Saturday, 28 April 2007

Preventing diabetes without drugs

Diabetes type 2 can be prevented by making changes to one's lifestyle. Being overweight, for example, increases one's risk of developing diabetes. And people who already have the condition can control it by following a healthy diet and doing more exercise.

Recently, a lady who has diabetes type 2 and is on medication experienced a drop in her blood sugar levels two weeks after she'd been using some nutritional products she purchased from me. (Shameless plug, but it might help someone).

I've known for a while that good nutrition can help diabetics or pre-diabetics improve their health. So I was pleased to read this article about a recent US study that shows that giving people drugs to prevent diabetes is not justified when lifestyle changes are just as effective. Without the side effects that drugs have.

My guess is that the companies that manufacture these diabetes drugs probably don't want the research findings disseminated widely. I'd like to see this information circulated beyond the medical establishment so that more people realize that taking pills isn't the only way to prevent diabetes; making changes to one's diet is much safer.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Under Pressure?

I recall my surprise a year or so ago when I called a friend only to learn that he'd had a stroke and was in hospital. He was only about 40. He had to undergo rehabilitation and he was out of circulation for a long time.

I thought of my friend today while reading an article about the incidence of high blood pressure in the UK. Here are some quick facts taken from the article.

High blood pressure is the major cause of death and disability through stroke and heart disease.

About one in three people in the UK have high blood pressure, according to the Blood Pressure Association.

Many people do not know their blood pressure levels. Tests carried out by the Stroke Association showed 26% of people in East Anglia and the Home Counties had not known they had high blood pressure.
In the north-east, only 18% were unaware that they had high blood pressure. In the south-west, the percentage rose to 30%.
Every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke, but over 40% of these strokes could be prevented by controlling high blood pressure.

Each year, about 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK; a quarter of them are under 65.

Many strokes could be prevented if people lowered their blood pressure by stopping smoking, eating less salt and fat, watching one's weight and doing more exercise.

Getting your blood pressure checked could help you avoid becoming a victim of "the silent killer".

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Another "clue" to obesity

Research carried out at Cambridge University suggests that women who have their first periods early (before 11) are more likely to have children with weight problems.

Also, mothers who had their first periods before 11 are five times more likely to be obese than those whose periods started after age 15. And the children of "early puberty" mothers are three times more likely to be overweight than children whose mothers had their first period later.

The researchers found that rapid growth in children, early puberty and obesity tend to run in families. It is not clear whether this is due to genetics, feeding behaviours or environmental factors, according to this article. The research team plan to carry out another study that will look at avoiding overfeeding in formula-fed babies.

Not surprisingly, the lead researcher has called for breastfeeding to be encouraged. I think more mothers might choose to breastfeed if they knew that doing so could help control their children's weight in infancy and adulthood.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Weight loss: a matter of life and death?

A few days ago, I saw an interesting ad in a local newpaper. It was a full-page ad for weight loss surgery - gastric banding or gastric bypass.

Written in very large type and highlighted in colour, the first few lines of the ad said:

"Obesity is more than a cosmetic problem. It is a disease and a serious health threat."

True. Next was the following sentence, printed in smaller lettering:

"Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke are just some of the ways in which your health can be affected by being overweight or obese."

Also true. But then, the ad went on to say:

"Compared to non-surgical treatments, obesity surgery allows patients to lose weight and keep it off."

I think that is misleading. Some non-surgical weight loss programs (such as those I market) do allow people (not "patients") to lose weight and keep it off.

Surprisingly or maybe not, there was no mention in the ad of the risks that weight loss surgery involves, including the risk of death. The ad seemed to imply that weight loss surgery was a simple, straightforward and risk-free procedure. It is none of the above. I hope that overweight people who saw the ad will do their "due diligence" before choosing to undergo weight loss surgery.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Smoked Bacon?

Anyone who smokes and eats large quantities of cured meats like bacon has a higher risk of developing COPD, according to new research by a Columbia University team.

COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The disease kills 30,000 people in the UK each year. Smoking is the single most important cause of COPD, although the research suggests other factors may result in an increased risk of the disease.

The research report suggests that nitrates may be responsible for the increased risk. According to Dr Rui Jiang who led the research, high levels of nitrites are used in cured meats like bacon, as preservatives, anti-bacterial agents and colour fixatives.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

The fault is not in our genes, but in ourselves...

A new study suggests that some people find it harder to lose weight because of their genes.

The study, which you can read about here, found that those who had one copy of the "fat" gene had a 30% higher risk of being obese compared to someone with no copies.

Those who had two copies of the fat gene had a 70% higher risk of being obese, and were on average 3kg (6.5 pounds) heavier than someone with no copies.

I help people lose weight and so I know that some people find it more difficult to lose weight than others. But even allowing for a genetic predisposition to obesity, people still have a responsibility to make good lifestyle choices. For example, someone who knows she has a family history of cancer, and yet chooses to smoke, can't blame it on her genes if she gets cancer.

In the same way, someone who finds it difficult to lose weight because of his genes, or who has thyroid problems can't blame anyone but himself if he ends up being obese. According to the research findings, people who had the "fat" gene were on average 3kg heavier than those who had no copies of the gene. Not 15 kg heavier.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Job Burn Out Increases Diabetes Risk

I'm currently trying to help a lady who is diabetic to lose weight and so I've been reading a few news articles about diabetes. New research, undertaken in Israel, suggests that people affected by job "burn out" are almost twice as likely to develop diabetes type 2.

Other studies have also suggested a link between stress and diabetes type 2, according to Natasha Marsland, a care adviser at Diabetes UK. In the article I read, Ms Marsland says that high blood pressure and fat deposits around the waist are both high risk factors for diabetes type 2.

It is estimated that 750,000 people in the UK have diabetes but do not know it. Are you at risk?

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Fat and Breast Cancer

A major study suggests a direct link between the amount of fat in a postmenopausal woman's diet and her risk of invasive breast cancer. The researchers suggest that fat may affect breast cancer by stimulating hormone production.

A report of the study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. But in an editorial in the same journal, two researchers say that to prevent cancer, it is more important for women to control their body fat rather than the fat they eat. For more information about these two different views, see this article.

So what are we to believe? Is breast cancer risk linked to dietary fat or body fat?

One thing seems clear. Maintaining a healthy weight can help cut breast cancer risk.

According to Dr Emma Pennery of UK-based Breast Cancer Care: "A high fat diet can lead to weight gain, and it is widely accepted that being overweight, particularly after menopause, does increase the risk of breast cancer."

And Dr Sarah Rawlings of Breakthrough Breast Cancer adds: "Whether you have been through the menopause or not, being overweight is associated with a variety of health problems, including increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and several types of cancer."

If you need help with controlling your weight or body fat, I may be able to help. You can contact me by sending an email to nutritioniq at gmail dot com (I've disguised my address to foil spammers so use the usual symbols). You can also visit

Monday, 2 April 2007

How to Be a Salt Detective

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has recently launched a series of TV ads to show people how to check food labels for salt content. The FSA says that three quarters of the salt we eat is already hidden in the food we buy.

Did you know that ready meals, sandwiches and pizza are some of the biggest sources of hidden salt? Other sources are some brands of bread, baked beans, soup, hot chocolate, breakfast cereals, cakes, and meat products like ham, sausages and bacon.

More facts about salt:

A pack of food with 1 gram of sodium contains more salt than one with 1 gram of salt. Multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5 to find the amount of salt eaten.

High salt content is 1.25 g or more of salt per 100g (or 0.5 grams or more of sodium).

Low salt is 0.25g or less of salt per 100g (or 0.1g sodium or less per 100g)

There is always a lower-salt option.

There is too much salt in processed food so it makes sense to cut down on your intake of processed food.

You can't always taste the salt in some products. Salt, like crime, is sometimes lurking in the most unlikely places.

The ideal daily salt consumption is 6g (that's the target the government has set for 2010) but the average daily consumption is 9g.

Too much salt can cause high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease, according to Betty McBride of the British Heart Foundation.

You can do your heart a favour by checking the salt content in foods and switching to a lower salt option.