Cutting Back on Coffee Sitrep One

I know it’s only been a few days, but I must say cutting back on coffee has not been as bad as I thought it would be. Last week, and for years before that, I was averaging four or five cups a day.

Big deal you might say. Well, these weren’t normal cups. They were either 20 or 16 ounce mugs. These were massive coffees. So it was more like ten or twelve cups a day.

Over the last three days, I’ve gone down to two or three big cups. Yesterday, I had my last coffee a little after 3:00pm. Today, two o’clock will be the cut-off time.

I have to say, my sleep is improving, and I’m not desperate for caffeine. By this time next week, I’ll be down to one coffee a day.

That will be the next situation report.

Roasted Nut Butter

This recipe was inspired by Martina Slajerova, the author of the Keto Diet Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • Almonds – three cups
  • Macadamia Nuts – three cups
  • Roasted Coconut Flakes – one cup
  • Generous pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  • Roast the almonds and macadamia nuts in the oven at 175 °C for ten or fifteen minutes. Do not let the nuts become too brown.
  • Let the nuts cool.
  • Throw everything into a food processor.
  • Blitz the hell out of it until you have butter.
  • Chef tip: I tend to do this in 30 second pulses. I’ll stop the processor and take a spoon to push the nuts away from the edges. It takes about five or ten minutes to turn the ingredients into a butter.

Research – Stem Cells for Pancreas Repair?

This may sound bizarre, but I enjoy fighting diabetes through diet and exercise. I look forward to checking my blood glucose in the morning. I look forward to finding new ways to lower my readings. I look forward to finding new recipes and products that let me have the best of both worlds.

That said, if I could have a fully functioning pancreas and live paleo/keto, I would. I’m doing pretty much all I can to maximise my physical health; a properly functioning endocrine system would maximise it further. My chances of dying from cancer, stroke, heart attack, etc. would all go down.

Stem Cells Research Showing Way To The Future of Healing ...

Such a scenario is for the land of make-believe, right? Maybe not. Scientists seem to be making significant progress in developing stem cells that can regenerate the pancreas’s ability to make insulin secreting beta cells. Earlier this year, scientists were able to use beta cells to reverse Type-1 diabetes in mice.

For those who are interested in this potential game-changer, you may wish to check out the Diabetes Program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute:

Diabetes Program

Our goal is to cure diabetes. To do that, we are working on ways to create beta cells efficiently, and to protect them from attack by the immune system.

What we are investigating

Our researchers have discovered how to reprogram adult and embryonic cells into new beta cells. Now, they are exploring how these beta cells can be effectively transplanted into patients, without being rejected. HSCI researchers are also investigating:

  • How and why the immune attack on beta cells in type 1 diabetes begins.
  • Why some cells survive.
  • Why these cells can’t replenish themselves in type 2 diabetes.
  • What keeps the battles going.

This work dovetails with the goal of many HSCI researchers, who are seeking to identify “universal donor” cells.

The site can be found here:

https://hsci.harvard.edu/diabetes-program

Zinc: Immunity Boost

Why Investors Should Be Thinking Zinc Stocks Right Now

Zinc popped up on the internet radar during the height of the Covid hysteria in March and April. It went viral when Dr Vladimir “Zev” Zelenko touted it as a highly effective treatment for Corona when used with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of the above treatment, what is a fact is that zinc is essential to the body. It exists in almost all cells and is required for the activity of over 300 enzymes. Since its discovery in 1869, scientists have determined that zinc is essential to all life on the planet.

Zinc deficiency increases the chance of death. This study deals with children from poor countries, but it is obvious that anyone who is deficient in zinc is putting himself at risk for increased infection or disease. Of course, diabetics tend to be more at risk for infection and disease anyways, so being low in zinc is unacceptable for me.

What Does Zinc Do?

When someone has an infection, zinc produces proteins that help the body’s immune response. But zinc is also brought to the area of infection. Once the infection is fought off, zinc stops the protein production. It acts as a sort of on/off switch. The body’s immune response to infection is inflammation (this is good inflammation); however, if one has a zinc deficiency, the inflammation does not go away once the infection is beaten. The on/off switch doesn’t work. A lack of zinc makes the immune response break down. Don’t believe me? You can read more here and here and here.

Zinc Rich Foods

Our bodies cannot store zinc, so we must ingest it regularly. Here is a list of zinc rich foods that paleos can eat:

  • Red meat
  • Shellfish
  • Seeds (hemp, pumpkin, squash and sesame)
  • Nuts (pine, almonds, cashews)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Eggs
  • Dark chocolate

Supplement

Given how important zinc is, I err on the side of caution and take 10 or 20mg a day as a supplement.

Bitter Melon (aka Karela): Blood Glucose Control

Look ugly, taste worse

I take a lot of supplements, some for general health and others to improve me blood glucose levels. One supplement I’ve had some success with is bitter melon which is also known as karela or bitter gourd.

There are a lot of lists out there touting all kinds of benefits that come with eating bitter melon. I’m going to stick with blood glucose management in this post.

Now I say this is a supplement because it is rather difficult to get the fruit here in the UK. I’ve had limited success getting it delivered online. Unless you live in a reasonably large city with a Chinese, Indian or Pakistani community, you’re going to have trouble finding this as a fresh fruit. I can’t speak for North America, but I’m guessing the same rule applies.

Bitter melon has been used in the Far East for ages to treat diabetes. Scientific research demonstrates that the fruit has some properties that help control blood glucose levels. In particular, polypeptide-p, charantin, and vicine all have positive effects on blood glucose levels.

Polypeptide-p seems to function as an insulin mimetic (mimic). Charantin and vicine also act as hypoglycaemic agents but it is not wholly clear how or why this occurs. One study argues that bitter melon is acting on several levels within the body to lower blood glucose:

Different mechanisms contribute to the antidiabetic activities of M. charantia [bitter melon], these include increasing pancreatic insulin secretion, decreasing insulin resistance and increasing peripheral and skeletal muscle cell glucose utilization, inhibition of intestinal glucose absorption and suppressing of key enzymes in the gluconeogenic pathways.

The studies linked above also suggest that bitter melon may repair beta-cells or help the pancreas create more. Now that’s exciting.

It’s near impossible to get bitter melon fresh where I live. This is a shame because when I have had it fresh, I’ve enjoyed a considerable drop in blood glucose levels. I tried taking it as a juice, but I did not experience the same hypoglycaemic effects, and I was not impressed with the quality of the long-last juices coming from India. They are also exorbitantly expensive. I’ve had to settle with tablets. There is still a slight hypoglycaemic effect.

Conclusion

Bitter melon does appear to have proven hypoglycaemic effects when eaten fresh or juiced. Long-last juice which has been pasteurised did not have a significant effect on my blood glucose. I have settled on supplements on tablet form which, when combined with my metformin and other supplements, has a marginal but not inconsequential effect on my blood glucose. Since I’m now growing more and more of my own vegetables, I’m going to buy some karela seeds and try growing them in my sun room. I hope to have something to report in the next couple of months on the effects of fresh bitter melon.

Getting Enough Sleep

When Napoleon Bonaparte was asked how many hours sleep people need, he is said to have replied: “Six for a man, seven for a woman, eight for a fool.”

It would seem I fit somewhere in the woman to fool range according to the Little Corsican.

For as long as I remember, I have needed at least seven hours sleep to function well during the day, eight is ideal. Anything less than and I’m groggy, moody and headachy. Most people are the same. Sure, there are some supermen out there who famously got by with four hours sleep or less: Napoleon, Thatcher, Churchill to name a few. Bully for them!

For the rest of us mortals a good night’s sleep is mandatory. What I find fascinating is the research arguing just how important sleep is for our overall health. Sleep is something so mundane that I never gave it much thought until relatively recently.

Studies suggest that deep sleep lowers the body’s glucose levels, increases human growth hormone (HGH) and lowers cortisol production. Thus, sleep is essential in glucose regulation.

In contrast, poor sleep patterns can lead to increased blood glucose levels. The linked study focuses on black Americans, but it cites previous studies that had similar findings for Europeans and Asians.

Here’s a key takeaway from the study:

In addition to studying sleep apnea, the researchers found that participants who experienced other types of disturbed sleep—including sleep fragmentation and sleep duration variability—were also more likely to have increased measures of blood glucose.  The associations between disturbed sleep and high blood glucose levels were stronger in participants with diabetes compared to those without diabetes, the researchers said. In those without diabetes, disturbed sleep was also associated with increased insulin resistance.

I’ve typically been a good sleeper, and I’ve improved in this respect since giving up booze. I think all readers know the sleep one gets after three glasses of wine or four pints of ale. You’re not exactly drunk, but you’re not sober either. For me, the sleep that comes with that kind of drinking was horrible: restless and never deep.

Conclusion

I work a lot harder now to sleep well especially during the work week. I have my last coffee at around five, and it’s lights out at 11:00pm if not earlier. That way, I always have my guaranteed seven hours.

By the way, what got me really interested in sleep was a conversation Joe Rogan had with sleep expert Professor Matthew Walker. It’s really worth a watch:

Fighting Inflammation – Foods I Eat

20 Ways to Fight Inflammation | Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance

Inflammation is a killer:

Chronic Inflammation Is The Silent Killer Of Men

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/chronic-inflammation-is-a-silent-killer-of-men_b_590cef7ce4b056aa2363d4ec

http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20040223,00.html

This tells you how far behind the times I was. Time Magazine was writing about this in 2004! Oh if only I had a time machine.

One of the worst things that poor blood control can lead to is chronic inflammation. Readers will know I work hard to keep my blood glucose levels in a tight range. I also believe in regular fasting which can fight inflammation and promote ketosis and autophagy.

I also take a variety of supplements that have purported anti-inflammatory benefits.

Moreover, there are certain foods I avoid like the plague.

Yet, as important as the above measures are, I believe it is important to eat foods that will not raise my blood glucose and fight inflammation.

These are my mainstays:

  • Grass fed beef
  • Roast chicken with skin
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Egg yolks
  • Lamb
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Rocket
  • Dandelions
  • Cos lettuce
  • Garlic
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • 90% Dark chocolate and above
  • Cheese – cheddar, parmesan and Red Leicester
  • Full fat cream

According to recent research the only food above that may be mildly inflammatory is the beef. However, the linked study does not say what kind of beef? Grass fed? Grain fed? My view is that grass fed beef is a healthy option in moderation.

As an aside, one of the really inflammatory foods pointed out in the above study is bacon due to the amount of nitrates. I think I’ll have to reconsider this as a treat. Fortunately, there is a non-nitrate bacon on the market.

Conclusion

Diabetics are more susceptible to inflammation. Anything that can help lower the inflammation load, whilst keeping blood glucose down, is crucial for optimal health. That means that my diet needs to be reasonably limited. That said, the above list shows that with some creativity anyone following the paleo/keto lifestyle, even one as strict as mine, can enjoy a varied diet.

Cinnamon

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Cinnamon is a wonderful spice. When I make my homemade apple sauce for my better half, I put tons in. Not bad for tree bark. Those of a certain age will remember that Jerry Seinfeld is big on the cinnamon too:

Another Babka?

But it’s not just the taste that makes cinnamon so great in puddings (desserts) and stews, it also has many potential health benefits for diabetics and non-diabetics alike:

  • It’s full of antioxidants like polyphenols
  • Purported anti-inflammatory properties
  • Improves circulation
  • May improve insulin sensitivity
  • May lower blood glucose
  • May have anti-cancer properties
  • May help prevent cognitive degeneration
  • Cinnamon is an antifungal and antibacterial

Personal Experience

Of course, most of the above benefits can’t really be felt or observed on an individual level. Blood glucose is the only real exception here. My experience, and I’ve been taking cinnamon for years, is that it has a marginally positive effect on my blood glucose levels. In my case, we’re talking about a few decimal points being knocked off the mmol/L. I suspect it has a positive effect on my blood pressure too, but again, I can’t prove this. The last time I took my blood pressure it was 115/75 with 55 bpm. Not bad for a 45 year old diabetic. Of course, my healthy lifestyle is going to be the main cause of my solid blood pressure.

True Cinnamon v Cassia

There are two types of cinnamon commonly sold. Ceylon or true cinnamon and cassia cinnamon. The latter contains high amounts of coumarin which is believed to be harmful in high quantities. I stick with Ceylon cinnamon.

Conclusion

Like with a lot of spices, there has been limited research conducted with cinnamon. Of course, there are many scientists who will pooh pooh cinnamon and deride it as folk medicine or whatnot. For me, it is a no brainer. As long as it’s true cinnamon, I see no harm and only potential upsides here. If it has not effect, then I’m wasting about ten or fifteen pounds a year. Big deal.

Paleo Treats – Chocolate Review

I mentioned yesterday that I give all keto bars a pass. If I want a treat, I just head for good dark chocolate.

There are several reasons for this.

  • It tastes good
  • It’s very high in fat so it promotes satiation
  • Dark chocolate is not full of rubbish ingredients
  • Really dark chocolate, 85% cacao and above, is reasonably low in carbs
  • It’s full of antioxidants
  • It contains phytonutrients called flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory
  • It contains theobromine which can help fight inflammation

There are several sites that claim dark chocolate may fight cancer, may help with mental cognition, may help blood sugar levels, etc. I can attest that the latter claim is completely untrue for me. As I’ve written before, I can only have a square a day or dark chocolate will raise my blood glucose. My view of these claims concerning cancer et al. is that it is too early to tell. There has not been enough research carried out yet.

So for me, if I want a treat, it’s a square of really dark chocolate with a cup of coffee. These are my five favourite dark chocolates.

Lindt Excellence Dark 90%

Lindt Excellence Dark 90% Bar 100g

This bar has a wonderful taste, and it always surprises me how smooth it is in my mouth. It does not have much bitterness and has a great smack of vanilla too.

When you think of all the rubbish that goes into most keto bars, it is comforting to know that big companies can still make very good products with only a few ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Low Fat Cocoa Powder, Sugar, Vanilla, Cocoa Solids: 90% minimum.

Montezuma 100%

Absolute Black -100% Dark Chocolate Bar

Not for the faint of heart. If you’re not used to dark chocolate, this probably is not the one to start with. That said, this is the smoothest 100% cacao chocolate I have every tasted. It is also very reasonably priced. Ingredients: 100% cacao.

Green and Blacks Dark 85% Organic

I don’t have this one very often because of the higher sugar content. Also, I can’t trust myself when it’s in the house. Dark chocolate is a bit like wine with the different tasting notes and the uniqueness of different grapes. It’s the same thing when I take a bite of this chocolate. It is unique and delicious.

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Fat-Reduced Cocoa Powder, Raw Cane Sugar, Vanilla Extract.

Willie’s Cacao Dark Chocolate San Agustin 88 Colombia

This is another one I can’t be trusted with. It’s like it says on the box: dark cherry notes. I love this chocolate and the strong hint of cherries really makes this one unique. If I have this in the house, it disappears. It’s a bit pricey though.

Ingredients: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, raw cane sugar

Lidl 95% Cacao

Chocolat noir en vente, Produits alimentaires - Fan de Lidl FR

Don’t try finding this one outside of Lidl. J.D. Gross is a house brand exclusive to the supermarket. Given that this bar is significantly cheaper than all the ones above, I have to say it holds its own in taste. This is my “go to” chocolate at the moment. It tastes good if your used to strong, dark chocolate like I am. There are no big tasting notes here. I just get hit over the head with cacao.

Ingredients: Cocoa Mass, Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder. Cocoa Butter, Sugar.

Turmeric

I’ve been taking this supplement combined with black pepper for years due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The benefits of this spice, largely due to curcumin, has really gone mainstream.

If the Daily Mail is touting it, pretty much everybody is!

What are the potential benefits:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • anti-arthritis
  • improved brain function (maybe)
  • cancer fighter (maybe)
  • fight Alzheimer’s (maybe)
  • helps with depression (maybe)
  • helps prevent Type-2 diabetes (maybe)

Conclusion

The potential benefits of this spice are just too good to pass up for me. There are a lot of scientific studies out there that prove turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. That’s more than enough for me. Does it help with all the “maybes” listed above? Don’t know. Those will be unknown, possible bonuses as far as I’m concerned.

There is one caveat though. A lot of the clinic studies use very high doses of curcumin rather than turmeric. The amount of curcumin in turmeric is actually not that high. Once I’ve exhausted my supply of organic turmeric with organic black pepper, I may go over to curcumin… after some more research of course.