Breastfeeding and Type-1 Diabetes Risk

The Diabetes Blog passes on new research claiming that breastfeeding can reduce the risk of type-1 diabetes. Take a look:
The study showed that children who were breastfed exclusively for longer periods of time may have natural protection against developing diabetes. It was particularly true in children who were breastfed exclusively for longer than five months.

The Harvard study also found that breastfeeding helped protect children from diabetes regardless of whether their mothers were overweight or had health problems. This certainly will be another reason to breastfeed babies for longer periods of time, as the Harvard study also indicated that babies that were breastfed for at least a year had the best protection.

One possible explanation considered by both studies is that breastfed babies have a steadier and slower growth, while formula fed babies have growth spurts. Breastfed babies are also more likely to be fed on demand rather than on a schedule.

NYC: Healthy Food Not Always Available

This topic gets rehashed in the news every few months. The problem, many neighborhoods in big cities don’t have access to healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies. So what happens? A growing number of residents develop tragic health problems—diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc.—due to the abundance of junk-food that somehow manages to find its way into the neighborhood.

Last year The New York Times focused on the diabetes epidemic in New York City. These articles make it pretty clear that limited access to nutritious disease-preventing food and wide-spread availability of inexpensive convenience food contributes greatly to the risk of type-II diabetes. Take a look:
Today the Associated Press examines Harlem and how its food retailers and restaurants are less likely to sell healthy food than other areas of Manhattan. Colleen Long has more:
In Harlem, fast-food restaurants are more prevalent than shops selling fresh vegetables, according to a city health report.

Food stores in the area in upper Manhattan are mostly bodegas, and the small groceries are half as likely to carry low-fat dairy products as their counterparts in swankier neighborhoods and seven times less likely to sell fresh vegetables, the report said. Only 3 percent of corner stores in Harlem sell leafy green vegetables, compared to 20 percent on the nearby Upper East Side, it said.

"Large health disparities exist between Harlem and other New York City neighborhoods, but we can close those gaps," said Dr. Andrew Goodman, associate commissioner of the East and Central Harlem District public health office, a division of the health department.

In addition, one in six restaurants in Harlem is a fast-food joint. All this adds up to serious health problems for neighborhood residents, who are three to four times more likely to be obese or have diabetes than people who live on the Upper East Side, Goodman said.
Most of the news on this topic seems to be just about blowing a lot of hot air and not really doing anything to fix the problem.

Diabetes Risk: Cereal Good, Veggies Not?

Okay, I have to admit. This article made me say, “Henh?” According to new research cereal fiber and magnesium can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but, fruits and vegetables don’t. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Reuters reports:
The findings stem from an analysis performed by Dr. Matthias B. Schulze and colleagues from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Nuthetal. The study involved over 25,000 adults, between 35 and 65 years of age, who were followed from 1994 to 2005 for diabetes. A food-frequency questionnaire was used to assess the participants for the amounts of dietary fiber and magnesium.

During follow-up, 844 subjects developed type 2 diabetes, the report indicates. Compared with the subjects with the lowest cereal fiber intake, those with the highest intake had a 28-percent reduction in diabetes risk.

Fruit and vegetable fiber intake, by contrast, did not affect the risk. Magnesium intake also showed no effect in this study.
Obviously this flies in the face of a lot of the things we discuss here on Followhealthlife. So for rebuttal, I decided to call in heavy reinforcements. Here’s what Dr. Fuhrman had to say about this study:
The reason for the findings is a huge variance in the amount of whole grain fibers consumed from none to a significant amount. This does make a big difference, especially since people who do not consume whole grains generally live on sugar and white flour. But since the level of vegetable consumption in the highest quintile was still relatively low by our standards there was not really a representative group with a high consumption of green vegetables.

So all this means is that whole grains are better than refined grains and that that change in a person's diet has a major implication for diabetic causation and treatment. It does not mean that green vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are not likewise protective because the population tested still did not eat much of these foods.

Type 1 Diabetes: What to Do?

We talk a lot about Type 2 Diabetes here on Followhealthlife, but what about Type 1? What about all those young children diagnosed with the chronic disease everyday? Stephanie Dunnewind of The Seattle Times tells the tale of one such child. Meet 4 ½-year old Kyle Hughes:
There's no easy time to be diagnosed with diabetes — kids deal with school issues; teens can be rebellious risk-takers — but toddlers rank up there as the most challenging. It's nearly impossible to reason with them, and they can barely talk.

Kyle ended up at Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center when his pediatrician diagnosed diabetes at his 18-month checkup. Christy slept over every night during his weeklong stay. They got a crash course in needles, drugs, meters and all the terrible things that can go wrong.

With no family history of the autoimmune disease, "It's not something I ever expected to know about," Christy Hughes [Kyle’s mom] said.

In the hospital, it took two people to give Kyle his shots. "You sweat, your hands shake — you don't want to do it," Christy said. "Unfortunately, to keep your child alive, you have to do it."

Even when they got home and Kyle stoically accepted the "pokes" — rotated around the fatty areas of his legs, bottom and upper arm to avoid scar tissue — "Every time I'd give him a shot, I'd walk away to cry," Christy said.

"Diabetes makes you feel helpless as a parent," Kurt said. "All day long, you're taking guesses."
Seems unfair, doesn’t it? But good thing for Kyle, his parents are definitely proactive—and that’s what it takes. Now, even though Dr. Fuhrman admits a person with Type 1 Diabetes will never stop taking insulin completely, he insists there is still a lot you can do. From Hope for Type 1 Childhood Onset Diabetics:
I find that when type 1 diabetics adopt the ETL program, they can lower their insulin requirements by about half. They no longer have swings of highs and lows, and their glucose levels and lipids stay under excellent control. In other words, it is not Type 1 diabetes itself that causes such negative health consequences. Rather, it is the combination of the diabetes and the typical nutritional “advice” given to these patients—advice that requires them to take large amounts of unnecessary insulin.

The extra insulin and the high glucose levels raise lipids, accelerate atherosclerosis, and damage the body. With this in mind, it should be clear that while the Standard American Diet (SAD), which has spread to all industrialized nations, is dangerous for everyone, it is particularly deadly for diabetics.

With a truly health-supporting lifestyle, including exercise and real food designed by nature, the type 1 diabetic can have the same potential for a long, disease-free life as everyone else. Even though the type 1 diabetic still will require exogenous (external) insulin, they will no longer need excessive amounts of it.