Nina’s plea: Would you write to Congress and change USA food guidelines?

This is a message from Nina Teicholz, writer and low carb activist:

My highest concern about the existing USA Food Guidelines is for the people who have no choice but to eat the food that they are given, which is based on what is thought of as “a healthy diet”. There are many essentially ‘captive’ populations in schools, hospitals, and prisons. Many of these people are the most disadvantaged among us. Native Americans on reservations have no choice about the food assistance they receive.

I’ve spoken with the Native American woman who for years has been trying to change the USDA food they get, and she cannot get even the tiniest change. They desperately need the food, yet it’s more than 50% carbs, and something like 40% of the kids on these reservations have diabetes.

The same is true for poor people, education programs, and feeding programs for the elderly. These people have no choice.  No other food  is given to them. Many doctors also say they have no choice, because  they are required to teach the guidelines to patients. It is the same thing in most federally funded institutions.

Thus, my hope is, if we have to have Guidelines for the time being, that they do as little harm as possible. The Guideline is coming up for review, but the committee have already decided not to review the evidence on low carb diet studies.  We are seeking to change this, and there is already some support for our position, that these studies should be included in the evaluation. Could we get in a low-carb option? Could we force them to consider all the science on saturated fats? This next set of Guidelines will come out by the end of this year, and I think there is still time to try to force change. Our actions now would build awareness around the issue that there is something wrong with the Guidelines. There is so little awareness of the problems. And actually I’m hopeful,  because in the last few months, we’ve worked with a number of groups to raise awareness to a level it’s never been before.

Here’s what I would suggest for now.
Both my group, The Nutrition Coalition and the group Low-carb Action Network,  have webpages that make it very easy for you (if American) to write/call your Members of Congress. This is super important and I urge everyone to do this. USDA is not budging. Congress is really the only body of power interested in change, and they need to hear from people. So I would urge everyone to contact their members of Congress. It can take just a few min.

Thank you,

Nina

My comment: If the USDA food guidelines are changed, it would make it so much easier for the UK to follow. The photograph shows the breakfast given to a diabetic patient in a US hospital who had just had a heart attack. The UK also dishes out abysmal food to its patients. Wouldn’t it be great if they had a low carb option?

Public Health Collaboration conference online a great success

The Public Health collaboration online conference 2020  was very successful.  The videos are available on You Tube for free making the conference even more accessible for everyone who needs advice on what to eat to stay healthy.

If you are able to contribute to the PHC fund to keep up our good work please do so. Sam Feltham has suggested £2.00.  This is via the PHC site.

This year there were contributions from mainly the UK but also the USA.

Visitors to this site will be very pleased to know that keeping your weight in the normal range, keeping your blood sugars tightly controlled, keeping your vitamin D levels up, and keeping fit from activity and exercise, are all important factors in having a good result if you are unfortunate enough to be affected by Covid-19. We have been promoting these factors in our book and website for several years now, mainly with the view to making life more enjoyable, especially for people with diabetes, now and in the future. The reduction in the severity  to the effects of   coronavirus is a side effect of these healthy living practices.

Several talks went into the factors and reasons for this, but in a nutshell, if you are in a pro-inflammatory state already, you will have a much more pronounced cytokine inflammatory response to the virus than is useful for clearing the virus, and you end up with inflammed lung tissue which leaks fluid thereby impairing your blood oxygen levels.

A talk that I found particularly apt was the talk from a GP who had had a heart attack at the age of 44 despite a lack of risk factors except for massive stress. He gives a list of self care practices that helped him. I would also include playing with your animals. Emma and I are cat lovers and can vouch for this!

My talk is about VR Fitness, which was the only talk this year which was specifically exercise related. The Oculus Quest has only been out a year and has been sold out since shortly after New Year. I was fortunate enough to buy one in anticipation of my imminent retirement, and it has been great as an exercise tool over the long, cold, dark winter and more useful than I had ever anticipated over the lockdown as a social tool.

There were several very professional cooking and baking demonstrations on the conference this year, and indeed, this could not have otherwise happened on a traditional stage format.  We had low carb “rice”, bread, pancakes and pizza demonstrations which may well help you if you prefer to see how it is done step by step or if you want to broaden your repertoire.

I was particularly taken with the pizza base idea from Emma Porter and I will follow up with this in a later post.  The whole video is available from the PHC  site which takes you to all the videos on You Tube.

 

 

 

Self caring during illness

Adapted from online presentation by Beverly Bostock ANP 7 May 2020

If you have diabetes you are more at risk of serious complications from Covid-19 and should seek medical advice early in the illness.

Any febrile illness can raise your blood sugars, including the prodromal phase when you don’t otherwise have symptoms. Once you are aware that you are coming down with something there are some useful ways of remembering how to monitor yourself.

Particularly for insulin users:

S – SUGAR – check your blood sugar more frequently than usual. For instance, if you would normally check your blood sugar every 5 hours during the day, double this to every 2.5 hours.

I – INSULIN – Adjust your insulin according to your blood sugars to keep within your target blood sugar level.

C – CARBOHYDRATE – If your blood sugar is low eat or drink more glucose or sugar/starch food items. If your blood sugar is high, drink plain water or more diet drinks.

K – KETONES – Use blood ketone stix or urine ketone stix to monitor your ketones if you are a type one diabetic every 4 hours or so. This is particularly important if you feel very ill, are nauseated, vomiting or have abdominal pain. If your ketones are high consider extra insulin, keep well hydrated and alert medical staff sooner rather than later.

Particularly for type twos:

It is important to keep well hydrated when you experience any illness but particularly an illness where you are febrile, or have  vomiting, limited oral intake, or severe diarrhea.

Some drugs can worsen your response to dehydrating illness and you may need to seek advice from a doctor, nurse or pharmacist about stopping certain drugs and when it is appropriate to restart them.

You can remember what they are with the mnemonic: SADMAN

SGLT2 inhibitors, ACE inhibitors, Diuretics, Metformin, ARBs, and Non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

 

 

 

New diabetes calculator helps determine if you are type one or type two

New calculator improves diagnosis of diabetes
Lynam A & al. BMJ Open 26 Sep 2019
curated by Pavankumar Kamat UK Medical News 30 Sep 2019

Scientists have developed a new calculator tool to help clinicians determine whether a patient has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, ensuring appropriate treatment and fewer complications. The beta version of the calculator is available here.

https://www.diabetesgenes.org/t1dt2d-prediction-model/
Determining the type of diabetes remains a challenge for clinicians, and current blood and genetic tests are not robust enough to provide a definitive diagnosis. The tool utilises a model that incorporates patient data (age of diagnosis and body mass index) and blood test results to provide a personalised approach.

It is useful in determining the likelihood of type 1 diabetes in patients, thereby reducing misdiagnosis.

Researchers at the Universities of Exeter, Oxford and Dundee analysed data on 1352 individuals with diabetes and tested the calculator in an additional 582 individuals.
The new tool follows the footsteps of another calculator previously developed at the University of Exeter which helps clinicians determine the presence of diabetes sub-type MODY. The tool has been successfully used by more than 100,000 people.
Dr Angus Jones, the lead researcher, said: “The right diagnosis in diabetes is absolutely crucial to getting the best outcomes for patients, as treatment is very different in different types of diabetes. Our new calculator can help clinicians by combining different features to give them the probability a person will have type 1 diabetes, and assess whether additional tests are likely to be helpful.”
References
Lynam A, McDonald T, Hill A, Dennis J, Oram R, Pearson E, Weedon M, Hattersley A, Owen K, Shields B, Jones A. Development and validation of multivariable clinical diagnostic models to identify type 1 diabetes requiring rapid insulin therapy in adults aged 18-50 years. BMJ Open. 2019;9(9):e031586. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2019-031586. PMID: 31558459

 

Monthly lifestyle counselling improves heart outcomes

Adapted from Intensive lifestyle counselling and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with diabetes. September 14 2019  Diabetes in Control by Nour Salhab. Pharm. D from Zhang et al Lifestyle counselling and long term clinical outcomes in patients with diabetes. Diabetes Care. Aug. 2019.

Intensive lifestyle counselling has been shown to improve blood sugars in the Look AHEAD study but it was too underpowered to show any significant conclusions regarding cardiac outcomes.

This new study looked at patients with both type one and type two diabetes who had HbAICs over 7% and were over the age of 18. Lifestyle counselling involved diet, exercise and weight loss management. The goal was to get the patient’s HBAICs under 7%.

19,293 patients were involved and the mean HbAIC at the start was 7.8%. My comment: This is a very good average compared to British diabetics! 

The mean counselling sessions were 0.46 a month and the study ran for 5.4 years.

HbAIC reduced by 1.8% for patients who got monthly counselling and 0.7% for those who got less than monthly counselling.

The primary end point was time to the first episode of angina, heart attack or stroke or death from any cause. There was a small but significant decrease in the group who had monthly counselling compared to three monthly counselling.

The counselling occurred in academic centres so may not be applicable to other settings.

My comment: This level of counselling is much more intensive than can probably be delivered in the NHS population. The blood sugar levels in the patients was also much better to start with compared to the UK population. 

A little care goes a long way

Adapted from Annals of Family Medicine 2019 doi:10.1370/afm.2421

People diagnosed by their GP with type two diabetes had a 40-50% lower mortality rate over the next ten years if they experienced their GP and practice nurses as empathetic during the year after diagnosis, compared to those who considered that their primary health carers had low empathy.

This study looked at 879 patients recruited from 49 GP practices in the east of England.

My comment: The first year is when patients get their head round the fact that they have a long term condition that could affect how long they will live and the quality of the life they have left. At diagnosis many are willing to look at lifestyle changes. Encouraging them, helping them, and helping them set appropriate goals makes a good difference to a person’s ability to change their daily routines. If you are newly diagnosed and don’t get on with your health care providers for any reason, then maybe a change of provider makes sense in the light of this research. 

The optimal HbA1C for non low carbing type ones could be 6.5-7%

Adapted from Lind M et al. BMJ 28 August 2019

In type one diabetes in adults and children there could be a sweet spot for blood sugar control.

Under 6.5% severe hypoglycaemia rates increase. Retinopathy and nephropathy risks are not lower however below 6.5% compared to 6.9%. My comment:  In low carbers however, they have considerable protection against severe hypoglycaemia due to more precise meal/insulin matching, although they do experience more episodes of mild hypoglycaemia.

Risks for mild complications begin at levels over 7.0% and severe complications rise with levels over 8.6%.

Current guidelines vary in their HbA1C recommendations, anywhere from 6.5% to 7.5%.

The complication rates were based on 10,398 adults and children with type one diabetes on the Swedish National Diabetes Registry who were diagnosed between 1998 and 2017.

 

 

 

BMJ: Children with type one diabetes do just as well with jags as pumps

 BMJ 13 April 19

Pumps versus Multiple Daily Injections

Across various centres in England and Wales, 294 new onset type one diabetes patients were randomised to receive either pumps or MDI from the very start after diagnosis. The age range was just 7 months to 15 years. There were 144 in the pump group and 147 in the MDI group.

At one year the average HbA1c was around 60 (7.6%) for both groups. There were 14 serious events such as diabetic ketoacidosis or severe hypoglycaemia in the pump group and 8 such events in the MDI group.

It cost £1,863 more to treat the pump group but they had no better outcomes or improvement in quality of life compared to the MDI group. Indeed adverse events were a bit more common in the pump group even though there were fewer of them.

My comment: Looks like they were not advised about low carb diets given the relatively high HbA1Cs at a time that the honeymoon phase can be protective.

BMJ 16 Feb 19

Type one children performed just as well as their schoolmates in exams

Although both high and low blood sugar can affect concentration and memory and cognitive function, Danish researchers found that in national exams, type one children performed just as well as other children.

Enterovirus may act as a trigger for Coeliac Disease

Norwegian researchers looked at infection with adenoviruses and enteroviruses in childhood and later diagnosis of coeliac disease.

They tested children who were already at risk due to a particular genotype. They were recruited between 2001 and 2007 and were followed up till 2016.

They found that infection with enteroviruses but not adenoviruses were associated with higher onset of coeliac later on.

My comment: Enterovirus infection has been associated with the onset of type one diabetes too. People with type one are also more likely to develop coeliac. There could be common genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers.

 

 

Sam Everington: I moved the diabetes consultant into the community and greatly improved results

Adapted from BMJ 26 January 19, Five minutes with Sam Everington,  by Susan Major

Sam Everington worked as a lawyer before re-training as a GP. He is now the chair of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, has served on the Kings Fund, and gained a knighthood.

Tower Hamlets is a very deprived area in east London, despite this they have achieved the best rates of blood pressure control and cholesterol in patients with type two diabetes.

Sam puts this down to a much closer involvement by the hospital diabetes consultant with patients directly in the community instead of the hospital ivory towers which is traditional in the UK.

By mainly giving telephone advice to local GPs and pharmacists, he was able to give quick decisions on optimal treatment.

Sam says, “Diabetes is a complex disease, so you have to have a comprehensive approach, using everything you can to improve lifestyle and motivate patients by focussing on what is important to them. It is key to have a care plan that is individualised to each patient, systematically going through with a nurse and creating the plan in partnership with them.

“If you accept that social factors are responsible for 70% of a person’s health and wellbeing, then there is a big gap in primary care. If we don’t tackle social factors, we are really only having access to 30% of the therapies that we really need. Therefore we have introduced social prescribing in every practice in Tower Hamlets.

“We use a referral form, ticking boxes on lifestyle, environment, social and mental health. Patients then see the social prescribing advisor and talk through what will motivate them. They are then connected to one or more of 1,500 voluntary sector organisations in Tower Hamlets.

“We also encourage patients to access their own notes so they can see their results and take control. All the evidence shows that when patients manage their own illness the outcomes are better. All our patients are offered a half or whole day diabetes education workshop.”

My comment: Well done Sam. A great example of joined up thinking being adequately resourced to achieve great results.