Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More Diabetes and Blood-Sugar Control Methods

Here on the Gluten-Free Blog, I recently published an entry entitled "Controlling Blood-Sugar / Diabetes", that focused on the results of a recent study showing that through exercise alone, you could remarkably impact and improve your blood-glucose levels. Given the spike in readership here on the Gluten-Free Blog after posting that information, it seems I have touched on an area of interest. So, I plan to today continue the discussion about reducing blood sugar, and present a few other proven methods for significantly improving this important indicator of health.

Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid (aka Folate treatment)

Some studies have shown that Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid can improve insulin resistance, which in turn will improve blood sugar values. In one study on insulin resistance improving after folate and B12 therapy, subjects were given 500mcg B-12 and 5mg Folic Acid daily for a period of a couple months and compared to a placebo / control group. The results were quite encouraging, and the study found:
  • ...prolonged folate treatment decreased not only homocysteine levels but also reduced insulin levels, improving insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome.
  • Insulin levels dropped by over 25% in the Folate-Treatment group.
  • as a bonus: fasting glucose levels dropped, triglycerides dropped, plus a slight but significant decrease in systolic blood pressure was also demonstrated.
Note: If you suffer any B12 absorption issues, whether from Celiac Disease or Pernicious Anemia, you may wish to read another previous and popular blog I recently wrote entitled "Medical Secrets Revealed : Vitamin B12 Administration", where I discussed the efficacy of taking Vitamin B-12 sublingually (i.e., B12 dissolved under the tongue).

Calorie Restriction (CR)

I know, this proven method of improving blood sugar, pre-diabetes, and/or diabetes doesn't exactly sound "fun" as soon as you see those words calorie restriction on the page. CR is definitely something that takes a bit more work than popping some Folic-Acid/B12 pills. In fact, I'd go as far as to say this method of controlling insulin levels and blood glucose is probably going to be the most difficult (even more so than a consistent exercise program) for most people to successfully implement - myself included. I love food, especially delicious carbohydrate-rich breads, pizzas, desserts, etc., and just the thought of reducing my consumption of such treats causes anxiety.

But, it all comes down to which is more important: eating everything you want, or taking (challenging) steps to reduce your food consumption to live healthier and longer (I say "longer" here because CR is shown in various non-human mammalian studies to increase longevity; human results are expected to be the same, but our already long lifespans make studies quite difficult to implement). Harvard Medical School, just last week, published more information about how Calorie Restriction can lead to long healthy lives. CR induces a glucose-lowering and insulin-lowering response in the body, and in addition it alters the GH/IGF-1 (growth hormones) axis. The end result in studies is that by cutting calories substantially (by as much as 50-60%), huge gains in longevity (and reduced incident of age-related disease) are achieved.

The key is to restrict one's calories while not restricting one's nutrition; meaning you have to make very healthy choices about what you consume in order to get nutrient-dense calories. Essentially, this means less of the mainstream carbohydrate options (remove those refined carbs and sugars), and more of the fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meat. Seems like that's always what a good diet, CR or not, boils down to: eating healthy and eating things in moderation.

With this plan, I could certainly still find a way to eat my favorite gluten-free cakes, cookies, biscotti, and the like, but just much less in one sitting. I'm certainly glad the cakes freeze nicely, as I have learned to cut them up and freeze pieces for future days. Desserts are nearly all bound to be high-carbohydrate items, so moderation is always recommended, whether you are on a CR diet or not, since it is just better for you overall. So, do what you must to keep your eating under control.


This compound present in grapes, peanuts, and a few other fruits and veggies, has shown great promise in laboratory studies in controlling insulin and blood sugar levels. In fact, it essentially provides the benefits of CR (calorie restriction) in normal higher caloric diets. At least one pharmaceutical firm, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, is currently in clinical trials with drugs based on this compound as potential treatments for Type 2 diabetes [Update: in 2013, well after the GSK buyout of this firm, development was ongoing on new variations of this approach].

Sure sounds great to me - just eat a lot of grapes and get the effect of CR! Oh, wait,... not so fast... it isn't that simple. It takes a lot of this substance to get the desired effect; more so than you could get by eating foods that naturally contain Resveratrol. And, although there are (expensive) supplements on the market, there are lots of questions regarding the efficacy, shelf-life (due to oxidation), and required dosing levels in humans,... and in addition there is even a study entitled "high absorption but very low bioavailability of oral resveratrol" that suggests Resveratrol use in humans will be unable (even with supplementation) to get the desired effect due to how it is metabolized. So, Resveratrol one sounds like a "wait and see" item, with hopes that someone perfects a mechanism for delivery of the compound into our bodies while also making it affordable. I for one would sure like the CR-benefits while eating everything I normally like to chow on!

Some other noteworthy diabetes related items...

Recently, high-fructose corn sweetener (HFCS) has been in the news a lot for it's apparent correlation with Type II diabetes incidence. The fact is, this ingredient is in many commercially produced items these days, whether it is the pop/soda you are drinking, or the bread you are eating, or perhaps even the brand of tomato paste you put on your homemade pizza today. Search the Internet and you'll find plenty of information - like this article about sugary soda and diabetes [update: I had a link here, but over the years, the MedLinePlus article disappeared. Right now, I find that the best way to avoid this ingredient is to cook and bake my own foods, which is already commonplace for me given the gluten-free diet.

I also came across a presentation which documents that eating a high carb meal for breakfast results in an unacceptably high blood sugar swing - much higher than any other blood sugar rise seen throughout the day - even when compared to the same amount of carbohydrate eaten at a meal other than breakfast. The implication was that the body can not optimally process carbohydrates first thing in the morning, and if you are going to eat a meal higher in carbs, you should do so at lunch or dinner. Got me. But, that's what was shown.

I also have read about going to a completely low-fat vegan diet to control blood sugar. To me, that sounds like a lot of work and giving up a lot of foods I really like. In fact, I'd personally find that one easily as difficult as going on a CR (Calorie-Restricted) diet. And, this is coming from someone that was a totally meat-free vegetarian for over 7 years (I still consumed dairy and egg-products, since they are in most things I like). Even with my (prior) history of vegetarianism, I just can't imagine dropping my milk products or eggs - they come in so handy for baking (whether gluten-free baking or otherwise).

That's it for my roundup of other diabetes-control possibilities for now. I need to get back to posting some more Celiac-Disease and gluten-free specific topics in the coming days and weeks, especially some recipes and other things to coincide with the upcoming holiday events (yes, Thanksgiving and Christmas are still a bit away, but they tend to sneak up on me!)

UPDATE/NOTE: Please do not leave comments with links to your purported "cure-all" diabetes remedy-selling sites and tell me stories of how such and such supposedly did all sorts of remarkable things for someone you know. I will not let such comments through, UNLESS you can also provide links to placebo-controlled true scientific research that validates your remedy claims in an unbiased fashion. My goal is to provide people with proven ways to combat diabetes and high blood sugar, not to get their hopes up over products that make such claims with obscure, indirect, little, or no science behind them. Thanks.


David F said...

Hi, Mike--Just thought I'd mention that you've been spotted by The Wall Street Journal--congrats!

Kikipotamus said...

Thank you for this info! I already take B12 daily. Now I will let it dissolve under my tongue instead of swallowing.

Mike Eberhart said...

David, thanks for giving me a heads-up on that. I had no idea anyone too notice of my site at the WSJ. That's really cool! :)

Kiki, Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes with that B12.

Catherine said...


Thanks for bringing more attention to the link between diabetes and celiac. There are so many of us out there but not enough focus is given.


Ammy said...

Thank you for this info!