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Diabetes Update: Nutrition.Gov

Number 47; October 16, 2002

By David Mendosa

Rick and His Cockatiels

Rick and His Cockatiels

This newsletter keeps you up-to-date with new articles, columns, and Web pages that I have written. I list and link most of these on my Diabetes Directory at

From time to time Diabetes Update may also include links to other Web pages of special interest.

My most recent contribution is:

    on October 15, 2002
  • Nutrition.Gov
    Cynics are the best investigative reporters. I’m not cynical, and that's probably why I have only one real exposé to my credit in all my years in journalism. I’m not complaining, because those of us who aren’t cynical have longer and happier lives. But I am giving you warning that I tend to trust the motivation of others. Even when those others work for the U.S. government.

    I am as aware as anyone of the corruption and self-dealing of many of those in power. But most of the time I know from my own experience, including 15 years as a government bureaucrat, that most people in our government call it like it is. This, I believe, is especially true in the field of nutrition, a field that could not be more important to those of us with diabetes.

    So, now that the government has pulled together its resources on nutrition in a new portal site called Nutrition.Gov we have something to cheer about. And that’s what I do in my new column for the American Diabetes Association's Web site.

    While I have some reservations about the government’s advice on nutrition, I don’t think that the facts that it presents can be doubted. I do wonder who influenced the outdated “Food Pyramid.” Its recommendations on nutrient requirements sometimes seem awfully conservative. But by and large there is no better source of nutrition information. Start with my column at

Updates include:

  • Forthcoming BD Meter
    Becton Dickinson & Co. will introduce a glucose meter in the U.S. in the year 2002, according to W.R. Hambrecht & Co. analyst Chris Kaster. The introduction of a BD meter has been the subject of speculation for several months. Mr. Kaster says that he believes this meter’s “features are believed to be a small sample size (in the neighborhood of 1 ml) and fast test time (5-15 seconds).” He goes on to write that “With these features an alternative sight [sic] labeling is possible.” The URL is and I have accordingly updated my Meters page at

Research Notes:

    on October 8, 2002
  • Tea Enhances Insulin Activity
    Could something as common as tea actually increase our sensitivity to insulin? Dr. Richard A. Anderson, a research chemist at the USDA-ARS Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, thinks so. Dr. Anderson and his colleague, Marilyn Polansky, have been working for years to analyze dozens of herbs, spices, and plants for any positive effect on blood glucose levels. He previously made the headlines with his research on chromium and cinnamon.

    Now, based on studies of raw fat cells grown in test tubes, they say that tea increases insulin activity more than 20-fold. What do they mean by tea? Leaves of the traditional tea plant, Camellia senensis, whether it is black, green, or oolong. It didn’t matter if the tea was caffeinated or non-caffeinated. But herbal teas, which do not use leaves from tea bushes, don’t have the effect. And don’t add whole or skim milk, nondairy creamers, or soy milk. They inhibited the tea’s action on insulin. On the other hand, lemon is okay.

    One problem is that you’ve got to keep drinking the stuff. The effect lasts only a few hours.

    The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry published the study online in its October 8 issue. Unfortunately, they want $25 for either the abstract or the article. A free source for summary information is the Agriculture Research Service site.


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