Van's Health Foods

In Historic Downtown Livermore since 1972

In type 2 diabetes compounds from two culinary spices improved glucose measures and control

Cinnamon extract

In this study, 66 type 2 diabetics who were taking an oral insulin-stimulating drug also took an extract of cinnamon or a placebo. There were two doses of cinnamon: 120mg or 360 mg per day. After three months, while there were no changes for placebo, measures of long-term-average blood sugar levels declined 7 percent in the low-dose cinnamon group, and 10 percent in the high-dose cinnamon group, while fasting blood sugar levels declined 11 and 14 percent respectively.

Although participants’ fasting and long-term blood sugar levels remained higher than normal, doctors said it was the polyphenols in the cinnamon extract that significantly increased insulin-dependent glucose metabolism. Cinnamon also appeared to raise beneficial antioxidant activity in type 2 diabetics.


Curcumin from turmeric spice

Lab studies have shown curcuminoids, the active ingredient in turmeric, lowered blood sugar and improved insulin sensitivity by helping to metabolize fatty acids. Elevated fatty acid levels are common in type 2 diabetes and play a role in developing insulin resistance, so lowering free fatty acid levels might reduce chances of and help manage diabetes, doctors said.

In this study, 100 people with type 2 diabetes took 300 mg of curcuminoids per day, or a placebo. After three months, while there were no changes for placebo, the curcuminoids group saw much lower long-term-average blood sugar levels, lower fasting blood sugar levels, and greater sensitivity to insulin, meaning the body was better able to metabolize glucose.

In discussing their findings, doctors said part of the reason curcuminoids lower glucose levels is by helping the body use up excess free fatty acids, removing them from the bloodstream, and lowering total fatty acid levels to safer levels.

Reference: Nutrition Research Journal; 2012, Vol. 32, No. 6, 408-12

From the December 2012 newsletter


Van's Health on January - 17 - 2013
categories: Herbs, Supplements

Selenium is a trace mineral essential to health that binds with proteins to form powerful antioxidant enzymes called selenoproteins. Earlier studies have linked good selenium levels to lower chances for several cancers, but few studies have tested for a link to diabetes, doctors said.

In this study, researchers analyzed the diets of 3,630 women and 3,535 men without diabetes or heart disease at the start of the study. After two years of follow-up, more than one in 10 had developed diabetes, but those with the highest level of selenium–measured in the toenail–were 24 percent less likely to have developed the condition.

Doctors said that adequate levels of selenium could come from a good diet, rich in plant-based foods such as fresh garlic, mushrooms, whole grains, wheat germ, and brewer’s yeast, as well as organ meats, tuna fish, and other seafood. Selenium levels in plant-based foods depend on the amount in soil, which varies across the U.S.

Reference: Diabetes Care; 2012, Vol. 35, No. 7. 1544-51

From the October 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 9 - 2012
categories: Supplements

More fiber, longer lives

Researchers in this large study measured the diets of 452,717 European men and women. After 13 years of follow-up, those who got more fiber in the diet were less likely to have died from any cause overall. Higher-fiber diets protected particularly from circulatory, digestive, non-cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, non-cancer inflammatory diseases and smoking related cancers. People got the most protection against digestive diseases, which were 40 percent lower in the high-fiber group. Overall, for every 10 grams of fiber per day, the chances of dying from any cause were 10 percent lower. Doctors saw the benefit from fruit fiber, with the greatest benefit from fiber in cereals and vegetables.

Low-fat, high-fiber diets improve health later in life

The Western diet is high in total and saturated fats, and in refined grains, which raises the chances for metabolic syndrome, doctors said. In this study, doctors followed up on 230 women, aged 25 to 29, who had participated in a diet study nine years earlier. The diet limited fats to 28 percent of total calories, and encouraged participants to eat more fiber through whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Some of the women ate a normal Western diet.

While none had metabolic syndrome, women in the Western diet group had average systolic blood pressure of 110.0 mmHg compared to 107.7 for the low-fat, high-fiber group. Also, women on the Western diet had fasting blood sugar levels of 89.1 mg/dL compared to 87.0 for the low-fat, high-fiber group. Doctors concluded a lower-fat, higher-fiber diet may help control blood pressure and sugar long-term.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; May, 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the October 2012 newsletter


Van's Health on November - 28 - 2012
categories: Healthy Eating

Cinnamon helps control blood sugar

Doctors said that there are few human studies on the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar, but that earlier animal studies suggest cinnamon may lower blood sugar by slowing absorption through the intestine, or stimulating cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream. Researchers reviewed six cinnamon studies involving 435 men and women who took from 1 to 6 grams of cinnamon per day for 40 to 120 days. On average over the various study periods, long-term blood sugar levels dropped 0.1 percent, and fasting blood sugar levels dropped 0.84 micromoles per liter of blood. Doctors think that cinnamon may help diabetics control blood sugar and urge more study.

Vitamin C reduces oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes

Even if diabetics successfully control blood sugar, complications will still occur due to oxidative damage to cells from free radicals, doctors said. In this study, 30 men and women, aged 30 to 65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for at least one year, took 1,000 mg of the antioxidant vitamin C per day, or a placebo. All were controlling blood sugar with oral medication, were non-smokers, had no vascular or inflammatory disease, and were not being treated for high cholesterol, or taking hormone replacement therapy, beta blockers, diuretics, or aspirin. After six weeks, while the placebo group had not improved, those who had taken vitamin C had significantly lower levels of oxidative stress both after fasting and after a meal. Discussing their findings, doctors said vitamin C may be a safe, inexpensive way to reduce complications from type 2 diabetes.

Reference: Clinical Nutrition; May 2012, Electronic Prepublication

From the September 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on November - 16 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

In earlier studies, recipes using flax had lower glycemic index scores than recipes without flax, leading doctors to test flax in type 2 diabetes. In the study, 29 people with type 2 diabetes took 10 grams of flax seed powder per day, or a placebo. After one month, compared to the start of the study, while the placebo group had not changed, those who took flax seed powder had 20 percent lower fasting blood sugar, and 16 percent lower long-term blood sugar levels; 14 percent lower total fat levels, 18 percent lower LDL–the “bad” cholesterol–and a 12 percent increase in HDL–the “good” cholesterol.


Reference: Journal of Dietary Supplements; 2011, Vol. 8, No. 3, 257-65

From the July 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on August - 11 - 2012
categories: Supplements

Calcium, vitamins D and K in celiac disease.

Children with celiac disease may have weak bones because they don’t absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D. In this study, 43 children aged 3 to 17, with celiac disease, agreed to follow a gluten free diet. At the start, 43 percent were low in vitamin D and 25 percent were low in vitamin K, with a direct link to lower bone mineral density (BMD) scores.

After one year, BMD scores had not changed. One-third of the children were still not getting enough vitamin K on the gluten free diet, and all the children were getting too little calcium and vitamin D. Study authors said children with celiac disease should supplement at least the recommended daily allowance of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin K.


Overweight kids deficient in vitamin D

Doctors in this study compared vitamin D levels in 411 obese kids, aged 6 to 16, to 87 normal-weight kids of the same age. Children told researchers about their daily diets including soda, juice, fruit and vegetables, as well as how often they skipped breakfast. Half of the obese children were deficient in vitamin D, compared to 22 percent of normal-weight kids, and 92 percent were low in vitamin D, compared to 68 percent for normal-weight kids. The more kids skipped breakfast, drank soda, and fruit juice, the lower the levels of vitamin D.

Obese kids were also more likely to show signs of insulin resistance, and doctors said that while this study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, they suspect low vitamin D levels may play a role in developing type 2 diabetes.

Reference: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism; 2012, Vol. 97, No. 1, 279-85

From the April 2012 newsletter

Van's Health on May - 24 - 2012
categories: Supplements, Vitamins

Creatine and exercise improved blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes

Creatine helps the body use energy efficiently, and in this study 25 obese participants with type 2 diabetes, aged at least 45 and physically inactive for at least one year, took 5 grams of creatine per day or a placebo. Everyone also participated in an exercise program three times per week that included treadmill warm-up, resistance and aerobic training, and stretching. After 12 weeks, while there was no change for placebo, the creatine group had much better long-term blood sugar control. Doctors analyzed long-term blood sugar control by measuring hemoglobin A1C, which fell from 7.4 before the study to 6.4 afterwards, a level that is better than those recommended by the American Diabetes Association or the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

Reference: Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; 2011, Vol. 43, No. 5, 770-8

From the October 2011 newsletter

Van's Health on December - 19 - 2011
categories: Supplements