Whizzkey, Fat Loss Rings, & The Truth about Cholesterol…Becoming Mainstream?

Now that thanksgiving is over and done with, the air is abuzz with commercialism for the rest of the year…so here are some gifts you may find interesting!

Up first is a “fat loss ring” that works by “balancing” the body. Choose where you want to lose fat merely by ring placement! Probably the cheapest weight loss gimmick a person can buy this holiday season!

On the upside, probably the cheapest weight loss gimmick out there (found on Reddit)!

For you whiskey lovers, how about some holiday whiskey from…urine? James Gilpin of Gilpin Family Whisky uses the urine from diabetics to distill his own brand of whisky. From his site:

Large amounts of sugar are excreted on a daily basis by type-two diabetic patients especially amongst the upper end of our aging population. As a result of this diabetic patients toilets often have unusual scale build up in the basin due and rapid mould growths as the sugar put into the system acts as nutrients for mould and bacteria growth. Is it plausible to suggest that we start utilizing our water purification systems in order to harvest the biological resources that our elderly already process in abundance?

These whiskeys actually aren’t for sale, rather James Gilpin uses them as teaching material to try and spread the awareness of diabetes complications. TheFatNurse like!

Speaking of things TheFatNurse likes…check out this new piece on cholesterol from yahoo health!

When it comes to rating your risk for a fatal heart attack, the least important cholesterol number is your level of LDL (bad) cholesterol. In fact, life insurance actuaries don’t even look at LDL levels, because large studies show it’s the worst predictor of heart attack risk.

Wow! This sort of info in a mainstream media source!? Are things changing!?

If you’ve been following TheFatNurse you’ll know that Cholesterol holds a special place in TheFatNurse’s heart (hehehe non-intended pun there). Be sure to check out TheFatNurse’s cholesterol comics if you haven’t seen them yet!

Cholesterol Comic Overview

Triglyceride/HDL comic

New Videos from Dr. Dayspring and…Shaq? Canadian Diabetes Association approves of Juice?

If you have not seen Dr. Dayspring’s new video this week, TheFatNurse highly recommends you take a look below. TheFatNurse has mentioned Dr. Dayspring in the past so his name should be familiar. But if this is your first time hearing his name…he is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Clinical Lipidology as well as a fellow of the National Lipid Association while being a professor at the New Jersey School of Medicine and the director of cardiovascular education at the Foundation for Health Improvement and Technology.

The video offers a general overview of cholesterol and heart disease – stuff you will already be familiar with if you have read TheFatNurse’s For All Ages comic series on cholesterol or any of Dayspring’s previous works on Lecturepad. However, the video offers a good layman’s explanation of cholesterol and heart disease. What interested TheFatNurse the most is Dayspring’s point about how hard it is to change medical dogma. After all, it was once considered heresy to wash your hands in the medical community. However, sanitation practices eventually changed…are we currently in the transition of another change with regards to the public’s view of cholesterol and fat? TheFatNurse hopes so!

In other news, TheFatNurse caught a video of Shaq on CNN talking about health. Shaq gives a small sample of what he eats and says he cuts down on the bread, eats an omelette in the morning, salads for lunch and steak or fish for dinner while avoiding soda and candy to keep his weight down (abdominal obesity) in order to reduce the risk for diabetes. Nice job Shaq! TheFatNurse has talked in the past about how focusing on weight shouldn’t be the only factor to be evaluated in diabetes prevention, but it is certainly a good initial step for people to target.

In other news, the latest edition of The Diabetes Communicator, which is associated with the Canadain Diabetes Association, contained some interesting news about Juices. According to the article,

Juice offers a source of a variety of vitamins and minerals and contains phytochemicals that may play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease

Sayyyy whhhat? So…you’re telling TheFatNurse…that you can drink juice to prevent heart disease…because somehow…sugar’s role in heart disease…doesn’t matter when it come to juices?

WHAT…TheFatNurse No Like

You can find an excellent rebuttal to this whole thing by Tony NickonChuk, a certified diabetes educator who was, “so horrified in fact that he penned a letter to the Editor-in-Chief of the publication along with the President and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association.” Check out his letter here.

Diabetes in Asians and Asian Americans. Also New Meta!

Picture by Betoseha

Every now and then someone will inform TheFatNurse that over indulging on carbohydrates is “no big deal because Asians [and Asian Americans] eat carbs all the time and they are thin!” First, TheFatNurse thinks that is quite a general blanket statement to put on a whole race of peoples, but TheFatNurse is guessing this assumption is from the cultural importance of rice in those cultures. The following fact is usually a shocker to a lot of people:

Despite having lower body weight, Asian Americans are more likely than Caucasians to have diabetes

Sayyy whhhhat? That’s taken straight off the Joslin Diabetes Center of Asian American Diabetes Initiative which also says:

Because Asian descents develop diabetes at a body weight considered “normal” by mainstream western standard, some have concluded that obesity is not an important cause for diabetes in Asian descents.

This rise in diabetes occurs not only to Asian-Americans but extends to Asians as well. Last week in businessweek a story covered the dramatic rise of diabetes in China:

Prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, a disease linked to inactivity and excess calories, has more than tripled in China over the past decade, fueling 20 percent-a-year growth in drug sales and straining health services. It’s also stoking need for newer, costlier medications from Merck & Co. (MRK), Novo Nordisk A/S (NOVOB) and Sanofi that help avoid blood-sugar spikes and complications such as heart attack and stroke.

As few as two in five diabetics in China have their blood- sugar under control…That compares with the U.S., where blood-sugar is controlled in 70 percent…

…China’s health spending is forecast to almost triple to $1 trillion over the next eight years, surging rates of diabetes mean China is struggling to detect cases and provide basic care…

China has almost four times as many people with diabetes than the U.S., where there are 23.7 million sufferers, according to the IDF. By 2030, 40 million more will have the condition in China…

China has overtaken Japan to become Novo Nordisk’s biggest market after the U.S…

If you want to make some $$$ sounds like investments in pharmaceuticals for diseases related to high blood sugar will get you far in the future! The more important, but less financially rewarding message, is that these populations are becoming diabetic with lower weight gain compared to other populations. This can be troublesome since treatment and prevention is often focused on weight loss. For example, a new study that made the headlines a few weeks ago in the NIH newsletter showed:

An intensive diet and exercise program resulting in weight loss does not reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke in people with longstanding type 2 diabetes, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Few, if any, studies of this size and duration have had comparable success in achieving and maintaining weight loss. Participants in the intervention group lost an average of more than 8 percent of their initial body weight after one year of intervention. They maintained an average weight loss of nearly 5 percent at four years, an amount of weight loss that experts recommend to improve health. Participants in the diabetes support and education group lost about 1 percent of their initial weight after one and four years.

What kind of intensive diet was this? A low fat calorie restricted one. From their protocols page:

the calorie goals are 1200-1500 kcal/day for individuals weighing 250 lbs (114 kg) or less at baseline and 1500-1800 kcal/day for individuals who weigh more than 250 lbs. These goals can be reduced to 1000-1200 kcal/day and 1200-1500 kcal/day, respectively, if participants do not lose weight satisfactorily. These calorie levels should promote a weight loss of approximately one to two lbs/week.

The composition of the diet is structured to enhance glycemic control and to minimize cardiovascular risk factors. The recommended diet is based on guidelines of the ADA and National Cholesterol Education program and includes a maximum of 30% of total calories from total fat, a maximum of 10% of total calories from saturated fat, and a minimum of 15% of total calories from protein.

Interesting stuff…TheFatNurse will definitely have to wait until the final report is released to go over the details! TheFatNurse isn’t trying to say that exercise and weight loss isn’t important in diabetics because there are other benefits such as reducing sleep apnea, increased energy and etc. TheFatNurse is merely trying to suggest that weight loss is not everything! A new meta analysis form the American Journal of Epidemiology on clinical controlled trials recently showed something similar.

In comparing low fat to low carb diets, they found no statistical significance between the two on weight loss or abdominal obesity; subjects lost weight on either diet. However, there was statistical differences between the two on reducing Cholesterol, reducing LDL cholesterol, increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing triglycerides; this was the low carb. However, its important to note the low fat diet yielded good changes to these markers as well, the low carb diet just did it better.

Summary;TL;DR: TheFatNurse hopes this gives pause to the use of Asians and Asian Americans in the debate of high amounts of carbs being healthy. It’s an assumption that asians and asian americans have a high carbohydrate diet but even if we assume that is true, we can see that whatever diet they are eating is not exactly yielding good health due to the staggering amount of diabetes they are having in North America and Asia. This increase of diabetes is occurring even at lower levels of weight which also suggests there might be more to the story than the usual “obesity is a risk factor for diabetes.” Even when weight loss is the same between different diets, some studies have shown low carbohydrate diets yielding better results on metabolic markers vs low fat diets.

Ultimately, the problems of diabetes and diet in Asian/Asian American populations is a lot more complex than just the amounts of carbs eaten. With the introduction of western foods, marketing, and increased economic gain in China, there are ultimately other psychologic, social and financial factors that make the issue more complex…but well worth future study.

References:

Hu et al (2012). Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets Versus Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials. Am. J. Epidemiol. (2012) 176(suppl 7): S44-S54

Sugar Lobby vs Tobacco Lobby

Picture by Marlith

If you haven’t done so, Gary Taubes has a new article out on the history of the sugar industry that is worth a read. It is well written and the comparisons to the tobacco industry are eerily similar. Even more disturbing, according to the article, is how the sugar industry has been able to influence government policy and therefore public health policy during the past several decades. This influence extends to influential organizations such as the American Diabetes Association as well:

It is hard to overestimate Bierman’s role in shifting the diabetes conversation away from sugar. It was primarily Bierman who convinced the American Diabetes Association to liberalize the amount of carbohydrates (including sugar) it recommended in the diets of diabetics, and focus more on urging diabetics to lower their fat intake, since diabetics are particularly likely to die from heart disease. Bierman also presented industry-funded studies when he coauthored a section on potential causes for a National Commission on Diabetes report in 1976; the document influences the federal diabetes research agenda to this day. Some researchers, he acknowledged, had “argued eloquently” that consumption of refined carbohydrates (such as sugar) is a precipitating factor in diabetes.

If you go to the ADA’s website, they have a “Diabetes Myths” section to educate Americans on Diabetes “facts.” TheFatNurse finds this fact on the website about Type 2 Diabetes pretty interesting:

Pretty conventional stuff right? Being overweight is a risk factor and drinking sugared beverages is associated with Type 2 diabetes. Not too clear whether the ADA is trying to say the weight gain from consuming sugary drinks (which are high calories) is a risk factor for developing diabetes or if it’s the intake of high amounts of sugar in the drinks that leads to risk factors for diabetes. TheFatNurse is guessing it’s the former rather than the latter since the consumption of candies, ice cream, and other sugar added foods is not discussed. It seems the focus is only on sugared beverages. Does this mean a person can replace their sugar fix they get from coke with a bag of skittles instead to reduce their risk of diabetes!? Why all the focus on sugar added drinks and not the other sugar added junk foods!?

What you may find interesting is that the “Myth” fact on the ADA’s site was recently changed. In September 2012, TheFatNurse happened to take a screen shot of the previous statement on the myth that eating too much sugar causes diabetes:

This statement was as recent as September 2012 from the ADA!

So at least since September 2012, before the new changes mentioned earlier, the ADA was telling people that its ok to drink as much soda as you want provided you keep your weight under control? This was then changed to include warnings of sugar from sodas sometime between october and november 2012. This is strange considering a 2010 Meta-analysis from Diabetes Care, which is associated with the ADA, showed these links between sugared beverages and diabetes two years before the ADA decided to adjust their myths page. This meta-analysis also seems to hint that sugar’s damaging effects go beyond just causing obesity and a high amount of sugar by itself may lead to effects (SSB = sugar sweetened beverages):

Because of the high content of rapidly absorbable carbohydrates such as sucrose (50% glucose and 50% fructose) and high-fructose corn syrup (most often 45% glucose and 55% fructose), in conjunction with the large volumes consumed, SSBs may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes not only through obesity but also by increasing dietary glycemic load, leading to insulin resistance, β-cell dysfunction, and inflammation

Although SSBs increase risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, in part because of their contribution to weight gain, an independent effect may also stem from the high levels of rapidly absorbable carbohydrates in the form of added sugars, which are used to flavor these beverages.

Exploring the links between sugar consumption and diabetes is nothing new. This debate started decades ago. From the Taubes article:

An international panel of experts—including Yudkin and Walter Mertz, head of the Human Nutrition Institute at the Department of Agriculture—testified that variations in sugar consumption were the best explanation for the differences in diabetes rates between populations, and that research by the USDA and others supported the notion that eating too much sugar promotes dramatic population-wide increases in the disease.

To be clear, one shouldn’t assume cause and effect with high sugar consumption and the development of diabetes. The statement from the ADA, “the answer is not so simple” is actually pretty accurate since the evidence isn’t quite conclusive yet, although there are some pretty strong associations. There are many factors and the significance of this subject deserves exploration of all its complexities. However, the “not so simple” response should have been the standard answer a long time ago rather than saying sugar has no role.

Additionally, Dr. Lustig (mentioned in the Taubes article) has been mentioning potential links between sugar consumption and metabolic syndrome (in which one of the criteria is impaired fasting glucose) for awhile. If you are not familiar with his name, I recommend watching his famous Sugar Lecture at UCSF which covers history, policy and biochemistry on sugar:

Things are changing tho and it seems TheFatNurse sees more and more public service campaigns advocating the reduction of sugars such as the “real bears” on youtube:

However, as mentioned previously, why such a focus on the sugar in sodas and not other sugar added foods like candy or kids breakfast cereals? Regardless, TheFatNurse is happy to see the conversation on the dangers of sugar progressing.