Breaking News
July 22, 2018 - Survey results identify major inequalities in acute stroke treatment across Europe
July 22, 2018 - Researchers discover promising treatment for genetic form of autism spectrum disorder
July 22, 2018 - Prenatal Depression More Common in Young Moms Today
July 22, 2018 - What helps adults with autism get and keep a job?
July 22, 2018 - Pediatric NEXUS Head CT DI guides selective imaging decisions in blunt trauma patients
July 22, 2018 - Novel tool predicts genes that cause disease due to production of truncated proteins
July 22, 2018 - AHA: Vaping Tied to Blood Clots — in Mice
July 22, 2018 - Study finds therapy dogs effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD
July 22, 2018 - Scientists find reason why malarial parasites are faster than immune cells
July 22, 2018 - Researchers gain more insight into how FUS protein causes ALS and FTLD
July 22, 2018 - Frequency of joint replacements halved in rheumatoid arthritis patients between 1997-2010
July 22, 2018 - QUT researcher highlights growing impact of non-prescription antibiotics supply in pharmacies
July 22, 2018 - UK health communication researcher seeks solutions for disposing leftover medicine
July 22, 2018 - Pfizer Initiates Pivotal Phase 3 Program for Investigational Hemophilia B Gene Therapy Fidanacogene Elaparvovec
July 22, 2018 - Mutation discovered to protect against Alzheimer’s disease in mice
July 22, 2018 - Researchers reveal how patients in urban areas develop multiple, long-term conditions
July 22, 2018 - Replacing conventional cancer treatment with complementary therapy linked to increased risk of death
July 22, 2018 - Study uncovers molecular key for delaying progression of multiple sclerosis
July 22, 2018 - Availability of athletic trainer in high school reduces injury rates in girls’ sports, shows study
July 22, 2018 - FDA Approves Krintafel (tafenoquine) for the Radical Cure of Plasmodium vivax Malaria
July 22, 2018 - Novel nuclear medicine probe will help assess new drugs for neurodegenerative diseases
July 22, 2018 - Physical activity even during exposure to air pollution can reduce risk of heart attack
July 22, 2018 - Scientists discover protein regulator of myelin production
July 22, 2018 - Sleep disturbances associated with higher dementia risk
July 22, 2018 - Scientists move one step further in developing eye drops to treat age-related macular degeneration
July 22, 2018 - Five-Year Stroke Rates Lower After PCI Versus CABG
July 21, 2018 - Alopecia areata – Genetics Home Reference
July 21, 2018 - Study identifies overdose risk factors in youth with substance use disorders
July 21, 2018 - Drug in clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease offers hope for treating heart failure
July 21, 2018 - Coupling free malaria tests with diagnosis-dependent vouchers can improve rational use of ACTs
July 21, 2018 - Sweetness depends on molecular interactions between specific sugars and water in saliva
July 21, 2018 - Muscle fitness is strongly associated with improved rate of ageing in the brain
July 21, 2018 - Resetting E-Prescriptions for Opioids Helps Curb Use: Study
July 21, 2018 - Overuse of antibiotics not what the doctor ordered
July 21, 2018 - Bundled-payment system did not lower costs for serious medical conditions, shows study
July 21, 2018 - Therapy dogs found to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms in children
July 21, 2018 - Could rotating multiple therapists better treat PTSD patients?
July 21, 2018 - Binge drinking impairs working memory in adolescent brain
July 21, 2018 - Dying at home could be beneficial for terminally ill cancer patients and their relatives
July 21, 2018 - Researchers identify subtypes of retinal ganglion cells using single-cell RNA sequencing
July 21, 2018 - Study uncovers opportunities to reduce death by suicide among cancer patients
July 21, 2018 - Genetic sequencing reveals new clues to aggressiveness of prostate cancer
July 21, 2018 - BioSight Launches a Phase 2b Clinical Trial of BST-236 as a First-Line Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
July 21, 2018 - First major study comparing robotic to open surgery published in The Lancet
July 21, 2018 - ADHD medications may fail to improve cognition in healthy college students, study shows
July 21, 2018 - Intervention program that includes a personalized app could benefit teens with suicidal thoughts
July 21, 2018 - Researchers identify new compound that protects against neurodegeneration
July 21, 2018 - Gene therapy may hold potential to treat people with spinal cord injuries
July 21, 2018 - FDA Approves Nivestym (filgrastim-aafi), a Biosimilar to Neupogen
July 21, 2018 - Surgeons have substantial impact on genetic testing in breast cancer patients who need it
July 21, 2018 - Species diversity can have positive and negative impacts on disease transmission
July 21, 2018 - Genome research suggests presence of enteric fever in medieval Europe
July 21, 2018 - Risk of Sensory Deficits Drops With Rising Gestational Age
July 21, 2018 - Mum’s sleep matters—the effect of sleep on an unborn baby
July 21, 2018 - UC San Diego researchers awarded two grants for investigating stem cell-based therapies
July 21, 2018 - Cellular ‘garbage disposal’ may actually work on some of the proteins to neuronal development
July 21, 2018 - More Pregnant Women Having Heart Attacks
July 21, 2018 - Acne Breakouts | NIH News in Health
July 21, 2018 - Change health messaging to focus on potential impact to help stop the next pandemic
July 21, 2018 - Frailty associated with poor survival rates in young heart patients
July 21, 2018 - New discovery could save millions of lives from fatal fungal infections
July 21, 2018 - OBD presents latest data on the use of EpiSwitch™ in predicting patient response to immunotherapy and identifying lymphoma subtypes
July 21, 2018 - Childhood adversity increases susceptibility to addiction via immune response
July 21, 2018 - Scientists identify potential target for the treatment of binge eating
July 21, 2018 - Whole-brain LIPUS therapy improves cognitive dysfunction in mice simulating dementia, Alzheimer’s
July 21, 2018 - Digital media use raising risk of ADHD symptoms among the young
July 21, 2018 - Phase 3 study of tanezumab in patients with osteoarthritis pain meets all three co-primary endpoints
July 21, 2018 - Restoring mitochondrial function to reverse aging-related skin wrinkles, hair loss in mice
July 21, 2018 - SP PennTech introduces RW-500 rotary vial washer for biotech, pharmaceutical applications
July 21, 2018 - Researchers to study molecular mechanisms behind susceptibility of males to autism
July 21, 2018 - Using tendon transfer surgery to restore key functions in spinal cord injury patient
July 21, 2018 - Scientists create wearable device that measures cortisol in sweat
July 21, 2018 - Researchers study efficacy and safety of new treatment for OUD
July 21, 2018 - Fourth Published Clinical Trial Confirms Long-Term Safety of Niagen Supplementation at High Doses and Shows Potential for Improvement in Liver Health
July 21, 2018 - Study examines effects of a two-day intermittent calorie restriction diet for patients with type 2 diabetes
July 21, 2018 - Greening vacant urban land reduces feelings of depression for surrounding residents
July 21, 2018 - Parents say intense gun violence in PG-13 movies appropriate for teens 15 and older
July 21, 2018 - Collaborative study to assess effects of exercise training for cognitive deficits in MS
July 21, 2018 - FAU researchers find possible cause of Parkinson’s disease in the patients’ immune system
July 21, 2018 - Protective qualities of ‘good cholesterol’ reduce after menopause
A Patient’s Journey: Taming the Glucose Monster

A Patient’s Journey: Taming the Glucose Monster

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

In a matter of six months, I went from diabetic levels of A1c to normal levels.

I have a fragmented “team” — including two dietitians, two nurse practitioners, a general internist, a cardiologist, an ophthalmologist, a podiatrist and even a urologist plus scores of Facebook friends — who helped me through this. The health professionals and fellow diabetics have given me kudos and told me this is a major accomplishment. I am grateful.

How did I succeed? I lost about 35 pounds following a low-carb diet with occasional episodes of ketosis, took some dietary supplements for blood glucose issues — plus I addressed my microbiome by combining foods and taking prebiotics and probiotics.

Here’s the chronology.

December 2016: My internist’s nurse practitioner put me on notice that I was heading into dangerous territory with a fasting blood glucose of 102 ng/dl. I had been diagnosed with prediabetes. The NP said I ought to lose weight and watch what I ate.

In one ear and out the other, I didn’t take it seriously.

June 2017: My blood glucose had reached 141 ng/dL. I had my first A1c test: 7.8%. I had full-blown diabetes.

I sprang into action. I went on metformin (2,000 mg/day). I started on a low-carb diet and began dropping weight. I might have done better — I shied away from the gym because of a backache. Still, I started to get good numbers from my daily fingersticks.

September 2017: I was down about 20 pounds, I had returned to a prediabetes level — with an A1c of 5.9% and a fasting blood glucose of 90 ng/dL.

My ophthalmologist and podiatrist both encouraged me to go for normal and potentially go off metformin. But following American Diabetes Association guidelines, my internist recommended I stay on metformin and go for an A1c in a range 6-7%. He was concerned I would go too low and create other problems.

Meanwhile, a couple other things happened.

November 2017: My wife Judi and I went on a two-week Viking Ocean Mediterranean cruise to Greece, Israel, and Italy followed with another nine days on land in Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Cruises are notorious as diet-busters with champagne dreams and infinite buffets. And how could I go to Italy without indulging in pasta, pizza, and gelato. That would seem to be a crime against nature. So, I had a taste.

And some surprising things happened. I found I had good blood glucose readings when I tried some foods I had considered verboten, including rice, bread, and pasta. I tried a salmon maki roll. Despite the rice, I had a blood glucose reading in the 80s. I had meat lasagna in Rome and got a reading in the 90s.

I got an explanation later.

December 2017: I lost more weight — at 175 lb, down nearly 35 and at an appropriate BMI based on my age (I am 70 and stand 5’8″).

Could Microbiome Therapy Help?

Now it’s time for something completely different: I started to explore my microbiome, that three-to-four-pound collection of trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes that help regulate their host’s immunologic, hormonal and metabolic functions.

I had been researching a story on the emerging microbiome testing industry for a European publication for microbiologists.

Two of the top American microbiome experts and a distant cousin of mine, an MD, urged me to take a specific test from DayTwo.com. The researchers said DayTwo’s product is based on world-class research by microbiome experts from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel.

I ponied up $300, prepared my stool sample, shipped it off and waited.

image

I also had an opportunity to take a complementary beta test of my microbiome by another consumer-oriented company, Viome in Cupertino, CA.

In fact, there are a growing number of companies in the field. They use different techniques and as a result can result in different results in the make-up of the microbiome in your gut.

image

Their goals are different. Viome, which licenses its technology from Los Alamos National Laboratory, using artificial learning engines.

Viome’s test, a subscription of $399 per year, aims to help its customers “achieve maximum health & wellness” as well as helping people with diabetes and gut diseases.

DayTwo’s test has a narrower goal. It is designed to manage blood glucose.

I won’t get into all the minutiae of the teeming billions of active and inactive microbes sharing space in my gut.

I found clear dietary differences in recommendations.

Viome suggested that I can “indulge” in certain foods, enjoy others, and avoid still others based on my microbiome and my metabolism.

image

DayTwo rates foods based on your microbiome and other factors, giving letter grades to different foods and meals.

There many discrepancies to say the least. DayTwo gives an A+ to starfruit, while Viome suggested I minimize consumption. (I’m no fan of starfruit, anyway.) DayTwo gave an A+ to butter, duck and tuna, which Viome suggests I minimize.

Viome terms apples as a “superfood” for me while DayTwo gives them a C-.

I generally have avoided fruit lately. One exception is strawberries, which DayTwo gives an A+ and Viome tells me to “enjoy,” in a rare instance of agreement. But blueberries are another story. Viome says I can indulge while DayTwo gives them a B-.

Looking at the conflicting food recommendation, I got a cognitive-dissonance-triggered headache. Really.

Most microbiome testers probably don’t take multiple tests so they don’t know the difference. The companies explain they use different lab tests so they get different results and algorithms.

I did make a change based on a conversation I had with Debra Heald, an RN and naturopathic physician and team leader for translational science with Viome. She suggested I add a probiotic and a prebiotic to my regimen. I did.

I should point out that many other experts contend the science isn’t there yet to shape our microbiomes by taking such supplements.

But something Chavi Kramer, a clinical dietitian at DayTwo, told me rang true. It helped explain my good results with salmon maki on board the ship and lasagna in Rome. I inadvertently mixed those foods with others with high fat and/or high protein and controlled my blood glucose.

She noted that the DayTwo algorithm can be used to create meals that mix foods for maximum benefit.

For example, I found that having lox with cream cheese on a bagel was a winner.

A medium bagel scored a C-. Not surprising. But add a hearty dollop of cream cheese (A+) and a couple ounces of lox (A+), and you get an A-rated meal.

I had just about given up on ever having one of my favorite meals. I could kvell.

I saw Gwen Woodruff, my dietitian who specializes in diabetes. She found that over the previous three months, including the cruise, my weight had dropped and my A1c was 5.5%. Normal. Surprisingly, to me anyway, even my prostate cancer numbers improved dramatically.

As an unscientific experiment over the prior two weeks, I wore a continuous blood glucose monitor, which Medicare covered.

Woodruff found that over the two weeks I included DayTwo plus the prebiotic and probiotic recommended by Viome, I had an average blood glucose of 103 and an estimated A1c of 5.2%.

One of my distant cousins said on Facebook, “tamed the monster.” Great success.

I plan to improve things by stepping up my exercise. I am making an addition to “Team Howard.”

I have an appointment in January with an endocrinologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who also is a microbiome researcher. I want to see what he suggests I do to keep the monster under control.

1969-12-31T19:00:00-0500

last updated

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles