diabetics

  1. Wriggling away infection

    Letting maggots crawl across your flesh might sound like something out of "Fear Factor" -- but if the latest research is any indication, you might find it taking place at your doctor's office instead of on television.

    Maggots, as it turns out, are proving to be highly effective at treating diabetic wounds that won't heal -- the types of wounds that affect up to a third of all diabetics and often result in disability and even amputation.

    Researchers in Hawaii placed the fly larvae onto the skin of 27 diabetics who had been battling non-healing wounds for as long as five years. In 21 of the cases, the maggots did the trick, according to the research presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Chicago.

    One patient was suffering from gangrene in a leg so severe that doctors had recommended amputation. But after a few months of maggot therapy, he was back on his feet -- both of them.

    The secret is in the secretions: Maggot goo has the ability to boost the immune system, stimulate the growth of blood cells, and even fight infection -- including infections that are resistant to antibiotics.

    Even better, the maggots only seem to have a taste for diseased flesh -- and once it's gone, they stop eating.

    I realize a study of 27 patients is incredibly small -- too small to prove anything in most cases. But we don't exactly need much research to prove the health benefits of these critters: They were used for literally thousands of years, right up until modern times.

    They only fell out of favor when antibiotics hit the scene -- but with those meds now being overused to the brink of uselessness, maggots might start making an appearance in your own doctor's office one of these days.

    P.S. Maggots aren't the only creepy-crawlies worming their way into mainstream medical care: As I told you earlier this year, leeches are becoming essential equipment in emergency rooms, saving both life and limb in cases of severe trauma. Read more here.

  2. The natural way to beat inflammation

    Inflammation has gone from a condition you should worry about to a marketing buzzword used to sell everything from drugs to juice to cereal.

    Well, at least they got it half right: You should worry about inflammation, and do what you can to bring your own levels down.

    But forget the drugs, juice and cereal -- because none of those things will ever beat the anti-inflammatory powers of plain old fish oil, and the latest research proves it again.

    A new look at data on 702 patients who took part in one of 11 clinical trials finds that people who take fish oil supplements have lower blood levels of homocysteine, an inflammation marker linked to everything from heart risk to dementia to bone breaks, according to the study in Nutrition.

    Other studies have also found that fish oil can put the hurtin' on homocysteine.

    One published in 2009 found that omega-3 supplements reduced levels of the inflammation marker by 22 percent in diabetics -- versus just one percent among those who took a placebo.

    And that's really only the beginning of the benefits.

    Studies have found that healthy omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your heart, eyes, and gums while raising levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowering levels of deadly triglycerides.

    Fish oil can also help boost the mood and beat depression -- especially among seniors.

    The best sources of these omega-3s are fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout and herring -- and the highest concentrations are often in the one part of the fish you're probably not eating: the liver.

    Researchers looked at a dozen fish commonly eaten in Spain and found all had livers rich in the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids you need for good health.

    And if you like anchovies, good news: The livers of these famously oily little fish had some of the highest omega-3 levels of all.

    But why stick to the liver when you can eat anchovies whole?

    OK, I know that's not for everyone -- but if you don't like anchovies, fish livers or even fish itself, there's a simple solution: a high-quality fish oil supplement from a company you trust.

    Some can leave a fishy aftertaste or, even worse, a case of the "fish burps," but don't give up -- refrigerate your capsules instead.

    And if that doesn't work, try a different brand until you find one that leaves you with all the benefits... but none of the burps.

  3. Diabetics can go nuts

    Well whaddaya know -- it turns out small changes in your diet can lead to small changes in your health. Researchers asked diabetics to replace a little of their daily carbs with either more carbs or nuts... and found that those who went nuts had slight improvements in blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
  4. Diabetes 'cures' you don't need

    The mainstream is finally ready to admit you can beat diabetes without meds -- too bad they're still on the wrong track!
  5. Leg pain could be deadly

    It could be a sign of peripheral artery disease, or blockages in the leg arteries that affect up to 9 million Americans, especially older diabetics.
  6. Flawed study, flawed conclusion

    Researchers speaking in June at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association made that bold declaration – saying meds beat out stents for these patients.
  7. Could one vitamin spell the end for your diabetes complications?

    Diabetics are plagued with health problems resulting from damage to their kidneys, retinas, and the nerves in their arms and legs – and it could all boil down to a deficiency in one vital nutrient: vitamin B1.

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