What exactly is a “diabetic diet” anyway?
Was your advice just to “eat healthy”?
Maybe you met with a nutritionist. If so, that nutritionist may have given you the latest recommendation available on the American Diabetes Association’s website:
“Everyone's body responds differently to different types of foods and diets, so there is no single "magic" diet for diabetes.“(1)
Well, now...that’s helpful.
Actually, a consensus report was published by the ADA in May of 2019, and that really was their conclusion.
“Though it might simplify messaging, a 'one-size-fits-all' eating plan is not evident for the prevention or management of diabetes, and it is an unrealistic expectation given the broad spectrum of people affected by diabetes and prediabetes, their cultural backgrounds, personal preferences, co-occurring conditions (often referred to as comorbidities), and socioeconomic settings in which they live.” (...
How was dinner last night?
Did you slave over a hot stove for hours putting together a masterpiece that a Michelin starred chef would be proud of?
Or, did you get home from work or soccer practice, open the refrigerator and think, “What would be quick and easy?”
It’s okay if it’s the second one. We can’t all be Wolfgang Puck - oh wait, he does frozen pizza and take out, too.
I mean it could be okay if you did something frozen or take out (probably not pizza, even with the veggies), but it just depends.
We are a world of very busy people. Decades of innovation have made life so much easier, but in some respects, not better - at all.
Yes, I know - running water, indoor toilets, refrigerators with ice makers, vacuum cleaners, a car in every driveway, cable TV, computers in every home, (heck, computers in every pocket)...all good.
But innovations to the food we eat - not so good. I’m talking about processed food. It’s convenient,...
As a child they were what you had to finish before you could leave the table. Or get dessert - which was, of course, much more motivating.
Those last few broccoli florets or brussel sprouts staring up at you.
Your mom insisting that they are just what you need to make you big and strong.
But are all veggies healthy?
I’m not talking about organic vs. non-organic because that’s a whole other conversation. But are some veggies inherently less healthy than others?
It depends. On you.
You see, our metabolisms don’t all work the same as we age. That’s fairly evident by the different metabolic diseases we contract including obesity and diabetes.
Vegetables can be categorized in a variety of ways, but for our purposes an easy and useful one is as follows:
Were you shocked the last time you visited your doctor?
I mean, you don’t have any kind of x-ray vision into your blood to know what’s going on in there.
So maybe you had a surprise or two with your lab results. You are not alone.
If one of those surprises was an elevated blood sugar, then you can join millions of other clueless compadres. In fact, about 1 in 4 people living with diabetes today have no idea they have it. And when you are talking about pre-diabetes, that number is only 1 in 10. So yep, plenty of other people have some raised eyebrows when they get that phone call about their labs.
How did this happen to YOU?
Type 2 Diabetes does sneak up on you. I’m saying “type 2” because that is by far the most common. The other kind, type 1, is an autoimmune disease that destroys the cells that make the hormone insulin which controls your blood sugar. You most likely have type 2. So how did that happen?
What does it take to be healthy? It takes some basic information and some basic habits. Yes, it is that simple.
But often the information you find about being healthy is conflicting and confusing. Especially when it comes to nutrition, or how much exercise to do, or how to lose weight, or how to deal with thoughts that make you anxious…
That’s why I have sorted through all the noise and broken it down into a simple framework that makes the most sense to me.
All of the healthy practices that I teach follow a plan that I developed based on my years of oncology practice and my Integrative Medicine training. This is the plan that I recommend for my patients and that I use in my own life every day. So, if you are wondering if I practice what I preach, I do indeed.
This plan is the Three Pillars of Health and it will help you take control of your life now. The changes you will need to make are organized and the process is...
Have you wondered if soy is ok? I mean it’s one of the forbidden foods for breast cancer survivors especially if you had a hormone receptor positive tumor. Right?
Wrong! Yep, surprise…this is one of the persistent pieces of misinformation about nutrition that breast cancer survivors hear.
I would like to explain to you why this is not true and why you may want to add a little soy to your diet.
So why believe me and not what your oncology team (or your Aunt Sally or your neighbor or the lovely lady who sat in the next chemo chair) told you? Well, first, because I am going to talk to you about the clinical studies that have been done that show that soy is not harmful to breast cancer survivors. Then I am going to explain why it might make physiologic sense that soy could be good for you.
And just what makes me the expert? I am an Integrative Oncologist which means I help breast cancer...
Have you been told you have HER2 positive breast cancer? Most breast cancer patients know three things about their cancer: stage, ER/PR status, and HER2 status. You know these things because they are the factors that determine what treatment you get. The stage tells us how aggressive to be with treatment. The hormone receptor status (ER/PR) tells us whether or not you need hormone blockers. The HER2 status tells us whether or not you need a therapy that is targeted at the HER2 receptor which is usually Herceptin®, also known as trastuzumab. About 15% to 20% of all invasive breast cancers are HER2 positive.
What is HER2?
Just what is HER2? HER2 is an oncogene, and oncogenes often make proteins that promote the development of cancer or make cancers more aggressive. The HER2 oncogene makes the HER2 protein. This protein is a receptor that sits on the surface of normal breast cells. Signals that are sent through this receptor are important for normal...
One of the things that a lot of people do when they try to get healthy is that they start drinking juices and smoothies. And this is not just people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Most of the public thinks that juices and smoothies are healthy. But are they really?
First, let’s talk about juices. By juices I mean separating the juices of a fruit or vegetable from the fiber (or pulp) in that fruit or vegetable. This applies to the 100% all natural juices that you can buy at the grocery store and the juices you can make at home with a juicing machine. Or even by just squeezing the juice out of an orange for example (as in fresh squeezed orange juice). What you have in a glass of juice is a bunch of vitamins and minerals but also a load of sugar. And that sugar has no pulp or fiber to slow down its absorption once it hits your stomach. So, you are taking in a sugar bomb that is slightly more nutritious than a soda....
The genes from your breast cancer can tell us whether or not you will benefit from chemotherapy. That is essentially what breast cancer genetic assays like the Oncotype DX® test are all about.
The Chemotherapy Decision
For a lot of women, the question of whether or not they will need chemotherapy looms large after a diagnosis of breast cancer. Months of treatment, nausea, hair loss, fatigue…not something to wish for unless you really need it. But now examining genetic assays of the tumor can guide oncologists in selecting just those patients who are truly going to reduce their risk of recurrence with chemotherapy and excluding those in whom treatment with chemotherapy would be too much treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with early stage invasive breast cancer in the past decade or so, you are probably familiar with some of the genetic assays that are available, and in the US, the Oncotype DX® test is the most commonly used. The Oncotype DX®...
If you have been told you have triple negative breast cancer, you might not understand what that means with regard to the treatment you will get and your prognosis. Triple negative breast cancer is in a class by itself because the treatment is different.
First let’s look at what the term “triple negative” means. There are three tumor markers that all breast cancers are tested for. Most breast cancer patients know what these markers are. Tumors are tested for estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors and for overexpression of HER2 receptors. The estrogen and progesterone receptors determine whether or not your cancer’s growth is hormone dependent and hence whether or not you will be treated with hormone blockers. The HER2 status determines whether or not you will receive a year’s worth of a therapy called Herceptin or some other HER2 blocker. Triple negative tumors do not have the hormone...