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.
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’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately in regards to the health benefits of chia seeds and more importantly what are chia seeds? Well, if your looking for a great way to boost your energy and add some protein to your diet, or boost your omega 3 intake, look no further.
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Salvia hispanica seed is often sold under its common name “chia” as well as several trademarked names.
Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. The seeds of a related plant, Salvia columbariae (golden chia), were used primarily by Native Americans in the southwestern United States. These gems are fantastic in so many ways, what makes chia seeds so powerful? Lets take a closer look!
Skip The Coffee And Boost Energy:
Don’t want to feel like taking an afternoon nap? Your energy levels have a lot to do with what you eat. Chia is one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein. Usually protein from items like peanut butter and some beans are incomplete, meaning you have to combine them with other foods to get the full benefit. Not Chia though, it’s protein is complete to raise your energy levels. The combination of complete protein, vitamins, minerals and blood-sugar balancing gel all work together to make sure you have steady, never jittery energy.
Chia Seeds And Weight Loss:
Chia seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber in chia absorbs water and expands to form a gel that fills you up faster, so you consume fewer calories, hence weight loss. Fiber and protein slow the digestive process so hunger isn’t triggered as quickly as with sugars, starches and other simple carbohydrates. The insoluble fiber, which does not digest, aids in preventing constipation and digestive disorders by cleaning the colon.
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
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)
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!
Even if you do not know what dragon fruit, you may have seen them at your local supermarket at some point. Dragon fruit is actually an extremely nutritious fruit despite its odd looking shape. They are usually pink or reddish with spikes of green and yellow light coming from them, although there are actually three kinds.
Although they are increasingly popular in North America, they are not widely consumed. They are also very popular all across Asia, as well as in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Dragon fruit is actually grown in several types of cactus, this cactus blooms only at night when they revealed their flowers big, beautiful and fragrant. The purpose of this article is to consider the fantastic health benefits of dragon fruit.
Dragon Fruit And Macronutrients:
The benefits of eating dragon fruit are plentiful. A small 7-ounce dragon fruit contains 59 calories, 2 grams of protein, 0.4 gram of fat and 14 grams of carbohydrate, including 1 gram of fiber. The carbohydrate in dragon fruit consists mainly of the sugars fructose and glucose. The fiber is made up of mainly oligosaccharides, which aren’t digest One of the largest issues with loosing pounds is being able to keep your stomach full for hours after you have eaten. With the help of this exotic product of nature, you will be able to feel satisfied for longer periods of time.ed in the stomach or small intestine. These oligosaccharides act as prebiotics, helping to stimulate the growth of the healthy bacteria lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, which are probiotics, notes an article published in June 2010 in “Food Chemistry.” Probiotics help limit the growth of unhealthy bacteria and help with digestion. They may also help treat diarrhea and other intestinal infections, according to MayoClinic.com.
For Weight Loss:
One of the largest issues with loosing weight is being able to keep your stomach full for hours after you have eaten. With the help of this exotic product of nature, you will be able to feel satisfied for longer periods of time. What is more, it is comprised mostly of fiber and is incredibly low in calories, therefore it will help you to feel full after eating in comparison to other fruits. It also improves the human metabolism rate, assisting you with weight management.
Hemp Seeds are a perfect and natural blend of easily digested protein, essential fats (Omega 3 & 6), Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), antioxidants, amino acids, fiber, iron, zinc, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and enzymes. All amino acids essential to optimum health are found in Hemp Seeds, including the rarely found Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). The 17+ grams of omega fats supplied by Hemp Seeds provides sufficient, continuous energy throughout your day!
Assist With Blood Pressure:
Hemp seeds contain essential fatty acids that can reduce blood cholesterol. This keeps the heart healthy and also prevents plaque buildup in the arteries, which can ultimately lead to heart attack and strokes. Its fatty acids also reduce inflammation that can cause high blood pressure and poor blood circulation. Therefore, hemp can significantly reduce the workload on your heart.
Hemp Seeds And Diabetes:
Hemp seeds can also be beneficial if you are diabetic, or are at risk for diabetes, as they can help to stabilize your blood sugar levels but reducing blood sugar spikes. This is due to the healthy fats which help the body to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream and turn it into energy.
Let me just start out by saying that I love lentils and as a fellow type 1 diabetic, so should you! Add these little gems to your meals and increase your fiber and protein intake. Lentils are inexpensive, easy to prepare and contain many vitamins and minerals. Eat the low-fat food and help prevent chronic conditions, such as heart disease. Serve them as a main meal or as a side dish and satisfy your hunger while providing your body with lasting energy.
Lentils And Dietary Fiber:
Lentils are a high-fiber food. One cup of plain and cooked provides 230 calories and just under 40 grams of complex carbohydrates, of which 15.6 grams are fiber, an amount equivalent to 62 percent of the daily value for fiber. While lentils contain significant amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber, they’re especially rich in the soluble type. Soluble fiber dissolves into a substance that binds to cholesterol and other fatty acids and promotes their excretion through waste. Soluble fiber also slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream to promote normal blood glucose levels. A 2009 analysis of several related studies published in the journal “Diabetologia,” found that lentils and other legumes improve blood glucose management in diabetics.
The other day, someone on my Facebook page posed a question to me about tempeh (pronounced “temp-a”). Honestly I didn’t know much about the product, but always heard the health benefits of tempeh are plentiful. As opposed to many other soy foods tempeh is made from whole soybeans, and possesses all the health benefits of soybeans. Also the tempeh fermentation changes the properties of the soybeans. So lets take a closer look at this nutritional powerhouse!
Tempeh And Protein:
Looking to add protein to your diet, then tempeh could be the perfect choice! Each 1-cup serving of tempeh contains 31 grams of protein, which is 55 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 67 percent for women, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Tempeh contains high-quality complete protein and provides all the amino acids you must obtain from your diet. Its protein content helps you maintain muscle tissue, and also make enzymes your cells need to function. Tempeh is also easily absorbed and utilized as protein from animal sources, such as eggs or meat, so it makes a particularly welcome addition to vegetarian and vegan diets.
Tempeh & Blood Sugars:
The protein source is excellent for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, who tend to have problems with animal sources of protein. Like the majority of protein sources, the protein and fiber content in tempeh can also help in regards to ones blood sugar by keeping levels under control by preventing rapid spikes in one’s glucose. Why is this? Simply stated, the 31 whopping grams of protein in just one cup!
Just make sure your looking at the fermented tempeh vs non-fermented as fermented soy stops the effect of phytic acid and increases the availability of isoflavones. The fermentation also creates the probiotics, the “good” bacteria the body is absolutely dependent on, such as lactobacilli that increase the quantity, availability, digestibility and assimilation of nutrients in the body.
Many studies have shown traditionally fermented soy, which is the form that is very popular in many Asian cultures-aids in preventing and reducing a variety of diseases including certain forms of heart disease.
I will definitely be checking this out on my next trip to the supermarket!
Tempeh And Probiotics:
Tempeh is full of healthy probiotics or “good bacteria” which you would typically associate with yogurt because it’s fermented. The enzymes produced by tempeh’s fermentation process helps your body fight bad bacteria, better absorb important nutrients like iron, and aid in the digestive process. Not only does tempeh’s fermentation process produce natural antibiotic agents, but it leaves desirable soy isoflavones intact. Soy isoflavones have many health benefits such as strengthening bones, easing menopausal symptoms, and reducing risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers.