Normal Weight People Become Type 2’s Also

Ok ok, we all get it. Being overweight or obese goes hand in hand with Type 2 diabetes. Just look at any number of the most recently released commercials for diabetes medications. See a trend? Everyone in these commercials is overweight or obese.

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Why am I concerned about this? Because I don’t think there is a person alive, that knows even the most MINIMAL amount of information about health, who is unaware that being overweight or obese increases their risk for a HOST of chronic illnesses.

What concerns me then, is that many people who are of normal weight, are seemingly healthy and even athletic may not understand their health risks, as if weight and appearance are the sole measure of health.

This is my beautiful sister. She has graciously allowed me to share her story…

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My sister hasn’t been overweight a day in her life. She has been a competitive athlete since grade school and has been a vegetarian probably since her college days. We come from a family full of Type 2’s, siblings, both parents, grandparents. Because of our family history, I have drilled it into all of my siblings about our increased risk of Type 2. Of all of our siblings, she is the one whom I suspected would have the LEAST problems with blood sugar issues, as she is the only one among us who is of normal weight. She is also the most active.

When she began testing her blood sugar at my behest, lol!, she was surprised to find diabetic level blood sugars. Further testing with her doctor revealed pre-diabetes (in other words, diabetes. See my page “Pre-diabetes” HERE). Fortunately, with some changes to her diet (reducing carbohydrates), she is now experiencing normal blood sugars. If she had not had a sister fanatical about diabetes, how long would she have gone without knowing? Literally, she would have walked into a doctor’s office one day for an unrelated complaint and been told she had diabetes. Because she didn’t fit the “profile” for a person with Type 2 (as promoted in these commercials), she would have been overlooked until her symptoms became more apparent. At that point, much damage would likely have been done.

My point? Even if you are of normal weight (and even if you are athletic), you still may have significant risk for Type 2. Testing blood sugar should be a normal part of your routine lab work with your healthcare provider. Better yet, spend less than $10 and get a blood sugar meter. You should especially be testing your blood sugar if you have INCREASED risk, such as if you have any of the following:

  • A history of Type 2 in your family
  • You are overweight
  • You are normal weight but have belly fat
  • You have blood pressure above normal range
  • You have elevated triglycerides / low HDL
  • You have PCOS
  • You have (or ever had) gestational diabetes
  • You have reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar after meals)
  • You take certain medications that increase risk of elevated blood glucose and type 2 diabetes (steroids, statins, some classes of diuretics, some antidepressants / antipsychotics, some hormonal birth control pills, etc).

Finally, I’ve been waiting for a long time to share my opinion on what I’m about to say. This post is the perfect place to share it. “Not fitting the profile” for Type 2 not only results in MISSED diagnoses, but also MIS-diagnoses. For instance, this celebrity was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in her 20’s because at the time, she did not “fit the profile” of a person with Type 2. She was young and of normal weight.

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Hence, when she stated she “weaned” herself off insulin with a healthy diet, she outraged (and I think insulted) the Type 1 community by saying that she “cured” her Type 1, and now considers herself a Type 2. In her exact words, she “worked herself up to Type 2.” This is ridiculous as Type 1 and Type 2 have nothing to do with one another in the way of etiology (cause). We don’t “progress” from one type of diabetes to another. Type 1 and Type 2 are COMPLETELY different diseases. (In fact, I personally consider Type 1 a “disease” and Type 2 a “disorder.”) I am in groups with thousands of healthy eating Type 1’s, all who are still Type 1, all who still take insulin.

In reality, she was Type 2 all along but was misdiagnosed due to her appearance. Hence, it only made sense that she could wean herself off insulin with a healthy diet. As a Type 2, this is very common (especially for the followers of this page ;)). So she is right in saying that she is Type 2 (she’s just wrong in not understanding that she has been one all along.)  To be clear, for a person that has had diabetes for nearly 30 years, if she is not using insulin, she does not now, nor did she ever have Type 1.

In closing folks, while obesity CONSIDERABLY increases your risk of Type 2, in fact, they pretty much go hand in hand, Type 2 is not prejudiced to weight, gender, race, culture or social status. Type 2 is PREDOMINANTLY a lifestyle disorder, brought on by lifestyle factors. Whatever you look like, if you have these lifestyle habits, you are driving directly toward Type 2.

Therefore, regardless of your current appearance, use this page to learn healthy lifestyle habits to keep Type 2 at bay.

Wishing you health and happiness😉

Why Is Low Carb Harder the Second (Third, Fourth) Time Around?

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So, I received a question from a reader about why it is so hard to “low-carb” the second, third, (fourth, lol) time around. I get this question quite frequently. Rather than writing my own thoughts on this issue, I thought I’d find an expert on this subject and share their thoughts. You’re in for a real treat!

You may have noticed that when we talk about low carb, we interchangeably use the terms WOE and WOL (way of eating / way of living). Why? Why do we not say “low carb diet?” While the word “diet” simply refers to your regular way of eating, the word has become synonymous with something you do temporarily, usually to lose weight. But let’s think about this folks. If you do something TEMPORARILY, you get TEMPORARY results. In other words, if you want long lasting, or even permanent results, you have to commit to something long term, or permanently. “Diets” don’t work! That is why we call low carb a way of living.

However, for one reason or another, life happens and sometimes gets people off track. If you have gotten off track with low carb, you might find that getting restarted is fraught with obstacles, disappointments and lack of results. Why?

In my efforts to answer this question for so many people that have asked it of me, I was perusing the blog of Dr. Michael Eades who has prescribed low carb living to thousands of his patients. His insights are incredibly valuable.

Below are links to three articles he has written on the subject. Please read through all three as I found some of the most valuable information in the final article.

Without further ado…

Why Low Carb is Harder The Second Time Around, Part 1

More Thoughts on Why Low Carb is Harder The Second Time Around

Why Low Carb is Harder The Second Time Around, Part 2

Hope these are helpful to you!
Happy low carbing!

How I Reversed Diabetes

For those of you that have been following this page for a while, you probably know how passionate (fanatical, lol) I am about diabetes.  As you can imagine, when I hear stories about people reversing their diabetes with a healthy low carb / keto lifestyle, I get super excited.  And, if they also lose weight it is even more inspiring, it is life changing.

Through social media, I have come to know many people with these experiences.  I have decided to start sharing some of these on my page to help people understand just what is possible with this way of living.

This is my friend Bill.  I met Bill some time ago in a Facebook group called Reversing Diabetes (HERE) where he has helped many others on their path to adopt a low carb lifestyle.  Bill was kind enough to take his time to let me “interview” him about his experience.

 

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Q: How many years ago were you diagnosed with diabetes?
A: I was diagnosed just over two years ago, in September of 2014 as Type 2.

Q: What was your highest A1c, if you know it?
A: My A1C at the time of diagnosis was 9.7.

Q: What medications, if any, were you taking?
A: I was put on Metformin 500mg twice daily.  I was on 20mg of Atenolol at the time, and I was on Protonix and Zantac 150 for acid reflux. I was also taking Gaviscon and Tums on a regular basis. Three months after starting keto I stopped ALL of my medications.

Q: What made you decide to change from standard dietary recommendations for diabetes?
A: Within a few days of being diagnosed I started looking for help online, and like most newly diagnosed diabetics I went to the ADA page. A friend of mine from a Sleep Apnea group I am in added me to a keto group who’s focus is reversing diabetes with a ketogenic diet. After reading what was being posted in that group I became more and more interested. Of course I was skeptical, but I kept reading. Finally, it all made sense to me after watching Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off by Bob Briggs (Video HERE). Bob was my inspiration.  (Read Bill’s full story HERE.)

Q: How long have you been living a healthy low carb / keto, whole food way of eating?
A: I started dabbling in low carb eating in September of 2014, but in the first few months I did have some slip ups. However, after one huge slip up which caused my blood sugar to skyrocket, and caused me to feel very sick for a day or so I buckled down and committed to keto 100%. I have been completely faithful since January 2nd, 2015. Absolutely no cheats whatsoever since that day.

Q: How has your medication regimen changed as a result of applying this lifestyle change?
A: I was able to stop all medications. I am currently not taking anything at all.

Q: How do you feel living this way versus how you felt on the standard diet for diabetes?
A: Well, I didn’t follow the standard diet for diabetes for very long, but I do know I feel better than I have in 20 years!

Q: What is your most recent A1c?
A: My most recent A1c in July of 2016 was 4.9.

Q: What other health benefits have you experienced from living this way?
A: I’ve lost 114 lbs now! Not only that, but I have the energy to be physically active, which is something I haven’t had in a very long time. My mood is also better. I firmly believe carbs and sugars contributed to extreme moodiness and caused me to not be the person I should be. Since switching to the ketogenic way of life I am calmer and much more patient now.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?
Based on my personal experience and from the testimonies of many other people living the ketogenic way of life I believe this is the healthiest way for anyone to eat, not just diabetics. This way of eating has changed so many lives for the better, and it is my hope many more people will get to experience this for themselves.

Thank you so much Bill for taking the time to share your amazing story!  I know it has inspired so many and will continue to do so!

If you know someone who is pre-diabetic or diabetic, please share this with them.

If you have a diabetes success story to share, please message me through the contact page.  I would love to hear and share it!

I HAVE to Take Insulin Anyways – My Diet is Not THAT Important

I see this comment SO many times.  “I have to take insulin anyways, so my diet is not THAT important.  I can eat what I want and cover it with insulin.”

When I hear it in people with Type 2, I shake my head.  We should know better!  Poor lifestyle choices are what got most of us in this place to begin with.  Giving insulin to a population that still usually makes plenty of insulin just to cover poor lifestyle choices is beyond disturbing.   Insulin in this population should be for those that have made every effort at living a healthy lifestyle and still need a little help achieving NORMAL blood sugar (Please see my article “Diabetic Normal Blood Sugar is NOT Normal Blood Sugar” HERE).

Sadly though, where I see this statement the most is from Type 1’s or, even more upsetting, from parents of Type 1 children.  This is so sad.  Yes, a person with Type 1 will need to take insulin for life.  But many are using that fact as justification to eat whatever they want and just take insulin to cover it.  Can we eat whatever we want and cover it with insulin?  Sure, any person can eat whatever they want! However, your freedom of choice does not “free” you from the consequences of those choices.  And if you are a parent of a Type 1, those choices will shape the life and future of your child.

Eating whatever you want will lead to:

  • roller coaster blood sugars
  • life threatening lows
  • weight gain
  • insulin resistance
  • diabetes complications such as: heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, blindness, amputations, erectile dysfunction, and so much more.

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Insulin does not give one a free pass.  Unfortunately, this mentality has come about because that is what many parents of Type 1’s are taught at diagnosis.  They are told to just let their child “live like any other “normal child” and eat what they want and cover with insulin.”  However, most of those other “normal children,” at least in the United States, are destined for obesity and Type 2 diabetes with those same eating habits!  This is not “normal,” it is pathological.

If you must take insulin, the goal is to take as little as possible.  Although insulin is a normal biological hormone, excess insulin does not come without complications. I often hear that, “its just insulin.  My body makes it anyways.  I’m just replacing what my body doesn’t make.”  Are we just replacing what our body doesn’t make?  Or are we taking that and THEN SOME, to cover poor lifestyle choices common to the standard western diet?

Excess insulin leads to complications.  Whether our bodies MAKE excess insulin (most Type 2) or we INJECT excess insulin (Type 1 – some Type 2), the result is the same.  High insulin levels are very detrimental to the body.  Ask any Type 2 who probably overproduced insulin for 10-20 years before diagnosis.  Most Type 2’s AT DIAGNOSIS with just and A1c of 6.5% have a HOST of complications already from, not only high blood sugar levels, but high INSULIN levels.

Type 2’s and Type 1’s should have the same goal, to have as little need for insulin as possible.  The fact that most Type 2’s can eliminate insulin use with a healthy lifestyle, and Type 1’s cannot, is irrelevant.  Once again, whether we MAKE insulin or TAKE insulin, the goal is to need as little as possible to avoid complications.

If you are Type 2 and wish to possibly discontinue insulin use, please go to my pages “Insulin Resistance” HERE, “Type 2” HERE and “Low Carb For Diabetes” HERE.  You might also want to read “Insulin – Friend or Foe” HERE.

If you are Type 1 (or have a child with Type 1) and wish to minimize insulin use to avoid complications, please go to my pages “Type 1” HERE and “Low Carb for Diabetes” HERE.

Let me say in closing, I am NOT a parent of a Type 1 (just an insulin dependent dog).  I CANNOT IMAGINE what you as parents go through.  My heart goes out to you and I sincerely admire your efforts to manage your children’s diabetes in the best possible way.  I know that when I hear comments like this one above, it is usually these parents just mimicking the poor advice that they have been given from people they trust.  So, no placing of blame whatsoever.

In fact, here are some quotes from a Registered Dietitian on the web page of a very respected diabetes organization.

“We know now that it is okay for people with diabetes to substitute sugar-containing food for other carbohydrates as part of a balanced meal plan.”

“The important message is that with proper education and within the context of healthy eating, a person with diabetes can eat anything a person without diabetes eats.”

“Those on insulin can decide both what and how much to eat at a given meal, and can then adjust their insulin accordingly.”

So, I share your frustration when you were just following the advice of people whom you trusted to dispense accurate, useful dietary advice.

However, there comes a time when we have to recognize that the advice is bad and take it upon ourselves to act for the sake of our children.  I work with MANY people with Type 1 and I fully understand its implications and complexities.  The page I refer you to above has MANY resources to groups of other parents of Type 1’s who are successfully managing their children’s diabetes with a healthy low carb lifestyle and minimizing insulin use.  It is absolutely the most responsible thing I can to to refer you to these parents who, in my opinion, are the REAL experts in managing Type 1.  In fact, although I am the “educator”, I have been educated far more from these parents in the management of Type 1 than any textbook could have taught me.  I urge you to take a look.

Best wishes!

Why I Don’t Quote a Lot of Nutritional Studies

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You may have noticed that I don’t quote or cite lots and lots of nutritional (or other) studies or trials on my website.  Why?  While it looks nice to have lots of references attached to your articles, I have come to believe firmly that there are studies to “prove” absolutely ANY point of view that a person wants to have.  In other words, NO MATTER WHAT YOUR OPINION, you can find a study to back you up.  There are studies that “show” that saturated fat is “bad” for you, and studies to show that it is good for you.  Studies that claim to “show” red meat is “bad” for you, but on closer examination, you’ll find those same studies show no such thing.  How can that be?

(And I’m not even going to mention here the bias and lack of integrity and conflicts of interest that go into many studies and trials.  We all know it exists, but it is only PART of the problem.)

To borrow a line from a famous movie, we could probably find a study that can prove that “an elephant can hang over a cliff with only his tail tied to a daisy.  But use your common sense.”  (Just for fun, message me if you know the name of the movie, lol!  It was a good one!)

So, while studies are nice to have, I think that your own N=1 (in other words, your own experiment on yourself) is more compelling.

I was recently watching a video clip (HERE) of Dr. Aseem Malhotra and Dr. Joel Kahn debating the role of dietary fat with heart disease.  Dr. Kahn states that there is conclusive proof, in the form of nutritional studies, that show that Dr. Ornish’s plant based, low fat diet completely reverses cardiovascular risk factors.  Dr. Malhotra had an EXCELLENT response.  That is, in Dr. Ornish’s studies, he also eliminated sugar, processed and refined carbs, and most starches.  He got people to quit smoking, got them to exercise and control stress.  If ALL of these factors were changed, how can you pinpoint that the avoidance of fat in the diet was the SOLE cause of the improved risk factors?  The answer is, YOU CAN’T.

And that is one of the BIG problems with nutritional studies.   I’m going to copy my next few paragraphs from a previous post I did where it probably got buried in a much bigger, unrelated article.

Let’s talk about that very assertion that a low fat, plant-based diet is the definitive answer to heart disease (and I’m not anti-plant-based diet.  However, I think that if you choose a plant based diet, you should do so because you prefer it, not because a study “proved” it was “better.”)

Here we go.

Some folks say there are studies that “prove” that meat, or animal products for that matter, are bad for you. They say that there are studies that show that “meat eaters are less healthy.” Well, it’s the meat, right? (Wink wink) And then, by association, if meat is bad for you, ALL animal products are therefore, bad for you. Or is it that some of the meat eaters in these particular studies also smoked, drank more alcohol, exercised less, and ate more sugar and refined carbohydrates vs the plant eaters in these studies?

The law of good science states that only ONE variable can be tested at a time to prove any causative link. So you would have to take two groups where EVERYTHING is exactly the same (ie. all participants are non-smokers, all exercised the exact same amount, all avoided alcohol, all avoided sugar and refined carbs, all got the same amount of sleep, all had stress management support, etc) except one group added some meat to their diet and one went without.

No study to my knowledge like this has ever been done. In fact, this is what makes nutritional studies nearly impossible. Because two variables will ALWAYS be involved. If you lower one macronutrient, you increase another. If you don’t replace the missing macronutrient, then the calories won’t be the same (another variable).  So that is why nutritional studies are often not extremely definitive and why I’d rather see each person experiment for themselves, based on their own health markers, what is best for them.

(In my next article, we will discuss some of those important health markers and what are optimal levels.)

Here is an excellent article entitled “I asked 8 researchers why the science of nutrition is so messy. Here’s what they said.”  I’m going to copy and paste a portion of the article directly from the original post, as it was so great at explaining this issue that there is no way I could top it.  I am, however, going to add my comments (in bold, italics.)

(The full, original article is HERE.)

BEGINNING OF ARTICLE

“I asked 8 researchers why the science of nutrition is so messy.
Here’s what they said.”

“There was a time, in the distant past, when studying nutrition was a relatively simple science.  In 1747, a Scottish doctor named James Lind wanted to figure out why so many sailors got scurvy, a disease that leaves sufferers exhausted and anemic, with bloody gums and missing teeth. So Lind took 12 scurvy patients and ran the first modern clinical trial.

The sailors were divided into six groups, each given a different treatment. The men who ate oranges and lemons eventually recovered — a striking result that pointed to vitamin C deficiency as the culprit.  This sort of nutritional puzzle solving was common in the pre-industrial era. Many of troubling diseases of the day, such as scurvy, pellagra, anemia, and goiter, were due to some sort of deficiency in the diet. Doctors could develop hypotheses and run experiments until they figured out what was missing in people’s foods. Puzzle solved.

Unfortunately, studying nutrition is no longer that simple. By the 20th century, medicine had mostly fixed scurvy and goiter and other diseases of deficiency. In developed countries, these scourges are no longer an issue for most people.

Today, our greatest health problems relate to overeating. People are consuming too many calories and too much low-quality food, bringing on chronic diseases like cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.  Unlike scurvy, these illnesses are much harder to get a handle on. They don’t appear overnight; they develop over a lifetime. And fixing them isn’t just a question of adding an occasional orange to someone’s diet. It involves looking holistically at diets and other lifestyle behaviors, trying to tease out the risk factors that lead to illness.

Nutrition science has to be a lot more imprecise. It’s filled with contradictory studies that are each rife with flaws and limitations. The messiness of this field is a big reason why nutrition advice can be confusing.  It’s also part of why researchers can’t seem to agree on whether tomatoes cause or protect against cancer, or whether alcohol is good for you or not, and so on, and why journalists so badly muck up reporting on food and health.

To get a sense for how difficult it is to study nutrition, I spoke to eight health researchers over the past several months. Here’s what they told me:

1.  It’s not practical to run randomized trials for most big nutrition questions.

In many areas of medicine, the randomized controlled trial is considered the gold standard for evidence. Researchers will take test subjects and randomly assign them to one of two groups. One group gets a treatment; the other gets a placebo.

The idea is that because people were randomly assigned, the only real difference between the two groups (on average) was the treatment. So if there’s a difference in outcomes, it’s fair to say that the treatment was the cause. (This was how James Lind figured out that citrus fruits seemed to have an effect on scurvy.)

The problem is that it’s just not practical to run these sorts of rigorous trials for most important nutrition questions. It’s too difficult to randomly assign different diets to different groups of people and have them stick with those diets for enough time to find clues about whether certain foods caused certain diseases.

“In an ideal world,” said the British physician and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre, “I would take the next 1,000 children born in Oxford Hospital, randomize them into two different groups, and have half of them eat nothing but fresh fruit and vegetables for the rest of their lives, and half eat nothing but bacon and fried chicken. Then I’d measure who gets the most cancer, heart disease, who dies the soonest, who has the worst wrinkles, who’s the most clever, and so on.”  But, Goldacre adds, “I would have to imprison them all, because there’s no way I would be able to force 500 people to eat fruits and vegetables for a life.’”

(This statement again shows bias, as if bacon and fried chicken fall into the same category, assuming all fat is bad.  Fried chicken is bad because it is dredged in flour and then fried in highly inflammatory polyunsaturated oils.  That is not even close to a fresh meat cooked in its own natural fats.  We see this all the time when they say to “avoid high fat foods” and show a picture of a sugar drenched doughnut!  Hello!  We’re blaming the wrong enemy.)

It’s undeniably a good thing that scientists can’t imprison people and force them to stick to a particular diet. But it means that real-world clinical trials on diet tend to be messy and not so clear-cut.

Take the Women’s Health Initiative, which featured one of the biggest and most expensive nutrition studies ever done. As part of the study, women were randomly assigned to two groups: One was told to eat a regular diet and the other a low-fat diet. They were then supposed to follow the diet for years.

The problem? When researchers collected their data, it was clear that no one did what they were told. The two groups basically had followed similar diets.  “They spent billions of dollars,” says Walter Willett, a Harvard physician and nutrition researcher, “and they never tested their hypothesis.”

Conversely, it is possible to conduct rigorous randomized control trials for very short-term questions. Some “feeding studies” keep people in a lab for a period of days or weeks and control everything they eat, for example. But these studies can’t measure the effects of specific diets for decades — they can only tell us about things like short-term changes in cholesterol. Researchers then have to infer what long-term health effects might result. There’s still some educated guesswork involved.

(The Women’s Health Initiative was an EXCELLENT example of study bias.  The study was created to “prove” the benefits of the low fat diet.  When it failed to do so, rather than admit that the low fat diet is an abismal failure, they blamed the study participants for “doing it wrong.”  In other words, the study wasn’t flawed, the participants were.  So, if the study had “proved” their point, they would have considered it a triumph for the low fat diet.  But since it proved that the low fat diet provides no benefit, they blamed the study participants.  Typical…)

2.  Instead, nutrition researchers have to rely on observational studies — which are rife with uncertainty

So instead of randomized trials, nutrition researchers have to rely on observational studies. These studies run for years and track very large numbers of people who are already eating a certain way, periodically checking in to see, for example, who develops heart disease or cancer.  This study design can be very valuable — it’s how scientists learned about the dangers of smoking and the benefits of exercise. But because these studies aren’t controlled like experiments, they’re a lot less precise and noisy.

An example: Say you wanted to compare people who eat a lot of red meat with fish eaters over many decades. One hitch here is that these two groups might have other differences as well. (After all, they weren’t randomly assigned.) Maybe fish eaters tend to be higher-income or better-educated or more health-conscious, on average — and that’s what’s leading to the differences in health outcomes. Maybe red meat eaters are more likely to eat lots of fatty foods or smoke.   Researchers can try to control for some of these “confounding factors,” but they can’t catch all of them.

(This is what I talk about above when I say that only one variable can be tested and otherwise, the group’s must be identical – except for that ONE variable.)

3.  Another difficulty: Many nutrition studies rely on (wildly imprecise) food surveys

Many observational studies — and other nutritional research — rely on surveys. After all, the scientists can’t hover over every single person and watch what they eat for decades. So they have subjects report on their diets.

This poses an obvious challenge. Do you remember what you ate for lunch yesterday? Did you sprinkle nuts or dressing on your salad? Did you snack afterward? Exactly how many potato chips did you eat?

Chances are you probably can’t answer these questions with any certainty. And yet, a lot of nutrition research today rests on just that kind of information: people’s self-reporting from memory of what they ate.  When researchers examined these “memory-based dietary assessment methods,” for a paper in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, they found that this data was “fundamentally and fatally flawed.” Over the 39-year history of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey — which is a national study based on self-reported food intake — the researchers found that the alleged number of calories consumed by 67 percent of the women in the study was not “physiologically plausible” given their body mass index.

This may be because people lie about what they eat, offering answers that are more socially acceptable. Or it may be a simple failure of memory. Whatever the cause, this leaves researchers in a tricky place, so they’ve developed protocols to account for some of those errors.

Christopher Gardner, a Stanford nutrition researcher, says in some studies he provides food for people. Or he has dietitians go over people’s diet in detail, checking it against their bodyweight and health outcomes to make sure it seems valid. He builds in margins of error to account for potential problems in recall.  But he conceded that he and others in his field dream of having better tools, like chewing and swallowing monitors or wrist motion detectors that track “plate-to-mouth motion.”

Even better, said Gardner: “I want a camera, a stomach implant, a poop implant, and a thing in the toilet that grabs your pee and poop before you flush it away and electronically sends information off about what was in there.”

(This is actually how we got in this mess to begin with.  The low fat dietary recommendations were decided based on food surveys.  Now you know why we have been in so much trouble!)

4.  More complications: People and food are diverse

As if the problems with observational studies and survey data weren’t enough, researchers are also learning that different bodies have really different responses to the same food. That makes nutrition research even more difficult, introducing another confounding factor.

In a recent study published in the journal Cell, Israeli scientists tracked 800 people over a week, continuously monitoring their blood sugar levels to see how they responded to the same foods. Every person seemed to respond wildly differently, even to identical meals, “suggesting that universal dietary recommendations may have limited utility,” the researchers wrote.  “It’s now clear that the impact of nutrition on health cannot be simply understood by assessing what people eat,” said Rafael Perez-Escamilla, a professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale, “as this is strongly influenced by how the nutrients and other bioactive compounds derived from foods interact with the genes and the extensive gut microbiota that individuals have.”

(This is why you have to experiment on yourself.  No broad general recommendations will be good for all people.)

Making things even more maddeningly complicated, seemingly similar foods can differ wildly in nutrition profile. A local, farm-fresh carrot will probably be less diluted in its nutrients than a mass-produced baby carrot that’s been bagged in the grocery store. A hamburger at a fast-food restaurant will have different fat and salt content compared with one made at home. Even getting people to better report on every little thing they put into their bodies can’t completely address this variation.

There’s also the issue of food replacement: When you chose to eat something, you’re usually eating less of something else. So if a person decides to stick to a diet mostly composed of legumes, for example, that means he’s not eating red meat or poultry. This raises a question in studying his health outcomes: Was it the legumes he ate lots of or the meat he didn’t eat that made the difference?

(Once again, more than one variable being tested.)

The last problem is nicely illustrated by studies of dietary fat. When researchers followed people who ate low-fat diets, they realized that health outcomes were really affected by what study participants replaced the fat with. Those who replaced fat with sugary, refined carbohydrates ended up having obesity and other health issues at least as frequently as those eating higher-fat diets.

(Higher fat diets have NEVER been shown to be a problem, only when they are mixed with high carb.)

5.  Conflict of interest is a huge problem in nutrition research

There’s one final problem with nutrition research that adds to the confusion. Right now, nutrition science is horribly underfunded by government — leaving lots of space for food companies and industry groups to sponsor research.

This means, quite simply, that food and beverage makers pay for many nutrition studies — with sometimes dubious results. More troubling: The field of nutrition research hasn’t quite caught up to medicine when it comes to building in safeguards to address potential conflicts of interest.  “So much research is sponsored by industry,” wrote nutrition and food policy researcher Marion Nestle in a recent issue of JAMA, “that health professionals and the public may lose confidence in basic dietary advice,”

Industry-funded studies tend to have results that are more favorable to industry. Between March and October last year, Nestle identified 76 industry-funded studies. Of those, 70 reported results that were favorable to the industry sponsor. “In general,” she wrote, “independently funded studies find correlations between sugary drinks and poor health, whereas those supported by the soda industry do not.”

(In other words, you can buy a study to say anything you want.)

END OF ARTICLE

While nutrition studies are not COMPLETELY futile, I would NOT rely on them heavily to make decisions about what you personally should eat.  As I mentioned earlier, you need to do what is best for YOU.  What gives you the best outcomes.  What makes you: feel your best, control your weight and achieve optimal health markers.  And lastly, it must be a plan you can live with for life.  Temporary changes to your lifestyle will lead to temporary results.  That is why diets don’t work.  So, you have to find a way of eating and living that is something you are able and willing to do for life, for long term results.

So, if you don’t see a lot of nutrition studies quoted on this page, it’s NOT because I don’t read them.  I have read hundreds and hundreds of them and I often share their content in a logical and common sense way for my readers to benefit from.  There are some researchers out there who are unbiased and whose integrity I have come to trust.  However,  I’m just not going to cite every statement I make with a reference because, in the end, only you can decide what is best for you and you will only be able to determine that with your own self experiment.

As always, be well.

 

“You Must Be Doing It Wrong”

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I touched on this briefly in another post, but I thought it was worthy of its own post😉

It seems to often be the consensus that every time that a person does not get the desired results from certain advice, or when a person doesn’t get equally as good results as someone else did, then…”they must be doing it wrong.”

That really grinds my gears because that is what has probably been assumed about me, most of my life. I’ve been overweight for a good portion of my life. And I’m sure, many a thin person has looked at me and wondered why I just didn’t “do something about my weight.” When in fact, I was ALWAYS, ALWAYS struggling with my weight. I was almost ALWAYS working my tail off to lose weight. I have done Weight Watchers 4 times, starting at age 10.  I’ve done Nutri-System, I’ve exercised obsessively, I’ve eaten 500 calories per day, I’ve eaten a low fat diet for decades. I was “doing it right.” Unfortunately, I was following very bad advice. I was doing the wrong thing, “right.”

So, when I embraced a low carb lifestyle, everything changed. My results were so dramatic that I began to think 3 things. 1. There was no other way except this one. 2. This HAS TO be the answer for everyone. 3. It must work just as good for all people.

During this time, I belonged to social media groups where I shared my journey and I got to talk to thousands of people over the years. I began to run into lots of folks that weren’t having the same success as me.  I would see others in the group comment that “you must not be doing it right.”   But when I spoke to these people, and dug deeper into their stories, I realized that some people were working just as hard as I was, some maybe even harder, and not everyone was getting the same results.

This led me to reach a vital conclusion. That is: some people can DO EVERYTHING RIGHT and still not reach the same results as another person. Let me say that again. Just because someone is not getting the results they want, or the results that others have gotten, it doesn’t mean that they are doing anything wrong.

We are all so different. Some have such bigger obstacles to overcome and have to work so much harder. Just like I have worked so hard all my life to reach a normal weight. Onlookers may have thought I was scarfing down Twinkies when in fact I probably just came from 2 hours at the gym.

So, let’s compare two overweight women. They both learned about low carb living and joined a low carb online support group.

Woman #1 was a normal weight most of her life. She has never had any health problems. Most people in her family are normal weight and healthy. She gained a little weight in college, then a few more pounds when she had kids. She goes on a moderate low carb diet, sheds all the weight, and her health is great.

Woman #2 was overweight from early childhood. Both of her parents have Type 2 diabetes and are overweight. She also gained more weight in college and with children. She has hypothyroidism. She develops Type 2 diabetes. She yo-yo diets for years and it makes things worse. She is now obese. She embraces a VERY low carb diet AND exercises. Her diabetes is reversed and she is having her thyroid disorder appropriately treated. She loses some weight, but really struggles to get off all the weight she wants. So she works harder. Drops the carbs even lower, exercises more. Progress is slow. So she reaches out to her support group for encouragement and help. She meets Woman #1 who tells her that a low carb lifestyle works. If she is not getting the results she wants, she “must not be doing it right.”

That just breaks my heart. Woman #2 is probably doing it MORE “right” than woman #1, but as she has so many more significant obstacles, her results are not the same.  And furthermore, who decides which way is “right” anyways?  Who sets the standards of “right?”  What is right for one person may not be right for another.  Aren’t we all just experimenting in ourselves to see what is “right” for us?

Folks, please stop thinking that if others don’t get the same results as you, or the results you THINK they should, they must be doing something wrong. That can be so hurtful and discouraging. Please stop.

A better strategy is this: IF they are asking for advice (and this is important. Don’t give advice when it is not asked for. Some people just want to vent their frustrations to a listening ear. They are not necessarily looking for advice.) Ok so IF they are open to advice, rather than assuming they are doing something wrong, how about ASKING them what they are actually doing? I have seen many genuine group moderators or admins ask something like “please give me an example of what you would typically eat in a day and what your average blood sugars are.” Then you could actually determine if there is anywhere a person my need help or guidance if, say, they are new to this way of living. You may find areas where you can help them.

You know what else you may find? You may be surprised to find that many people are doing everything just right, and there is not much more that they can do. If that is the case, then just be kind and supportive. Be a good listener. You might suggest that they get a medical evaluation to assess for any medical reason that may be preventing them from reaching their goals. But often, it’s not a medical issue. It’s just the cards that have been dealt. We sometimes just have to do the best we can with what we’ve been given. A person, like woman #1 may not understand this. But for those of us like woman #2, we get it, lol!

So please be kind. Sometimes the disdain and judgement I see among folks who are supposed to be helping each other is just astounding. Remember, support groups are for SUPPORT and ENCOURAGEMENT. If you are NOT doing that, then maybe you are the one who is “doing it wrong.”

Stressing About Your Health May Be Ruining Your Health

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My husband has high blood pressure. Most of the time, he is able to control it. At home, with medication and considerable effort, he averages 120’s – 130’s / 70’s – 80’s. EXCEPT when it is time to go to his doctor twice a year where they will…you’ve got it…check his blood pressure. By just THINKING about having to go to his doctors office, his blood pressure begins to rise in the days BEFORE his appointment. Then we see 150’s – 160’s / 80’s – 90’s. Then he gets more worried about it because now the doctor will see that, and think it is high all the time and want to give him more medications, which he doesn’t want. He becomes so focused on it, and it continues to rise. By the time of his doctors appointment, his blood pressure is through the roof. In the doctors office, it is not unusual to see his blood pressure in the 200’s / 100’s. They call this “white coat hypertension” or high blood pressure that is induced by being nervous in a doctors office (as doctors often wear a “white coat”). But I think it is more than that. It think it also has to do with the fact that he becomes overly fixated about it NOT going high, that the resulting stress CAUSES it to go high.

Can we possibly be stressing so much about our health that we could actually be ruining our health? I wholeheartedly think so. This blog is designed to encourage people in their pursuit of good health. When I post suggestions and optimal targets to strive for, it is not intended to be the absolute, concrete, set in stone, requirement for all people. And if you don’t reach such targets, it in no way means you are a failure or doing something wrong. For instance, I often recommend that we strive for a fasting blood glucose of mid 80’s and below. That is an excellent GOAL to STRIVE for, but it doesn’t mean that it is reachable for all people. I don’t even reach it every day. If I eat dinner late, or don’t get enough sleep, or I’m stressed out, my blood sugar goes up. So what? I just take it as a lesson and fix what I can fix. The reason I check my blood sugar AT ALL is to LEARN. To see where there are adjustments that I may need to make, NOT to obsess over the exact number. It is a guide to help me know if I’m on track.

Believe it or not, I get FREQUENT messages from folks who are so obsessively concerned about absolutely every detail of their health, every point on their BG meter and every ounce on their scale, that they fall apart if their fasting blood sugar is 87 instead of 83, or if they gained 2 ounces from yesterday. I’m NOT exaggerating. We’re not even going to go into the fact that the margin for error on your meter or scale can account for several points, or pounds. Folks, please stop. This kind of stress is not only unnecessary, but could actually be sabotaging your efforts.

Stress will damage your physical, mental and emotional health faster than anything else. Not to mention that it completely ruins your quality of life, affects your relationships with others, and prevents you from living life in the present. What do I mean by that? You are not living life in the present because you are always thinking about that “one day”, that one magical future day when you will see a 78 on your blood sugar meter, or that one magical day when you will fit into your high school jeans again. It’s like people feel that when they reach that day, all of their problems in life will magically disappear and they will be happier. Guess what? I’ve reached my goal weight before. Nothing happened. There was no parade.  I felt much better.  But essentially, my life was the same (except my clothes were smaller, lol!) My fasting blood sugar was 81 this morning. Nothing happened. Still no parade. My life is the same as yesterday.

Pursuing optimal health is an extremely worthwhile goal. Who doesn’t want to have energy and vitality, who doesn’t want to see their children and grand children grow up, who doesn’t want to live to a ripe old age, feeling good and have their minds intact? We ALL want that.

And to be honest, I understand where some of the obsession comes from. I have to work very hard at being balanced myself. I have one of those personalities where I create extremely high expectations for myself. The demands I place on myself at times are not reasonable. Why am I like that? I’m petrified of being the obese, sick person I once was. My quality of life was so bad. I’m terrified of being that person again. It takes everything in my power NOT to be that person. I literally could look at a picture of a cookie in a magazine and I will gain weight and my blood sugar will go up, lol! Maintaining the health I have achieved takes hard work. My body was a train wreck when I started my journey to good health. Many years of poor eating, yo-yo dieting and sometimes obsessive exercise turned my body into a metabolic mess. I never want to be there again. So I understand your fears. I really get it, I do.

Fortunately, I have very supportive and loving family and friends, as well as an amazingly supportive online community, who help me be more balanced. Over time, I have had to learn to be more kind to myself, more reasonable WITH myself, and more forgiving OF myself. I no longer feel the need to strive for perfection, but just striving to be the absolute best that I can be. I work really darn hard, really hard! But I no longer obsess about 5 points on my blood sugar meter or even 5 pounds on my scale. I do my best and let the numbers fall where they may.

Often I run into people that are so unrelentingly rigid with themselves, that when I read their comments, my first thought is “I wonder when is the last time they smiled?” Remember, stress makes you gain weight. Stress raises your blood sugar. Stress could be hampering all the efforts you are making.

Please stop. If this is what you are going through, please, put down your meter, step away from the scale and go spend time with your kids. Visit a sick friend. Cook a meal for your parents. Take a brisk walk. Stretch and deep breathe. Do volunteer work. Do SOMETHING. Make life about something bigger than ourselves.

There is a very fine line between working very hard on ourselves and being obsessed over ourselves. Step over to this side. Work hard, be your best. But please stop letting numbers on a meter or a scale rob you of joy in life. Be kind to yourself. Be well.