Avoiding Diabetes

Whether you are a type 1 or type 2 diabetic, sugared soft drinks should not be on your menu. If you are a type 1, you need to raise blood sugar and get your energy from fresh or dried fruits. If you are type 2, sugar should be off the table – for life. However; have you ever given much thought as to how to avoid diabetes altogether? 

If you have gestational diabetes, even more care is required, because you can pass the tendency to this disease on to all your offspring.

In fact, it’s now a distinct possibility that as few as two sugared drinks a day could double the risk of developing both type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune disorder – and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study out of Sweden.

Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for about 92 percent of all diagnosed diabetes cases in the United States, is generally regarded as a disease of lifestyle related to obesity, lack of exercise, and poor dietary choices. About 28.5 million Americans have diabetes.

Other Forms of Diabetes

Sugared drinks, also called soft drinks, also increase the risk of developing latent autoimmune diabetes, which shares characteristics with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This form of diabetes, or glucose intolerance, develops slowly, and victims may not need insulin for at least six months after diagnosis, but the process is inevitable nonetheless.

In short, notes the study, from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, each soft drink you consume raises your risk for developing diabetes by 20 percent. And that’s a lot. Double that, to about 24 ounces (about 700 ml) and you have insulin waiting in the wings for you whether you want it or not.

In addition to the forms mentioned above, diabetes can also appear as:

  • MODY, or Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young (irreversible), develops later than Type 1 diabetes but usually before age 25. It is often genetic, and does not always require insulin treatment.
  • Double diabetes (irreversible) is an autoimmune disease like Type 1.
  • Type 3 diabetes is insulin resistance in the brain (reversibility unknown), and some researchers now associate it with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Steroid-induced diabetes (irreversible in context) can result from the use of steroids in treating asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RAs), and certain forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Brittle diabetes (irreversible), a hard-to-control form of Type 1 diabetes, which has elements of IBD, thyroid imbalance, and adrenal gland malfunction.
  • Secondary diabetes (irreversible), which results from certain health conditions like cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, and polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, to name a few.
  • Diabetes insipidus (unknown), a very rare form of diabetes that results from excessive urination.

The Role of Insulin in Diabetes

Insulin is made in the pancreas and helps the body convert sugar into energy as part of the metabolic process.

When the pancreas fails to work as well as it should, most patients are diagnosed with diabetes, usually type 2 diabetes. Doctors may also refer to something called “metabolic syndrome”, which is a whole complex of problems, type 2 diabetes being only one aspect of a general, body-wide failure.  

Diabetic researchers have begun to believe that one aspect of diabetes (at least, type 2 diabetes) may be as simple as energy storage. Until the problem is identified and fixed, however, insulin is the weapon of choice when diabetics are no longer able to control their blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and oral medications.

Insulin currently comes in liquid form, in vials or prefilled pens, and is injected by “units” into a fatty area on the body, typically belly, thigh, or forearm, in either slow-acting or fast-acting formulas. In the latter case, one unit typically represents about 10 degrees above normal blood sugar, which is considered to range from less than 100 mg/dl (milligrams per deciliter) before meals to up to 140 mg/dl up to two hours after meals.  

The Future of Insulin

Not too far in the future, expect to get insulin from a patch, an implanted pump, a skin port (like a permanent IV port), or even inhaled insulin. Some scientists are even looking at a bionic pancreas, surgically inserted to take over where the pancreas has failed.

Until we reach that wonderful future, the best thing diabetics can do – for themselves and their loved ones – is to eat right (no sweets, fewer carbohydrates, lots of veggies, focus on lean proteins), exercise, and getting restful sleep. Believe it or not, sleep apnea may be a leading trigger for diabetes and insulin resistance. So if you sleep badly, wake frequently, and never feel rested, see your doctor.

Cures for Diabetes

What is Diabetes? According to the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are consistently above normal. How Common Is It? Diabetes is becoming more and more common in the United States, as our formerly agrarian/manufacturing economy turns to sitting behind a desk operating a computer without a cure.

The cost of this sedentary lifestyle – reinforced by private vehicles, public transit, and such innovations as Uber, is diabetes. From 1980 through 2014, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes has increased fourfold (from 5.5 million to 22.0 million). Many more – perhaps half again as many – remain undiagnosed, waiting for the first symptoms of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, or gangrene in a leg or foot.

Cures and Treatment?

Diet, weight loss, and exercise are all good options. Researchers have concluded that weight loss and exercise alone can prevent or delay the occurrence of type 2 diabetes, even among adults at high risk for developing the disease.

Alternative Cures

Diet is the first line of defense. The best diet plan involves large amounts of fruits, vegetables, high-fiber foods, and whole grains (wild or brown rice, multigrain breads, cereals and pastas). Avoid most fats, especially dairy and animal protein fats, and salt.

Weight loss is important. The greater the Body Mass Index, or BMI, the closer a person is to developing diabetes. Overweight is borderline diabetic; obese is likely undiagnosed diabetes. Consult the chart, or calculate your risk by determining if you are more than 25 percent overweight (23 percent for Asian Americans, 26 percent for Pacific Islanders).

Exercise is also essential, because calories that are burnt can’t contribute to fat and, by extension, to diabetes. However, when all else fails, modern medicine steps in to the rescue. According to the CDC, from 1997 to 2011, the number of diabetic adults taking medication  increased, most notably for insulin users after 2007. Increases were similar for those taking Sitagliptin-Metformin (a combination featured on the diabetic website daily-diabetic.com), glimiperide (Amaryl), or similar diabetic formulations.

What about Natural Medicine to Cure?

The best medicines are natural, and even some mainstream medical practitioners are beginning to see the benefits of these “herbal” cures.

First, all have proven anti-inflammatory properties, and some – like cinnamon – actually lower blood sugar. As with any medicine, whether natural or formulated, some work better for some diabetics, and others don’t. A little experimentation is necessary. Fortunately, it’s almost impossible to overdose on herbs and spices. Your taste buds will stop you before your body is affected.

Cinnamon lowers cholesterol and speeds up the metabolism, helping your body get rid of the fat that leads to type 2 diabetes. However, do not cook or heat the cinnamon, else it loses its curative properties. And never pair it with sugar. Try stevia, the only sweetener that is not detrimental to diabetics. In fact, stevia is good in its own right as a diabetes fighter.

The no-heat rule applies to all spices and herbs. Add them at the end of the cooking cycle, to retain their phytonutrient values. In baking, for example, sprinkle cinnamon on the bread or bun instead of adding it to the dough.

Other spices like cinnamon, and equally or more effective, include nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Perhaps this is why our ancestors always baked spicy pies to go with heavy holiday meals that packed on the pounds. Even peppermint is a good option (but not for those with acid reflux).

Basil, cumin, garlic, sage, thyme, and turmeric are all spices we should be using anyway, as they effectively replace the almost lethal amounts of table salt and other artificial seasonings (bacon bits, steak sauces, and seasoning salts) that Americans use.

The very best? Turmeric, which in recent studies prevented all subjects who took 1,500 mg daily from developing diabetes.  

Snack Ideas to Keep Your Diabetes Under Control

What do you do when you start feeling a little lightheaded or weak? When you’re diabetic, you have to worry about your blood sugar levels being too high as well as too low – neither of which are great things to deal with. It’s important to have some healthy snack options on you at all times to keep everything in check.

Keep in mind that though you may want to keep snacks around regularly, mindlessly snacking is not the direction to go. Know your portion sizes and how many carbohydrates you need, and prepare your snacks accordingly so that there’s no chance of binge eating. You’ll then be able to successfully manage your blood glucose levels and avoid weight gain.

So what are some healthy snack ideas that will keep you energized and health keep your diabetes under control?

String Cheese & Whole-Wheat Crackers

Low-fat string cheese that’s individually wrapped is so easy to slip into your purse or a bag you bring with you to work. Because cheese is filled with protein, it makes it much easier for a diabetic’s body to process carbohydrates. You can also slice an appropriate portion of fresh block cheese and place it atop whole-wheat crackers.

Hummus & Veggies

Filled with fiber and nutrients, hummus is great to munch on with baby carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, or peppers. There are also many different ways you can spice up your hummus so you won’t get bored with just one flavor.

Nuts & Dried Fruit

Almonds and walnuts are both loaded with proteins, again making it easier for your body to process carbohydrates. Remember to steer clear of the salted variety though. Pairing this with dried fruit is a good way to satisfy your sweet tooth while also utilizing the protein of the nuts to process the carbohydrates in the fruit.

Tomato Soup

If you’re in need of a warm, comforting food, tomato soup is an easy way to get some veggies into your diet which brings with it protein.

Greek Yogurt & Raisins

Often times, yogurt can actually be packed with sugar, but sticking with Greek yogurt combats that. A light and fresh snack, you can try adding in some raisins or blueberries for an added burst of flavor.

Egg Salad

Hardboiled eggs are a great source of protein. Put egg salad in a container for an easy-to-travel-with snack. It’s perfect paired with several multi-grain crackers, spread over one slice of whole-wheat bread, or even with grapes.

Banana Berry Smoothie

All you’ll need is half of a small banana, a half-cup of berries and a half-cup of no-fat milk or yogurt. Thicken up your smoothie without adding calories or carbohydrates by mixing in ice. Keep your smoothie within the 150-calorie limit by carefully measuring your ingredients beforehand. You can even try throwing in a little protein powder.

Fresh Fruit

So easy to bring with you throughout the day, fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s also often full of sugar as well, but pair it with a protein like cheese, and it can help counteract the effect.

 

How to Travel Safely with Diabetes

With warm weather in full effect, vacation season has officially arrived. This is the time of year that friends and family flock together to enjoy exploration and adventure, rest and relaxation, and some much needed time away. Doing this with diabetes, though, can be a lot to handle. Living with diabetes is hard enough itself, but when you factor in packing, travel and not being within your normal daily routine, it can get tricky. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming though! Check out these 6 tips for traveling safely and successfully with diabetes.

  1. See Your Doctor Before You Leave

Before you hit the road, travel overseas or plan to be anywhere other than home for an extended period of time, go see your doctor to have a medical exam. If you’re leaving home for a little while, you want to make sure everything is in control with your diabetes. Schedule the exam about a month before you leave, so that if everything isn’t in control, you have enough time to get things back on track.

Don’t leave your doctor’s office without getting both a letter and a prescription. If there’s an emergency, you’ll want to have a letter with you explaining what you need to do for your diabetes as well as list any allergies you might have. Though you should have enough supplies with you, a prescription for more insulin, syringes or pills is good to have with you just in case.

  1. Plan for Meals and Pack Healthy Snacks

Planning for meals is so important when traveling, especially if you’re going to be flying. Sometimes you can request meals for special dietary needs, but you should always have emergency snacks with you just in case. Some really great snacks for traveling (and always) are grapes and cheese, carrot sticks, walnuts, and low sugar yogurt.

  1. Know About Local Pharmacies and Hospitals

Research the closest hospitals and pharmacies before you go. If you’re staying in a hotel, the staff may be able to help you out with this as well. Even if you’ll be in the wilderness somewhere, try to figure out the closest hospital or urgent care to go if you’re in a bind.

  1. Check Your Blood Sugar Frequently

When you’re at home, you probably stick to the same routine along with foods that are relatively normal for you to munch on. While you’re away on vacation, you may be trying new or unfamiliar foods. Check your blood sugar more frequently than you normally would as well as 90 minutes or so after a meal.

  1. Pack Comfortable Walking Shoes

You may be doing a lot of walking while you’re away, so pack comfortable walking shoes to avoid blisters. If you’ll be walking on the beach, where sandals rather than going barefoot so you don’t get stuck with nasty cuts that could lead to infection.

  1. Bring Extra Supplies

Go ahead and bring twice as many supplies as you think you might need. Bring these in a carry-on bag as opposed to checking them on a flight where they could get lost or delayed. Also keep in mind where you’ll be able to store your supplies.

 

Ways to Manage Diabetes in Dogs

If you own a dog, you know the value that furry friends add to your life. Dogs are after all man’s best friend and they become part of our families. They greet you excitedly when you come home after a long day. They lay on the couch with you while you watch TV. They go everywhere you go. They are our loyal companions and as members of our family they deserve our love and dedication. Yet even as we care for them, unfortunately they sometimes get sick. One of the most common diseases in dogs is diabetes.

 

Causes of Diabetes and signs to look for

 

It is important to have your dog checked yearly, and have their vaccinations updated. Just like we have our yearly check-ups, our furry friends deserve to be checked. Signs of diabetes include excessive urination, hunger, weight loss, excessive thirst, and lethargy. If your dogs seems hungrier than usual you may want to have it checked by a vet in case of diabetes or another sickness. Your vet might recommend a specific diet change appropriate for the dog’s breed, age and size. Overweight dogs often succumb to diabetes, and the earlier your companion is diagnosed, the better to treat and care for them.

 

Healthy ways to treat your dog

 

Insulin. In rare occasions a vet may prescribe a human insulin, or possibly Vetsulin, which is a purified pig insulin. Your vet will take factors such as age and weight into consideration when choosing the best type of insulin for your dog.

 

Diet. Your vet may recommend a change in diet for your dog that is low in fat and high in fiber. Fiber slows the entrance of glucose into the blood can help level out weight. You may have to feed prescription food or homemade food that contains protein yet regulates weight and reduces inflammation. Make sure that your dog drinks lots of water. Fiber takes water from the body which can lead to constipation and other problems.

 

Have your dog checked often. Just as adults need annual check-ups, our furry friends need to be cared for as well. As dogs age they can develop sickness that can cause harm to their bodies and require a change in diet. You want to make sure that the food your dog is eating caters to their specific needs. Your vet can guide you on the best option for your breed.

 

Exercise. Just like humans require proper exercise, our furry friends also need their exercise to reduce their body weight and lower blood glucose levels. Consistency is key to maintain a healthy dog.

 

You may be surprised to learn that there are healthy people foods that actually help to improve overall conditions in dogs suffering from diabetes. Feeding your dog coconut oil only helps with digestion, reduces inflammation, and helps prevent and even control diabetes. As an added bonus, you can add coconut oil to your dog’s coat to keep it clean and shiny.

 

It is important to educate yourself as much about possible about the varying symptoms and cases of diabetes and check for abnormal symptoms in your canine. The more you learn the more prepared you will be if your furry friend develops the disease. Our canine friends are important and should be well cared for.