Archive for June, 2008

Mediterranean Diet and Diabetes

June 30, 2008

Reducing the risk of developing a disease requires discipline. Taking measures may be difficult but in the long run preventing the disease from causing harm will be worth all the sacrifice.

We know from the most usual of all: proper diet and exercise have been advised by all to prevent an illness!!! It may be true that… it’s so easy to say…so difficult to do. BUT again if there’s no discipline …there’s no success! And success in Health means… Being Healthy!

One study that I found very important in our quest to reduce the prevalence of diabetes worldwide was recently published in the British Medical Journal, 2008 issue.

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Objective To assess the relation between adherence to a Mediterranean dietand the incidence of diabetes among initially healthy participants.

Design Prospective cohort study . Participants 13 380 Spanish university graduates without diabetes at baseline followed up for a median of 4.4 years.

Results:

Participants who adhered closely to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of diabetes. The incidence rate ratios adjusted for sex and age were 0.41 (95% confidence interval 0.19 to 0.87) for those with moderate adherence (score 3-6) and 0.17 (0.04 to 0.75) for those with the highest adherence (score 7-9) compared with those with low adherence (score <3).

In the fully adjusted analyses the results were similar. A two point increase in the score was associated with a 35% relative reduction in the risk of diabetes (incidence rate ratio 0.65, 0.44 to 0.95), with a significant inverse linear trend (P=0.04) in the multivariate analysis.

Conclusion Adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.

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This study further proves the health benefits of adhering to Meditteranean diet. It is known to have protective effect in preventing cardiovascular disease and NOW… this study proves it to be protective in preventing diabetes.

For those who dont known the components of this diet: Here’s a summary:

  1. High intake of Fiber; High Intake of vegetable fat
  2. Low intake of trans fatty acids with abundant us of olive oil!!!!
  3. High intake of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals and legumes
  4. Minimal meat or dairy products!
  5. Moderate consumption of alcohol

Again…the study emphasizes…

What We Take In is What We Get!

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Vitamin D and The Risk For Heart Attack!

June 27, 2008

Go to fullsize imageAnother reason for us to check our Vitamin D levels… the study published in the June issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine: showing that low levels of Vitamin D can be a contributing factor to increase heart attack risk.

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Background  Vitamin D deficiency may be involved in the development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease in humans.

Methods  A nested case-control study was conducted in 18 225 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study; the men were aged 40 to 75 years and were free of diagnosed cardiovascular disease at blood collection.  During 10 years of follow-up, 454 men developed nonfatal myocardial infarction or fatal coronary heart disease. Using risk set sampling, controls (n = 900) were selected in a 2:1 ratio and matched for age, date of blood collection, and smoking status.

Results  After adjustment for matched variables, men deficient in 25(OH)D (≤15 ng/mL) were at increased risk for MI compared with those considered to be sufficient in 25(OH)D (≥30 ng/mL) with a relative risk of 2.42.

Even men with intermediate 25(OH)D levels were at elevated risk relative to those with sufficient 25(OH)D levels (22.6-29.9 ng/mL: RR, 1.60 ; 15.0-22.5 ng/mL: RR, 1.43 respectively).

Conclusion  Low levels of 25(OH)D are associated with higher risk of myocardial infarction in a graded manner, even after controlling for factors known to be associated with coronary artery disease.

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The study involved patients free of any heart risk.  This finding therefore will have a significant impact in reducing further the risk of those patients already with other concomitant risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure.  Knwoing your Vitamin D level will do more benefit than harm!

Checking Vitamin D level is a simple blood test.  This can be done easily and the results if low can have significant impact on the patient’s sense of well being since low levels can cause musculoskeletal symptoms and back pains. Vitamin D replacement is also simple since all one needs to do is take a pill!

Check Your Levels in Your Next Doctor’s Visit!

 

An Aspirin A Day Can Keep BP At Bay…

June 24, 2008

Aspirin has been touted a miracle drug because of its health benefits in protecting high risk patients like our diabetics from heart attack and stroke. The combination of illnesses including diabetes , hypertension and cholesterol increases a patients risk for stroke and heart attack.

In the recent American Society of Hypertension Annual Convention, a particular study was presented regarding the effect of aspirin on hypertension. The study is discussed in detail at the Diabetes in Control website...

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The subjects were randomized into three groups: lifestyle modification only, lifestyle modification plus aspirin 100 mg every morning, or lifestyle modification and aspirin 100 mg taken at bedtime. They underwent continuous blood pressure monitoring for 48 hours at baseline and after 3 months of intervention.

Ambulatory blood pressure was unchanged in the nonpharmacologic group and in the morning aspirin group, but the nighttime aspirin administration resulted in a mean decrease of 5.4 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 3.4 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure compared to baseline values, without any change in heart rate or physical activity. Reductions in blood pressure were similar for both day and night.

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This study will somehow affect the way we give aspirin. In clinical practice, it really doesnt matter when aspirin is taken as long as patients are taking it eveyday. But with this recent outcome…might as well give them at night until this study will be proven otherwise….

And as always…we continue to emphasize a low salt diet and more physical activity on top of medications to help curb the rising prevalence of complications arising from hypertension.

Another Wonderful News on Aspirin and Health!

Is Working Overtime Harmful?

June 21, 2008

Here’s a study for all workaholics and overtime workers. It may be the time to reflect… and ask… if we can only manage our time better and try to avoid long night hours at work…so much the better. One has to realize and believe that having the time to take care of ones health is an obligation and a GIVEN!

This study looked at whether working overtime can have harmful effects on the body especially the psychological well being. This study was recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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Objective: To examine whether long work hours are associated with increased levels and prevalences of anxiety and depression.


Results: Overtime workers of both genders had significantly higher anxiety and depression levels and higher prevalences of anxiety and depressive disorders compared with those working normal hours. Findings suggest a dose-response relationship between work hours and anxiety or depression.

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So to the boses and managers out there…your employees well being is tantamount to more productivity and better work outcome. Take time to analyze each workload and better still instill the discipline of not working long hours because in the long run, health takes its toll and work output suffers in the end…physically and psychologically,

Again… I practice this principle at work. I make sure I dont work long hours as I instill on my patients the discipline of setting an appointment. Have time to relax and exercise. Burning out is the layman’s term to being depressed and losing steam at work. Avoid this from happening otherwise Work becomes a Burden!

Overtime Can Hinder Productivity! Learn To Manage Your Time!

Dark Chocolate Can Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol…

June 17, 2008

Another interesting research and great news for chocolate lovers. 

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition has shown a beneficial effects of dark chocolate in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure.

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This double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over study evaluated the efficacy of daily consumption of a cocoa flavanol-containing dark chocolate bar with added PS on serum lipids, blood pressure, and other circulating cardiovascular health markers in a population with elevated serum cholesterol.

Regular consumption of the PS-containing chocolate bar resulted in reductions of 2.0 and 5.3% in serum total and LDL cholesterol (P < 0.05), respectively. Consumption of CF also reduced systolic blood pressure at 8 wk (-5.8 mm Hg; P < 0.05).

Results indicate that regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS and CF as part of a low-fat diet may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.

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In this study the participants utilized the AHA style diet, and were instructed to consume 2 cocoa flavanol-containing dark chocolate bars per day with (1.1 g sterol esters per bar) or without PS.  The participants really had fun because they were asked to consume 1 bar 2 times per day for 4 wk then switched to the other bar for an additional 4 wk. How I wished I can be part of a study like this!!!!

The research is again one of the many studies done so far on dark chocolate that provides intriguing information regarding the role of plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) in maintaining cardiovascular health.

Remember though, these are dark chocolates supplemented with plant sterols in addition to cocoa flavanols. These are available in both CVS and Walgreens Pharmacy Stores in the US.  Meaning these dark chocolates are not the usual regular dark chocolates available anywhere. 

So Dark Chocolate…Anyone? 

The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Memory Loss

June 13, 2008
Obstructive Sleep Apnea from the word itself means there is an obstruction to sleep.  As a result majority of our obese diabetics who have OSA almost always have this obstruction corrected, diagnosed and managed because of the complications that can arise for this condition including stroke, heart disease and worsening diabetes.

Partners of patients with sleep apnea will complain that their partners snore a lot, usually stops breathing and awaken repeatedly during the night.  Due to the lack of deep sleep, these patients manifest chronic daytime fatigue with memory lapses and importantly has difficulty  concentrating or focusing.

A new review published in the Neuroscience Letters this June shows that there is a relationship between this condition and the dreaded memory loss. And that this memory loss is not only because of fatigue but structural abnormalities in the brain:
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients show compromised emotional and cognitive functions, including anterograde memory deficits. While some memory inadequacies in OSA may result from earlier-described structural deficits in the hippocampus, mammillary body injury also could contribute,
We evaluated mammillary body volumes in 43 OSA and 66 control subjects. Two high-resolution T1-weighted image volumes were collected on a 3.0 T magnetic resonance scanner, averaged to improve signal-to-noise, and reoriented (without warping) into a common space. Brain sections containing both mammillary bodies were oversampled, and the bodies were manually traced and volumes calculated.
  • OSA patients showed significantly reduced left, right, and combined mammillary body volumes compared with control subjects, after partitioning for age, gender, and head size (multivariate linear model, p < 0.05).
  • Left-side mammillary bodies showed greater volume reduction than the right side.
  • Diminished mammillary body volume in OSA patients may be associated with memory and spatial orientation deficits found in the syndrome.
  •  The mechanisms contributing to the volume loss are unclear, but may relate to hypoxic/ischemic processes, possibly assisted by nutritional deficiencies in the syndrome.

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There you go guys…. if you have the symptoms of OSA, have it checked right away.  It can be treated and managed so as to avoid brain injury.  It has been shown that repeated bouts of apnea or lack of oxygen flow to the brain can lead to brian cell death which eventually can lead to memory loss or forgetfullness!!!!

How to address OSA?  If you are obese then try to lose weight.  This is one of the major complications of being overweight and being obese.  We have sleep centers that can manage this disease medically or surgically.

Sleep Debt Equals Health Debt!

Tips For The Insomniacs….

June 11, 2008

One of the common complaints I get from my patients is the inability to sleep.  It may seem so simple but if you are an insomniac, trying to sleep can be a torture.  We all know sleep debt makes us feel weak and sluggish.  But what is not known is that sleep debt can lead to chronic illnesses like an increased risk to develop diabetes and heart disease.

So what should an insomniac do?

Here are some simple tips from the Harvard Health Letter…

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 Changing your behavior, rather than medication, may be the first step to a better night’s sleep. And surprisingly, for chronic insomnia, the best treatment may be to cut back on the time you spend trying to sleep.

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People with insomnia often find that spending less time in bed promotes more restful sleep and helps make the bedroom a welcome sight instead of a torture chamber. As you learn to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly, the time in bed is slowly extended until you obtain a full night’s sleep.

Some sleep experts suggest starting with five or six hours at first, or whatever amount of time you typically sleep at night. Setting a rigid early morning waking time often works best. If the alarm is set for 7 a.m., a five-hour restriction means that no matter how sleepy you are, you must stay awake until 2 a.m. Once you are sleeping well during the allotted five hours, you can add another 15 or 30 minutes, then repeat the process until you’re getting a healthy amount of sleep.

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Hope this simple formula can work well for you.  If we can do this without any dependence to medications, the better. 

Lastly…Dont go to bed if you’re not sleepy! Dont watch TV! Read a book instead on a dim lighted area favorably with a yellow light! Asscociate your bed with sleep.  Enjoy every minute of your time with your bed.  Dont think of it as a torture chamber!  Just hug your pillow and think about how nice it is to sleep.  Dont think otherwise or you will really find yourself wondering… why you’re still awake and the more you think about it…. the more you will feel frustrated about not going to sleep.

Good Sleep Keeps You Fit!

Metformin for Pregnant Diabetics?

June 9, 2008

Go to fullsize imageYes we can!!!!

A recent published study: The MiG trail or the Metformin for Gestational Diabetes in the New England Journal of Medicine, May 2008 provide us more proofs that the use of metformin is not only preferred by pregnant dabetics BUT likewise is not associated with perinatal complications.

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Results

Of the 363 women assigned to metformin, 92.6% continued to receive metformin until delivery and 46.3% received supplemental insulin.

The rate of the primary composite outcome was 32.0% in the group assigned to metformin and 32.2% in the insulin group (relative risk, 1.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.90 to 1.10).

More women in the metformin group than in the insulin group stated that they would choose to receive their assigned treatment again (76.6% vs. 27.2%, P<0.001). The rates of other secondary outcomes did not differ significantly between the groups.

There were no serious adverse events associated with the use of metformin.

Conclusions

In women with gestational diabetes mellitus, metformin (alone or with supplemental insulin) is not associated with increased perinatal complications as compared with insulin. The women preferred metformin to insulin treatment.

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This is one randomized trial that we have been waiting for.  Now as an endocrinologist, I have more arms to support the use of this medication for my pregnant women diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  The more options a patient have , the better!  Controlling their blood glucoses while pregnant is important!  It is our aim to hopefully prevent them from becoming diabetics after the delivery by lessening the burden of the pancreas brought about by the hormonal changes of pregnancy.

It is therefore very important that for all women to know that if they have risk factors for diabetes including obesity and a strong family history of diabetes…that they make sure to ask their obstetricians that they be screened for gestational diabetes.  This is one case where the early diagnosis is paramount to early treatment… the better for the health of the pancreas.

This is indeed good news to our women who have fear for needles because now we have a safe and effective alternative to insulin.

Another Welcome Option To The Medical World!

 

Quick Steps To Achieve Healthy Weight…

June 6, 2008

Go to fullsize imageI came across a well written short article on how to achieve a healthy weight.  The advises sound so simple yet precise and direct to the point of concern.  We tend to disregard simple measures in life and then look for rigorous steps to achieve our goal.  That’s where failure can set in.  Make things simple and Let them work for you….

Here’s the quick 5 steps to a healthy weight from the Harvard Medical Group: The Harvard School of Public Health

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1. Ban the strange diets. They may work in the short term, but almost any strange, extreme diet is doomed to fail. Your best friends when it comes to losing weight—and keeping it off? Choosing healthy foods and eating smaller portions, slowly.

2. Be more active. If there’s one best weight loss mantra it’s “exercise, exercise, exercise.” Choose activities you enjoy and do them every day. Exercising with a friend can help keep you on track. 

3. Turn off the television. Watching less TV can give you more time to be active—and less time to be enticed by junk food ads. Two easy ways to cut back on TV-watching: take the TV out of your bedroom, and make sure it’s off during meals.

4. Skip the sugary drinks. Drinking sugared soda, fruit drinks, or juice can give you several hundred calories a day without realizing it. Research suggests children and adults who drink soda or other sugary drinks are more likely to gain weight than those who don’t, and that switching from these to water or unsweetened drinks can reduce weight.

5. Think before you eat. Before you mindlessly reach for a snack, pause and ask yourself, Am I really hungry? Is there a healthier choice? It’s easy to lose sight of good food choices in today’s ad-crazy world. Simple questions like these can help keep us on track.

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Simple common sense tips for healthy living as well…

Live Life To The Fullest…By Living Healhty!

The Many Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

June 4, 2008

What is Mediterranean Diet?

The common Mediterranean dietary pattern has these characteristics according to the American Heart Association :

  • high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
  • olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source
  • dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
  • eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
  • wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts

The diet simply put focuses more on our consumption of olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts ( my post on Going nuts on Nuts) , cereals, legumes and fish ( my post on the Benefits of Eating fish)  and avoiding the well liked and “unhealthy meat and “saturated fat loaded” dairy products.

The many touted benefits of this diet has long been known in the medical field.  In fact major organizations have patterned their recommended healthy diets on the contents of the mediterranean diet.  Why?  Because… Many epidimeological studies have shown that the incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean countries is lower than in the United States where meat and saturated fat is a plenty!!!!.  In fact in those studies, where people practice the Mediterranean diet, mortality rates or the risk of death were also significantly lower!!!!

In a recent article published in the May 30 online of BMJ, Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower the risk of developing diabetes.  Another PLUS to this otherwise healthy alternative way of eating….

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Participants who adhered closely to a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of diabetes. The incidence rate ratios adjusted for sex and age were 0.41 (95% confidence interval 0.19 to 0.87) for those with moderate adherence (score 3-6) and 0.17 (0.04 to 0.75) for those with the highest adherence (score 7-9) compared with those with low adherence (score <3). In the fully adjusted analyses the results were similar.

A two point increase in the score was associated with a 35% relative reduction in the risk of diabetes (incidence rate ratio 0.65, 0.44 to 0.95), with a significant inverse linear trend (P=0.04) in the multivariate analysis.

Conclusion Adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes.

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In this study, during an average of 4 years of follow-up, the researches found that found that people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet very closely had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. and their risk were reduced by 83 percent.

It is however very important to emphasize that major health benefits may not be entirely due to the diet alone.  A healthy diet should always partner with healthy lifestyle including more physical activity.  All these require no shortcut but plain discipline!

A Healthy Diet For More Wealth!