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Healthy Weight Management

Dear RG,

First off, don't feel you didn't keep your resolutions. You lost weight in January and continue to try, so don't beat yourself up. Consider that stress can ruin any programs, including one of self-commitment.

If you stay focused on your goal, you stand a greater chance of succeeding, and by writing, you show you are dedicated to working on your program.

Our society is so focused on weight goals as an appearance matter and I support that if it is a healthy incentive. However, losing weight simply to look good may not be your best reason. Rather, you might consider maintaining a HEALTHY weight as a goal.

In your letter, you mention a difficult diet. Perhaps it is not the right diet for you. Diet programs that are difficult and bring no pleasure to eating should never be considered. A dietary program should not be a punishment, only a guideline for self-control. There are many diets that fail because they take away the simple joy of eating, or are too restrictive for today's lifestyle. Before I discuss diets as a concept, I think we should never be on a diet, per se. I think, instead that we should develop dietary habits that will serve us well all the time.

While I believe many diets can work, I don't view them as the end-all of weight management and tend not to use one particular diet plan in my practice. I enjoy helping people by catering a diet plan to their specific needs and physiology. I am happy to counsel you on a diet plan that will help you in particular, simply contact me at the Wellness Store for more information or to set up an appointment for counseling.

Exercise is Crucial to Weight Management

Before discussing diet, let me suggest to you that exercise, which is only briefly mentioned in your letter, is perhaps more important than sticking to a diet plan. I attended a nutritional seminar on weight management this winter, and the only words written on the board during the initial speech were "cardiovascular exercise."

The speaker, a nutritionally oriented physician, related that any diet is destined to fail without a larger influence placed on exercise that increased heart rate. By exercising, you are burning fuel, which is what excess weight should be considered. There is a simple dictum that says, "You must burn more calories each day than you bring in." I know it is not as easy as that, but it does highlight the crucial role that exercise plays in your health regimen.

Cardiovascular exercise can include a multitude of various regimens, including walking, running, aerobics, pilates, yoga, martial arts, swimming or skiing. Since we are all different in our body types, health conditions and concerns, likes and dislikes, we should each consider the exercise program that we will continue to do! I also include strength training as an important part of an exercise program. BUT…if you can do nothing else, try to get out and take a brisk walk every day. Studies show that a 30- to 45-minute walk each day can do wonders for your heart and can help you immensely in your weight control simply because it helps you to burn calories. Remember, the hardest part of an exercise program is making out the front door! Once you head to work out, it does get easier.

Incidentally, exercise is also good for your brain because it helps to release chemicals that make you feel better: more satisfied. These same chemicals play an important role in causing us to refrain from the desire to feel better…by eating more! When we exercise, we release these important chemicals and feel satisfied, so consider walking after your last meal of the day. You will be less likely to want for sweets and those luring goodies that can tempt us into eating late in the day and causing us to go to bed too full. When that happens, the body stores the calories as…you guessed it, fat!

Healthy Measuring of Weight

There are many practical ways to nutritionally influence weight loss, but before I get into that, let me suggest that the true healthy marker for managing our weight is not by measuring pounds, but by measuring body fat percentage.

Our bones, muscles and fat stores each weigh differently. Muscles, for instance, weigh more than fat does. If we lose weight in our muscles, we lose more pounds, but we are not especially healthier. The goal of a good diet/exercise program is to gain in muscle and definition, to lose fat stores that show both in appearance and as a measure of our body fat percentage. We can lose weight in our muscles but not our fat stores, and this could be unhealthy weight loss. Wasting muscle can occur when we take in fewer calories, do not exercise, and do not influence out percentage of fat. That is why it is very important to exercise while attempting to control your weight.

Body fat is measured by several methods. Machines are now found in most doctor's offices and pharmacies that will measure your weight, your percentage of fat, your water percentage, etc. Getting your body fat tested may give you a much more important marker than any scale can provide.

Common Sense Food Plans

Consider how the diet may play a role in weight management. With so much to consider and so little space, I will briefly touch on subjects to stimulate some ideas of your own. If you need professional help with this, contact me for more information.

Proper health benefits in weight management will not be obtained by eating from a chronic food program, which is perhaps what a diet truly becomes. The old saying, "Variety is the spice of life" is so important when it come to good health and weight management. The body seeks nutrients from your foods and when you feed it the same old thing all the time, it will lose its advantage in taking from a variety of nutrients, fats, proteins and sugars it consumes.

When people diet, they often eat the same foods all the time because they know they are either low in calories or low in fats that can add pounds. This is not good. I suggest to you that, when you try to eat like this, you not only become bored with your diet and no longer look forward to eating, you also deprive your body of the abundance of nutrients, enzymes and nutritious "stuff" that can be found by consuming a lot of different foods.

Rather than focusing on what foods are nutritious and how many calories are in certain foods, let's focus on control of portions. There are so many different types of diets out there in "weight loss land". Some may work for some people, but not others. Others may actually cause you to gain weight because your particular physiology will not benefit from the consumption of foods in the strict protocol. If we focus on portion control, we at least establish guidelines for our meal selection.

Fats, Proteins, Carbohydrates and…Confusion Galore!

We now know from research resulting in diets like Atkin's and Sugar Busters that a fat cell will not develop without a carbohydrate to influence it. This is important when we consider how many carbohydrates we consume in our typical diet. This is obviously very confusing to most people. In fact, the past thirty years of "diet" news are so confusing, as a society we did nothing but gain more weight!

We were told some thirty years ago that fats were bad for us, which prompted most people to move to a high carbohydrate diet, like the Mediterranean diet. So, we started eating a lot of pasta and kept gaining weight for thirty years! As a nation, we are now more obese today than we have ever been and one of the reasons is that we eat WAY too much sugar.

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple sugars can be found in most of the foods that are processed. Complex carbohydrates are found in foods that are less refined or eaten in their natural state. Simple carbohydrates are just like table sugar: thy burn faster, cause the body to create more insulin and are more likely to be converted to fat. Complex carbohydrates, which contain more fiber, are more likely to burn slowly, keep you full longer and less likely to create blood sugar problems and conversion to fat. While this seems like a trivial concern, the truth is that along side the obesity issue we are now faced with, we also have an almost epidemic growth in cases of blood sugar problems, like hyper- and hypoglycemia and diabetes. (For more information about this issue, click here.)

All this consideration regarding carbohydrates can be confusing, but stay with me. If you eat bread that comes from processed flour, it will (for the most part) be a simple carbohydrate food. If you eat bread that is made with whole grains, it likely contains more complex carbohydrates. But, how do you know the difference when you are shopping? One good test when it comes to breads is this: if you drop a loaf of bread that is made with complex carbohydrates on your foot, it will hurt more than if you drop a loaf of Wonder Bread (simple carbohydrate). The more air there is in a particular type of bread, the more sugar it contains. So, buy the heaviest bread you can. If it breaks your foot when you drop it, it is probably a healthy loaf of bread!

To give you an idea how far we have traveled in the excesses of simple carbohydrate, a century ago we consumed six pounds of sugar a year, and today, we consume over sixty pounds! This is not good for us, period. Further, we are eating more pasta and simple grain products that turn to sugar in the body. A sound diet should include fewer portions of simple carbohydrates, not more, as some plans suggest.

Major dietary plans, such as the Atkin's Diet and Sugar Busters, take this into consideration by emphasizing a diet high in protein and fats. However, fat has received such bad press that many are not prepared to indulge in those foods. Fats are not the villains portrayed by the popular press, and Dr. Atkins certainly knows this. The problem, once again, is not fats, it is the type of fat: "good" fats versus "bad" fats.

We get too much "bad" fat from our foods, and they may be a problem, particularly with their involvement in heart disease and cancer. Good sources of fat are found in nuts, flax, avocados, and certain fish. Bad sources of fat include certain red and white meats, processed or hydrogenated oils, and certain sweet products.

Proteins are also an important consideration in the diet. We see more diet plans that feature high protein, low carbohydrate food choices. This is okay, I guess, if you can digest and absorb all your nutrients from this method of eating. Trouble is, many people have a really hard time digesting certain types of proteins. Red meats, white meats, (like pork,) and some types of fish can really be hard to digest. Some beans are really hard to digest. Some people have trouble with certain nuts and seeds, both of which are great protein sources. To me, varieties of protein sources that are flaky in texture or of a plant-based nature are truly the best protein sources available. Examples of this include salmon, halibut, soybeans, tuna, and, of course, protein powders. The important thing to remember is that the body does not need the quantities of protein most of us feed it at each serving. Further, it is so hard to digest large quantities of proteins; we don't get benefit, only trouble, from eating it.

The question arises also about vegetarian diets and how healthy they are regarding weight loss. Many people on this type of diet are often protein deficient and fat deficient, as well as lacking in essential nutrients. I address this in an article below.

So, what and how much do we eat?

While I believe there are positive elements in certain aspects of diet plans, I generally suggest a food plan that is high in complex sugars: that is, foods that are low in processed sugars of all kinds and high in fruits and vegetables that are raw or gently steamed. I also suggest a diet higher in healthful protein sources such as tuna or salmon, nuts and powders. But above all this, I recommend you:

* Do not allow yourself to get hungry. Eat as often through the day as necessary to keep a "healthy" food in your digestive tract. Think about this: we are the only animal (and the most out of shape animal) that has a designated "supper-time". Most animals tend to eat small portions throughout the day to keep their energy intact, without "gorging" themselves on foods. We can learn from nature.

* Become adventurous with your meal plans and try foods that are not a normal part of your diet. Variety is the spice of life; so don't be finicky when it comes to those exotic looking veggies and fruits. As Americans, we are exposed to a wider variety of foods than anywhere else on the planet, yet we tend to eat less variety that most cultures (that are not as obese, I might add.) Give new foods a try, especially the healthy ones. There are now many gourmet and healthy food stores that cater to the tastes of people seeking to remain diet-conscious.

* One of the keys to healthy control of food intake is to reduce your portion size. Try this at home. Cut a template of portion sizes from a paper plate. Trace and cut two holes the size of a deck of playing cards. These will serve as a protein and a vegetable serving. Cut another hole the size of a golf ball. This will serve as a portion of starch, such as potatoes, pasta or rice. If the template fits over your servings, you have effectively reduced your servings to healthy portions.

* Eat slowly. Make your meal an event, rather than a quick occurrence. Don't eat while watching TV, reading, or driving. Instead, relax for a few minutes prior to eating, enjoy each taste of your food and wait 15 minutes before accepting "seconds." This will help your digestion and will diminish your appetite. As your hunger subsides, you may find that you do not require the additional serving.

* At your meals, eat lower calorie foods first, such as soups, salads and vegetables. They will help to fill you. And remember, not all meals need to end in dessert. Fruits are a wise choice for any end to a meal.

* Create a schedule every day for your meals, including snacks. Adhere to the schedule and stay out of the kitchen until you are preparing your meal. While eating out, maintain your portion control. You can always take home a "doggy bag" for your lunch the following day.

* When at work or on the "go", take healthy foods with you and don't keep snacks and sweets around the house or at work. You may establish a discipline that you will only eat sweets when you eat out and keep nothing but fruit around the house.

* It is helpful to keep a journal of your eating and exercise habits, to gauge your progress or… note your shortcomings.

* When trying to lose weight, stay away from foods that do not have nutritional value. Obviously candy is a good example. Another example is coffee. Still another example is sodas, including diet sodas. Even though there may not be calories involved, the body still has to work to digest and search for nutrients. In the case of candy and sodas, the pancreas still has to deal with that sugar and it will convert any excess into fat. Coffee can create the same problem. The best liquid for weight control is water and it can not only keep you healthier, it can fill you and help to keep you full. If you eat from your template and still are hungry, seeking seconds, drink a full glass of water and wait 15 minutes. You may not need the seconds.

Nutritional Supplements and Weight Management

As with diet plans, there are literally thousands of nutritional supplement programs that blanket the airwaves and Internet search engines. (You may have found my site this way!)

Nutritional products vary greatly in quality and in what can do to help with weight management. Just as there are different reasons people gain weight, there are different body functions that must be affected to reduce it. You may have a problem with weight as a result of cravings. You may have a problem due to poor sugar or fat metabolism. You may even have a problem because you don't burn enough calories and have a sluggish energy metabolism, due to an improperly working thyroid. (For more information on thyroid disorders, click here.)

For these reasons, it is good to seek counsel about your situation before starting a supplement program. Further, your medications may interact with certain products OR your health condition may limit what products you can safely take. The ongoing dangers associated with the herb ephedra clearly point this out. I would, therefore, suggest you consider calling me for counsel. I am happy to help you discover your source of weight problems and help you decide what products may most effectively help you. That being said, here are some guidelines to consider:

FAT INTAKE - Reducing bad fats and consuming good fats will help, especially when supplemented with an essential fatty acid formula, to optimize the delivery of "good" fats. I also place most of my patients on a multivitamin and antioxidant program with the essential fatty acids, to try to increase energy and nutritional support for the process of weight management. I have seen good results from this. A lot of people benefit from this basic nutritional regimen, if for no other reason than the added energy they may feel from the supplemental nutrition.

SUGAR INTAKE - Our body, since the times of the cavemen, has known that foods often don't come on a timely basis. The body is always in a survival mode and will seek to store food sources by keeping them stored in the fat tissues. When we have too much glucose in our system, from eating too many carbohydrates, the liver knows to convert the sugar to fat, so it can be stored.

Two supplement ingredients are especially good to try if this is the problem. The first is the trace mineral Chromium. Since the use of Chromium is closely tied to blood sugar, it is important to learn all you can about it. The little amounts the body needs suggest that we are rarely deficient in the mineral, but there are studies that show people that have glycemic conditions do have deficiencies of Chromium. To learn more about chromium, read the article below.

The other product that may help the body with weight due to too much sugar is a botanical product, known as garcinia cambogia. (It is also marketed under the name of CitriMax or HydroxyCitric Acid [HCA]). Essentially, what this herb does is block the enzyme that stimulates the conversion of glucose into fat. It is known as a thermogenic herb, as it tends to heat up the system and allow the carbohydrates to be utilized, rather than stored. Many people have safely used this product and have seen varying amounts of results.

CRAVING PROBLEMS - The brain plays both a positive and a negative role in weight management. Because we all have cravings, it can be helpful to feed the brain nutrients that will help to quell these cravings, particularly for sugar. Several amino acids can help with this process. The amino acid L-Carnitine is an excellent nutrient to consider for weight loss, as it helps to increase our power to use our foods for energy purposes. It is also very protective of our cells and heart. Click here for products that are catered to this understanding.

FAT BLOCKERS - Sometimes we can't help it; we eat a meal high in fats that we just don't want to absorb. Natural fat blockers have been designed to help with this. These products usually contain a product known as Chitosan. This derivative of shellfish will serve as a sort of sponge, to bind with fat and allow the body to eliminate it. A word of warning: This product will also bind with fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E and CoEnzyme Q10. Make sure to take it apart from your multivitamin or supplements that contain fat-soluble nutrients.

With all the information available regarding weight loss products, it is good to know there is an objective place to go or call that can help you with your individualized program. I am happy to offer counseling about you diet, exercise program, medications and supplements that will allow you to make safe choices in your weight management program. Contact me to set up an appointment to consider how you can establish your own program that doesn't include boring diets, poor choice in products or inferior information. My first concern is your health; it is not selling products. Contact me for an appointment today and spend the rest of your life looking good, feeling good and feeling empowered with a dietary program that suits you!

Don't consider that you are on a diet; rather decide you are choosing to eat properly. That way there is no failure attached to falling off the program. Don't beat yourself up if you "cheat" or "fail". This will likely do more harm than good. And don't rationalize that your failure is a good excuse to continue indulging. Just get back on your program.

Keep a positive attitude about your new and healthier lifestyle and maintain a positive self-image. Love yourself as you are and visualize who you wish to be. You will get there! Thanks for writing!

Questions about Health?
Ask "Mike"
For Consultation with Jerry "Michael" Casso R.Ph.
Phone: (504) 888-3077

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Diabetes

Dear Mike,

My father was recently diagnosed with diabetes and I am now wondering just how common this is in old people. Also, is it more likely that I will get it now? Do you have any nutritional tips, outside the diet I was given for him?

VF, Metairie

Dear VF,

To answer your first question, we have more diabetes in this country than ever before. In 1998 there were 16 million people with diabetes and the annual rate of newly diagnosed patients hovers around a million. Not only the elderly are susceptible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 1990-1998 the greatest rise occurred in people ages 30-39, an increase of 70%! Other statistics noted are just as staggering and surprising.

Once thought to be a disease of the overweight, the figures from the same time period suggest that a higher percentage of new cases occurred in those of normal or slightly increased weight.

It is not a disease of the undereducated, either. The increase in those who had been to college was twice as great as in those with only an elementary or high school education. These figures should alarm all of us!

As the prevalence of diabetes goes up, so does the prevalence of heart disease, stroke, blindness, amputation and kidney failure. In short, diabetes is like a run away train in this country and it is causing collateral damage as it gathers speed!

There are two types of diabetes, Type I and Type II. Type I is rare, affecting 5% of our population. This disease is the result of the pancreas not being able to produce the cells that synthesize and secrete the hormone, insulin. Those with Type I require insulin and this disease occurs primarily in children or young adults.

Insulin is necessary for the balance of blood sugar, or glucose, in our body. We must have glucose to live. The brain uses glucose almost exclusively as its energy source. We now know that the "diabetic dilemma" is simply too much glucose. Type II diabetes is created when the body becomes insensitive to the use of insulin. The pancreas continues to produce the hormone, but it is too weak or does not maintain its proper shape to work properly to channel glucose.

There are factors that contribute to the occurrence of Type II and I count heredity as one of them. Type II is an environmental illness also. By that I mean we can create the disease by establishing a poor environment in which our body is forced to live.

Contributions to this include obesity, poor nutritional choices, inactivity, nutritional deficiencies and stress. Stress is considered the catalyst for the other factors to break down glucose metabolism in the body. Stress increases cortisol, an adrenal hormone. Cortisol promotes the storage of fat and raises blood sugar. This, with the other factors, can bring on Type II diabetes.

Heredity plays a major role in the onset of diabetes. If your mother or father has Type II, you are at a higher risk to develop the disease. BUT, because the environmental factors play such an important role, you can reduce your chances with lifestyle choices! It is lifestyle more than genetics that determine your risk.

If you have contracted Type II, lifestyle is more important than ever. If you are forced to take medications, your diet and stress can create such an improvement that your medications can be reduced or eliminated, which reduces your chance of side effects.

Diet and Diabetes

For the first time in history, more than half our population is overweight. More than a third of our children are considered obese. We exercise too little and our kids exercise even less. Add this to the stressful lives we (and our children) lead and it does not take an education to understand the rise in diabetes.

Our diets are lower in fat than twenty years ago. Grocery shelves are littered with processed foods that advertise, "low in fat." Since we must have tasty foods and fats create taste, we substitute sugary foods for taste sensation and (on average) gobble down about 68 pounds of the poison a year!

We drink more sodas than water per year! We eat more refined sugars than whole grains. We eat pizza and pasta, which break down to sugar in the body. In short, these foods make us overweight, raise our free fats in the body, causing insulin resistance leading to Type II.

If you are intent on changing your diet, consider researching the Glycemic Index, which shows the level of blood sugar increase by foods. You will be surprised to learn that different types of sugars produce different results. You will also be surprised to discover the difference in sweet items, like fruits. Not all are created equal and some can be bad!

VF, it would be difficult to make too many dietary suggestions, but allow me to make a helpful one. Go see a qualified Diabetic Educator or a nutritional counselor trained to help diabetics. Pharmacists and nutritionists across the country are now educated in dietary approaches to the "diabetic dilemma." I am happy to help you or can refer you to a qualified counselor in this area. E-mail me with your request. Also, ask us about nutritional products that can help control blood sugar without medication.

Or stop by The Wellness Store in Metairie or Mandeville. We have a staff of qualified personnel to assist you by providing information about diet and nutritional deficiencies that may make a difference in your dad's control of his disease and in your prevention of the same! Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and in this case, probably a ton a treatment!

Questions about Health?
Ask "Mike"
For Consultation with Jerry "Michael" Casso R.Ph.
Phone: (504) 888-3077

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Vegetarianism

Dear Mike,

My daughter told me a great way to lose weight is to become a vegetarian. This is almost the complete opposite idea of the Atkin's Diet. Do you agree with her?

GV, Marrero

Dear GV,

This is an interesting issue to me. Many nutritional counselors feel they can determine a person's dietary leanings by gauging their body types and health issues. They can tell someone that eats large quantities of fats, as opposed to those that only consume plant foods.

Dr. Atkin's has certainly thrown a kink into this theory, as many of his followers have lost weight eating all the fat they want. I can also tell you that I have met many devout vegetarians that are grossly overweight.

Dietary lifestyle and body fat cannot be considered synonymous. Consuming animal products is not the only reason for weight gain and, in fact, when one is exercising, the protein in animals will help to insure good muscle production. That is, the proper amounts of animal foods.

While a vegetarian diet is considered a healthful one, there are pitfalls, especially for a newly converted vegetarian. One of the key pitfalls is not eating enough protein. While there are numerous types of plant-based protein, converts may not consume enough of them.

GV, there really is no "diet" that works specifically as a weight loss diet. Statistics show that people using "designer diets" gain an average of ten pounds a year! As many people employ various diets being touted today, they forget the key element of weight management, which is to burn more calories a day in activity than you consume.

While the Atkin's diet has had remarkable press for its success, it can be quite unhealthy for some people. I would not recommend this diet for anyone with digestive problems, kidney problems, or those with family history of heart and cholesterol concerns. I have also seen many people that lost weight on the diet, only to gain it back (plus more) once they stopped the diet plan. Between the health warnings and the lack of success after stopping, the Atkin's diet just doesn't stack up as a winner.

Newly converted vegetarians, lacking the protein factor, will suffer from low energy and often consume too many simple carbohydrates, which will result in yet more fat stores in the body, meaning more weight problems.

For a more common sense approach to dieting, consider this. The key to healthy body fat percentages depends on getting enough exercise. You can attempt all the "fad" diets available, but without exercise, you are unlikely to lose weight or keep it off.

I read once that the weight management industry is a $100 billion dollar reduction from our wallets and purses. Our population is now more overweight than it has ever been. I also know that fast foods restaurants' sales have risen steadily over the past twenty years.

Given these three facts, you have to ask yourself if anything at all truly works, without the proper commitment from our society to redefine healthy foods, to redefine our activities and to redefine what we are willing to spend to keep our body in shape.

GV, I do not disagree with your daughter. A healthy plant-based diet, full of vegetables, beans, good grains and soy, can help you achieve your weight loss goals. It is also a great diet for the heart, circulation, and digestion.

Vegetarians, as a group, tend to stay lean because they do not consume great amounts of fats or proteins. Vegetarians tend to consume foods much higher in fiber and complex carbohydrates. They also tend to lead a healthier lifestyle, they tend to exercise more and develop healthy programs for stress, supplementation and activity.

The secret is to properly balance your foods to consume protein, fat and carbohydrates, along with fiber, in levels your body can use, then eliminate easily.

This winter, I attended a lecture by a well-respected nutritional doctor, whose patients were among the most successful and healthful weight loss examples. In attendance were some of the more renowned nutritionists and counseling pharmacists in the nation. We waited with anticipation as the physician began his lecture by scribbling on the blackboard the words, "cardiovascular exercise." He turned around and said, "What you need to know to help your patients with their individual weight management is on the board. I hope you took notes and I thank you for coming."

We were confused as we thought we were attending a dietary weight loss seminar. But, as he explained, the greatest diet means nothing without exercise and remaining active. Burn the fuel you eat. After a short laugh, we got down to the business of learning how to counsel our patients on health weight programs, including vegetarianism. By the way, he also suggested that a smart semi-vegetarian diet is the best diet on the planet.

One note of caution for those considering a vegetarian diet: You will not get adequate quantities of essential fatty acids and vitamin B-12 in your diet unless you take nutritional supplements. These nutrients are largely consumed from meat products, so be careful and make sure your veggie diet plan includes a good supplement program.

If you are serious about becoming a vegetarian, make sure to educate yourself about its wonderful benefits and its potential problems. If you are so confused about how to obtain your healthy weight goals, contact me the Wellness Store.

We can offer you objective advice about diet plans, offer you some helpful products to encourage your exercise and stimulate your efforts, and help you to change your lifestyle approach to diet without compromising your health.

Questions about Health?
Ask "Mike"
For Consultation with Jerry "Michael" Casso R.Ph.
Phone: (504) 888-3077

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Chromium

Dear Mike,

I am curious about the mineral chromium. I was told that diabetics might benefit from it. Do you agree?

OE, Mandeville

Dear OE,

The body uses the trace mineral chromium for many things. It is a key nutrient in the process of glucose metabolism, or the use of sugar for energy. When we consume sugar in the form of carbohydrates, the pancreas produces insulin to help use the glucose. The body uses insulin to bind with glucose and stimulate its use as energy. In order for this to happen properly, the insulin molecules must maintain their proper shape and density to enter the cells.

Chromium is responsible for helping insulin keep its shape as it enters the cell. It also helps to keep sugars from floating in the bloodstream unused.According to many nutritionists, many Americans are deficient in chromium. Researchers have estimated that two of every three people have some sort of blood sugar problem, including hypoglycemia or diabetes. As a result, the pancreas, which is responsible for synthesis of insulin, has been working overtime!

Folks diagnosed with Type II diabetes, (also called adult-onset diabetes,) might especially benefit from the supplementation of chromium. It is interesting that the symptoms of diabetes are the same as the symptoms of a deficiency of chromium.
These symptoms include anxiety, dizziness, fatigue, glucose intolerance, and an inadequate metabolism of amino acids.
Chromium also works in the body to help synthesize and regulate fats, cholesterol, and protein. It has been used successfully to control blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

Interestingly, the body also uses chromium to help maintain plaque-free arteries. Proper intake of chromium may not only help support the processes that keep us from a diabetic condition, but also keep us from a condition that may spur arteriosclerosis. This affliction is often associated with the diabetic condition, as well as heart disease.

Chromium is found in many foods, including meats, grains, beans, corn, eggs, mushrooms and potatoes. Like most minerals, it is found in the soil and if you subscribe to the theory that our soil is now depleted of many minerals, then you should consider a supplement.

HOWEVER, if you are a diabetic, supplementing chromium may affect your insulin levels, naturally. The more chromium, the more utilization of insulin, and this means fluctuating glucose levels. For those folks monitoring glucose levels, chromium may be helping, but also causing concern with your glucose testing. For this reason, it is important to stay in touch with your physician or pharmacist (or your diabetic educator). Let them know you are supplementing, and what the results may be.
For those with borderline diabetic concerns and in instances where diet alone is prescribed to help keep you from a diabetic condition, I would consider foods that contain chromium and might also suggest the supplement.

Chromium is also valuable in weight management. Many people concerned about their weight might truly benefit from reading more about this trace mineral. Importantly, it is a TRACE mineral, and large amounts of chromium may create toxicity. If you are light-headed while taking the mineral, stop it and consult your physician. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, right?

For more information regarding the diabetic condition, diabetic education, or the use of chromium, contact me for a counseling appointment.

I might be able to help you with dietary selections, nutritional supplements, and good information to help you understand the role of sugar, glucose, and the nutrients that support your dietary needs. Find out is supplementing chromium is right for you.

After all, we all enjoy when people are sweet on the outside, but may have problems when we are too sweet on the inside!

For products containing chromium, designed to support weight management programs, click here.

Questions about Health?
Ask "Mike"
For Consultation with Jerry "Michael" Casso R.Ph.
Phone: (504) 888-3077