Tag: blood sugars
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.
Using a small apple as an example: GI value = 38. Carbohydrate per serving = 15g
GL = 38 (glycemic index) x 15 (grams of carb)
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.
Most of you already know that I love to exercise. My day starts out at 4am, early yes, but its the only time that I get to myself during the day. As a stay at home dad of 4, I consider this a small sacrifice for my sanity as well as to benefit my bottom line as a type 1 diabetic, my health!
What makes exercise so important? Well I think we all know the answer to that question as there are so many benefits including better control of our overall blood sugars. There is a list of exercises you can do, but lets take a closer look at how you can exercise safely for better control!
Diabetes And Exercise:
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, diabetes and exercise should go hand in hand, at least when it comes to the management aspect of the disease. Not only can exercise can help you improve your blood sugar control, boost your overall fitness, it can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, provide more stable blood sugar readings, and help lower blood pressure ~ all risk factors that we face.
While exercise is great for us and the benefits are well documented, as diabetics it also poses some unique challenges. To exercise safely, it’s crucial to track your blood sugar before, during and after physical activity. You’ll learn how your body responds to exercise, which can help you prevent potentially dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.
Exercise And High Blood Sugars?
This was one of the biggest hurdles for me when I was first diagnosed. My numbers would skyrocket after a workout or even during a gym session. The issue is that exercise triggers the body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline. Adrenaline tells the liver to release glucose, or cortisol which makes you more resistant to insulin, and since strenuous activity triggers an increase in these stress hormones, chances are (even temporarily) your blood sugars are often increased.
That being said different exercises affect us differently and we also know that we’re all very unique, and lets face it, type 1 diabetes effects everyone differently and no situations are ever the same. Our blood sugar response to exercise will also depend on our level of physical fitness and personal exertion. Generally speaking, 30-40 minutes of high intensity interval training will bring different results than an hour of running, doing the stair climber or even walking the dog so it will be important to closely monitor your blood sugars during exercise and see how these activity levels effect you.
I just love flaxseed, and one I supplement with daily. Flaxseed has an amazing amount of benefits to help promote overall health. In saying that, how can one find flaxseed? What actual benefits does organic flaxseed provide? Can it help prevent your blood sugars from spiking? For that and much, much more, continue reading!
Flaxseed oil is an excellent supplement that supports the body’s vital systems. It is rich in the omega-3 essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Although omega-3s are crucial to human health, they are not manufactured by the body, so it’s important to get a steady supply through dietary sources and supplements.
There are two types of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6. Most Americans get enough omega-6 fatty acids from dietary sources such as meat, eggs and dairy. Omega-3s are necessary for growth, heart health and brain function, but many of us do not get enough of them from dietary sources. MayoClinic.com reports that multiple studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
These supplements have also been studied as a treatment for depression and other mental illnesses, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, PMS, ADHD, osteoporosis, and even cancer prevention.
Benefits Of Flaxseed:
Flaxseed oil offers a wide range of health benefits. There are some studies showing that flaxseed oil can reduce total cholesterol and LDL (low density lipoprotien also known as bad cholesterol). This, however, is dependent on how well the alpha-linolenic acid is broken down into EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil is likely to make platelets less sticky, which could help to reduce the risk of heart attack.
Flaxseed may also lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels (fat in the blood). Flaxseed oil has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to regulate the heartbeat, further supporting good cardiovascular health. In addition, the flax seed contains compounds called lignans. Studies show that patients taking lignans had a 75% reduction in atherosclerotic plaque buildup.
Flaxseed itself is recommended for those who suffer from Crohns disease or irritable bowel syndrome because it is thought to be able to heal the lining of the stomach and reduce inflammation.
The ALA found in flaxseed inhibited tumor growth and incidence in animal studies. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed are thought to bind to estrogen receptors, reducing the risk of estrogen driven breast cancer.
So I was chatting with a friend the other day and she asked me if I have ever heard of…”forbidden rice“.
At first I thought she was joking, but as I was chuckling she proceeded to ask if I have ever tried it at home cooking for the kids or if I ever incorporated it into my diet.
Needless to say I haven’t, and as she proceeded to tell me that I absolutely need to buy some, I thought I would do a little more research to see what this “forbidden rice” was all about, so lets take a closer look!
What Is Forbidden Rice?
Forbidden rice is nothing more than black rice, and to be completely honest with you, I never even knew black rice was a thing. When it came to rice I was only familiar with a few…White, Aborio, Jasmine, Wild and Brown to be specific.
What separates black rice from the pack? Well, like brown rice, black rice is unpolished, meaning that the hull of the grain (which is also a fantastic source of insoluble fiber) is still intact. Black rice provides a whopping 3 grams of fiber per half of scoop.
Even better than the high fiber content, only black rice contains anthocyanins, the same antioxidant compounds that make blueberries and blackberries such valuable additions to our diets. These compounds are what turn the rice a deep purple as it cooks.
Black Rice And Heart Health:
As diabetics we all know how important it is to eat a healthy lifestyle and even incorporate exercise to not only help our blood sugars, but to keep our heart healthy and in peak performance.
Per the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US for both men and women, accounting for one in every four deaths.
So how does black rice help in this area?
Well, per a study by the Journal of Nutrition:
Black rice has been show to decrease atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries. When this plaque builds up, it causes the arteries to harden and become blocked.
It’s a major risk factor for both heart attack and stroke. In this particular study, male rabbits were injected with high levels of cholesterol in order to cause this plaque formation. They were then divided into five groups, four of which were fed high cholesterol diets, one without rice and the others with various types of rice, including black.
The plaque was 50% lower in rabbits fed black rice (or red rice) than in those fed with white rice. Researchers conclude that the antioxidants in black rice may play a role in reducing atherosclerosis.
You can read about the entire study here
Ok, so what’s up with this term that people keep throwing around called the dawn phenomenon? As type 1 diabetics we’ve all been there, up at 1:30 in the morning testing our blood sugars and come back with a perfect reading of 100 mg/dl only to wake up a couple of hours later with a glucose level of 400 mg/dl! Why is this?
What’s happening to our bodies during that 2 1/2 hour period that sends sends our blood sugars into the stratosphere! Welcome to what is called, the dawn phenomenon. Lets take a closer look at what this is all about and what we can do to try and stabilize our blood sugars.
What Causes The Dawn Phenomenon:
The body prepares for waking up by secreting several different hormones. First, between 4:00 and 6:30 a.m. it secretes cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrin. You may recognize these as they are the hormones involved in the “fight or flight response.” In this case, their job is more benign, to give you the energy to get up and moving.
Besides giving you a burst of energy, these hormones raise blood sugar. You aren’t going to be able to make any kind of energetic response if you don’t have fuel, and after a long night’s sleep, the fuel your body turns to in order to get you going is the glucose stored in the liver.
So once these hormones are secreted, typically around 5:30 am, plasma glucose and insulin can start to rise.
Though a non diabetic will automatically get a rise in insulin to help cells use this morning glucose, as type 1’s, we know that’s not always the case and instead of giving our cells a dose of morning energy, all we get is a rise in our blood sugars.
I fielded a question on my Facebook page the other day in regards to pregnancy and type 1 diabetes. First off, If you are reading this article, I want to personally congratulate you as well as your significant other! As a stay at home dad of 4, being a parent is an amazing experience, something I wouldn’t trade for the world! Its a exceptional time, even if you are up several times a night, listening to priceless cries, changing a dirty diaper or just watching your little one sleep peacefully out of pure enjoyment.
With all the medical advancements today, being a parent should be something that everyone gets to experience and just because your diabetic, that shouldn’t deter you from starting your own family. I’m sure you have plenty of pregnancy questions, so lets take a closer look at what you might experience as a type 1 and becoming pregnant!
Pregnancy Information and Blood Sugar Levels:
We all know that having tight control of our blood sugars is vital in order to reduce risks of complications, but this is even more essential during the second and third trimesters to prevent fetal macrosomia (excessive growth of the baby) as well as a premature or complicated delivery. Throughout pregnancy, expectant moms with type 1 can see major changes in their insulin requirements, typically decreased needs in the first trimester followed by steadily increasing needs in the second and third trimesters. Through frequent reviews of self-monitoring data, our team will work with you to make the necessary adjustments and keep you on track. Our lifestyle specialists will also coach you on nutrition, physical activity and weight issues, and prepare you for “the big day
Pregnancy And Exercise:
Exercise is important to your overall health and that doesn’t change once you are pregnant. Include physical activity in your daily routine, but before you do, get your doctor or health care provider’s OK to exercise, then choose activities you enjoy. Aim for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. If you haven’t been active for a while, start slowly. Check your blood sugar level before and after any activity, especially if you take insulin. You might need to eat a snack or adjust your insulin pump’s basal rate before exercising to help prevent low blood sugar.
Type 1, Pregnancy And Food Choices:
Good food choices is vital for women who are pregnant with diabetes include those with fiber and whole grains, which not only pack more nutrients but may help control blood sugar levels and cravings for longer.
Some quality foods include leafy greens, low-fat fortified breads like ezekiel, beans, and fresh fruits like citrus (be careful here though). Even when carb choices are healthy, carb binging can cause rapid rises and falls in blood sugar levels, which can spell trouble for a developing baby. Medline Plus suggests pregnant women with diabetes eat a steady level of carbohydrates throughout the day rather than eating a large amount of carbs at one sitting and few at the next. In addition, they recommend limiting concentrated sweets, such as pastries and sugary drinks (a good idea anyway, even if your not pregnant).
So the other day I fielded a question asking what types of plant based proteins that I enjoy. One of my top choices, legumes! These little gems are jam packed with nutrients and have a fantastic balance of protein, carbs and fiber.
The American Diabetes Association recommends legumes as one of the most important food groups for disease prevention and optimal health as legumes aid in blood sugar regulation more than almost any other food group, a key quality for diabetics and those concerned with maintaining stable blood sugars. So if that doesn’t get you pumped up enough, lets take a closer look at why these are a favorite of mine and why you want to start incorporating them into your daily diet!
What Are Legumes:
So what is a legume? Legumes are low glycemic and consist of plants that produce a pod with seeds inside, seeds that pack a powerful nutritional punch! As we look around at all the fast food joints that seem to be popping up on every street corner, it’s really no secret that most Americans depend far too much on processed foods, and far too little on whole foods to fuel their bodies. A diet that emphasizes nutrient dense foods or those that deliver a wide range of nutrients for relatively few calories, does more than provide energy it nourishes your body and supports good health. Legumes are a perfect example of this. Not only that, legumes are also complex carbohydrates which are slowly digested and absorbed. The slow release of glucose and energy from legumes is beneficial in regulating blood glucose levels
Legumes Nutritional Profile:
Legumes have quite a fantastic nutrition profile, and are a rich source of healthy fibers and protein.
For example, one cup of cooked lentils provides:
- 18 grams of protein.
- 16 grams of fiber.
- 40 grams of carbs.
- 37% of the RDA for iron.
- 90% of the RDA for folate.
- 18% of the RDA for magnesium.
- 21% of the RDA for potassium.
- Over 10% of the RDA for Vitamins B1, B3, B5 and B6, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese.
This is why legumes are among the best plant-based sources of dietary protein. Not only are they highly nutritious, they are also extremely cheap. Something that definitely resonates with me!
While sex seems to be everywhere, television, billboards, magazine covers etc americans are still reluctant to go to the doctor to talk about issues when it relates to sex, especially diabetics. However, many people, whether they have diabetes or not, have sexual problems. Does it need to be a deal breaker, absolutely not so lets take a look at that giant elephant in the room.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported in February of 1999 about a survey conducted of 1,749 women and 1,410 men aged 18 to 59. The survey found sexual dysfunction is more prevalent for women (43%) than men (31%). Diabetes may affect sexual functioning in several ways, but there are some things you may need to look out for when it comes to sex and if you suffer from diabetes:
Can You Have Sex When You Have Diabetes?
Believe it or not, this is a question that I field a lot and I hope that your answer is an astonishing, yes! If you feel diabetes is causing problems with your sex life, talk to your doctor. While no-one relishes talking about sexual problems with a doctor, these issues can only be addressed if you seek help.
Your doctor will try to find out whether sexual problems are caused by defects in the nervous or circulatory system as a result of the diabetes, or whether they are of a more psychological nature. Often this distinction is difficult to make.
In any case, when sexual dysfunction begins to happen on a regular basis it tends to get worse unless it is properly treated, so the psychological element inevitably builds up.
An increasing number of men who have diabetes and erectile dysfunction (ED) are being helped by medicines such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra). Or if your not into taking medication prescribed by your doctor (which I highly recommend), check out the powers of essential oils? Oils such as ylang ylang which is an aphrodisiac or sandlewood, cumin or clary sage oils are sure to knock your socks off when the mood strikes. Also, lets face it, these are much healthier and safer options.
If tests confirm that your nervous system hasn’t been damaged by diabetes, and there are no associated circulatory problems, there’s no reason why your sex life shouldn’t recover.