Thursday, October 17, 2013

An excerpt about Yoga

I want to slowly over the course of future posts, delve more into why Yoga is so powerful, and what exactly it is. We in the west have an extremely body oriented view- as I've heard it put "oh yes, Yoga is wonderful exercise." However, it is far more than that. As it pertains to this blog, I present the healing properties of a yoga practice in a very much body oriented fashion- "how can this help us to improve our blood sugar?" I offer this excerpt from Kirpal Singh's book Crown of Life 1970, Sant Bani Press as food for thought:

Many modern scholars, more so those with Western modes of thought, have, when first confronted by yoga, tended to dismiss it as no more than an elaborate means of self-hypnotism. Such an attitude is quite unscientific even though it often parades under the garb of science. It is generally the result of prejudice born of ignorance or a superficial knowledge of the subject. It is natural for us to attempt to relegate to the realm of superstition, phenomena with which we are unfamiliar and which defy our habitual ways of thought about life, for to study them, to understand them, to test and accept them, would require effort and perseverance of which most of us are incapable. It is not unlikely that some so-called yogin may justify the label of "self-hypnotists." But those few who genuinely merit the name of yogins are too humble to court publicity and have nothing about them to suggest the neurotic escapist. They invariably display a remarkably sensitive awareness to life in all its complexity and variety, and this awareness coupled with their humility makes all talk of self-delusion quite inapt, irrelevant and even ridiculous. For, to seek the Unchanging behind the changing, the Real behind the phenomenal, is certainly not to "hypnotize" onself. If anything, it displays a spirit of enquiry that is exceptional in its honesty and integrity, that is content with nothing less than the absolute truth, and the kind of renunciation it demands is most difficult to practice. Hence it is, that as time passes, as knowledge is gradually undermining the former philistinism is steadily wearing away. the new developments of the physical sciences have had no small share in furthering this process, for by revealin that everything in this physical universe is relative and that matter is not matter perse but ultimately a form of energy, it has confirmed, at the lower level of the yogic concept at least, the conception of the world inherent in the yogic system, giving it a scienfic validity which was earlier doubted. 

My favorite portion of this excerpt is the description of modern physical science viewing matter not as matter, but as simply energy. Such a reality breaks down all of our footing on reality, reducing everything to simply an illusion. When it comes to healing our Type 1 Diabetes, the disease itself is really an illusion. It has practical everyday implication, but as it comes to searching for healing, Yoga as a way of breaking down that barrier and controlling that energy exists as something that is not simply a "self-hypnotism" but grounded in science. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Beta Cell regeneration

Here's a little article about some recent research looking into Beta cell regeneration.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More processed, more problems.

I've noticed that the more processed a food is, the more difficulty I have keeping my blood sugar in the place it needs to be. This goes even for foods made at home.

For example, a typical lunch for me might be a big salad consisting of several types of greens, tomatoes, avocados and nuts with balsamic vinegar and oil. A blood sugar after this kind of lunch is perfect.

However, the other day I made a home-made grain free pizza recipe like the one in this link. Things were still relatively home made, but the pizza included home made pesto as well as home made almond meal as the base ingredient. Despite these things being home made, they were prepared using a food processor machine. The name is right in it. Whenever we process something, we make it more dense than it naturally was. Even though this pizza is extremely friendly to the blood sugar and I will eat it any day, it is comparatively not as friendly as the raw salad. Blood sugar 1 hour after eating the salad= 95; 1 hour after the grain free pizza= 120. Despite the fact that this pizza is not made of grains, the processing still makes it more dense.

I've noticed this with even "raw" foods that when purchased and prepared at a restaurant or out and pre-packaged will yield higher postprandial blood sugars. A salad from Au Bon Pan with a packet of their dressing will yield 1 hour postprandial sugars higher than a salad prepared at home with oil and vinegar.

I notice this eating foods generally considered "unprocessed." Foods generally considered processed cannot compare to raw ones. If for example you are going to eat a home made regular pizza versus pizza made at a restaurant versus a frozen pizza, you can bet that the postprandial blood sugars will increase respectively; none of them will compare to a raw salad prepared at home. There's just something about processing foods that makes them less friendly to blood sugars. When a food is processed it becomes more dense and you end up eating more than you need.

In short, whenever possible, make it at home. Keep it simple and eat only what you need.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What is Yoga?

Talking strictly about an extremely low carbohydrate diet can certainly produce amazing results for the diabetic, but without exercise, its really only a small piece of the puzzle.

But I am not talking about just running or playing soccer- as I described in This Post, the energy in the body is an amazing patchwork of interactions that comes together as a whole. When we are talking about diabetes, we have to think about specific exercises that target the root problems. The sciences of yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine offer us explanations of where these energies should be and how to get them there.

Body is matter, "energy" is etherial and non-specific. However I think that Paramahansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi* gives us an important reminder of how not Other "energy" can be when he writes, "The Western day is nearing when the inner science of self-control will be found as necessary as the outer conquest of Nature. The Atomic Age will see men's minds sobered and broadened by the now scientifically indisputable truth that matter is in reality a concentrate of energy." The "indisputable truth that matter is in reality a concentrate of energy" is Einsteins famous E=mc2. This is the reminder that all mass is in fact energy and just because we experience it as body does not mean that it is not also energy- digestive energy, electricity, kinetic energy, mind energy and light.

So when I talk about exercise, I am really talking about a kind of exercise that will allow you to navigate the indisputable bridge between matter (body) and energy (mind). In order to find real healing, we must work to create this mastery. Their remains then the fact that we can find a way to convert healing mind energy into physical manifestations. Interpret this as you see fit.

But what is yoga? Yogananda gives as a more specific definition that Yoga is " a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts, which otherwise impartially prevents all men, of all lands, from glimpsing their true nature of Spirit. Like the healing light of the sun, yoga is beneficial equally to men of the East and to men of the West. The thoughts of most persons are restless and capricious; a manifest need exists for yoga: the science of mind control." Yoga the exercise in physical postures and practices is the control of non-material mind energy. What those specific practices are I have given here. There were countless specifics taught, the one I have outlined is the one I learned from my teacher and practice.

So when someone talks about Yoga, it is much, much more complicated than "just stretching" as I heard someone put it the other day. This is an entire system of how to willfully transfer between material and mind energy. Such a mastery may occur quickly, or slowly. However, the ever increasing awareness promised by Yoga practice will create higher and higher levels of the ability to discern the energies of the body and mind and to direct them in the most beneficial ways in healing yourself and others and discovering that energy's source.

* Autobiography of a Yogi, Thirteenth edition 1998, Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Added sugars add nothing: foods where sugar is secretly hidden

Since I began eating in a way that has allowed my body to heal, I noticed just how many of the food I have cut out have so much unnecessary sugar added. What I've discovered is that the unsweetened versions of these foods taste, in may cases, better than the standard sugared up ones you typically buy. Here are some examples:

Almond Milk- the almond milk you generally buy in the store, such as Almond Breeze Vanilla or Chocolate, has about 15 grams of pure sugar per serving. However, the unsweetened version has literally only 1 carb! Once you begin buying the unsweetened version, you realize that you can actually taste the almond-ness of the beverage and that it tastes quite good. If you accidentally buy the sweetened version and expect the unsweetened,  it might even make you gag. The extra sugar they add to it is added likely because we have come to expect it as Americans and cannot handle any subtlety in flavors. Once you learn to appreciate it without the simple pleasure of overwhelming sugar, almond milk becomes a tasty alternative to high carb cows milk, as well as versatile in baking or simply as somewhat of a treat on its own.

Yogurt- yogurt has an insane amount of added sugar. Chobani greek yogurt, strawberry low fat yogurt = 30 grams of sugar per serving! Not only is there no fat to soften the absorption of all that sugar, but that is about the equivalent of drinking 2/3 a can of coke. Absolutely too much. However, the unsweetened versions of plain greek yogurt in a standard serving have only 8 carbs. If you buy the full fat version, this little container of greek yogurt becomes a super powerful breakfast. With close to 15 grams of protein, a ton of fat and little to no sugar, an unsweetened greek yogurt can fill you up for a long, long time. Truthfully, I will admit that unsweetened yogurt is not the tastiness. But it's pretty simple and reasonable to soften it by added some low glycemic index berries like blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries- just a few though. Berries are lower in carbs as far as fruit goes and just a few berries will not add many carbs and can make unsweetened full fat yogurt a useful product.

Chocolate- Hershey's chocolate is awful- it is highly processed, full of artificial flavors and full of added sugar= 26 carbs! (24 g pure sugar). Again in my opinion, it totally ruins the good flavors and potentially helpful nutritional value of real chocolate. Lindt chocolate makes an excellent 90% dark chocolate bar. In this, we are talking about only 3 grams of sugar per serving and the added bonus of 5 grams of dietary fiber. What is more, is that this purer form of chocolate actually has 4 grams of protein as well as significant amounts of fat. Once you begin eating this almost completely cocoa version of a chocolate bar, you realize what a bastardization of chocolate anything you buy at the candy counter really is. If you can handle it, eat simply 100% cocoa baking chocolate as a treat. This is also a bit bitter, but at the same time, you can appreciate it's flavor as well as know that it does have some nutritional value for you. Cocoa is reputed to have anti-depression properties as well as high amounts of antioxidants etc. etc. Of course, even on a ketogenic diet, pure chocolate can still have a lot of fat! It works well as a treat when you feel like you want to chow on something grossly unhealthy to have just a little bit of 90% or pure cocoa.

Ice Cream- not much explanation needed here. It's full of added sugar. Granted, ice cream does have significant amounts of fat and protein that help slow the absorption, but its still too much. Instead, So Delicious makes no sugar added coconut milk ice cream that it is amazing. Coconut milk has copious amounts of the "long chain fatty acids" and other healthy fats people talk about currently, and when they are frozen, their texture is amazing. Its more creamy than real ice cream! Without added sugar, you have simply the flavor of the coconut milk and perhaps some vanilla bean chopped into it. Again, this food can be used nutritionally- good fats and little sugar. It's still a treat, but its a far cry from your standard cookie dough or cookies and cream ice cream cone. ( and oh yes, of course, don't eat it in a cone...)

Peanut Butter- Skippy is awful. Hydrogenated oils, preservatives and of course, added sugar. If you buy a peanut butter where the only ingredient is simply "peanuts" then the only carbs in it are the fibrous material of the peanut. These peanut butters again, I find superior to conventional ones. The oils separate out from the peanut butter, but if you stir them well then keep it in the refrigerator, they won't separate out!

 Barbeque sauce- BBQ sauce and many other condiments are made basically of high fructose corn syrup. 2 tablespoons= 15 grams of sugar! Read the food labels when buying condiments and make sure that sugar, corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup are not on the label. If they are, DO NOT BUY THEM.

Canned soup- A secret culprit, canned soup, especially brands like Campbells, is going to have added sugar. Again I think it ruins the taste. There are plenty of canned soup options that do not add any sugar (not to mention those that don't add chemicals we cannot pronounce and other things that are decidedly not food).

Jelly- Jelly, even the good ones, is a high carb food that really should be avoided. But if you must have jelly, read the ingredients. Whenever I go to a diner and look at the little jelly packets, the first ingredient is almost always high fructose corn syrup. The flavor of the jelly- for example strawberry- might not even appear until the end of the list of ingredients, and frequently as an artificial flavor. If you are going to buy jelly, buy 100% fruit preserves where, if the flavor is strawberry, the only ingredient is strawberries!

Protein powders- Protein shake mixes will almost ubiquitously have some sugar added. This is a shame, because a lot of people like to use these mixes as supplements or as meal replacers because they are easy and have a lot of protein in them. You will probably have to go to a specialty store, or at least the specialty aisle in your supermarket, or more likely, order it online to find no sugar added protein powders.

Tomato sauce- It's similar to canned soups- tomato sauce like Ragu or Prego have unnecessary sugar added. Read the food labels and find one where the ingredients are only tomatoes, garlic and maybe some oregano and pepper. Anything with corn syrup or sugar is a not, in my opinion, a food any longer, but a sugary drug-like imitation of one.

The theme here is that whenever we buy a "food product" ie. something that comes in a wrapper, we have to read the label. If we don't, the biggest name brands of foods are likely to have added sugars. Just buy buying the unsweetened versions, we can cut out huge amounts of carbs from our diets.

Paleo pancakes

Breakfast is definitely that hardest meal to find low carb options. I usually opt for some nuts or two eggs sunny side up, but occasionally its nice to participate in a bigger breakfast. Here is a recipe for grain free, no sugar added pancakes that are, in my opinion, actually better than regular pancakes. They kept me full for hours because of how much fiber and good fat they have in them! They are weighty in protein,

2 eggs
1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup mashed banana (1 large banana or 1 + 1/2 smaller bananas)
2 + 1/2 tablespoons almond meal
1/2 tablespoon shredded coconut (not essential to the recipe but tasty to add)
coconut oil for the skillet or some other oil to keep from sticking

Soak chia seeds and water together and stir to create a gooey substance. Mash banana in a separate bowl then combine all ingredients together and stir until well mixed.

Place about 3 tablespoons worth of the substance onto the skillet and using a fork press out slightly to the sides. Let each pancake cook thoroughly on one side before flipping. They take a bit longer than normal pancakes to cook, and it is best to let them get well cooked before flipping so they don't break apart.

Thats it! Paleo pancakes

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A problem in the education of newly diagnosed type 1's

There's something wrong with diabetes education. Even after a complete change in lifestyle, some core beliefs about diabetes that are false spring up on me at unexpected times.

I met someone new at my friend's party the other night and we got to talking somehow about diabetes (even though at this point he didn't know I had it). He said something along the lines of, " I mean, you just can't walk around eating sugar and carbohydrates whenever you want, its just not healthy and probably keeps people with diabetes with the disease!"

Now this man said exactly what I believe, almost verbatim. But I had this immediate knee-jerk reaction where the words "that's not true, we can eat whatever we want" almost came out. But I caught myself and noticed that I had this vestige of a reaction implanted in me even though my core beliefs are absolutely opposite to that now.

The problem is in the education. We are taught that we are "normal" and can "eat whatever you want". Not true. Its the same as someone having a peanut allergy- they can't eat peanuts because peanuts make them sick; we can't eat sugar or too many carbohydrates because they make us sick.

I've become increasingly concerned about how we educate newly diagnosed type 1's, and think its time that we find it appropriate to say, no you can't eat that, and that's okay. You can be as strong and happy without it (in fact, probably more so), and no one is "normal." We could brainstorm ideas of how to go about teaching this, but something must change.