Updated “Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes” Now Available Free Online

The American Diabetes Association every January updates their Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes. The document is lengthy, highly technical, and written for healthcare providers. Some of you may appreciate it. If I were a non-physician with diabetes, I’d learn as much about it as possible. Remember, no one cares about your health as much as you do. The 2015 version of the standards is called, appropriately enough, Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2015.

Updates to the guidlelines include:

  • recommendation not to sit inactively for over 90 minutes
  • pre-meal blood sugar target is now 80 to 130 mg/dl (4.4 to 7.2 mmol/l) instead of the old 70 to 130 mg/dl
  • added SGLT2 inhibitors to the drug treatment algorithm
  • recommended a diastolic blood pressure goal of 90 mmHg or less instead of the old 80 mmHg or less
  • increased the potential pool of statin drug users
  • added a section on management of diabetes during pregnancy

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Dr. Roger Unger and his Glucagon-Centric Diabetes Model

Perhaps we’ve been wrong about diabetes all along: the problem isn’t so much with insulin as with glucagon.

At least one diabetes researcher would say that’s the case. Roger Unger, M.D., is a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. That’s one of the best medical schools in the U.S., by the way.

Glucagon is a hormone secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas; it raises blood sugar. (There are also glucagon-secreting alpha cells in the lining of the stomach, and I believe also in the duodenum.) In the pancreas, the insulin-producing beta cells are adjacent to the glucagon-secreting alpha cells. Released insulin directly suppresses glucagon. So if your blood sugar’s too high, as in diabetes, may be you’ve got too much glucagon action rather than too little insulin action.

From Shutterstock.com

Don’t ask me what delta cells do

Dr. Unger says that insulin regulates glucagon. If your sugar’s too high, your insulin isn’t adequately keeping a lid on glucagon. Without glucagon, your blood sugar wouldn’t be high. All known forms of diabetes mellitus have been found to have high glucagon levels (if not in peripheral blood, then in veins draining glucagon-secreting organs).

This is pretty well proven in mice. And maybe hamsters. I don’t know if we have all the pertinent evidence in humans, because it’s harder to do the testing.

Here’s Dr. Unger’s glucagon-centric theory of the pathway to insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes: First we over-eat too many calories, leading to insulin over-secretion, leading to increased fat production (lipogenesis) and storage in pancreatic islet cells as triglycerides, in turn leading to increased ceramide (toxic) in those islet cells, leading to pancreas beta cell death (apoptosis) and insulin resistance in the alpha cell (so glucagon is over-produced), all culminating in type 2 diabetes.

For a diagram of this, click forward minute 40 and 10 seconds in the video below.

If this is all true, so what? It could lead to some new and more effective treatments for diabetes. Dr. Unger says that in type 2 diabetes, we need to suppress glucagon. Potential ways to do that include a chemical called somatostatin, glucagon receptor antibodies, and leptin (the latter mentioned in a 2012 article, I think). The glucagon-centric theory of diabetes also explains why type 1 diabetics rarely have totally normal blood sugars no matter how hard they try: we’re ignoring the glucagon side of the equation. I don’t yet understand his argument, but he also says that giving higher doses of insulin to T2 diabetics may well be harmful. I’m guessing the insulin leads to increased accumulation of lipids (and the associated toxic ceramide) in cells.

Not making sense? Try this YouTube video:

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Dr. Unger Says: “Without insulin, you can’t get fat.”

Apoptosis: the second p is apparently silent.

h/t George Henderson

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Recipe: Chicken Avocado Soup

FullSizeRender

Avocados in soup? Yeah, I was skeptical, too. But it works amazingly well. Since I provide the nutritional analysis below, you can easily work this into the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, or Paleobetic Diet.

Ingredients

1.5 lb (680 g) boneless skinless chicken breast

1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil

1 cup (240 ml) chopped green onions

1/2 jalapeno pepper (or 1 or 2 peppers if you wish), seeded and minced (use the seeds, too, if you want it very spicy hot)

2 roma tomatoes (5 oz or 140 g), seeded and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

60 oz (1,700 g) low-sodium chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste (nutritional analysis below assumes no salt added)

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ground cumin

1/3 cup (80 ml) chopped cilantro

3 tbsp (45 ml) fresh lime juice (2 limes should be enough)

3 medium California avocados, peeled, seeded, and cubed

Instructions

Heat up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the green onions and jalapeño; sauté until tender (1–2 minutes) then add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds or so. Next into the pot goes the chicken broth, cumin, tomatoes, chicken breasts, and optional salt and pepper. If adding salt, I’d wait until just before serving: taste it and then decide if it needs salt. Bring to a boil with high heat, then reduce heat but keep it  boiling, covered with a lid while the chicken cooks through-out. Cooking time depends on thickness of the breasts and may be 15 to 45 minutes. When done, it should be easy to shred with a fork. Reduce heat to low or warm then remove the chicken breasts and allow them to cool for 5–10 minutes. When cool enough, shred the chicken with your fingers and return it to the pot. Add the cilantro. Ladle 1.5 cups (355 ml) into a bowl, add one fifth or sixth of the avocado cubes (half of an avocado) and the juice of 1/4 to 1/2 lime. Enjoy!

IMG_2233

Serving size: 1.5 cup of soup plus 1/2 of an avocado

Servings per Batch: 5

Advanced Mediterranean Diet boxes: 1 veggie, 1 fat, 1 protein

Nutritional Analysis per Serving:

43 % fat

13 % carbohydrate

44 % protein

350 calories

12 g carbohydrate

8 g fiber

4 g digestible carb

638 mg sodium

1,180 mg potassium

Prominent features: Rich in protein, vitamin B6, vitamin C, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, selenium; plus a fair amount of fiber

PS: You can fancy this up just before serving by adding a couple large triangular corn tortilla chips (broken into a few bits) or half of a 6-inch (15 cm) corn tortilla (first, microwave for 20 seconds, then break into a bits). Both items each add 5 g of digestible carbohydrate; the tortilla chip option adds 60 calories and the corn tortilla adds 25 calories. Shredded cheese might be a nice topper, too.

 

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Diabetes Drug Now Sold As Weight-Loss Aid

It’s liraglutide, which has been available to treat diabetes in the U.S. since 2009. It’s sold as Victoza. Click for my brief review of the drug class for diabetics. The weight-loss preparation will be sold in the U.S. as Saxenda and it’s a higher dose than is used for just diabetes.

Click for the CBS News report on Saxenda. A snippet:

One clinical trial that involved patients without diabetes found that patients taking Saxenda had an average weight loss of 4.5 percent after one year. Of the people treated with the drug, 62 percent lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. Meanwhile, only 34 percent of those given an inactive placebo had the same result.

Another clinical trial that included patients with type 2 diabetes found that patients had an average weight loss of almost 4 percent after one year. Of those given Saxenda, 49 percent lost at least 5 percent of their body weight, compared to 16 percent of those who were given a placebo treatment.

Click for the FDA’s press release.

Oh, by the way. You have to inject it daily under the skin (subcutaneous). And if you were hoping for a shortcut to weight loss, this ain’t it. You’re still supposed to follow a reduced-calorie diet and exercise regularly.

I’d try the  Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet first if I had diabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Full prescribing information.

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Dulaglutide Joins War Against Diabetes

In September, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the fourth drug in the GLP-1 analogue class: dulaglutide. The granddaddy in the class is exenatide (Byetta). The new GLP-1 receptor agonist will be sold in the U.S. under the name of Trulicity. It’s a once-weekly injection.

This is only a summary and is liable to change. Get full information from your prescribing healthcare provider and pharmacist.

Even walking helps with blood sugar control

Even walking helps with blood sugar control

Uses

For adults with type 2 diabetes, in conjunction with diet and exercise. It’s not a first-line drug. It can be used by itself or in combination with metformin, pioglitazone, glimiperide (and presumably other sulfonylureas), and insulin lispro (e.g., Humalog, a rapid-acting insulin). The drug has not been tried with basal (long-acting) insulins.

Dose

Start with 0.75 mg subcutaneously every week. Can go up to 1.5 mg weekly if needed.

Adverse Effects

Hypoglycemia is rare, but possible, when GLP-1 analogues are used as the sole diabetes drug. When it happens, it’s rarely severe. But the risk increases substantially when dulaglutide is used along with insulin or insulin secretagogues such as sulfonylureas or meglitinides.

Common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, dyspepsia, and fatigue.

It might cause thyroid tumors and pancreatitis.

Do Not Use If…

…you have a family or personal history of medullary thyroid cancer, or if you have Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 or pre-existing severe gastrointestinal disease. Those who are pregnant or nursing babies should probably not take it since we have no data on safety. Don’t use for diabetic ketoacidosis.

Use only with caution if you have a history of pancreatitis or known liver impairment.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click for full prescribing information.

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“Doc, Will I Get Mercury Poisoning From the Fish You Recommend?”

paleo diet, low-carb, Steve Parker MD

 A beautiful brown trout

The Environmental Working Group published an article reviewing the risk of mercury poisoning from seafood consumption. I’m not familiar with EWG. I’m trying not to hold it against them that Dr. Mark Hyman is on the board of directors.

Anyway, the EWG has some advice for you if you worry about mercury toxicity from fish. I try to stay up to date on the issue since I’m convinced that consumption of cold-water fatty fish twice a week is good for your health, in general. If the mercury doesn’t kill you. Seafood is key component of the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, the foundation of the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

Here are some quotes from the EWG article:

…EWG has compiled a list of “moderate mercury” species that would pose a mercury risk for pregnant woman and children who eat fish regularly. This list is more comprehensive than the 2004 EPA/FDA advisory, which warned that women of childbearing age and young children, who are most susceptible to the damage done by mercury, should eat only six ounces a week of albacore tuna and should avoid four other high-mercury species – swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and shark.

EWG rightly points out that much of the “seafood” consumed in the U.S. really doesn’t provide much of the healthful omega-3 fatty acids.

Among popular seafood species, salmon stands out as an excellent choice.  Four to eight ounces of salmon weekly, depending on the species, can provide 100 percent of the recommended amount of omega-3s. Some types of farmed salmon present significant environmental health concerns. EWG recommends that people choose wild salmon instead.

EWG’s analysis highlights several other affordable and sustainably produced species, including anchovies, sardines, farmed trout, and mussels.  Just four to eight ounces of these species weekly would meet recommended omega-3 requirements for pregnant women and people with heart disease.

***

Americans eat more than 400 million pounds of canned imported tuna because it is affordable and can be stored for a long time. Canned tuna is the second most popular seafood in the U.S., after shrimp.  An average American eats an average of 2.5 pounds of tuna every year (NOAA 2012).  Albacore tuna, also called “white” tuna, contains significant amounts of omega-3s, but tests indicate that it also contains significant amounts of mercury. “Light” tuna is usually skipjack tuna but can also contain yellowfin tuna. Skipjack and yellowfin have lower mercury levels than albacore, but fewer omega-3s.

As Jim Gaffigan asked, “Has anyone even bothered to ask why the tuna are eating mercury?”

In 30 years of practicing medicine, including 12 years right on the Gulf Coast, I’ve never seen a case of mercury toxicity. Maybe I’ve missed it. Maybe it’s quite rare.

Read the whole enchilada.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t Conner Middelmann-Whitney

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Recipe: Roasted Asparagus, Beef Stoup, and Blackberries

low-carb diet, paleobetic diet, diabetic diet

Dinner time!

Since I give you the nutritional analysis below, you can fit this meal into the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet, Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, or Paleobetic Diet.

The entree is a cross between stew and soup; stoup, if you will.

Ingredients:

2 lb (0.9 kg) stew meat, lean, bite-sized chunks (tenderized by the butcher if able)

1 garlic clove, finely minced

6 sprigs cilantro, de-stemmed, whole leaves

2 oz (58 g) sweet onion, diced (1/2 of a small onion)

1/4 of a medium-size green bell pepper, de-seeded, diced (medium bell pepper weighs about 5.5 oz or 155 g)

8 oz (227 g) canned tomato sauce

2.5 cups (590 ml) water

1.25 tsp (6.2 ml) table salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste (1/4 tsp or 1.2 ml?)

16 oz (454 g) fresh raw asparagus, no larger in diameter than your little finger, with any dry or woody stalk cut off and discarded

1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

7.5 oz (213 g) raw blackberries

Instructions:

Stoup first. In a frying pan or electric skillet, place the stew meat, cilantro, garlic, bell pepper, onion, and cook over medium heat (350º F or 177º C) until the meat is done. Then add the tomato sauce, two cups of the water, one tsp of the salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer for two hours, then add a half cup water to replace evaporation loss.

low-carb diet, paleobetic diet, diabetic diet

Cooking stew meat. NOTE: this is double the amount the recipe calls for.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

Meat is done and the “gravy” has magically appeared

low-carb diet, diabetic diet, paleobetic diet

Appearance after addition of the tomato sauce and 2 cups (480 ml) water

Now the asparagus. Preheat oven to 400º F or 204º C. Place asparagus on a cooking sheet covered with foil, brush the asparagus with the olive oil, then lightly salt (1/4 tsp?) and pepper to taste. (If you don’t mind cleaning up, just use a baking dish without the foil.) Roast in oven for 8–15 minutes; thicker asparagus takes longer. It’s hard to tell when it’s done just by looking; if it’s still hard, it’s not done. Click for another post I wrote on cooking asparagus and brussels sprouts.

paleobetic diet, low-carb diet, diabetic diet

Asparagus roasted at 400 degrees F for 12 minutes

Enjoy the berries for desert.

low-carb diet, diabetic diet, paleobetic diet

2.5 oz or 1/2 cup of blackberries

Servings: 3 [one serving is 1.5 cups (355 ml) of soup, a third of the asparagus (5 oz (140 g), and 2.5 oz (70 g) berries]

Nutritional Analysis:

40 % fat

12 % carbohydrate

48 % protein

590 calories

19 g carbohydrate

8.5 g fiber

10.5 g digestible carb

1,557 mg sodium

1,778 mg potassium

Prominent features: Rich in protein, B6, B12, copper, iron, niacin, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc

low-carb diet, paleobetic diet, diabetic diet

The fresh cilantro is a nice touch

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