For managing diabetes, there’s no substitute for proven therapies
There are only 11 positions available for starters on a pro soccer team — and no one wants to be left on the bench when he’s worked so hard to make it to the Premier League. But some second-stringers have managed to become major substitute players.
James Milner played for five teams and made 161 substitute appearances, the most of anyone in the league. Sometimes substitutions can turn out OK — just not when it comes to dietary supplements claiming they’re substitutes for diabetes medications.
The FDA recently issued warning letters to 10 companies that market unapproved supplements to treat diabetes. Those products may be harmful — either because of the ingredients they contain or because your diabetes will worsen, as it’s ineffectively treated. One company that got the warning sells a product containing hydrolyzed collagen, milk thistle, bitter melon extract, alpha lipoic acid and cinnamon extract, which they claim helps reduce blood sugar levels, protects the pancreas and improves both your skin and joint pain. Can it also predict the weather?
For a list of the suspect products/companies, go to www.FDA.gov, search for “warning letters,” then search for “diabetes.” In the meantime, listen up: Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, reversed, even cured, if you walk daily (the goal is 10,000 steps a day) and adopt the healthy eating style in Dr. Mike’s book, “What to Eat When.” You may also need to take FDA-approved medications to stabilize your blood sugar. If you do, explore options with your doctor. There’s no substitute for safe, effective treatments.
What is: a berry, loaded with fat and fiber, is sometimes called an alligator pear and, according to researchers, offers far-ranging health benefits, including banishing belly fat? An avocado. All that and guacamole, too!
A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found that when women who are overweight or have obesity eat an avocado a day for 12 weeks, they lose measurable amounts of visceral, heart-stopping belly fat. And that’s even though one Haas avocado contains around 320 calories — 245 from fat — and 29.5 grams of total fat, of which 24 grams are poly- and monounsaturated (the good kind).
So what makes this flavor- and calorie-rich berry so good for you? The researchers think the fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids may play a major role: A whole avocado contains around 10 grams of fiber — about 40 percent of women’s daily recommendation — and we know the more fiber in a diet, the less visceral belly fat you’ll have. Also, insoluble fiber (70 percent of the fiber in an avocado) increases intestinal bulk and shortens transit time, lowering absorption of excess calories. As for avocados’ other benefits, they include:
■ A nutritional boost from vitamins C, E, K and B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, beta carotene, magnesium and potassium.
■ Support for healthy cholesterol levels: In 3.5 ounces of avocado, there are 76 milligrams of a plant sterol that contributes to control of lousy LDL cholesterol.
For recipes for Kale, Avocado & Tomato Salad and Avocado Tapenade Bruschetta, check out Dr. Mike’s “What to Eat When Cookbook.”
Meet the newest meatless meat
Hard to believe, but in one recent year, Americans ordered 2.3 billion restaurant servings of chicken nuggets. So, when meatless nuggets were launched onto menus and put in grocery stores, it caused quite a commotion.
What are these concoctions made of? Impossible Chicken Nuggets contain 28 ingredients — never a good sign when a “food” is engineered with that much stuff. The top 15 include: water, soy protein concentrate, wheat flour, sunflower oil, soybean oil, cornstarch and 2 percent or less of: methylcellulose, salt, natural flavors, wheat starch, cultured dextrose, dried onion, dried garlic, dextrose and food starch modified. Yum?
A serving of four nuggets is cholesterol-free (McNuggets have 25 grams), but they also have 8 more grams of carbs and a few more calories than the drive-thru favorite and have the same amount of fat (including saturated fat), and almost the same amount of sodium.
So here’s a nugget of nutritional advice: Don’t think of meatless chicken nuggets — or meatless burgers — as the last stop on your journey to healthier eating. They are clearly not health-promoting, and we suggest you think of them as a temporary step on your journey to better health — perhaps a way of getting used to the idea of eating a plant-based diet. If you don’t embrace a vegetarian or vegan diet and go truly meat-free, your plant-based diet will include natural, skinless poultry (not fried or breaded), salmon and other fatty fish, and five-plus servings a day of fruits and vegetables. That’s not so impossible, is it?
Don’t paint yourself into a corner: foods to stay younger longer
In “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” by Oscar Wilde, Dorian was able to avoid (for a while, at least) the tribulations of aging by making a deal with the devil to have his portrait get old and wrinkly as he stayed young and smooth-skinned. A masterpiece of self-deception for sure.
Chances are you are making an opposite — but just as deadly — deal every day. You’re eating foods that age you inside and out and leaving restorative choices on the shelf — and it’s making you old before your time. But what if you could turn that around and become younger-looking and -feeling just by painting harmful foods out of the picture and choosing foods that help suppress inflammation?
Foods that age you: grilled and fried foods, red and processed meats, saturated and trans fats, added sugars and syrups and highly processed carbs. They all contribute to bodywide inflammation by adding belly fat, damaging your gut biome and causing cellular damage that injures your tissues and organs. Type 2 diabetes, dementia, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer can be caused or worsened by chronic inflammation. FYI: Folks who eat the most inflammatory foods have a 46 percent increased risk of heart disease.
Inflammation-fighting foods that make you younger: green leafy and dark yellow vegetables, salmon, ocean trout, sardines and anchovies, extra-virgin olive oil, berries, pears, tomatoes, avocados, apples, whole grains, filtered black coffee and tea. Build your diet around these and you’ll be younger longer — even if you are turning a bit gray around the temples!
Exercise and the brain
Myron Rolle played football at Florida State University (and graduated in two and a half years) and was headed for the NFL when he became a Rhodes Scholar. So he postponed his football career a year to attend Oxford University. Afterward, he was picked by the Tennessee Titans in the 2010 draft. An outstanding safety, nonetheless, he headed back to FSU in 2017 to get a medical degree before doing his residency in neurosurgery at Harvard. Clearly, athletics and brain power were a winning combination for him. And now, thanks to researchers from Harvard, we know why.
It turns out that a protein called irisin is released from your muscles when you exercise — and it may be the reason why exercise plays an important role in burning fat, strengthening bones and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.
In their most recent investigation of irisin, the Harvard researchers discovered (in mice) that the protein’s tiny molecules can pass through the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, they help protect and even regrow nerve connections, which may be why exercise keeps your memory sharp. The research also found that, independent of exercise, irisin is present in nimble brains but in short supply in those with Alzheimer’s.
To avoid cognition problems, try this five-part plan: manage stress, exercise regularly, eat noninflammatory foods (skip added sugars, red/processed meat, and egg yolks), respect sleep and play speed-of-processing games. You’ll win a scholarship in good health and sharp thinking, and take five steps up the “Great Age Reboot” preparatory stairway to extended longevity.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.