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The British Empire represented a partnership between Jewish finance and the British aristocracy, according to Hilaire Belloc in his book “The Jews” (1922). And Belloc was right. What has since been dubbed the New World […]
1 Which of the following strategies has been shown to reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer by more than 80 percent?
2 Recent animal research shows all artificial sweeteners currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are:
3 Recent research shows your appendix serves the following function in your body:
4 Which of the following compounds has been shown to play an important role in the regulation of inflammation in your brain?
5 After analyzing surveys involving 1.9 million participants representing 168 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded more than 1.4 billion adults worldwide are at risk of:
6 Which herbicide is the most widely used in the world?
7 Which of the following has recently been found to have powerful therapeutic benefits by improving redox status and activation of the Nrf2 pathway?
A Swiss study1 involving lab mice suggests the grape constituent resveratrol may be effective in treating lung cancer, at least when administered nasally in high doses. The researchers observed a 45 percent decrease in tumor load in mice treated with resveratrol, noting they also developed fewer and smaller tumors than untreated mice.
Despite the favorable outcome showing resveratrol’s ability to cause rogue cells to self-destruct, more research is needed. This is so mainly because resveratrol, upon ingestion as an oral dose, is metabolized and eliminated within minutes — well before it has time to reach the lungs.
Pterostilbene is another potent plant compound similar to resveratrol that you may want to check out. It is the primary polyphenol antioxidant found in blueberries and although it possesses many similar properties, pterostilbene outperforms resveratrol with its superior bioavailability.
Lung Cancer: The World’s Deadliest Cancer
According to The Global Cancer Observatory, a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), lung cancer, which is the deadliest form of cancer in the world, has claimed more than 1.7 million lives so far in 2018.2 Deaths from lung cancer outpace those from cancers of the breast, pancreas and prostate combined.
Notably, the American Lung Association suggests smoking contributes to 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths.3 The U.S. Surgeon General issued a report in 2004 stating men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop this type of cancer than nonsmokers, whereas female smokers face a 13fold increased risk.4
Even if you have never smoked, you still may be at risk for lung cancer. A 2006 report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asserts nonsmokers have a 20 to 30 percent greater chance of developing lung cancer if exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work.5
Given the statistics, there is a clear need to continually emphasize the need to forgo the use of tobacco. If you smoke, this is yet another wake-up call emphasizing the need to quit smoking.
What Is Resveratrol and Why Is It Good for You?
Authors of the Swiss study on resveratrol and lung cancer suggest it is “one of the most studied natural products, notably for its cancer chemoprevention properties.”6 Indeed, more than 11,000 studies involving this compound can be found on the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) PubMed.gov website.7
Given the popularity of resveratrol in scientific research, you may wonder why it commands so much attention. The massive interest in resveratrol comes about mainly due to its ability to act as a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are well-known for their antiaging and health-promoting properties, especially with respect to preventing free radical damage.
As mentioned in the featured video, resveratrol can neutralize and control free radicals, which are generated by your body in the course of normal activities like breathing, exercise and metabolism. An overabundance of free radicals can contribute to aging and a host of diseases.
Specifically, resveratrol is a polyphenol designed to increase the life span of plants through disease resistance and stressors such as disease, drastic climate changes and too much ultraviolet light. As you may imagine, humans face some of those same threats, making resveratrol a potential booster of human, as well as plant, health.
Resveratrol is found in food sources such as blueberries, grape skins, pomegranates, raspberries and red wine, as well as dark chocolate and raw cacao, among other plant-based foods. Lest you think, however, that a few extra glasses of wine would bring about the antiaging and neuroprotective benefits of resveratrol, be advised otherwise.
Gregorio Valdez, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and co-author of an earlier study investigating the antiaging potential of resveratrol, notes, “In wine, resveratrol is in such small amounts you could not drink enough of it in your life to have the benefits we found in mice given resveratrol.”8
Because alcohol is a neurotoxin known to damage your brain and organs, I advise you get resveratrol from other food sources or a supplement.
Researchers Cautiously Optimistic About the Effects of Resveratrol on Lung Cancer
As mentioned, research performed by a team of scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in Switzerland involving the administration of resveratrol to lab mice suggests it may be useful in treating lung cancer.
“We tried to prevent lung cancer induced by a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke by using resveratrol … in a mouse model,” said Muriel Cuendet, Ph.D., associate professor in the school of pharmaceutical sciences at UNIGE.9
The study featured four groups of mice treated three times a week for 25 weeks: an untreated control group, a second group receiving just the carcinogen, a third group getting both the carcinogen and resveratrol treatment and a fourth given resveratrol only.
Given the positive outcomes, Cuendet said, “Resveratrol could therefore play a preventive role against lung cancer.”11 The resveratrol solution given equated to about 1.2?milligrams (mg) per mouse or about 60?mg per kilogram. In terms of outcomes, the researchers observed:10
- The resveratrol-treated mice showed a 27 percent decrease in tumor multiplicity and developed smaller tumors than the untreated mice
- A 45 percent decrease in tumor load per mouse in the treated mice
- When comparing the two groups that were not exposed to the carcinogen, 63 percent of the resveratrol-treated mice failed to develop cancer, compared to just 13 percent of the untreated mice
- In vitro experiments suggest resveratrol’s chemoprevention mechanism is most likely related to apoptosis (programmed cell death), a process known to destroy rogue cells
Resveratrol’s Low Bioavailability Limits Its Effectiveness When Taken Orally
Despite the results with lab mice, it is unclear if resveratrol would have the same effects in humans afflicted with lung cancer, mainly because of how quickly it is metabolized and eliminated — well before it could reach the lungs. About resveratrol’s low bioavailability, the author of a 2011 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences stated:12
“The oral absorption of resveratrol in humans is about 75 percent and is thought to occur mainly by transepithelial diffusion. Extensive metabolism in the intestine and liver results in an oral bioavailability considerably less than 1 percent. Dose escalation and repeated dose administration of resveratrol does not appear to alter this significantly.
Metabolic studies, both in plasma and in urine, have revealed major metabolites to be glucuronides and sulfates of resveratrol. However, reduced dihydroresveratrol conjugates, in addition to highly polar unknown products, may account for as much as 50 percent of an oral resveratrol dose.
Although major sites of metabolism include the intestine and liver (as expected), colonic bacterial metabolism may be more important than previously thought.”
With that in mind, Aymeric Monteillier, a scientist in the UNIGE school of pharmaceutical sciences and lead study author of the current research, commented, “This is why our challenge was to find a formulation in which resveratrol could be solubilized in large quantities, even though it is poorly soluble in water, in order to allow nasal administration.”13
Monteillier went on to suggest this mouse-tested formulation could be applicable to humans and may possibly allow the compound to reach human lungs.
Underscoring the benefits of an alternative method of administration, the UNIGE researchers noted the resveratrol concentration obtained in the lungs of mice after nasal administration was 22 times higher than what would have been found if the treatment had been given orally.14
Health Benefits Associated With Resveratrol
Previous studies suggest resveratrol may benefit your health in the following ways:
Combats free radicals15
Improves brain blood flow and suppresses brain inflammation16
Delivers antiaging effects21
Mimics the effects of calorie restriction22
Enhances learning and memory23
Best Sources of Resveratrol
While resveratrol can be sourced in small amounts from the foods mentioned previously, muscadine grapes contain the highest concentration — most especially in the skin and seeds. As noted, blueberries and raspberries are other sources.
Due to the fact whole fruit contains fructose, be sure to moderate your intake to ensure you consume less than 25 mg of fructose a day if you are healthy. If you are dealing with a chronic illness like cancer or diabetes, you’ll want to further restrict your daily fructose intake to 15 mg or less until your health improves.
Because it is unlikely you will be able to get therapeutic amounts of resveratrol from food, you might consider adding a whole food resveratrol supplement. I regularly take one that features both grape seed extract and grape skin extract from muscadine grapes.
One serving of that supplement, which contains 50 mg of resveratrol, contains the same amount of resveratrol you’d find in 39 eight-ounce glasses of wine. To prevent your body from developing a tolerance to resveratrol, I recommend you cycle it — consuming it on weekdays, for example, and taking a break from it on weekends.
What’s Next for Resveratrol Research and Lung Cancer?
Now that the intranasal method of administration has been established, the UNIGE team is moving on to identify a potential biomarker that will support them in selecting people eligible for preventive treatment with resveratrol.
As noted by the study authors, “This study presents an effective way to overcome [resveratrol’s] low oral bioavailability, encouraging a reevaluation of its use in future clinical trials.”26
Interestingly, the scientists suggest resveratrol could potentially benefit current and former smokers were it to be successfully developed for use in nebulizers and e-cigarettes. Given the health hazards associated with them, I cannot recommend e-cigarettes or vaping as safe alternatives to smoking. That said, the researchers commented:27
“For ex-smokers, one could easily imagine a nebulizer similar to those used for beta-2-sympathomimetic administration in asthma …
A [resveratrol] containing electronic cigarette could combine the advantage of pharmacological cancer chemopreventive activity with promotion of the transition from conventional tobacco products to electronic cigarettes.”
An Alternative to Resveratrol: Pterostilbene May Be Even Better
Besides resveratrol, a lesser-known inflammation fighter called pterostilbene also deserves attention. It is the predominant polyphenol antioxidant found in blueberries. Similar to resveratrol, pterostilbene is a stilbene but it has far superior bioavailability.
While resveratrol is considered to be about 20 to 25 percent bioavailable, pterostilbene is known for its 80 percent bioavailability, meaning your body can use it more effectively and efficiently.28 Some experts suggest the two compounds are better when consumed together, noting they will act synergistically to boost your health and help prevent disease. About pterostilbene, authors of a 2013 study designed to review its antioxidant properties stated:29,30
“The antioxidant activity of pterostilbene has been implicated in anticarcinogenesis, modulation of neurological disease, anti-inflammation, attenuation of vascular disease and amelioration of diabetes.
Substantial evidence suggests that pterostilbene may have numerous preventive and therapeutic properties in a vast range of human diseases that include neurological, cardiovascular, metabolic and hematologic disorders.
Further benefits of pterostilbene have been reported in preclinical trials, in which pterostilbene was shown to be a potent anticancer agent in several malignancies.”
In terms of pterostilbene’s value as an anticancer compound, the researchers said:31
“Studies suggest pterostilbene exhibits the hallmark characteristics of an effective anticancer agent based on its antineoplastic properties in several common malignancies. In vitro models have shown pterostilbene inhibits cancer growth through alteration of the cell cycle, induction of apoptosis and inhibition of metastasis.
In vivo, pterostilbene inhibits tumorigenesis and metastasis with negligible toxicity. Pterostilbene has also been shown to be effective as an inducer of antioxidant capacity in multiple cancer cell lines that may facilitate its function as an anticarcinogenic compound.
Additionally, preliminary studies show pterostilbene exhibits much greater bioavailability compared [to] other stilbene compounds.”
Before You Begin Taking Resveratrol and Pterostilbene, Talk to Your Health Care Provider
Beyond the benefits already mentioned, a study published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine32 suggests when given in daily doses of 250 mg, pterostilbene also can be useful to lower your blood pressure. Additionally, it has been shown to reduce anxiety in experiments involving lab mice.33
While the news about resveratrol and pterostilbene seems promising, more research is needed to validate the true extent of their health-benefiting potential. Before you begin taking either or both of them in supplement form, I suggest you talk to your health care practitioner first.
As you may imagine, taking any supplement indiscriminately is unlikely to have beneficial effects. Why? Because your body does best when it receives the right nutrients at the right time, in the right amount. Keep that guiding principle in mind as you seek to take control of your health.
Regulating blood sugar has become a high priority for an increasing number of people, not just in the U.S., but worldwide. In fact, medical experts say diabetes affects more than 30 million people in the U.S.,1 and in the U.K., where Type 2 diabetes alone impacts more than 3.3 million, such statistics constitute epidemic proportions, according to Daily Star.2
However, there’s hope for people with high blood sugar, but it requires simple lifestyle tweaking to reduce individual risk. Most predominant in the methods you can adopt to reduce your risk of developing diabetes or multiplying the health risks associated with this condition is changing your eating habits.
You can even alleviate the symptoms and regulate the high blood sugar levels linked to diabetes, and it’s often just as much about the foods you eat as the foods you stay away from.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine revealed that a few choice foods, which some “experts” have previously warned against, can be eaten or reintroduced into your diet to lower your Type 2 diabetes risk. This includes butter, yogurt and cheese. Lead author Fumiaki Imamura, from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge, asserts:
“Our results provide the most comprehensive global evidence to date about dairy fat biomarkers and their relationship with lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. We’re aware that our biomarker work has limitations and requires further research on underlying mechanisms, but at the very least, the available evidence about dairy fat does not indicate any increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.”3
Senior study author Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, notes three interesting aspects of what constitutes “dairy fat;” first, that dairy foods are recommended as part of a healthy diet, both in the U.S. and internationally. More specifically, consumption of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese is linked with a lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes.
However, there’s been confusion, lost context and misinformation in regard to consumption of saturated fat, including that found in dairy products, not only in the general public but by the medical community, which is most likely why Mozaffarian was prompted to add, “Our findings, measuring biomarkers of fatty acids consumed in dairy fat, suggest a need to reexamine the potential metabolic benefits of dairy fat or foods rich in dairy fat, such as cheese.”4
Caveats on Butter, Yogurt and Cheese: Choose Wisely
Daily Mail explains that the crux of the new research means eating cheese may help lower your Type 2 diabetes risk, even while acknowledging that millions of consumers are following misguided dietary guidelines, concentrated on the errant associations linking dairy products with calories and “bad fat.”
Current (and faulty) guidelines maintain that saturated fats found in dairy foods should be limited; the recommendation is no more than three servings per day, and it should be either fat-free or low-fat to avoid raising your LDL cholesterol and, subsequently (and again misguidedly), a heightened heart disease risk.
If followed, the recommended dairy consumption would equal 1 teaspoon of butter, one 15-gram (approximately a half-ounce) of cheese, 1 cup of yogurt or an 8-ounce glass of milk. But now, there’s a major shift:
“Indeed, research is mounting that saturated fat is better for you than processed carbohydrates like sugar and white bread, which have been linked to diabetes, obesity and heart disease many times over … Other studies have also shown that full-fat products like dairy can be useful in weight maintenance and other health factors.”5
Mozzafarian notes that different foods are made up of different nutrients, so that while we may be eating cheese, butter, yogurt, milk and meat, it’s not altogether correct to say we’re consuming calcium, fat and protein. In fact, there’s a huge difference between the fat in a pat of butter and what’s present in a pastrami sandwich. The reason, he explains, is that:
“Processed meats may have different effects on stroke and heart disease, not because of the saturated fat, but because of sodium and the preservatives. In the end, just making decisions about a food based on one thing like saturated fat is not useful.”6
However, it’s not a good idea to choose just any old dairy product from the dairy section of your local supermarket.
Conventionally produced dairy products are alarmingly out of balance in regard to omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which creates a greater risk for chronic disease, not to mention the problems that stem from CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), such as ingesting the antibiotics the cows have been given, as well as hormones and genetically engineered (GE) organisms.
Instead, choose raw, organic and grass fed (rather than grain-fed) options when you’re looking for milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. Look for real cheese made from unpasteurized milk for optimal flavor and nutritional benefits, as what often passes for real is anything but.
Whole, grass fed and unsweetened yogurt has been found to fight inflammation, it’s been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, and it’s great for gut health, and real butter, far from the killer it’s been made out to be, contains short-chain fatty acids including butyrate, which helps fight several of the leading causes of disease, including diabetes.
The Call for a ‘Reexamination of Dairy Fat’ by Nutritional Scientists
While there are advantages to taking another look at the way fatty acids in dairy foods are viewed, the researchers also note that you can’t differentiate between individual foods, such as cheese, yogurt and butter, in regard to the biomarkers measuring them.
According to the Cambridge news release, “Biomarkers are telltale molecules in the body that can be measured accurately and consistently, and act as indictors of dietary consumption.”
As Mozaffarian observes, biomarkers of dairy fat consumption can be, and have been, influenced by factors that may or may not have anything to do with dairy intake. Examples include limited data from nonwhite populations, as well as populations where not only the dairy products but the way they’re prepared might be different.7
The study, published in PLOS Medicine,8 was part of the Fatty Acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE),9 which describes its aim as “Understanding how fatty acid biomarkers relate to the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, cancers, chronic kidney disease, and other conditions.”
The scientists used data compiled from 16 studies to compare how nearly 64,000 adults were affected over 20 years. Their review found that the participants who didn’t consume dairy products were more likely to develop the condition and, in fact, 15,100 of them, free of diabetes from the outset, went on to develop Type 2 diabetes during the 20-year follow-up.
Conversely, “those with higher concentrations of dairy-fat biomarkers had less chance of contracting the condition.”10 Further:
“When all the results of the 16 studies were pooled the researchers found that higher concentrations of dairy-fat biomarkers were associated with lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This lower risk was independent of other major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes including age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical activity and obesity.
For example, if people among the top fifth of the concentrations of dairy-fat markers were compared with people among the bottom fifth of the concentrations, the top-fifth people had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.”11
‘The Low-Fat Trend Was Misguided’
More and more people within the medical community are reading the tea leaves, so to speak, in regard to the erstwhile recommendation to opt for low-fat and no-fat dairy options. In early 2016, Time magazine examined the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, presented by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.12
At the time, while the government agencies that produced the guidelines said they were “grounded in the most current scientific evidence,” several experts in the field of nutrition alluded to the use of outdated and contradictory research.
Walter Willett, chair of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, asserted that the way the guidelines were compiled was fraught with manipulation of data, lobbyists and undue leverage by food manufacturers, producers and special interest groups.
Six months later, Time referred to a “growing body of research showing that the low-fat-diet trend was misguided.” But sadly, a Gallup Poll reported in 2014 that roughly two times the number of people were still closely monitoring their fat intake as opposed to the number of those watching their carb consumption.13 Time added:
“The new study analyzed nine papers that included more than 600,000 people and concluded that consuming butter is not linked to a higher risk for heart disease and might be slightly protective against Type 2 diabetes. This goes against the longstanding advice to avoid butter because it contains saturated fat.”14
In a nutshell, word is finally spreading through the circles of nutritional scientists that avoiding dietary fat, including saturated fat, was doing more harm than good for consumers and patients trying to be conscientious about their eating habits. Interestingly, the featured study wasn’t Mozaffarian’s first foray into the topic. Another, separate study published in Circulation was covered in Time:
“Mozaffarian and his colleagues analyzed the blood of 3,333 adults enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study of Health Professionals Follow-up Study taken over about 15 years. They found that people who had higher levels of three different byproducts of full-fat dairy had, on average, a 46 percent lower risk of getting diabetes during the study period than those with lower levels …
Since full-fat dairy products contain more calories, many experts assumed avoiding it would lower diabetes risk. But studies have found that when people reduce how much fat they eat, they tend to replace it with sugar or carbohydrates, both of which can have worse effects on insulin and diabetes risk.”15
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes You Shouldn’t Ignore
Diabetes is a disease rooted in insulin resistance and perhaps more importantly, a malfunction of leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels.
Type 1 is the type many sufferers are born with, while Type 2 can come on at any time. With Type 2, the problem stems either from the pancreas’ failure to produce enough insulin or your cells fail to react to the insulin produced — insulin being a hormone responsible for regulating the amount of glucose in your blood.
There are a number of symptoms that people frequently experience with Type 2 diabetes, many of which are your body’s way of showing you there’s a problem. When glucose starts building in your blood instead of heading to your cells, it results in physical symptoms.
Many people head to their doctor and subsequently start on what is typically an unending cycle of medically-supervised “management” of the disease. Sadly, Type 2 diabetes is one of the main reasons why life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped in just the last few years for younger and younger people, and those with the condition often have other disorders as well, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.16
Perhaps even more disturbing are studies that show that half the adults in the U.S. are either diabetic or prediabetic.17 An alarmingly low number of doctors address how possible it is and how crucial it is for people with diabetes to offset their disease and even prevent it by adopting simple strategies involving their food intake.
What you eat can literally make or break your health. If you find a gap in your knowledge base regarding what you should and should not eat, you could start with brushing up on how to restore insulin and leptin sensitivity, both of which are directly diet- and exercise-related.
It’s also helpful to know that the same metabolic defect responsible for mitochondria dysfunction, metabolic syndrome and most cancers is also responsible for Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Addressing your diet is Job No. 1 in turning diabetes around, but so are strategies in getting more movement into your lifestyle, lowering your carb and sugar intake, increasing your fiber and incorporating healthy fats like organic, grass fed dairy products.
Wounds that are slow to heal
Itchy, dry skin
Foot numbness or pain
UTIs and yeast infections
If you haven’t already been diagnosed, or if your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes, it’s never too early (or too late) to combat it before you begin experiencing damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, gums, teeth and neurological system.
The research makes it clear that if you’ve bought into the notion that eating full-fat dairy is bad for you, be assured that the latest research is turning around an industry that’s been crying “wolf” for far too long. Now is the time to increase the amount of healthy, grass fed butter, cheese and other full-fat dairy foods in your diet every day, and fight diabetes from the inside out.
Conventional medicine still has Type 2 diabetes pegged as a blood sugar problem. In reality, it’s a disease rooted in insulin resistance1 and faulty leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels. In other words, it’s a diet-derived condition.
Unfortunately, as noted by Dr. Abhinav Diwan, associate professor of medicine, cell biology and physiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis,2 “In general, the concept of reversing or curing diabetes … is not well-accepted in the medical field. It is not even a therapeutic goal when people start to treat diabetics.”
This is why the medical community’s approach to diabetes treatment, which typically involves the administration of insulin, is not getting anywhere. Treating Type 2 diabetes with insulin is actually one of the worst things you can do, and can even lead to the development of Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes in some cases.
Conventionally trained doctors also continue to pass along seriously flawed nutritional information (such as recommending a high-carb diet and use of artificial sweeteners), which is yet another reason why Type 2 diabetes has ballooned to such epidemic proportions.
Most People Are on the Verge of Becoming Diabetic
An estimated 30.3 million Americans, nearly 1 in 10, have Type 2 diabetes.3 Another 84 million American adults — about 1 in 3 — are prediabetic. Prediabetes4 is defined as an elevation in blood glucose over 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) but lower than 125 mg/dl, at which point it formally becomes Type 2 diabetes.
However, any fasting blood sugar regularly over 90 mg/dl really suggests insulin resistance, and seminal work by the late Dr. Joseph Kraft suggests 80 percent — 8 in 10 — Americans are in fact insulin resistant,5 which means they’re already well on their way toward developing diabetes.
That’s the bad news. The good news is Type 2 diabetes is reversible, and the treatment doesn’t cost you anything. In fact, it actually saves you loads of time and money. I’m talking about fasting. Both intermittent fasting and longer water-only fasting have been shown to reverse Type 2 diabetes.
Fasting — A Therapeutic Alternative to Insulin
A recent case series paper6,7 published in BMJ Case Reports by a friend, Dr. Jason Fung, details how fasting can be used as a therapeutic alternative for Type 2 diabetes. This exciting report actually made the front page of CNN online.8 As noted by the authors, their paper:
“… [D]emonstrates the effectiveness of therapeutic fasting to reverse insulin resistance, resulting in cessation of insulin therapy while maintaining control of blood sugars. In addition, these patients were able to lose significant amounts of body weight, reduce their waist circumference and also reduce their glycated hemoglobin levels.”
A case series paper is not a controlled study; rather, it simply presents the case history of one or more patients and may propose a hypothesis for why a treatment did or did not work. In this case, three diabetic patients between the ages of 40 and 67 participated in a supervised fasting regimen to evaluate the effects on their insulin requirements. The patients had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes for 10, 20 and 25 years respectively, and were taking insulin daily.
Of the three patients, two did alternating-day 24-hour fasts, while one fasted for 24 hours three times a week over a period of several months. On fasting days, they were allowed to drink unlimited amounts of low-calorie fluids such as water, coffee, tea and bone broth, and to eat a low-calorie, low-carb dinner.
On nonfasting days, they were allowed both lunch and dinner, but all meals were low in sugar and refined carbohydrates throughout. The complete manual of the fasting regimen used is described in Fung’s book, “The Complete Guide to Fasting.”9
Two of the patients were able to discontinue all of their diabetes medications while the third was able to discontinue three of his four drugs. All three also lost between 10 and 18 percent of their body weight. As reported by the authors:
“In our study all three patients eliminated the need for insulin by initiating a therapeutic fasting regimen. All three patients succeeded within a month and one in as little as five days. Further, all patients improved in multiple other clinically significant health outcome measures, such as HbA1C, body mass index and waist circumference …
As such, patients with T2D can reverse their diseases without the worry of side effects and financial burden of many pharmaceuticals, as well as the unknown long-term risks and uncertainty of surgery, all by means of therapeutic fasting.”
In another similar trial,10 Type 2 diabetics were placed on a severely restricted calorie diet where they ate just 600 calories a day for eight weeks. By the end of their fast, all were disease-free, and three months later, having returned to their regular diet, seven of the 11 participants remained free of diabetes.
Why Fasting Is Such a Powerful Intervention for Diabetes
Fung is a nephrologist (kidney specialist) with a practice in Toronto. Two years ago, I interviewed him about fasting, which is one of the most powerful interventions for Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance I know of. Fung was also one of the experts who peer reviewed my book, “Fat for Fuel,” which integrates some of his work.
Ultimately, diabetes is just one symptom of insulin resistance, which is the underlying problem. Insulin resistance, which results in mitochondrial dysfunction, is also at the heart of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases, and it all starts because your body is unable to burn fat as a primary fuel.
When your body relies primarily on sugar, more reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated, which damage the mitochondria in your cells. Fasting massively upregulates autophagy and mitophagy, and stimulates mitochondrial biosynthesis during the refeeding phase, which allows your body to naturally regenerate.
In fact, research11 published just last year demonstrated that partial fasting actually helps your pancreas to regenerate, by promoting the generation of insulin-producing beta cells. These are cells that detect sugar in your blood and release insulin if blood sugar levels get too high.
Through this restorative effect on the pancreas, the fasting-mimicking diet also reversed diabetes symptoms in mice. Valter Longo, Ph.D., professor of gerontology and biological sciences and director of the USC Longevity Institute, led the study, and explained the results:12
“Our conclusion is by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back — by starving them and then feeding them again —the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that’s no longer functioning …
Medically, these findings have the potential to be very important because we’ve shown — at least in mouse models — that you can use diet to reverse the symptoms of diabetes. Scientifically, the findings are perhaps even more important because we’ve shown you can use diet to reprogram cells without having to make any genetic alterations.”
Type 2 Diabetes Is Predicated on Excess Sugar in Your Diet
Once you understand what insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes actually are, then you’ll understand why something so simple as abstaining from food for a period of time can be such a powerful intervention. Contrary to infectious diseases, you cannot treat metabolic disease with a pill, because metabolic diseases such as diabetes are predicated on lifestyle, primarily diet. As previously explained by Fung:13
“You have to use metabolic treatments, which is why using fat for fuel is so important … Remember, the glucose goes into the cell, and insulin resistance is when the glucose doesn’t go out of the cell. So, for years we’ve used this paradigm of lock and key.
That is, the cell is sort of gated off. Outside the cell there’s blood, and when insulin comes around it turns the key, opens the gate and glucose goes in. So, if insulin is there, why is the glucose not going in? … You can measure the insulin and the insulin level is high. You can look at the insulin receptor, the gate is completely normal.
So, [conventional medicine] said something like, ‘Well, maybe there’s something gumming up the mechanism. It’s stuck in the lock so it doesn’t open properly, therefore the glucose can’t get into the cell. There’s a huge problem with this sort of paradigm, because if that is happening, the cell has no glucose and should be starving.
You should be losing lots of weight; you’d have a very thin liver. All your fat should just melt away, because if you think about untreated Type 1 diabetes, where you don’t have enough insulin, that’s exactly what happens. The cell literally starves and everything just wastes away … But that’s not what’s happening here.
In Type 2 diabetes you see that people are generally obese, they have large abdomens … What’s happening instead is that it’s actually an overflow syndrome. The cell can’t accept any more glucose because it’s jam packed full of glucose already.
That’s the reason you have insulin resistance. Insulin is trying to move glucose into the cell but the cell is full … So, it’s really an overflow mechanism …
That’s also why your liver is full — it’s a big fatty liver. The liver is busy trying to get rid of all this glucose by turning it into fat … Now, if Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance are the same sort of thing, it’s really about too much sugar. That’s the bottom line.
And if you understand that the whole problem is too much sugar, then the solution is not to use more insulin to jam more glucose into an already full cell. The key is to get rid of it all. So, what you want to do is: 1) Don’t put more sugar into your system, because you have too much sugar in already, and 2) burn it off.”
Why Insulin Therapy May Do More Harm than Good
Now, when you take insulin, the added insulin allows your body to use more of that excess glucose, but it turns it into fat. This is why most diabetics who take insulin end up gaining weight, which is the exact opposite of a healthy development, as the more weight you gain, the worse your diabetes gets and the more insulin you require. As noted by Fung, this treatment doesn’t make sense as diabetics already have high insulin.
“[Why give] more insulin in a situation where you have too much insulin already? If you have hyperthyroidism, you don’t give more thyroid hormone.
If you have an alcoholic, you don’t give more alcohol. It’s the exact wrong thing to do. In fact, if your levels of insulin are too high and that’s your disease, you need to lower insulin. By giving insulin, you’re actually making the fundamental problem much worse,” he says.
“[T]hey estimate that a person with Type 2 diabetes who begins insulin therapy at age 45 and lowers their hemoglobin A1c levels by 1 percent may experience an extra 10 months of healthy life.
But for a patient who starts treatment for Type 2 diabetes at age 75, they estimate the therapy may only gain them an additional three weeks of healthy life. The researchers say this prompts the question — Is 10 to 15 years of pills or injections with possible side effects worth it?”
In Some, Insulin Treatment Can Rapidly Induce Disease Progression
One really significant potential side effect of insulin therapy is disease progression from reversible to irreversible diabetes. This was demonstrated in a 2014 study16 published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The study found that giving genetically engineered recombinant insulin — which is the type typically used — to Type 2 diabetics with certain genetic susceptibility can trigger their bodies to produce antibodies that destroy their insulin producing cells (pancreatic islet cells).
Basically, it triggers an autoimmune disease response, producing a condition in which you have both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes simultaneously. The average time of Type 1 diabetes onset was 7.7 months. One study participant developed Type 1 diabetes in just over one month.
According to the authors, acute deterioration of blood glucose control after administering insulin is a warning sign of this problematic side effect. According to this study, the genes predisposing you to this autoimmune-type response to insulin are:
- Type 1 diabetes high risk HLA class II (IDDM1), thought to play a role in about half of all Type 1 diabetes cases, and
- VNTR genotype (IDDM2), which is believed to predispose you to Type 2 diabetes
Insulin Treatment Raises Risk of Several Health Complications
What’s more, a 2013 study17 found that treating Type 2 diabetes with insulin more than doubled patients’ risk of all-cause mortality. It also leads to:
Twice as many myocardial infarctions
1.4 times more strokes
2.1 times more neuropathy
1.4 times more cancer
1.7 times more major adverse cardiac events
3.5 times more renal complications
1.2 times more eye complications
2.2 times more deaths
A study published in Diabetologia18 in 2014 also found that diabetic cancer patients have a significantly elevated risk of death. Diabetic patients using insulin at the time of their cancer diagnosis had a four times higher mortality rate one year after cancer diagnosis compared to nondiabetic patients, or those who did not use insulin to control their diabetes. While this was an observational study, which means it cannot establish causality, the results are still noteworthy.
Other diabetic medications also have their risks. Avandia, for example, has been linked to a 43 percent increased risk of heart attack and a 64 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death, compared with other treatments.
So, it’s really important to understand that Type 2 diabetes is best controlled by restoring your insulin and leptin sensitivities, and this is what fasting helps you do. You will also dramatically reduce your risk of diabetes by:
• Limiting grains and sugars in your diet and getting plenty of healthy dietary fats, including animal-based omega-3
• Exercising regularly19
• Getting plenty of restorative sleep — In one 10-year-long study20 of 70,000 diabetes-free women, women who slept less than five hours or more than nine hours each night were 34 percent more likely to develop diabetes symptoms than those who slept seven to eight hours each night
• Optimizing your vitamin D level to between 60 and 80 ng/mL
• Optimizing your magnesium level — Magnesium plays an important role in glucose and insulin homeostasis21 and is required to activate tyrosine kinase, an enzyme required for the proper function of your insulin receptors.22
One 2013 study involving prediabetics found that most had inadequate magnesium intake, and those with the highest magnesium intake reduced their risk for blood sugar and metabolic problems by a whopping 71 percent23
Work With a Knowledgeable Physician if You’re on Any Medications
While fasting is a profoundly effective intervention for Type 2 diabetes, you do need to use caution if you’re diabetic. If you are taking medication, especially for your blood sugar, you have to make sure you talk to your doctor because there’s a risk your blood sugar may end up dipping too low.
If you’re taking insulin, and keep taking insulin while fasting, you could get into trouble. So, it’s important to closely monitor your blood sugar and adjust your medication accordingly. As previously noted by Fung:
“Remember, the fasting is going to drive your blood sugars down, and your insulin or your medications will drive your blood sugars down, so you’ve got kind of two things driving your blood sugars down.
All of a sudden you go low, you can have seizures, you can wind up in the emergency room and you could absolutely die. And that’s one of the things you have to be very careful of. So yes, you can do it, but you have to make sure you do it in a supervised setting with somebody who knows what they’re doing.”
Periodic Partial Fasting Is a Key to General Health and Wellness
By upregulating autophagy and mitophagy, stimulating mitochondrial biosynthesis and triggering the regeneration of stem cells, partial fasting (with days of 300 to 700 calories based on lean body mass) is not only beneficial for Type 2 diabetes and obesity, but also for health in general, and likely even longevity.
There’s even evidence to suggest fasting can help prevent or even reverse dementia, as it helps your body clean out toxic debris. By lowering insulin, you also increase other important hormones, including growth hormone (aka the fitness hormone), which is important for muscle development and general vitality.
As previously noted by Fung, fasting is “fundamentally one of the keys of wellness.” Other ailments that can benefit from fasting include polycystic ovaries, polycystic kidneys and fast growing cancer cells.
The reason for this is because when autophagy increases, your body starts breaking down old protein, including fast growing cells. Then, during the refeeding phase, growth hormone increases, boosting the rebuilding of new proteins and cells. In other words, it reactivates and speeds up your body’s natural renewal cycle.