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Happy Fourth of July And What It Means To You

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

The festivities are on. Flags wave in the hot, summer breeze, barbecues tantalize our nostrils, cold drinks quench our thirst, and as night falls the fireworks begin. This sounds a lot like the typical fourth of July holiday, doesn’t it? If you’re traveling, well, you are having an entirely different experience. But for many of us who are not taking to the skies, this is what our fourth of July may look like.

Two hundred and forty-six years ago, the United States gained its independence from Great Britain when 12 of the 13 colonies voted in favor of it. Since then, the holiday is celebrated with parades, picnics, family gatherings, and, of course, fireworks. Many people will take the day off from work to join in the festivities. But for others, the fourth of July is a day like any other.

If you have a chronic illness that keeps you from enjoying certain foods, or taking part in social gatherings, it’s even harder to celebrate. But is independence only about the food, the revelry, the fireworks? The past three years have tested us as a nation in a way we’ve never been tested before. The pandemic, civil unrest, climate change, and an increasingly uncertain economy may have dampened the enthusiasm many of us feel toward our country.  How do we feel independent when everything we hold dear is collapsing around us?

I picked up this little quote from an email someone sent me this morning. It is By John Adams who served as the second US president from 1797 to 1801:

 I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is more than worth all the means. And that posterity will triumph in that days’ transaction, even although we should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.” ~ John Adams, Massachusetts

If John Adams were alive today, would he say we did “rue” it? Are we taking our freedom for granted or are we counting on others to ensure our freedom? As I grow older I view freedom and independence as internal constructs — the way I see myself and the world around me; the choices I make; the way I treat myself and others, and my relationship with God. No government, group, friend or relative can guarantee my independence or my freedom. I am as free as I think I am.

So, let me encourage you with this: if you are suffering with type 2 diabetes or any chronic illness, don’t give up hope. Be independent in your thinking. Schedule time everyday to

  1. communicate with God.
  2. engage in activities that make you feel alive
  3. talk to people who affirm you and make your heart sing
  4. create a lifestyle that will give you something to wake up to every morning

Happy Fourth of July! Stay safe!

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Study Finds Intermittent Fasting May Benefit Diabetes Patients

Some time ago, I posted this article on intermittent fasting. In the article, I stated that intermittent fasting has become popular as a weight loss practice as it allows you to reduce calories without limiting what you can eat. As a result, intermittent fasting can help you manage your diabetes.

At a presentation of the American Society of Nutrition, Kelsey Gabel, PhD, RD stated that intermittent fasting might benefit both type 1 and 2 diabetics. It was also stated that people who are obese or who are at the prediabetes stage may benefit. However, Gabel advised that although intermittent fasting may be considered safe for individuals with diabetes, evidence is “still extremely limited” and patients “should closely monitor their blood glucose.”

Types of intermittent fasting

  1. Alternate day fasting – people alternate fast and feast days. On fast days they limit their intake to 500 calories and on feast days they can eat as much as they like.
  2. The 5: 2 diet – people fast 2 days a week.
  3. Time-restricted eating – the most popular form of intermittent fasting. People choose a window for eating, usually between noon and 8 p.m. This is preferred as it allows you to enjoy dinner and other social occasions with family and friends.

Read more about the various forms of intermittent fasting here

A few things to bear in mind

  1. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for children younger than 12 years of age and adults over 70. Also, if you have a history of eating disorder or you are of normal weight, then you should not try intermittent fasting.
  2. The first 3 months is the period with the most weight loss. Monitor supplements closely – Vit. D, B 12, electrolytes and medications for blood pressure, lipids and glucose. As weight loss progresses, medications may need to be adjusted.
  3. Create an eating window that is more convenient. Drink more water during the first two weeks.
  4. If you have to take medications with meals, you should not do intermittent fasting.

As always, before following this or any healthcare advice, please consult your physician. He/she will be able to tell you if intermittent fasting is right for you, or he may be able to point you to the best way of undertaking this type of diet. For more posts like this, please sign up for the newsletter below. You can also follow me on the social media below.

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3 Things You Should Know About Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness that affects adults as well as children. Type 2 diabetes is more common among older adults, however, children who are obese can develop type 2 diabetes.

Image of a man and woman walking with a dog.
Man and woman walking a dog

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes and about 90 percent of that number have type 2 diabetes.

What causes type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes develops when your pancreas — the organ in your body that produces insulin — either does not make enough insulin, or your body does not make proper use of it. Insulin is a hormone that allows blood sugar from the food you eat to get into the cells and provide energy. If this blood sugar is not getting into the cells, your pancreas makes more insulin and your blood sugar rises, leading to prediabetes. If you don’t make changes to your eating and lifestyle habits, full-blown diabetes will develop.

Diabetes symptoms

Type 2 diabetes symptoms may take a long time to develop and many people may be unaware that they have type 2 diabetes. Once symptoms begin to develop you will find yourself becoming tired more easily. Other symptoms may be:

  • increased thirst
  • increased hunger
  • the need to urinate more enough
  • scratches or sores take a longer time to heal
  • blurred vision
  • dry, itchy skin, and other symptoms

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes —mother, father, brother, sister— you are more likely to get it. Other risk factors are:

  • Age—older people (over 45) are more likely to get the disease, but younger people can also have it.
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity — active less than 3 days a week
  • Prediabetes
  • African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, Pacific Islander, or Alaska Native

Related links:

The more you learn about your illness the better you will be equipped to manage it. The short quiz will help you test your knowledge of type 2 diabetes and put you on a better footing to deal with it. Please answer the questions below. If you like, you can drop me a line and let me know how you did.

Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t yet done so.

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What To Eat On Eat Flexitarian Day

Think about anything at all and chances are there will be a national observance day for it. Today is Eat Flexitarian Day, and as the name implies, it means you can be flexible in what you eat today. However, the motivation behind this day is to get you accustomed to including some plant-based dishes in your diet so you can eventually transition to vegetarianism.

Vegetarian bread made from zucchini, flour, pecans and other ingredients
Pecan zucchini bread

For many people who might be averse to the idea of going without your hamburger or fried chicken drumstick, this may seem like an impossible task, hence the observation of eat flexitarian day. If you have been toying with the idea of starting a vegetarian or vegan diet and have been wondering how to begin, eating flexitarian gives you the opportunity to start slowly. You don’t have to go the whole hog at once (pun intended).

Pecan zucchini bread

Experts tell us that a plant-based diet helps improve our overall health and well-being. Chosen carefully, a plant-based diet provides your body with the same amount of protein and savory taste as meat. By eating flexitarian, you get to enjoy your favorite foods while making healthy choices that you can commit to over the long haul. As a diabetic, including more vegetables in your diet, will help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn will help you control your blood sugar.

So, how do you begin eating flexitarian? National Day gives the following recommendations:

Stage 1 – Eat meat five times a week

Stage 2 – As you get used to eating more fruits and vegetables, limit your meat intake to three times a week

Stage 3 – Eat non-plant foods only occasionally. When meat is fully removed from your diet, you have transitioned to vegetarianism.

Whenever you take baby steps in beginning anything new, it’s usually easy to commit to it and sustain it over the long haul. Eating flexatarian is an easy and stress-free way to become a vegetarian and commit to it. Also, it spares the body the shock of a sudden transfer from eating meat to eating plant-based foods.

Want to learn more about vegetarianism? Just follow this link to receive your free copy of Becoming A Vegetarian.

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7 Symptoms of High Blood Sugar And The Causes

People who suffer from type 2 diabetes may experience high blood sugar, but even if you are not diabetic, your blood sugar may run high. This is known as hyperglycemia, and if left untreated, it can cause serious symptoms to develop. Hyperglycemia occurs when your body either does not produce enough insulin or is unable to absorb insulin properly, or develops a resistance to insulin.

Being able to recognize the symptoms of high blood sugar listed below can help you take action before this happens.

  1. Excessive thirst. This is usually the first sign that something is wrong. No matter how much water you drink it doesn’t seem enough.
  2. Frequent urination. Drinking a lot of water or juice will have you running to the bathroom frequently.
  3. Fatigue. Since your body is unable to make proper use of insulin, glucose (your source of energy) enters the bloodstream instead of being absorbed into the body’s cells. This leads to fatigue and a lack of energy.
  4. Blurred vision. Changes in blood sugar levels can cause the lens of your eyes to swell, leading to blurred vision. This can go away once your sugar stabilizes.
  5. Headaches. If your blood sugar is too high or too low, headaches may result. Most people who have diabetes also suffer from high blood pressure and that too may be a cause of headaches.
  6. Dry mouth. Another common symptom of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, although people who don’t have diabetes may also experience diabetes. Some medications used to treat diabetes may also cause diabetes.
  7. Weakness. People with diabetes can suffer from weakness in the lower leg and calf muscles which can increase the risk of falling.

All of the symptoms listed above can be avoided or reversed by making simple lifestyle changes to bring your sugar under control. Check out these articles below:

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7 Ways To Look After Your Eye Health

May is Healthy Vision Month. If your eyes feel healthy, chances are they are healthy. However, as a diabetic, you need to pay special attention to your eye health because eye problems are among the early symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy — the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in people with diabetes —cataracts and glaucoma usually plague those suffering with diabetes. The good news is you can avoid getting these diseases by controlling your diabetes.

Following are seven tips to help you keep your eyes healthy.

Eat healthy foods — dark, leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and spinach are rich in Vitamin A, which is important for good vision. Orange and yellow vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and other winter squash) are also rich in Vitamin A. Eating fish high in Omega 3 fatty acids —salmon, tuna, halibut— is also great for your eyes.

Increase your physical activity — Being physically active helps you control conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, all of which can lead to diabetes, which can affect your vision.

Talk to your doctor — your eye doctor (ophthalmologist) can be your eyes’ best friend. By keeping your appointments and having your eyes examined regularly, your doctor will be able to spot any disease and begin treatment before it threatens your vision.

Take your medication as prescribed — not following your prescription will cause your glucose to rise and this can cost you your vision. Follow your doctor’s orders to the letter.

Protect your eyes — wear sunglasses outdoors even on a cloudy day. Look for sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.

Do not smoke — If you do, quit! Smokers are 30 to 40 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as smoking increases abdominal fat, which is a known risk factor for diabetes. Smoking also makes it harder to manage insulin levels. Smoking increases your risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. It can also damage your optic nerve.

Know your family history — let your primary doctor as well as your ophthalmologist know if you have a family history of eye disease. This way he can take early steps to help you avoid getting those diseases if you don’t already have them.

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5 Scripture Verses For Mental Health

As you know, May is mental health month. It is a time set aside to bring awareness and provide support to those suffering from mental health. In my last post, I wrote about the various organizations who are advocating to help end the stigma attached to mental health.

Mental health is an illness like any other, and it needs to be treated like any other mental illness. You already know about the mind/body connection, which has to do with the way the body responds to brain signals transmitted through neural pathways. Psychologists tell us that our thoughts can influence the way we feel. When you are stressed, anxious or upset, you may come down with a cold or whatever virus may be going around.

Reading, praying and meditating on the scriptures can help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression and help you cope with mental illness. if you are not in the habit of meditating on the scriptures, I have posted an infographic below to help you get started.

Let me encourage you to read and meditate on these scriptures as often as you can. As you do so, you will experience an inner peace that will go a long way in helping you feel better. However, this cannot and should not take the place of consulting with your doctor and following his advice.

If you are looking for another way to get in touch with scripture and be reminded of it during the day, why not get one of these t-shirts that carry biblical messages? They are attractive, sturdy, and inspiring.

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May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

This week we were stunned at the news that popular Country and Western singer Naomi Judd had died from a mental health illness. Reports state that Naomi had been suffering from treatment-resistant depression for a long time. Her death occurred on the first day of May, right at the start of Mental Health Awareness Month, a time set aside each year to raise awareness about mental health.

Some of you may be aware that there is a terrible stigma attached to mental health. In addition, people suffering from mental health illnesses do not always get the support they need. If you are suffering from depression, for example, you are told to “snap out of it,” if you have mood swings— as in bipolar illness — people say you are crazy. Worst of all, if you are schizophrenic, your family and friends may be afraid of you and may not want you near them. All these factors make it difficult for those who badly need treatment to not receive it.

This year, the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) has coined the slogan “Together for Mental Health.” The goal of NAMI is to advocate for mental health and access to care for those who need it. Mental health is a serious issue facing our country and the world. Statistics show that 19.86% of adults in America — nearly 50 million —experience a mental health illness, with nearly 5% experiencing a severe mental health illness. The COVID pandemic has contributed to this in large measure.

People with diabetes are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer from depression than people without diabetes, and only 25% – 50% of those ever get diagnosed and treated. Without treatment, depression worsens and can lead to suicidal feelings. This is why this Mental Health Awareness Month is so important. This is a time when you can take a good, hard look at yourself or someone near you who you think may need help and take that first step toward treatment.

Diabetes and mental health can form a vicious cycle. Untreated mental health issues can make diabetes worse, and problems with diabetes can make mental health issues worse. If you think your mental health is not up to par, or you have a substance abuse problem, don’t be shy; speak to your health care team. If you are embarrassed to do that, you can call the national hotline number at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). This service is free and confidential and will put you in touch with a local facility that can help you.

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for teens and young adults. Help get improved crisis response implemented in your communities by signing NAMI’s petition. #Together4MH

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Mid-week Diabetes News Round – Up

When you have a chronic illness like type 2 diabetes, it is always wise to keep informed of the latest trends in treatments and new discoveries. Below is a summary of some of the relevant news I picked up from the internet this week. I hope you will find them helpful. This week’s round-up focuses on:

1) Long COVID-19 and how it affects people with diabetes

You may have heard the term “long COVID” used in conjunction with the long-term effects of a COVID-19 infection. These effects may include brain fog, joint pain, and a host of other conditions. Now physicians and scientists are adding diabetes to this list. One study in Germany found that people who had just a mild case of COVID-19 were 28% more likely to have a new diagnosis of diabetes. Here in the United States that number was found to be 40% of those who have had COVID-19. A US-based study found that even people who had low to no risk factors of diabetes could experience a 38% increased risk after COVID. Of course, those who had a severe case of coronavirus suffered an even greater risk , as high as 276%, and among kids it is even higher.

2) Prediabetes and teens

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that nearly 30% of adolescents and teens in the United States meet the criteria for prediabetes. Among this number 40% are obese and those who live in poverty are more likely to have diabetes. This figure increased between 2015 -2018 among adolescents 12 to 19 even before COVID-19. Researchers say that parents need to pay more attention to their children’s diet and exercise.

3) Overtreatment of nursing home diabetes patients and the risk of hypoglycemia.

A report from Endocrinology Network states that an analysis of data from more than 7000 patients in Veterans Affairs nursing homes found that i in 5 met the criteria for overtreatment and an additional 23% met the potential for overtreatment. The study was done on older adults 65 years or over with a nursing home stay of 30 days and a mean HbA1C of 7.1. Overtreatment was defined as an HbA1C of 6.5 with insulin use. Potential overtreatment was defined as an HbA1c less than 7.5% with any insulin use or HbA1c less than 6.5% on any glucose-lowering medication other than metformin alone.

In another report published in Medicine Matters, researchers concluded, “While the use of insulin may be appropriate in older adults in certain settings (e.g. reduced renal function, loss of secretory insulin capacity), clinicians need to use it with caution and aim for higher glycemic targets in these settings.”

While these reports may be cause for concern, they are also meant to make you aware of the need to be vigilant about your health and to make those necessary lifestyle changes that can put you on the path to good health. If you need to learn more about how you can improve or preserve your health, why not sign up in the form below?

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Loneliness Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

A while back, I read that the British Prime Minister had appointed a minister for loneliness to try to reverse the trend in that country. But loneliness is not only prevalent in Britain. Here in the United States where most young people move out of their parents’ home by the age of eighteen, parents soon find themselves with an “empty nest.” Then a few years later, one partner dies, and the other is left all alone. He/she may not see the children or grand-children except at Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Loneliness affects not only the elderly, but people across the age spectrum. One AARP source says that loneliness has increased by 5 million among people age 45 and over.

The dangers of loneliness

A former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says loneliness can be worse for you than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Loneliness leads to depression and anxiety and increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, dementia, and death, say the experts. I’m not surprised at these findings, but this one really bowled me over: An English longitudinal study of 264 participants showed that loneliness was a significant predictor of incident type 2 diabetes, independent of age, sex, ethnicity, wealth, smoking status, alcohol consumption, BMI, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Loneliness and social media

One report notes an increase in the number of people who complained of loneliness at the same time that social media became popular, but they don’t know yet what is cause and what is effect. While technology proved invaluable during the pandemic— it helped us stay in touch in ways that would not otherwise be possible— we should not use it as a tool to relieve loneliness. Nothing can replace face-to-face contact, a touch, or a hug.

Ways to fight loneliness

  • Call an old friend
  • Join a walking club or some other group that interests you
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Visit friends and family
  • Get involved in your church

Loneliness affects people of all ages and stages in life. It is a dangerous epidemic that can impair your mental as well as physical health. Spending a lot of time in front of your computer or with your cellphone does not relieve social isolation. Follow the tips above to relieve or prevent yourself becoming socially isolated. Your life may depend on it.