Health Tips: A fast(ing) way to beat diabetes -- and high blood pressure



Usain Bolt holds the record for the fastest sprint at 27.78 mph. And while that might not seem so fast compared to the cheetah (75 mph), it’s fast enough to defeat all challengers.

Fast enough is just what you want when it comes to defeating diabetes and its frequent companion, high blood pressure. You want to do it fast -- using semi-fasting to launch your victory run.

The challenge: Around 85% of folks with diabetes develop high blood pressure, increasing their risk for stroke and heart attack. Unfortunately, some antihypertensive medications make it harder to control blood glucose levels, and some anti-obesity diabetes meds raise blood pressure. Losing weight, reversing diabetes and getting off blood pressure meds is like winning a three-legged race. (Let’s see you do that, Mr. Bolt-O-Lightning!)

A solution: The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DIRECT) diet promotes weight loss by serving up low-calorie soups and shakes for 12-20 weeks and then helping people eat a healthy diet to maintain weight loss. The most recent DIRECT study published in Diabetologia found that achieving and maintaining around a 33-pound weight loss allowed 80% of participants to become diabetes-free without meds for at least two years. Around 28% were completely off their high blood pressure medication two years out.

Interested? Work with your doctor and diabetes educator or nutritionist to get long-lasting results by adopting a fast-start weight-loss diet and healthy eating plan. For help, check out DIRECT at, Dr. Oz’s 60-Day Diabetes Take Charge Challenge Food Plan and the “What to Eat When Cookbook.”

Headed for surgery? Beware of caffeine withdrawal

Legendary quarterback Tom Brady says he’s never had a cup of coffee “or anything like that.” That’s just as well. In early March of this year, he had knee surgery and is rehabbing it in order to be ready for summer training camp. Seems that an unrecognized issue that impacts surgery is caffeine withdrawal, which many patients go through leading up to, during and after an operation.

A study in Food and Chemical Toxicology says that when caffeine-loving patients can’t eat or drink anything for hours before a procedure, that can trigger withdrawal symptoms such as drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and intense headaches. And those reactions can complicate treatment and even extend hospital stays. Withdrawal also can increase the risk of delirium in intubated emergency room patients.

Around 90% of adults use caffeine regularly -- and get the remarkable health-boosting benefits that include helping prevent diabetes and lowering inflammation. But withdrawal symptoms can pop up three hours after your last dose and persist for up to nine days.

The lead author of the study summed up the researchers’ conclusions: “This is a no-brainer,” he said. “We have everything we need to supplement patients as needed and prevent these symptoms. But first we have to start paying better attention.” So let your doc know if you’re a caffeine aficionado well before you head into the operating room for any planned procedure. Ask if caffeine supplements or even a cup of joe as you wake up after surgery might be a smart move (only with the doc’s OK) so you can avoid the complications of withdrawal.