage of our earlier study, many people with T2DM reversed their own diabetes (37). For such motivated individuals who avoid weight regain, maintenance of normoglycemia for up to 3 years has been reported.... Because progression of longterm complications of diabetes relates to ambient blood glucose control, durable reversal of diabetes would be expected to be associated with longterm health. T2DM can now be understood to be a metabolic syndrome potentially reversible by substantial weight loss, and this is an important paradigm shift.