Author Archive: Chris - The Organic Diabetic

As a type 1 diabetic, I made the switch to an organic lifestyle several years ago after being diagnosed with Diabetes in 2006. Living with diabetes is hard enough, why make it more difficult by consuming products with chemicals, toxins and other harmful, unhealthy ingredients. To me, the choice was easy and just made sense. We hope you enjoy our blog! Feel free to look around and check out all of our products by clicking through the tabs above! Thanks for stopping by and also please be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter by liking our pages below! You never know what freebies we will be giving away!! Don't forget to check out the website as well at www.theorganicdiabetic.org

rss feed Twitter

Author's Website

Jun

23

What Is C-Peptide? How Does It Play A Factor In Type 1 Diabetes?

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.

Continue Reading

Jun

22

The Glycemic Load And How It Helps Manage Your Blood Sugars.

What Is The Glycemic Load?Ok, so I was researching some information the other day when it came to certain foods and I came across a term that was unfamiliar to me.  As diabetics we are so use to hearing about the glycemic index (that’s all that was preached to me upon my T1D diagnoses 11 years ago) and why we need to make sure our foods are on the lower end of this scale to make sure our blood sugars remain more stable and do not skyrocket, but as I was researching these particular foods, I came across something I’ve haven’t really heard much about…the glycemic load.  What is this glycemic load?  Is it the same as the glycemic index?  Will it have a direct impact on my blood sugars?  All great questions so lets take a closer look! 

Difference Between Glycemic Index And Load?

Just to quickly review,  the glycemic index  is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and are categorized into 3 categories.  

The categories are as follows:

Low = GI value 55 or less

Medium = GI value of 56 – 69 inclusive

High = GI 70 or more

Lower glycemic index foods, unlike high GI, will not cause your blood glucose levels to spike and crash, meaning you get sustained energy from the foods you eat.   So now that we’ve reviewed that tid bit of info, how does the glycemic load compare?

How About The Glycemic Load?

The glycemic load of food is a number (just like the glycemic index) that estimates how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. One unit of the glycemic load approximates the effect of consuming one gram of glucose, but the difference is that the glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in a particular food and how much each gram of that particular carbohydrate will raise ones blood glucose levels (now you can see my peaked curiosity).

Foods with a low glycemic load keep blood sugar levels much more consistent, meaning that you avoid experiencing those quick spikes and dramatic lows that we can become accustomed to. The reason being is that you are accounting for that particular carbohydrate with it comes to bolusing for your meals.

By watching the glycemic load of the foods you ingest you can dramatically impact your overall health in many ways.  A diet focused on foods  with a low glycemic load can:

  • Make it easier to lose weight and avoid the dreaded diet plateau
  • Avoid the roller coaster effect and maintain stable blood sugar levels (yes, please!)
  • Help you burn more calories
  • Help with insulin resistance 
  • Lower your risk for heart disease

How Do I Calculate The Glycemic Load?

Ok, so this is probably the most important question.  The glycemic load (GL) is a measure of both the quality (the GI value) and quantity (grams per serving) of a carbohydrate in a particular food. A food’s glycemic load is determined by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate the food contains in each serving, then dividing that by 100.  Confused a bit, lets take a look at this example of an apple.

So the Glycemic Load = GI x Carbohydrate (g) content per portion ÷ 100.

Using a small apple as an example: GI value = 38.  Carbohydrate per serving = 15g

GL = 38 (glycemic index) x 15 (grams of carb)
                                     100

So the glycemic load of a typical apple is 6.  Great, now your probably asking yourself, what do you do with this information?

Well, similar to the glycemic index, the glycemic load of a food can be classified as low, medium, or high reflecting on how quickly they will raise your blood sugars:

  • Low: 10 or less
  • Medium: 11 – 19
  • High: 20 or more

For optimal health, it is recommended to keep your daily glycemic load under 100. However, the simplest way to use the GL is to choose foods with the lowest GI within a food group or category and to be mindful of your serving sizes.
Continue Reading

Jun

21

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin & Stop With Cinnamon Claims.

Insulin Basics: What Is Insulin?

Over the past couple of days, we’ve been discussing several diabetes related topics but what about one of the most important ones, especially when it comes to keeping us type 1 diabetics alive. No I’m not talking about okra, some exotic fruit, cinnamon, or essential oil I’m talking about insulin! 

Before we go there though, for those of you who make these claims (especially about okra and cinnamon) in regards to treating or as many of you like to say “cure” type 1 diabetes, you really need to stop. Over the past year I’ve been getting bombarded with sales pitches and I’m honestly tired of it. Cinnamon is a great antioxidant and comes with some fantastic health benefits but when it comes to type 1 diabetes, don’t you think if it was that easy, it would be mainstream information and the millions of us that battle with this disease day in and day out would avoid the BS that we deal with daily?  

Or perhaps the miracle lies within the specially formulated product you are trying to sell me? Its utterly ridiculous, and the fact that you know nothing about the disease itself or how it works, you need to take a step back and take your products with you.

I mean, you realize that you produce insulin naturally, its a normal human bodily function.  What makes you think that okra, cinnamon, or your essential oil is going to magically wake up my dead beta cells (these are the cells that actually produce insulin, feel free to google, its a fascinating read).  Perhaps your cinnamon, shake or oil defies all science and type 1 diabetes research?  

Or perhaps you have magic okra that you purchased from the same person who sold Jack his beanstalk beans? Perhaps the laws of physics cease to exist in your potent concoction? Either way you need to stop before you seriously put someone in a very bad predicament.

Now I can only talk about type 1 diabetes as this is what I  eat, breath and live with daily. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why, but the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as autoimmune disease.

Insulin is vital for survival because without it, simply put, life would cease to exist (including yours).  So what is insulin and why is it so important for type 1 diabetics, lets take a look!

What Is Insulin?

So the most basic question, what is insulin? When you digest food, your body changes most of the food you eat into glucose (a form of sugar). Insulin allows this glucose to enter all the cells of your body and be used as energy. When you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin (zero in the case of type 1, unless your in your honeymoon phase) or can’t use it properly, so the glucose builds up in your blood instead of moving into the cells. Too much glucose in the blood can lead to serious health problems.

All people who have type 1 and some people who have type 2 diabetes need to take insulin to help control their blood sugar levels. The goal is to keep your blood sugar level in a normal range as much as possible so you’ll stay healthy. Insulin can’t be taken by mouth. It is usually taken with injections (shots). It can also be taken with an pre filled syringe or an insulin pump.

Types Of Insulin:

Manufactured insulin comes in several types that differ in the way in which they act inside the body. Each type differs in three ways:

  • Onset: The length of time after injection that the insulin begins to work
  • Peak: the length of time after injection that the insulin takes to reach its maximum effectiveness
  • Duration: the length of time in which it remains effective

The four basic types and their respective onset, peak and duration are as follows:

  • Rapid Acting: begins to work after 15 minutes, peaks in 30 to 90 minutes, and has a duration of three to four hours.
  • Short Acting: begins to work in 30 to 60 minutes, peaks in two to three hours, and has a duration of three to six hours.
  • Intermediate Acting: begins to work in 90 minutes to six hours, peaks in four to 14 hours, and has a duration of up to 24 hours.
  • Long Acting: begins to work in six to 14 hours and remains effective for 24 to 36 hours.

Continue Reading

Jun

20

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. 

Continue Reading

Jun

16

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 11 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 

Continue Reading

Jun

14

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).

Continue Reading

Jun

13

The Hormone Amylin, Can It Help With Weight Loss & Blood Sugar Regulation:

The Hormone Amylin And Type 1 Diabetes:So after haveing a couple of amazing conversations over on the Facebook page, a lovely young lady asked me if injecting insulin was the reason why she was gaining weight after her type 1 diagnosis.  

While I’ve heard this several times, is it the insulin that is causing the weight gain, or could it be something else?  Perhaps a hormone that as type 1 diabetics we also stop producing since our beta cells have died off.  

Have you ever heard of Amylin? Could the lack of this hormone be the reason why she is seeing an increase in her weight? What is amylin anyway, and is it something we should be concerned with if we are no longer producing it?

These are all great questions and honestly this was news to me as well as I’ve never heard of it.  So lets take a closer look at what this little hormone does and if it has a direct impact on our overall health as type 1 diabetics!

Function Of Amylin?

So what is amylin? Or as its also called, pramlintide, and how can it help us? Amylin is a peptide hormone (insulin’s partner in crime) which is released by the beta cells in response to ingesting food. This hormone, is also released at the same time as insulin, but in different quantities and its primary function is to help aid in the digestive process by helping to control the rate of digestion.

The complete range of functions of amylin is still not fully known, but its main function has been determined to be to help to slow the speed at which food is digested and glucose is released into the bloodstream after a meal. Essentially, amylin keeps too much glucose from appearing in the blood in the first place.

Amylin accomplishes this in a number of ways. It decreases appetite by promoting a feeling of fullness, hence reducing food intake. It slows gastric emptying and inhibits the secretion of digestive enzymes, all of which slow the appearance of glucose in the blood after a meal and it also slows the secretion of glucagon, which otherwise causes additional glucose release by the liver at mealtimes.

In short, the release of amylin minimizes glucose spikes that often occur after meals. I know, frustrating right!  I mean this disease is already hard enough, now this.  Fortunately for us, we do have another option to replace this important hormone that has also died off with our beta cells so go ahead and keep on reading.

 

Continue Reading

Jun

7

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Help Share The Warning Signs:

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs: As diabetics chances are we’ve all experienced those dreaded lows, but what are they? What can we do as type 1 diabetics to avoid them and more importantly, what can we do to prevent them?  Lets take a closer look and examine hypoglycemia!

The body’s most important fuel is glucose, a type of sugar. When you digest most foods, sugar is released, and that sugar ends up in your bloodstream as glucose.

Your body, particularly your brain and nervous system, needs a certain level of glucose to function — not too much, and not too little. If your blood glucose level isn’t right, your body will react by showing certain symptoms.

Hypoglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels are abnormally low, and it’s a potentially serious condition. If you know someone who has diabetes, you may have heard them talk about “insulin shock,” which is the common name for a severe hypoglycemic reaction.

People with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia if they don’t eat enough or if they take too much insulin — the medicine most commonly used to treat diabetes with those who suffer from type 1.

Causes Of Hypoglycemia:

Most cases of hypoglycemia in adults happen in people with diabetes mellitus. Diabetes has two forms, type 1 (loss of all insulin production) and type 2 (inadequate insulin production due to resistance to the actions of insulin).

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control their glucose level; if they skip meals or have a decreased appetite without changing their insulin dose, BAM, you guessed it, bring on the low!

Insulin is also used to treat some people with type 2 diabetes. If a person with type 1 diabetes accidentally takes too much insulin, or a person with type 2 diabetes accidentally takes too much of their oral medications or insulin, he or she may develop hypoglycemia.

Even when a diabetic patient takes medications correctly, improper meals, odd mealtimes, or excessive exercise may result in hypoglycemia.

Classic Signs Of Hypoglycemia:

Symptoms of a low blood sugar will vary depending on the individual, but here is a list of most of the common ones that I’ve personally experienced.  It should be noted that low blood sugars can occur suddenly and the most common low sugar symptoms include:

  • blurry vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • sudden mood changes
  • sudden nervousness
  • unexplained fatigue
  • pale skin
  • headache
  • hunger
  • shaking
  • sweating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin tingling
  • trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • loss of consciousness

If you have hypoglycemic unawareness, a condition in which you do not know your blood sugar level is dropping, your blood sugar can drop so quickly you may not even have warning symptoms. When this occurs, you can faint, experience a seizure, or even go into a coma.  I had the unfortunate experience of a seizure a couple of years ago, definitely not something that I want to deal with again.

Continue Reading

Jun

5

Diabetes And Hypertension, Know The Signs

Diabetes And Hypertension, Know The SignsThe other day I was asked a question if diabetics were more susceptible to developing high blood pressure? After doing a some research, it appears that diabetes and hypertension frequently occur together and there seems to be a direct correlation between the two.  

Certain factors such as obesity, inflammation, oxidative stress, even insulin resistance are thought to be the common causes, but recent advances have shed new light as to what causes high blood pressure and what should be done to make it more manageable.

Physical activity plays an important protective role in the two diseases and knowing the common causes and disease mechanisms allows for a more effective and proactive approach in managing both diabetes as well as high blood pressure, so lets take a closer look!

What Causes Hypertension?

High blood pressure that has no known cause is termed primary hypertension (or essential hypertension). This is more common than secondary hypertension, which has an identified cause such as chronic kidney disease.

Primary hypertension is unlikely to have a specific cause but multiple factors, including blood plasma volume and activity of the renin-angiotensin system, the hormonal regulator of blood volume and pressure – and primary hypertension is affected by environmental factors.

Secondary hypertension has specific causes – that is, it is secondary to another problem. One example, thought to be the most common, is primary aldosteronism, a hormone disorder causing an imbalance between potassium and sodium levels.

Common reversible causes are things such as excessive intake of alcohol and use of oral contraceptives, which can cause a slight rise in blood pressure.  Also, hormone therapy for menopause (while it might be slight) has also been shown to raise blood pressure, so make it appoint to chat with your doctor.

Additional examples also include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Pheochromocytoma (a cancer)
  • Cushings syndrome (which can be caused by use of corticosteroid drugs)
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (disorder of the adrenal glands, which secrete the hormone cortisol)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland)

Symptoms Of Hypertension:

Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels, which can be kind of scary.

A few people with high blood pressure may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren’t specific and usually don’t occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.

Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you’re age 40 or older, or you’re age 18-39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there is a difference.

Hypertension, What Should Your BP Be?

Blood pressure readings vary, but most people with diabetes should have a reading of no more than 140/80. The first, or top, number is the systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when your heartbeats and fills the arteries with blood. The second, or bottom, number is the diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when your heart rests between beats, filling itself with blood for the next contraction.

When it comes to preventing diabetes complications, normal blood pressure is as important as good control of your blood sugar levels.

Continue Reading

Jun

2

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)

Continue Reading