Monthly Archives: April 2014

Kids, diabetes and sugar

childhood diabetesI note the storm of controversy after a TV presenter suggested that Easter eggs should not be given to children as they would contribute to the rising tide of childhood obesity and diabetes.

This is an interesting issue – because in this argument everyone is right, and everyone is wrong.

So here’s my take on it in the hope that everyone feels better and more informed:

OK so the first thing to say is that MOST childhood diabetes is Type 1. In Type 1 the pancreas simply does not work, and does not produce insulin.  It is not a disease associated with obesity or sugar consumption.  These kids (or their parents) didn’t bring this on themselves through inappropriate diet.  The root cause of upset and annoyance to parents with diabetic offspring is that their kids are unfairly stigmatised as greedy or fat.

And yes – we should protect these kids from this!

Now…

…you can feel the ‘but’ coming can’t you…

chihood obesity…we also have to face the fact that we do have a looming epidemic of childhood obesity, and subsequent Type 2 diabetes – the kind that definitely IS linked to inappropriate sugar consumption.  And yes – we should also be doing everything we can to protect these kids from the consequences of these poor dietary choices.  So here, I believe, we have an absolute duty to make children and parents aware of the legacy we are creating by feeding too much sugary foods and sweets to our kids – including bingeing on Easter eggs!

And here is the not-so-sweet irony: it isn’t OK to feed a child with Type 1 those sugary foods anymore than it is to feed them to any other child.

OK so the child with Type 1 can simply inject some insulin to compensate?  Well at least in theory.  But all that does is remove glucose from the blood stream.  It won’t protect the Type 1 child from getting fat, building up internal inflammation, and then developing the same insulin resistance as any other child.

We already know that it’s the norm for insulin doses to have to rise over time.  It’s the norm for complications and a shorter life span for those injecting insulin.  That’s because injecting insulin does not compensate for poor food choices. It doesn’t protect anyone from other complications or diseases associated with obesity.

So let’s get off our high horses and understand that sugary foods, snacks and sweets don’t serve any child well at all. Then maybe we have healthier young people and adults in the future.  Until we shout with one voice the food manufacturers that make our kids sick, and keep them in a downward spiral of sickness, will continue to get away with their low behaviour, and lets our errant government off the hook!

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Diabetes the norm but not normal!

diabetes amputationWhen I started my RebalanceDiabetes blog last year, my first post was a video piece in which I asked whether, because diabetes is so common, we trivialise the severity of the disease.  Take a trip back along memory lane for another look: here’s the link!

And here we are several months later, and the media are now exploring the same question.  The Mail states, “Type 2 diabetes is rapidly becoming normalised and many people see it as a mere inconvenience, or even an inevitable part of ageing“.  In the same (slightly bizarre it must be said!) article, Dr. Max Pemberton claims he would rather be diagnosed with HIV than diabetes due to the seriousness of the complications and effects on life expectancy of the latter.

Today the media is full of reports of the high levels of diabetes-related amputations occurring in some parts of the country. Diabetes UK report that over 100 such amputations are being carried out every week – and the rates are rising. Shockingly about 50% of the amputees die within 2 years of the surgery.  Yet an estimated 80% could be avoided with better foot care programs.

The emotional aspects of diabetes are also not being adequately addressed according to a new study – with the acronym DAWN.  People with diabetes are significantly more likely to experience stress, anxiety and even depression.

The failures in diabetes care within the UK are catastrophic – yet still there remains a lack of real nutritional and lifestyle focus within mainstream services.  That’s exactly why RebalanceDiabetes is needed!  Whilst I understand Max Pemberton’s sentiment about HIV vs diabetes wishing for one serious illness over another surely can’t be the way to go? The complications usually associated with diabetes don’t have to be foregone conclusions.  Amputations don’t have to be unavoidable. A 10-year shorter lifespan doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Simon Crack, a solicitor, Type 1 diabetic and recent RebalanceDiabetes graduate, kindly wrote to say he feels that 10 years of his life were wasted before he finally met the programme.  Now he has lost over a stone in weight; his HbA1c is down; his energy and vitality are up; he is off statins and he is taking less fast-acting insulin than ever before because his blood glucose levels are so well balanced on a daily basis.

This is achievable for anyone with diabetes who is prepared to make change.  Get in touch.  Don’t worry that I’m in York if you aren’t – modern technology means we can still work together.  RebalanceDiabetes is totally unique, and you won’t find it anywhere else – at least for now!

 

 

Your starter for 10-a-day!

Grill VegetableTwo simple questions for you this week:

  • How long would you like to live?
  • How healthy would you like to be as time goes by?

The latest research about the number of portions of vegetables and fruit we should be eating every day gives us this choice, as the good doctor advises in this video.

We benefit from eating good quality plant foods: fruit and vegetables.  We get reasonable benefits from eating 5 portions each day.  We get better benefits if we up that (as the Aussies already recommend) to 7-a-day.  We get even better benefits if we up it to 10-a-day.

Great!  It should be a simple choice shouldn’t it?

So why are some journalists grumbling about the new findings?  I simply don’t get it.  If you don’t want to eat 7 or 10-a-day that’s your choice.  But why do you feel it’s a good use of print space to inhibit good practice and encourage readers to stick to just 5-a-day?

I get that some people already don’t even manage 5-a-day.  I do.  And I want them to be encouraged to get up to the 5-a-day too. That may or may not mean subsidising the cost of fresh produce, but taxation is a separate argument.

The issue today is about those people who do care enough to want to make more effort to look after themselves and go on to enjoy a long and healthy life filled with the energy and vitality to make the most of those extra years.  Telegraph – you have done those readers a great disservice.  I note the date on the article entitled “10 portions of fruit and veg a day – are they having a laugh?”   I seriously hope this is the Telegraph’s idea of an April Fool’s joke?

The idea that we can’t pack in 10-a-day is simply ludicrous!  So here goes: This is your starter for 10!!

Breakfast:

Eggs, served with tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans (choose a good brand without sugar – yes they are out there!!)

Mid-morning snack:

How about an apple with a handful of almonds or walnuts?

Lunch:

Vegetable soup or a home-made vegetable juice – can’t begin to tell you how many portions you would squeeze in there!

Followed by a salad with your choice of protein (fish, chicken, meat, tofu)

Mid afternoon snack:

Vegetable crudites with half a tub of hummus (better still if that’s homemade too!)

Evening meal:

Chilli con (or sin) carne made with tomatoes, peppers, onions, possibly some aubergine – served with guacamole and fresh tomato salsa, with rice or better still quinoa

 

Guess what?  You’ve had more than 10-a-day easily, and you haven’t been a slave in the kitchen because none of these things are difficult or take hours to make.  Do it all in batches one day each week and you’re really laughing!

Enjoy!

 

When western medicine lacks evidence?

health choicesLet me pose you a few questions today – think of it as a little health quiz:

  • Would you knowingly take a pharmaceutical drug that had never been safety tested on humans?
  • Would you accept a vaccination that hadn’t been thoroughly tested from a company exempt from prosecution should you die of its side-effects?
  • Should the NHS pay for a treatment that is less than 25% effective?

Hands up if your answers to all three questions above were a resounding no!

So you might be surprised to learn that penicillin has never been tested on humans – yet it has been one of the most prescribed drugs in the history of modern medicine.  Why?  Well if you talk to your doctor he might well tell you that it has never been tested because it would be unethical to test it.  Unethical? Well to test a drug in the gold-standard randomised-controlled trial type of way, one group would get the drug and one wouldn’t.  And you see, the medical world thinks it would be unethical to withhold a drug “we know works” from people who need it.  Of course everything I’ve said is a very simplified, but nonetheless true, version of the complexities that are inherent in medical research.

Are you aware that the Tamiflu vaccine was not properly tested before it was rolled out, at huge public expense, into the arms of thousands of people in the UK?  And that our government indemnified the pharmaceutical company who produced it – that is to say, had something gone wrong we couldn’t have sued the pharmaceutical company? And when it was eventually tested it was found to be ineffective anyway? Oh yes, and by the way, it contains toxic mercury!

IVF is about 22% effective – yet it is unquestionably provided to many couples at the expense of our taxpayers.

If you still believe that medical care in the UK is evidence-based, then I’m the tooth fairy!

So what happens when western medicine is given out, rushed out, and even pushed upon us without a scrap of robust evidence?  Well not much is the answer!

But what happens to a Health Minister who levels the playing field and suggests that there is a space in our healthcare services for Chinese medicine? Well for one, the right wing newspapers give him a disparaging nick name: Minister for Magic, and cry that this is an irresponsible step too far.  And give voice to a bigot of the pharmacological kind – step up Professor David Colquhoun – ever ready with a damning condemnation of anything not made by his Pharma friends. In this instance he calls Chinese medicine a relatively polite “evidence-lite”.

Well I’ve got news for you – much of the stuff that Colquhoun would have you swallow is also “evidence-lite!”  Jeremy Hunt has made no suggestion that he will include Chinese medicines without evidence into the NHS.  He isn’t at all behaving as the prejudiced Colquhoun would have you believe.

One day I might tell you how Chinese herbal medicines totally obliterated fibroids that caused me sub-haemorrhage level bleeding for 21 days every month – much to the amazement of a western gynaecologist armed with before and after scan pictures, and whose only tool in her Western medicine kit bag was to offer me a hysterectomy!  Oops – I just did tell you after all!  And how glad am I that I didn’t wait for the evidence base?  And how glad am I that we live in a free country where I was able to procure them?  And how great would it be if others didn’t have to pay privately as I did, but could be offered more humane solutions via our NHS?

OK, so maybe we shouldn’t include untested Chinese medicines in the NHS arsenal (not that anyone is actually suggesting we should!). Now – how about we extend the same conditions to including western medicines on the NHS?  Penicillin anyone? Tamiflu? IVF?