Hope for reversing type 2 diabetes


Allan Tutty on the beach in SunderlandRobert Ormerod/NYTimes

Many experts believe Type 2 diabetes is an incurable disease that gets worse with time. But new research raises the tantalizing possibility that drastic changes in diet may reverse the disease in some people.

Recently, a small clinical trial in England studied the effects of a strict liquid diet on 30 people who had lived with Type 2 diabetes for up to 23 years. Nearly half of those studied had a remission that lasted six months after the diet was over. While the study was small, the finding offers hope to millions who have been told they must live with the intractable disease…

It is not the first time that people have reversed type 2 diabetes by losing a lot of weight shortly after a diagnosis. Studies have also shown that obese individuals who have bariatric surgery frequently see the condition vanish even before they lose very much weight.

But the new study, published in Diabetes Care, proved the reversal after diet can persist for at least half a year as long as patients keep weight off, and can occur in people who have had the disease for many years.

Another conclusion that losing weight and exercising is good for you.

The researchers followed the participants after they had completed an eight-week low-calorie-milkshake diet and returned to normal eating. Six months later, those who had gone into remission immediately after the diet were still diabetes-free. Though most of those who reversed the disease had had it for less than four years, some had been diabetic for more than eight years.

❝ When Allan Tutty, 57, learned five years ago that he had Type 2 diabetes, he asked health care providers if there was a cure. “It was a case of, look, you’ve got it, deal with it, there’s no cure,” said Mr. Tutty, who manages a home for people with brain injuries in Newcastle.

Later, Mr. Tutty spotted a notice recruiting volunteers for a diabetes study that asked, “Would you like the opportunity to reverse your condition?”

Mr. Tutty said he jumped at the chance, becoming one of 30 men and women ages 25 to 80 to sign up. Mr. Tutty was one of 13 participants whose fasting plasma glucose dropped, and during the six-month follow-up remained below the seven millimole per liter (or 126 milligrams per deciliter) that defines diabetes. Although Mr. Tutty completed the study nearly three years ago, his fasting blood sugars continue to range from 5.2 to 5.6 mmol/L, he said…

Going on a very-low-calorie diet may allow the body to use up fat from the liver, causing fat levels to drop in the pancreas as well. That “wakes up” the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, normalizing blood glucose levels.

While some previous studies have shown that blood sugars can normalize after significant weight loss, endocrinologists said they were impressed by the persistence of the lower blood sugar levels for months after the diet.

The participants in the Newcastle trial, who ranged from overweight to extremely obese, were told to stop their diabetes medications and start a 600- to 700-calorie-a-day diet, consisting of three diet milkshakes a day at mealtimes and half a pound of nonstarchy vegetables a day.

Mr. Tutty, who weighed about 213 pounds before the trial, lost a little more than 30 pounds, the average weight loss in the trial. The people in the study most likely to respond to the treatment were in their early 50s on average and younger than the nonresponders, and they had had diabetes for fewer years…

Good news is good news even when it hasn’t yet been carried forward to a point when more generalized conclusions may be made.

Good news for many folks in this trial. Especially those who learned a new “normal” diet and maintained exercise.

Israel to charge Bedouin village for the cost of its destruction


To serve and protect — Israeli style

Israel has taken the Bedouin village of al-Araqib to court to force the desert settlement to pay US$500,000 in demolition costs, despite having been razed to the ground 83 times since 2010.

The Israeli state is claiming that the southern town should fork out for the 1,000 police deployed to carry out the destruction.

Because it is “unrecognized” by the Israeli government, al-Araqib is automatically approved for demolition….

Around half of Israel’s 90,000 Arab-Palestinian herders live in such precarious localities…Never before has a whole town been ordered to pay for its own demolition.

Since occupation of Palestinian territories began in 1967, Israel has demolished more than 27,000 homes.

The dance of death has become the national anthem of Israel. Greed, racism, bigotry, aparthied – are the musicians.

A rape victim’s fight for justice in Nepal

Justice, Nepal
Click to enlargePhoto by Navesh Chitrakar

When Pooja Bohara heard that the two men who had dragged her into a toilet and raped her had been released from prison nine months ago, the Nepali teenager, seen above through a door of the Raksha Nepal rehabilitation centre, went into shock.

But despite being blamed and stigmatised by some in her community in western Nepal for reporting the rape and forced to seek refuge in the capital, the 17-year-old says she is not giving up her fight for justice.

“Society and some family members blame me. My uncle even suggested that I should be placed in a heap of straw and burnt to death, but my father was for justice,” said Bohara, sitting in the rehabilitation centre in Kathmandu.

“It is not our fault that we are raped. Victims should come out and tell their story to the courts and seek justice.”

The two men, who had been convicted and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in March 2013, were acquitted by an appeals court last April due to a lack of evidence…

Growing awareness in Nepal of crimes against women has helped an increasing number of victims like Bohara to challenge a culture that often blames or shuns them into silence, say police and activists…

But despite improvements and greater awareness, most women still remain unaware of their rights and do not come forward to report crimes due to fears of stigmatisation, said Menuka Thapa, head of Raksha Nepal, the charity sheltering Bohara…

Mustering the courage to come forward and report violent crimes is just the first step in a long and often painful process to get justice. But Bohara is not waiting. The teenager has appealed to the Supreme Court, which is expected to hear her case later this month.

Another important chapter in Reuters’ “The Wider Image” series.

Converting Sunlight into Liquid Fuel” — this is what Obama was talking about

Barack Obama wants to convert sunlight into liquid fuel. It was a passing reference in the State of the Union address…If scientists can figure out how to do this, he said, it could “unleash new jobs.”

Currently there are three main ways to use solar power to propel cars and airplanes, but they all have problems:

Put solar panels on your vehicle. Given space limitations on a car, even very efficient solar panels would produce only two kilowatts of power…

Use solar panels to charge batteries or make hydrogen for fuel cells. Battery-powered cars are good for short trips and commuting, but batteries struggle to compete with gasoline, in terms of cost and weight, for longer driving…So far.

Use sunlight to grow plants and convert those plants into biofuels. Plants only convert 1 to 6 percent of the energy in sunlight into sugars and other biomass. So they require a lot of land, as well as tractors and fertilizer involving fossil fuels. The process of converting biomass to liquid fuels also consumes energy…

Obama is talking about using sunlight to produce energy-dense liquid fuels more directly. There are several ways to do this.

One is to engineer the microörganisms that make biofuels from sugar to get their energy from electricity instead…

Another option is to use solar panels to generate electricity, then use that electricity to perform electrochemistry. For example, you could split water to make hydrogen and break down carbon dioxide to get carbon, then combine the hydrogen and carbon to make hydrocarbon fuels much like gasoline or diesel.

A variation on this, known as artificial photosynthesis, would involve redesigning solar panels so that the electrons they produce do not generate an external electric current but drive electrochemical reactions inside the panel…

It all looks good on paper, but in reality there are big hurdles to making the technology work. Researchers have demonstrated parts of these processes, but never put them all together in an efficient, economic package.

Practically speaking, the only jobs these efforts will unleash in the near term involve doing the necessary research.

Which only means the research hasn’t traveled much further than proof-of-concept. Doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen within a reasonable period of time.

Truly ignorant folks will sit back and rely on gasoline staying under $2 a gallon forever. I remember when it was going to stay under 30¢ a gallon – forever.

First electric biker to earn Iron Butt

When someone tells Terry Hershner that an electric motorcycle can’t do a certain feat, he immediately begins trying to figure out how to prove them wrong. Seriously, the man is on a mission to show the world that electric transport is superior transport, with the two-wheeled mode being his validator of choice. The most recent example of this obsessive compulsion has led to him acquiring an iron butt.

For those unfamiliar with that term, relax, it’s not a medical condition. Rather, it means that he has officially traveled 1,000 miles or more in less than twenty-four hours on a motorcycle. In this case, an electric 2012 Zero S that he’s extensively modified, including the addition of an aerodynamic body kit created specifically for him by Craig Vetter, bunches of batteries (now 21 kilowatt-hours!), and nine separate chargers…

According to Hershner, he’s been told many times that this trip, with its lengthiness and time constraint would be impossible on a battery powered bike. So, he decided that the first day of National Drive Electric Week would be a good time to surmount the insurmountable.

Starting at 1:00 PM at Chargepoint headquarters – he would use that company’s chargers for the entire trip – he headed towards the Mexican border, about 500 miles away to the south. After covering 1,047 miles in 22 hours and 57 minutes, making nine charging stops along the way, he pulled back into that same parking lot with a big smile and joined the 53,000-plus members of the Iron Butt Association (IBA). Yes, there is such a thing.

I’m tired and tender just from watching his achievement.