Bye-bye Avandia; Let's all learn a lesson from this
- Created on Sunday, 26 September 2010 19:21
European regulators have just ordered the complete removal of the diabetes drug Avandia from the market, while the FDA has placed severe restrictions on its use in the US, saying that heart attack risks from it pose too great a risk to most patients. It was only a few years ago that Avandia was a high-flying drug. Worldwide sales for GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 were over than 2.5 billion dollars. Now, as the lawsuits pile up, there is no telling how much they will have to shell out in compensation to victims and their families. The company has already agreed to settlements in 11,000 cases, but there are plenty more on dockets. Surely, it will be in the billions. This is the phamaceutical equivalent of the BP oil spill.
Of course, this isn't the first major prescription drug scandal- far from it. But unfortunately, it isn't the first major prescription drug scandal regarding diabetes either. It follows on the heels of the Sulfonlurea scandal, which was described by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick (one of the most astute medical observers in the world IMHO) as "the greatest medical scandal ever." Based on published reports, Dr. Kendrick estimates 158,000 deaths annually from Sulfonylurea drugs going back decades, therefore, millions of deaths in total.
And there are other classes of diabetes drugs suspected of doing profound harm as well. And there are new diabetes drugs that I predict will become fiascoes in the future. For instance, they have a new drug that impairs the kidneys in a way that causes them to spill sugar into the urine. That happens anyway if the level rises high enough, but the drug causes it to happen sooner. Under normal healthy conditions, there should not be any sugar in the urine. It is always pathological, so they are creating disease. It is just a trick, a gimmick. It has nothing to do with restoring health, and no good is going to come from it.
What does this latest Avandia scandal portend? I think it means that the time has come for all of us to start making our own medical decisions. I'm not saying that we should never follow a doctor's advice. I'm saying that we should never do it on faith. We have the right and the responsibility to use our own judgment because, obviously, we are going to have to live with the consequences- or not live at all. And today, we not only have the right and the responsibility, but we also have the means. Because of the Internet, all of the knowledge about drugs that is available to doctors, is available to you. Therefore, your first step when given a prescription for a medication should not be to stop at the pharmacy to fill it, but rather, to go home, get online, and start researching it. Get used to saying to doctors, "I'll have to think about it."
As I see it, when you visit a doctor, first and foreemost, you are there to find out what is wrong with you. You are there for a diagnosis. And after that, you want his or her opinion about the best treatment options. But, it's your body and your life, and ultimately, you will decide what action to take. Is this being arrogant? Maybe, maybe not. But, it doesn't matter. The fact is: too many bad things have happened involving prescription drugs. Dr. Ron Paul, Congressman, Presidential candidate, and bonafide leader of the Liberty movement, has pointed out that more people have died from prescription drugs than from all the illicit drugs combined. Our faith is shattered. Drugs are inherently dangerous, very dangerous, and we can no longer give them the benefit of the doubt.
But, let's get back to diabetes. I am as personally concerned about avoiding diabetes as anybody because it runs strongly on both sides of my family. My paternal grandfather died of diabetes in his 60s, and not before losing both his legs to it and going completely blind. I run bloodwork on myself annually in the Spring, and fortunately, my blood sugar has always been normal. If it ever became high, I would first seek to manage it with diet and exercise. Of course, I am diligent already, but I suppose I could be more diligent. However, there is one diabetes drug that I would consider taking, and that is Metformin. Metformin is a derivative of a natural herb called Goat's Rue. It has been in use for centuries. It does not increase the insulin level, rather, it increases the sensitivity of the insulin receptors, rendering the insulin you have more effective. There has been a lot of research done on Metformin, and some of it is very impressive. For instance, Metformin has been shown to have a life-extending effect in animals. And, Metformin has an excellent safety record. Rather than increase the risk of heart attack, as Avandia does, Metformin reduces it. Today, there are thousands of health enthusiasts who are taking Metformin in hopes of getting a life-extending effect- and many of them are not even diabetic! I am not willing to go that far, but again, if in the future my blood sugar were to rise, I would consider taking Metformin.
And second, the main contention of the high-protein crowd- that even unrefined carbohydrates cause excessive insulin release- is false. Carbohydrates do provoke insulin release, but so do proteins and fats. The fact is: calories- from all sources- provoke insulin release. An Australian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1997 reported the insulin score of many different foods. Museli, a traditional European whole grain dish, had an insulin score of only 46, which was much lower than fish at 59. Whole grain pasta had an insulin score of only 40, which was much lower than beef at 51. The cause of high serum insulin is insulin resistance which is caused mainly by being overweight- too fat. Unrefined carbohydrates do not make people fat. So, all this fearmongering about whole grains sabotaging insulin is pure hogwash, and those who spout it are just repeating each other.
So, what do I do to prevent diabetes?
First, I stay thin. I don't let myself get fat. I am 5' 6" and weigh 135 pounds, and I'm fairly well-muscled. I am careful about what I eat, and I eat almost a completely vegan diet. I don't restrict carbohydrates or fats, but I'm careful to eat only wholesome forms of each, such as whole grains and raw nuts. I avoid refined carbohydrates of all kinds. All the typical desserts that people commonly eat, I pass on completely: no exceptions. I watch my weight. I weigh myself every day, first thing in the morning, without clothes. I don't say that you have to weigh that often, but I think it's a good idea to keep your eye on it. You'd be surprised how many people are shocked to find out how much they weigh.
Second, I stay active physically. I do strength training, mainly with the Total Gym machine, which I have at home. I get cardiac/aerobic exercise from hiking, biking, and swimming. Both kinds of exercise are important in diabetes prevention. Strength training is important because muscles are reservoirs for blood sugar. The larger they are, the more glycogen they store, and the more they dampen the effect of eating. I don't say that you need to have muscles like Arnold, but it's vital to be well-toned and fit.
Third, regarding supplements, I haven't had the mindset to take anything specifically to prevent diabetes, but, some of the supplements I take for general health do help in that way. For instance, Carnosine and Benfotiamine are powerful anti-glycation agents, and glycation is what does the damage in diabetes. Turmeric, green tea, resveratrol, and lipoic acid, all of which I take, have also been shown to help prevent diabetes. And some of the nutrients in my Extend Core multi, such as the MTHF form of folate and the P5P form of Vitamin B6 also ward off diabetes. Even Vitamin D is known to help prevent diabetes, and I take 5000 IUs of that.
VRP also offers a formula called GluControl which includes Goat's Rue, which, as I mentioned, is the herbal form of Metformin. I am not taking GluControl at this time, but if my blood sugar were to rise, I would consider taking it. One advantage it has over Metformin is that it is available without a prescription.
Be aware that diabetes varies a lot in degree, and milder cases of it may be corrected without taking anything. Diet, exercise, and weight management may be all that are needed to reverse it. None of us can be certain that we'll never get diabetes, but I am confident that, with everything I am doing, that I'll never get more than a mild case of it- no matter how long I live. That's my worst case scenario. I am not going to wind up like my grandfather, and it's empowering to know that.
But, nationwide and worldwide, diabetes is a huge and growing problem. Medicine has nothing useful to offer except Metformin. I believe the time is now and the need is urgent for every man, woman, and child to get serious about diabetes prevention. That means adopting an unrefined, plant-based diet, exercising diligently and regularly, and getting down to lean body weight. Drop all morbid body fat ASAP.
The Way To Quiet, Comfortable Digestion
- Created on Thursday, 23 September 2010 03:23
I heard from an older man this evening who is contemplating marriage, and he's concerned because he experiences a lot of intestinal gas, every day, and he knows it can only disrupt the marital bliss. I informed him that, according to Medicine, the average person passes gas about 14 times a day, and he informed me that he thinks he's passing gas about 50 times a day. I agreed that that's excessive. He also informed me that he's trying to eat healthily, with lots of fruits, vegetables, and green salads, and also nuts and beans. I agreed that it's very healthy food, but it's also more gas-forming than the usual fare that most people eat.
So, what is the solution? We certainly don't want to start living on hamburger and white bread just to avoid getting gas. But, I know very well that we can eat heartily of whole, natural plant foods without getting an inordinate amount of gas.
I realize that is a qualified statement. I wish I could tell you that I know how you can avoid getting gas completely. But, that would be a lie because I'm human too, and I experience some gas myself. But, not an inordinate amount. Not an amount that interferes with my social life or my love life. And that's what we are aiming for.
First, I want to suggest tried and true eating rules to help control gas.
1. Don't overeat. It is the single biggest cause of excess gas. Don't eat until you are stuffed. The goal is not to feel "full" but rather to feel "smug" which means content and satisfied. Remember also that when you finish eating that it takes time for your stomach to release all the digestive juices that are involved in processing the meal. So, if you feel physically full when you put your fork down, imagine how you are going to feel a half hour later when your stomach has added more secretions. So, leave room for that. DON"T OVEREAT.
2. Don't eat between meals. People are surprised when I tell them that I never snack. They think I must have some kind of iron will. But, it has nothing to do with that. I simply respect my stomach, and I understand how it works. When you consume a meal, you have given your stomach an assignment, and it tackles it. But then, if you start eating again while it's still digesting the previous meal, it's like throwing a monkeywrench into the machinery. It also triggers what is known as a "gastro-colic" reflex. If the body thinks another meal is coming, it may try to quickly pass the previous meal to make room for the new one, and so it rushes undigested or partially digested food into the lower intestine. Well, that is definitely going to cause gas. Bacteria are going to have a field day with that. So, the idea is that we should give our digestive system a job, a project, and then leave it alone for several hours. Don't disturb it. Don't give it anything else to do. Let it do its work unencumbered. Think of the intervals between meals as your fasting periods. Remember, we're not cows, and we're not gorillas (both of whom are grazers). We're human beings, and we eat at distinct times called "meals." Don't eat between meals.
3. What about food combining rules? I know all about the food combining rules, but I am not a staunch proponent of food combining. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with eating different kinds of food at the same meal. Individual foods are very complex as it is. The problem is that "Variety is the spice of gluttony." We tend to eat more food when there are a lot of choices on the table. And that brings us back to our first axiom, DON'T OVEREAT. But, although I am not in favor of rigid, universal food combining rules, it doesn't mean that you can't go by your own experience and limit certain combinations that you know tend to cause you trouble.
4. Eat slowly and chew your food well. If you tend to gulp your food down quickly, it's a bad habit, and you just have to break it.
5. Avoid eating late at night. I think we all know from experience that late night eating invites digestive trouble, sour stomach, gas, etc.
6. It shouldn't be necessary to drink during meals. If you tend to get thirsty during a meal, it means one of two things: either you were dehydrated before you started eating OR you're not including enough water-sufficient foods (fruits and vegetables) at the meal. Another possibility is that you are consuming too much salt at the meal, but that's a subject in itself.
7. What about excluding certain gas-forming foods, such as pears, broccoli, onions, etc.? You can play around with that, but don't get carried away with it. The truth is that all fruits and vegetables, and all high-fiber foods like whole grains and legumes, can be gas-forming. If you were going to eliminate everything that could potentially cause gas, you would wind up steering your diet in a most unhealthful direction. So, don't go too far down that road. Focus instead on the tactics listed above.
Applying the above ideas should help mitigate your gas problem. Again, I'm not suggesting that you are never going to pass gas again, but it should be much less. But, is there anything you can do?
Yes, you could try taking probiotics and digestive enzymes. Probiotics, of course, are the beneficial bacteria, and they actually help us digest our food, and they also help crowd out harmful yeast and Candida, etc. which can cause gas. So, it wouldn't hurt a thing, and it might help a lot for a person with a major gas problem to take Probiotics, at least for a while. There are a lot of good ones. We offer two: BioPRO, which is an excellent proprietary formula made by Vitamin Research Products. And we offer Culturelle, which is a leading probiotic made by another company. It has a patented strain of Lactobacilli with years of clinical research behind it.
Digestive Enzymes (and we actually have a product by that name) consists of the various enzymes such as amylase for starch, lipase for fat, and protease for protein. Most people are familiar with the product Beano, which contains the enzyme: alpha-galactosidase, which aids carbohydrate digestion. But, I think it's better to take a comprehensive enzyme product if you're going to do it at all.
Finally, I want to point out that in the most severe cases, I will recommend our Gastric Aid formula, which contains a form of hydrochloric acid: Betaine Hydrochloride. In a world in which millions of people take acid-blocking drugs every day, it may seem crazy to try to increase the amount of stomach acid. But, believe me, it often works wonders. There are more people suffering from too little stomach acid than too much. The stomach is supposed to be acid: very acid. And, destroying a person's stomach acid is a form of medical malpractice- in my opinion. It certainly does not restore the person to health, and it only invites other problems. Even when it seems to work symptomatically, I still think it's a bad idea.
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These are also the supplements that I personally take.