RSSCategory: Health

Jan

3

Kale, The Health Benefits For People With Diabetes

Ok, lets face it, the majority of us (me included) don’t even come close to getting our recommended daily allowance of vegetables each day. One vegetable that we should really try to incorporate into our diets is kale! There are not to many super foods out there, but this is certainly one that packs a nutritional punch.

Many people ask, what is kale? The health benefits of are being reported in major outlets, whether the general media or scientific journals. The light that is currently being shed on kale is that it is one of the most potent health promoting vegetables known to man. Kale is similar to other nutritional powerhouses, especially cabbage relatives like broccoli. However, it doesn’t resemble broccoli in appearance, having lovely dark green leaves instead of a miniature tree-like look.  Kale is also a low-glycemic food. If someone is trying to lose weight, then this vegetable should be part of their diet.

Why Should Kale Vegetable Be In Your Diet?

The health benefits of kale are attributed to sulfur-containing phytonutrients. These substances, according to research, appear to be able to reduce the occurrence of numerous types of cancers. The exact mechanism is unclear, but researchers have concluded that such compounds in kale may trigger enzymes in the body that help to counter cancer promoting substances.

Kale, therefore, seems a great addition to any anti-cancer diet.Its benefits don’t just end there, however. Kale is also an excellent source of fiber, which is an important consideration for the millions of people who suffer from elevated cholesterol levels and in helping cleanse the colon. Many people, when they think of sources of calcium, believe dairy products are the best choice. But the truth of the matter is that dark leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli, and spinach are better sources of calcium. Another important consideration is that kale is extremely sparse on calories, has no saturated fat, and does not cause widespread allergic reactions like many diary products do. In short, with kale, you can obtain your needed calcium without the guilt.

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Jan

1

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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Dec

13

Glucagon ~ How Does It Raise Your Blood Sugar?

Glucagon ~ How Does It Raise Your Blood Sugar?As diabetics, glucagon plays a vital role in part of our overall management and as I experienced a couple weeks ago, it can save your life. As a type 1 diabetic, I’m very well versed on how this works (unfortunately), and why it is so important and how it can keep us out of emergent situations or in my case, help you come out of a diabetic seizure.

So for all the newly diagnosed diabetics out there, young and old, what is glucagon? What is it so important that we should have it on us at all time, wherever we go? Lets take a closer look!

 

What Is Glucagon:

Glucagon is a hormone (like insulin) that is naturally made in the pancreas. The pancreas produces this hormone when the body needs to put more sugar (glucose) in the blood to be used for energy. Glucagon raises the blood sugar by sending a signal to the liver and muscles (where your body naturally stores glucose) to release glucose.

The difference between the two, is that insulin lowers your blood glucose (sugar) by helping your body use the glucose in the blood for energy. Glucagon raises your blood glucose (sugar) by causing the liver and muscles to release stored glucose quickly. Though glucagon helps raise the level of glucose in the blood, it is not considered a sugar.

In its simplest form per Lilly, one of the manufactures of glucagon kits:

Glucagon is a medicine that’s different from insulin. It’s used to treat severe low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Glucagon works by telling your body to release sugar into the bloodstream to bring the blood sugar level back up.

The Role Of Glucagon In The Body:

Glucagon plays an active role in allowing the body to regulate the utilization of glucose and fats.

Glucagon is released in response to low blood glucose levels and to events whereby the body needs additional glucose, such as in response to vigorous exercise.

When glucagon is released it can perform the following tasks:

    • Stimulating the liver to break down glycogen to be released into the blood as glucose
    • Activating gluconeogenesis, the conversion of amino acids into glucose
    • Breaking down stored fat (triglycerides) into fatty acids for use as fuel by cells

Insulin And Glucagon:

Glucagon is usually given by injection beneath the skin, in the muscle, or in the vein. It comes as a powder and liquid that will need to be mixed just before administering the dose. Instructions for mixing and giving the injection are in the package. Glucagon should be administered as soon as possible after discovering that the patient is unconscious from low blood sugar. After the injection, the patient should be turned onto the side to prevent choking if they vomit. Once the injection has been given, contact your doctor. It is very important that all patients have a household member who knows the symptoms of low blood sugar and how to administer glucagon.

If you have low blood sugar often, keep a glucagon kit with you at all times. You should be able to recognize some of the signs and symptoms of low blood sugar (i.e., shakiness, dizziness or lightheadedness, sweating, confusion, nervousness or irritability, sudden changes in behavior or mood, headache, numbness or tingling around the mouth, weakness, pale skin, sudden hunger, clumsy or jerky movements). Try to eat or drink a food or beverage with sugar in it, such as hard candy or fruit juice, before it is necessary to administer.

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Dec

11

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.

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Dec

5

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 12 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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Nov

27

Diabetes And The Glycemic Index, Is It Really Accurate?

Diabetes And The Glycemic Index, Is It Really Accurate?As a type 1 diabetic, the glycemic index use to be near and dear to my heart, well, that’s until I found out the glycemic load. How do the two differ?  Last week I posted about the the glycemic load, but what is the glycemic index and how do they differ?  Lets take a closer look!

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a numerical scale used to indicate how fast and how high a particular food can raise our blood glucose (blood sugar) level.  A food with a low GI will typically prompt a moderate rise in blood glucose, while a food with a high GI may cause our blood glucose level to increase above the optimal level.

An awareness of foods’ Glycemic Index can help you control your blood sugar levels, and by doing so, may help you prevent heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, prevent insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, prevent certain cancers, and achieve or maintain a healthy weight.  A substantial amount of research suggests a low GI diet provides these significant health benefits. So, it’s worth taking a look at the basic principles of a low GI way of eating.

Why The Glycemic Index Is Important?

Your body performs best when your blood sugar is kept relatively constant.  If your blood sugar drops too low, you become lethargic and/or experience increased hunger.  And if it goes too high, your brain signals your pancreas to secrete more insulin.  Insulin brings your blood sugar back down, but primarily by converting the excess sugar to stored fat.  Also, the greater the rate of increase in your blood sugar, the more chance that your body will release an excess amount of insulin, and drive your blood sugar back down too low.

Therefore, when you eat foods that cause a large and rapid glycemic response, you may feel an initial elevation in energy and mood as your blood sugar rises, but this is followed by a cycle of increased fat storage, lethargy, and more hunger!  Although increased fat storage may sound bad enough, individuals with diabetes (diabetes mellitus, types 1 and 2) have an even worse problem.  Their bodies inability to secrete or process insulin causes their blood sugar to rise too high, leading to a host of additional medical problems.

The theory behind the Glycemic Index is simply to minimize insulin-related problems by identifying and avoiding foods that have the greatest effect on your blood sugar.

High Glycemic Index Foods And Health Problems:

What researchers have learned is that high glycemic index foods generally make blood sugar levels higher. In addition, people who eat a lot of high glycemic index foods tend to have greater levels of body fat, as measured by the body mass index (BMI). High BMIs are linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

High glycemic index foods include many carbohydrates such as:

  • White bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Low-fiber cereals
  • Baked goods

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Nov

21

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.

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Nov

12

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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Oct

30

Type 1 Eating Disorders, What Is Diabulimia?

Type 1 Eating Disorders, What Is Diabulimia?Honestly, when it comes to dealing with type 1 diabetes, eating disorders is not the first thing that comes to mind. As a type 1 diabetic, I was shocked when I first heard about the eating disorder (diabulimia) and its association with type 1 diabetics.

Most people are familiar with the more widely known eating disorders anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and even binge eating disorder, but few recognize the link between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and eating disorders (and yes, I was one of those people).

Curious about what this eating disorder was all about, and thanks to Amy (a frequent visitor of the website) and her sharing her empowering story about her personal battle with diabulimia, I decided to do a little research, so lets take a closer look!

Diabulimia Symptoms:

Although not yet officially recognized as a medical condition, diabulimia is nevertheless a serious and emerging problem.  Experts predict that as many as one-third of young female diabetics could be suffering as a result of this condition.  Diabulimia is an eating disorder in which people with type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need for the purpose of weight loss.  When insulin is omitted, calories are purged through the loss of glucose in the urine.  Individuals with diabulimia manipulate insulin as an inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain.

How Does Diabulimia Effect The Body:

The side effects of manipulating and omitting insulin from the body can be serious and dangerous.

Blood sugar levels can surge and reach an unhealthy level, leading to fatigue, dehydration and eventually wearing of the muscle tissue. Over a long-term, the symptoms are the same as badly managed diabetes.  Although diabulimia is not a new condition, medical and mental health professionals are becoming more aware of the symptoms of diabulimia.  The following are a few of the warning signs that an individual with diabetes may also be developing an eating disorder:

  • Changes in eating habits (e.g., eating more but still losing weight)
    Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Poor metabolic control despite the appearance of compliance
  • Low self-esteem or preoccupation with body image, weight or food intake
  • Frequent urination, excessive thirst or high blood sugar levels
  • Low energy, fatigue, shakiness, irritability, confusion, anxiety or fainting
  • Purging behaviors (e.g., excessive exercise or the use of laxatives)
  • Discomfort with eating or taking insulin in front of other people
  • Hoarding food
  • Unwillingness to follow through with medical appointments
  • Recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis

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Sep

22

Uncontrolled Diabetes, Protect Your Long Term Health!

Uncontrolled Diabetes, Protect Your Long Term Health!Ok, so everyone knows that I’m an upbeat, positive person overall, but I’m not going to sugarcoat anything when it comes to this blog post.  Whether it be type 1 vs type 2 diabetes we all know that we can be up against some serious, long term complications when it comes to battling diabetes on a daily basis 24/7/365.  Its ruthless, its relentless, and probably worse of all, it never takes a day off.

Even when we feel like breaking down, giving up and throwing out the dreaded F-bomb because we’ve just had enough of the finger sticks, insulin injections, 2am lows, I’m here to show you why that is never a good idea.  Why you need to push through and dig deeper even when you feel like giving up.  Always remain vigilant and push through even when you don’t feel like doing so, here’s why!

Glaucoma And Diabetes:

When fluid inside the eye does not drain properly from a buildup of pressure inside the eye, it results in another eye problem with diabetes called glaucoma. The pressure damages nerves and the vessels in the eye, causing changes in vision.

Treatment of open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma requires lowering the eye’s pressure by increasing the drainage of aqueous humor or decreasing the production of the fluid. Medications can accomplish both of these goals.

With open-angle glaucoma, there may be no symptoms of this eye problem at all until the disease is very advanced and there is significant vision loss. In the less common form of this eye problem, symptoms can include headaches, eye aches or pain, blurred vision, watering eyes, halos around lights, and loss of vision.

Treatment of this eye problem in diabetes can include special eye drops, laser procedures, medicine, or surgery. Surgery and laser treatments are directed at improving the eye’s aqueous drainage. You can prevent serious eye problems in diabetes problems by getting an annual glaucoma screening from your eye doctor.

Increase In Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease includes blood vessel disease, heart attack and stroke. It is the leading cause of death in Australia. The risk is greater for people with diabetes, who often have increased cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Smoking, having a family history of cardiovascular disease and being inactive also increase your risk.

To reduce your risk and pick up any problems early:

    • Have your blood pressure checked at least every six months, but more often if you have high blood pressure or are taking medication to lower this.
    • Have your cholesterol checked at least yearly, as well as an HbA1c (average blood glucose over the past three months).
    • Further pathology tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) or exercise stress test may also be recommended by your doctor.

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