Would you eat earlier to improve your blood sugar control?

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

Adapted from Diabetes in Control Sept 18 2021: Effects of earlier dinner times on glycaemic control by Andy Dao, Pharm D candidate, University of South Florida.

Growing up you may have heard from your family that eating close to bedtime isn’t a good idea. Eating later has indeed been shown to cause weight gain and metabolic dysfunction. Type 2 diabetes develops 10% more commonly in those who work shifts for instance. It is though that hormonal disruption of the circadian rhythm is the problem.

A recent study looked at how blood sugars were affected by eating earlier than 6pm or after 9pm over the whole 24 hour day. Adults over 20 wore blood sugar monitors over three days in this experiment. They were assigned to have their last meal of the day by 6pm or after 9pm. They had to eat or drink nothing but water after this meal. They were given identical meals three times a day. How they felt, what exercise they took and how well they slept were all assessed.

12 subjects completed the tests. Each group were of comparable height, weight and BMI.

There were significant reductions in blood sugar levels in the early diners in mean blood sugars throughout the whole day, night and early morning. Post prandial levels were also better in the evening for the early diners compared to the late diners but not for breakfast and lunch post prandial levels which were the same regardless of the evening mealtime.

The early diners did report more hunger and capacity to eat in the evenings than the later diners. There was no difference in sleep or physical activity.

So, if you do eat earlier, you can expect improved blood sugars all day long, and perhaps less likelihood of getting diabetes. The downside is more evening hunger. This study was done in healthy non-diabetic people and it would be interesting to see what the results in diabetic subjects would show.

Comment: Sitting down at 5 to 5.30 pm just wouldn’t work well for me, yet this is what we did in my childhood, and we didn’t eat snacks in front of the television after this. In my own house we have dinner at 7.30pm. This however is because I didn’t usually get home before 6.30 pm or even 7pm for many years so an earlier mealtime was not possible for me. I also tend to watch television from 8 pm for about 40 minutes or so before bath and bed. I couldn’t abide eating after 9pm as a regular thing, yet this is very common in Italy. I do think that I would be reaching for the oatcakes and cheese or more if I was in front of the television having eaten at 6pm.

Anxiety is learned from the same sex parent as the child

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

Adapted from Medscape News by Megan Brooks July 13 2022

Transmission of anxiety appears to be sex specific. It spreads from mothers to daughters and from fathers to sons, new research shows.

Dr Barbara Pavlova from Nova Scotia says that findings suggest that anxiety is a learned behaviour from parents. Therefore, perhaps it is preventable. Effective treatment of anxiety in young adults, prior to parenthood, could make a difference to children too.

Anxiety disorders are known to run in families. Both genes and environment are thought to be at play.

If a mother for instance has an anxiety disorder, the chance of a daughter developing it, by an average age of 11 years old, is 2.85 times normal, but this is not the case for her son, who would have a normal risk.

Of 398 children studied 27% had been diagnosed with some sort of anxiety disorder including generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder or a specific phobia.

The rates increased with the age of the child from 14% in the under 9s to 52% in the over 14s. There was a similar rate of anxiety in both boys and girls. Rates were lower if one parent had the disorder and higher if two parents had the disorder. Dr Pavlova thinks that a child will tend to model themselves on their same sex parent.

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorder and emerge earlier than mood disorders.

My comment: I was interested to see this information. My mother had GAD, generalised anxiety disorder, and I have had a specific phobia since I was about 9 (Spiders!). If I was going to get something I suspect that a common specific phobia is a lot less disruptive to life than GAD. The good news is that I’m not a pilot on a jet plane!

A forensic pathologist tells us how to live to a good old age

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Adapted from Medscape August 31 2022 Would you like to live to a ripe old age? George D Lundberg MD

Do

Choose ancestors who did not die of natural causes in young adulthood or middle age (oophs…too late!)

Maintain a body mass index within the healthy range using a variety of tools

Maintain blood pressure within a normal range with or without medications

Maintain a low resting heart rate

Do eat whole grains including bran

Consume above ground leafy vegetables, some root vegetables, tree nuts, peanuts and berries

Ingest supplemental fibre such as psyllium husks

Ingest supplemental magnesium and possibly vitamins K2, C and D

Enjoy eating animal and vegetable fats including milk, cheese, meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs in moderation.

Eat two full meals a day

Do drink alcohol after 5pm

Sleep 6-8 hours a night

Walk up and downstairs and use handrails if necessary

Continue to be active physically, mentally, socially and sexually

Study and enjoy birds, bees, trees, plants, flowers and wildlife

Value your family life and participate actively while encouraging individuals to live their own lives

Read great books, fiction or non fiction a little every day

Actively engage in person or electronically with younger people

Stay informed about current world affairs and care about what you can change

Be passionate about culture such as performing and visual arts and sport

Recognise the value of spirituality and religion and feel free to live otherwise if you choose

Do your best to earn and retain as much money as needed to control your environment into old age

Take charge of your own health

Listen to your body

Maintain a long term relationship with a reliable and conservative primary care physician and certain specialists that fit the needs of older people.

Promote good vision in any way you can

Use hearing aids if you need them to retain brain function

See your dentist every 6 to 12 months and practice good oral hygiene. There is a strong correlation between the number of original teeth and length of life

Keep up to date with vaccinations

Maintain a safe distance and use mask if you may be around infective people

Take as few medications as necessary

Have as few diagnostic tests and surgical procedures as possible especially on the back and the knees

Use acupuncture and massage appropriately

Apply moisturising skin lotion especially after sun exposure

Use saline mist often to prevent nosebleeds

Walk at least 2 miles every day

If you can, swim every day

Practice yoga particularly the standing side bend, prone baby cobra, forward plank and windshield-wiper

Eat a protein rich diet and deliberately weight train or lift heavy objects to reduce sarcopenia

stand on one foot to improve balance

Use wearable exercise monitors if you find them useful

If you retire from work do some part time or volunteer jobs

Have something productive and fulfilling to do each day

Don’t

Inhale tobacco smoke

Consume sugar or sugar in anything in home cooked or restaurant meals, in soft drinks, fruit juices, pastries, desserts or processed foods

Use street drugs

Use natural or synthetic opioids except for short term relief of severe pain or the relief of pain from advanced cancer: then use all you need

Use sleep medication

Drink more than moderately or binge drink

Drive a vehicle after drinking or taking certain psychoactive drugs

Keep firearms in your home or workplace

Fret about things in your personal life or world affairs that you cannot change

Completely retire and have nothing useful to do

My comments: Dr Lundberg has a pretty long list of sensible suggestions. To these I would add, get some daily sunshine if you can and enjoy your pets. Have things to look forward to. Keep in touch with your friends and make contact with old ones who you value but don’t see often. Learn new things. What other suggestions do you have?

Colorectal cancer is affected by your experience in the womb

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Adapted from BMJ: 18 Sept 2021

A longitudinal study of women from Oakland California has been following 19 thousand of their offspring since the early 1960s.

So far 68 people have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Risk factors include: obesity in the mother, weight gain during pregnancy, and a high birthweight. This suggests that uterine life has something to do with why this cancer develops. This could explain why there has been a relatively recent increase in colorectal cancer in younger aged adults. Unfortunately there is little you can do yourself about these factors.

Women’s health initiative: post menopausal women with cardiovascular disease did worse on a “heart healthy” low fat diet

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Adapted from BMJ: Hiding unhealthy heart outcomes in a low fat diet trial: The Women’s health initiative randomised controlled dietary modification trial finds that post menopausal women with established coronary heart disease were at increased risk of an adverse outcome if they consumed a low fat “heart healthy” diet. by Timothy David Noakes. Open Heart. 2021.

The WHI trial was designed to test with the US Department of Agriculture’s 1977 Dietary Guidelines for Americans protects against coronary heart disease (CHD) and other chronic diseases.

The only significant finding was that post menopausal women with CHD randomised to a low fat diet in 1993 were at a 26% greater risk of developing additional CHD events compared to women eating the control diet. In 2017 an additional 5 years of follow up data was published. It found that the risk for this group of women had increased to 47-61%.

The authors sought to explain why this was but author Tim Noakes has looked at the evidence and his opinion is that the women who had consumed 13 years of a low fat/high carbohydrate diet had inadvertently succumbed to the features of insulin resistance. Their risk of type 2 diabetes went up almost eleven fold and metabolic syndrome went up six fold.

Dr Noakes advises that according to the principle of “do no harm” the practice of putting women on low carb diets if they are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease is certainly not evidence based and probably not ethical.

The WHI is one of the most expensive long term dietary intervention trials ever undertaken. It started in 1993. Although the advice was given to cut dietary fat, particularly saturated fat in 1977, the policy had never actually been tested regarding its effects on weight, CHD, cancer and type two diabetes.

The idea was to replace the calories from saturated fat with increased carbohydrates from grains, fruits and vegetables. The effect of this was to lower blood cholesterol concentrations. The trial did not seek to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat as studies of this had been published in 2013 and 2016.

Nutritionists led the first year 18 group sessions followed by individual follow up every 3 months. Feedback was given so as to encourage low fat intake.

A low fat diet was not found to improve rates of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and only resulted in 0.4 kg weight loss over the first 8 years of the trial. The more women adhered to the low fat diet, the more weight they gained. The women who ate high fat, lower carb diets, the more weight they lost.

Blood sugar started to deteriorate in the first year of the trial for the low fat diet group. Post menopausal women who went on statins were at a 49% increased risk of developing type two diabetes. A prior meta-analysis had found that there was a 9% chance of developing type two diabetes with statin use.

The 2017 report analysed women in subgroups: No CHD or hypertension. Hypertension only. and pre-existing CHD. The idea was to see who may benefit or lose the most from the low fat intervention.

Women with hypertension only had neither benefit or harm from the low fat diet. Women who had no pre-existing hypertension or CHD had a small reduction in CHD risk but this was off set by a higher risk of stroke.

Regarding another study, the ERA trial, women who were on HRT who reported that they ate the most saturated fat over the trial time of three years, found that their coronary atheroma did not progress. In fact there was a modest regression in coronary artery narrowing. Both those who ate the most polyunsaturated fat, and those who ate the highest amount of carbohyrate and therefore the lowest amount of total fat showed worsening of their coronary atheroma.

Statin use was similar in both groups who were randomised to each diet, low fat versus usual. Indeed more than 40 percent of the women in each group were on statins.

Only post menopausal women who do not have CHD or hypertension are safe to eat the low fat diet, the others can expect some negative effects.

The Women’s health study (WHS) was established between 1992 and 1995 at Harvard Medical School to look into the effects of aspirin and vitamin E on the risks of developing CHD or cancer in women who started off with neither condition.

The study showed no benefit for either treatment.

A 21 year follow up programme of over 2,800 of these women evaluated more than 50 different clinical, lipid, inflammatory and metabolic factors.

Results showed that the development of Type two diabetes, and not high cholesterol levels were important factors in the development of CHD. Hypertension gives a 4.58 fold increase in CHD. Obesity gives a 4.33 fold risk. These factors as well as type two diabetes and metabolic syndrome were more predictive of CVD than smoking.

A Lipoprotein Resistance Score was developed looking at various factors particularly VLDL and HDL and a high level produced a 6.4 fold risk of cardiovascular disease. This is worsened in insulin resistance. LDL scores only gave a 1.38 fold risk of CVD by comparison.

The Progression of Early Subclinical Atherosclerosis Study looked at HbA1c in people who did not have type two diabetes. The higher the HbA1c, the higher the risk of CVD and the risk even started below HbA1c levels of 5.5%.

Women who had low HDL levels was associated with a higher breast cancer incidence and all cause mortality after breast cancer as well as an increased risk of cancer specific and all cause mortality.

The Recovered Minnesota Coronary Experiment (RMCE) study found that people randomised to eat more polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat were at a 22% higher risk of death with each 0.78 mmol/L reduction in blood cholesterol. This effect was worse in the over 65s.

The Recovered Sydney Diet Heart Study (RSDHS) showed that replacement of dietary saturated fat with linoleic acid was also associated with raised all cause mortality with increased deaths from cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

Lawrence ( Lawrence GD Perspective: the saturated fat- unsaturated oil dilemma: relations of dietary fatty acids and serum cholesterol, atherosclerosis, inflammation, cancer and all cause mortality. Adv Nutr. 2021; 12: 647-56) concluded: PUVAs are unstable to chemical oxidation and their oxidation products are harmful in a variety of ways. They can initiate inflammation that can have dire health consequences. If saturated fats are replaced by carbohydrates in the diet there would be no significant improvement in serum cholesterol and it can result in a more atherogenic lipoprotein profile. …It appears that saturated fats are less harmful than the common alternatives.

This set of findings from four different studies effectively ends the debate about which diet should be eaten to lower the risk of CVD, especially in those with insulin resistance.

Two diets shown to prevent the clinical features of IR leading to type two diabetes are the restricted low calorie diet developed by Lim et al (Lim et al. Reversal of type two diabetes; normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol. Diabetalogica 2011;54:2506-14.) and the ad libitum low carbohydrate higher healthy fat ketogenic diet.(Hite AH et al. In the face of contradictory evidence: report of the dietary guidelines for Americans Committee. Nutrition 2010;26:915-24.)

It is the ethical responsibility of those who manage those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes or other insulin resistance that they should NOT prescribe the never proven and now disproven low fat “heart healthy” DGA diet.

Cardiovascular outcomes are improving for type two diabetics

Photo by Craig McKay on Pexels.com

There have been large reductions in myocardial infarction, cardiac death, and all cause mortality over the last fifteen years in Denmark for type two diabetics. For instance, the cumulative seven year risk of myocardial infarction reduced from6.9% to 28%. These reductions occurred over a period of time when there has been a lot more emphasis on using drugs to reduce cardiovascular risk. (Diabetes Care 2021)

In Sweden blood was tested to see how much dairy products were being consumed. Those who consumed the most dairy fat had 25% less risk of myocardial infarction compared to the lowest risk.

As many dietary guidelines recommend limiting dairy products in order to limit saturated fat intake, perhaps they should take note.

An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that if the carbohydrate – insulin model of obesity is correct, then instead of calorie control diets and exercise to reduce obesity, focus should be put on low carbohydrate diets.

Sleep deprivation gives you a fatter belly

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

In young adults sleep deprivation has been found to cause fat accumulation in the belly for the first time.

Naima Covassin from the Mayo Clinic Rochester Minnesota studied 12 healthy slim young people aged between 19 and 39. The poor souls were randomised to two weeks of just 4 hours sleep a night or 9 hours sleep followed by a three day recovery period. During this time the subjects were kept in hospital and factors such as calorie intake and energy output were measured.

Over the two weeks of sleep deprivation, the subjects put on an average of a pound or half a kilogram and all of it on the belly.

This was because they consumed an extra 308 calories a day compared to the 9 hours a night group.

Despite stopping the study after two weeks and then during recovery sleeping more, eating fewer calories and their total weight coming down, their bellies continued to get bigger, by an average of 3 cm by day 21 of the study.

This could be why shift workers are so prone to gaining fat around the belly.

The continued rise in belly fat could have been missed if body weight, BMI and overall body fat percentage were the only factors measured.

Dr Harold Bays who is an endocrinologist and president of the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Centre says “Sleep disruption results in fat dysfunction and this may result in increased cardiovascular risk factors and unhealthy body composition including an increase in visceral fat.”

It is really hard to lose weight!

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

A survey of overweight adults from six countries in western Europe found that most strategies didn’t work.

The analysis was lead by diabetologist Dr Marc Evans from Cardiff said, ” It is important that we tackle Europe’s growing obesity problem to reduce hospitalisation from the multiple illnesses that result. Our survey results show that most adults with obesity are actively trying to address this, but most are unsuccessful whatever strategy they choose”.

The study looked at 1,850 adults from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. All had BMIs of 30 or more. A quarter of the participants reported no ill effects from being overweight and the others commonly reported high blood pressure, lipid abnormalities and type two diabetes. 78.6% of them had tried to lose weight the previous year.

The most common methods used were: Calorie controlled or restricted diet 71.9%, an exercise programme 21.9%, drug treatment 12.3%, joining a gym 12%, using a digital health app 9.7%, alternative treatments 8.1%, weight loss service 7%, and cognitive behavioural therapy 2.1%.

The results were that 78% of those who attempted to lose weight did not lose 5% or more of their initial weight and some weighed more than this afterwards.

For those who tried calorie controlled or restricted diets 26.5% of people did lose weight but 17.1% of them gained weight.

For those who undertook an exercise programme 33.3% lost weight but 15.5% gained weight.

The gym goers lost weight 27% of the time but 32.4% gained. (We don’t know if this was muscle gain or fat gain though)

It seems that apart from baratric surgery few interventions achieve long term weight loss but an article in iScience published in 2021 found that health effects of obesity were considerably reduced or eliminated by having moderate or high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. It argued that it might be better to emphasise the benefits of physical activity than stress weight loss as being the most important goal.

Meanwhile results from 80 thousand participants in the UK Biobank cohort show that more time spent in moderate to vigorous activity is associated with lower mortality. It doesn’t matter if you do these higher levels of activity in one go or in multiple bouts.

What do white rings round your corneas indicate?

Photo by Marcelo Chagas on Pexels.com

Adapted from BMJ 23 Nov 2021

In a German study of ten thousand people aged between 40 and 80 years old, 21% of men and 17% of women had white rings round their irises of the eyes. You may have noticed these in your parents or yourself and may have wondered what this means.

The average age of the group was 60. Researchers noted that corneal arcus is more likely in men than women, increases with age, and increases with lipid levels.

Corneal arcus has no relevance to socioeconomic status, body mass index, arterial blood pressure or HbA1c levels.

A ketogenic drink has been found to improve cognitive performance in those with mild cognitive impairment

Photo by Ronit HaNegby on Pexels.com

Adapted from A ketogenic drink improves cognition in mild cognitive impairment: Results of a 6 month RCT by Melanie Fortier et al. Alzheimer’s and Dementia. 2021.

Brain energy rescue is being tested to see if it can reduce cognitive decline in patients with mild cognitive impairment. It has previously been discovered that the brain has problems using glucose for fuel even before symptoms develop, but brain ketone use remains constant in both Alzheimers (A) and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Increasing ketones available to the brain has been shown to improve cognitive symptoms.

A really easy way to increase blood ketone levels is to give a drink containing ketogenic medium chain fatty acids. This has been found to increase brain energy uptake via PET scans. This follow on trial was done to assess whether improvement in cognition after six months occurred.

This study was conducted in Quebec Canada. Very strict entry criteria were applied and the patients were randomised to the ketogenic drink or to a placebo drink. The drinks appeared and tasted identical.

122 participants were enrolled. In total 39 completed the ketogenic arm and 44 the placebo arm. They were well matched regarding age, sex, education, functional ability and cognitive scores, absence of depressive features, blood pressure, blood chemistry and APOE 4 status. ( A genetic variability that greatly increases the chance of developing dementia).

More participants dropped out of the ketogenic group mainly due to gastrointestinal side effects. The drop out rate overall was 32% and 38% in the ketogenic group. None of the side effects were serious.

The results showed that performance on widely used tests of episodic memory, executive function and language improved over 6 months in the ketogenic group compared to the placebo group. Improvement was directly correlated with the plasma level of ketones.

The dose used was 15g of kMCT twice a day.

This seems to be a very reasonable intervention for early cognitive decline particularly since no drugs are approved for MCI and drugs used for Alzheimers do not delay cognitive decline in MCI. It is possible that effects would be enhanced if patients also undertook a ketogenic diet. Further trials are now warranted to see if diagnosis of Alzheimers can be delayed in those suffering from mild cognitive impairment.