ABC World News reported, “And we have a red flag to tell you about tonight about the most popular prescription drug in the world: statins.” Investigators “at Harvard Medical School” found that “people who take statins to reduce their cholesterol are at slightly higher risk of diabetes.” Sounds scary, right? Not to worry … it isn’t! Continue reading
I have the privilege of being the Medical Director at the Mission Medical Clinic, a Christian clinic for the working poor in Colorado Springs. Because we care for our patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, and because so many of our patients are diabetic, the question of how to fast when one is a diabetic comes up all the time. In addition, our patients need to fast before some lab tests or procedures. Continue reading
For some strange reason, I’ve had more folks searching my web site for “white mulberry for diabetes. So, here’s my take on the topic. Continue reading
Recently a friend at church, who is obese and has type 2 diabetes, asked if she should consider bariatric surgery. For my friend and the millions of Americans battling obesity and type 2 diabetes, here’s the stunning recent recommendation: Gastric bypass surgery may actually reverse type 2 diabetes almost instantly before patients lose an ounce of weight. Continue reading
In my book, SuperSized Kids: How to protect your child from the obesity threat, I warn that the childhood obesity epidemic was leading to dramatic increases in the number of kids with diabetes and cardiovascular disease and could shorten their life expectancy. Now we’re beginning to see this come true. Continue reading
Today, I have three blogs to encourage all of you who, when you wake up at the crack of dawn each day need your coffee. Some of you think it’s healthy. Some of you worry it may not be. So, I hope these blogs will bring you the latest “medical news that you can use” on the health benefits and risks of a beverage that’s chock full of antioxidants … coffee. This first blog report is an excellent review of the published data published in USA Today:
“I’m up every morning by 5 o’clock. Coffee gets the energy going,” says the owner of Natalia’s Elegant Creations in Falls Church, Va.
Kost-Lupichuk is among 56% of American adults who drink coffee regularly, the National Coffee Association says.
Though many refer to their java habit as an unhealthy indulgence, experts say that in moderation, a cup or two of joe a day actually has numerous health perks.
“People always talk about it as if it’s a little bad for you. That’s not necessarily true,” says Donald Hensrud, associate professor of Preventive Medicine and Nutrition at the Mayo Clinic. “Coffee contains over 2,000 different chemical components, including cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.”
Some studies suggest coffee can boost vision and heart health, says registered dietitian Elisa Zied, author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips. Research also has suggested coffee helps people with liver disease, but it has had mixed results when it comes to diabetes.
But be aware of how much caffeine you’re consuming, because it varies among coffee drinks, says Mary Rosser, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.
Loading up on cream and sugar is a bad idea, Hensrud says. A Starbucks venti 24-ounce double chocolate chip frappucino has 520 calories, 14 grams of saturated fat and 75 grams of carbohydrates. Pregnant women and people with anxiety and sleep problems should especially watch their intake, he says.
Also, people metabolize caffeine differently — the result of genetic differences, Hensrud says.
Caffeine’s influence can last for 10 hours or more, says researcher Jim Lane, a professor of medical psychology at Duke. He recommends pacing yourself throughout the day: “It’s nice to have places to meet friends that aren’t alcohol-related, but it does sort of encourage people to ignore the drug effects of caffeine.”
More on coffee’s perks and pitfalls:
Recent research suggests caffeine could help protect against cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, says Mayo’s Hensrud. Large clinical trials are still needed, though, says Duke aging expert Murali Doraiswamy. “We still don’t know the right dose for seniors,” Doraiswamy says. “Bottom line: I would not recommend caffeine solely as a preventive strategy for dementia.”
Convinced you need a morning cup to wake up? Research online this month in Neuropsychopharmacology suggests frequent coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to the anxiety-producing and stimulatory effects of caffeine. A study last month suggests those who consume caffeine perform better on the job.
Coffee exacerbates bad breath, Zied says. It also can give teeth a yellow tinge.
Although research suggests drinking five or six cups a day might reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, other studies show caffeine can exaggerate blood sugar problems in people who already have it, says Duke’s Lane.
High levels of caffeine can exert a laxative effect in some people but constipate others, Zied says. Heartburn and peptic ulcer patients should steer clear, too.
Too much coffee at once can increase blood pressure, but a cup or two a day generally does no harm to heart health, says Carl Lavie, medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention at John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans. Rarely, overindulgence can increase heart rate and cause heart rhythm disturbances, he says.
See more information about how coffee may prevent heart disease in my other blogs on the topic.
“Coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer,” Hensrud says.
Hensrud says coffee can ease migraines in some people. Coffee lovers who drink at work each day should keep up the habit on weekends, because skipping coffee can lead to withdrawal headaches, he says.
Too much coffee can increase anxiety, Zied says, especially in people who are prone to panic attacks. Lane has done studies showing that caffeine ups adrenaline and stress, especially if the body is already under stress.
The March of Dimes and the Food and Drug Administration recommend no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day for pregnant women and nursing mothers, says Montefiore obstetrician Rosser. More can affect babies in utero — increasing the heart rate and possibly slowing fetal growth. Trying to get pregnant? Same recommendation. But if infertility is a concern, avoid coffee.
The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant. It can make you jittery and contribute to insomnia, says sleep expert Craig Schwimmer, medical director of The Snoring Center in Dallas.
“It’s all in how you use it,” he says, explaining that caffeine has a half-life of about six hours. A couple of cups in the morning is fine, but for those with sleep troubles, cut coffee at least six hours before bedtime.
Today I’m teaching the family medicine residents at the In His Image Family Medicine Residency Program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. One of them asked if there were any health benefits of coffee. Of course, long time readers on this blog know the answer to that question is a qualified YES. There are a number of coffee and health related studies that have come out just this year. In fact, two recently came out at an American Heart Association meeting.
Among the findings: coffee drinkers are less likely to be hospitalized with heart rhythm disorders, which is a bit surprising because heart palpitations are more common among those who drink coffee.
Bloomberg News reported that “while a shot of espresso may give people the sensation their hearts are racing, drinking more coffee reduced the likelihood that patients would be hospitalized for irregular heartbeats,” according to one study presented at the conference.
The “study of 130,054 adults found that people who drank four cups or more of coffee daily had an 18 percent lower risk of being hospitalized for irregular heartbeats and other heart-rhythm conditions than noncoffee drinkers, researchers … said.”
Additionally, the investigators found that “the risk of hospitalization was seven percent lower for people who drank one to three cups of coffee daily.”
Caffeinated coffee consumption was also linked to a LOWER risk for type 2 diabetes in women.
Two caveats: (#1) These studies are association only, meaning it is very difficult to know that coffee is the key factor in the health differences, and (#2) Studies presented at meetings are not always high quality enough to make it into the peer-reviewed medical literature. We’ll have to wait and see if these do.
Natural medications (herbs, vitamins, and supplements) are popular among my patients, and among Americans. White mulberry is gaining popularity as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. But, is it worth a hoot? Continue reading
I had a patient this week tell me she had heard that cinnamon would help treat diabetes. Could that be true? Continue reading
A blood test physicians use regularly to check the average blood sugar levels in people with diabetes is now being recommended as a tool to diagnose the disease. And, the test is much more convenient for patients, as it does not have to be done fasting. Furthermore, I predict that this test will help us doctors identify many of the people with diabetes that don’t know they have it . . . and a whopping 40% of people with diabetes don’t even know they have it! Could you be one of them?
More Information: Continue reading
Reuters Health is reporting that vibrating exercise platforms, which are increasingly found in commercial gyms in Europe and elsewhere, may indeed help people lose a particularly harmful deep “hidden” fat that surrounds the abdominal organs and is linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
More Information: Continue reading
A striking new study says almost one in five American four-year-olds is obese, and the rate is alarmingly higher among American Indian children. What did the study find and what can you do to protect your children?
More Information: Continue reading
WebMD is reporting on the CDC’s latest diabetes statistics – and, the results are gruesome. Nearly 24 million people in the U.S. have diabetes — including almost 6 million who don’t know they’re diabetic — and at least 57 million have prediabetes.
Diabetes is the No. 7 cause of death among U.S. adults. Researchers reported last year that type 2 diabetes hastens heart disease and shortens lives by about eight years.
My Take? Continue reading
Here are my takes on some of today’s health headlines:
A new systematic review reports to have “the strongest evidence to date” that supplemental vitamin D in babies and children may help reduce the risk of later development of type 1 diabetes by 29 percent.
Readers of this blog have read me frequently comment on the host of health problems prevented by vitamin D. Continue reading