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Ass-Kicking Boots, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Diabetes, and Silly Canine Dinner Dates on a Week Night

One person can do great things. Don’t ever forget that.

Please forgive the ridiculously long headline.

I occasionally use an analyzing tool, to see if I’m leading with engaging prose. This one scored off the charts, but more importantly, it made me laugh. Who knew that dogs could be dinner dates or that ass-kicking boots and diabetes could share space in the same sentence with ice cream sandwiches?

But I digress. (Even though every noun in that headline is relevant to my story.) The reason I bring up ice cream sandwiches is that I used to eat them for dinner every night. Yes, I lost weight while eating ice cream. In fact, I lost forty pounds by eating ice cream every night. (Of course I know how absurd it sounds, but it’s also far more dangerous than it sounds, too.)

You’d think by losing the forty pounds, I could walk around kicking ass in my ass-kicking boots anytime I wanted, but it was actually more difficult than you’d think.

Guys, let me tell you this about women and shoes: We love shoes because we can buy any pair of shoes anytime that we want, and wear them anytime that we want, too.

We have fat-clothes, not-fat clothes, and the in-between clothes for every possible occasion, from weddings to work and concerts to funerals. We struggle with hostile hormones every week of every month of every year, and they cheat us out of our favorite clothes more times than not. BUT NOT OUR SHOES!!!

We don’t have to have fat shoes! We can wear any shoe for any occasion, and it’s the one damn thing in our wardrobe that never shrinks, never makes fun of us, never lets us down. They do what they promise, every single damn time.

So, I had a new pair of high-heel boots (some would use boot and hooker in the same sentence. – scratch that: it would be my husband who would use them in the same sentence, with his wicked smile.) But after wearing high heels for over 30 years, I was having trouble. My feet hurt really bad, for one, and for another, I didn’t have the same “feel” in my foot and ankle that I did when I was younger.

It was a really strange feeling. I felt like I was walking on stilts, very stiff-ankled and completely awkward. The ankles that used to strut in a three-inch heel felt like they would turn on me in a very bad way.

Four years ago this month, I went to see my doctor because of the shooting pain in my feet and legs. (really because I wanted to wear my hooker boots.) I was in fact having those shooting pains all over my body.  I called it the sparkler effect. It was painful, sometimes almost debilitating.

I was also exhausted.

Mentally and physically drained after eight hours of work. I’d come home and after supper, I’d hit the recliner and I might not move for the rest of the evening. My mind was fuzzy and lazy in the evening. I sometimes panicked, becoming extremely overwhelmed with life. (This, from someone who’d never spent more than an hour at a time being unhappy.) I was emotional. I was grumpy. I wasn’t hungry, ever, but I could never get enough to drink. AND, my feet hurt like hell.

I was really hyped about losing that 40 pounds, though. I ate ice cream sandwiches for supper. It was the only thing that tasted and felt good, and it wasn’t causing me to gain weight- Win! Yes, there was a little dark voice in the back of my head asking me if I thought it was funny to have lost weight without trying when I’d been trying my whole life without luck, but hey, who was I to complain that my clothes all fit so nicely now?

My husband kept brow-beating me and so I finally made an appointment with my doctor about the foot pain. I remember walking in there, proud of my recent weight loss thinking that she would be as excited as me, since every other doctor in my life had forever given me hell about my weight.

Ummm, not so much. She looked over my bloodwork, told me that my Hemoglobin A1C was 10.5. (Normal is generally considered to be below 6.5 or 7.0, and the lower, the better.) My blood pressure was ridiculously high, 198/131.

After the nurse took my blood pressure reading twice, my doctor took it again, four more times. She even had me lie down partially, resting my upper body across the exam table, while I was seated in the side chair, trying to get my arm even with my heart when she inflated the cuff. Still high. Really, really high.

My doctor was debating admitting me to the hospital because of my hypertension! Me! The one who was never sick. NEVER!

Instead of walking out of that office with tips about treating my foot pain, I walked out with five prescriptions and an order for more blood work in 30 days. After my initial statement of coming in because of the foot pain, we never spoke of it again during that visit. Or after the next four, as a matter of fact.

I picked up my prescriptions from the pharmacy and came home. I read over all the literature for each medication. I sat down and cried. My husband came home, I explained it all to him, and I cried some more. And then he did something that completely shocked me. He got weepy, too. Not all “American Psycho,” or anything, but genuinely concerned for my health, and, well, for me.

I guess sometimes we get these little wake-up calls from God to remind us of the things that are important in our lives.

I’m not talking about my husband’s wake-up call. (That’s between him and God, not me.) I’m talking about my wake-up call. We stumble through life in our own little world, and forget how much we mean to the people around us. I mean, I knew my husband loved me, but to see him so greatly affected by something that was happening to me reminded me that I better get a move-on. I better get my shit together and try to get on top of this asshole disease that I’d let creep up on me.

I started poring over all the information about the medication that the doc had prescribed for me. Metformin to help my tissues become more sensitive to insulin. Actos to decrease the amount glucose that my liver releases. Diovan for the outrageously high blood pressure, along with its sidekick amlodipine. Simvastatin to control the amount of cholesterol produced in my liver.

The side effects of Metformin are generally mild, if you like to know about such things. It causes malaise and fatigue, (hey, didn’t I complain about that before I went to the doctor?) and it also causes gastrointestinal disturbances. It’s also recently been discovered that it causes a vitamin B12 deficiency that causes fatigue, mental status changes, and neuropathy. (Hello, did I mention foot pain already?)

One word about Actos: Weight Gain. (Okay, two words, but who’s counting?) I gained 30 pounds in 28 days. If your doctor ever tells you that it’s unsafe to lose more than a pound or two a week, you have my permission to slap her. Well, don’t slap her, ask her how it is safe to gain 30 a month but not safe to lose a pound a day?

Diovan side effects include headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, and diarrhea. (always with the diarrhea) Yikes. Amlodipine side effects are leg and foot pain, (again with the foot, dude) fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

And now to simvastatin, which is in a class of meds called statins.

Muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, confusion, fever, unusual fatigue, memory problems, pain or burning when you urinate, dark colored urine, decreased or no urine output, (what the HELLS is this drug doing to your kidneys?) swelling, and weight gain.

Simvastatin also increases your risk for cancer. (Ever notice how they always know what causes cancer, but supposedly no one knows how to cure cancer? Hmmmmmm….) It can cause immune depression, cataracts, anemia, and sexual dysfunction, too. There are even some reports out there about it CAUSING diabetes!!

But the big one? The one your doctor doesn’t tell you about?  The one that scared the begezums out of me? Statins may increase your risk for heart disease. Especially for women. Because they deplete your body’s supply of CoQ10, a co-enzyme that is essential in the production of ATP molecules that are needed for cellular energy production. Your heart and other organs have a higher energy requirement than other cells, and therefore require more CoQ10 to function.

Doctors are not routinely advising their patients to supplement with CoQ10, especially after the age of 40. My doctor is very good and I honestly don’t remember being advised to use this supplement.

I took simvastatin for two and a half years. When I started finding more and more articles about its dangers, I quit taking it. I won’t say against my doctor’s advice. When I saw her, I mentioned it to her, and she looked at me thoughtfully and moved on to the next issue.

She was in the process of referring me to a cardiologist because of an abnormal EKG. I ended up have to have a stress test and a nuclear heart scan. All was good, but you know what? When I followed up with the cardiologist’s PA, she mentioned that I was not on a statin for my hypercholesterolemia. I explained my rationale: My mother had three heart bypass surgeries, both carotid arteries cleaned up after 80% and 95% blockages, and after having at least five heart attacks and one stroke. Point: I had a very strong history of heart disease and I didn’t think that the statins were worth the risk.

The PA looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head.

(Some think they’ve actually seen them, but I protest on the basis that they can’t stinken prove it.) She actually looked at me and said, “That’s nonsense. Statins have been proven in human studies to be some of the safest drugs available.”

I didn’t know how to respond. I am not a doctor, but I can read, and I have excellent comprehension. How is it possible that this medical professional had not heard of any of the studies available with a simple google search? I left that office feeling really disappointed. I worked for doctors. I knew these professionals. They weren’t quacks. It’s not that I lost all trust in them, but I did feel betrayed by their blind belief in a pill. It made me question everything they told me.

Look, I was a practice manager. I get medical-legal and being vigilant about liability. But damn. Couldn’t she have at least asked me where I read this information so that she could verify it? That would have made me feel like she at least thought there was a brain behind my eyes instead of blowing me off like a silly school girl.

I didn’t just see one clip on Dr. Oz, or read Woman’s World. I saw it on the internet, too, and everyone knows that it has to be true if you see it on the internet. Seriously, I read many articles from a lot of trusted professionals. I’m not one who sees what I believe reflected back to me in every word or deed to justify my point of view. I want to find a reason to doubt. I mean, I want it to work, but I want to know it won’t kill me, either.

The Western fascination with pharmaceuticals has taken ginormous leaps since the 80’s.

I personally have never believed that a pill could or would cure everything. I’m too much of a realist, too pragmatic to believe in fairy dust and bean stalks. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in Nature. I believe most of what ails us can be treated and often cured with the natural bounty of food at our fingertips. We just have to study that in which we have not yet been schooled. (How do you think I found the articles about the damned simvastatin?)

That being said, there’s much room for traditional medicine and pharmacy. There are many who have benefitted from it, including myself. There is no doubt that it’s saved lives. However, the biggest problem that I personally have with modern medicine is the by-the-numbers approach to every human. I understand the safety in numbers agenda, and that it’s generally a good place to start. When it comes to me or my loved ones, though, that’s simply not good enough.

If only one person out of a million had a bad side effect with a drug, or a really sucking bad side effect like they keeled over from a heart attack or something much worse, that’s a percentage that most drug companies would embrace before marketing their drug.

But what about that person who had the side effect? That person was someone’s parent, kid, sibling, spouse, friend, co-worker.

What are the long-term effects of that person missing in any of those lives or of that person’s own life being forever changed, and why is it acceptable to have caused harm to him?

Look, I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. (okay, maybe I am, just a little…) I know the value of the drug that only affects one in a million patients in an adverse manner, especially if the benefits of the medicine are spectacular. My beef begins with the pharmaceutical, but it extends to the provider and the pushers, too. My doctor did not tell me about one single side effect of any drug that she recommended. Nor did the pharmacist. They left it up to me to read the literature that came with my prescription.

I’m fairly savvy about reading up on drugs before I take them or allow a loved one to take them, but what about those who are too weak or old or dumb or careless to research the drug? Does it truly meet medical-legal standard to simply hand a bunch of medical mumbo-jumbo to a patient with their drug?

If one person in a million died and it was directly related to a drug, then shouldn’t those professionals who delivered it at least give you a “By-the-way, the odds are in your favor, but you might turn into a pumpkin seed if you take this medicine,” or maybe a “I’m pretty sure this will not kill you, but you should know that it killed one person?”

One person can do great things. Don’t ever forget that. And for goodness sake, don’t let a doctor or a pharmacist ever blow you off in favor of the crowd effect. Make them listen to your questions. You’re the reason they have a job. Don’t ever forget that little nugget, either.

I gotta run. It’s a school night and I have two silly dawgs who are trying on new poses for dinner entertainment. Seriously, you should see these two.

Before I go, though, let me ask you this: Have you ever felt like a number to any of the professionals who are helping you manage your diabetes?

Life is good,

Donna

 

 

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Common Signs Of Diabetes That You Can’t Afford To Ignore

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and retinopathy, to name only a few serious conditions related to the disease.

According to 2014 statistics (the most recent available), The Center for Disease Control estimates that Diabetes Mellitus, or Type II Diabetes affects over 29 million Americans. (https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014StatisticsReport.html). Because the symptoms of diabetes can be so mild, they sometimes cause no overt discomfort or complication. In fact, one third of people who have Type II diabetes did not know that they had the disease.

The insidious nature of diabetes makes it difficult to manage in patients who may be in denial or who think that this chronic condition is not dangerous. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes. If anyone in your immediate family has the disease, then you should have your blood glucose level tested at least yearly.

Your Friend Insulin

When we eat, food in our stomach is broken down by digestive acids and enzymes. These fluids break down the sugars and starches from the carbohydrates we eat into another form of sugar, glucose. Every cell in our body requires energy to complete the metabolic activities that sustain life and glucose is the simple sugar that is used by most cells in our body for energy.

Once carbohydrates are converted to glucose, it is absorbed by the stomach and the small intestine and then released into the bloodstream. The glucose enters our bloodstream and is immediately available to our cells for energy, but our body needs insulin to open the cells so that they can receive the glucose, or energy. If there is not enough insulin, then the glucose builds in your bloodstream.

When the glucose in your bloodstream is not released into your cells, it causes a condition called hyperglycemia. When your blood sugar levels reach 180 or greater, your kidneys try to get rid of the excess sugar through urine. This causes you to urinate more frequently, and in turn, you become excessively thirsty because of the loss of water through urination.

Losing sugar through your urine is energy lost to your cells. When your body is unable to absorb the energy-boosting glucose, you become hungry all the time and fatigued. Blurry vision and infections that don’t heal are also signs of chronically high blood sugars. Women may experience chronic vaginal yeast infections.

When Losing Weight Is Not A Good Thing

Your body is built to survive, and if it is unable to convert food to energy, it will utilize other available sources for energy. These sources include fat and muscle tissue, which will result in weight loss. At first, this may seem like a good thing, especially if you are like most diabetics, and carry more than a few extra pounds around your middle. However, when your body is unable to utilize glucose stores, you may find yourself in a vicious circle of being hungry, being thirsty all the time, urinating frequently, and being tired and moody.

When your body burns fat rather than glucose, it can create excess ketones in your blood. Some people purposefully try to put their bodies into a state of ketosis to lose weight, increase lean muscle, and reduce blood sugar. However, if left unchecked and not monitored or done purposefully, burning fat rather than glucose can lead to a dangerous condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, or DKA, and this is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Ketoacidosis can develop very quickly. It causes your blood to become too acidic and endangers the normal functioning of your liver, kidneys, and other internal organs. It can lead to coma or death if left untreated.

Silent Symptoms of Diabetes

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and retinopathy, to name only a few serious conditions related to the disease. It’s important to recognize the signs of high blood sugar and seek medical care. Contact your healthcare professional if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent yeast infections
  • Wounds that are slow to heal
  • Gum disease
  • Unexplained nausea and vomiting
  • Dehydration

Diabetes can be easily controlled, with conventional Western medicine that includes a healthy diet and exercise, and sometimes with the addition of pharmaceuticals. Many find improved symptoms and even reversal of high blood sugars with careful weight loss and management and also with natural supplements and healthful, organic diets.

Remember, you’re in control of your health. Talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes. Find out what treatments are available. Research natural remedies and cures for your symptoms. Talk to family and friends who are dealing with diabetes and ask how they manage their symptoms.

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Sugar’s Deadly Secret: How It’s Slowly Killing You

Do the folks running the American Diabetes Association have some sort of collective brain defect? Or is it possible that they have been influenced in some way by another Association to provide such an astounding opinion? And disseminate that opinion to sway or mislead the public?

It’s no small secret that Americans eat too much refined sugar, but did you know that the average American eats their own body weight in sugar every year? Just one hundred years ago, that figure was 10-20 pounds per year. When you consider the fact that many use much less than the annual average, that places the real amount of consumption well above one’s own body weight for those who are using it.

All commercially processed sugars are refined. If you think that you’re getting a more natural, raw product in brown sugar, you are mistaken. Sugar cane or sugar beets are refined into the fine white product that we all know. Even brown sugar starts out as white. After it’s processed, manufacturers add in a little bit of the molasses that was stripped from the sugar during processing. In fact, if you need brown sugar for a recipe but are out, you can add a little molasses to regular white sugar to convert it to brown.

Refined white sugar is pure sucrose and other than its sweetness, it has a bland flavor. There is a bit more flavor in the darker sugars because of the molasses that’s added back during processing. Marketers like to imply that darker or “raw” sugars have more health benefits than processed sugar, but that’s not exactly true. Sugar cane and sugar beets don’t start out with measurable nutritional value, so even if you choose a less processed sugar, the nutritional value that you think you’re retaining is almost non-existent. Your body won’t know the difference between the two products as it will break them both down and use them exactly the same way.

Sugar in all its forms is a simple carbohydrate. Refined sugar is made of sucrose, which is about a 50/50 combination of glucose and fructose.  The naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, and dairy are fructose and lactose and while the body treats them as simple carbohydrates, they also provide important nutritional value in the form of proteins, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Refined sugar stresses the liver. If there is already sufficient glycogen in the liver, it will turn the additional fructose to fat. It increases cholesterol and triglycerides, neither of which are necessarily bad for you in absence of too much sugar. Your body breaks down simple sugars very quickly and this causes your blood sugar levels to spike. Because the sugar is broken down so quickly, you don’t feel full after eating it, and it makes you more likely to overeat. Conversely, the fructose found in fruits is metabolized much more slowly due to the fiber content of fruit. The fiber fills your belly while it metabolizes, making you feel sated.

 Sugar Daddies

No one wants to admit that sugar is bad for us, least of all the Sugar Association. Their website, https://www.sugar.org/ states “The simple, irrefutable fact is this: Sugar is a healthy part of a diet. Carbohydrates, including sugar, are the preferred sources of the body’s fuel for brain power, muscle energy and every natural process that goes on in every functioning cell.” They further state that it’s an essential food ingredient and since it’s all natural, you can consume it with confidence. Even if you’re a diabetic. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Sugar Association links to the American Diabetes Association’s website at https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-myths, and they say, “The available evidence from clinical studies demonstrates that dietary sucrose does not increase glycemia more than isocaloric amounts of starch. Thus, intake of sucrose and sucrose-containing foods by people with diabetes does not need to be restricted because of concern about aggravating hyperglycemia,” and also, “Sucrose should be substituted for other carbohydrate sources in the food/meal plan or, if added to the food/meal plan, adequately covered with insulin or other glucose-lowering medication.”

Did you do a double-take there? This author is not a physician, a nurse, or a nutritionist, but I have to ask, do either of those statements from professional associations endorsed by the U.S.D.A. make sense to you? Are they suggesting diabetics should consume sugar and then just use their medication to adjust their glucose levels? Do the folks running the American Diabetes Association have some sort of collective brain defect? Or is it possible that they have been influenced in some way by another Association to provide such an astounding opinion? And disseminate that opinion to sway or mislead the public? Hmmmm……

In the 70’s, nutrition experts advised Americans to increase their consumption of so-called complex carbohydrates. These experts claimed that the starches in complex carbs were more slowly absorbed by the body than simple sugars and would therefore not affect blood sugar and insulin levels. They advised eating more whole grains and to avoid fruit juices. To this day, this advice permeates American dietary guidelines, even though there is an outright epidemic of diabetes mellitus, or Type II Diabetes, and obesity in the United States that can be traced back almost directly to the change in dietary advice that was dispensed forty years ago.

Man-made insulin has long been considered imperative to regulate blood sugar, but even that has to be questioned due to the industries that revolve around diabetes and insulin production. Diabetes Warrior, http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/2014/02/05/big-pharma-pays-31-5-million-to-ada-supremely-naive/ shows that Big Pharma paid the American Diabetes Association over $31 billion in 2012 alone. That’s 31 billion reasons to not list sugar as a dangerous food that should be restricted in any way.

Now, I’m not suggesting any impropriety here. I am merely pointing out that it seems bit strange to the average person that the ADA has for years promoted a diet for diabetics that is high carb, grain-based, and low-fat and more people are dying from complications from diabetes than ever before. The number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes increased from 5.5 million in 1980 to 22.0 million in 2014, and with that huge increase in cases we have to understand the need for more pharmaceuticals, including insulin. (https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/prev/national/figpersons.htm)

It’s time to ask ourselves if the conventional wisdom of basing a diet on complex carbohydrates that are full of starch and avoiding fruit and healthy fats needs to be disregarded. It’s a deadly serious matter. There is in fact, growing evidence that starch from pasta and grains contributes to breast cancer risk and also to the risk of other cancer types. Complex carbohydrates and starches may be responsible for an increase in heart disease, too. But we’ll dive more into those stories in future articles, dear readers.

In the meantime, watch your sugar intake. All of you, even if you’re not diabetic. Eat your fruits and vegetables to your heart’s desire. Fill up on them and make sure you add fresh, lean protein to every meal. Drink plenty of pure water with every meal, too. You might not be able to eliminate all your refined sugar intake at once, and that’s not a terrible thing. Your body will rebel like a heroin addict if you remove it all at once, so give yourself time to adjust.

We’ll have more information on the dangers of sugar coming up in future articles.

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Ditch Your Neurontin and Lyrica Starting Tomorrow – Natural Supplements Can and Do Help Relieve Peripheral Neuropathy Pain for Diabetics Every Day

Pain from neuropathy can interfere with your daily activities. The pain you feel is your body’s alarm system telling you that something is wrong. Damaged nerves are starved of oxygen and nutrients causing numbness and the undernourished nerves misfire, erroneously sending pain signals to the brain.

The human nervous system is composed of two separate structures: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system is the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. The peripheral nervous system consists of the many ganglia, sensory neurons, and nerves that connect to one another and to the central nervous system. Together, these two structures make up your body’s electrical wiring system, messaging between your brain and body in a complicated language of electrical signals that keep your body moving and your organs active with the involuntary functions of breathing, cleaning, and pumping that keep you alive.

The peripheral nerve system sends messages to the brain and spinal cord. Messages such as “My feet are cold,” or “Ouch, that pan is hot!” travel to the brain via an intricate web of nerves. When these delicate nerve endings are damaged by chronic high blood sugar levels, injury, or infection, they can send messages of pain or tingling when there is no stimulus or they may not feel something that is actually causing harm, such as stubbing your toe or stepping on something sharp.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United States, with up to 70% of those affected by the disease suffering from noticeable symptoms. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy range from mild numbness and tingling, prickling sensations and muscle weakness to more moderate symptoms of painful touch and burning pain. In extreme cases, peripheral neuropathy can result in muscle wasting and paralysis.

It’s important to know that although peripheral neuropathy in the hands and feet is the most common complaint of patients experiencing neuropathy, there are a host of other symptoms and organs that may be affected. Your peripheral nerves connect to the central nervous system, sending messages back to the brain from your internal organs as well as your limbs. Pain and numbness and atrophy can occur anywhere along the peripheral nerve route.

You might not immediately notice the signs of neuropathy of your digestive tract or circulatory system, but insidious damage to these nerves can leave you with chronic infections and at risk for falls from dizziness. If your neuropathy symptoms are affecting your feet and legs, they are more than likely affecting your internal organs, too.

Common Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy:

  • Pain and numbness in the legs and feet
  • Pain and numbness in the hands and arms
  • Burning sensation in the lower legs
  • A feeling of “fullness” or as if there is sand in your calves
  • A “crawling” feeling in your legs
  • Fleeting, sharp pain that is consistent and may present all over the body or may be concentrated in the same spot
  • “Sparking” pain that may occur all over your body
  • Losing the feeling of a full bladder, and also not emptying it completely, resulting in frequent urinary tract infections
  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation, bloating
  • Difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection in males and sensory loss in females

Pain from neuropathy can interfere with your daily activities. The pain you feel is your body’s alarm system telling you that something is wrong. Damaged nerves are starved of oxygen and nutrients causing numbness and the undernourished nerves misfire, erroneously sending pain signals to the brain.

Secondary symptoms such as sleeplessness and inactivity are often experienced with neuropathy. Pain in the limbs often manifests later in the day, making it difficult to walk or even run errands, or to concentrate. Falling asleep may become difficult or impossible, and sleep can be interrupted with shooting pains.

Mainstream Neuropathy Treatment

Doctors recommend bringing blood sugars under control in order to alleviate diabetic neuropathy. Normal hemoglobin A1C results are 7.5% or lower and the closer you can get to normal, the more likely you can control the symptoms of neuropathy.

Your physician can prescribe several types of medicines to help relieve the chronic pain caused by peripheral neuropathy:

Antidepressants

  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI’s) are typically the first line of defense in treating paid associated with diabetic neuropathy. They are also relatively safe, and they are especially effective for those who suffer from chronic pain as well as depression. Trade names for drugs in the SNRI class include:
    • Cymbalta
    • Fetzima
    • Effexor
    • Pristiq
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They are relatively safe and they typically cause fewer side-effects than other antidepressants. Trade names for drugs in this class include:
    • Celexa
    • Lexapro
    • Prozac
    • Paxil
    • Zoloft

Anti-seizure Medication

  • Although the exact mechanism of action is not understood, anti-seizure medications appear to interrupt the overactive signals of pain that damaged nerves send to the brain. Common trade for drugs in this class include:
    • Neurontin
    • Lyrica
    • Oxgtellar
    • Topamax
    • Tegretol

Painkillers

  • Prescription painkillers are sometimes used to manage peripheral neuropathy. Because tolerance is quickly achieved, higher doses are required for pain management and they are therefore regarded as poor choices for long-term pain management. Trade names for drugs in this class include:
    • Oxycodone
    • Norco
    • Vicodin
    • Percocet
    • Lortab

Although patients using the above drugs can experience some relief, the many side effects of each drug can be quite devastating. Constipation, nausea, dizziness, confusion, respiratory issues, liver failure, addiction, and death are all very real results that can occur when choosing pharmaceutical solutions to manage neuropathic pain.

Natural Supplements

 Prescription medication can be effective, but given side effects, it’s worthwhile to consider other alternatives. There are natural supplements available that offer real relief to those who suffer from peripheral neuropathy. These supplements are easily available without a prescription from local drug stores, health food stores, and online suppliers. There is much research available on natural supplements and they are normally much more reasonably priced than pharmaceuticals.

Effective supplements that are easily found at the drug store or online include:

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is found in every cell of the body. It is both fat and water soluble and evidence shows that it helps regenerate other antioxidants and make them active again.
    • Alpha lipoic acid is a natural compound found in many foods that you eat every day, such as potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, brewer’s yeast, and beets. You can also find substantial quantities of alpha lipoic acid in red meat, particularly organ meat.
    • Its ability to help kill free radicals is thought to help with diabetic neuropathy. Because it passes easily into the brain, it may help protect brain and nerve tissue, making viable as possible treatment to protect against stroke and dementia.
    • Side effects are rare, but include insomnia, diarrhea, fatigue, and skin rash. Since alpha lipoic acid may aid in reduction of blood glucose levels, use caution if you are using any other glucose lowering medications and be watchful of symptoms of low blood sugar such as sudden blurry vision, dizziness, sudden mood changes, shaking, headache, trouble thinking clearly, and loss of consciousness.
    • Recommended dosing for treatment of peripheral neuropathy is 600mg per day for adults.
  • Vitamin B9, or folic acid, increases the production of red blood cells and aids in the production of red blood cells and cell regeneration. It is often used to help your sciatic nerve recover from injury. It supports DNA synthesis and helps protect and nourish nerves.
    • Foods rich in vitamin B9 include spinach, beans, peas, asparagus, broccoli, avocado, orange juice, mushrooms, and liver.
    • Recommended dosing for aid with neuropathy is 400-600mcg/day
  • Vitamin B6 & B12 also provide nerve protection and cell regeneration. They increase protein synthesis and support the regeneration of damaged nerve cells when taken in high doses. Vitamin B converts carbohydrates to fuel that is used by all the cells in the body, including the central nervous system.
    • Foods that contain vitamin B6 and B12 include fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy. B6 is also found in bananas, spinach, and sweet potatoes. B12 is found in shellfish, brewer’s yeast, and soy products. Additionally, both are found in fortified cereals.
    • Recommended dosage for vitamin B6 is 200mg per day. Dosages higher than 200mg are known to exacerbate peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
    • Recommended dosage for vitamin B12 is 100-1500mcg/day. We recommend talking to your physician for the best dose for you. Additionally, your physician can provide B12 injections in higher doses over a longer period of time which may be of greater benefit than an oral regimen.
  • Vitamin D-2 is a plant-based form of vitamin D and is known to encourage nerve growth and to also protect nerves from permanent damage. It’s hard for most to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin D from a normal diet, so supplementation for most adults, even those not suffering from neuropathy, is recommended.
    • To increase vitamin D intake from your diet, you can eat fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. You can also find vitamin D in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Additionally, you can find foods fortified in vitamin D such as cereal, some dairy products, orange juice, and soy milk.
    • It’s recommended that everyone supplement with vitamin D every day and recommendations range from 2000IU/day to 10,000IU/day. In diabetic patients, closely monitored studies have found that neuropathy is profoundly relieved at 50,000IU per week, but these studies were small and more testing is required.
    • Vitamin D toxicity can occur in doses of 40,000IU per week and higher. Since it is fat-soluble, your body stores vitamin D until it’s needed and therefore does not metabolize it quickly. Hypercalcemia can occur at toxic levels of vitamin D. Symptoms of toxicity include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, bone pain, frequent urination, and muscle pain.
    • Stay safe and use no more than 4000IU/day of Vitamin D. If you would like to increase that dosage, talk to your physician before taking more than the recommended levels.
  • Avena Sativa (Oat Straw) comes from green oats and is an herbal medicine that has been used for centuries to improve brain health, and is being used more recently to alleviate the painful symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
    • Oat straw contains powerful antioxidants that can help painful inflammation and swelling. It helps to calms nerves when they are inflamed, reducing stress and anxiety.
    • Recommended dosing is 350 -700mg per day.
  • Magnesium and Calcium deficiencies can affect nerve health. Both are required for the health and stability of the myelin sheath, the membrane that wraps around the core of a nerve and facilitates transmission of electric signals from the brain. Calcium assists in the transmissions and magnesium aids in muscle contraction, nerve connection, and muscle relaxation.
    • Foods rich in magnesium and calcium include dried pumpkin seeds, cashews, sesame seeds, soy beans, whole grains such as brown rice and oats, avocados, prunes, yogurt, and cheese.
    • Dosing for magnesium is 320mg/day and for calcium, 1200mcg/day for women and 1000mcg/day for men.
    • Be careful with dosing for all minerals. Toxicity can and will exacerbate neuropathy symptoms. Talk to your doctor before taking larger than recommended doses.

You can begin adding supplements to your daily regimen immediately. A good place to start for most who are experiencing diabetic neuropathy is with alpha lipoic acid and a Vitamin B Complex supplement. Often, these two will help to alleviate much pain and discomfort. Additionally, supplementing with fish oil tablets and vitamin C & E will provide additional antioxidant support of your nervous system.

As always, discuss any changes in your medication regimen with your physician. Short of allergies, you should be able to work with your health care professional to find the right supplements for you.

Why Your Nutritionist Won’t Tell You to Dump The Food Pyramid and Five Damn Good Reasons Why Your Body Will Love You If You Do

Sold to the highest bidder! Why would you trust your government to provide your best nutrition advice?

 

We’re all familiar with the Food Pyramid, that triangular formation divided into six sections to give us a visual of what food we should be eating every day. Americans were introduced to it in 1992, but did you know that it was originally designed in Sweden in the 1970’s? The Swedish government asked the National Board of Health and Welfare to assist citizens who were dealing with rampant high food prices. Their response was to create a visual aid to show which foods were essential to human health and which ones supplemented the basic foods with vitamins and minerals so that the public could spend their grocery dollars wisely.

In 1992, the USDA, the United States Department of Agriculture, unveiled its version of the Food Pyramid, ostensibly to guide Americans to basic foods that should be consumed each day, as well as recommended proportions for better health. Previous guidance from the USDA included 1943’s Basic Seven and the updated Basic Four that was released in 1956 and used until 1992. Both nutrition guides suggested the basic food groups, without detail on quantity.

Upon release of the new Food Pyramid, there was immediate controversy, and rightly so. There were dramatic differences in the version that was approved for distribution and the original created by Luise Light, the nutrition expert from New York University who was recruited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a new guide to replace the “Basic Four” guidance that had been used since WWII.

Light’s original pyramid showcased fruits and vegetables, making up the wide base of the pyramid, with recommendations for very limited starches and sugars, as represented at the very peak of the pyramid. Light is on record as saying her food pyramid was “sold to the highest bidder,” and, “the wholesale changes made to the guide by the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture were calculated to win the acceptance of the food industry.”

She goes on to say that her wording was manipulated to showcase processed foods over fresh and whole foods, to minimize lean meats and low fat dairy because meat and dairy lobbies were concerned it would hurt sales of their full fat products. Wheat and grains, including cereals, were hugely increased from Light’s original recommendation of 3-4 daily servings (represented at the top of the pyramid) to 6-11 servings per day. The nutritionist and her team recommended 5-9 daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables but that was replaced with a meager 2-3 servings per day. Wording was also altered from “eat less” to “avoid too much” to steer clear of advising to limit “fun food” (aka junk food) and affecting profits of the companies who produced them.

The USDA’s most recent offers are no less influenced by the special interests of lobbyists and the industries they represent. In fact, the 2005 food pyramid was guided by the same PR firm whose past clients included McDonalds and The Snack Food Association. The firm, Porter Novelli, assured the government that there would be no conflict of interest but 2.5 million taxpayer dollars later, that dubious claim was debunked when the new graphic for the pyramid contained no information to inform the public or damage the special interests in the food industry. The graphic was composed of colored sections representing food groups and a stick-figure running up a set of stairs.

In 2011, the USDA introduced the food circle, ChooseMyPlate.gov. This graphic was chosen to be a simpler representation of daily food choices. The plate, however, still insists that one half of dietary intake come from starches and sugars. To further cloud the issue, there is no mention of fat intake and no distinction in protein that can be sourced from vegetables or animal tissue.

Food Corruption

The USDA’s stated purpose is to oversee the American farming industry. Its duties range from helping farmers with price support subsidies to inspecting food to ensure the safety of the American public. The agency has been scrutinized in recent years for its failure to protect American consumers from tainted foods that are not processed properly. (http://www.allgov.com/departments/department-of-agriculture?detailsDepartmentID=5680).

The USDA’s official website, https://www.usda.gov/our-agency/about-usda/, states its mission, among other functions, is to, “promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans while also helping feed others throughout the world.”

The agency heavily subsidizes corn, wheat, rice, and soybean industries and their producers receive the bulk of over $25 million dollars in annual subsidies. Big food lobbyists spend upwards of $36 million annually pushing their agenda on the U.S. government. These lobbyists represent food manufacturers whose profits are anchored in GMO (genetically modified organisms) and the heavy use of antibiotics. These manufactures are given the lion’s share of subsidies and in turn free advertising and promotion by our federal government.

Farmer interests have long held sway with the government. States with economic ties to farming have co-opted the support of legislators from all over the country. These legislators advance subsidies in farm bills that support programs such as food stamps. Environmentalists are often co-opted to support farm bills because of the inclusion of conservation subsidies. The end result of all this co-opting and subsidizing is expansion of the USDA’s budget.

Government subsidizing of farmers’ crops leads to promotion of certain crops, and foods. The government tells schools what food they can serve our children. The government is also gearing to ban certain ingredients and to require menu labeling. Public health advocates believe that the government has a role in guiding Americans to better nutrition choices, but the sad fact is that the government has been in the business of telling citizens what to eat for decades, and the current poor state of health in this country paints a dismal picture of government success in this endeavor.

In 2015, the government finally admitted that there is no appreciable relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. This is after forty years telling Americans that they should not eat cholesterol-laden foods such as eggs and shrimp, and buttermilk

Americans have gotten fat and unhealthy under the guidance of the federal government. Obesity rates have been on the rise in the U.S. since the government started promoting so-called healthy oils and grains to combat heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Indeed, health-conscience Americans who have looked to the government for guidance on proper nutrition continue to be blatantly deceived.

Five Way to Improve Your Diet Starting Today

Luise Light recently wrote, “The health consequences of encouraging the public to eat so much refined grain, which the body processes like sugar, was frightening.” She was very vocal in her concerns that the USDA version of her food pyramid would cause an epidemic of obesity and diabetes in this country. We now know that her concern was prophetic.

Scientific evidence has never supported low fat, high carb, extreme exercise as being the ideal human diet. No longer theory, the American diet, as shaped by the U.S. government, has proven that Americans get fat, develop diabetes, and increase their risk of heart disease and stroke. Years of recommendations of making carbohydrates the centerpiece of daily food consumption has left Americans obese, unhealthy, and disappointed.

  1. Reduce Sugar

No one wants to hear it, but refined sugar is killing us. PET scans of brains after sugar intake are eerily similar to those after cocaine is used. When we eat, a hormone called dopamine is released. This hormone causes the brain to feel pleasure and thus trains us to repeat the behavior that caused the pleasure, such as eating. It’s simple enough to understand that eating keeps us alive so if eating causes pleasure, our brain trains us to seek this pleasure again and again. The problem is that certain foods overstimulate our brains and flood them with much more dopamine than is required for sustenance.

Sugar and cocaine both stimulate our brains to over-produce dopamine. Sugar also has some effect on the opioid pathways in our brains, the same systems that are stimulated by heroin and morphine. Highly processed, sugar-laden foods hijack the same brain channels as drugs that are abused, making us want more of the food. Abstaining from the food can cause the same withdrawal symptoms as nicotine, caffeine, opioids, and other addictive substances. In fact, the FDA is starting to approve the same drugs that are used to fight addiction for weight loss assistance.

Excess sugar in your body causes fat beads to form around your liver, leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It also predisposes your body to diabetes. Chronically high insulin levels cause the smooth muscle cells around your blood vessels to grow faster than normal, causing them to become stiff and inflexible. Sugar promotes cholesterol production, forcing your liver to make more bad cholesterol and inhibiting the body’s ability to clean it out. Sugar interferes with your brain’s ability to determine satiety, causing you to always feel famished. Studies link eating sugary sweets and fast food after just six years causes a 40% greater chance of developing depression.

  1. Eat Organic

In March, 2015 Consumer Reports published a special report that cited the CDC as saying the average American carries traces of 29 different pesticides in their body. There are over 600 chemicals registered for agricultural use in the U.S. Ninety percent of these chemicals have not been tested for long-term health effects before being approved as safe.

Studies of farmworkers who work with these chemicals frequently linked long-term pesticide exposure to increased risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cancer, including prostate and ovarian, birth defects, respiratory issues, fertility issues, and many other acute and chronic diseases.

Behind farmworkers, children are at the most risk from pesticide exposure. Children are closer to the ground, take more breaths per minute than an adult, and their livers are immature and unable to remove toxins as efficiently as an adult. Development, starting in the womb, is compromised when these toxic chemicals seep into a child’s organ system and their nervous system, causing behavior and cognitive problems.

Choosing organic is always the best choice for your health, the health of the people producing your food, and the environment. Most large grocery food chains are now carrying a wider variety of organic foods. Organic foods taste better, provide clean nutrition, reduce pollution and protect water and soil, and preserve agricultural diversity. Your body knows exactly what to do with the organic food that you ingest and your liver in particular, can get to work eliminating built up toxins in your system.

  1. Eat Raw Food

Many anthropologists believe that behind building language skills, cooking is the greatest leap in human history. Humans learned that by cooking roots & herbs, they can be rendered palatable and safe from poisons and bacteria. We also learned the benefits of cooking meat to make it edible and to preserve it.

There are, however, many studies that show a diet rich in raw and uncooked foods to be highly beneficial to all humans. Raw food retains its natural minerals and vitamins, phytonutrients, and enzymes. Enzymes significantly speed up the chemical processes of breaking down food during digestion so that it can be delivered to the body’s cells. These delicate proteins are easily destroyed when food is cooked at temperatures above 115 degrees.

While controversies abound among experts about the safety of a raw diet, most agree that humans can survive without cooking their food. The facts are that humans may have learned to control fire several hundred thousand years ago, but they did manage to survive until then eating raw plants, seeds and nuts, and there’s little reason to suggest that modern man can’t survive and in fact thrive, by adopting a raw diet.

Adopting a raw diet is simply eating more foods in their real or natural state. Benefits of a raw diet include being naturally low in sodium and free of added sugars. Raw diets are also free of preservatives, pesticides and other chemicals, and GMO’s. Uncooked vegetables retain their potent cancer-fighting compounds and build strong immune systems.

  1. Eat Healthy Fats

Contrary to what many dieticians have recommended for more than 40 years, our body needs fat to function at peak capacity. Fats are essential to energy and cell growth. Fat aids in hormone production and it helps your body absorb nutrition. Fats are part of the myelin which is the fatty material that covers our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages. Our brains are composed of copious amounts of essential fats. Healthy skin, nails, and hair require fat to retain their elasticity and flexibility.

Eating healthy fats does not make you fat. Studies consistently show that eating diets high in fat and low in carbohydrates lead to significantly more weight loss than low-fat diets. Saturated fats have not been proven to cause heart disease. A major study reported by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010 found no association in saturated fat consumption and increased risk for heart disease.

Recent research shows that 30% of your total daily caloric intake should be made of healthy fats. You can obtain healthy fat from olive oil, butter, (NOT margarine!) avocados, coconut oil, almond butter, grass-fed beef, and yogurt.

  1. Stop Eating Refined Carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates are plant-based foods that are highly processed in order to have the whole grain removed. The process of refining a food removes the fiber, B-complex vitamins, healthy oils and fat-soluble vitamins, all important components of a healthy diet. Refined carbs include wheat and other grains, table sugar, or sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and all the foods that are made with these ingredients.

Foods made from refined grains and sugars have valuable minerals and phytonutrients stripped from them during the refining process. While an attempt is made to add in the lost nutrients, countless known and undiscovered nutrients are lost.

Our food provides at thermic effect when it is metabolized and it accounts for about ten percent of your total daily energy expenditure. Real, complex food requires your digestive system to work harder and also requires your liver to contribute to the breakdown of food into the molecules needs to be sent to your cells for nourishment. Complex carbohydrates and fiber require more than double the energy to metabolize than refined carbs.

Negative health effects like weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes all stem from a diet high in refined carbohydrates. Refined and simple sugars lead to blood sugar spikes that stress your pancreas and liver when trying to manage the spikes with insulin. These foods are low in nutrients and low in fiber. Almost all breads that you find in major grocery store chains are made of enriched and bleached flours and their ingredient lists include added vitamins and minerals that were stripped out of the original grain when it was refined.

We recommend that you do some personal research and then have a long discussion with your health care provider about your diet and the effects of your medicines on it. Remember, you are in charge of your health. Your health care provider is a valuable resource, but you are the one who has to walk the walk and live the decisions that you make every day. Make sure you understand the recommendations that your provider gives you and then do your own research on how nutrition and activity supplement your health.

Food is life. We are fortunate in America to have a multitude of choices when it comes to stocking our pantries and feeding our families. If you want to make better food choices or want to learn more about any of the topics addressed in this article, please email us!