Tai Chi Lowers Blood Sugar Levels, Research Finds

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

A 12-week program of Tai chi resulted in a drop in the insulin levels of 30 people with type 2 diabetes, according to new research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

In addition, another study, conducted in Australia and also published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that 11 people who followed a 12-week program of Tai chi and Qi Gong saw their BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure, and blood sugar and insulin resistance levels improve.

Unlike many types of exercise, Tai chi isn’t hard on the joints and muscles, says practitioner Bruce Frantzis, who tipped us to these studies, on his Energy Arts website.

So it sounds like Tai chi would be great exercise for diabetics who are either elderly or extremely heavy — or for any person, for that matter.

Sign me up.

You’ve Got Diabetes, Better Lose Weight…

From Gerry Pugliese for Connie’s SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Losing weight is pretty much always a good idea—okay, maybe not if you’re starving, but definitely if you’ve got diabetes. And now a new study in Diabetes Care claims that slimming down after you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes pays big dividends.

"If you lose weight after diagnosis, you can achieve some long-term benefits in terms of blood pressure and glycemic control that extend even beyond the point at which you regain weight," Gregory A. Nichols, PhD., an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, told Amanda Gardner of HealthDay News.

The study followed 2,574 patients—ages 21 through 75—who had been recently diagnosed with type-2 diabetes over four years. About 12% of the people studied were in the "weight loss" group and peeled off an average of 25 pounds.

Even though most participants regained the weight, they were still able achieve favorable blood pressure and blood sugar levels by the fourth year. This lead Dr. Nichols to reach this conclusion: "Losing weight is a good idea, even if you regain it."

Not sure I’d agree with that. I think losing weight and keeping it off is a much better — and healthier — idea, but this encouraging nonetheless.

Diabetes: Could Sugar-Sweetened Fruit Juice Raise Your Risk Even More than Soda?

From Jennifer Moore for Connie’s SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

A new study suggests that sugar-sweetened fruit juices are absolutely not good alternatives to soda.

Julie Palmer, ScD, M.PH. and her colleagues from Boston University report in the Archives of Internal Medicine that African-American women who drank two or more sugar-sweetened fruit drinks per day had a 31% greater incidence of diabetes than those who consumed less than one a month. (Grapefruit and orange juices, however, weren’t linked to greater rates of diabetes amongst study subjects.)

That’s probably not news to most people, but this finding might be: African-American women who drank two or more non-diet sodas daily had a 24% greater incidence of diabetes over those who indulged less than once a month. 

Does this mean that as far as diabetes risk goes, most sugar-sweetened fruit drinks are even worse for you than sweetened soda, which is certainly unhealthy in its own right? Or did the juice drinkers in the study consume more juice than the soda drinkers drank soda?

Either way, this is important research to combat claims that fruit juice is healthy, particularly since it’s so often marketed that way to kids and their parents. (Click this website from the juice lobby (Juice Products Association) to see what I mean.)

And anyway, if you really prefer your fruits in juice form, why not buy yourself a juicer and make some at home with fresh fruits and no added sugar? Or, better yet, juice some green veggies.

Thanks to Michael Conlon at Reuters for his report on this new study.

Exercise More, Two Studies Urge

Researchers determined that those participants who walked for an extra 45 minutes each day burned more fat, thereby increasing their muscle’s ability to store sugar and help control their diabetes.

And another study, this one in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests current exercise guidelines—2.5 hours per week—may not be enough to help keep weight off.

John Jakicic, PhD., an associate professor and chairman of the Department of Health and Physical Activity, and his team at the University of Pittsburgh found that participants in their study benefited from an extra hour of exercise each day. What’s more, increased exercise more made it easier for them to commit to a healthy diet.

"There is a growing consensus that more exercise may be necessary to enhance long-term weight loss," Dr. Jakicic told Michael Kahn.

Exercise is like money, you can never get an enough of it! Now, if you’re looking to step up your own workout. Consider taking the 100 Pushup challenge!

From Gerry Pugliese for the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

For a lot of people walking is what they do to get them from the couch to the refrigerator, but a new study in the journal of Diabetes Care claims walking a little more each day can help people control their type 2 diabetes.

"People often find the thought of going to the gym quite daunting, but what we’ve found is that nearly everyone with diabetes is able to become more active through walking," Dr. Michael Trenell, PhD., a Diabetes U.K. R.D. Lawrence Fellow, of Britain’s Newcastle University told Michael Kahn of Reuters.

More Kids Taking Drugs to Combat Obesity-Related Illnesses, Analyses Say

From Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

This SUGAR SHOCK! Blog recently posted on the startling new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids as young as eight be treated with statins to control high cholesterol.

Now, Stephanie Saul of the New York Times tells us of data from three organizations showing that the number of children taking drugs intended for adults is on the rise.

Childhood obesity accounts for much of this unfortunate phenomenon. For example, according to an analysis by Medco Solutions, a pharmacy benefit management firm, the number of American kids taking oral diabetes medications spiked an amazing 150% between 2001 and 2007. (Goodness, that’s awful.)

Times reporter Saul also reports that pharmacy benefit management company Express Scripts finds an increase of 15% of drugs to reduce cholesterol and other blood fat levels in children, while health care data company Verispan reveals a 13% increase in high blood pressure drug prescriptions in youth under 19 from 2005 to 2007.

The thought of children taking adult drugs to fight conditions due to obesity both alarms and saddens me. For starters, how do we know that these powerful medications are even safe for such young bodies? Sounds outrageous.

But an anecdote in Saul’s story told by Francine Kaufman, M.D., of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to a recent Senate subcommittee hearing on childhood obesity makes the impulse to resort to such measures more understandable. Dr. Kaufman told the tale of a 13-year-old girl whose weight exploded to 267 pounds.

“To control her high blood sugar level, her high blood pressure, and her high cholesterol, this young girl left my office with five medications,” Dr. Kaufman said, according to Saul.

Dr. Kaufman also said that lifestyle changes are the first line of defense but don’t always work; some of her patients live in poor areas without access to healthy foods in grocery stores and many attend schools that don’t provide physical education for their students.

This all points out how critical it is that we work our hardest to prevent childhood obesity. This also illustrates how badly we’ve failed to do that so far. Adults everywhere, from parents up to the highest levels of government need to wake up now, because our kids are paying a very high price for that failure.

Type 2 Diabetes: Men, It’s Harder to Prevent The Disease

From Gerry Pugliese for Connie Bennett’s SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Men and women are different, even when it comes to diabetes risk. A new study in the journal of Diabetes Care claims that men may need to work even harder than women to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Leigh Perreault, M.D., assistant professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Aurora, Colorado, and her team assessed the type 2 diabetes risk of more than 1,100 adults.

According to Reuters, the group of men and women that were placed on an "intensive" regimen of calorie-cutting and exercise were 58 percent less likely to develop diabetes over the next year than the group on standard lifestyle advice.

However, the study did reveal that even though men exercised more and lost more weight than women, men saw no more benefit than women when it came to diabetes risk.

And they say that a woman’s work is never done!