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Monday, January 28, 2008

Caffeine causes blood sugar to spike

Perhaps Dr. Atkins had a point when he said no caffeine and no diet sodas. Recently in a study of coffee drinkers amongst people who have diabetes, Duke University psychologist James Lane found that caffeine boosted blood sugar levels. A cutting-edge glucose monitor was embedded beneath stomach skin, which allowed them to monitor the subjects more closely.
All these subjects normally drank two or more cups of coffee a day. They were given capsules of caffeine, the equivalent of four cups of coffee. The results were that blood sugar was raised and especially after meals, by about 25 % after dinner, for instance.
It was unclear why caffeine increases glucose levels. Dr. Lane suggested that adrenalin and other stress hormones released upon drinking coffee could perhaps stimulate glucose secretion in the liver.

Here is a link to explain what happens to folks with diabetes when consuming lots of caffeine - blood glucose levels are higher by 8% on those days:

My conclusions: If glucose levels are increased, then insulin levels would be increased and that would make one hungrier, as insulin is the hormone that stimulates hunger. Perhaps that is why paradoxically diet coke seems to make people fatter. Drinking diet coke or coffee raises blood sugar and that means more insulin and that in turn means more energy is stored in the body in the form of fat. Seems like Dr. Atkins knew what he was talking about prohibiting caffeine and diet sodas.

Some General Health News

I believe we low-carbers are interested in general health news as well as low-carbing. So with that in mind, here are some interesting tidbits of information.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D can help prevent heart disease and stroke, especially in folks with high blood pressure. In fact the risk was double for people with high blood pressure and a deficiency of vitamin D. The findings were published in Circulation, a journal published by the American Heart Association. Vitamin D is also important for bone health as a deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults or rickets in children. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in parts of the world with long winters. Apart from getting vitamin D from the diet (salmon is a good source), and supplements (some people supplement with D3 which is the active form of the vitamin), 10 minutes of sunshine about 3 times a week should be sufficient, according to the experts. D3 in studies seems to show it is protective against cancer and multiple sclerosis as well.

Cholesterol in the genes

British researchers uncovered a genetic link to high cholesterol, which increases risk of heart disease. The next step would be to find the exact gene and find new ways to treat the problem.

High Protein Fends off Hunger

This is good news for low-carbers! I have found when I don’t have enough protein, I will be hungrier between meals. Apparently protein is the best inhibitor of hunger, even over fat and carbohydrates. Dr. David Cummings of the University of Washington in Seattle, who worked on the study said that suppression of ghrelin is one of the ways one loses one’s appetite. Carbohydrates suppressed ghrelin initially but there is a rebound effect, where that is negated and one becomes even hungrier than before. Fats apparently are a poor suppressor of ghrelin, which I find so hard to believe, but perhaps in combination with protein it is more effective.

Gastric Surgery and Remission of Diabetes

It has been found that gastric bypass surgery can lead to remission of diabetes. A popular type of gastric surgery in Australia which uses an adjustable silicone band on the upper part of the stomach to limit how much a person can eat leads to weight loss over the next year or two. Apparently the patients who lost the most weight were the most likely to eliminate their diabetes. Gastric bypass surgery is very expensive, sometimes costing around $20 to $30,000, so I’m wondering if losing weight on a low-carbohydrate diet wouldn’t be a simpler way of achieving the same thing, without the expense and physical pain? Certainly I have a friend who achieved remission of her diabetes by losing 90 lbs on a low-carbohydrate diet.

Rimonabant: A Miracle Fat-Fighting Drug

A new drug, Rimonabant, that was tested on over 3,000 volunteers placed on a reduced-calorie diet showed that people not only lost weight significantly over 2 years, but also their HDL increased by 25% on average. It also lowered triglycerides and improved insulin sensitivity. In smokers, it prevented weight gain. This drug may soon be available, but frankly, if one can lose weight without drugs following a low-carbohydrate diet, improving blood profiles similarly as aforementioned into the bargain, then that would be the better route to take, in my opinion.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Scientists say they have confirmed what grandmothers have known for centuries -- that chicken soup is good for colds.

Any chicken soup, even with vegetables added seems to have anti-inflammatory properties which could explain why it soothes sore throats and eases the effects of miserable colds and flu.

They found that chicken soup and many of its ingredients helped stop the movement of neutrophils which are white blood cells that consume bacteria and cellular debris. These are released in great numbers by viral infections like colds. Neutrophil activity can then also stimulate the release of mucous from the mucous membranes, which may be the reason for coughs and stuffy noses associated with colds.

I’ll share a great chicken soup from Splendid Low-Carbing which my son, Jonathan, really enjoys.


2 tbsp Healthy Butter, page 96

½ cup chopped onion

1 green pepper or carrot, finely chopped

1 apple, finely chopped

1 tbsp Thickening Agent, page 109

(or Thicken/Thin Not Starch)

2 tsp medium curry powder

¼ tsp salt

8 cups water

1 can tomato sauce

3 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled

1 tbsp Splenda Granular

2 tsp lemon juice

12 oz cooked chicken, cubed

In deep, heavy saucepan, melt Healthy Butter, page 96. Add onion, green pepper and apple. Saute 5 minutes. Stir in Thickening Agent, page 109, curry powder and salt. Gradually stir in water. Stir in tomato sauce, chicken bouillon cubes, Splenda Granular and lemon juice. Bring to boil and stir occasionally. Simmer at medium-low heat 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent vegetables from sticking to bottom of saucepan. Add chicken. Simmer 10 minutes longer.

Helpful Hints: A food processor makes short work of chopping vegetables and apple finely. For children, stir some cooked macaroni into their portion, if desired, or for adults use low-carb pasta, such as Dreamfields elbow macaroni.

Nutritional Analysis: 12 servings, 1 cup each, 95.3 cal, 9.7 g pro, 2.9 g fat, 7.1 g carbs

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Western Diet or Prudent Diet Contributes to Metabolic Syndrome

A recent study discovered once again that our Western diet increases the risk of getting metabolic syndrome. Of course, this is not news to us, however, I was interested to see what the people in the study were eating and what the recommendations would be for a better diet. 9,000 people were studied for over 9 years. Some ate a diet of two or more servings of meat a day (the risk for metabolic syndrome was reduced by 26% if they ate meat only twice a week and 34% increased if they drank diet soda (aspartame) as opposed to sugar soda which apparently did not boost the risk significantly. Fried foods also boosted the risk (possibly because of trans fats at fast food places and restaurants?).

“The Western diet followers ate refined grains, processed meat, red meat, fried foods, eggs, and soda and not much fish, fruit, vegetables, or whole-grain foods.

The prudent diet followers ate more fruits, vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods.”

The big surprise was that there was not a big difference between the groups as far as developing metabolic syndrome, which was at about 40% of the participants. Metabolic syndrome is present if at least three markers of the following criteria are present such as a large waistline, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar, elevated fasting triglycerides, or reduced levels of HDL (good) cholesterol .

A reduction in risk (13%) of metabolic syndrome developing was seen in people who consumed at least 3 servings of dairy products a day.

Fried foods and processed foods were flagged as the culprits.

My comments: I'm sure they were all eating a higher fat diet in conjunction with a high carb diet. That is the Western diet, right? Yes, we do know it leads to metabolic syndrome over time. Interesting though that dairy products were protective.

I don’t think I will give up frying my eggs or veggies, but I’ve never been a fan of processed foods. I do have bacon occasionally. I have finally given up diet coke, which I started drinking recently over the last year. I always felt uneasy about drinking it and tried to limit it to once or twice a week, but I feel better now for finally having given it up!

To say that diet soda contributes to metabolic syndrome is strange and this does not mean we should instead be downing sugar sodas. It could just be that this particular link to metabolic syndrome is related to overweight people preferring diet soda and that these people are more likely to load up on other things like a side order of fries. Very overweight people are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and maybe that is the link. Who knows? Correlational evidence is not proof of causation.