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Oct

18

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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Oct

16

Managing Your Blood Sugars, eAG vs. A1C. How Do They Compare?

eAG And A1C, Understanding Both To Decipher Blood Sugar Readings:When it comes to diabetes management, blood sugar control is always the central theme. After all, keeping by keeping our blood sugars in check can help us live a long and healthy life.  One of the central themes when it comes to glucose control is maintaining a good A1C.  

By now most of us are aware of what an A1C and eAG test are, but why are they so important?  What does an A1C actually measure?  How about an eAG?  Can one make it easier to understand your overall numbers or provide better insight as to what’s going on?  All great questions, so lets take a closer look!

What is An A1C?

By now, this is the one you are probably most familiar with.  You know, you go into the endo’s office and the first thing they do is sit you down and take a finger stick, only to zoom off into another room to measure the results and report back. An A1C test is a blood test that provides information about a person’s average levels of blood sugar over a 3 month period, but how does it all work? 

Per the National Institute of Health:

The A1C test is based on the attachment of glucose to hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. In the body, red blood cells are constantly forming and dying, but typically they live for about 3 months. Thus, the A1C test reflects the average of a person’s blood glucose levels over the past 3 months. The A1C test result is reported as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the higher a person’s blood glucose levels have been. A normal A1C level is below 5.7 percent.

So what is this hemoglobin that they are talking about?  Well, hemoglobin is the protein specifically found in red blood cells and is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the entire human body. When blood sugar levels are elevated, some glucose attaches to hemoglobin and since red blood cells normally have a lifespan of 120 days, the A1C test is useful because it offers an indication of longer term blood sugar levels.

So how about an eAG?

What Is An eAG?

eAG also know as estimated average glucose is a newer term you may see talked about by your doctor. The American Diabetes Association introduced this term in order to help us translate our A1C tests into numbers that would more closely represent our daily glucose meter readings. How does this all work?

Well, your eAG number is calculated from the result of your A1C test. Like the A1C, the eAG shows what your average blood sugars have been over the previous 2 to 3 months, but instead of a percentage, the eAG is in the same units (mg/dl) as your blood glucose meter.

Below is small reference guild that will help you calculate your estimated average glucose level from your A1C result.

tab

Or if your looking to calculate your very own, after your next doctors visit feel free to do so by using the following formulas:

28.7 x HbA1c – 46.7 = eAG (in mg/dl)

1.59 x HbA1c – 2.59 = eAG (in mmol/L)

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Oct

11

Looking For Some Added Protein? Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds!

Looking For Some Added Protein? Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds!I’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately in regards to the health benefits of chia seeds and more importantly what are chia seeds?  Well, if your looking for a great way to boost your energy and add some protein to your diet, or boost your omega 3 intake, look no further.

Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Salvia hispanica seed is often sold under its common name “chia” as well as several trademarked names.

Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. The seeds of a related plant, Salvia columbariae (golden chia), were used primarily by Native Americans in the southwestern United States.  These gems are fantastic in so many ways, what makes chia seeds so powerful?  Lets take a closer look!

Skip The Coffee And Boost Energy:

Don’t want to feel like taking an afternoon nap? Your energy levels have a lot to do with what you eat. Chia is one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein. Usually protein from items like peanut butter and some beans are incomplete, meaning you have to combine them with other foods to get the full benefit. Not Chia though, it’s protein is complete to raise your energy levels. The combination of complete protein, vitamins, minerals and blood-sugar balancing gel all work together to make sure you have steady, never jittery energy.

Chia Seeds And Weight Loss:

Chia seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber in chia absorbs water and expands to form a gel that fills you up faster, so you consume fewer calories, hence weight loss. Fiber and protein slow the digestive process so hunger isn’t triggered as quickly as with sugars, starches and other simple carbohydrates. The insoluble fiber, which does not digest, aids in preventing constipation and digestive disorders by cleaning the colon.
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Oct

10

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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Oct

9

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 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 4 calories 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 9 calories 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 4 calories per gram.

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Oct

5

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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Oct

4

What Is Gastroparesis? Why Are Diabetics More At Risk?

What Is Gastroparesis?So I’ve been receiving a number of these questions over the past couple of months among my fellow type 1 diabetics which made me start to wonder…is there a connection between gastroparesis and type 1 diabetes or could it be just another condition all together?

Gastroparesis (also called delayed gastric emptying) is a progressive disorder that causes food to remain in the stomach for longer than normal periods. Because the nerves that move food through the digestive tract are damaged, the muscles do not work as they normally would.  As a result, food often sits in the stomach undigested.  So what are the signs and symptoms of gastroparesis and are you more prone as a type 1 diabetic, lets take a closer look! 

Symptoms Of Gastroparesis:

The following are the most common symptoms associated with gastroparesis:

  • vomiting of undigested food
  • early fullness after a small meal
  • weight loss
  • nausea 
  • bloating
  • stomach spasms
  • blood glucose levels that are hard to stabilize
  • heartburn 
  • loss of appetite
  • acid reflux

What Causes Gastroparesis:

While a high percentage of gastroparesis has been reported in people with type 1 diabetes (40%) and type 2 diabetes (10% to 20%), per the Mayo Clinic, it’s not always clear what leads to gastroparesis. In many cases, gastroparesis is believed to be caused by damage to a nerve that controls the stomach muscles (vagus nerve).

The vagus nerve helps manage the complex processes in your digestive tract, including signaling the muscles in your stomach to contract and push food into the small intestine. A damaged vagus nerve can’t send signals normally to your stomach muscles. This may cause food to remain in your stomach longer, rather than move normally into your small intestine to be digested.

The vagus nerve can be damaged by certain diseases (Parkinson’s and MS for example), and diabetes in particular, or by surgery to the stomach or small intestine.  As for diabetics, the fact that we deal with higher than normal blood sugars, over time these high blood glucose levels can damage the vagus nerve.  

Its should also be noted that for reasons that gastroparesis is more commonly found in women than in men. Researchers believe that this is possibly due to the effect of hormones on the GI tract, particularly estrogen and progesterone, and those seem to delay stomach emptying, but more research is still needed.  You can check out the study here.
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Oct

2

Health Benefits & Side Effects Of Kombucha!

Health Benefits & Side Effects Of Kombucha!I was chatting with a friend the other day, and she has asked me if I was a fan on Kombucha.  Honestly, I think its absolutely fantastic! Kombucha tea is made from the fermentation of a mixture of sweetened tea and SCOBY, which is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It is known to be effective in reducing the risks of certain health problems and promoting overall health so lets take a closer look!

Kombucha And Energy:

Kombucha’s ability to invigorate people has been credited to the formation of iron that is released from the black tea during the fermentation process.  It also contains some caffeine and b-vitamins, which can energize the body.

Through a special process known as chelation, the iron released helps to boost blood hemoglobin, improving oxygen supply to tissues and stimulating the energy producing process at the cellular level. In other words, by helping the body create more energy (ATP), the ancient tea can help those who regularly drink stay energized for extended periods of time.

Kombucha And Weight Loss:

Since Kombucha is high in acetic acid, there is reason to believe that Kombucha can improve ones metabolism and limit fat accumulation.  Though more studies need to be done, it makes sense that Kombucha tea supports weight loss since it’s high in acetic acid and polyphenols which have in other studies been proven to increase weight loss.  You can take a look at that study right here

Kombucha And Diabetes:

As we are all familiar with, metabolic problems and kidney dysfunction are frequent side effects of diabetes. Good news, the antioxidants created by kombucha fermentation may help support liver and kidney function as it’s a fantastic detox for the body. Shown to suppress glucose levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels in animal trials, researchers have indicated kombucha may be a good health support option for those with diabetes.

A comparative study involving black tea and kombucha has revealed that kombucha has better inhibiting properties as compared to the black tea and aids in preventing elevated blood glucose levels.

Per the study:

Kombucha tea has a healing action on the pancreas of the diabetic individuals and helps in guarding their liver and kidney functions by reducing the concentration of urea and other unfavorable activities occurring in the plasma membrane.

Definitely an interesting study that I will be following up on but in the meantime, I will be sticking to my Humalog as a type 1, LOL.

On the other side of the coin though, take a peek at the side effects listed below, especially as some relate to the effects on blood sugars.
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Sep

29

Electrolytes And How They Help With High Blood Sugars

What Are Electrolytes? Electrolytes And DiabetesEver wonder why when we are severely dehydrated as diabetics or when we are dealing with an extreme high blood sugar our medical team tells us to make sure we replenish our electrolytes? I mean, what is an electrolyte anyway, what are the symptoms of low electrolytes and how can they help us as diabetics or if your just out mowing the lawn? Diabetic or not, they are extremely important when it comes to our overall health so lets take a closer look!

When dissolved in fluid, salts tend to break apart into their component ions, creating an electrically-conductive solution. For example, table salt (NaCl) dissolved in water dissociates into its component positive ion of sodium (Na+) and negative ion of chloride (Cl-). Any fluid that conducts electricity, such as this new saltwater solution, is known as an electrolyte solution: the salt ions of which it’s composed are then commonly referred to as electrolytes. So that leads us to the next question…

What Are Electrolytes?

There are several common electrolytes found in the body, each serving a specific and important role, but most are in some part responsible for maintaining the balance of fluids between the intracellular (inside the cell) and extracellular (outside the cell) environments. This balance is critically important for things like hydration, nerve impulses, muscle function, and pH levels.

With the correct body water balance, the electrolytes separate into positive and negative ions. When the body loses water or becomes dehydrated an electrolyte imbalance starts to occur. During heavy exercise, sodium and potassium electrolytes in particular are lost through sweating.  To ensure constant electrolyte concentrations in the body, fluids must be regularly consumed.

To avoid an electrolyte imbalance which can cause lethargy and muscle twitching, athletes consume electrolyte solution drinks to make sure the electrolyte balance is maintained during and after exercise – this contributes to achieving optimum performance

You should drink frequently during strenuous physical activity. Thirst usually does not kick in until well after you have reached a state of dehydration, so consume plenty of fluid whether you feel like it or not. About 6 to 8 ounces every 15 minutes is sufficient. Help replace electrolytes by consuming a beverage that contains 0.7 milligrams of salt per quart of fluid. Consuming fruit slices, such as bananas, strawberries and oranges can help restore lost potassium, but obviously we still need to be careful here and a small bolus may be needed after exercise due to the sugar content in fruit. 

7 Major Electrolytes & Their Function:

Let’s take a look:

  1. Sodium (Na+)
  2. Chloride (Cl-)
  3. Potassium (K+)
  4. Magnesium (Mg++)
  5. Calcium (Ca++)
  6. Phosphate (HPO4–)
  7. Bicarbonate (HCO3-)

So what do each of these to?

Sodium (NA+) is the major positive ion in fluid outside of cells (extracellular) and when combined with chloride the resulting substance is table salt. Some functions of sodium include the regulation of the total amount of water in the body and the transmission of sodium into and out of individual’s cells, which plays a role in critical body functions. Many processes in the body, especially in the brain, nervous system, and muscles require electrical signals for communication. The movement of sodium is critical in generation of these electrical signals. Too much or too little sodium can cause cells to malfunction and extremes in the blood sodium levels.

Potassium (K+) is the major positive ion found inside of cells. Some of the functions of K+ are the regulation of heartbeat and muscle function. The proper level of potassium is essential for normal cell function. Any seriously abnormal increase or decrease in K+ can profoundly affect the nervous system and increase change of irregular heartbeats.

Calcium (Ca++) is needed to build and maintain bones. It also plays a role in nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction.

Magnesium (Mg++) is an essential mineral that is involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions in the body. Mg supports heart and nerve function. Mg is essential in the formation of bones and teeth and in converting blood sugar into energy.

Chloride (Cl-) is the major anion (negatively charged ion). CI- is found in the fluid outside of the cells and in the blood. The balance of chloride ion (CI-) is closely regulated by the body. Seawater has almost the same concentration of chloride ion as human body fluids. CI- plays a role in helping the body maintain a normal balance of fluids.

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Sep

27

Health Benefits Of Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum)

Health Benefits Of Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum)I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of “hot/spicy foods”, but I love cayenne pepper, well, in the right quantity, LOL!  Cayenne pepper (aka capsicum) is used in a variety of ways for both cooking and medicinal purposes. There are a number of ways you can incorporate cayenne pepper and cayenne pepper capsules into your daily diet.

Your metabolism can be boosted in a number of different ways through the consumption of spicy foods, but the key is eating the right spices, in the right quantities, and through the right foods, so lets take a closer look! 

Cayenne Pepper And Hypertension:

Cayenne pepper helps to make blood pressure levels normal. It regulates the flow of blood from the head to the foot and equalizes blood pressure. It also equalizes blood pressure in the arteries and veins instantly. It removes blockages present in the arteries and thus, improves the flow of blood. Since cayenne pepper reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, it simultaneously lowers the risk of hypertension.

Cayenne Pepper Weight Loss:

The main active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. It is said to be a “thermogenic chemical” which will help speed your metabolism and decrease your appetite. It’s actually a wonderful herb. It not only can promote weight loss, but it does many other wonderful things such as: increase blood flow, maintains healthy blood pressure, increase your sex drive, may help reduce ulcers and promotes a healthy digestive system.

Cayenne Pepper And Pain Relief:

Per the University Of Maryland medical center, capsaicin has very powerful pain-relieving properties when applied to the skin. It reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain, in your body. When there is less substance P, the pain messages no longer reach the brain, and you feel relief. Capsaicin is often recommended for the following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as joint or muscle pain from fibromyalgia or other causes
  • Nerve pain from shingles and other painful skin conditions (postherpetic neuralgia) that happens even after the skin blisters have gone away. Research is mixed, and it may be that it works for some people and not others. Check with your doctor to see if trying capsaicin ointment is right for you.
  • Pain after surgery, such as a mastectomy or an amputation
  • Has shown to assist in pain from nerve damage in the feet or legs from diabetes, called diabetic peripheral neuropathy, check out the study here.
  • Low back pain. Several studies suggest capsaicin cream can reduce lower back pain.

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