Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

FDA Revises Guidelines for Use of Metformin In Those With Kidney Impairment

Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes

Metformin is the most-recommended drug for type 2 diabetes

Recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised their guidelines for physicians regarding use of metformin in patients with kidney impairment. This may make more patients candidates for the drug.

Physicians have been advised for years that type 2 diabetics with more than minimal kidney impairment should not be given metformin. Why? Metformin in the setting of kidney failure raises the risk of lactic acidosis.

The traditional test for kidney impairment is a blood test called creatinine. When kidneys start to fail, serum creatinine rises. Another way to measure kidney function is eGFR, which takes into account creatinine plus other factors.

By the way, you can’t tell about your kidney function simply from the way you feel; by the time you have signs or symptoms of renal failure until the process is fairly advanced.

The FDA now recommends not using  metformin if your eGFR (estimated glomerular function rate) is under 30 ml/min/1.73 m squared), and use only with extreme caution if eGFR drops below 45 while using metformin. Don’t start metformin if eGFR is between 30 and 45. Your doctor can calculate your eGFR and should do so annually if you take metformin.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Drugs for Diabetes

What’s the Newcastle Diet?

Some of these are Newcastle-compliant

Some of these are Newcastle-compliant

Several years ago Prof. Roy Taylor and colleagues found they could apparently reverse type 2 diabetes with a very low-calorie diet. How low? 600–800 per day for eight weeks. His program—often called the Newcastle diet—has achieved some prominence in the United Kingdom but I don’t hear about it much over here across the pond. The clinical study in support of the program was very small—only 11 participants: 9 men and 2 women (with an average BMI of 33.6). I’m sure hundreds, if not thousands, have tried it since then.

I’m not endorsing or recommending the Newcastle diet at this time. I haven’t studied it in detail. It probably requires careful medical and dietitian supervision. Prof. Taylor says:

Our research subjects found the diet challenging to stick to. Motivated people were selected, and support from the team was given frequently. Support from the families of the research volunteers was very important in helping them comply with the diet. Hunger was not a particular problem after the first few days, but the complete change in social activities (not going to the pub, not joining in the family meals etc.) was a challenge over the eight weeks.

The purpose of this post is simply to collect a few informational links for my own records and for my readers who want to know more.

Links:

The original program utilizes Optifast liquid meals (600 calories/day) plus vegetables for another 200 calories. Prof. Taylor notes that products equivalent to Optifast may be more readily available and just as effective, but I don’t know what those are. Ensure? Carnation Instant Breakfast? Boost? Jevity?

Very low calorie diets like this are often referred to as starvation diets or crash diets. Starvation diets can cause weakness and easy fatigue, headaches, dizziness, hair loss, gallstones, electrolyte (blood mineral) disturbances, palpitations, nutritional deficiencies, skin problems, gout, kidney failure, or worse.

Even if successful, transitioning away from the eight-week Newcastle diet better be done carefully or the diabetes will return.

Steve Parker, M.D.

low-carb mediterranean diet

Front cover of book

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Filed under Overweight and Obesity

Diabetic Diet Wars: Vegan Versus Low-Fat

 

paleo diet, Steve Parker MD, how to cook asparagus and Brussels sprouts

These might be allowed on the vegan Ma-Pi 2 diet

A vegan diet was superior to a low-fat diet over the course of three weeks, in terms of blood sugar, hemoglobin A1c, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The vegans were also able to use fewer drugs.

A specific vegan diet (Ma-Pi 2) was compared to a low-fat diet in a study published by Nutrition & MetabolismCarbsane Evelyn dove into the study at her blog (recommended reading), or you can read the original research report yourself. Study subjects had fairly well-controlled type 2 diabetes and were elderly (66) and overweight (84 kg or 185 lb). The vegan diet was mostly whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and green tea.  The low-fat and vegan diets both probably supplied 200–300 calories/day fewer than what the subjects were used to: 1900 cals for men, 1700 for women. The study had 25 patients in each group and lasted only three weeks.

The vegan group ate 335 grams/day of carbohydrate compared to 235 grams in the low-fat group. In contrast, the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet provides 30–100 grams/day of digestible carb and the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet allows a max of 20–30 grams.

The vegans in the study at hand ate 15–20 more grams/day of fiber. High fiber intake is linked to better blood sugar control.

From the study abstract:

After correcting for age, gender, BMI at baseline, and physical activity, there was a significantly greater reduction in the primary outcomes fasting blood glucose and after-meal glucose in those patients receiving the Ma-Pi 2 diet compared with those receiving the control diet [low-fat]. Statistically significantly greater reductions in the secondary outcomes, HbA1c, insulin resistance, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and LDL/HDL ratio, BMI, body weight, waist and hip circumference were also found in the Ma-Pi 2 diet group compared with the control diet group. The latter group had a significantly greater reduction of triglycerides compared with the Ma-Pi 2 diet group.

The take-home point for me is that overweight T2 diabetics can improve short-term diabetes numbers despite a high carbohydrate consumption if they restrict calories and eat the “right” carbs. Restrict calories enough—600/day?—and T2 diabetes might be curable

I’ve written before about vegetarian/vegan diets for diabetes. My patients are more resistant to vegan diets than they are to low-carb.

Paleobetic diet, low-carb breakfast

Not allowed not on the Ma-Pi 2 diet. Bacon, eggs, black coffee, and Cholula hot sauce.

I scanned the original report and don’t see any problems with Evelyn’s summary.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Diabetes and Overweight?

Would aspartame or stevia be healthier than those sugar cubes?

Would aspartame or stevia be healthier than those sugar cubes?

We don’t know with certainty yet. But a recent study suggests that non-caloric artificial sweeteners do indeed cause overweight and type 2 diabetes in at least some folks. The study at hand is very small, so I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. I’m not even changing any of my recommendations at this point.

exercise for weight loss and management, dumbbells

Too many diet sodas?

The proposed mechanism for adverse metallic effects is that the sweeteners alter the mix of germs that live in our intestines. That alteration in turn causes  the overweight and obesity. See MedPageToday for the complicated details. The first part of the article is about mice; humans are at the end.

Some quotes:

“Our results from short- and long-term human non-caloric sweetener consumer cohorts suggest that human individuals feature a personalized response to non-caloric sweeteners, possibly stemming from differences in their microbiota composition and function,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers further suggested that these individualized nutritional responses may be driven by personalized functional differences in the micro biome [intestinal germs or bacteria].

***

Diabetes researcher Robert Rizza, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who was not involved with the research, called the findings “fascinating.”

He noted that earlier research suggests people who eat large amounts of artificial sweeteners have higher incidences of obesity and diabetes. The new research, he said, suggests there may be a causal link.

“This was a very thorough and carefully done study, and I think the message to people who use artificial sweeteners is they need to use them in moderation,” he said. “Drinking 17 diet sodas a day is probably a bad idea, but one or two may be OK.”

I won’t argue with that last sentence!

Finally, be aware the several clinical studies show no linkage between human consumption of non-caloric artificial sweeteners and overweight, obesity, and T2 diabetes.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Causes of Diabetes, Overweight and Obesity, Sugar Substitutes

Do Antibiotics Cause Type 2 Diabetes?

Denmark researchers found an association between antibiotic usage and later development of type 2 diabetes. I don’t think they’ve released full details of their study yet. Just because there’s a linkage between antibiotics and type 2 diabetes doesn’t mean there is a direct causal relationship.

One possible way that antibiotics could cause diabetes, however, would be through alteration of gut germs (aka microbiome). An antibiotic may do a great job curing your urinary tract infection, while at the same time eliminating millions of certain gut bacteria and allowing other species to have a population explosion. One of the most fascinating fields of medicine now is trying to figure out if and how the billions of bacteria in our intestines might influence health and disease. F’rinstance, gut bacteria may influence whether we are fat or slim.

I bet if you graphed antibiotic use and incidence of type 2 diabetes over the last 50 years, they would trend together pretty well.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Does a New Diabetes Drug Reduce Heart Disease Risk?

diabetic mediterranean diet, Steve Parker MD

Pharmacist using her advanced degree to count pills

Larry Husten writing at CardioBrief mentions a recent press release alleging that empagliflozin reduces cardiovascular disease risk.

Larry points out a problem with diabetes drugs that I’ve been harping on for years: we don’t know the long-term outcomes and side effects of most of our drugs. As long as a diabetes drug reduces blood sugar and seems to be relatively safe in the short term, it will be approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Larry writes:

Until now the best thing anyone could say for sure about all the new diabetes drugs was that at least they didn’t kill people. That’s because although these drugs have been shown to be highly effective in reducing glucose levels, a series of large cardiovascular outcomes trials failed to provide any evidence of significant clinical benefit.

Cardiovascular disease is a major stalker of diabetics. I’m talking about heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, sudden cardiac death.

The aforementioned press release touts reduced cardiovascular disease risk in patients taking empagliflozin. What’s missing is any mention of overall death reduction. Even if the drug really prevents heart attacks and strokes, which I doubt, don’t you want to know about overall death rates? I do. For all we know, the drug could promote illness and death from infections and cancer while reducing heart attacks and strokes. The drug’s net effect could be premature death. 

I’m 99% sure the researchers doing the work have the mortality data. Unless they don’t want to know.

By no means am I against drug use. But if I had type 2 diabetes, I’d do all I can with exercise, weight control, and low-carb eating before resorting to new or higher doses of drugs.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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New Study Suggests Low-Carb Diet Healthier Than Low-Fat in T2 Diabetes

This is an important report because most diet studies last much less than one year. Details are in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Study participants were 115 obese (BMI 35) type 2 diabetics with hemoglobin A1c averaging 7.3%. Average age was 58. So pretty typical patients, although perhaps better controlled than average.

They were randomized to follow for 52 weeks either a very low-carbohydrate or a high-carbohydrate “low-fat” diet. Both diets were designed to by hypocaloric, meaning that they provided fewer calories than the patients were eating at baseline, presumably with a goal of weight loss. The article abstract implies the diets overall each provided the same number of calories. They probably adjusted the calories for each patient individually. (I haven’t seen the full text of the article.) Participants were also enrolled in a serious exercise program: 60 minutes of aerobic and resistance training thrice weekly.

Kayaking is an aerobic exercise if done seriously

Kayaking is an aerobic exercise if done seriously

The very low-carb diet (LC diet) provided 14% of total calories as carbohydrate (under 50 grams/day). The high-carb diet (HC diet) provided 53% of total calories as carbohydrate and 30% of calories as fat. The typical Western diet has about 35% of calories from fat.

Both groups lost weight, about 10 kg (22 lb) on average. Hemoglobin A1c, a reflection of glucose control over the previous three months, dropped about 1% (absolute reduction) in both groups.

Compared to the HC diet group, the LC dieters were able to reduce more diabetes medications, lower their triglycerides more, and increase their HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”). These triglyceride and HDL changes would tend to protect against heart disease.

SO WHAT?

You can lose weight and improve blood sugar control with reduced-calorie diets—whether very low-carb or high-carb—combined with an exercise program. No surprise there.

I’m surprised that the low-carb group didn’t lose more weight. I suspect after two months of dieting, the low-carbers started drifting back to their usual diet which likely was similar to the high-carb diet. Numerous studies show superior weight loss with low-carb eating, but those studies are usually 12 weeks or less in duration.

The low-carb diet improved improved lipid levels that might reduce risk of future heart disease, and allowed reduction of diabetes drug use. Given that we don’t know the long-term side effects of many of our drugs, that’s good.

If I have a chance to review the full text of the paper, I’ll report back here.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Jeannie Tay, et al. Comparison of low- and high-carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes management: a randomized trial. First published July 29, 2015, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.112581    Am J Clin Nutr

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Filed under Carbohydrate, Heart Disease, Weight Loss