Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Disease Many Americans Don't Know They Have

Written by Laura Tedesco and published on Yahoo! Health, this article exposes the diabetes epidemic not only gripping Americans but overwhelming our youth.

An alarming number of Americans are suffering from diabetes, a potentially deadly disease, without even knowing it.

Editor’s Note: The data in this study did not permit the researchers to separately analyze type 1 and type 2 diabetes, though 90 to 95 percent of cases are known to be type 2. Although type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, may be better diagnosed and more prevalent among young people, distinguishing the two diseases would not significantly alter the findings or recommendations, the researchers say.

You’d think a disease that can cause blindness, leads to amputations, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States would incite mass panic.

Yet Americans — and even some doctors — don’t take diabetes very seriously. (Did you even know it’s American Diabetes Month?) “Sometimes, people think ‘serious’ means things that kill you right away,” said Dr. Carlos del Rio, chair of the Emory University Department of Global Health. “But, the reality is, I would be more concerned about diabetes than Ebola.”

This lax attitude toward the disease may explain why nearly 30 percent of Americans who have diabetes don’t realize it, according to a new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, conducted by del Rio and other Emory University scientists. They analyzed health data for 29,353 people from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, identifying those with diabetes based on levels of fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1C (an indicator of blood-sugar control).

Overall, about 12 percent of all U.S. adults had diabetes, which translated to 28.4 million people in 2012. Among those, nearly 8 million hadn’t been diagnosed — a stat that’s made all the more alarming by the fact that most regularly went to the doctor: Two-thirds of undiagnosed diabetics had seen a health care provider at least twice in the past year, the study found.

Going undiagnosed — or even just delaying the process — is asking for internal trouble. The longer diabetes goes untreated, the worse the outcome tends to be. “Once the disease sets in, it’s really progressive,” study co-author Mohammed Ali, an assistant professor of global health at Emory University, told Yahoo Health. “It may be slow in some cases, but it leads to really disabling and often fatal complications.” Common but scary outcomes include vascular disease, kidney disease, or eye disease, which can lead to blindness.

On the flip side, if you catch and control diabetes early, “patients are very likely to do well, in terms of delaying the onset of all these horrendous complications, preserving their quality of life,” said Ali.

Unfortunately, the nature of the disease means that patients who should be undergoing blood tests often slip through the cracks: Diabetes is typically asymptomatic until people develop serious complications, so doctors don’t necessarily have clear cues to prompt them to suggest testing early on (although weight, family history, and lifestyle should be a consideration). “Diabetes is the silent killer,” said del Rio.

And because the U.S. is a nation of episodic care — that is, we seek medical attention for specific symptoms, rather than as a matter of routine — doctors aren’t necessarily thinking about performing preemptive blood tests on high-risk people. Instead, they’re usually focusing on, say, the patient’s back-pain problem, and not his or her overall care.

However, doctors are only one part of the equation: Patients may not be proactive about seeking care, Ali said, perhaps as a result of a low perceived risk of diabetes, poor insurance coverage, or even just time constraints. In the study, young people (ages 18 to 44) were especially likely to go undiagnosed, probably because they seek care only if they feel sick. “With diabetes, you don’t feel bad per se,” said Ali. “There’s a whole lot going on inside you, but you don’t feel it.”

Even after patients are diagnosed, they aren’t necessarily controlling their diabetes. “We may not link them to care properly or maintain them in care,” said del Rio. “It’s a whole ‘cascade of care’ issue.” In the study, only about 1 in 5 diagnosed diabetics refrained from smoking and had achieved the targets for hemoglobin A1C, blood pressure, and LDL “bad” cholesterol.

An estimated 75 percent of those with known diabetes also had high blood pressure. “It’s a double whammy,” del Rio said. “High blood pressure impacts your blood vessels, and diabetes impacts your blood vessels. And it’s blood vessel disease that leads to stroke and heart disease.” In fact, diabetics are 1.5 times more likely to be hospitalized for a stroke and about 1.7 times more likely to die of heart disease than people without the disease, according to the American Diabetes Association.

“Basically, the guidelines say, ‘Don’t just focus on sugar,’” said Ali. “Do the whole ABCD: the A1C is the sugar measurement that we use, B is blood pressure, C is cholesterol, and D is do not smoke.”

So how can our health care system ensure diabetes is caught, as well as treated? The first step: Increasing the emphasis on primary care, so patients regularly see doctors who monitor their weight, cholesterol, blood sugar, and vital signs, while also assessing their family history. “Chronic diseases are not controlled by episodic care,” said del Rio. “You need to have somebody that monitors you regularly.”

And patients who are diagnosed shouldn’t be shy about voicing their concerns about the prescribed treatments — for example, side effects of diabetes drugs or a lack of time to exercise. That way, doctors can help devise solutions that patients are more likely to comply with.

It’s not entirely up to the patient to halt diabetes in its tracks, though. “We need to start focusing on [figuring out] the interventions we need to do in order to improve outcomes,” del Rio said. “I envision doing more testing, and not only in the health care settings.” He sees workplaces, community centers, churches, and even local fairs as potential diabetes testing sites, and once people are flagged for the disease, he believes insurance companies should consider getting involved.

“We could work with insurance providers to ensure people are actually getting their medications and not falling out of care,” said del Rio. “Because, at the end of the day, if we don’t pay for care now, we’re going to pay for care later when they develop renal disease and other complications.”

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Vitamin D deficiency rampant in neuromuscular diseases, study shows

This report was posted in the Chicago Tribune. A study by two Pennsylvania doctors shows that people suffering from neuromuscular diseases have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, the Newswise news service reported Friday. The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine in Savannah, Ga.

"Previous work has shown vitamin D deficiency to be quite common in other neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis and Parkinson's disease. This study suggests this concern may be more prevalent in other neuromuscular conditions as well," said Dr. Ileana Howard, a member of the association's editorial board.

"While the connection between vitamin D deficiency and neurologic disease is likely complex and not yet fully understood, this study may prompt physicians to consider checking vitamin D levels in their patients with neurologic conditions and supplementing when necessary," Howard added.

The use of vitamin D supplements has been suggested previously to improve function in frail elderly patients at risk for falls and also for people with myasthenia gravis and Parkinson's. Whether vitamin D deficiency and supplementation play a role in other neurologic conditions requires more research, Newswise reported.

The study was conducted in Hershey, Pa., by Drs. Sankar Bandyopadhyay and Sol Dejesus.

Beyond vitamin supplements, sunshine is one of the best sources of vitamin D, but sun exposure plummets for most of the country during the winter. Good food sources include fatty fish like wild salmon, cod liver oil, beef liver, orange juice or milk fortified with vitamin D, and eggs.

MyAchingKnees comment: I would have liked to see this study talk about blood levels of Vitamin D and in relation to how much Vitamin D the patients are consuming each day. My wife was taking 900 IU of Vitamin D each day, which is more than twice the FDA recommended daily allowance (RDA) and yet he blood tests showed that she was Vitamin D deficient. We added 2,000 more IU and now her blood levels of Vitamin D are above normal. I take 4,900 IU of Vitamin D. 900 IU with my daily supplements plus two 2,000 IU tablets.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How Your Body Signals That You're Vitamin Deficient

This is from an article with the same title by Wendy Schmid, Q by Equinox, posted on Yahoo Health

When your body is trying to tell you something — for example, that you’re skimping on critical vitamins — it may go to some strange lengths. “With today’s diet of processed foods it’s easy to become vitamin deficient — either by not eating enough of the right foods or not absorbing them properly due to digestive issues,” says Dr. Susan Blum, founder of the Blum Center for Health and author of the new book, The Immune System Recovery Plan. “You may not get a disease but you can end up with impaired functioning, because vitamins are co-factors for all the bio-chemical reactions in the body. We need them in order to function properly.” That impaired functioning can sometimes manifest in mysterious ways.

MyAchngKnees comment: I fully agree with Ms. Schmid on the lack of vitamins (and minerals) in today's common processed foods, but disagree that there are simple fixes for nutrient deficiencies by eating more foods as most foods today are much less nutrient dense then the same foods decades ago. You can grow your own organic foods and be pretty well off, both in getting nutrient laden food and free of toxins, but the simplest and most effective way to ensure you are giving your body the necessary nutrients for a robust immune system is by taking quality supplements.

Check out these unusual vitamin-deficiency warning signs. The good news: Most are fixable with dietary tweaks — all the more reason to make nutrition a top priority. When food cures don’t work, be sure to check in with your doctor.

1. Body Cue: Cracks at the corners of your mouth.

The Deficiency: Iron, zinc, and B vitamins like niacin (B3), riboflavin (B2), and B12. “It’s common if you’re a vegetarian to not get enough iron, zinc, and B12,” Blum says. Ditto if you’re skimping on essential immunity-building protein due to dieting.

The Fix: Eat more poultry, salmon, tuna, eggs, oysters, clams, sun-dried tomatoes, Swiss chard, tahini, peanuts, and legumes like lentils. Iron absorption is enhanced by vitamin C, which also helps fight infection, so combine these foods with veggies like broccoli, red bell peppers, kale, and cauliflower.

2. Body Cue: A red, scaly rash on your face (and sometimes elsewhere) and hair loss.

The Deficiency: Biotin (B7), known as the hair vitamin. While your body stores fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), it doesn’t store most B vitamins, which are water-soluble. Body builders take note: Eating raw eggs makes you vulnerable, because a protein in raw eggs called avidin inhibits the body’s ability to absorb biotin.

The Fix: Reach for more cooked eggs (cooking deactivates avidin), salmon, avocados, mushrooms, cauliflower, soybeans, nuts, raspberries, and bananas.

3. Body Cue: Red or white acne like bumps, typically on the cheeks, arms, thighs and butt.

The Deficiency: Essential fatty acids and vitamins A and D.

The Fix: Skimp on saturated fat and trans fats, which you should be doing anyway, and increase healthy fats. Focus on adding more salmon and sardines, nuts like walnuts and almonds, and seeds like ground flax, hemp, and chia. For vitamin A, pile on leafy greens and colorful veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers. “This provides beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, which your body will use to make vitamin A,” Blum says. “For vitamin D, though, I recommend a supplement—2,000 IU a day in one that also contains vitamins A and K, which help with D absorption.”

4. Body Cue: Tingling, prickling, and numbness in hands, feet or elsewhere.

The Deficiency: B vitamins like folate (B9), B6, and B12. “It’s a problem directly related to the peripheral nerves and where they end in the skin,” says Blum, noting that these symptoms can be combined with anxiety, depression, anemia, fatigue, and hormone imbalances.

The Fix: Seek out spinach, asparagus, beets, beans (pinto, black, kidney, lima), eggs, octopus, mussels, clams, oysters, and poultry.

5. Body Cue: Crazy muscle cramps in the form of stabbing pains in toes, calves, arches of feet, and backs of legs.

The Deficiency: Magnesium, calcium, and potassium. “If it’s happening frequently, it’s a tip-off that you’re lacking in these,” Blum says. And if you’re training hard, you can lose more minerals (and water-soluble B vitamins) through heavy sweating.

The Fix: Eat more bananas, almonds, hazelnuts, squash, cherries, apples, grapefruit, broccoli, bok choy, and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and dandelion.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Military Exchange stores again pull fitness supplements

This article came out on 27 October 2014 from Stars and Stripes News. Exchange stores at military bases around the world again pulled fitness supplements from shelves earlier this month after concerns they contained a potentially dangerous and untested stimulant.

The recalls might be triggering déjà vu among troops. Nearly three years ago, the same stores removed a variety of other supplements containing the previously obscure stimulant DMAA after reports of soldier deaths. The families of two soldiers who died after taking the products in 2011 have sued and those cases are heading toward trial.

Now, a study published Oct. 8 found the substance causing the latest military recalls, DMBA, closely mirrors the effects of DMAA as well as its name. The familiar spate of new product recalls and published research shows the military’s struggles with potentially dangerous fitness supplements may be far from over.

“We are seeing the same style [as with DMAA] … multiple companies are introducing these brand new stimulants that have never been tested,” said Pieter Cohen, a doctor and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard University who has studied the stimulants extensively.

At least a dozen supplement products were found to contain the new synthetic stimulant, which has unknown effects and could pose significant health risks, according to a study co-authored by Cohen and published in the Journal of Drug Testing and Analysis.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service said it pulled the weight-loss supplement MD2 Meltdown on Oct. 14 and Marine Corps exchanges reported removing it a day later due to concerns over DMBA.

Supplement giant GNC, which operates outlets on many military bases, removed that product and two others called Redline White Heat and OxyTHERM Pro this month, the exchange services said.

The Navy Exchange said it does not sell any of the products that tested positive for DMBA.

Companies have sought out new stimulants after the Food and Drug Administration pressed for the DMAA products to be eliminated following a rash of health problems beginning with the soldier deaths in 2011, Cohen said.

The military services and their exchange stores have struggled in the past to keep up with the variety of potentially dangerous substances that have hit the market in recent years. Supplements are largely unregulated by the FDA and ingredients are self-reported. Recalls typically occur only after reports of health problems from the public.

Bodybuilding and weight-loss supplements are highly popular among troops who are often under intense pressure to stay fit — on-post retail sales ring in at about $190 million per year and about 250,000 servicemembers use products considered to be high risk for side effects.

Last year, a supplement containing a designer drug similar to methamphetamine was not recalled from military shelves until months after initial reports of the dangers.

In the case of DMBA, it appears the services moved more quickly.

The stakes can be high and fallout from potentially dangerous supplements can stretch out for years.

Retailer GNC and a maker of DMAA products, USPlabs, recently settled a class-action lawsuit in Florida, reportedly paying out $2 million to consumers.

But the families of Pvt. Michael Sparling and Sgt. Demekia Cola, who both died at Fort Bliss, Texas, after taking the supplements in 2011, are still waiting for their day in court.

“We’re just really racing toward trial. The Sparlings are really looking forward to telling their story in court,” said Anne Andrews, a California attorney who also represents Cola’s family. “They want the world to know a young soldier died because of a dangerous product sold at GNC.”

Sparling, 22, took the bodybuilding and weight-loss supplement Jack3d just before a 3½-mile run with his new unit in summer 2011. He collapsed, lost consciousness and began foaming at the mouth.

He was pronounced dead several hours later at a nearby hospital.

His parents believe DMAA directly contributed to their son’s death and that it could kill or seriously injure some users even at recommended doses. They sued GNC and USPlabs and created a foundation in their son’s name to educate the public on the dangers of supplements.

Their case is set to be heard in a Texas court in June.

A lawsuit against the companies was also filed by Cola’s mother. The sergeant experienced muscle breakdown and heatstroke in late 2011 after taking a DMAA product. She suffered with complications for more than a month and died while waiting for a liver transplant, according to the court filing.

Both GNC and USPlabs declined to comment on the lawsuits.

They have repeatedly denied DMAA products pose a health risk.

A spokesman for USPlabs referred Stars and Stripes to a Department of Defense safety review two years ago that could not determine DMAA caused four reported soldier deaths but did find the substance might have endangered thousands of troops.

A GNC spokesman issued a statement saying, “GNC fully complies with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations with respect to the sale of dietary supplements, including those governing ingredients.”

MyAchingKnees Comment: Well, there you go. How many articles have to be published about the dangers of toxins or just poor manufacturing control of food grade supplements? With GNC stating that they comply with all law and regulations concerning supplements and ingredients, the logical question is "what laws and regulations might those be?" I am not trying to make light over this latest fiasco concerning off the shelf supplements, as I too was in the Army and the pressure to be as fit and physical as you could be prompted almost everyone I knew to take supplements. I was a GNC customer for years. Until 9 1/2 years ago, when I began to get educated. Not just in the need for supplementation, but the choices one has with quality or choosing the monetary savings you get with non-quality products.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Top 10 Things You can Do to Live to 100 Years Old...

These aren't my top 10 things to do to make it too 100, but I wouldn't have even thought about it until I read this article from EatLocalGrown. What are your top 10 longevity tips?

Here are some of the longevity-inducing factors researchers ferreted out from studying this population of centenarians:

1. Sleep in and take naps.

A 2008 study conducted by the University of Athens Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health studied more than 23,000 Greeks and found that occasional napping was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. But regular napping — at least three days weekly — was associated with a 37% reduction. Zzzz’s, anyone?

2. Stop worrying about being late.

Arrive whenever you get there – and let others do the same. Worrying about when you arrive triggers “fight or flight” stress responses that can reduce your life expectancy.

3. Grow a garden, nurture it, and eat from it.

Eat plants, avoid animal products, consume lots of olive oil, avoid processed foods, and drink wine in the company of good friends. Need inspiration and recipes? Read Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen.

4. Never give up your sense of purpose.

Finding and fulfilling your calling throughout your lifetime can extend your life. In fact, studies have linked early retirement to reduced life expectancy. In Okinawa, another community where many people live to be older than 100, people embrace the notion of ikigai — “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.”

It gets centenarians out of bed and off the sofa so they can make a difference in the community. The Nicoyans in Costa Rica use the term plan de vida to describe a lifelong sense of purpose. Dr. Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, says that being able to define your life meaning adds to your life expectancy.

5. Get it on.

A study of Ikarian men between 65 and 100 found that 80% of them claimed to have sex regularly, and a quarter of that self-reported group said they were doing so with “good duration” and “achievement.” Go dudes! For more proof that sex isn’t just fun, it’s good for your health, read this.

6. Take a placebo at least once per day.

Ikarians take a spoonful of honey every morning. They believe it is their “medicine” and use it for both prevention and treatment of illness and injury. They also regularly consume a homemade tea made of a special blend of herbs they believe extends their lives.

While there may be some health benefit the Ikarians enjoy from the honey and herbs themselves, chances are good that the stress-relieving, relaxation-inducing effects of the positive belief they associate with the honey and tea are more potent medicine than the honey and tea themselves. For more proof that placebos really can heal your body, read this.

7. Walk up 20 hills a day.

To get around the island, Ikarians walk. And it’s hilly where they live. Exercise isn’t something they do at the gym. It’s an enjoyable, built in part of their lifestyle.

8. Cultivate a sense of belonging.

As I wrote in this blog post, finding your tribe, alleviating loneliness, and feeling like part of a community can cut your risk of heart disease in half and extend your life up to 10 years. Be part of a community where you fit in. Ikarians live in multigenerational homes and avoid spending too much time alone. And researchers have proven that being part of a nurturing community is more important to good health than quitting smoking or starting to exercise.

9. Go to the church, temple, or mosque.

Studies show that gathering as part of a spiritual community can extend your life up to 14 years.

10. Surround yourself with people who follow steps 1-9.

The more you surround yourself with people engaged in whole health-inducing behaviors, the more it becomes part of your culture. If, however, you surround yourself with beer-guzzling, obese couch potato loners, it’s easier to become one yourself. When you surround yourself with healthy, inspiring people, you’re way more likely to live to be 100.



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Monday, October 13, 2014

Vitamin B12 for Energy?

George wrote to ask "...my energy levels have been down so after much researching on the internet I saw dozens of articles about how Vitamin B12 helps restore energy levels. Do you think this is true? Would Vitamin B12 help with my knee pain? How much Vitamin B12 should I take a day?"

Good question George.  I have also read many articles on B12 from the internet, ranging from implied claims that B12 helps regain memory loss; helps energy levels especially in older people; enhances immune systems; and even helping with mood swings. Of course claims that supplements help or fix diseases are verboten by the FDA.   

Many sources to include the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition believe that many Americans, possibly over half, are chronically deficient in Vitamin B12. It is my belief that most Americans are deficient in most, it not all, nutrients as the quality of the food supply is much less than it has been and we Americans are eating much more processed foods.

It is also my belief that no single Vitamin is the miracle nutrient. I have warned people for years not to read and believe stories that this Vitamin or that Vitamin treats a certain condition then rush off to buy a bottle of that miracle Vitamin at the local drug store. There are two things wrong with this: 1 - A person needs to receive all nutrients so they can work together synergistically for optimal health, in doses that will do them good, and 2 - Most sources of supplements are from food grade manufacture so the consumer never knows what they are actually getting and if they are also consuming toxins with those supplements.

So to answer your question George: Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient as are all the Vitamins and Minerals; Vitamin B12 in and of itself does not restore memory loss, etc., but works with other Vitamins and Minerals to provide the required nutrients so the body's immune system can function as optimally as it can.

I do not take Vitamin B12 by itself. It is part of the daily supplements I consume. I am getting 200 micro`grams of Vitamin B12 each day which is 3,340% of the FDA's Required Daily Allowance (RDA). These days, only cavemen believe that the RDA is sufficient for optimum health. I believe, as do thousands of people much smarter than me, including biologistsa, scientists, physicians, etc that for optimal health a person must consume much higher doses the Vitamins and Minerals.

As far as Vitamin B12 helping with knee pain,......vitamin B12 is one of many nutrients you must have for the body's immune system to work as efficient as it can and if working properly can minimze oxidative stress and free radical damage which may contribute to joint pain.



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Monday, September 29, 2014

More Vitamin D Information

Andy, who takes daily nutritional supplements, wrote to ask about if his general fatigue could be related to an excessive amount of Vitamin D. He said he takes 800 IU a day. He was worried about a toxic dose. I wrote Andy back and said it is very un-likely that an excess of Vitamin D is causing his fatigue or lack or energy. Much more likely that he is taking considerably less Vitamin D than he needs or that he is consuming low quality, food grade supplements and therefore cannot determine what amount he is really taking. Andy also asked about the benefits of Vitamin D as he had forgotten why he added them to his daily nutritionals.

First of all, the FDA's current recommendation of 600 IU a day of Vitamin D is thought to be too low. Many researchers are now suggesting that 2,000 IU a day may be the minimum amount. I currently take 5,200 IU of Vitamin D each day. Vitamin D is necessary for normal bone mineralization and growth including teeth. Vitamin D assists in the absorption and utilization in the body of phosphorus and calcium. Vitamin K is also important too for bones as Vitamin K helps direct calcium to the bones and not the in soft tissues such as organs or muscles.

I don't know if anyone has figured out what the minimum level for a toxic dose of Vitamin D is, although the Mayo Clinic has published an article stating "taking 50,000 international units (IU) a day of vitamin D for several months has been shown to cause toxicity. The main consequence of vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause symptoms such as poor appetite, nausea and vomiting. Weakness, frequent urination and kidney problems also may occur."



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