Tag: blood sugar
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.
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.
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:
- Feeling faint or too sleepy
- Feeling cold or clammy
- Unexplained emotional behaviors
- Uncontrollable crying
- Unaware of surroundings
- Changes in vision
- Loss of ability to speak clearly
- Loss of muscle control
- Muscle weakness
So what does eating paleo mean, what is the definition of paleo? I have several friends that keep throwing out the words paleo diet and swearing by it, especially when it comes to helping stabilize their blood sugars. Honestly I’m not a huge fan of “diets” in general but after doing a little research on paleo, I can certainly understand why they are so giddy over living paleo!
The Paleo diet is certainly not a new idea. Coming to popular attention with the publication of a book on the subject by Walter Voegtlin in 1975, its central concept is to mimic the diet of humans that lived 25 to 50 thousand years ago, during the Paleolithic Age. Voegtlin claimed distinct benefits are associated with what he claims was the high protein and low carbohydrate die of the ancients. His plan is occasionally called the caveman diet, the Stone Age diet and the hunter-gatherer diet. Proponents of the Paleo diet continue to practice it, and it has been somewhat validated by the emergence of other similar low-carb diets.
Health Benefits Of The Paleo Diet:
For most people the fact the Paleo diet delivers the best results is enough. Improved blood lipids, weight loss and reduced pain from autoimmunity is proof enough. Many people however are not satisfied with blindly following any particular form of eating, aka “a diet”. Fortunately, the Paleo diet has stood not only the test of time, but also the rigors of scientific scrutiny.
With a very simple shift the paleo diet not only removes the foods that are at odds with our health (grains, legumes, and dairy) but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and brings us back to the way our ancestors ate…eating unprocessed foods like meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts as well as seeds.
Paleo Diet For Diabetics:
There are a number of studies investigating the effects of Paleo diets on type 1 and type 2 diabetics and results are impressive. A study published in July 2009 in “Cardiovascular Diabetology” compared the Paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet in subjects with type 2 diabetes over a period of three months. The researchers found that the Paleo diet reduced fasting blood sugar levels, hemoglobin A1C, plasma insulin levels and insulin resistance significantly compared to the Mediterranean diet, indicating potential benefits of the Paleo diet for people with type 2 diabetes. Here are 5 more studies and how they help stabilize blood sugars, feel free to check them out.
Pro’s Of The Diet:
Right off the start you can see how well this diet is going to control blood sugar levels. In a world where many of us experience roller coaster-like blood sugar fluctuations, this aspect alone proves to be an extremely beneficial aspect of the set-up.
As most of us know, the more stabilized our blood sugar levels are, the less likely you’re going to be to experience food cravings, to battle ongoing fatigue, and to be at the potential risk of developing diabetes down the road.
Since the paleo diet is also chalk full of healthy fats from all the seeds and nuts that are being consumed while also being low in saturated fat due to the restriction of dairy and high fat meat sources, this is also going to work to improve your cholesterol profile and help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
When using the paleo diet you shouldn’t find you have any issue getting enough protein in either, which is something that’s critical for both the fat loss and muscle building process as you’ll be including lean meat sources with each meal. By choosing to incorporate a wide spectrum of fruits and vegetables in your menu, you’re also going to help to keep calorie intake on the lower side, so this will be beneficial from a fat loss point of view.
If you are someone who happens to actively looking to build muscle and thus require that higher calorie surplus, you can simply add larger doses of nuts and seeds into the plan to help boost your calorie and healthy fat intake up higher.
So 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.
The 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.
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
- 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.
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!
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
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.
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)
I fielded a question the other day on my Facebook page asking if I’ve ever head about a condition called HHNS or hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome.
HHNS can happen to people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes that is not being controlled properly. What is HHNS though, and is it really similar to DKA or is it just your typical run of the mill high blood sugar? Lets take a closer look!
What Is HHNS?
People over the age of 65 with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). Even though it is possible, it is very rare in people with type 1 diabetes can develop HHNS. HHNS is a medical emergency caused by a very high blood sugar, typically over 600 mg/dL due to poor control. Your kidneys try to get rid of the extra blood sugar by putting more sugar into the urine. This makes you urinate more and you lose too much body fluid, causing dehydration.
As you lose fluids, your blood becomes thicker and your blood sugar level gets too high for the kidneys to be able to fix. With the high blood sugar and dehydration there is also an imbalance of minerals, especially sodium and potassium in the blood. The imbalance of fluids, glucose, and minerals in the body can lead to severe problems, such as brain swelling, abnormal heart rhythms, seizures, coma, or organ failure. Without rapid treatment, HHNS can cause death.
Signs & Symptoms Of HHNS?
As mentioned earlier, HHS can happen to anyone, but is more common in older individuals who have type 2 diabetes. Symptoms may begin gradually and worsen over a few days or weeks. A high blood sugar level is a warning sign of HHS. I also found it very interesting that the symptoms are very similar to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) so its extremely important to be aware and if you suspect anything out of the ordinary, its imperative that you call 911 or get yourself into your doctors office.
- excessive thirst
- high urine output
- dry mouth
- warm skin that doesn’t perspire
- nausea, vomiting
- weight loss
- leg cramps
- vision loss
- speech impairment
- loss of muscle function