Heartland Naturopathic Clinic Email Newsletter - April 2003
The following is an issue our
email newsletter with helpful information on staying well and
our practices. They include articles on home care, natural
healing, cured cases, commentary on current issues in the field
of health care and medicine and other interesting and useful
information. If you are interested in receiving this newsletter
simply send your email address, name and a request asking to be
added to our email address list to: Staff@HeartlandNaturopathic.com.
* One in Four Americans Has This Hidden Health Problem
* Spring Cleansing
* Common Laboratory Blood Tests Now Available Without Doctor’s
THE HIDDEN HEALTH PROBLEM
* Do you have trouble losing weight when that didn’t used to
be a problem?
* Has your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood triglycerides
started to creep up?
* Has that tummy started to expand despite no changes in your
lifestyle, or even with reducing fat in your diet?
* Is there a growing tiredness and sluggishness?
* Are you having hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) symptoms before
meals like mood swings, sweet and food cravings, nervousness,
faintness or confusion?
* Did you suffer from gestational diabetes (diabetes during
* Are you having increased problems with memory as you age?
* Have you and your peers started saying that old refrain “I
guess I’m just getting older?”
It is true that these problems can all be
associated with growing older but they are not the result of
being older; they are the result of losing health. If you have a
poor lifestyle, as most Americans do, the accumulation of the
resulting damage begins to be more noticeable in middle age. But
the story is way more interesting than that. These problems
mentioned above are just the early to middle stages of the
process. Stay on the same path and things are likely to only get
worse – increasing your risk for serious heart disease,
stroke, diabetes, obesity, many other problems, and early death.
What can be the common root of all these
very different diseases? Contrary to what you might think it is
not dietary fat, it is insulin resistance! But all is not doom
and gloom. It is possible to reverse much of this. How, you ask?
By changing your lifestyle. In some people’s cases it will be
relatively minor changes. In others radical changes will be
necessary at first and then later a more moderate lifestyle for
Insulin resistance (IR) is when the body’s cells no longer
respond as they should to insulin. The “end-stage” of this
is type II diabetes (also called non-insulin dependent diabetes
and used to be called adult onset). But damage is already
occurring long before diabetes shows up. The intermediate stage
of insulin resistance includes hypoglycemia, hypertension,
cholesterol problems, heart disease, obesity and other health
problems. The good news is that insulin resistance is
reversible. But the cause must be addressed. So guess what the
cause is? Sugar! Dietary simple sugars and other refined
American consumption of sugar has risen
every year despite widespread health information on the negative
affects of sugar and refined carbohydrates. America is now the
fattest population in the world with an unheard of rate of
childhood obesity. The insulin resistance that is the result of
this sugar consumption is a large part of the explanation for
the declining health and increasing obesity of Americans. It is
estimated by medical researchers who work on IR that at least
one in four Americans is now suffering from this syndrome, with
a much higher percentage among the middle-aged.
WHAT’S WORSE: SUGAR OR FAT?
As America has eaten more and more low-fat foods it has gotten
fatter and fatter. Why? Because it has steadily increased the
amount of simple and refined carbohydrates in its diet. To add
insult to injury, America has gotten more and more sedentary.
Weight gain is often described as the result of too many
calories in vs. calories out. But it also makes a huge
difference what the calories are from. Despite the popular
emphasis on fat, sugar is the bigger problem. It does matter
what kinds of fat, and too much can definitely be a problem, but
the wrong carbohydrates are what leads to insulin resistance.
This leads to a vicious cycle. Simple
carbohydrates, like sugar, cause insulin resistance, which in
turn causes obesity. But obesity by itself can aggravate insulin
resistance. So more obesity results in more insulin resistance
and, consequently, more obesity. So for many people eating fat
is not the biggest reason why they are fat! It is the sugar and
the other problem carbohydrates!
CHILDREN’S NEW RISK
In addition, insulin resistance is no longer restricted to
middle aged people; children are increasingly at risk for this
and all of the problems associated with IR. Many overweight
children are already insulin resistant. Type II diabetes (i.e.,
insulin resistant diabetes) used to be called adult onset
diabetes. But now so many children and young adults get
diagnosed with this kind of diabetes that it had to have a name
So lets look closer at the cause of this phenomena. A person’s
blood sugar rises very quickly after the consumption of “high
glycemic index foods” such as simple sugars (e.g., common
table sugar, honey, fruit juice, etc.), refined carbohydrates
(e.g., bread, white flour, pasta, etc.) and some kinds of
starches (e.g., potatoes). The pancreas responds to the rapid
rise in blood sugar by immediately pumping out insulin. The
insulin connects with receptor sites on all of the body’s cell
membranes telling the cells to take the sugar in and store it.
Generally, the higher the glycemic index of the food, the more
rapid the rise in blood sugar, and the more insulin produced.
This isn’t a problem when this only
happens occasionally, but if it is happening multiple times a
day as is typical in the American diet, over time the cells
begin to reduce the number of insulin receptor sites in response
to the higher levels of blood insulin. So over long enough
exposure the cells begin to get less responsive to the insulin,
which leads to an upward spiral as the body produces more
insulin to compensate. At this point the blood sugar levels are
still being controlled. But at what cost? If the fasting blood
sugar levels are measured they will be normal. But when the
fasting insulin levels are measured, they will be starting to
creep up. This growing imbalance is especially likely to happen
if the person is sedentary.
Unfortunately, few doctors are routinely
measuring fasting insulin levels. And even if the fasting
insulin levels are checked they may not be interpreted
correctly. The medical researchers currently researching insulin
resistance say that the standardized reference levels for
“normal” amounts of blood insulin are set too high. It is
now being suggested that anyone with a fasting insulin in the
top 25% of “normal” is already insulin resistant.
MORE PROBLEMS WITH IR
Problems with fat metabolism begin to develop even in the early
stages of insulin resistance. There is often a rise in total
cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (the bad cholesterol),
small dense low-density lipoproteins (the really bad
cholesterol) and blood triglycerides, and there is a decrease in
high-density lipoproteins (the good cholesterol). In addition,
chronically high insulin levels increase the damage to the
arteries causing more atherosclerosis (i.e., hardening of the
arteries), which leads to high blood pressure, heart disease and
stroke. So not only does high insulin increase the bad
cholesterol, it increases the damage to the arteries - a very
In addition to the blood sugar diseases
(hypoglycemia and diabetes), hypertension and heart disease,
high levels of insulin can cause a wide range of other problems
depending on the person’s susceptibility. It is not proven
yet, but other problems that may be caused or aggravated by IR
include polycystic ovarian syndrome; adult acne; some kinds of
cancer; increased inflammatory diseases like arthritis,
fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel
diseases; and the list seems to be growing as more research is
done in this area.
BEER BELLIES AND LOVE HANDLES -- OR THIN
PEOPLE ARE NOT IMMUNE
Even people who appear normal weight can have insulin
resistance. However, they often have the telltale abdominal
weight gain. This would be the “beer” belly or pooch so
often associated with middle age. (Beer and other alcoholic
beverages can also aggravate IR.) This is not the same as the
subcutaneous fat or “love” handles, but is the fat in the
intra-abdominal cavity beneath the abdominal muscles. Research
shows that insulin resistance and heart disease risk are very
strongly associated with this visceral fat gain. In addition,
regardless of their weight, anyone with abnormal cholesterol,
triglycerides and blood pressure are likely suffering from the
effects of IR.
Exercise is the great counterbalance for the over-consumption of
high glycemic foods. The latest research on people who eat an
average diet shows that in order to get the most health
advantage you have to exercise vigorously for an hour a day. But
how many people do this? While our ancestors did, not many
people do today. The people who do this much exercise can get
away with a lot more dietary indiscretions than the average
American. For everyone else the more exercise the better, but a
good diet becomes essential to good health. However, even heavy
exercisers are known to get chronic health problems or die of
heart attacks, so exercise is not the perfect antidote to a bad
We have found that placing IR patients on a healthy
low-carbohydrate diet often leads to dramatic changes in a
relatively short time. Within a few weeks almost everyone
reports some improvements in energy, weight, cholesterol and
blood triglycerides. Plus people report a significant decrease
in their craving for sweets, making sticking to the diet
relatively easy. Over the longer term hypoglycemia can be cured,
fat metabolism can be normalized, hypertension can be helped,
the risk factors for heart disease can be significantly reduced
and type II diabetes can be controlled. No one can predict how
many of your other health problems will improve with our Insulin
Resistance Diet. Only trying it out will tell.
Case example #1: In one male his blood
triglycerides dropped by half and there was a significant
decrease in the bad cholesterol in only three weeks.
Case example #2: A female who exercised
regularly and had a vegetarian diet that would usually be
considered very healthy, was developing growing problems with
low energy and had been slowly gaining weight year after year.
She lost 10 pounds and had a dramatic improvement in energy in
the first few weeks on the diet and continues to lose weight,
though at a much slower rate than initially (as would be
RISKS OF LOW-CARB DIETS
While in the short term any low-carb diet will help insulin
resistance, many of the most popular low-carb diets may not be
healthy over the long term. There are major health concerns with
these popular low-carb diets that emphasize high amounts of
protein and fat. The concerns include increased risk over time
for kidney stones, osteoporosis, heart disease and colon cancer.
These popular low-carb/high-protein diets are very acid and much
evidence supports the idea that a more alkaline body is much
healthier. CAUTION: People with kidney disease should not do any
high-protein diet without first consulting with their physician.
WHAT TO DO
If you think IR could be a problem for you:
(a) Set up a naturopathic/nutritional
consultation with us to get on a diet and program that will help
you get back in control of your health;
(b) Attend a workshop that Dr. Bradley will
be offering on IR (watch for announcements);
(c) Exercise regularly;
(d) If working on this problem on your own,
going on a low-carb diet will be helpful, especially when
exercise is increased with it. A low-carb diet is one that
eliminates almost all sweets, sugars, refined carbohydrates,
grains and grain products (i.e., bread, pasta, etc.) and starchy
vegetables (i.e., potatoes); and/or
(e) There is one book that offers a
low-carb diet that we can recommend without too many
reservations: “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain,
Ph.D. While this is a good book for background information on
the diet we are recommending, the author is a researcher rather
than a clinician or nutritionist. Consequently, while his
science is good, his recommendations are not always so
practical. Therefore we still recommend that patients with
problems with insulin resistance go on the specific balanced
low-carb diet we are offering that emphasizes moderate amounts
of protein and fat.
In our next newsletter will discuss our
healthy Therapeutic Insulin Resistance Diet and later we will
discuss the Maintenance Insulin Resistance Diet.
The change is in the air…. Spring is here. Whether it is the
warmer weather or the blossoms on the trees that we notice
everyone is feeling it.
Spring is a time of growth and change. The
plants begin to pop through the soil and the seeds left over
from last year or recently planted begin to germinate. This type
of growth occurs in humans as well as plants. Because of this
type of growing this is a great time to ‘cleanse’ our bodies
and minds. Simple cleansing diets can encourage cellular
changes, which affect our whole life and well-being.
In many natural medicine traditions this
time is used to treat and harmonize the detoxification processes
of our bodies, focusing primarily on the liver.
The liver filters and metabolizes various chemicals from
the blood - including hormones like estrogen and toxins like
the cold winter months many people remain inside with less
activity, so some of these noxious chemicals get stored along
with fat cells. As we spend
more time outdoors and are more active the liver works to
metabolize and eliminate the stored chemicals.
That’s why this time of year is best to support our
liver with diets and treatments that enhance detoxification.
Diets consisting of vegetables, especially
colorful ones are a great way to do this. Spinach, romaine
lettuce, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens,
chard and beet greens are some of the dark leafy greens that
contain vitamins (folic acid, beta carotenes and other
flavonoids are some), and minerals (magnesium is one that is
very abundant). Cabbage
family plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts,
kale and collards have sulfur containing chemicals that help the
body metabolize steroid-type molecules especially estrogen and
xenoestrogens from the environment.
Other good liver supporting foods are
lemons and vegetables like beets, onions and garlic, artichokes
and spices in curries such as turmeric. As you can see, by
adding these foods to your diet to stay healthy you can have
lots of flavor!
RECIPE: SPRING INTO GREENS
Here’s a good recipe to get your dose of healthy greens. This
recipe calls for a curry sauce but you can add other sauces as
Cashew-Curry Greens (serves 4)
2 cups quick boiled greens (your choice of
beet greens, bok choy, broccoli, Napa cabbage, collard greens
dandelion greens, endive, escarole, kale, mustard greens, Swiss
chard, turnip greens, watercress; collard greens are especially
good in this recipe though)
¼ cup cashew butter
1 Tablespoon homemade curry paste (recipe below)
1 Tablespoon tamari
¾ cup water
To quick boil the greens: bring water to a
boil and submerge clean greens. For tender greens such as
watercress or escarole boil for 30 seconds, for tough greens
such as collards boil for 5-10 minutes. Pour cooked greens in
strainer in sink. Let cool. After cool enough squeeze out excess
water with your hands. Cut into bit size pieces. Combine cashew
butter, curry paste, tamari and water in a blender or food
processor, blend until creamy. Combine greens and blended sauce
in pan. Heat gently before serving.
Homemade curry paste (makes 2 cups)
1 cup olive oil
1 pound onions, chopped fine
¼ cup cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 teaspoons whole black pepper
2 Tablespoons whole mustard seeds
2 teaspoons powered allspice
1 teaspoon powered cardamom
4 teaspoons powered cinnamon
¼ cups turmeric
¼ cup powered coriander
2 teaspoons cayenne
¼ cup fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped fine
Heat oil in skillet on low heat. Add onions
and sauté until very soft. While onions are cooking, grind
cumin, fenugreek, cloves and pepper to a fine powder. Mix the
newly ground spices with the mustard seeds (whole), allspice,
cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander and cayenne; set aside.
Add gingerroot to soft onions and oil; let it cool for a few
minutes. Add spices to onions and ginger root, cook 5 more
minutes. Store in sealed jar in refrigerator where it will keep
for several months.
If you want to use a store bought curry
paste it does change the recipe as well as the flavor so more
curry paste will be needed.
2 cups greens
¼ cup cashew butter
¼-1/2 cup store bought curry paste
1 tablespoon tamari
¼ cup water
COMMON LABORATORY BLOOD TESTS NOW AVAILABLE
WITHOUT DOCTOR’S ORDERS
Creighton Medical Laboratories at Creighton
Medical Center on 601 N. 30th Street (formally St. Joseph
Hospital) now offers a laboratory testing service for people who
want to take charge of their own health maintenance. These
common blood and urine tests are available without a doctor’s
orders and the results will be sent directly to your home.
Examples of tests include: Heart Risk Panel
with cholesterol and triglycerides ($25), Thyroid Health Screen
($25), PSA ($15), Blood Typing ($15), HIV ($50), and many more.
Just walk in and get the test done. You will be billed but your
insurance will probably not cover it. Some tests require 8-hour
fasting so call to find out, tell them you are interested in the
“Self-test.” We also have brochures in our office if you
want to pick one up. Their number is (402) 280-4382.
IN THE NEXT ISSUE OF OUR
Our Healthy Therapeutic Insulin Resistance
Many of the
mentioned in these articles can be ordered from us by calling
(402) 391-6714 or can be found at your local health food store
and various online companies.