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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

LipidLab Omega-3 Test

April 20th, 2010 · No Comments

Ever since coming to New Zealand on vacation for five weeks on February 23, I have been eating a lot of the country’s wonderful fish and seafood. Everything from the well-known salmon, prawns, shrimp, oysters, and calamari to butterfish, groper, smooth dory, gurnard, ling, monkfish, and blue cod and on to fish I never heard of before — hoki, moki, warehou, tarakihi, whitebait, bluenose, trumpeter, and green shell mussels. We have a greater variety of fish and any other source of omega-3 fats, and they all taste wonderful to me.

Because of my steady diet of New Zealand fish this month, my omega-3 level is certainly improving, something important to everyone and crucial to those of us who have diabetes. But according to the results of the LipidLab test that CEO Doug Bibus just sent me, my results were already good enough.

“Wow!” he emailed me. “What a pleasure it was to interpret your chromatogram and data. You truly are the omega 3 man!!!  You are close to Dr. Ralph Holman’s omega 3 levels.  He has a 25% total omega 3 and a 1:1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio.  He just celebrated his 92 birthday!”

And I am only 74.

Doug went on: “Would you mind if we used your profile as an example on our website as a true success story? Are you taking any fish oil supplements or getting most of your omega 3 from your diet (fish).  You have a big level of ALA which comments on your intake of flax and greens.”

I replied to Doug, “You are certainly welcomed to use my profile on your site. I don’t take any fish oil — but I do take three capsules of Neptune Krill Oil (the NOW brand), 500 mg each, daily. I eat a lot of cold-water fish, mainly salmon (fresh, frozen, and canned) and also a very high quality sardine (from vitalchoice.com ). Sometimes other fish, including the best tasting one, Chilean sea bass (formerly Patagonian toothfish, and I don’t wonder why they changed the name).

“I use flaxseed oil on my salad, which is my usual lunch (when I am at home). My breakfast, both at home and here in New Zealand is Greens First , which I have written about at Health Central. Interesting that you have my ALA results. But it’s not just omega-3. I think the key at least at the start is to reduce the omega-6.”

My LipidLab report is comprehensive and too long to include here. But I just uploaded it to my website at http://www.mendosa.com/test.pdf

Now, I am hard at work to equal Dr. Holman’s omega-3 level and eventually to match his age.

P.S: I originally wrote this article for HealthCentral.com on March 05, 2010. I am now back in the U.S. after vacationing in New Zealand. You can read about the trip here: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/?cat=17

This is a mirror of one of my articles that Health Central published. You can navigate to that site to find my most recent articles.

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

Sacha Inchi Seeds

March 30th, 2010 · 9 Comments

The rarest seeds and nuts are those that have a positive ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. Until this month I could find only two — the well-know flax seeds and the much less widely known chia seeds. I wrote about chia seeds here in 2007. None of my other articles here have garnered more comments that that article, testifying to the hunger that we have for news of healthy seeds and nuts.

And now I can bring you news of another seed that is every bit as good for us as flax and chia seeds — and tastes even better. It goes by the strange name “sacha inchi.” When my good friend and food scout called me from the local Whole Foods Market and told me of his discovery, I assumed that it came either from Russia — because of the “sacha” in the name or from East Asia, because “inchi” sounded vaguely Japanese or Korean to me. Instead sacha inchi seeds come from the Amazon rainforest, and the name may come from the language of the Chanka language of the Peruvian highlands.

The Contents of a Package of Roasted Sacha Inchi Seeds

Some people call it the Inca Peanut. Its scientific name is Plukenetia volubilis . [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Reducing Omega-6 and Meat

March 23rd, 2010 · 1 Comment

A good friend of mine who is a vegetarian wondered if meat eaters — like me — generally have higher levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats in their systems than vegetarians do. I concluded that vegetarians on the whole probably do consume less omega-6s. I thought that this may go a long way to explaining why vegetarians are often pretty healthy people who sometimes are able to control their diabetes well even while they abstain from fish, which would provide them with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.

But now I’ve reviewed the evidence below. My conclusion is that it depends.

The first step to getting the omegas in balance, as I reviewed in my previous article here, “Cutting Back on Omega-6.” The key is to eat less of those foods high in absolute amounts of that fat.

We get the highest levels of omega-6 fats from the standard cooking oils — soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed. We had good alternatives to those oils so they have little redeeming value.

Then come the tree nuts and ground nuts, which do have redeeming value. So we have to be ambivalent about them, and therefore the wisest course may be to eat them in moderation.

In terms of omega-6 levels, after those two food groups come meat. But not all meat and not just the meat we commonly demonize as the “red meat.” [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Cutting Back on Omega-6

March 23rd, 2010 · 8 Comments

Knowing what to eat so that we get enough omega-3 fats in our diet is easy. The challenge is how to cut back on omega-6.

The first step to get our levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in balance is to reduce how much omega-6 we eat. Most people focus instead on increasing omega-3s.

As a starter this won’t work well, however, because the ratio between these two polyunsaturated fats that most Americans have is so out of balance. Many of us have 20 times the amount of omega-6 in our systems as omega-3, while population studies indicate that ratios of twice as much omega-6 to omega-3 is ideal for our heart health. While everyone needs to protect his or her heart, people with diabetes have a special interest in our most common and most serious potential complication.

The problem is that these two fats compete to get into the cells of our bodies. When we overload on the pro-inflammatory omega 6s, the anti-inflammatory omega-3s can’t do the work that they need to do to fight the inflammation that more and more people are recognizing as a root cause of many chronic diseases, including diabetes.

The leading expert on omega-3 and omega-6 is Dr. Bill Lands, who until he retired in 2002 was a senior scientific advisor at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lands “is credited for discovering the beneficial effects of balancing the effects of excess omega-6 fatty acids with dietary omega-3 fatty acids,” according to the Wikipedia article about him. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Let’s Talk About Diabetes

March 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

Many of you comment on my articles here, and I appreciate the chance that this gives me and everyone else to know what’s on your mind. But many other people would rather talk than write about your challenges and successes in controlling your diabetes.

So to enlarge the opportunities for exchanging information and feelings I’m will start a way for us to talk about diabetes. On February 15 — just next Monday — I will kick off the first call. This is a pilot project for me and indeed for the Health Central Network. If it works — in other words if enough people want to participate and actually benefit from the discussion — I’ll lead more of these discussions.

The best time of day to accommodate most of the people who might call in would seem to be 8 p.m. Eastern, which is 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain, and 5 p.m. Pacific. That’s obviously not perfect for everyone, but looks like the best we can do.

We will be able to talk for one hour. I understand that we will be cut off at that time no matter now exciting the discussion turns out to be.

For this first conference call I would like to focus on the most controversial aspect of diabetes control — the best dietary recommendation. My take on the best eating plan, as most of you certainly know, is a very low-carb diet. Let’s talk about the pros and cons, how easy or how difficult that this diet strategy is for controlling our blood glucose levels and our weight. We may also want to talk about whether we eat fructose and/or grains and starches.

If you like, perhaps before joining in the discussion you can review one or more of these articles that I have written about my journey leading me to a very low-carb diet:

1. Here four years ago I outlined the nature of the conflict in “The Carb Controversy” at www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/17/1490/carb-controversy

2. A very-low carb diet does not mean eliminating all carbs. So here about two years ago I reviewed “The Good Veggies” at www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/17/20167/good-veggies

3. Then about a year ago in an article that I wrote for the website of Diabetes Self-Management I explained “Why I Low Carb” at
www.mendosa.com/lowcarb.htm

Finally, the call-in number is 1 (800) 977-8002. When you call, a robotic voice will ask for the participant code, so enter 82611869#.

While I have called in to discussions before, this will be my first time leading one. I hope that it will work and will do my best to ensure that it does.

This is a mirror of one of my articles that Health Central published. You can navigate to that site to find my most recent articles.

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet, Psychosocial

Omega-3: Tested

March 22nd, 2010 · No Comments

No wonder that I’m so healthy and happy lately! I just got back the results of my omega-3 test, and they were quite satisfactory.

In December I wrote in “Testing Omega 3” about the HS-Omega-3 Index that uses a standardized methodology to measure the percentage of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in our red blood cells. It also measures the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. In that article I gave a brief review of some of the reasons why I think that omega-3 is crucial to our diet — and deficient in the diet of most people who have diabetes.

On January 27 I ordered my test from GeneSmart, and I got my results in today’s mail.

A “desirable” level on the HS-Omega-3 Index is over 8 percent. My level came back as 12.6 percent.

A desirable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is under 5 to 1. My ratio is 2.1 to 1.

The only advice that GeneSmart was able to offer me was to maintain my intake of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. I will.

But in the packet they did include a nice set of tables about fish and their omega-3 content. Here is a copy:

Click to enlarge

Click on the image above to enlarge

I get my omega-3 levels from eating fresh or frozen (not farmed) cold-water fish about five times a week. I prefer king salmon and Chilean sea bass — technically Patagonian toothfish — which tastes a whole lot better than it sounds. I usually add canned salmon, sardines, or albacore tuna — packed in water, not oil — to my salad at lunch. Sometimes I add a small can of anchovies, which I have been able to find only packed in oil, which I drain off. I also supplement my omega-3 from krill oil, which I wrote about here exactly two years ago at “Krill Oil.”

[Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

Broken Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Health

March 3rd, 2010 · No Comments

You won’t read it in the mainstream press. But the most significant study ever of the effect of saturated fat on our hearts appeared Wednesday.

In fact, I couldn’t find any mainstream articles about it today. Not one of the four sources that I rely on heavily for leads to new studies has carried a word about this one. In fact, another source, Google News, instead turned up articles headlined like “Reduce your intake of saturated fats or suffer a heart condition,” “Ban butter to save our hearts, says doctor,” and “Not all fats are equal – saturated fat is the real baddie.”

Not.

The new study should drive the last nail in the coffin of the supposed link between eating saturated fat and getting heart disease. Since heart disease is the most common as well as the most serious complication of diabetes, nothing could be more relevant to us.

Ever since 1953, when a physiologist named Ancel Keys, Ph.D., compared fat intake and deaths from heart disease in six countries, including the U.S., the American medical establishment has clung to an unproven belief that saturated fat was evil. But even by 1957 we should have known better, after Jacob Yerushalmy, Ph.D., established that Keys was guilty of the sin of cherry picking. While Dr. Keys used data from six country, he actually had statistics from 22 countries available. And when scientists analyzed those statistics, the apparent link between eating fat and heart disease disappeared. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Testing Omega 3

January 8th, 2010 · 6 Comments

If we can easily test our blood glucose and cholesterol levels, why can’t we test the level of omega 3 fatty acids in our blood? Nothing — not cholesterol or even C-reactive protein levels — is better at predicting sudden cardiac death, which still causes about 60 percent of cardiac disease death in the United States, according to an analysis by Centers for Disease Control researchers.

For years this lack of an omega 3 blood test puzzled me. No more. It has finally arrived.

The HS-Omega-3 Index uses a standardized methodology to measure the percentage of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in red blood cells. It also measures the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6.

Some cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna, and sardines have a lot of this healthy omega 3 fat. I follow the standard recommendation to eat one of these fish at least twice a week. I supplement my fish with krill oil capsules for even more omega 3. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

“Food, Inc.”

December 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

American agriculture changed more in the past 50 years than it did in the previous 10,000 years since humans started cultivating grains and domesticating cattle, pigs, and poultry. This affects all Americans, but none more than those of us who have diabetes, which started its steep rise at about the same time that our farms became so much more efficient under the management of just a few huge multinational corporations.

This correlation certainly isn’t proof that modern agriculture caused the rise of diabetes. It remains, however, a likely suspect.

Neither can we fairly claim that the giant corporations that control most of American agriculture are the cause of anything more than being efficient. These companies are doing what companies are supposed to do — making a lot of money by doing what all companies try to do.


The root of the problem is our government. The federal government of the United States of America set the conditions under which the great consolidation of American agriculture took place. This is our “farm policy.”
[Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Fructose and High Blood Pressure

December 11th, 2009 · 7 Comments

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor has probably told you a dozen times to cut way back on salt (sodium). But this works only for people who have a “salt-sensitive phenotype,” which results from both genetic makeup and environmental influences.

New preliminary research offers another strategy that might work for more of us. If we cut back on the fructose that we eat from added sugars, we may be able to control high blood pressure.

Most people with diabetes have high blood pressure, or to use the technical name, hypertension. High blood pressure is, after all, one of the key components of the metabolic syndrome, or syndrome x, that leads to diabetes.

When doctors talk about our blood pressure being high they mean a level of more than 120/80 mmHg. Those numbers are shorthand for a systolic or peak pressure of 120 and a diastolic or minimum pressure of 80 millimeters of mercury. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

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