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Jan

20

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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Jan

18

Ketoacidosis In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs.

Ketoacidosis In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs.As a type 1 diabetic I am quite familiar (unfortunately) with the signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) results from dehydration, associated with high blood levels and your body starts to produce acids called ketones.  Diabetic ketoacidosis is associated with significant disturbances of the body’s chemistry, which resolve with proper therapy.

This usually occurs in people with type 1 diabetes, but DKA can develop in any person with diabetes.  Since type 1 diabetes typically starts before the age of 25, diabetic ketoacidosis is most common for this age group, but it may occur at any age with both males and females are equally affected. So is DKA something that we should be worried about? Lets take a closer look!

What Causes Ketoacidosis ?

So what’s the deal when our results come back showing ketones in urine? Circumstances arise for people with type 1 diabetes when the individual does not have enough insulin, a hormone the body uses to break down sugar (glucose) in the blood for energy. When glucose is not available to feed our cells due to high blood sugars, fat is broken down and used as fuel vs glucose and this is particularly not a good thing.  As fats are broken down, acids called ketones build up in the blood and urine.  In high levels, ketones are extremely poisonous.  This condition is known as ketoacidosis.

Blood glucose levels rise (usually higher than 300 mg/dL) because the liver makes glucose to try to combat the problem.  However, the cells cannot pull in that glucose without insulin.

DKA is often the first sign of type 1 diabetes in people who do not yet have other symptoms.  It can also occur in someone who has already been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Infection, injury, a serious illness, missing doses of insulin, or surgery can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis in people with type 1 diabetes.

Although not common, people with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but it is rare and typically triggered by a severe illness.

What Are The Warning Signs Of DKA?

DKA usually develops slowly. But when vomiting occurs, this life-threatening condition can develop in a few hours. Early symptoms per the American Diabetes Association include the following:

  • Thirst or a very dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • High blood glucose (blood sugar) levels
  • High levels of ketones in the urine

Then, other symptoms appear:

  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
    (Vomiting can be caused by many illnesses, not just ketoacidosis. If vomiting continues for more than 2 hours, contact your health care provider.)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fruity odor on breath
  • A hard time paying attention, or confusion

Any of these symptoms should immediately be discussed with your doctor and they will let you know the next course of action, including treatment options.  Speaking of treatment options, what can you expect?  Lets take a closer look.

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Jan

16

Diabetic Eye Health, How Lutein Can Help!

Diabetes, Lutein And Eye HealthAs a type 1 diabetic I certainly know the importance of eye health and the importance of making sure you get those all important yearly eye exams. As diabetics we face a host of different complication buy none no greater than our eyes.

When I was first diagnosed, my endocrinologist mentioned the importance of eye health and that I may want to look into eye supplement (Lutein) to make it appoint to stay on top of those yearly eye exams, especially if I started running into any issues.  Honestly not know much about lutein or ever really hearing about it, I decided to check it out to see what it’s all about, so lets take a closer look!

 

 What Is Lutein?

Lutein belongs to the carotenoid family, a group of vitamin A-related compounds that may be able to reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease and eye degeneration, reports the International Carotenoid Society.  You can get lutein from certain foods (my first recommendation) as well as from dietary supplements found in the pharmacy.

Lutein is a pigment found in large amounts in brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, corn, tomatoes and spinach. Acting as an antioxidant, lutein helps counteract the damage caused by free radicals, keeping cells healthy and protecting against illness and disease.

The Role Lutein Plays:

Lutein is present throughout the body, particularly in the eyes.  It is found in the lens of the eye as well as in the retina, especially in the macula.  It plays a significant role in visual sharpness and accuracy.  Lutein is considered as an antioxidant, that protects the cells against the damage caused by naturally occurring chemicals such as free radicals, from the sun’s UV rays.  Free radicals can impair the immune system, resulting in various infectious and degenerative diseases.  Damage to the sensitive tissue of the macula, that is present in the center of the retina, that can lead to loss of vision, is known as macular degeneration.  Free radical damage is one of the main causes of this condition and lutein proves to be effective against it.  Here is a fantastic study, done by the NIH in regards to the role of lutein in eye related diseases.  You can read that by clicking here 
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Jan

13

Leptin: Healthy Weight Loss?

Leptin: Healthy Weight Loss?Did you know that your body produces its very own fat burning hormone?  A wonderful little hormone called leptin!  Yes that’s correct, you do not need to be buying these “fat burning supplements” (which are highly processed and ironically enough, never seem to work) to lose those couple of pounds that you’ve been wanting to.  

As diabetics we all know how vitally important it is to maintain a proper weight to ward off potential complications as well as help maintain proper blood sugar levels.  

So lets take a look at leptin and see how you can increase levels in your very own body and start burning fat!

So what is leptin?

Leptin, also referred to as the hunger hormone, is a protein that performs a major part in the human body. This hormone oversees consumption of energy as well as expenditure of it.  It plays an important role in metabolism and appetite. The creation is attributed to fat cells or adipose tissue. There’s a primary link between leptin levels and appetite. If the levels are higher, you feel less hunger. Probably the most essential aspect about this hormone that quite a few individuals are not aware of is that when you do exercise and dieting to lower your weight, it has adverse effects on the level of this hormone.

Leptin And Obesity:

An individual whose hypothalamus is responding appropriately has a built-in check against excessive weight gain–the leptin-induced feeling of satiety. However, if a person is obese, their hypothalamus gland can become resistant to the effects of leptin. As they accumulate more fat cells, the fat cells produce ever greater amounts of leptin, all the while making a hypothalamus that responds more and more feebly to the hormone.

How Leptin Works:

Leptin is secreted by fat cells and is received by receptors in the hypothalamus. If leptin is absent, feeding is uncontrolled and relentless. In normally healthy people, if leptin is present and receptors are sensitive, feeding is inhibited. More body fat means less food is required, and so leptin is secreted to inhibit feeding and the accumulation of excess adipose tissue. Overweight people generally have higher circulating leptin, while leaner people have lower levels. A severe caloric deficit will result in reduced leptin secretion – this is your body’s way of getting you to eat when you need energy. It’s the hunger hormone. Overfeeding temporarily boosts leptin, reducing hunger.

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Jan

10

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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Jan

6

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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Jan

4

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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Jan

2

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes, Is There A Connection?

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes, Is There A Connection?So the other day I fielded a question about celiac disease and if there is a direct correlation between having celiac and type 1 diabetes.  A great question as more type 1 diabetics seem to be diagnosed with celiac disease after their type 1 diagnosis.  So what’s the deal with celiac disease?  What is it exactly and what can be done to help alleviate the symptoms?  Lets take a closer look!

 

What Is Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease is a digestive illness that occurs due to the ingestion of gluten. If you have celiac disease, your intestines cannot tolerate the presence of gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Gluten is present in wheat, barley, and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats foods with gluten, such as bread or cereal, their immune system inappropriately reacts to the ingested gluten and causes inflammation and injury to the small intestine. This results in symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and weight loss, as well as an inability to absorb important food nutrients.

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes:

So what’s the deal when it comes to type 1 diabetes and a celiac disease diagnosis?  While there doesn’t appear to be a direct link between type 2 diabetes and celiac that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to type 1. 

Per the celiac disease foundation:

“The link between type 1 diabetes mellitus and celiac disease was first established in the 1960s. The estimated prevalence of celiac disease in patients with type 1 diabetes is approximately 8%, and about 1% in the general population. Most patients with both conditions have asymptomatic celiac disease, or symptoms that may be confused for symptoms of their diabetes. For this reason, and the significantly higher prevalence rate of celiac disease in diabetes patients, many doctors recommend getting screened for celiac disease after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, as well as celiac patients getting screened for type 1 diabetes.

A recent study in 2013, contributed to by Dr. Peter Green, a member of Celiac Disease Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board found that there were no standard uniform practices for screening type 1 diabetes patients for celiac disease. Of the facilities in the study that did screen for celiac disease, 60% of them only did so if there were symptoms present. The authors of the study suggested that a uniform protocol for screening should be in place, as well as a need for further education on the gluten-free diet in patients with type 1 diabetes for dietitians.”(1)

The unfortunate part of this is that once you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes, you become prone to developing others.  As for the signs, symptoms and treatment options, lets take a look.

Symptoms Of Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease symptoms typically involve the intestines and digestive system. They can also affect other parts of the body and children as well as adults tend to have a different set of symptoms.  Those symptoms are as follows:

Celiac Disease Symptoms in Children:

Children with celiac disease can feel tired and irritable. They may also be smaller than normal and have delayed puberty. Other common symptoms include:

  • weight loss
  • vomiting
  • abdominal bloating
  • abdominal pain
  • persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • pale, fatty, foul-smelling stools

How To Diagnose Celiac Disease In Adults

Adults with celiac disease may experience digestive symptoms. In most cases, however, symptoms also affect other areas of the body. These symptoms may include:

  • iron-deficiency anemia
  • joint pain and stiffness
  • weak, brittle bones
  • fatigue
  • seizures
  • skin disorders
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
  • pale sores inside the mouth
  • irregular menstrual periods
  • infertility and miscarriage

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Dec

29

What Is A Diabetic Seizure, Warning Signs And Symptoms:

What Is A Diabetic Seizure?As diabetics we should all be very familiar with hypoglycemia but for those who are not, what is hypoglycemia and how can it effect us?

Hypoglycemia is the clinical syndrome that results from low blood sugar. The symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from person to person, as can the severity as I’ve personally dealt with in the past when my severe low was accompanied with a seizure.

This was the first time this as ever happened to me since being diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic over 10 years ago now.  While I don’t remember the seizure itself, lets just say we made it a memorable experience for the community as it happened at my sons fall soccer tournament.  So what is a hypoglycemic seizure and what are the warning signs of having a seizure?  Lets take a closer look!

What Is A Hypoglycemic Seizure:

So what causes a seizure? A hypoglycemic seizure may be triggered by injecting too much insulin, or failing to eat soon enough after using a fast acting insulin (exactly what happened to me); excessive use of alcohol, skipping meals,or exercising vigorously without adjusting insulin dosages or eating properly.

A seizure may also be triggered by oral diabetes medications that cause the pancreas to produce more insulin. Whatever the cause of the seizure, it needs to be treated as a medical emergency. To identify the onset of ahypoglycemic seizure,look for the following warning signs of seizures and symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Feeling faint or too sleepy
  • Shakiness
  • Feeling cold or clammy
  • Hallucinations
  • Unexplained emotional behaviors
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Unaware of surroundings
  • Changes in vision
  • Loss of ability to speak clearly
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety 

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Dec

27

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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