020413 Help cut your risk of diabetes

Help cut your risk of diabetes

A study by Harvard and subsequently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that drinking sweetened beverages, either caffeinated or decaffeinated, increased the risks of developing type 2 diabetes in both men and women. To those who drink these beverages, coffee or tea may be better choices.

Coffee and tea both reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In each case, the study reported, it did not matter if these were caffeinated or decaffeinated.

One of the authors of the study, Dr. JoAnn Manson said, “Coffee and tea contain several healthful compounds that lower insulin resistance and help our bodies use glucose more efficiently for fuel.” Dr. JoAnn Manson is the chief of preventive medicine at the Harvard affiliated Brigham and Women’s hospital.

010413 Strength-training combats muscle loss during the aging process

As a person ages the tendency is to lose muscle mass and gain fat tissue, especially the deep visceral fat that has been linked to diabetes. This is an inevitable process but it can be slowed down with proper strength training.

Not only will strength training increase your strength and your lean muscle mass you will notice a decrease in your waistline. The whole body training program is a natural fit for most people. Don’t fall for a spot reduction program that an unscrupulous trainer may try to sell to you. Unless you are undergoing liposuction it is impossible to spot reduce.

Brenda Davy, associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech, states, “We use a whole body training program, not a spot reduction approach.” She then continues with a controversial statement by saying, “is not that we target the abdominal area with exercises, it’s just that fat in the abs is the first to go.”

She explains this latter statement this way,” the abdominal adipose tissue depot is particularly sensitive, so it’s easier to lose fat from there then from other fat storage depots in the body.” Even though the statement is controversial in the training world and in real life Davy clarifies by saying” you may have reductions in the abdominal fat even when you don’t necessarily observe large changes in total body fat.” This means your belly fat may still be there on the outside, however, on the inside the visceral fat has actually decreased through your training.

During the training session, your body is rapidly trying to adapt to the stresses that are being put upon it. It’s natural to assume, and you would be correct, that you’re using energy to perform whatever activity you have decided to engage in. However, it is not only during exercise that you burn fat, it also during the recovery period afterward.

In fact, according to Prof. Colberg, an Old Dominion University professor of human new movement sciences in Norfolk Virginia, “recovery from exercise is fueled primarily by fat, so the real benefit for fat loss is burning as many calories as you can during any type of physical activity.”

290313 The connection between ageing, exercise and diabetes

There appears to be a direct connection between age, exercise, and your risk of developing diabetes. Even if you tend towards being on the lean side, the simple fact of getting older raises your chances of becoming a diabetic.

Associate professor of nutrition at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Brenda Davy, states, “one of the most commonly observed changes that contribute to diabetes risk is decline in muscle mass that starts after age 30.” She recently did a review of the impact that aging and exercise has on diabetes and found the link.

Individuals with less muscle mass may have a greater risk of becoming diabetic because the body naturally sends the majority of its blood sugar, i.e. glucose, into muscle tissue. Once there it is available as energy or stored, depending on the needs of the body.

Here is another reason to increase your lean muscle mass. It is a fact that less skeletal muscle means a lower metabolic rate. This means you are burning fewer calories throughout the day, even if you are sitting down or otherwise resting, in comparison to a person with more muscle. Muscle, by its very nature is continually active, unlike fat tissue, which is essentially inactive.

One of the premier ways to increase your lean muscle mass is by resistance training. The simple fact of having more muscle leads to the logical conclusion that you have increased the amount of tissue that uses glucose on a steady basis.

For you aerobic aficionado’s , aerobic exercise is not efficient at building muscle tissue. Even more importantly, after the aerobic activity is over, your body quickly returns to its normal homeostasis and continued use of the fat as an energy source ceases. This happens no matter how long you exercised in the so-called fat burning zone.

150313 Is too much blood sugar shrinking your brain?

Is too much blood sugar shrinking your brain?

A recent study, published in Neurology, suggests there is an association between high blood sugar on the high end of normal and brain shrinkage in the areas of the brain “associated with memory and thinking” according to Dr. Gad Marshall was a neurologist at Harvard affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Previous research has already revealed links between high blood sugar, type II diabetes and brain shrinkage.

This study has found that people whose fasting blood sugar levels are at the high end of normal also have a higher possibility of brain shrinkage. After fasting, defined as six hours or more without eating or drinking anything with calories, the normal fasting blood levels are between 70 to 100 mg/dL. You have pre-diabetes if your fasting blood sugar levels are 100 to 125 mL per deciliter. At this point, you have definitely increased your possibility of developing diabetes. Any fasting numbers above 126 mg/dL indicates you probably already have diabetes.

Dr. Marshall says in the article that even though we’ll have to wait a little bit longer until more research confirms the study’s findings he sees these preliminary results as a red flag. “Having a high normal glucose level at age 60 or older can potentially serve as a useful marker of impending neural degeneration.”

He recommends the Mediterranean diet as one that will help prevent the cognitive decline that often shows up with aging. If you are unfamiliar with the Mediterranean diet here are a few highlights.

To get started with the Mediterranean diet, plan on eating as natural as possible with unprocessed foods such as fruits, whole grains, nuts and vegetables. Cut back on the unhealthy fats and begin using olive oil as your principal source of dietary fat. Begin easing back on the amount of red meat you eat on a monthly basis by substituting it with moderate amounts of fish. Also included in this diet is drinking a moderate amount of wine per day. This means about two glasses day for men and one for women.

020313 Insulin resistance and its relationship to raising the triglycerides levels in your body

Insulin resistance and its relationship to raising the triglycerides [1] levels in your body

Insulin resistance leads to an overload on the pancreas by causing it to steadily make more insulin in an effort to meet the body’s demand for lower blood sugar levels. If the individual is not losing weight, is not exercising and the blood sugar continues to rise up to one hundred and twenty-five then diabetes is the outcome.

Insulin does more than simply move glucose into the cells. It also has a role in storing free fatty acids in the fat cells. If the insulin is able to do its job, the fat will stay in the fat cells until needed as fuel for the muscles during exertion. However, if you have insulin resistance, the fat in these cells does not stay contained. Instead, these free fatty acids come out into the blood stream and into the liver where they are turned into triglycerides.

Triglycerides are found in our blood stream and are the predominant fats found in the food we eat. Even though they are fats, a person eating a high level of carbohydrates, such as sugars and high fructose corn syrup, will find an elevated level of triglycerides in their blood stream.

The solution in this instance is to cut back on sugars, high fructose corn syrup and get more exercise. By taking these two steps, a person’s waistline will begin to shrink, which according to research is the most important cause of the metabolic syndrome. Big waists bring with them high triglycerides.

The triglycerides are a tool used by the medical profession to measure the metabolic health of the body. High triglycerides are a sign the metabolism is disturbed and not in homeostasis [2]. This big waistline, which maintains an unhealthy inflammatory status, is referred to as a hypertriglyceridemic waist.

The high triglycerides numbers from the blood tests are telling you to choose your foods more carefully, lose weight and exercise more.

311212 The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome and what it means to your health

The metabolic syndrome is the name given by the medical profession to a group of health risks having a strong potential to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. These unhealthy conditions are for the most part avoidable simply by eating less and getting more exercise.

The five components of the syndrome are:

  • A waist that is larger than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Some men may be at risk even if their waist is greater than 37-39 inches.
  • Low cholesterol readings of the good HDL. Women should have numbers under 50 and men should have their numbers under 40.

Higher than normal, but not necessarily high numbers in the following categories:

  • Systolic blood pressure of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 85 or higher.
  • Fasting blood sugar count of 110 or higher
  • Tested triglycerides of 150 or above after fasting.

According to the doctors, a person with three or more of these five categories raises their risk of becoming diabetic and developing heart disease.

The research specialists believe the root cause of this syndrome is an inefficient insulin response.

The metabolic syndrome is the consequence of our body being ineffective in processing fats and sugars. The research shows that belly fat creates increased inflammation and a greater risk of heart disease in those with big bellies. These fat cells also release a product that can drive up blood pressure by reducing the blood vessels ability to relax between strokes. Additional problems with belly fat cells occur because they generate proteins that increase the process of insulin resistance.

In case you are wondering what the term insulin resistance means here is a brief explanation.

The hormone insulin makes it possible to remove glucose, also known as blood sugar, from the blood stream and put into the muscle tissues. The muscle uses this as energy for movement. If too much glucose is in the blood stream it is stored as fat. Therefore, the term insulin resistance means the body is having a hard time delivering the glucose to the muscle tissues (insulin resistance) so the amount of blood sugar rises in the blood stream.

The cause is the waist is too big! Our bellies are too fat, too large, too much over the belt, hanging out too far, you can call it whatever you want to, but the fact remains we are a nation of too much fat. And it is all in the wrong place.

This problem exists because we eat too much and we don’t exercise enough

080412 Making your middle more manageable

Making your middle more manageable


Researchers reported in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism (1) that doing aerobics increases the loss of visceral fat when compared to strength training.


The study participants consisted of approximately 150 overweight, middle-aged men and women living a sedentary lifestyle with high LDL or low HDL cholesterol. This group was then broken down into three different training activities. One was aerobic, the second strength, and the third combined both aerobic and strength training.


Those in the aerobic training did the equivalent of 12 vigorous miles each week is a treadmill elliptical trainer or stationary bicycle. Evidently, no one thought of doing any of their aerobics outside. Vigorous activity normally means within 60-70% of your target heart rate.


Those doing the strength training performed eight exercises, none of which was listed, for three sets of between 8 to 12 repetitions per set, three times a week. If they were following a normal strength training protocol, these exercises would have been for the large major muscle groups such as the shoulders, chest, back, and legs.


For some unknown reason the study didn’t report what the combination training group did, so we don’t know if they did two days of aerobics and one of strength or two days of strength and one of aerobics or some other scheme.


After eight months, those doing strength training lost only subcutaneous abdominal fat, the fat just below the skin. While those doing the aerobic training, either separately or in combination with strength training, lost the deep belly fat, subcutaneous belly fat and more importantly fat from around the liver. Subsequent testing revealed that the aerobic group was also less insulin resistant. This meant the slender body was producing was more effective at allowing blood sugar into their cells.


This study confirms what other studies have also found that a combination of vigorous aerobic exercise performed on a consistent basis with strength training at least three times a week will help you lose the most fat, decrease your insulin resistance and minimize muscle loss that occurs as we age.
(1) American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2011, doi: 10. 1152/ajpendo. 00291.2011

070412 Boosting your insulin response with increased lean muscle mass

A brief snapshot of Insulin resistance and why it is important to avoid.

This condition causes the body’s muscles, fat and liver cells to improperly respond to insulin. The pancreas makes the hormone, insulin. This hormone helps the cells take in and use glucose which in turn is a fuel used by the body to function. If there is not enough circulating insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream and increases the potential for developing diabetes. It is in everyone’s best interest to have as much lean muscle mass as possible to possibly avoid this serious medical condition, especially as you get older.

One of the unwelcome conditions of aging is muscular frailty, also known as sarcopenia[1]. Without strong muscles, coordination and balance problems begin to appear. These problems may be held at bay by greater lean muscle mass. A new study reports that increasing skeletal muscle mass by as little as 10%, is also associated with an 11% reduction in the body’s resistance to insulin and a 12% lower risk of developing transitional, prediabetes or diabetes.

Researchers from the University of California Los Angeles look at the data and 13,644 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Since these people were involved in the study between years of 1988 to 1994, the research is somewhat old. However when the muscle mass of one quarter of the participants was compared between those with the most muscle mass and those at the bottom with the least muscle mass, those with the greatest amount of fat three muscle mass were 63% less liable to get diabetes.

After making adjustments to leave out those with diabetes, the connection between muscle mass and improved insulin resistance became even stronger. According to the study[2], “increases in muscle mass above even average levels were associated with additional protection against insulin resistance and prediabetes.”

Not only is increasing your lean muscle mass important, but also losing weight helps to improve your metabolic health. Most of us already know that the fitter you are, the healthier you are probably going to be.

[1] Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and coordination that results from the process of aging.

[2] Preethi Srikanthan, MD of the University of California Los Angeles, USA