Posts made in July, 2012

Moderation and Optimism to Spare: The Diet of a Diabetic Chef

Posted by on Jul 13, 2012 in News | 0 comments

When Ken Gordon, a long time chef and restaurant owner, checked in with his doctor this past January (albeit after a seven year gap with no visits) he wasn’t shocked to learn that his cholesterol levels, along with his blood pressure, were a bit high. What did land as a surprise though was that Gordon, a man who’s made a living serving up – and in the process often sampling – some of Portland Oregon’s finest pastrami sandwiches for years, had developed type 2 diabetes.

Gordon, not satisfied with staying idle, decided it was time for some changes. With the aim of losing at least 40 lbs. and reversing his eating and exercise habits, the chef gave himself a deadline of 6 months to a year to reach his goal. What makes Gordon’s story unique is that he’s been doing all of it in the public eye, writing a regular column and documenting his results and observations for weeks now in The Oregonian. As the 6 month mark looms around the corner we decided to check in and see how his progress was coming along.

Ken, thanks for speaking with us! When you were first diagnosed was there ever a feeling of I’m a chef, I love the foods I eat, there’s no way this is going to work, or were you immediately optimistic from the beginning?

I’m pretty much one of the most optimistic people you’ll ever meet – I’ve been a chef for 35 years and have either opened or helped open 12 restaurant operations…Pretty much the definition of optimism.  Still, the prospect of trying to stay away from a lot of carbs and sweets was a bit scary.  But I was pretty confident I could do it.

Your diet thus far has been more about smart moderation, as opposed to eliminating foods that might be troublesome. Easier said than done?

I don’t think so.  I think moderation means – by definition – different things to different people, and to varying degrees.  Everyone can do at least little things to improve their diet.  It’s all about just starting, even in little ways.  Cut out sweet drinks at first.  That’s a big improvement for a lot of people.  Then move on to white pasta – there are some pretty good alternatives these days that can ameliorate the pain.

At your place, Kenny and Zukes, you’ve created an alternative menu of items for those who are seeking healthier options. Although this is great news for PDX residents, it’s still unfortunately an exception rather than the norm when it comes to dining out. What’s the best route for those who want to stay health conscious? Is it more about finding new places to eat or getting creative while sticking to favorite spots?

This is all starting to change, and will continue to in the years to come.  Chefs and restaurateurs are pretty smart as a group, and as they become confident that healthier alternatives will sell, I think you’ll see more and more options on menus.  And I think customers need to let their favorite places know what their needs are.  I tend to let Asian places I frequent know that I’d be in more often if they offered brown rice as an option.  That sort of thing.  I think that there are ways to order with health in mind at most places.  But it needs to get easier.  And it will.

You’ve spoken a lot about nutrition. To what degree has exercise and eliminating stress played a role in your success?

Exercise is huge. But it doesn’t have to be all that strenuous – regularity is more important. I walk 3-4 miles per day. Every day. I’ve missed one day in the almost 6 months since my diagnosis. Sometimes I shoot some hoops, or run a little. But it’s mostly about walking, and everyone can do that, for the most part.  It gets your metabolism going and burns the calories consumed at a higher rate, and is indispensable as part of a plan for better health. Stress reduction is important as well, though most of mine has come through walking and exercise.  I think, for the most part, that I’m a carrier when it comes to stress. I tend to do the stressing, rather than get stressed out myself. Still, it’s an area I should probably pay more attention to.

Any words of advice to those who are now in the same shoes you were in at the beginning of the year?

I’d say that for anyone – whether they’ve been diagnosed with Diabetes or are on their way there or dealing with aging and Metabolic Syndrome…in other words, just about everyone these days… The important thing is to just start. Start cutting out some of the bad things in your diet.  Start walking or doing something physical that you enjoy and will stick with. Consistency is everything. Don’t take on more than you think you can handle – that’s the problem with crash diets or exercise programs. Start by walking to work a few days a week, or to the store, or somewhere that normally you would drive. Have a big salad for dinner one night per week, then two nights. Just start.

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Lorcaserin: The New Weight Loss Pill?

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in News | 1 comment

The FDA just approved use of lorcaserin for weight loss; a pill that’s been around for some time now, but in 2009 was rejected by the FDA because of concerns regarding its efficacy and safety.

After undergoing more clinical studies, lorcaserin has finally been approved, but under strict guidelines. The pill is recommended for adults who have a BMI of 27 or greater and have at least one other weight related problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

Based on the past clinical studies, the weight loss by lorcaserin isn’t impressive, nor does it work for everyone.

The drug appears to suppress the appetite center in the brain. From the clinical trials, some patients lost about 4 pounds over 12 weeks, however as soon as the pill was discontinued the weight was regained. The drug also had side effects such as headache and flu like symptoms.

So should consumers go and line up for this weight loss drug?

Definitely not.

The weight loss is modest and the same result can be achieved by any motivated individual with regular walking and limiting calorie intake. Consumers who still want to buy the pill can also be assured that it won’t be cheap.

Contributed by Dr. Steven Bhimji, M.D.
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No Surprise: Second Hand Smoke is a Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in News | 0 comments

It’s now common knowledge that smoking has no health benefits. To add another reason why smoking is bad is the recent evidence that breathing in second hand smoke, places the individual at a high risk for developing type 2 diabetes and obesity.

A study from Alabama’s Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center reveals that adults exposed to secondhand smoke had much higher rates of diabetes than individuals who were non-smoker and not exposed to tobacco smoke.

In this study, participants had blood samples taken to confirm tobacco exposure. While in the past some studies indicated a link between second hand smoking and diabetes, this is the first study which used a blood marker to confirm nicotine exposure.

After adjusting the results for obesity, age race, alcohol consumption, and exercise, researchers found that people who were exposed to second hand smoke had a much higher incidence of type 2 diabetes.

What this study emphasizes, once again, is that second hand smoke is not safe and more efforts should be done to reduce exposure to the public.

Contributed by Dr. Steven Bhimji, M.D.
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Taking the First Step: Fighting Against Obesity by Finding Time For Exercise

Posted by on Jul 3, 2012 in News | 3 comments

Biking and exercise With exercise levels decreasing across the globe, obesity is becoming more of an epidemic each day. There are many contributing factors, with busier schedules and more sedentary jobs of the most common reasons. The structure of society today is not conducive to an active lifestyle, generally-speaking. People simply do not have time to exercise anymore. Or do they?

Usually all someone has to do to increase their daily activity is simply use a little foresight. Are you a morning person? Try incorporating a 30-minute morning walk into your routine. Are you a night owl? Strap on a helmet and some reflectors and take an evening bike ride to cap off your day. Or better yet, why not try biking to work? The important thing to remember is that you can get in shape without a gym, and you can reduce your weight without spending money on an expensive membership. All the tools you need to become a healthier, happier you are inside. You just have to take that first step out the door.

Yet people can become discouraged when they don’t see immediate results, or they feel self-conscious about exercising in public. What people need to remember is easy: keep at it. Other people may try to increase their level of activity, but still hit mental walls when they can’t instantly run at the speed of light. No one becomes a marathon runner overnight, but if you keep at it, you will be amazed by how quickly your body will rise to the challenges you set for it, and surpass them! The body craves exercise, and adding cardio into your daily life will not only lower your blood pressure and cholesterol and boost your immune system, but it also bumps up the amount of endorphins your body releases, a hormone that – quite literally – makes you happy.

People seeking to lose weight should keep a few figures in mind: one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. A person of 150 pounds burns approximately 150 calories for every 30-minute walk they take at 3 mph. And a person of a higher weight burns even more calories on that 30-minute walk. And coupling your daily walk with a minor decrease of 200 calories from your daily intake, and you could be losing over a pound of fat every other week. Increase your activity level, and you’ll see results even faster. Just keep at it, and always listen to your body to avoid injury and stay safe.

Contributed by Jessica Barone, an avid runner, swimmer, biker and outdoorsy type based in San Francisco. Having recently graduated from Chapman University, she is also a Goal Sponsor for and enjoys writing weekly geek articles as Social Media Director of SSD Nodes Inc.
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Antipsychotics Found to Increase Type 2 Diabetes in Young People

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in News | 0 comments

ThorazineOne class of drugs already known to increase the risk of diabetes is the older antipsychotics, but now there is emerging evidence that even the newer antipsychotics, such as Zipradisone, may increase the risk of diabetes in young people.

It has been known for a long time that antipsychotics increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults, but children up until recently haven’t been extensively studied. Now research from the University of South Carolina School of Public Health reveals that almost the entire class of newer antipsychotics can also induce diabetes in children and teenagers.

Considering that the last 2 decades has seen a proliferation of indiscriminate use of antipsychotics, there is great concern that the side effects of these drugs have been neglected.

It’s important for all consumers who are prescribed these drugs to know the side effects, but as of today there are still few alternatives to antipsychotics for people who have mental problems. A drastic change in lifestyle is still one of the best options for lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Contributed by Dr. Steven Bhimji, M.D.

Source: American Diabetes Association (ADA) 72nd Scientific Sessions. Abstract #17-OR. Presented June 8, 2012.
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