Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Comments/ follow

I'd love to see comments on any posts with questions, doubts, support, your experience etc. I know that there are other people out there experimenting with other ways of assisting their blood sugar control, and I want to make this a place where people can come for resources. So go ahead and comment! Also, follow me and we can make this a more interactive blog and pull from everyone's collective wisdom.

Mind Body- OCD and Diabetes

For me, diabetes and OCD have always been intricately related. Pre-dating the diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes in 2009 by about 6 months came a period of extreme anxiety, depression and OCD symptoms that I only in hindsight could pinpoint as OCD. I have reason to believe that it was likely the OCD symptoms that perpetuated the auto-immune reaction that let to the Type 1 diabetes.

David Servan- Schreiber in his book The Instinct to Heal notes that depressive symptoms often appear as a precursor to auto-immune reactions. He notes that anxiety and depression are inflammatory reactions, and their occurrence around diagnoses many auto-immune diseases is quite frequent.

But my evidence as to their connection came once I began to study Yoga and Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM). TCM uses a system called the "5 Element Theory" to explain the phenomena of the world and the body. In this system, the Earth element includes as its pair of yin and yang organ system the spleen and stomach respectively. The Earth element is categorized by the emotion of worry, the sense of tasting and the flavor sweet. When I began seeing an acupuncturist, she helped to describe that treating the OCD and Diabetes were really working on balancing the Earth element in my body where the symptoms of OCD and Diabetes were coming from. TCM has a different pathology and pathogenesis than we have here in the west, but for the purposes for this post, just think of all disease simply being an imbalance of the elements in the body that manifest different physical symptoms. (for a little bit more on this, check out my post "The Meridians")

There were so many times that I remember the OCD kicking up and having tough blood sugar days. But once the acupuncture began to restore a balance and as my OCD symptoms diminished, by blood sugars became more stable. At this time, I began practicing a pranayam (breathing exercise) that I learned from a Kundalini yoga teacher. The exact practice is detailed in this post The Daily Regimen. The name of the exercise is "One Minute Breath."

This pranayam is performed by sitting straight, plugging the right nostril with the thumb, and then breathing in for 15 seconds, holding for 15 seconds, breathing out for 15 seconds and then holding the breath out for 15 seconds. The exercise continues for 31 minutes. In the yoga sciences, all thought patterns are held in the breath. Think of fear- when you are frightened, the breath becomes short and quick. When relaxed, long and deep. Other more subtle patterns of breath are stored and occur subconsciously. In this exercise, the breath is made completely even. As thoughts arise subconsciously, their accompanying breath pattern will as well. However, through the will, the breath is held in proportion. This gives you a chance to disassociate certain thoughts from certain bodily reactions.

This control is all about balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system will excite us, quicken breath, increase blood flow, and raise stress hormones to fight. The parasympathetic does the opposite- relax us, turn stress hormones off and slow the breath. Through this breathing exercise, various thoughts arise that trigger the sympathetic nervous system, but we activate the parasympathetic by continuing the breath in the proportion.

The hardest part might be holding the breath out. This is were the sympathetic nervous system goes crazy. As we deplete the oxygen in our body, the sympathetic nervous system detects a danger and wants us to breath in fast and quickly. At this moment, we are looking at a potential threat to life. But, we only have to hold it out for 15 seconds, and we consciously know that we will breath in again and take control. We learn to disassociate even the fear of death- the highest anxiety, and really the root cause of all anxiety- and keep ourselves calm. Of course, you must build up to doing a full 15 seconds on each part of the breath, but with consistent practice it happens fairly quickly.

After about 90 days of doing this pranayam, I could truthfully say that all OCD symptoms had disappeared. This is when my blood sugars began to get really good. It strengthened for me the evidence between the OCD and the diabetes. I continue to practice this pranayam daily and it continues to help keep these systems in balance.




Monday, July 29, 2013

Faux breaded spicy brussel sprouts

This recipe is great as the main dish. Lots of good fats, some protein and delicious brussel sprouts. And as always, low carb.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound fresh brussel sprouts (difficult if frozen)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
crushed red peppers
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degree F

Wash and slice brussel sprouts in half.

Using a food processor or food chopper, chop sunflower seeds until they are a breadcrumb like consistency.

Dip each half of the brussell sprout in the olive oil then run in the chopped sunflower seeds. Place all pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle desired amount of crushed red pepper on top and toss remainder of olive oil on sheet.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the brussel sprouts have begun to brown at the edges. You can bake them to your desired level of browning.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Taking notes

When I first started noticing that consistent meditation practices and dietary changes had an effect on blood sugar, I needed hard number to validate my observations. For two weeks, I took careful notes and observations on all of the food I ate and the exercise I did and wrote down all of my blood sugars and insulin doses as well as all of the nutritional details. I made a little journal notebook that looked like this:




I filled this out daily for about 2 weeks straight. Everything I ate went in the table. You might have to add extra lines if you end up eating more than 10 times a day. I used it to basically prove to myself that I could have lower average blood sugars eating less carbs.

But since cutting out all the carbs, I used the table to track how much fat and protein I was consuming so that I could figure out exactly how many calories I was having a day.

I also took note on how many miles I walked each day (living in NYC means at least 2 miles of walking daily) as well as if I did exercise or meditation practice that day (which it should be every day, not just most). I had all the data at hand and could say exactly how many carbs I ate, how many calories I got and what the effect was on my blood glucose.

You could do it for 1 week eating how you do now, then another week cutting out all carbs and replacing those calories with other food and compare.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Performing an experiment on yourself

It appears that I espouse that eating a certain way and doing certain exercises will have a given effect on our blood sugars. While I hope that I have provided some information that will explain why I might think that, such as the material in this article.

However, my true message is this: perform an experiment on yourself.

I was once told that the definition of insanity is repeating the same answer over and expecting different results. When it comes to the way we address our mind and body, this is the same.

Eating the same foods and taking the same medicine produces the same undesirable result. So find something else. Be brave and experiment with different foods. Don't think about putting yourself on a "diet" but that you are simply finding foods that nourish you the way you want to be nourished. It takes careful observation and willingness to admit when something isn't working. You might have to adjust your insulin dosing or other facets of your life as you go along, but be willing to experiment.

Moreover, this method of experimentation applies to our minds. Do you have recurring thoughts, worries, fears that in the end do not help you? Do you have attitudes and perceptions that are not useful in the end? This again takes careful observation and a willingness to let things go.

As we confront parts of our mind, we will find that certain attitudes and reactions to things do not help any situation. For example, believing that there is not cure to type 1 diabetes make it impossible for one to imagine a way that there is. We are so attached to what we take as "medical fact" and so attached to our way of life with the disease, that we cannot and will not believe there might be another way. We take it as fact that "the insulin producing beta cells have been destroyed and there is no way to get them back." It may or may not be the case in reality. But that is unimportant. What we can work with is giving up our attachment to this thought- be it reality or non-reality.

It is the attachment itself that creates our suffering over a thought pattern. We can find ourselves outside of what we take to be solid and unchanging if we can slowly loosen our grip on those perceptions. It is a slow process, but day by day you can quietly propose to yourself that you loosen your grip on all perceptions. They may stick around, but at least you can find yourself increasingly free of them. This has nothing to do with what we think is fact or fiction. Once you loosen your grip, you might find something entirely different than you had unwaveringly accepted as fact to be true.


Practice Suggestion:
Pick a time of day where you can sit quietly for 5 minutes.

At this time propose to yourself three questions having to do with harmful thought patterns or beliefs you wish you could let go of.
They might look like this:
       1) Could I less attached to the thought/fact that diabetes will never go away?
       2) Could I believe that I will be healthy and in control?
       3) Can I be less attached to what people think of me?

These could be anything that you want to address. Take a few minutes and honestly propose if you could possibly, some day far in the future, do these things. This is not a "I will do this today" type of thing. It takes time and by honestly proposing the possibility daily, you might find that you can loosen your grasp on harmful thought patterns. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Amended post title

I have amended the posting title for this entry:

Click here to see post

I think had lost track of what I said in this link.

All exercise is not created equal

We can admit that any form of exercise is great. If you go for a 20 minute walk, it's excellent. But when we go in search of deep healing, not all exercise is the same. When I say that Kundalini yoga is the key to my success in managing my diabetes, it is because it deals with the body and mind in a way that simply running doesn't. Below is an explanation.

(An excerpt from my post: Creating the right conditions for self healing- http://type1nomore.blogspot.com/2013/07/normal-0-0-1-2588-14753-122-29-18117-11.html)



What the exercise and diet made me realize was my body. My mind and my body were connected. Kundalini Yoga necessarily includes a lot of meditation practices. Mystical at first to those unfamiliar, meditation practice might simply be interpreted as a practice in concentrating. In terms of our bodies, this concentration is a taking control over our autonomic nervous system, and holds what I believe is the key to my successful experiment.
            The Autonomic Nervous System is made up of two branches, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system’s job is to prompt us to take action. When a stressor is perceived, the autonomic nervous system sends signals to move circulation to the limbs to prepare legs and arms to ready us for running and fighting. It raises the heart rate to circulate the necessary oxygen and quickens the breath. Eye focus narrows and the senses are heightened. All of this in preparation to either fight the stressor or run away. Also importantly, digestion shuts down. We don’t need to digest a taco when we have to run away from an angry dog. Last on the list, and of great importance soon is that it signals the liver to release glycogen to elevate the blood sugar so that cells will have a quick supply of energy ready.
            The Parasympathetic Nervous System does the opposite. It relaxes everything- it slows the breath, moves digestion, stimulates the pancreas, and calms the mind. How the meditation practices of Kundalini yoga intersect is in the harnessing of these two branches. As stressors arise, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, but in yogic practices we have to redirect thought waves and our actions to remain engaged in a specific exercise- which in yoga might mean making ourselves take a breath in a certain way or continue to hold ourselves in a certain physical posture. By doing this time and time again, we strengthen our control over these two branches, and can keep ourselves from activating the sympathetic nervous system when its not needed.
            When this stress response is not needed also goes back to the Paleolithic era we discussed before. 10,000 years ago, we needed that sympathetic nervous system to let us fight wooly mammoths and other creatures, but in modern times, it tends to do us harm by reacting to things like a boss or homework. How this relates to diabetes and sugar is fascinating.
            As a possible stressor is perceived, the part of the brain called the amygdala signals to endocrine system to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells the liver to release its glycogen so that there is sugar present to fight or run. At specific moments, this is entirely useful. But if a stressor remains for more than an acute moment- for example a homework assignment or long term project- cortisol levels can remain elevated, which continue to release stores from the liver. Furthermore, through this prolonged response, glycogen stores are depleted, and the brain releases a certain hormone called Neuropeptide Y which creates the craving of carbohydrates to replace the sugars being released by the liver. Does ice cream after a bad break up or cookies during exam period sound like a familiar thing?
            In these situations, the parasympathetic nervous system hasn’t had a chance to relax the body, and blood sugar levels are elevated. The pancreas works great stress is put upon our bodies. As it turned out, I started by changing my diet and exercise, and as the meditation came in, realized just how out of whack my control was. Many of us are in this constant state of hyper arousal, and don’t even realize it, creating treacherous conditions.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Loaded "Green Power" dinner salad with lemon vinaigrette

Eating a salad for a meal can sound boring. But this salad I make with the recipe below is full of creative ingredients that make the salad filling and tasty.

Ingredients: serves 4
(for salad)
1 bunch red Kale
1 cup Brussel Sprouts
10 florets broccoli- about 1 and 1/2 cup
2 cups spring mix
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

(for dressing)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 lemon
1/8th teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper

Directions: for salad
Slice the kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli and spring mix very fine. Make the almost diced as if you had put them in a food processor, but a little bit longer than a machine might do.

Toss all of these sliced greens together in a large serving bowl so that you have made a big homogenous mix of the greens.

Mix in the sliced almonds, pecans and tomatoes and toss them so that they too are evenly dispersed. Garnish the top with bean sprouts.

Directions: for dressing
Squeeze all the juice out of the lemon into a small bowl. Mix in the oil and vinegar. Salt and pepper to your liking.



Notes:
Feel free to add more nuts to your liking. When we are eating a ketogenic diet where fat is the main source of power, don't be scared to get the calories you need from fatty foods as opposed to carbs!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Dietary Ketosis and "starvation ketones"- harmful misnomers

When cutting out the carbohydrates in the diet, the body has to go somewhere else for energy. It turns to burning fat.

When fat is burned, it creates compounds called "ketones" that the body uses as power instead of glucose. To a diabetic, ketones are generally a danger word. It is a similar situation to a diet that generates ketones as power instead of breaking down glucose. However, the state of affairs in the body is very, very different.

When there is no insulin to pull sugar into cells, the body burns fat, creating ketones. Someone with type 1 diabetes who doesn't take their insulin and eats many carbs will continue to raise their blood sugar levels without any of it reaching cells for power. The cells burn the fat and create ketones.

However, with a diet that is specifically creating ketones for power, the amount of other sugar being dumped into the blood is little to none. And with our medical knowledge, we can have the necessary insulin to get rid of that tiny bit in the blood. So instead of using carbs as power, we run continuously off of ketones, much the way that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have.

This kind of ketogenic state is often referred to by diabetics as "starvation ketones" meaning that the body is burning fat because we haven't put any carbohydrates in it. I think this name is harmful- the word "starvation" implies a state we want to reverse immediately. Because we as diabetics are on the lookout for ketones all the time, it might prevent us from even trying a diet that is ketogenic. The level of ketones that are considered "starvation ketones" are not dangerous, and might range from trace amounts all the way up to 2.0 on a ketone-meter.

You might want to ask your doctor what she considers a "starvation ketone range", but certainly don't let that prohibit you from attempting a grain free, low/no carb diet. If the sugars are within acceptable range and there are small ketones and you're eating this kind of diet, odds are you're eating it right. Test often, experiment and pose/ answer your own questions.

Apparently I'm not the only one who has been able to remove all symptoms Type 1 Diabetes

I've met a few other people who have attempted removing grains completely for their diabetes, and it has amazing results. Greatly decreased bolus insulin as well as steadily decreasing basal dosing. I came across this blog entry today:


http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2013/04/type-1-diabetes-cured/

No grain, no sugar added blueberry breakfast loaf

If you're going to eat Paleo, typical foods are often out of the question. Here is a recipe for what might look like "muffins" or a "loaf cake" but with none of the stuff that makes us sick!

Grain free blueberry loaf cake:

Ingredients
2/3 cup coconut flour (available at Whole Foods)
3 tablespoons chia seeds + 9 tablespoons water
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil of your choice (vegetable, almond, peanut, grapeseed)
crushed walnuts

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

1) Combine chia seeds and water and let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until they are gooey.

2) Crush blueberries in a separate bowl with a fork.

3) Combine rest of ingredients except walnuts and stir until well mixed. It creates an interesting texture unlike cake batter. It should feel somewhat elastic.

4) Place into greased 8x8 baking pan and use a fork to evenly layer it through out the pan.

5) Top with crushed walnuts and push down into batter with fork.

6) Bake about 30 minutes until extreme edges begin to brown.

Slice into brownie shaped pieces. 8 pieces per pan= approx 10 g carb (5 of those 10 being fiber).



In this recipe, the chia seeds are being used to replace eggs. Depending on your level of interest, you could even substitute the remaining eggs with 1 and 1/2 mashed banana. 1/2 banana= 1 egg. Or if you really wanted to, you could use all 6 eggs, but thats a lot of cholesterol...



Monday, July 22, 2013

The daily regimen

It's been a year and a half since I stopped taking any amount of insulin. So what do I do to make this a reality? There are a lot of moving pieces- a lot of research I've done on diet and changes I've made, study into yogic philosophy, lots of experimenting, and a more complex understanding of how I think I even got Type 1 Diabetes. But I'm not going into that here. Here is simply the practice that I do every day that you could try, perhaps if you want.

This is simply the practice. You may ask why?? to certain parts; explanations will be forthcoming:

1) Wake up at 4:30 am

2) Take a cold shower, massaging all limbs of the body moving in and out of the water a total of 4 times.

3) Go to my designated morning yoga spot facing East. 15 minutes of warm ups
        A) Tuning in: Change "Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo" 3 times --> "The infinite teacher is everywhere/ I bow to my highest consciousness"
        B) Spinal Flex: pump at belly button lower spine, grabbing shins, breath short in as moving forward, short out as moving back. Continue steadily for 2 minutes
        C) Spinal Twist: hands on shoulders, parallel to ground. Twist left and breath in short, twist right and breath out short. Continue steadily for 2 minutes.
        D) Life nerve stretch: Grab toes with fingers, hinge from the hips. Breath in as come up, breath out as hinge lowers towards shins. Continue steadily 3 minutes.
        E) Cat stretch: lay on back, bring left knee to chest drop over outstretched left leg. Repeat opposite side
        F) Legs over head stretch
        G) Pelvic twist: make clockwise/ counterclockwise circles with lower abdomen
        H) Breath of fire immunity exercise: Plug right nostril with index finger on right hand, hold ring finger with thumb on left hand perpendicular to ground. Breath out quickly short through left nostril. Breath will come in naturally quickly. Repeat in rapid motion, like panting of a dog. Eyes closed, looking at what would be the spot between the eyebrows. Continue at least 3 minutes.

4) Sat Kriya Workout
      A) Sat Kriya 5 minutes
            i) sit on your heels so that your weight is resting on your shins like a Sphynx

            ii)  interlace your fingers and with the pointer fingers out like you were making a fake gun and       bring them over your head so that the sides of the arms press against the ears
            iii) begin a rhythmic chant of the words “Sat” and “Nam” at a rate of 8 repetitions per 10 seconds. As you chant “Sat” pull your belly button in just slightly, and on “Nam” release. Sat – Nam means “truth embodied”
            iv) To end, inhale and clench your lower abdominal and sex organs and hold, then exhale and hold the breath out while repeating the same clench of lower muscles

    B) rest on back 3 minutes

    C) Repeat exercise A 5 minutes

    D) rest on back 3 minutes

    E) Chest stretch 3 minutes
         i) interlace fingers behind head
         ii) breath slowly and deeply, eyes closed focused on brow point 

    F) repeat exercise A 3 minutes

   G) rest on back 2 minutes

   H) frog pose 26 times
           i) heels touching, off the floor the entire time, feet at 45 degree angle
          ii) fingers on the floor 3 inches in front of feet  
          iii) breath in as extend legs, keeping fingers and feet on floor 
          iv) breath out as bring legs down 

   I) Rest 1 minute, sitting or laying down

   J) Repeat exercise A 3 minutes

   K) rest 1 minute sitting or laying back

   L) Frog pose 10 times

   M) Repeat exercise A 3 minutes 

   N) Frog pose 15 times

   O) Repeat exercise A 3 minutes

   P) Frog pose 10 times

   Q) Repeat exercise A 5 minutes
         note: to end, breath in and clench lower abdominal and sex organs with hands in position. hold 30 seconds, exhale and hold out briefly. Repeat 2 more times.

  R) relax on back 15 minutes
       note: this is VERY IMPORTANT. You MUST do this part of the exercise

5) "How to deal with a thought" meditation- 11 minutes
       A) sit comfortably on a cushion, hips higher than knees on the floor, or sit in a chair
       B) focus eyes on tip of nose (even though its not actually visible, as close to that spot as you can imagine it is)
       C) hold both index fingers outstretched with arms perpendicular to ground
       D) Chant "I am" while simultaneously pulling in index finger on right hand then pointing it up again
       E) Chant "All is" while simultaneously pulling in index finger on left hand then pointing back up
       F) repeat and continue for 10 minutes 
       G) after 10 minutes, chant "I am Akal" (I am infinite) with both index fingers pointed up for 1 minute
       H) to end, inhale, keeping fingers pointed up and eyes on the tip of the nose and squeeze every muscle in the body, exhale and repeat 2 more times

6) One minute breath pranayam- 31 minutes 
       A) Sit with hips higher than knees on a cushion on the floor or in a chair
       B) Plug right nostril with right thumb, rest left hand comfortably on thigh or in lap
       C) breathe in for a count of 15 seconds while mentally chanting "Ek Ong Kar Sat Gur Prasad Sat Gur Prasad Ek Ong Kar"- each repetition takes 3 seconds so repeat 5x = 15 seconds
       D) Hold breath in for 15 seconds- using chant for mental timing
       E) breath out for 15 seconds- mental chant
       F) hold breath out for 15 seconds- mental chant
       G) continue 31 minutes. to end, breath normally for 2 minutes 

7) seal the yoga practice with short song
May the long time sun shine upon you
all love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide your way on, guide your way on, guide your way on
Sat Nam

8) Pack up and enjoy the day. Go back to bed for a while or stay up and eat breakfast. 


Food: throughout the day I follow my own vegetarian version of the "Paleolithic Diet". More about the food will be posted later on. 

Then in the late afternoon, I might go for a small little jog. My life in New York City also contributes minimum 2.5 miles of walking daily.

If it sounds like a lot of work, there's no doubt that in a way it is. You must, must, must confront your own mind and do it all every day. But, it is worth it. I can certainly say the trouble that I go through to do this in the morning is WAY, WAY better than the trouble of constantly bouncing blood sugars and worrying about insulin doses and such. Probably less cumulative mental energy as well.

Bedtime: go to bed at 9:30-10.
To fall asleep, lay on right side, plug right nostril and breath deeply for 11-15 minutes. Then roll over and pass out. 



I thought it was insane when I had a teacher tell me this is what I needed to do. But the teacher was completely right. If you try it for a full week without judging it, who knows what you might find. The exercises can be performed in a whisper if it is hard to find a spot where you will not disturb your still sleeping family. 

Letting someone else do the nasty/ conspiracy talk

I've often wondered how medical professionals- doctors, dietitians etc- who treat diabetics can honestly promote a diet where it is considered a healthy breakfast to eat a bowl of Raisin Bran with milk, an apple, and a glass of orange juice. It might sound healthy at first, but really thats poison painted pretty colors to a diabetic. Tons of carbs, lots of fast acting flat out sugar, and virtually no fat and hardly enough protein to give us even a fighting chance of cutting off the spike with the fastest acting insulins available. This guy has some ideas of why this happens.

Note: I'm not too much into accusations of greed and big corporate conspiracy, but I think lending some validity to what this guy says is worth consideration.

http://www.diabetes-warrior.net/2012/05/08/how-do-nutritionists-sleep-at-night-ill-tell-ya/

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A substitute for pizza

The whole thing about how food can help to heal you is that you eat whole, unprocessed foods. However, once in a while, it is fun to try and mimic one of the unhealthy foods that we think we like with ingredients we know won't make us sick. Here is a recipe for a grain free pizza:


A “Paleolithic Pizza” Recipe
Ingredients
- 1 and a half cups of ALMOND MEAL/FLOUR (find at Whole Foods and Ocean State Job Lot or health store)
-1 egg
- 1 Tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water (or substitute with 1 additional egg)
-3 tablespoons olive oil
-1tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder or basking soda
-your favorite toppings (sauce, cheese, veggies etc...)

Directions:
Combine chia seeds and water and let sit for 5 minutes. When it has become gooey, mix all ingredients together until well mixed. Let sit in fridge 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle a miniscule amount of corn meal or coconut flour if you have it to a baking sheet, or use parchment paper, and flatten dough onto sheet. The flatter it is, the more the crust will become crispy. When finished, bake un-topped pizza for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven after 5 minutes and top with your favorite fixings. Continue baking 10-15 minutes or until very edges begin to brown. 


I adapted this recipe from http://paleoliscious.blogspot.com/2013/03/paleo-pizza.html

Why "But you can't eat that..." doesn't bother me... because it's true.

I know a lot of Type 1 diabetics who get supremely annoyed when someone not familiar with the disease will say "But you can't eat that, right?" We are in many ways taught that we can "eat anything, as long as you take your insulin." In some ways this is true, but in reality, those people in their ignorance, are actually saying something true. No, we can't eat that.

What we forget is that "but you can't eat that..." is only the first part of what is really an if-than scenario. "You can't eat that if": you don't want your blood sugar to spike... or... you don't want to fee ill... or... you don't want to put yourself at risk for diabetes related complications. If these seemingly ignorant people really mean this, than they're right.

And it's not just because we have Type 1 diabetes. There is a new school of thought that looks back and the history of human diets. Dr. Weston Price in his book Nutrition and Degenerative Diseases (1939) describes how his findings of different populations all over the globe show that diets consisting of foods that were eaten before the end of the Paleolithic era 10,000 years ago do not exhibit the same kinds of degenerative diseases we know today in the west. In short, it is our diet consisting mostly of grains and many processed foods and refined sugars that are causing the degenerative diseases like Type 1 Diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart disease etc.

A great documentary called Forks Over Knives attempts to display the benefits of switching to an unprocessed food diet. When participants in the film who had previously been plagued by the degenerative diseases we know like heart disease, high blood pressure etc switched to this more primitive diet, their conditions greatly improved to the point where these diseases disappeared.

I know that as of now there is not a permanent fix with Western medicine to Type 1 Diabetes, but there is reason enough for us to admit that yes, I can't eat this (cake, ice cream, pasta, cookie, french toast, milkshake) without my blood sugar spiking, increasing my risk for diabetes related complications and just flat out not giving myself the best chance at health.

So you know what? Maybe instead of snacking on these Oreo's and milk, I'll have some green peppers and hummus, peanut butter and celery, or some tomatoes and mozzarella, all foods I know I can eat.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Meridians

Whether or not you believe the human form is a product of intelligent design or a cosmic accident, the wisdom contained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a unique way of describing the phenomena observed in the body.

In TCM, the body is a microcosm of planet Earth. When it rains on Earth, the water flows from the point it falls into small brooks, then streams then rivers. We take this metaphor and apply it to the body. Blood, electricity, and chemicals move along similar pathways that might look very much like the topographical map of a geographic region.

But in TCM these pathways in the body are not as specific as "the aorta artery" or "the sciatic nerve". Naturally, this anatomy is intrinsically a part of the meridian system, but it is much larger than any one specific thing. These meridians include the anatomy and physiology we know in the west, as well as speak in terms of Qi (Chi), a concept we do not have in western medicine.

Qi is the all encompassing life fore. It is everything from kinetic energy, digestive energy to spiritual energy and beyond. Qi flows along pathways called meridians. These meridians are very much like one of those collage pictures that are made up of smaller pictures. Here's an example:

http://thoughtswillcrackmyskull.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/more-ideas-brewing/

Its a meta picture that encompasses all psycho- somatic and physical components of our corporeal and incorporeal forms. Qi flows along these meridians much the same way that water flows through a stream. But like a stream, it can be dammed up. Meridians are dammed by physical ailments and psychological phenomena. When this happens, like a river that is dammed, there is a build up and an imbalanced state may occur.

When it comes to treating diseases, TCM thinks about looking at where there is an imbalance. Where is Qi not flowing as it should. In this way, the diseases we know are little more than symptoms- the real problem lies in the lack of balance.

How do we balance them? Try seeing an acupuncturist. The Peoples Organization of Community Acupuncture is a network of community acupuncture clinics around the country that believe affordable health care should be accessible without insurance. Treatments work on a self- determined sliding scale usually between 15-40 dollars per treatment. You are treated in a more traditional setting where one practitioner treats many patients at a time.  
Find a clinic near you here: https://www.pocacoop.com/clinics/search/0,0/18000/

Also, check out this article from the American Diabetes Association about acupuncture and diabetes (type 1 and 2). http://spectrum.diabetesjournals.org/content/14/3/154.full

I also feel I should point people to look at my very first blog post. I think this has the most comprehensive information and inspiration for further posting.


The games we play

The way Type 1 diabetes is treated today is a sickening game.


I like to remain gentle when sharing information about how I treat my diabetes, but sometimes its fun to add a little drama and really go at it. I guess its a blog and I don't really have to worry about people getting turned off face to face! That said, I recognize everyone has a choice in what they do and I do like to maintain an attitude of openness. That said, here we go-


The day to day treatment I observe is sickening. Its an attitude of "eat this and take your medicine." ie. eat a nice big bowl of mac and cheese, a glass of milk, an apple, and then two cookies for dessert, just remember to take your insulin! Sound relatively balanced? Well its not:

Mac+ Cheese: 1/2 cup  24 grams carbs (does anybody really only eat a half of a cup?)
1 8 oz skim milk: 13 grams carbs (if you pour a glass of milk, is it really only 8 oz?)
apple: 15 grams carbs
2 cookies: 30 grams carbs

total = 82 grams of carbs.

Then, depending on what kind of activity you do next, you either get sick from the insulin (ie. medicine) and have a low blood sugar or you get sick from the food and have a high blood sugar. Then, if you're low, you stop what you're doing and eat between 15-25 grams more of processed, fast acting glucose. Then you test again and eat some more or carry on. If you're high, you correct and take more insulin. Then depending on how things go, you might end up going low later and repeating the whole process just described.

Then its dinner time, and the game starts again.

It's a sickening game that might very well be completely, or at least partially avoided, if we give up attachments to food that we shouldn't eat (and its not just because we're diabetics that we might not want to eat). In the meal I described above, there's hardly any fiber- fiber being essential to controlling glucose absorption. There's nowhere near enough fat to more slow that absorption and and too much straight up sugar (lactose in milk, processed sugars in cookies as well as the ever so slightly more complex carbohydrates in pasta).
        If we can admit that certain foods ultimately do not make us feel well nor help keep our blood sugars in range, we'd have an easier time at controlling. It's a sickening game, and I won't play it.


Cutting "finding a cure" out of the vocabulary

Talking about finding a cure for any disease seems to be an unproductive conversation. Finding one single cure completely ignores the fact that the disease is simply a set of conditions that exist only in relation to other contexts- social, cultural, economic, inter/intra-personal and spiritual etcetera. It is by conditions relation to something that we come to call it a disease, name it as undesirable, call it abnormal or determine that whatever exists is a problem.

By convention, and with convenient applications, we have classified certain conditions as most pervasive, established norms and expectations and labeled every aspect of our lives. The Type 1 Diabetes that I live with has come to be called a disease. But it is only a disease because most people do not live in such a condition. Right now, I work at a summer camp that is for children with Type 1 Diabetes. Here, having diabetes is the norm. In the time that kids are here, it really becomes the normal feeing to work with these conditions. Everyone around them tests their blood glucose at the same time, takes their insulin at the same time, and everyone plays games and sports paying attention to whether or not their blood glucose will go low or not. Kids describe that this becomes a place where they are not "the diabetic" but "John the soccer player" or "Matt the musician." There is no disease because there is no dis-ease about a set of circumstances.

Besides this, has there really ever been a cure for any disease? I think of something like Smallpox where there was no cure, there was only a vaccine that eventually eliminated the threat because our immune systems were resistant to it. Antibiotics and bacterial infections might be the only thing I can think of that comes close to qualifying as a "cure". But when it comes to things like Cancer or Diabetes, I think talking of a cure is an irrelevant conversation. The approach cannot be isolated to curing an ailment of the body, but the kinds of degenerative diseases we face today are so much more complicated than any pathogen.

It's not that I think we should stop doing the work we are doing into research, I just think we need to stop thinking about it as "looking for a cure." That kind of language strips us of the power we have over our own circumstances. Because distinctions only exist as relative to something else, if we can consciously apply our perception of our circumstances, we can empower ourselves to do miraculous things. It is irrelevant whether or not the circumstances themselves disappear because it is completely our decision how we will view them. The circumstances might be as benign as mild back pain or as severe as death- in any event we come up with the labels "good" or "bad" and determine our degree of suffering.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Creating the right conditions for self-healing


Creating the Right Conditions for Self- Healing

Keith Ram Prakash 
Curbow
February, 2013


Abstract:

The author describes what he believes are some of the fundamental principles that have allowed him to treat his diagnosis of type one diabetes without insulin therapy for the past year. The author describes how Kundalini Yoga and meditation have effected his treatment and has included some examples of his diet and exercise.

*Note: This material is not intended to be taken as specific medical advice. It is intended to be an account of experience on the part of the author.






I’m a type one diabetic, and it has now been a year since I have taken any amount of insulin at all. I decided, after noticing how some changes in mindset and activity affected by blood sugars, that I would try an experiment by taking myself off insulin, and see how long I could go without going back.
            Before moving on, ponder this: when you break your arm, who fixes it? You might answer a doctor- but that is incorrect. A doctor sets it in a cast perhaps, but the only thing that makes the bone grow back are the right conditions, a safe environment inside the cast, and you. You-  your body literally repairs the damage and heals itself.
            I asked myself this same question, except I wondered if I could create the right conditions for a “healing of my blood sugars.” I thought about a broken arm- if I crated the right conditions, perhaps I could make something happen, and quit insulin forever.
            The fist and most obvious ‘unfavorable condition’ to my blood glucose was dietary sugar. Quite obviously if I don’t drink soda my blood sugars would have a better chance of staying level. But sugar doesn’t just come from candy, sugar is any kind of carbohydrate- bread, pasta, crackers, rice, beans, cereal grains, even quinoa and millet. There’s high amounts of sugar in cows milk and in many fruits. So I took them out of my diet completely.
            Common knowledge tells us this is insane, but as Michael Pollen points out in his book “In Defense of Food” the human body is well suited to run off a host of different diets, so varied and often extreme it would confound most everyone. All kinds of different diets, except one in particular seem to promote a healthy human being. The one lacking is our Western diet. Pollen book might serve as a corollary to the work of Weston Price, who in 1939 published a book entitled, “Nutrition and Degenerative Diseases.” Price notes that about 10,000 years ago at the end of the Paleolithic era, the human race transitioned out of its nomadic lifestyle and began the cultivation of land to grow food. They found the cultivation of grains beneficial because they provided ample amounts of energy and could keep well over long periods of time. What the species had consumed previously did not at all include grains, but rather animal proteins, nuts, seeds, root vegetables, fruits, berries and other wild vegetables gathered on the go (note that it is mostly a high fat and low carbohydrate diet). Price noticed that in his studies of populations still consuming Paleolithic diets, our common Western diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, do not exist.
           I made an attempt at this “Paleolithic” diet. I stopped cold turkey eating all grains of any kind, and of course completely eliminated refined sugar. The diet I eat now is made up of lots of fresh vegetables, lots of high fat foods like nuts and seeds, good quality animal protein including seafood with ample amount of healthy fats, eggs, Greek yogurts (very high in protein and filling fats), and cheeses. On a diet like this, the body does not have the resource of glucose as power, and so shifts to the production and usage of ketones. For a diabetic, ketones are a danger word, but the state that is produced in the body is referred to as “dietary ketosis” not the familiar ketoacidosis diabetics avoid. In this state, it simply means that the body is using ketones as fuel rather than glucose.
It is important to understand that when we eat carbohydrates, the pancreas secretes insulin (or we take it by injection) in order to counteract the rising sugar levels. Over the next few hours, the blood sugar levels decrease, but as is frequently the case, the insulin production lags behind the absorption of glucose, and we end up with more insulin that results in a lower blood sugar manifested as hunger, and we eat again. This is not a situation common to diabetics only, but to all people eating a diet mainly of carbohydrates. If we are running on ketones, the body will not have these sharp rises and falls in blood sugar and can maintain a stable level with much greater ease.
     
            But my experiment did not stop at changing my diet. Next on the list of musts for a diabetic is exercise. And quite honestly, it should be top of the list for everyone. Exercise is no joke. I started about a year and a half ago exercising every day. It began with a walk in the park near my apartment. Surprisingly, even a 20 minute walk got me sweating. It progressed, and soon I was running. Then I was running and stretching. Then I discovered Kundalini Yoga- an ancient yoga practice from India. I started practicing Kundalini Yoga every day. I practice alone at home, and am certain that this practice is one of the huge reasons I remain insulin free.
            What the exercise and diet made me realize was my body. My mind and my body were connected. Kundalini Yoga necessarily includes a lot of meditation practices. Mystical at first to those unfamiliar, meditation practice might simply be interpreted as a practice in concentrating. In terms of our bodies, this concentration is a taking control over our autonomic nervous system, and holds what I believe is the key to my successful experiment.
            The Autonomic Nervous System is made up of two branches, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system’s job is to prompt us to take action. When a stressor is perceived, the autonomic nervous system sends signals to move circulation to the limbs to prepare legs and arms to ready us for running and fighting. It raises the heart rate to circulate the necessary oxygen and quickens the breath. Eye focus narrows and the senses are heightened. All of this in preparation to either fight the stressor or run away. Also importantly, digestion shuts down. We don’t need to digest a taco when we have to run away from an angry dog. Last on the list, and of great importance soon is that it signals the liver to release glycogen to elevate the blood sugar so that cells will have a quick supply of energy ready.
            The Parasympathetic Nervous System does the opposite. It relaxes everything- it slows the breath, moves digestion, stimulates the pancreas, and calms the mind. How the meditation practices of Kundalini yoga intersect is in the harnessing of these two branches. As stressors arise, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, but in yogic practices we have to redirect thought waves and our actions to remain engaged in a specific exercise- which in yoga might mean making ourselves take a breath in a certain way or continue to hold ourselves in a certain physical posture. By doing this time and time again, we strengthen our control over these two branches, and can keep ourselves from activating the sympathetic nervous system when its not needed.
            When this stress response is not needed also goes back to the Paleolithic era we discussed before. 10,000 years ago, we needed that sympathetic nervous system to let us fight wooly mammoths and other creatures, but in modern times, it tends to do us harm by reacting to things like a boss or homework. How this relates to diabetes and sugar is fascinating.
            As a possible stressor is perceived, the part of the brain called the amygdala signals to endocrine system to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells the liver to release its glycogen so that there is sugar present to fight or run. At specific moments, this is entirely useful. But if a stressor remains for more than an acute moment- for example a homework assignment or long term project- cortisol levels can remain elevated, which continue to release stores from the liver. Furthermore, through this prolonged response, glycogen stores are depleted, and the brain releases a certain hormone called Neuropeptide Y which creates the craving of carbohydrates to replace the sugars being released by the liver. Does ice cream after a bad break up or cookies during exam period sound like a familiar thing?
            In these situations, the parasympathetic nervous system hasn’t had a chance to relax the body, and blood sugar levels are elevated. The pancreas works great stress is put upon our bodies. As it turned out, I started by changing my diet and exercise, and as the meditation came in, realized just how out of whack my control was. Many of us are in this constant state of hyper arousal, and don’t even realize it, creating treacherous conditions.
                          
Conclusions
Creating the right conditions is all this experiment was about. It is apparent from understanding a little about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, that stressors create conditions that strain the body. Prolonged strain such as this might very well be the source of type one diabetes- an inflammatory reaction set off by a “perfect storm” of chronic stress and the right destructive conditions.
But the conditions can be changed to give ourselves the best chance at healing. Remembering the broken bone, we can set our bodies inside a cast of sorts and perhaps some healing will occur. Yogic practices or martial arts create specific conditions in our nervous system, more so than running or other types of exercise, to relax and strengthen the body at the same time. Altering our diet can also affect our nervous system by helping to lessen the strain on organs involved in digestion and can directly effect the kinds of hormones that are secreted in order to digest certain foods. The rest, after the right conditions are created, is healing. If our bodies can re-grow the skin over a wound I think it might be foolish to assume that we cannot, given the right conditions, find other types of healing which allow us to live healthier more stable lives.
Below you can find a list and description of just a few of the specific exercises from Kundalini yoga and an example list of the kind of diet I have adapted.
Please be well and remember that there is wisdom and healing for all that seek. Feel free to e-mail kwcurbow@aol.com with any questions you may have.

Resources

Diet:
- eat whole, unprocessed foods
- as little grains as possible
- don’t be scared of fats
- eat slowly
- chew completely

Breakfast:
- eggs, egg whites w/ cheese and copious amounts of chopped veggies
- whole tomato
-who avocado w/ salt and pepper
- organic sausage
- unsweetened almond milk
- celery and peanut/ almond/ cashew/ sunflower butter
- handful of assorted nuts+ sliced cheeses
- unsweetened Greek yogurt with the FAT

Lunch/ snacks:
- carrots and hommus
- whole avocado
- steamed brussel sprouts with almonds and olive oil
- pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
- flax seed crackers
- handful of different nuts: raw peanuts, almonds, chashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,
- dried seaweed snacks
- kale chips
- salad w/ tuna or chicken
- broccoli and hommus
- sliced cheeses/ string cheese
-unsweetened soy milk (high in protein, fiber and fat)
- treat: Lindt 90% cocoa chocolate (nice and high in fiber and fat)

Dinner:
-prepare chicken/ fish to your liking
- eggplant parm
- steamed favorite vegetable with olive oil
- lots of vegetarian Indian dishes: Palak Paneer, Lychee Paneer
- home made soups (canned almost always have sugar added), examples: Thai chicken coconut, red cabbage soup, tomato soup
- arugala salad w/ goat cheese and olive oil
- vegetable stir fry w/ tofo or chicken
- vegetable polenta
-stuffed bell peppers w/ shitake mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash
-stuffed portabella mushrooms
- unsweetened almond milk/ soymilk


Note: When making the switch to a Paleolithic diet, it is common to experience withdrawal symptoms from refined sugar that can manifest as headaches, irritability, lack of energy and general discomfort

Note 2: the diet might seem “limited” but the species diversity is actually much higher than in a grain based diet. In a grain based diet, most of what is consumed is either sugar, wheat, or corn.

Exercise:

 Qigong: perform daily at the same time

Watermill: you may need a stack of phone books or yoga blocks in front of you depending on your flexibility
1) stand with your bare or sock covered feet pressing tightly together: thighs all the way to toes are “zipped” up the middle
2) angle your palms face down to the ground and example
3) inhale as you push your hands palms up slowly towards the ceiling
4) interlace fingers and exhale slowly while moving hands down
5) at about the level of your eyes turn the palms over to face down
6) at this point, move the hands quickly down one inch in front of your toes and create a pressure into the ground
7) concentrate your gaze at your middle fingers
8) keep the legs pressing firmly together and your weight evenly distributed
9) breath slowly and deeply while maintaining a firm pressure
10) perform for three minutes
11) to end keep your nose down towards your middle finger
12) turn the palms face up and pull your arms up towards your ribcage with the elbows jutting back but firmly along your ribcage
13) roll up very slowly starting from the bottom of your spine
14) once standing all the way, bring the palms face down towards the floor while remaining standing and turn your head slightly to the left
15) breath normally for a few moments

Note: this exercise should be very difficult and could be practiced daily starting with a short amount of time and working up to higher

Sat Kriya: an exercise from Kundalini Yoga

1) sit cross legged and breath deeply in and out 3 times
2) Chant the words “Ong- Namo- Guru- Dev- Namo” 3 times before beginning
3) warm up by grabbing your shins in a cross legged position and flexing your lower spine, breath in short as you go forward and out short backwards, Perform for at least 2 minutes and move one set per second, inhale to the center and hold to finish, then exhale
4) place hands on shoulders and inhale as you twist to the left, exhale as you twist to the right, continue at a steady pace, inhale to the center to end then exhale
5) stretch your legs out in front of you and grab your toes if you can, if you cant find a comfortable spot on your shins, inhale as you rise up keeping the legs on the floor and exhale as you go down. Create a light pumping motion that is quick and a small stretch. Perform 3 minutes, inhale up to finish, hold a moment, then exhale down and hold a moment.
6) sit on your heels so that your weight is resting on your shins like a Sphynx
7)  interlace your fingers and with the pointer fingers out like you were making a fake gun and bring them over your head so that the sides of the arms press against the ears
8) begin a rhythmic chant of the words “Sat” and “Nam” at a rate of 8 repetitions per 10 seconds. As you chant “Sat” pull your belly button in just slightly, and on “Nam” release. Sat – Nam means “truth embodied”
9) Perform for at least 3 minutes daily. The time can be worked up to incredible lengths of time such as an hour in one sitting. Begin with a daily discipline of 3 minutes.
10) To end, inhale and clench your lower abdominals and sex organs and hold, then exhale and hold the breath out while repeating the same clench of lower muscles. Repeat 2 more times
11) Lay flat on your back and relax for the same amount of time that you performed the exercise. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. YOU MUST RELAX AFTER THE EXERCISE
12) Do not perform Sat Kriya if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or are on your cycle.

Deep Breathing
1) lay on your back with your hand palms up by your sides, cover yourself with a blanket if you wish
2) begin to inhale very slowly expanding first your lower abdomen and allow the breath to slowly fill the lower part of your body then expand your ribcage and finally up to the shoulder
3)hold in slightly then exhale slowly
4)exhale until the breath is all the way out and the belly button pulls in ever so slightly towards the spine
5) hold the breath out briefly and repeat
6) repeat at least 3 times, but continue at a very relaxed pace for as long as you wish

Pranayam:
“One minute breath”
1) Sit comfortably on a cushion or in a chair
2) block the right nostril with your thumb and sit straight with the eyes closed
3) inhale deeply for a maximum of 15 seconds, hold the breath in for 15 seconds, exhale for 15 seconds then hold the breath out for 15 seconds. You may start with smaller amounts of time, perhaps beginning with 3 seconds, but the ration 1:1:1:1 for all 4 parts of the breath must be kept consistent through out the exercise
4) you may mentally chant the words “Ek Ong Kar Sat Gurprassad Sat Gurprassad Ek Ong Kar” to help keep rhythm. Each repetition should take 3 seconds that way you can measure the time and give yourself something to focus on
5) Practice for a minimum of 3 minutes and work up to a maximum of 31 minutes with the full 15 seconds on each breath


Books:

  • In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan, Penguin Press 2008.
  • The Instinct to Heal, David Servan-Schreiber, MD., Ph.D, Rodale 2004
  • Spark, John J. Ratey, MD. Little, Brown and Company, 2008
  • Ayurveda, The Science of Self Healing, Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, 1985
  • Happiness, Matthie Ricard, Little, Brown and Company, 2007