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5 Tips for Managing Your Diabetes

Categories: DIABETES | April 14th, 2012 | by MyBlogGuest.com (Guest Author) | no comments

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by DeathByBokeh

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes then you are probably hoping to find a good way to keep it under control. Luckily there is information out there that can help you keep it under control. You still might have to get medication from your doctor, in fact that is recommended so no permanent damage is done to you. You still can manage it in a way that you don’t have to worry so much about it. Here are five tips to managing diabetes in your everyday life.

What Type of Diabetes?

First of all you need to understand diabetes and which type you have. Diabetes is when your blood glucose is too high and your body cannot cope with it. There are two different types and they are called type 1 and type 2. The first type is when your body doesn’t make enough insulin. Since insulin is used to convert glucose to energy this causes a spike in glucose. Everyone with type one need to take insulin every day. Then there is type 2 who’s body doesn’t make or use insulin well. Most people are two 2 and require pills or insulin to manage it.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by elgringospain

Educate Yourself

The second tip to managing your diabetes is to know the basics of staying healthy with diabetes. Most of your problems such as heart attack, stroke, and other diabetes related issues can be solved by managing three things about your body. The first is A1C, which is a test that shows your blood glucose over the past three months. Then there is blood pressure, having high blood pressure means heart attack or stroke. Then finally there is Cholesterol. If you can manage these three things most of the effects of diabetes will be negated.

Get Some Exercize

The third tip and probably the one most people skip is getting regular exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to getting your blood glucose under control and even a 30-60 minute brisk walk every day will help you achieve this. If you want to get into even better shape then all power to you, your health will improve even more. Do not neglect the power of a good workout.

Quit Smoking

The fourth tip is to learn to cope with stress without cigarettes. Stress increases blood glucose and should be avoided as much as possible. If you have a stressful job then you need to learn to meditate and get rid of the stress right when you get off. Avoiding cigarettes is very important as well because it has been shown to compound the effects of diabetes on your body.

Visit Your Doctor

And finally the fifth tip is to get your regular check ups with your doctor. You want to go in at least twice a year, more if your doctor recommends it. You want to be able to show him any sores on your feet, get a weight check, and get the A1C test we talked about earlier. 

If you take all the necessary precautions and use those tips along with any advice your doctor gives, you will find that living with diabetes isn’t really that tough. In fact once you get in the swing of things you probably will even forget that you have diabetes. The biggest problem is trying to make changes in your diet and getting exercise at first. Stick with it because you will be happy that you did.

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Episode 2 – Fighting Ropes – Wes and the Fat Guy

Categories: DIABETES, VIDEO | January 27th, 2012 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

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Battling against diabetes

Categories: DIABETES, VIDEO | January 12th, 2012 | by HART 1-800-HART | no comments

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Battling DIABETES,Featured

Microvascular complications of diabetes: retinopathy

Categories: DIABETES, Featured | February 1st, 2011 | by Raquel | 3 comments

Diabetes comes with a lot of complications, both on the macrovascular and microvascular scale.

Macrovascular complications, as the term suggest, involve the large blood vessels and under this category falls cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and hypertension and stroke.

But what about micro vascular complications? This category includes

  • Effect on the eye (aka diabetic retinopathy or diabetic eye disease)
  • Effects on the kidney (aka diabetic nephropathy or chronic kidney disease)
  • Effects on the peripheral nerve function
  • Effect on sexual function (e.g. erectile dysfunction)

In the next couple of posts we will look at the most common microvascular complications of diabetes starting with diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common cause of vision loss among adults in the US. It occurs when the retina is damaged through microvascular complications of diabetes.

The retina is the located at the back of the eye. It is the light-sensitive part of the eye. Diabetes can cause damage to the small blood vessels of the retina. Damage can occur in several ways. One way is the swelling and leaking of fluid from the blood vessels. Another way is the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) of the retina. Either way, the retina gets damaged leading to visual impairment and blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy occurs in 4 stages:

In its early stages, diabetic retinopathy often does not present with any evident symptoms. Yet, about 40 to 45% of those diagnosed with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) eventually develop diabetic retinopathy. This is why people with diabetes are recommended to undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once each year.


With preventive measures and close monitoring, the risk for vision loss can be reduced by 95%. “The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) showed that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy.” Early detection also reduces the risk for disease progression. Currently, there are many treatment options available. IN addition, blood pressure and cholesterol levels should also be kept under control.

Laser surgery is used to shrink abnormal blood vessels. Types of laser surgery are scatter laser and focal later treatments.

Vitrectomy is a more invasive procedure.

“A vitrectomy is performed under either local or general anesthesia. Your doctor makes a tiny incision in your eye. Next, a small instrument is used to remove the vitreous gel that is clouded with blood. The vitreous gel is replaced with a salt solution. Because the vitreous gel is mostly water, you will notice no change between the salt solution and the original vitreous gel.

Things that can exacerbate retinopathy

Pregnancy can exacerbate diabetic retinopathy in women with diabetes. In a recent study, alcohol consumption was linked to increased risk of deterioration of visual acuity.

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A tribute to Jack LaLanne: the man who lived healthy and lived well

Categories: DIABETES, HEALTHCARE, HEART AND STROKE | January 27th, 2011 | by Raquel | one comments

In the 40s, back when doctors voted Camels as the best smoke, Jack LaLanne was doing push ups and cutting down on sugar.

However, Francois “Jack LaLanne” was way ahead of his time and preached a healthy lifestyle way back then. Not only did he preach it, he practiced it.

Let us pay tribute to Jack LaLanne, fitness guru and visionary. LaLanne passed away last weekend at the age of 96.

LaLanne was well-known for his long-running TV show The Jack LaLanne Show. He built the first modern health club in the US and designed gym equipment. In doing so, he pioneered fitness and work outs in the US and the rest of the world.

However, not only did LaLanne promote physical exercise, he also advocated a healthy diet of less sugar, fat and white flour and more fruit and vegetables. Plus – very important – a positive attitude towards life. In one episode of his show (see YouTube video still in black & white), LaLanne listed the following as the things that make us feel tired:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Empty calories
  • Nervous tension

And this was done in the 60s!

In an interview with health author Connie Bennet (shared through the Huffington Post), LaLanne stated

“In my mind, nothing on this earth is more addictive than refined sugar.”

LaLanne’s healthy philosophy was based on health problems early in life which was attributed to being “sugar-holic”, according to a report by Reuters. He suffered from depression, mood swings, as well as headaches. Changing his diet made Lalanne feel better but he did not stop there. He went on to share his philosophy of a healthy lifestyle. He performed incredible fitness stunts to drive home his point.

“At age 45, in 1959, he did 1,000 push-ups and 1,000 chin-ups in 86 minutes. In 1984 a 70-year-old LaLanne had himself shackled and handcuffed and towed 70 boats 1.5 miles in Long Beach Harbor.”

Unfortunately, not many of his generation listened to what he had to say. Today, the American population is threatened by chronic health problems that include obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Even well into his 90s, LaLanne continued to be physical active. Reuters describe a typical Lalanne daily work out as:

“LaLanne exercised for two hours a day. A typical workout would be 90 minutes of weightlifting and 30 minutes of swimming, changing his routine every 30 days.”

However, not only did LaLanne live a healthy long life, he also lived “well”, loving and enjoying life to the fullest.

As Connie Bennet writes:

“In fact, the idea of “just surviving” or “getting by” was completely foreign to him. I mean, the “Godfather of Fitness” really lived, as I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing.”

Why didn’t more people listen to LaLanne way back then? Is it too late to change our ways.

I think LaLanne will be the first to say that it’s never too late to start living healthy. To start going back to the natural way.

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Winter health superstar: cinnamon

Categories: DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE | January 20th, 2011 | by Raquel | no comments

There is nothing more mouth-watering than the aroma of baking apfel strudel in the oven on a cold, snowy day in January. Mind you, I am no baking expert so I must confess that the apfel strudel is the frozen type from the supermarket.

Apfel strudel is the apple pie in the Alpine regions of Europe and its wonderful smell comes from the combination of apples and cinnamon. Such a healthy combination, I would say.

Cinnamon is an essential ingredient of many pastries and recipes, including apple pies, pumpkin pies, rice pudding and of course ginger bread. However, aside from being a yummy condiment, cinnamon has some medicinal benefits. Especially against diabetes.

Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree Cinnamomum zeylanicum. I had the pleasure of meeting a cinnamon tree in Brazil about 10 years. According to WedMD, there are 2 varieties of cinnamon, the Ceylon and the Cassia and the latter is the one that we commonly use in our kitchen.


Several studies have shown cinnamon to be an effective antiglycemic agent, e.g. a compound for lowering blood sugar. And it does this in a very effective and sustainable way – by decreasing insulin resistance.

Diabetes is a chronic progressive disease. There are many drugs out there which are used to treat diabetes by controlling sugar levels. However, as the diseases progresses, these medications lose their efficacy because of increasing insulin resistance. This leads to use of add-on medications that will also eventually lose their efficacy. Cinnamon, on the other hand, control sugar levels by improving insulin resistance.

Aside from improving sugar levels, some studies also reported that cinnamon may have cardiovascular benefits by lowering cholesterol levels.

Cinnamon is available as a herbal supplements and can be purchased without prescription.


However, before launching on a cinnamon supplementation therapy, patients should be aware that cinnamon is counterindicated in patients with liver problems. It can also interact with other herbal supplements such as:

In addition, cinnamon may also interact with other medications. Interactions can cause toxicity that may be potentially life-threatening. Therefore, CHECK WITH YOUR DIABETES EXPERT BEFORE STARTING ON A SPECIAL THERAPY!!!

Nutritional info

The table below was taken from www.whfoods.com.

Nutritional info for ground cinnamon, 2 tsp = 4.52 grams = 11.84 calories

Nutrient Amount

DV (%)

Nutrient Density WHF Rating
manganese 0.76 mg


57.8 excellent
dietary fiber 2.48 g


15.1 very good
iron 1.72 mg


14.5 very good
calcium 5 5.68 mg 5.6 8.5 very good

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Updates from the diabetes front

Categories: DIABETES | November 22nd, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

Some news updates on diabetes

The bad news

France: Diabetes Drug May Be Linked to 500 Deaths
The diabetes and weight—loss drug benflourex (Mediator) has been linked to about 500 deaths in France. The drug which has been in use since 1976 may have caused heart valve problems. Patients who were taking the drug are advised to get their valves checked.  “The European Medicines Agency pulled [the drug] from the market in 2009‚ saying it had little effect on diabetes and could lead to a thickening of the heart valves.”

AHA: Gene Therapy Fails to Prevent Limb Loss
An international Phase III trial investigating an angiogenic therapy that could prevent limb loss in patients with limb ischemia failed to demonstrate its efficacy. This is a big disappointment to healthcare professionals and patients alike. Critical limb ischemia is a common complication of diabetes, and can lead to gangrene of the extremities that necessitate amputation. “In the last three decades in the U.S., amputation rates for patients with critical limb ischemia have not changed, signaling the need to develop novel strategies for these patients.”

The good news

Italy Carries Out First Hi-Tech Pancreas Transplant
Italian doctors performed the first robotically assisted transplant of the pancreas. The patient was a 43-year old type 1 diabetes woman who already had a kidney transplant. Conventional pancreatic transplant is very invasive. This revolutionary operation took 3 hours and was minimally invasive, performed through three small holes and a seven-centimeter incision. The operation was performed with the assistance of the Da Vinci SHDI robot. According to Dr. Ugo Boggi, head of the surgical team:

“This will put an end to the decades-old dilemma of whether it’s possible to do pancreatic transplants because the operation is so invasive when done in the traditional way.”

Smart Phone “APP” Helps Doctors Control Patients’ Diabetes
Doctors and other health professionals can have access to the new Johns Hopkins guide to diabetes on their iPhone, blackberry, and other smart phones. The POC-IT Diabetes Guide is easy to use and would help doctors especially during patient visits, to make clinical decisions. According to Dr. Rita Rastogi Kalyani, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the guide’s managing editor:

 “It offers almost instant, at-a-glance access to the latest consensus guidelines and expert opinions on a broad spectrum of topics in diabetes care. Hopkins’ mission is to share its knowledge with the world and this is a practical way to do that.”

Upcoming diabetes events:

Annual International Conference on Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism-Research and Therapy
Dates: December 13-14, 2010 Venue: Santa Clara, California, USA

 Diabetes and Obesity Drug Discovery & Therapy, 3rd International Conference on Drug Discovery and Therapy, February 7 – 10, 2011, Dubai, UAE.

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Diabetes News, Nov 5: Lifestyle interventions for diabetes

Categories: DIABETES | November 5th, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

In observance of the National Diabetes Month in the US, we bring you the latest  diabetes updates.

Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis
The majority of nutritional studies on diabetes focus on carbs and carb intake. Where fruit and vegetables come in? Does eating fruit and vegetables really help in managing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM)? This is the question that British researchers wanted to answer. So they conducted a review of studies on the benefits of diet rich fruit and vegetables for people with diabetes. Their findings show that there was no marked benefit from increased fruit and veggie intake. However, looking at the different types of vegetables, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce are actually good diabetes fighter. The study concluded:
Increasing daily intake of green leafy vegetables could significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and should be investigated further.

The China Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Outcome Study
What about diet plus exercise? Chinese researchers investigated how 3 types of lifestyle intervention perform in managing diabetes-associated microvascular complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy. The interventions consisted of diet, exercise, and diet plus exercise and lasted for 6 years. The patients were followed up for up to 20 years. The study results showed:
Lifestyle intervention for 6 years in IGT was associated with a 47% reduction in the incidence of severe, vision-threatening retinopathy over a 20 year interval, primarily due to the reduced incidence of diabetes in the intervention group.”

Long-term effects of a lifestyle intervention on weight and cardiovascular risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus: four-year results of the Look AHEAD trial
The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) is a large, long-term study that investigated the long-term effects of lifestyle approaches on T2DM. The study compared the effect of 4 years of intensive lifestyle intervention (dietary change and physical exercise) vs. standard diabetes care. The results showed that those who underwent lifestyle change lost more weight, and had better improvements in blood glucose levels, blood pressure and lipids than those who had standard treatment. the authors concluded:
Intensive lifestyle intervention can produce sustained weight loss and improvements in fitness, glycemic control, and CVD risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Whether these differences in risk factors translate to reduction in CVD events will ultimately be addressed by the Look AHEAD trial.”

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Join Bret Michaels and ADA in observing American Diabetes Month

Categories: DIABETES | November 3rd, 2010 | by Raquel | one comments

November is American Diabetes Month. In connection with this health observance, the US is also observing Diabetic Eye Disease Month and Foot Health Issues Related to Diabetes Awareness Month. During this month, we will be bringing updates on diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is in the frontline of this observance. ADA launched the Stop Diabetes movement last year and is now asking this year: How will you Stop Diabetes®? The future is in your hands.

The musical artist Bret Michaels is the current “Face of Diabetes”  for ADA and for this month’s campaign. Why Bret? Because he personally is facing every day this monster disease, has had type 1 diabetes since age 6. No wonder that Bret is fully behind the STOP DIABETES campaign. He had chosen the ADA as his charity during the spring season of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”  He raised more than $300,000 for ADA and “has helped put a face to diabetes by raising critical awareness about the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of diabetes prevention and management.

Says the singer and songwriter:

“It is an honor to once again be working with the American Diabetes Association. As someone with type 1 diabetes, I know how difficult it can be to live with this disease and how important it is to raise awareness so that we can eventually put a stop to diabetes.  I hope everyone will join me in the movement to Stop Diabetes this November.”

Current statistics on diabetes from ADA:

  • Almost 24 million American children and adults have diabetes. 
  • An additional 57 million people in the US are at risk.
  • Diabetes contributes to deaths more than 230,000 Americans each year.
  • Health expenditure of diagnosed diabetes is more than $174 billion, but could exceed $218 billion when undiagnosed cases are included.

How will you Stop Diabetes®?

ADA gives us the following tips on stopping this disease in its track:

  • Share* – “Share Your Vision to Stop Diabetes” by posting your video on stopdiabetes.com starting October 15, 2010.
  • Act –Take action now by visiting stopdiabetes.com or calling 1-800-DIABETES or text JOIN to 69866.
  • Learn – There’s a lot to learn and “Celebration Survival Guide” is just one of ADA’s important resource. Others include “Top Five Ways to Stop Diabetes and Get Healthy Right Now!” or “What Can I Eat?” which you can have for free by calling 1-800-DIABETES.
  • Give – Donate your time, money and efforts to the cause.

ADA is also on social network. Check out and follow

Photo credit: American Diabetes Association ad

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Is there such a thing as the ideal diabetic diet?

Categories: DIABETES | October 20th, 2010 | by Raquel | one comments

Scientific evidence is piling up showing that lifestyle interventions, especially dietary interventions, may be more effective than drugs when it comes to the management of certain chronic diseases. This is especially true in the case of diabetes. The only problem is, which diet?

Unfortunately, experts cannot agree as to which diet is best for those with diabetes. This is the day and age of food customized to individual dietary requirements. Let us take a look at what is out there:

The Atkins diet

So what is the Atkins diet i? It is basically a low-carbohydrate diet which supposedly makes you lose weight without making you hungry. WebMD describes how it works:

“By restricting carbohydrates drastically to a mere fraction of that found in the typical American diet, the body goes into a state of ketosis, which means it burns its own fat for fuel. A person in ketosis is getting energy from ketones, little carbon fragments that are the fuel created by the breakdown of fat stores. When the body is in ketosis, you tend to feel less hungry, and thus you’re likely to eat less than you might otherwise. However, ketosis can also cause a variety of unpleasant effects (such as unusual breath odor and constipation) in a small number of people…As a result, your body changes from a carbohydrate-burning engine into a fat-burning engine. So instead of relying on the carbohydrate-rich items you might typically consume for energy, and leaving your fat stores just where they were before (alas, the hips, belly, and thunder thighs are popular fat-gathering spots), your fat stores become a primary energy source. The purported result: weight loss.

Although originally thought out for weight loss, Dr Eric C Westman of Duke University in Durham, NC advocates the Atkins diet for the management of diabetes based on his talk at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) conference last month. After all, “years before medications were available to treat diabetes, a low-carbohydrate diet was used as the primary treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Westman is a co-author of the latest book on Atkins diet “New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great.”and is a consultant at Atkins Nutritionals.

Some of the experts’ comments on the Atkins diet are:

According to Dr Robert Eckel of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, also a spokesperson on nutritional issues for the American Heart Association (AHA):

“It’s a terrible diet to be on; 24% of the calories are from saturated fats. I would never prescribe an Atkins diet to a person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.”

Other experts, however, believe that the Atkins diet may be “too restrictive for people to stay on long term and potentially unsafe” for diabetics.

The South Beach diet

The South Beach diet is very similar to Atkins but is less restrictive because it allows “good carbs.” South Beach, too, doesn’t let you go hungry.

Again, we rely on WebMD experts to give us an overview on the South Beach diet.

Fats. The South Beach Diet bans unhealthy fats but strongly promotes healthy ones.

Carbs. The South Beach Diet doesn’t count grams of carbs. The Atkins diet seeks to change a person from a sugar-burning machine into a fat-burning machine. The South Beach diet looks at how much sugar is in a carb. Low-sugar carbs — those with a low glycemic index (they don’t cause the blood sugar levels to rise and fall as quickly) — are good (this point may sound very familiar to fans of the Sugar Busters diet).”

Of course there are other diets out there but these two are currently in the limelight in connection with diabetes.

The American Diabetes Assocition (ADA) currently does not recommend the Atkins-type diet for diabetics. In fact, ADA spokesperson Stephanie A Dunbar, director of nutrition and medical affairs for the AD thinks it is at this point difficult to make dietary recommendations for people with diabetes because “there are no long-term data comparing the different diets in diabetes management… I don’t think there is one particular diet that is going to work for every person. Our real recommendation for people with diabetes is that they need to have an individualized approach to meal planning, whether they need to go to 35%, 40%, or 45% of calories from carbohydrates, that needs to be individualized.”

This is the day and age of food customized to individual dietary requirements. So when do we get the ideal diabetic diet?

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The health benefits of hiking

Categories: AGING, ARTHRITIS, DEPRESSION, DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE, STRESS | October 19th, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

If I tell you I did not do a single jogging run last week, you’d think I’m getting slack and lazy, right?

Well, not quite We (I and my family) just got back from a week of autumn holidays in the Swiss Alps where we did lots of walking and hiking. This time we did long (5 to 6 hours) and short hikes (2 to 3 hours), easy (100 to 200 m altitude difference on easy clear pathways) and tough ones (500 m or more altitude difference on difficult terrain). The family consists of middle-aged parents and two seven-year old twin boys. During the week, we did two of our toughest and longest hike yet and I learned a couple of things:

  • For my kids, the tough hikes consisting of rock climbing and cliff hugging and crawling on your hands and knees are much more fun and interesting than the easy slopes and incline. We heard nary a complaint during the tough climbs except “Mom, why are you so slow?” During the easy walks however, there are the frequent “Are we there yet?” and “How many more minutes/kilometers?”
  • My kids have overtaken me in skills when it comes to climbing mountains, at least when the going gets tough. You see, Mommy is so slow because her knees were trembling as she scrambles and crawls on the rocks. Mind you, I have no fear of heights nor do I suffer from vertigo. But as somebody who was born close to the seacoast of a tropical island, it took me more than 30 years to find my way to the Swiss Alps, much more hike around. But how I got here is another story. This post is about the health benefits of hiking.

According to the American Hiking Society:

Now, I hope my description of our hikes did not turn you off and made you come to the conclusion that hiking is too challenging or difficult for you. The trick is to start slow and small. I did. My family did. I had to train my body for years, then my kids. The important thing is to start. Now.

Here’s what the American Hiking Society advises:

Beneficial exercise does not need to involve a long, painful and boring workout. A good workout can be a brisk 30-minute hike with the dog, or a slower one-hour hike through a local park. According to the American Heart Association, it’s best to walk vigorously for 30 to 60 minutes three or four times per week.

Here are some tips from Nomad Journal Trips:

Here is what I’ll tell you next: preparing for a mountain hike and taking safety precautions. Stay tuned for my next hiking post. Meanwhile, I am back in the lowlands and have to go for a jogging run.

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Why you should know the glycemic index of the food you eat

Categories: DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE | October 13th, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

In order to be healthy and stay healthy, we should know the meaning of certain terminologies that is related to the food we eat and how our body reacts to and interacts with this food.

Most of us know about calories, calorie intake and burning, carbs, sugar and blood sugar, and of course the fats – transfats, saturated and unsaturated fats.

Here is another term that you should know about: glycemic index.

Glycemic index or GI for short 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.” GI is also known as glycemic load.

Contrary to popular belief, GI is not something that only those with diabetes should know. Knowing the GI of the food we eat helps maintain a normal healthy weight, good cardiovascular health and favorable lipid profiles and thus lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes.

Here is why GI of our foods matter. Foods with high GI are rich in carbs that are eventually converted into glucose (simple sugar). The presence of glucose in the blood triggers the production of insulin that converts glucose into energy and excess glucose into stored fat. However, when the body is constantly forced to produce excess too much insulin, the results is not very healthy. Insulin resistance is a major adverse effect, followed by high levels of blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides), increased weight and cardiovascular problems.

That is why paying attention to the GI of the food we eat is important to our health. GIs may be high, medium or low.

High GI is 70 and above. Glucose has GI ranging from 85 to 111. A can of coke has 77.

Medium GI is from 56 to 69. An example of foodstuffs with medium GI is the table sugar, with 58 to 65 (source: glycemic edge). A regular hamburger has 66 and 1 cup of cheerios has 74.

Low GI is from 0 to 54 and most of the fruit and vegetables and unsweetened dairy products fall under this category. Examples are

  • Fresh apples – 28 to 44
  • Fresh bananas – 30 to 52
  • Fresh kidney beans – 13 to 46
  • Fresh carrots – 16 to 92

Foods with high and medium GIs should be avoided, maybe eaten once in a while Below I give some links as to where to check the GIs of the food stuffs. But when looking through the Glycemic edge database, I found some surprisingly high GIs, as follows:

  • French baguette – 95
  • 1 cup of corn flakes – 84
  • Graham crackers – 74
  • Tofu frozen dessert, low fat, 1/2 cup – 115
  • Gatorade – 78

Sources of GI values of the food you eat:

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Hearing loss in American teens on the rise

Categories: DIABETES, HEARING, HEART AND STROKE | October 6th, 2010 | by Raquel | 2 comments

Hearing problems is on the rise and the increase is most evident among teens. A new research study by scientists at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston revealed that there is a 31% rise in the number of adolescents with some form of hearing loss. The auditory problems are sometimes mild and barely noticeable but they are there.  And previous have shown that among the young, even minor hearing losses can affect communication and social skills, thus educational achievement.

The researchers examined data of over 4500 participants of the NHANES aged 12 to 19 years old and compared data from 1988 to 1984 vs. data from 2005 to 2006.

According to lead author Dr. Josef Shargorodsky:

“About 1 out of 5 adolescents in the United States has at least some evidence of hearing loss. Moreover, about 1 out of 20 has at least mild hearing loss.”

The authors believe that noise is a major factor in this increase in hearing loss.

Indeed, exposure of adolescents to noise has increased in recent years, what with widespread use of portable music devices such as MP3 players and even mobile phones.

This is probably exacerbated in adulthood by increased risk for cardiovascular disease and unhealthy lifestyle.

In another study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, risk factors for hearing loss in American adults have been identified as environmental and lifestyle factors as well as concomitant diseases.

Environmental factors are mainly exposure to noise which results in high-frequency hearing loss.

What is interesting is the fact that the lifestyle factor smoking also results in hearing loss, both at high and low frequencies. In addition, hypertension and diabetes, too, can lead to high- and low-frequency hearing loss. The authors believe that the link between cardiovascular risk factors and hearing loss is due to damage to the cochlea as a consequence of microvascular insufficiency. Cochlea is the snail-shaped structure in the inner ear where sound waves are converted into nerve impulses. Damage to the cochlea results in impairment of transmission of those nerve impulses.  The presence of cardiovascular risk factors in addition to exposure to high levels of noise can exacerbate problems of hearing loss.

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Diet vs. drugs in diabetes management

Categories: DIABETES | September 27th, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

When it comes to the management of type 2 diabetes, the appropriate diet may actually “trump up” medications.

Researchers in New Zealand looked at 94 high-risk diabetes patients which were split into 2 groups. All patients received optimal medical care for diabetes but one group received regular one-to-one dietary advice from a dietician. The advice did not focus on a strict diabetic diet but was customized to the needs of each individual patient based on socio-economic and cultural circumstances.

The study lasted for 6 months and at the end of the study period, patients who received dietary advice showed significant improvements in terms of glycemic control. Some of the patients in this group were even able to reduce their doses of hypoglycemic drugs or insulin.

According to lead author Kirstin Coppell:

“The patients in our study were already under intensive drug treatment to optimise their glycaemic control, which remained unsatisfactory. We found that by also following carefully tailored dietary advice they could significantly improve this control.”

In addition, the group who had dietary advice also experienced reduction in body weight and abdominal fat, with an average weight loss of 2.1 kg and 3 cm waistline reduction.

Over the years, anti-diabetic drugs have been developed to help patients with diabetes maintain their blood sugar levels. But with time, the efficacy of these medications wanes as insulin resistance increases. No matter how intensive the drug therapy maybe, control of blood sugar levels eventually deteriorates.

“Since the widespread introduction of anti-diabetic drugs, the traditional focus on diet and lifestyle in managing diabetes has faded into the background. Our findings suggest that there needs to be a renewed focus on these elements if we want to improve diabetes outcomes.”

The study, aptly called Lifestyle Over and Above Drugs in Diabetes (LOADD), shows that lifestyle changes in terms of modifying eating habits compliment the effect of medications and bring more benefits to the diabetes patient. However, making the step towards this change and sticking to it is not an easy task. It is thus necessary to have the guidance of health professionals such as a dietician as well as a strong support group to sustain this lifestyle.

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Diabetic drug Avandia in trouble

Categories: DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE | September 23rd, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

The antidiabetic drug rosiglitazone is in big trouble as the decisions from major regulatory bodies were announced today.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced today that it is recommending the suspension of the marketing license of antidiabetic drugs that contain rosiglitazone. This includes the drugs marketed in Europe as Avandia, Avandamet, and Avaglin.

The EMA suspension will take effect within the next few months and “will remain in place unless the marketing authorisation holder can provide convincing data to identify a group of patients in whom the benefits of the medicines outweigh their risks.”

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) decided that Avandia stays on the US market but under strong restrictions. According to an FDA statement today:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it will significantly restrict the use of the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) to patients with Type 2 diabetes who cannot control their diabetes on other medications. These new restrictions are in response to data that suggest an elevated risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, in patients treated with Avandia.

Rosiglitazone has been under scrutiny due to the side effects of fluid retention and increased risk of heart failure which came out during postmarketing studies. Avandia is a product of the UK drug marker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

What should patients in Europe who are taking rosiglitazone do?

The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) issued the following press statement earlier today:

EASD urges patients who are currently taking any of the above medications to contact their medical advisors for advice concerning alternative treatment options.

Patients should be aware that stopping a diabetes medication without consulting a doctor can result in higher levels of blood glucose that may cause serious short term health problems and increase the risk of long-term diabetes-related complications.

Optimal control of glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure is needed in order to limit the risk of long-term complications, and several alternative types of treatment are available to help those with type 2 diabetes achieve these objectives.

 In any case, this may be the end of rosiglitazone. Even if its stays in the US market, its cardiovascular safety is seriously suspect that no clinician will ever consider prescribing the drug to patients.

Photo source: www.healthcare-digital.com/news/avandia/avandia-recieves-mixed-reactions

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Spice up your health!

Categories: CANCER, DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE | August 18th, 2010 | by Raquel | one comments

Most of us pay attention to the food that we eat. The big food stuffs, at least. What we usually take for granted are the little stuff: the condiments, the spices and the herbs.

The spices and herbs we use in our kitchen come from flowers, leaves, seed, fruit, roots and other parts of plant. They not only give flavour to our food, they are also beneficial to our health. With the trend of limiting salt in our food for the sake of heart health, herbs and spices are important taste boosters. But what is also important is that some of them have special properties that help fight a wide range of chronic diseases, from heart disease to cancer, from diabetes to arthritis.

Let us take a look at of the top performers in our kitchen spice rack:

Chili peppers
These peppers contain compounds that help in weight loss and control blood pressure, according to a report in WebMD. The compound dihydrocapsiate boosts fat-burning capacity and another one, capsaicin provides heat and lowers blood pressure in lab animals.

Besides being the star of Christmas baking, cinnamon contains antioxidants that may prevent inflammation and help control blood glucose concentrations in people with diabetes.

Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times wrote:

“…garlic appears to boost our natural supply of hydrogen sulphide… which acts as an antioxidant and transmits cellular signals that relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.”

This hydrogen sulphide-boosting property makes garlic a powerful ally against cancer and heart disease.

This yellow pungent powder which gives your curry its color is practically a health superstar. The active ingredient is curcumin which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antibacterial, stomach- heart- and liver-protective effects

WebMD recommends simples tips on how to incorporate these health stars in out diet.

Ground cinnamon:

  • Add 1.25 teaspoons to prepared oatmeal; 1 cup Greek yogurt mixed with 2 teaspoons molasses or honey, or artificial sweetener; and French toast batter.
  • Sprinkle half a teaspoon of cinnamon over ground coffee before brewing.
  • Top a fat-free latte or hot cocoa with ground cinnamon.

Chili peppers:

  • Add chopped peppers to chili, burgers, soups, stews, salsa, and egg dishes.


  • Sprinkle on egg salad.
  • Mix half a teaspoon turmeric with 1 cup Greek yogurt and use as a dip or sandwich spread.
  • Add to chicken or seafood casseroles, and to water when cooking rice.


  • Add fresh chopped or minced garlic to pasta dishes, stir-fry dishes, pizza, fresh tomato sauce, and meat and poultry recipes.


  • Add 1/8 teaspoon dried to scrambled eggs, salad dressings, and store-bought or homemade marinara sauce.
  • Sprinkle some on top of pizza, and stir into black bean soup.


  • Make a sandwich with low-fat mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves; add fresh leaves to green salads.


  • Sprinkle dried thyme onto cooked vegetables in place of butter or margarine.
  • Add 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme to two scrambled eggs, and to salad dressings.
  • Use it in a rub when cooking salmon.
  • Add fresh thyme to chicken salad and chicken soup.


  • Add dried crushed rosemary to mashed potatoes and vegetable omelets.


  • Add chopped flat leaf parsley to meatballs and meat loaf, and to bulgur salad.


  • Grate fresh ginger into quick bread batters and vinaigrette.
  • Add chopped ginger to stir-fries. Sprinkle ground ginger on cooked carrots.


  • Sprinkle ground cloves on applesauce, add to quick bread batters, and add a pinch to hot

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Diabetes treatments benefit animals, too

Categories: DIABETES | August 16th, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

Diabetes used to be a death sentence. Until 1922 when insulin was discovered, extracted from pancreas of dogs. With insulin, diabetes became manageable. Dogs and other animals have been and are still being used in biomedical research for developing and testing new drugs for humans. Animal rights activists are of course not happy with this state of affairs. A recent report from the University of Missouri (MU) however indicates that it is not only human beings who benefit from the fruit of biomedical research but man’s best friend and other animals as well.

MU researchers have tested a continuous glucose monitoring device commonly used in humans with diabetes in animals and found the device to be helpful in treating dogs and other animals. The device is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades of the animal.

According to Charles Wiedmeyer, assistant professor of clinical pathology in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Our research has found that continuous glucose monitoring devices can be used in dogs, cats, cows and horses. Use of this system alleviated the need for multiple blood samples. It also reduces the stress associated with obtaining those samples. This system may provide greater monitoring capabilities in animals with diabetes and promote the diagnostic and research potential of glucose monitoring in veterinary patients.”

The device records blood glucose data every five minutes and provides a detailed blood glucose profile of an animal for several days. The data obtained with the device are invaluable in managing diabetes in pets especially in determining the proper dosage of insulin and in controlling sugar levels through proper diet.

These all sound very familiar to those who are suffering from diabetes because the disease manifestations in humans and in animals are very similar.

“Many of the symptoms of diabetes in dogs are similar to the symptoms in humans, including excessive water consumption, increased urination, or unexplained weight loss. For dogs, treatment typically involves insulin shots twice a day. Dogs get complications from diabetes, but they are not as severe as human complications. Older, female dogs and some breeds, such as schnauzers and poodles, are more prone to diabetes.”

Dogs, however, are more like little children rather than adults with diabetes because they have little control over their insulin and diet. They need to rely on their owners/caregivers on glycemic control, thus making easy and convenient glucose monitoring invaluable.

The glucose monitoring device specially designed for animals is manufactured by Medtronics.

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Female sexual dysfunction and diabetes

Categories: DEPRESSION, DIABETES, INFERTILITY | July 29th, 2010 | by Raquel | one comments

Diabetes comes with a lot of complications, including sexual dysfunction. There has been a lot of research on the relation between type 2 diabetes and erectile dysfunction (ED) in male patients with reported prevalence of up to 50%, but little is known about female sexual dysfunction (FSD). FSD is characterized by lack of libido and sexual satisfaction, even discomfort and pain during intercourse.

Italian researchers decided to address this knowledge gap and investigated the factors that are correlated to FSD in diabetic patients.  Their results indicated that FSD was not linked to hemoglobin A1C or time since diagnosis, hypertension or smoking. However, FSD was shown to be most prevalent in women who are married or depressed. Whereas physical activity positive influences FSD, age, metabolic syndrome and poor lipid profile seem have a negative impact. Much more, FSD is more prevalent in menopausal women compared to non-menopausal women. The authors concluded that:

“Further studies are needed to elucidate in full the mechanisms underlying the evident differences between male and female sexual function. In the meantime, evaluation of female sexuality should become a routine evaluation in women with type 2 diabetes, such as other diabetic complications.”

The results indicate sexual dysfunction occurs in both men and women especially among those with diabetes. However, the determining factors seem to differ between sexes. Whereas ED is closely linked to cardiovascular risk factors, FSD seems to be more linked to neurological and social factors. In fact, several studies have linked FSD to depression and marital status

There is something that diabetic women can do to help prevent FSD – improvement in diet and more physical activity. Experts believe it is not just diabetic diet that would help but sticking to the so-called Mediterranean diet, according to the same team of researchers.

Mediterranean diet has been shown to be beneficial for the heart and blood sugar levels. However, this is the first study to demonstrate the positive effect of such a diet in reducing FSD.

Like many chronic diseases, diabetes and its many complications, including sexual dysfunction benefits from lifestyle change that involves diet and physical exercise.

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Mediterranean diet: the heart is not the only one that benefits

Categories: CANCER, DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE, OBESITY | July 20th, 2010 | by Raquel | one comments

Olives, fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish and a bit of wine. These are the ingredients of a Mediterranean diet, long hailed for being good for the palate as well as good for the heart.

The diet is not low fat – it contains lots of olive oil. However, it is the right kind of fat – monounsaturated fats.

It is not low carb either. Lots of bread and pasta are eaten. But the breads are mainly made from whole grains.

What makes the Mediterranean diet health is because it contains all the nutrients that we need in the right amounts. And couple with regular physical exercise, this diet is the success story of all diets.

Yes, because latest studies show that Mediterranean diet not only heart-friendly, it also has other benefits

Mediterranean diet helps lose weight

This is according to latest studies as reviewed on WebMD. In fact, one of the studies showed that this diet can be more effective in losing extra pounds than low-fat diet.

The funny thing is that the Mediterranean diet wasn’t meant to be a dietary plan for weight loss. For hundreds of years, people in the Mediterranean ate what they ate because it tasted good and because it was their way of life.

According to Dr. Arthur Agatston, cardiologist and creator of the South Beach Diet, which was adapted from the Mediterranean diet model:

“Research continues to demonstrate that being physically active and eating a nutritious diet of primarily whole foods that are filling and satisfying can enable people to control weight, lower blood pressure [and] cholesterol levels, reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease [and] Alzheimer’s disease, and basically protect against chronic diseases.”

Mediterranean diet lower risk for Type 2 diabetes

As usual, when we talk about weight, diabetes is not far behind. This is also true for Mediterranean diet. Here is how, according to Dr. Agatston:

“A Mediterranean diet is high in fiber, which slows down digestion, preventing wild swings in blood sugar; reduces insulin resistance (a precursor of type 2 diabetes); and improves insulin sensitivity to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

Mediterranean diet helps prevent cancer

Cancer, too? Well, according to researchers, diet that is high in fat but low in saturated fats actually reduces not only heart disease but also cancer.

Can vitamin supplements replace Mediterranean diet?

Unfortunately, you cannot bottle this diet or squeeze it into a multivitamin pill. No, this is the real thing and can’t simply be replaced by all the supplements around.

What is more, we have to keep in mind that the diet has to go hand in hand with physical exercise and minimum stress and cannot work when coupled with unhealthy behavior such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

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Coffee: a health drink or an addictive brew?

Categories: CANCER, DIABETES, HEART AND STROKE | July 15th, 2010 | by Raquel | no comments

I love the smell and taste of coffee. What I don’t like are the sleepless nights, the palpiations, and the withdrawal symptoms that consist of headache and lethargy. I guess I am one of those who are highly susceptible to the stimulating effects of caffeine. I mean, my big brother practically grew up drinking cups and cups of coffee each day and my husband would drink an espresso after dinner and still get a good night’s sleep. Nowadays, I limit my coffee intake to a single cup in the morning and decafs in the afternoon.

But let us see what the health experts have to say about coffee.

Coffee and heart health

Studies presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) in March year suggest that coffee is “generally heart friendly.” One study  on 130,054 people showed that coffee lowers the risk for arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm). Those who drink at least 4 cups of coffee have a 2% chance of being hospitalized duearrhythmia compared to 18% chance among non-coffee drinkers.

 Coffee also doesn’t cause damage to blood vessels that lead to atherosclerosis, according to a study on more than 3000 individuals. A third study indicates that coffee consumption can slightly elevate blood pressure, but the effect was described as “modest”.

Cofffee and diabetes

Another study presented at the AHA meeting indicate that coffee reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus among women. Those who drank 4 to 5 cups of coffee had a 56% lower risk for diabetes than those who did not. In this study, decaffeinated coffee did not have the same beneficial effect as the real brew.

Coffee and cancer

Coffee also has a protective effect against certain types of cancer. According to an analysis of 9 previous studies, coffee helps lower the risk head and neck cancer – by 39%! – but tea does not. No data on decaf brew are available.

In an earlier study, Harvard researcerhs also reported that coffee drinkers are less likely – by 60% – to develop an aggressive form of prostate cancer than non-drinkers.

Is coffee a health food or an addictive stimulant?

It looks like coffee in general is healthy but health experts are rather cautious is declaring it at the ultimate health drink to fight heart disease and cancer.

According to the lead author of the cancer study Dr. Mia Hashibe, assistant professor in the department of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City:

“Since coffee is so widely used and there is a relatively high incidence and low survival rate of these forms of cancers, our results have important public health implications that need to be further addressed.”

According heart rhythm study leader Dr. Arthur Klatsky:

“…I don’t think we’re ready to tell people they should drink coffee to prevent heart rhythm problems… It could be that coffee drinkers have better diets or exercise more. We can’t say for sure that it might not be related to minor heart rhythm problems that don’t require hospitalization.
Coffee drinkers don’t have to quit because they have heart rhythm problems. That’s about as far as we can go.”

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