Research Trends: A Focus on Nutrition and the Diabetes-Cancer Connection

Dr. Maria Muccioli, Ph.D., holds degrees in Biochemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology, with over a decade of research experience. She is a biology professor at Stratford University and a science writer at Diabetes Daily and has been living well with type 1 diabetes since 2008.

In this recurring article series, Dr. Maria presents some snapshots of recent diabetes research, especially interesting studies and reviews that may fly under the mainstream media radar.

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In Support of the Ketogenic Diet

A comprehensive literature review by expert obesity and nutrition researchers from Spain was recently published in Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders. The narrative suggests that overall, research on very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets points to favorable health outcomes for many patients with type 2 diabetes. Various health parameters, including weight loss and glycemic management, can be effectively improved when following a very low-carb approach. These outcomes are now supported by a sizable and growing body of peer-reviewed literature. Importantly, adverse health effects appear to be “of mild intensity and transient,” the experts summarized. Dr. Felipe Casanueva and his colleagues even went as far as to call this dietary approach a “potential game-changer in the management of type 2 diabetes.”

Diabetes and Cancer Risk

The complex interplay between diabetes and cancer continues to be investigated in the research world. At this year’s American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO reported on a link between type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. The scientists evaluated data from almost 6,000 patients with colorectal cancer and found that the cancer patients were significantly more likely to have type 2 diabetes as compared to the healthy control group. The association remained after adjusting for the potential confounding variables, with an increased odds ratio of 1.4 (7.2% of CRC patients also had type 2 diabetes as compared to only 4.3% of the controls).

Clinical Trial: Metformin in Cancer Treatment

A clinical trial at the University of Milan is investigating the utility of Metfomin in preventing high blood sugar in cancer patients treated with glucocorticoids. While high-dose steroids can be an effective treatment for many cancers, they often cause the undesirable side effect of increasing blood glucose levels. The trial will include over one hundred patients undergoing treatment for various types of cancer, including skin, lung, and breast cancers. The researchers hope that by mitigating the hyperglycemic effects of high-dose steroids used in treatment will improve patient outcomes.

Prenatal and Childhood Nutrition Affects Metabolic Disease Later in Life

A large literature review conducted by endocrinology experts in China examined how early nutritional patterns (before birth, i.e., mother’s diet and eating patterns during childhood) may affect metabolic disease, like type 2 diabetes, later in life. The review article was recently published in The Chinese Medical Journal. The key takeaways were as follows: 1) Both maternal “overnutrition and undernutrition” during pregnancy resulted in higher risk for metabolic disorders in their children; 2) These predispositions may be mitigated through specific nutritional patterns in early childhood. This is not surprising, as tissue plasticity is highest during early development, and so many predispositions may be affected by environmental factors. Some studies have pointed to the importance of “dietary bioactive compounds,” including resveratrol, and genistein, among others, in this process.

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Please share your thoughts with us and stay tuned for more recent research updates!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Truth About Diet Soda

Living with diabetes comes with many challenges; we need to constantly know what and how much we eat and drink, and continuously calibrate our medications, like metformin or insulin, accordingly. It can be exhausting. One shining beacon of light (and a delicious thirst-quencher) is diet soda. It’s sweet, it’s refreshing, and it has zero carbohydrates! But recently, more and more research has been released linking diet soda to a plethora of GI issues and health problems (including, surprisingly enough, obesity). So, what’s the deal? Is diet soda a harmless, carbohydrate freebie treat or a danger to one’s health and well-being? Read more to get the scoop.

Many people with diabetes yearn to have a refreshing beverage that won’t affect their blood sugars, and sometimes water just won’t cut it. On days when it feels as though the wind will cause hyperglycemia, nothing is crisper or more enjoyable than enjoying a diet soda–and they’re typically known as “free” food–meaning they don’t require an insulin dose, nor do they raise one’s blood sugar. Seems innocent enough, right? About 1 in 5 Americans drink at least one diet soda per day, according to the CDC, but few can figure out if they’re good or bad for us. What gives?

The Problem

Unfortunately, diet sodas are full of artificial flavors and chemicals, as well as artificial sweeteners, like aspartame and saccharin. A growing body of research links consumption with an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, dementia, stroke, and non-fatty liver disease.

On the other hand, many studies correlating diet soda consumption with chronic health issues have failed to control for other risk factors, like lifestyle (sedentary vs. active) and body mass index (BMI). This causes a selection bias, as the type of person that may be more likely to drink diet soda may already be trying to lose weight (higher BMI) or better control their type 2 diabetes (chronic inflammation from higher glucose numbers). On the whole, no studies have proven causation between diet soda consumption and cancer.

Does Diet Soda Make You Gain Weight?

In short, no, but they can lead to it. A  2012 study showed that the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may change the levels of dopamine in the brain, thus changing the way one’s brain responds to (and craves) sweet flavors. Artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than actual sugar, and if you’re used to drinking the sweet flavor of diet soda, your brain will naturally adapt, and you may start craving sweeter foods as a result. Equal (aspartame) is 160-200 times sweeter than sugar, and Sweet’n’Low (saccharin) is 300-500 times sweeter than natural sugar. This can cause you to eat more foods made with sugar, and gain weight as a result, although these sweeteners have been deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Christoper Gardner, Ph.D., Director of Nutrition Studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center says, “You may find fruit less appealing because it’s less sweet than your soda, and vegetables may become inedible” causing people to reach for more processed foods that contain added sugar and calories.

Additionally, if you’re drinking diet soda, you may feel as though you’re doing something “healthy”, and make up for it by not being as stringent about a healthy diet. A 2014 study showed that overweight and obese people who drank a diet soda ate between 90-200 more calories per day than those who drank sugar-sweetened soda. This explains the phenomenon of patrons ordering fries with their diet soda at fast-food restaurants.

“Diet sodas may help you with weight loss if you don’t overcompensate, but that’s a big if,” Gardner adds.

What Research Is Telling Us

A 2014 study out of Japan found that men who drank diet soda were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t. The study findings even controlled for age, BMI, family history of the disease, and other lifestyle factors. Additionally, a 2017 study of over 2,000 people showed that drinking one diet soda per day tripled one’s risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, in 2014, a meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes rose by 13% for every 12oz can of diet soda they consumed in a day.

Moderation Is Key

While all of these artificial sweeteners are chemicals, they can be part of a healthy diet, per the American Dietetic Association. If you’re replacing sugar-sweetened soda with diet soda, it can be a remarkably easy way to cut down on sugar and calories, but try and maintain a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables as well, and don’t “treat” yourself to fast-food or sugared goodies for “being good” by having a sugar-free soda.

If you’re looking for an afternoon caffeine hit that soda normally provides, try opting for black coffee or tea to avoid the artificial sweeteners. Better yet, try weaning yourself off of soda completely and opting for a healthier, and more natural seltzer water, like La Croix, that doesn’t contain any artificial additives or chemicals.

All told, diet soda isn’t the absolute healthiest thing you can be drinking (read: that’s water), but in moderation, with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, it can be a delightful, carb-free treat. Cheers!

What are your thoughts on diet soda? Are you addicted to the stuff, or try to avoid it at all costs? Share this post and comment below; we love hearing from our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Ways to Save Money on Diabetes Expenses

Diabetes is an expensive disease. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), diabetes is the costliest disease in the United States. In 2017 alone, over $327 billion dollars was spent on people with diabetes and their needs, and that number has only increased since, as prevalence and incidence of the disease have risen as well.

Diabetes is also expensive, personally. Between medications, doctors’ appointments, time off work and school, buying healthy foods, and committing to an exercise routine, it can be troublesome to keep on top of all the bills and expenses. A landmark Yale study recently showed that as many as 1 in 4 people with diabetes have rationed their insulin, simply because it’s too expensive.

So, how do you prepare for the cost of a new type 2 diabetes diagnosis? In part 2 of our 4-part series, we dive into how to protect yourself from the high costs of diabetes.

Prescription Assistance Programs

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about prescription assistance programs. They can help you get free or lower-cost drugs, especially if your income is low or you don’t have health insurance. Online resources, such as RxAssist, can also point you in the right direction towards prescription drug cost relief.  You can also get lower-cost care at a Federally Qualified Health Center, if you meet certain eligibility requirements.

Take Advantage of Your Employer’s Section 125 Plan (If They Have One)

These flexible spending arrangements let you contribute up to $2,650 per year (pre-tax!) to spend on out-of-pocket expenses for things like prescription drugs and copays for doctor visits. These plans usually adhere to a “use it or lose it” policy, so make sure you’re spending down anything left over in these accounts towards the end of your enrollment year (usually in December every year).

Enroll in Medicare

Many people 65 and older are not enrolled in Medicare, but if you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it’s highly recommended that you take advantage of this program. Medicare Part B covers a portion of bi-annual diabetes screenings, diabetes self-management education classes, insulin pumps and glucometers, and regular foot and eye exams. Medicare Part D covers insulin expenses. Learn more about the Medicare application process here.

Mail Order Your Supplies

If you’re able, use mail order to get recurring medications and supplies (you can sign up through your existing pharmacy). Oftentimes, you can buy a 90-day supply of your medicine for a single copay, instead of three separate copayments for three separate months. Mail-order supplies are bulk packaged and shipped to your home. This can be an excellent alternative if it’s hard to leave your home, and if you know you’ll need the same medication consistently, for months at a time. It’s also helpful in saving you money. Additionally, a lot of (over the counter) supplies can be bought in bulk from online retailers like Amazon for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a traditional pharmacy.

Ask Your Doctor About Generic Drugs

Although there is no generic form of insulin, many pills taken for type 2 diabetes are available in generic form. A bottle of Glucophage (60 tablets) costs around $80, but the generic form (metformin) will cost you about $10. Talk to your healthcare provider about generic options that are available to you.

Taking these small steps can add up to big savings over time, and can help you to live a long, healthy life, without the threat of complications. Plus, saving money on your diabetes supplies can help you invest in other (more fun) areas of life!

Have you found ways to better budget for your diabetes? How have you saved money for this costly condition? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Accepting a New Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis

One of the toughest transitions in life can be a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Either for yourself or a family member, the initial shock of diagnosis is sometimes hard to take and can require some getting used to.

In this first installment of a four-part series on type 2 diabetes, here are five ways to adapt to a new diagnosis in your family and the best ways not only to cope, but to thrive with type 2 diabetes:

There’s No Shame in a Diagnosis

There is nothing to be ashamed of with a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Type 2 diabetes is simply the body’s response to becoming insulin resistant or the body’s inability to produce enough insulin naturally (more symptoms listed here). There are many risk factors that contribute to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, but genetics and environmental factors do play a role. You may be discouraged upon diagnosis, but there’s no shame in having diabetes, and there’s no shame in taking charge of your health and taking care of yourself.

Today Is the Perfect Day to Be Healthy – Start Now

Not next week or next month, or even next year. Today is the perfect day to begin. Once you have a diagnosis, make sure you’re prepared with a glucometer, test strips, and a lancet device to start monitoring your blood sugar. You may also have a prescription for metformin or insulin that should be filled. Your doctor probably referred you to a nutritionist to come up with a meal plan, and maybe they’ve recommended regular exercise. Start small. Include more vegetables at your next meal, and aim for a short walk before bed. Taking small steps to improve your health today will lead to lasting health benefits down the road.

Assemble Your Care Team

This includes both professional and community support. Diabetes affects the whole family, and it’s important to have their physical and emotional support. You will need to enlist the expertise of not only your physician, but also an endocrinologist, and perhaps a nutritionist or maybe even a therapist. Caring family members can offer emotional support during this time of transition, and researching local support groups or diabetes advocacy organizations where you can find community will be a tremendous help in the weeks and months to come.

Don’t Operate from a Position of Fear

Make no mistake, type 2 diabetes is a serious disease that can cause devastating complications if left untreated, but it does not necessarily need to incite fear. You can live a long, happy, and healthy life with type 2 diabetes. This is an opportunity to tune into your body and make healthy, positive changes for the road ahead. Healthy lifestyle choices you make now can prevent complications later on in life.

Think of What This Adds to Your Life

A type 2 diabetes diagnosis is not the end of your life. Instead of thinking in terms of deprivation, think of what this adds (and can add!) to your life. More exercise. More opportunities to go outside. More excuses to walk your dog, or play with your children or grandchildren. More vegetables on your plate. More reasons to see your doctor and keep a closer eye on your health. More reasons to be thankful that you have the opportunity to get a firm grasp on your health in the here and now. Think in abundance and be grateful.

A type 2 diabetes diagnosis does not need to bring misery and sadness to your life. It can be an opportunity to connect with yourself, get in tune with your body, and lead you to start or continue to make healthy choices to prevent complications later on in life. And that’s something to cheers to.

Have you recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? How has the diagnosis affected your life so far? Share this post and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

LADA – Debunking a Common Type 2 Diabetes Misdiagnosis

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.By Kara Miecznikowski and Divya Gopisetty What is LADA? How is it diagnosed and treated? Read on to learn more and hear from people living with LADA Just like type 1 diabetes, LADA is a form of autoimmune diabetes. This means that the body’s own immune system […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Type 2 Diabetes Remission: What Is It and How Can It Be Done?

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.By Emma Ryan and Jimmy McDermott Learn about three ways that may put type 2 diabetes into remission: low-carbohydrate diets, low-calorie diets, and bariatric surgery Type 2 diabetes is traditionally described as a progressive disease – without major lifestyle changes, A1C levels will gradually increase over time, […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Taking the Sting Out of Fingersticks: Lancets, Life Hacks and More

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.By Marcia Kadanoff with Katie Bowles Tips to reduce the pain and hassle of pricking your finger each time you check your blood sugar levels on a meter When I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes two years ago, I struggled quite a bit. I had […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Diabetes Medicines That Help Your Waistline and Your Heart

This content originally appeared on TCOYD: Taking Control of Your Diabetes. Republished with permission.By Daniel Einhorn Among the dirty little secrets of the older diabetes medicines was that they usually made you gain weight, they could cause low blood sugar suddenly and unexpectedly, and they had no particular benefit to the most important consequence of […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

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