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Mar

23

Diabetes, Hypoglycemia Unawareness & Low Blood Sugar. Know The Signs

HypoglycemiaSo we’ve all dealt with the symptoms, shaky, lethargic, confused, sweaty and the list goes on and on but what happens when we don’t realize or notice these symptoms? People who don’t have diabetes start to feel hypoglycemic when their blood glucose reaches 50- 55 mg/dl.  In people who have diabetes, hypoglycemia can’t really be defined as a specific blood glucose level, because the point at which they feel “low” changes, depending on their usual BG level.

So, individuals who are not properly controlled can “feel low” at normal or high BG levels, and individuals whose blood glucose runs consistently in the low-normal range and have frequent hypoglycemia may not “feel low” until their BG falls to a dangerously low level.  This has happened to me once and it was not fun.  So lets take a look at what hypoglycemia unawareness is and what we can do prevent it!

Hypoglycemia Unawareness Causes:

Hypoglycemia unawareness is actually quite common. It happens to me and that’s why I am so grateful for my dexcom. Studies show that 17 percent of us with Type 1 diabetes suffer from some sort of hypoglycemia unawareness.  Symptoms of a low blood sugar become less obvious after having diabetes for several years because repeated lows tend to impair the body’s release of stress hormones.  As we are probably aware at this point, or maybe not if your newly diagnosed, the major counter-regulatory hormone that causes glucose to be released by the liver to raise the blood sugar is glucagon, but is reduced in most people who have Type 1 diabetes within the first two to ten years after diagnosis.

Drinking alcohol increases the risk of an unacknowledged low because the mind becomes less capable of recognizing what’s happening, the liver is blocked from creating glucose needed to raise the blood sugar, and free fatty acid (the backup to glucose for fuel) release is also blocked. These factors make symptoms milder and harder to recognize and personally after a couple trips to the ER due to severe low blood sugars…lets just say I’m not a fan of alcohol any longer.

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Mar

21

Soy Lecithin, Is It Really Bad For You, What About The Benefits?

Soy Lecithin, Why Is It Bad For You?When I head out food shopping every Thursday, like most people, I’m always wanting to try different types of snacks to keep things fresh and to mix it up and its not only snacks, but supplements as well.

One ingredient that I always see “popping up” as an avid label reader is soy lecithin. Now the word soy always makes my ears perk up and gets my brain going, but is this added ingredient any different? Is it healthy for us? Should we be consuming it?  Lets take a closer look!

 

What Is Soy Lecithin?

So what does lecithin do and why is soy lecithin bad for you? Soy lecithin is a common ingredient in hundreds of processed foods, including cereals, pasta, breads, soy milk and many meats. Lecithin is also available as a health supplement; proponents claim that it can benefit the heart, brain, liver and athletic performance. However, there are potential dangers of soy lecithin that could outweigh the possible benefits.

Back in 2007, the GMO Compass reported that soy lecithin, like the majority of other food products in our supermarkets, contained genetically modified soy.  Genetically modified foods are bio-technically changed to increase yields and resistance to herbicides and insects.

Some prominent health-food advocates as well as some of today’s top scientists have concerns with the potential long-term impact from eating genetically modified food sources. For example, a study published in the “Journal of Applied Toxicology” discovered that mice fed GM soybean developed a decrease in pancreatic function. Think about that for a second as a type 1 diabetic.  No I’m not saying this is the cause, but its definitely eyebrow raising for sure, I know it was for me personally.

Although the nutrition of the soy was not altered, the study showed that as few as five days of feeding GM food caused pancreatic cellular changes, which were reversed after 30 days of non-GM foods.  You can read about the study here.

How Is Soy Lecithin Derived?

Great question indeed!  Check this out.

Soy Lecithin is derived from the waste product of the processing of the soybean plant. In an excerpt from the book The Whole Soy Story Dr. Kaayla T. Daniels explains:

“Soybean lecithin comes from sludge left after crude soy oil goes through a ‘degumming’ process. It is a waste product containing solvents and pesticides and has a consistency ranging from a gummy fluid to a plastic solid. Before being bleached to a more appealing light yellow, the color of lecithin ranges from a dirty tan to reddish brown. The hexane extraction process commonly used in soybean oil manufacture today yields less lecithin than the older ethanol-benzol process, but produces a more marketable lecithin with better color, reduced odor and less bitter flavor.7

Historian William Shurtleff reports that the expansion of the soybean crushing and soy oil refining industries in Europe after 1908 led to a problem disposing the increasing amounts of fermenting, foul-smelling sludge. German companies then decided to vacuum dry the sludge, patent the process and sell it as “soybean lecithin.” Scientists hired to find some use for the substance cooked up more than a thousand new uses by 1939.8” (source)

Yum! Now that I have your taste buds going, what about any additional side effects that we should be aware of or what about any possible benefits? Well, continue reading a little further.

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Mar

17

What Is Diabetic Hand Syndrome? Signs And Symptoms

handI fielded a question earlier this week on my Facebook page in regards to a fellow type 1 diabetic having diabetic hand pain and issues with their hands being stiff and they seemed harder to move.  

Immediately carpal tunnel syndrome popped into my head, but after she brought this up to her doctor and they ruled out carpal tunnel, they moved on to another diagnosis.  A condition called diabetic hand syndrome (DHS).  Honestly, I’ve never heard of DHS but like most things that grab my attention and not knowing much about something, I decided to see what this was all about.  So what is DHS?  Lets take a closer look! 

What Is Diabetic Stiff Hand Syndrome?

So here we are, diabetic hand syndrome or as its more formerly know as, stiff hand syndrome or cheiroarthropathy. Stiff hand syndrome is one of the most common hand disorders for people with diabetes. Another common nerve and joint problem is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Granted carpal tunnel is not caused by diabetes, but happens more often to people with diabetes, especially those who have diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic Hand Syndrome Symptoms:

Stiff Hand Syndrome is painless and can effect both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. It usually begins in your little finger. Then it spreads over time to your thumb. This stiffness then keeps you from being able to straighten your fingers fully.

In addition, the skin on the back of your hand may also become thick, tight and waxy-looking. One way to tell if you have Stiff Hand Syndrome is to hold the palms of your hands together as if you are praying. If all of the skin and joints of your palms and fingers don’t touch, there is the possibility that you may have stiff hand Syndrome.

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Mar

16

Health Benefits Of Vitamin D3, Is There A Type 1 Connection?

Health Benefits Of Vitamin D3While you’re catching some rays this up coming summer, think about vitamin D. Sometimes its called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight, but what about vitamin D3? Is it as simple as getting out into the sun and voila, vitamin D3!  I mean, what is vitamin D3 anyway? How much vitamin D3 should I take?

Did you know that the human skin makes vitamin D3 when exposed to ultraviolet rays of the sun? According to the National Institute of Health, some of the best food source for vitamin D3 are fish products, such as: cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, and sardines.  With that being said, lets take a closer look at how vitamin D3 can benefit you.

Vitamin D3 Benefits:

Vitamin D3 promotes calcium’s absorption and functions for teen’s and children’s healthy teeth and bones, prevents loss of bone mass, and treats bone disorders.

It protects against adult and elderly muscle weakness and immune system issues, and lowers the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis is improved with vitamin D3.

Vitamin D3 has been show to prevent/treat rickets, post menopausal osteoporosis. The vitamin also been show to help treat multiple sclerosis.  Something that I found extremely interesting is that they are still conducting studies (more research is definitely needed) seeing if there is a connection between lack of Vitamin D3 and the development of Type 1 diabetes.

Benefits of D3 in the elderly and fractures are still under investigation. An analysis, reported in August 2007 by the University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center, showed higher doses of vitamin D3 of between 700-800 IU’s per day combined with calcium help prevent hip fractures for institutionalized elderly. The study did not include elderly living independently in the community.

Vitamin D3 And Your Immune System:

Cells of the immune system, such as macrophages, which hunt the body for dangerous pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and cancer cells, have receptor sites for vitamin D3. Research suggest that D3 may play a role in stimulating these cells to be more active in their hunt for disease-causing microbes and act as an immunity booster especially during the winter months when sunlight is more scarce. 

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Mar

13

Blood Glucose Control and Exercise, Get Moving!

Blood Glucose Control and Exercise, Get Moving!Most of you already know that I love to exercise.  My day starts out at 4am, early yes, but its the only time that I get to myself during the day.  As a stay at home dad of 4, I consider this a small sacrifice for my sanity as well as to benefit my bottom line as a type 1 diabetic, my health!  

What makes exercise so important?  Well I think we all know the answer to that question as there are so many benefits including better control of our overall blood sugars.  There is a list of exercises you can do, but lets take a closer look at how you can exercise safely for better control!

Diabetes And Exercise:

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, diabetes and exercise should go hand in hand, at least when it comes to the management aspect of the disease. Not only can exercise can help you improve your blood sugar control, boost your overall fitness, it can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, provide more stable blood sugar readings, and help lower blood pressure ~ all risk factors that we face.

While exercise is great for us and the benefits are well documented, as diabetics it also poses some unique challenges. To exercise safely, it’s crucial to track your blood sugar before, during and after physical activity. You’ll learn how your body responds to exercise, which can help you prevent potentially dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.

Exercise And High Blood Sugars?

This was one of the biggest hurdles for me when I was first diagnosed.  My numbers would skyrocket after a workout or even during a gym session.  The issue is that exercise triggers the body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline. Adrenaline tells the liver to release glucose, or cortisol which makes you more resistant to insulin, and since strenuous activity triggers an increase in these stress hormones,  chances are (even temporarily) your blood sugars are often increased.

That being said different exercises affect us differently and we also know that we’re all very unique, and lets face it, type 1 diabetes effects everyone differently and no situations are ever the same. Our blood sugar response to exercise will also depend on our level of physical fitness and personal exertion. Generally speaking, 30-40 minutes of high intensity interval training will bring different results than an hour of running, doing the stair climber or even walking the dog so it will be important to closely monitor your blood sugars during exercise and see how these activity levels effect you.

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Mar

9

What Is Diabetic Dermopathy, More Than Just Dry Skin?

What Is Diabetic Dermopathy, More Than Just Dry Skin?I’ve been a type 1 diabetic now for the past 10 years and I’ve heard of most of the associated complications associated with the disease, but I came across an article a couple weeks back about diabetic dermopathy shin spots and how they are more prevalent in type 1 diabetics.

Well, never hearing of it, it automatically peaked my interest and the fact that I’ve personally had a couple of sketchy spots on my lower legs over the years, I started to research diabetic dermopathy and what it was all about, so lets take a closer look!

What Causes Diabetic Dermopathy?

One of the more popular diabetic skin ailment (yay us!), diabetic dermopathy is found in more than 50% of individuals dealing with the disease. Diabetic dermopathy is a harmless condition and is likely the most common skin problem in people who have had diabetes for some time, or whose blood sugar levels are poorly controlled and remain high over a prolonged period of time.

The exact cause of diabetic dermopathy is unknown but may actually be associated with diabetic neuropathic (nerve) and vascular (blood vessels) complications, as studies have shown the condition to occur more frequently in diabetic patients with retinopathy (retinal damage of the eye), neuropathy (nerve/sensory damage) and nephropathy (kidney damage).

Diabetic dermopathy tends to occur in older patients or those who have had diabetes for at least 10-20 years. It also appears to be closely linked to increased glycosylated haemoglobin, an indicator of poor control of blood glucose levels.

Because lesions often occur over bony parts of the body such as the shins, it is thought that diabetic dermopathy may also be a magnified response to injury or trauma to these areas. Studies have shown that shin spots have appeared in response to trauma with heat, cold or blunt objects in patients with diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Dermopathy?

Diabetic dermopathy appears as pink to red or tan to dark brown patches, and it is most frequently found on the lower legs. The patches are slightly scaly and are usually round or oval. Long-standing patches may become faintly indented (atrophic).

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Mar

7

What Is C-Peptide? How Does It Play A Factor In Your Diagnosis?

What Is C-Peptide? How Is It Used To Diagnose DiabetesIts a fantastic question and was a test that was run on me to confirm my type 1 diagnosis. A c-peptide!  What is it?  What is the purpose and why do they use this particular test in order to confirm a type 1 diabetes diagnosis?  Lets take a closer look! 

What Is C-Peptide?

C-peptide, similar to the hormone insulin is produced in the pancreas.  Both are released simultaneously from the pancreas where a compound called pro-insulin is split into two pieces.

As we are aware by now, Insulin is responsible for regulating the body’s glucose levels. Glucose, the body’s main source of energy, is a sugar that comes from foods.  After a meal, our bodies break down the foods we eat into glucose and other nutrients, which are then absorbed into the bloodstream to give us the energy we need in order to fuel our bodies. Glucose levels in the blood rise after a meal and trigger the pancreas to make insulin and release it into the blood, and when insulin is released, so is C-peptide.

Although both are released into the blood stream simultaneous, C-peptide has zero effect on our blood sugar levels. That being said, it is extremely useful as its used as a marker of insulin production, since the pancreas typically releases C-peptide and insulin in about equal amounts.

In a nut shell, high C-peptide levels are associated with increased insulin production, while low C-peptide levels indicate decreased insulin production.

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Mar

2

Micronutrients vs Macronutrients, How Can They Effect Your Blood Sugar?

Micronutrients vs Macronutrients, How Can They Effect Your Blood Sugar?So check this out, your body has the amazing ability to take the foods you eat and literally turn them into you.  Pretty cool don’t you think! Whether you eat an apple, a steak or a kale salad, your body is able to break that food down into its chemical parts and reassemble those parts into your cells and the energy you use all day. This is flat out awesome considering outside the plant and animal kingdom, nothing else that can do that!

Here is the deal though, your body is only as amazing as the material it has to work with, like a fine tuned machine, the quality of the food you put into your amazing body has a huge impact on your overall health.  An apple is not just an apple, nor is a steak just a steak.  As stated above, your body is able to break those foods down into their chemical parts, like macronutrients and micronutrients.  So what makes these nutrients so important, lets take a closer look!

What Are Macronutrients:

Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Derived from the prefix makro (Greek), which means big or large, used because macronutrients are required in large amounts. There are three broad classes of macro-nutrients which make up your primary food sources know as proteins,carbohydrates and fats.

The main function of macronutrients is to provide energy, counted as calories. While each of the macronutrients provides calories, the amount provided by each varies. Carbohydrates provides four calories per gram (I think we are all pretty well versed here),proteins;also four, while fats provides nine calories per gram.

Macronutrients also have specific roles in maintaining the body and contribute to the taste, texture and appearance of foods, which helps to make the diet more varied and enjoyable.

Macronutrients broken down:

  • Carbohydrates – are required for energy. As diabetics we all have varying opinions on carbohydrates and the amounts that we like to ingest , but glucose, which is a monosaccharide, is the most essential source of energy in the body. The brain works entirely on glucose alone. When an immediate source of energy is required, glucose is converted into glycogen which is stored in the liver. When energy is needed it is converted into glucose again and used to release energy. Carbohydrates provide 17 kilojoules of energy per gram.
  • Fats – have the highest caloric content. This means they provide the largest amount of energy when burnt. When measured by a calorimeter, fats provide about 37 kilojoules per gram, making them twice as energy-rich than protein and carbohydrates. Extra fat is stored in adipose tissue and is burnt when the body has run out of carbohydrates. Fat is also needed to take up fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Proteins–  are the third and last source of energy. They are the last to be used of all macronutrients. In cases of extreme starvation, the muscles in the body, that are made up of proteins, are used to provide energy. This is called muscle wasting. Proteins also provide 17 kilojoules per gram.

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Feb

28

The Cost Of Fast Acting Insulin, Are There Cheaper Alternatives?

Fast Acting Insulin Side Effects As diabetics, we are all well aware of fast acting insulin and the vital role it plays when it comes to keeping us alive and upright, but for those newly diagnosed diabetics (type 1 and type 2), Insulin is secreted by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, a small organ between the stomach and liver. This hormone regulates the sugar levels in the human body. When the pancreas stops secreting insulin, it results in hyperglycemia which is a common and lethal symptom of diabetes.

There are several rapid acting insulin brands, and  as a type 1 diabetic, I am extremely reliant upon fast acting insulin, Novolog in particular. When discussing a topic over on The Organic Diabetic Facebook page, we got onto the subject of all the negative side effects associated with insulin and blood sugar regulation.  So for all you newly diagnosed type 1’s, lets take a peek at some of the most dangerous side effects associated with fast acting insulin.  Also, what drives the cost of insulin and are there programs to help defer the costs?  Lets take a closer look! 

Diabetes And Insulin:

Less common, but potentially more serious, is generalized allergy to fast acting insulin, which may cause rash (including pruritus) over the whole body, shortness of breath, wheezing, reduction in blood pressure, rapid pulse, or sweating. Severe cases of generalized allergy, including anaphylactic reaction, may be life threatening. Localized reactions and generalized myalgias have been reported with the use of cresol as an injectable excipient (preservative to keep insulin potent).

Fast Acting And Hyperglycemia:

Hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, or diabetic coma may develop if the patient takes less fast acting insulin than needed to control blood glucose levels. This could be due to insulin demand during illness or infection, neglect of diet, omission or improper administration of prescribed fast acting insulin doses.

A developing ketoacidosis will be revealed by urine tests which show large amounts of sugar and acetone. The symptoms of polydipsia, polyurea, loss of appetite, fatigue, dry skin and deep and rapid breathing come on gradually, usually over a period of some hours or days. Severe sustained hyperglycemia may result in diabetic coma or death.

Fast Acting Insulin And Lipodystrophy

Long-term use of fast acting insulin, can cause lipodystrophy at the site of repeated insulin injections or infusion. Lipodystrophy includes lipohypertrophy (thickening of adipose tissue) and lipoatrophy (thinning of adipose tissue), and may affect insulin absorption. Its extremely important to rotate insulin injection or infusion sites within the same region to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy.
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Feb

23

Flaxseed Health Benefits, Can Flaxseed Help Your Blood Sugars?

Flaxseed Health BenefitsI just love flaxseed, and one I supplement with daily.  Flaxseed has an amazing amount of benefits to help promote overall health. In saying that, how can one find flaxseed? What actual benefits does organic flaxseed provide? Can it help prevent your blood sugars from spiking? For that and much, much more, continue reading!

Flaxseed oil is an excellent supplement that supports the body’s vital systems. It is rich in the omega-3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Although omega-3s are crucial to human health, they are not manufactured by the body, so it’s important to get a steady supply through dietary sources and supplements.

There are two types of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. Most Americans get enough omega-6 fatty acids from dietary sources such as meat, eggs and dairy. Omega-3s are necessary for growth, heart health and brain function, but many of us do not get enough of them from dietary sources. MayoClinic.com reports that multiple studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

These supplements have also been studied as a treatment for depression and other mental illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, ADHD, osteoporosis, and even cancer prevention.

Benefits Of Flaxseed:

Flaxseed oil offers a wide range of health benefits. There are some studies showing that flaxseed oil can reduce total cholesterol and LDL (low density lipoprotien also known as bad cholesterol). This, however, is dependent on how well the alpha-linolenic acid is broken down into EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil is likely to make platelets less sticky, which could help to reduce the risk of heart attack.

Flaxseed may also lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels (fat in the blood). Flaxseed oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to regulate the heartbeat, further supporting good cardiovascular health. In addition, the flax seed contains compounds called lignans. Studies show that patients taking lignans had a 75% reduction in atherosclerotic plaque buildup.

Flaxseed itself is recommended for those who suffer from Crohns disease or irritable bowel syndrome because it is thought to be able to heal the lining of the stomach and reduce inflammation.

The ALA found in flaxseed inhibited tumor growth and incidence in animal studies. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed are thought to bind to estrogen receptors, reducing the risk of estrogen driven breast cancer.

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