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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mineral Waters for Mineral Nutrition

Mineral waters are a tasty way to get trace minerals. It takes a lot of water to get your minimum daily requirements, usually about 2 liters (8 cups) of mineral a day, and no brand has all the trace minerals your body needs, but mineral waters support good nutrition. You can even apply mineral waters directly to your skin for nourishment for your pores.

The Myth of Depleted Soils

Chances are that you have seen an advertisement or read a book or article that is really intended as an advertisement with a statement like this:

"It only takes 10 years of intensive agriculture to completely deplete the soil of all its minerals. "

Statements like this beg a question. If there aren't any minerals in the soil, how do crops grow to be harvested? After all, plants need minerals, too.

Our Bodies Tell Us How Much Protein We Need

Here's another excerpt from my book Minimal Medication.

Just about everybody who has access to protein automatically eats the right amount of protein. Just about the only way you can get the wrong amount of protein in the modern world is to pursue an intentionally extreme diet. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

How Much Protein is Toxic?

Both men and women, sick people and healthy people, athletes and couch potatoes, can consume so much protein that they begin to get sick. When the diet provides about

How Much Protein Do We Really Need?

(From Minimal Medication) The point at which enough protein becomes too much is the liver has to turn it into sugar. How much protein is that?

Does Exercise Prevent Colon Cancer?

There is a growing body of evidence that getting enough calcium-rich foods and taking a low-dose (up to 1000 IU a day) vitamin D supplement helps prevent colon cancer. But what about exercise?

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Mystery of Growth Hormone: How Eating Less Sometimes Helps You Grow Muscle Faster

Here's an excerpt from my book Minimal Medication on the interaction between intermittent fasting, or, if you are a teenager, just not eating all the time, and muscle growth.

Bitter Orange for Weight Loss

Bitter orange is the fruit to help you lose weight. Bitter orange extract, also known as Citrus aurantium extract, is a safe and effective supplement to help its users lose weight safely. The issues with the use of bitter orange peel as an aid to weight loss mostly have to do with its confusion with another herb, ephedra.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Fighting Diabetic Complications with Broccosprouts

I'm ordinarily loathe to write about "super foods." Today's super food tends to become tomorrow's over-hyped super-flop.

But one of the superfoods for diabetes of recent years is still getting good reports today, so I'm reposting my article on fighting diabetes complications with broccosprouts, like the 5-day-old broccoli sprouts pictured at the left.

Friday, April 29, 2016

What Doctors Don't Understand About Hispanics Who Have Diabetes

In the United States, no ethnic group has higher rates of diabetes than Hispanics, and no ethnic group has higher rates of complications from diabetes than Hispanics. Part of the problem is that doctors just don't understand Hispanic cultures.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Does Curcumin Always Work in Treating Cancer?

As astonishingly useful as curcumin is in treating cancer, it has its detractors – and some concerns about the curcumin have factual foundation. Here’s a list of common concerns about curcumin supplements from doctors, researchers, and well-informed cancer patients, with what the evidence says.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Can Changes to Your Diet Help You Sleep Better?

Scientists analyzing 21 studies of dietary interventions for sleep disorders answer the question of whether changing what you eat can change how well you sleep. Here are the top four evidence-based recommendations.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Coumadin Causes Coronary Calcification?

People who take the blood thinning agent Coumadin (warfarin) are especially prone to atherosclerosis. It's a good idea to ask if you can get the same results from a different drug.

Could Beer Help You Lose Weight?

Scientists at Oregon State University have identified a compound in hops that alleviates insulin resistance, lowers cholesterol, and potentially helps people (or at least lab rats) lose weight. It's a little too early to start writing that book about the Beer Diet, though.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

From a radio Q and A on which I was the guest:

You list coconut oil in your first tier of food choices. What are the advantages of coconut oil?

First of all, let’s be clear about which coconut oil I recommend.

Refined, bleached, deodorized (RBD) coconut oil is actually an exceptionally unhealthy food. Virgin coconut oil is an exceptionally healthy food.

RBD coconut oils are made from copra, the “meat” of the coconut. The coconut is split open, and the milk drained for other uses. The copra is allowed to dry in the sun without sanitary protection. It is eventually shoveled into open trucks and taken to the coconut oil plant, where is it is soaked in hexane to remove the coconut oil. The oil is heated to boil off the hexane solvent, and then treated with a nickel catalyst to make it shelf-stable.

Virgin coconut oil is made from the milk of the coconut, not the meat. The coconut milk is allowed to ferment for 24 to 36 hours, causing it so separate into oil and water fractions. The clear oil drawn off and bottled, usually under highly sanitary conditions. It is never heat-treated or exposed to solvents or heavy-metal catalysts.

Virgin coconut oil is 50 to 55 percent lauric acid. This fatty acid stops microbial growth. As a result, food cooked in coconut oil taste better longer. Coconut oil stays fresh at room temperature for up to a year. Although too much of a good thing is possible with coconut oil as it is with any food, moderate amounts of coconut oil stimulate thyroid function and encourage weight loss, so much that Asian farmers avoid feeding coconut to farm animals they want to fatten up. Using coconut oil in moderate amounts, up to about 2 tablespoons (30 ml) a day, in place of other oils, may help you lose weight (about 1 pound or half a kilo a month) even if you eat the same portions of other foods.

You may be interested in my article on virgin coconut oil for diabetes.

Virgin Coconut Oil in the Diabetic Diet

Here's a reposting of an article I wrote in 2010 on the virtues of virgin coconut oil in diabetes diets--still valid today.

Virgin coconut oil is a great addition to diabetic diets, but highly refined coconut oil is to be avoided at all costs. Coconut oil is a good example of the diabetes diet principle that sometimes a good fat and a bad fat can be the same fat. That's also true of some of other common dietary fats.

Coconut Water as a Diabetic Beverage

Coconut water has the potential to be the next pomegranate, or mangosteen, or acai berry in the natural foods market. While it's not no-cal or no-carb, it contains an interesting combination of useful fatty acids and just a few carbs, about the same as 4 crackers, sufficiently low-carb that most type 2 diabetics can tolerate it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Do You Need a Moisturizer?

Some marketers would tell us that everyone, women and men, old and young and in between, people in desert dry climates and people in rainy snowy climates, needs a skin moisturizer all year round. Many of us really do need moisturizers, but not all the time. Here's how to choose.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Power of Intermittent Fasting

Here is an excerpt from my book Minimal Medication on intermittent fasting.

There is a mythology that ancient people who survived into adulthood actually may have led healthier lives than modern people. This is said to be due to the cleanness of their environment and their food. Recent archaeological research has found that pollution even existed in the ancient world, but the real reason ancient people who survived childhood were so healthy was due to the fact they didn’t eat all the time. This enabled a physiological process autophagy.

Monday, April 18, 2016

How Low is a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Diabetes?

Does the thought of bread fill you with dread? Have you been told that tofu is terrific but taffy is toxic? Is a low-carb diet the only type 2 diabetic diet for you?

Type 2 diabetics are often given dietary advice that is more appropriate for type 1's and for people with MODY. More than other diabetics, type 2's have a need for enough carbohydrate so they can think clearly, stick to their diabetes treatment plans and achieve their goals, leading happy and functional lives as they keep their blood sugar levels well controlled. This article tells you how much carb is enough carb without being too much for managing type 2 diabetes.

Is Intravenous Vitamin Therapy for You?

There is no doubt that vitamins are vital, and there are currently at least 274 studies of IV vitamins for various health conditions. (About half of these studies involve using vitamins to treat cancer.) Not everyone needs IV vitamins, however, and there are situations in which getting megadoses of vitamins intravenously can be harmful to health.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Diabetes That Actually Works

Chinese herbal medicine is alternately praised and panned for treatment of all kinds of diseases. The problem with Chinese herbal medicine is usually one of two things. People either assume that "if it's an herb, it's good" and take the wrong herb or herbal formula, or they get a product that isn't what it's labeled to be. Fortunately, some Chinese herbs for diabetics not only are generally useful, they are also generally labeled truthfully.

One of these herbs (there are more, but I'll mention them in later posts) is astragalus. 

Smoking Marijuana and Diabetes

Here's a reprint of my answer to a reader's question about diabetics smoking marijuana from 2012.

A reader got my phone number and called in a question, "I hope I am not, like, you know, breaking any rules, but I would like to know, diabetes detectives dudes, if my pot smoking would, like, affect my son's diabetes." Dude, like, we are only too happy to give you an answer. You go on to mention that your son is 27 years old, also smokes pot, and lives with you. Sometimes you smoke together.

I'm not an advocate of smoking pot, but I feel the question should be answered factually. Here goes.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Eat 10,000 Calories a Day to Lose Weight

One of the UK's top competitive eaters has lowered his body fat percentage from 25 to just 8 by eating 10,000 calories one day a week.

Diabetics and Sugar: Should Diabetics Ever Eat Sugar?

Sugar is usually treated as if it were a poison by all reasonable diabetics, but the fact is, most diabetics use at least a little sugar in their day to day diets. Sugar in very small amounts, up to about a teaspoon (5 grams), can usually be tolerated. That's not enough sugar to get a sugar high, but it's certainly enough to caramelize roasted vegetables, to sweeten a hot beverage, or to bring out colors and flavors of that small serving of fresh fruit.

Obviously, diabetics need to limit the amount of sugar they consume. And  the kind of sugar consumed can make a big difference, too. Especially if you are seeking to limit or eliminate animal products, there are big differences between brands of white sugar.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Rye Bread for Weight Loss

A reader of one of my other sites sent in a question about rye bread and weight loss.  "Are there any health benefits of rye bread?" she asked. "Is rye the healthiest bread, or at least a healthier bread? Is rye bread good for diabetics? Does rye bread have gluten?"

When I look in the mirror I have to be flattered that someone respects my intellect enough to ask me about rye bread for weight loss, but the truth is that rye flour makes probably the best whole grain bread.

Healthy Diabetic Snacks

What is it about Cheetos and Ding Dongs and stale donuts and similar junk foods that make them so appealing to so many people with type 2 diabetes? Is it that diabetics have no taste, or that they lose their sense of taste if their disease goes uncontrolled? Actually diabetes itself robs diabetics of their ability to taste and enjoy food--but there are many things diabetics can do about that, so they actually enjoy healthy diabetic snacks.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Grapefruit Diet for Diabetics

Do you remember the grapefruit fad? Maybe you are not old enough to recall the time when losing weight by eating grapefruit at every meal was in all the tabloids (alongside the martinis and cream and tuna fish diets), but in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's, grapefruit was the fad diet equivalent of today's cabbage soup diet.

But it turns out there really was something to it. Six researchers at the Shriners Burn Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, working with researchers at Harvard and Hebrew University, have found that the chemical that makes grapefruit bitter changes how fat cells use and store fat.

The chemical that has the effect on fat cells is known as naringenin. There has already been a clinical study that found that people who take a concentrated naringenin supplement experience significant lowering of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. This research team decided to see if the effects in the liver, where cholesterol is made, also occurred in fat cells.

What the scientists found was that the grapefruit chemical stimulated the genes that make the enzymes that burn fat and cholesterol. At the same time, naringenin stimulated the PPAR-alpha gene that triggers the burning of fat when we aren't eating, and the PPAR-gamma gene that makes cells more sensitive to insulin and lowers blood sugar levels.

The drugs Actos and Avandia stimulate PPAR-gamma, but they don't stimulate PPAR-alpha. They in effect lower blood sugar levels by shoving the sugar into fat cells. The chemical from grapefruit, on the other hand, lowers blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity, but it also activates fat burning genes in fat cells. The researchers said that eating grapefruit would have many of the benefits associated with long-term fasting, without the need for long-term fasting.

And because naringenin focuses its effects on the liver, there was a very special benefit for people who have diabetes and also hepatitis B or hepatitis C. The hepatitis viruses need fatty acids in liver cells to function. Grapefruit triggers the breakdown of these fats so the viruses can't get them.

So, should you run out and get jug of grapefruit juice and start chugging it down?

First of all, if you are on many prescription medications, you need to know that grapefruit juice slows down the rate at which the liver recycles them. Ask your pharmacist if it's safe to drink grapefruit juice if you take any prescription drug.

And, secondly, it's important to remember that grapefruit juice also can elevate your blood sugar levels. This undoes the benefits of increasing insulin sensitivity. Try drinking grapefruit juice instead of, rather than in addition to, other carbohydrates in your daily diet. If you need some help controlling those other carbohydrates, consider healthy diabetic snacks.

Image credit: By John Steven Fernandez from Toronto/Valparaiso, Canada/Chile (Grapefruit Splash) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

You may also be interested in my post on diabetes foods to avoid.

Tech Titan Gives $250 Million to Cancer Research

Sean Parker is best known as the founder of Napster and first president of Facebook. He's still active in the tech world. Like most of us, he has been touched by cancer. Unlike most of us, his response was to make a gift of $250 million to fund a new collaborative approach to cancer research.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ten Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Health Benefits of Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

Just about everyone knows the basics about the nutritional benefits of orange juice. Orange juice is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, thiamin (vitamin B1), and folic acid. It's a great way to get quick energy.

And while orange juice is acidic when you drink it, it alkalizes the urine to relieve some of the stress caused by eating too much protein and other "acidifying" factors in your diet. But the health benefits of orange juice are not limited to the basic nutrition facts. Orange juice has a number of surprising benefits, including these ten:

Orange Juice, Vitamin C, and Diabetes

Is it safe for diabetics to drink orange juice for breakfast? Could drinking orange juice actually lower blood sugar levels?

Like many other foods, orange juice can be extremely beneficial when taken in moderation. Drinking too much juice can cause diabetic complications.

Here's the bottom line from research:

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Benfotiamine for Diabetic Neuropathy: The Vitamin Supplement Diabetics Need But Don't Know About

There's probably no single supplement that more diabetics need than benfotiamine for neuropathy. Benfotiamine benefits are numerous, and benfotiamine side effects are minimal. Here's what diabetics need to know about this supercharged form of vitamin B1.

Fat as Fire Extinguisher: Why Diabetics Gain Weight

If you're fat, and I am, one of the reasons probably is that your body didn't want you to catch on "fire." There is an overlooked relationship between fat, sugar, insulin, and the stress hormone cortisol.

Since You Asked: Homeopathy for Pancreatic Cancer

Is there any role for homeopathic medicine in the treatment of pancreatic cancer?

Frankly, this is the kind of question that has to be asked of someone who has the credentials and training to prescribe homeopathics and who has spent some time, probabaly several hours, making the right diagnosis. Homeopathy isn't really all about taking little pills that contain very minute amounts of natural substances. It's actually about understanding the medical, psychological, social, sexual, and spiritual life of the patient--and the pill is secondary to the effects on health that are accomplished by self-understanding.

A Pancreatic Cancer Survivor's Story

A diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is often taken as a death sentence, but January of 2001, I was introduced to living proof it need not be.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Cinnamon Supplements for Diabetes

Cinnamon for diabetes has been one of the hottest topics in natural products for about 10 years. The problem is, there are a lot of people who are otherwise experts on diabetes but who don't know much about herbs putting out a lot of misinformation about it.

What Doctors Don't Tell Diabetics About LDL Cholesterol Levels

American standards of medical practice dictate that almost every diabetic will eventually be placed on a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, as soon as blood tests come back with an LDL number over 100 mg/dl two times in a row. But most diabetics, and many doctors, don't realize that standard blood tests don't even measure LDL, they estimate it. Even fewer understand that lowering triglycerides can raise computed LDL.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

New Study from China Finds that Fruit Deficiency Increases Risk of Death from Cardiovascular Disease

A very large study from China published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that about 16% of deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart attack or stroke) can be attributed to "fruit deficiency." That figure is very close to the 17% of cardiovascular deaths other studies estimate could be prevented if older people stopped smoking. But does not eating enough fruit really account for deaths from heart attacks?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Progress in Artificial Pancreas Development


A clinical trial at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has found that a glucagon pump can reduce incidents of dangerously low blood sugar levels for diabetics on an insulin pump or taking multiple injections per day. While this is an important step for the development of an artificial pancreas, it's also an example of a treatment that poorly matched with the disease.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"Statins Cause Cataracts, But So What?"

Are statin drugs for lowering cholesterol and inflammation truly valuable or truly risky? The latest study, which implies that another 20 million Americans need to be on the drugs, also finds that statins increase the risk of cataracts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Potato Consumption Linked to Gestational Diabetes

Women who eat more potatoes are more likely to develop diabetes during pregnancy, a study recently published in BMJ reports.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Does an Aspirin a Day Keep Prostate Cancer Away?

Men taking an aspirin a day for cardiovascular protection had a 39% lower risk of dying of prostate cancer, researchers analyzing data for m a large-scale study recently reported.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Lower Dose of Radiation Works Just as Well in Treating Prostate Cancer, Researchers Say

"Hypofractionated" radiation therapy, using fewer treatments at a higher dosage with lower total radiation, could become the new standard of care for prostate cancer, a British researcher reports.

Friday, January 8, 2016

List Making: One Way to Deal with Anxiety

Could a list making app cure anxiety? Could list making software alleviate dementia, not just by helping someone get through the day, but by actually increasing brain power?

I'm an advocate of drugless therapies wherever they work. One that simply had not occurred to me, until I read a study about it (whatever that says about me), is dealing with anxiety by making lists.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Different Way of Treating Diabetic Feet

Diabetic foot infection mostly healed.
Most diabetics assume they will never get a foot infection. After all, germs are carried by dirt, and if you change your socks and don’t walk around in moldy gym shoes all the time, who would expect to get an infection?

The reality is, unfortunately, that diabetic foot infections are an eventuality for many diabetics who have neuropathy, even those of fastidious foot care habits.

Eccentric Exercise and Diabetes

Eccentric exercise is a potential preventative for type 2 diabetes. By "eccentric," I don't mean unicycle riding or extreme ironing or wrestling alligators, but rather any kind of exercise in which muscles stretch as they exert force. This is exercise like lifting a weight from a position down and in front of you or pushing down on a pedal.

The Diabetic Weight Loss Dilemma

Every diabetic experiences some version of this story of the central dilemma of diabetic weight loss: Doctors tell diabetics that losing weight will improve or even cure their condition. Doctors then proceed to give diabetics a variety of medications that lower blood sugar numbers but add pounds or kilos at weight-check time. With diet and exercise and Herculean (or Sisyphan) effort, diabetics can lose weight, but it comes right back. Fortunately, there may be a herbal approach to ending the cycle.

What to Look For at Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

If you're not a pot user but you are interested in marijuana for medical applications, you probably don't know what to expect at medical marijuana dispensaries. You may be surprised to learn that one strain of pot doesn't work for everything. In fact, there may be different kinds of marijuana that either hurt or help your condition. Here's a quick guide to what to expect from a legal marijuana dispensary, by health condition.