Archive for Diabetes


More About Your Heart

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Last week I gave you all some links sent to me by the NIH to help women come to terms with the possibility of heart disease. What is it you need to know about to determine if you need to be worried?

Here are some of the basics.

1. What is your blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol? These 3 things are the early warning signs of potential harm to your heart and blood vessels.

An elevated blood pressure occurs for a variety of reasons but basically the blood vessels are too narrow and the heart has to work harder as a pump to get the blood to flow through and make it to the organs. The heart over time can enlarge, and not work as effectively.

An elevated glucose causes problems with the walls of the blood vessels, making them less healthy, inflamed and eventually not effective as conduits for the blood flowing through.

Elevated bad forms of cholesterol can infiltrate into the lining of the blood vessels, causing blockages. These can eventually rupture, causing a complete blockage. When this happens in the brain, it is a stroke; in the coronary blood vessels it is a heart attack.

2. What are your genetics for heart disease? In other words, have many family members had early heart attacks and strokes?

Having a strong family history of heart disease indicates there is a tendency to inflammation in your blood vessels that contributes to poor health of arteries. This genetic predisposition may include diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure.

Having a family history does not mean you are fated to have an MI or stroke, but it does mean you need to be very careful what you do in terms of lifestyle and habits. You can avoid the fate of your genes with careful living.

3. What are your health habits? Yes, yes; this is what we medical people preach about day in and day out!

It is the one most important modifiable action you can take however, which is why we stress healthy habits so much. You have the power to change the fate of your genes!

Exercise helps the heart get a good work out, it exercises the muscle and gets the blood flowing all over your body. It uses up the excess calories you may have eaten. It lowers cortisol levels that are elevated in most of us due to the stress of our lives. This lower cortisol following exercise causes the muscle layer around the outside of the blood vessel to relax a little, making the tube a little wider and easing the heart from having to pump so hard. The idea is for your heart to work hard during exercise, and not all the time. Additionally, exercise helps your liver make more of the good cholesterol which then helps the body get rid of the bad cholesterol.

A healthy diet low in animal fats, trans fats, and saturated fats that come from fried foods, packaged and processed baked foods; helps to keep cholesterol lower and inflammation in the blood vessels lower. Then the cholesterol flowing through your blood stream doesn’t have as much inflammation to latch onto, creating a plaque or potential blockage.

Lowering sugar in the diet also helps reduce inflammation, avoid diabetes with its’ destructive actions; and helps with weight.

Sodium is a major contributor to high blood vessel for many people through retention of fluid and tightening to the blood vessel walls, making them more narrow.

Maintaining a health weight reduces the amount of blood vessels your heart has to pump blood too, as fat needs blood vessels also. There is less mileage that the heart has to pump blood through. The actions that it takes to maintain a healthy weight also helps the heart, and is described above.

Do you smoke cigarettes or use nicotine products? Nicotine contributes to heart disease mostly through the inflammation and disease to blood vessel walls. Nicotine also contributes to tightening of the blood vessels, making them more narrow. The inflammation and narrowing then helps cholesterol do its’ bad thing with blockages.

Do you get enough good quality sleep? Hey, everything has to rest! Sleep helps aid in repair of the body, lowering of inflammation, mobilizing excess fluid.

OK, quick tips:

  • Instead of frying foods, saute in a little olive oil or other healthy oil
  • Add very little salt to food, use other seasons like pepper and herbs, spices
  • Get out and move every day, figure out a way this will work for you
  • Get a good nights sleep, work on sleep habits to aid this occuring
  • ditch the sodium, nicotine products, fast foods, fried foods, fatty meats. Make them a rare occurrence
  • decrease sugar, white starches like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice; as they basically act like a big dose of sugar in the body
  • limit alcohol and caffeine products to a healthy consumption
  • have your glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure monitored regularly and talk to your provider about what to do to reduce them if they are elevated.

Think about it, the only rest your heart gets is between each beat. Not to scare you, but that muscle keeps going, all the time. Why would you not be kind to it, protect it, pay attention to it?

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How many hours and how much money have you spent on trying to lose weight in the course of your lifetime?  It is discouraging enough to not achieve any long term success in lowering your weight, but it becomes much more serious when your health is at risk. Increased weight can bring joint pain and destruction, as well as diabetes and heart disease.

It is no wonder that a surgical alternative such as bariatric surgery is gaining in popularity. Many professional medical societies are siting the success of weight loss surgery in treating diabetes and metabolic disorders. Recent studies have documented the success of Gastric Bypass surgery and Gastric Sleeve surgery in treating diabetes specifically; and by virtue of weight loss: hypertension, hyperlipidemia and joint problems.

Before you jump into considering surgery as a viable treatment option, it is important to understand that these surgeries are relatively new. Long term consequences  have not been documented. As the author of this editorial illustrates, Diabetes is a progressive illness even with proper glucose control. It is not yet known whether controlling the blood sugar through this weight loss surgery is really enough to stop the metabolic dysfunction that involves diabetes. We still don’t know if weight loss surgery will slow the progression of end organ damage that eventually causes cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and vision loss; all of which comes from diabetes.

So why would anyone even consider this form of therapy? Many people, both men and women, have felt they have tried their hardest and been largely unsuccessful at controlling their  weight, cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure. Many people most likely have a genetic predisposition to metabolic dysfunction as an explanation for this difficulty. For these people, bariatric surgery may in fact be the most effective tool if they are morbidly obese.

I worry however, that many people gravitate towards this surgery as an answer to their problems. It is important for medical providers to be cognizant of the major change of lifestyle such surgery requires in order to be successful. Are these people actually taking a short cut from a more fundamental exploration and change for what drives the decisions they make, the decisions that may have started them down an unhealthy path?

What do you think? Please share you stories and journeys of friends and loved ones who may have undergone bariatric surgery.

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How many of us depend on news reports to give us the information we need?  Many of us scan the headlines daily, and if a topic catches our interest, we read the article. For the most part, we probably take what we read at face value. We believe what we read to be unbiased and true. Be careful what you believe to be true!

A recent article published about the cost benefit analysis of gastric bypass surgery caught my eye. As I read the article, I heard my inner voice saying “now wait a minute… I am not so sure about that“.  This article was published in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases and reviewed in Medical News. The author  states that a recent study revealed that the cost of surgery was re-couped for diabetic patients after 2.5 years through savings in medication and the cost of care when gastric banding was the procedure used. Here is  link to the article: Gastric Band Surgery

So on the face of this article, it sounds great. Pay your money, get your gastric banding done and you or your insurance company will recover your costs within 2.5 years. While I agree that gastric banding and other forms of gastric bypass grafting have their place in the treatment of obesity, it should not be taken lightly! This procedure results in a MAJOR change of lifestyle, and it should be considered seriously and thoroughly. It does not always work for the long term either! To maintain any weight that is lost, you must continue with calorie restriction and exercise. It may very well result in significant cost reduction of medical care in some people, but I have seen plenty of patients that would not come under this characterization.

The problem with these studies are that they are often funded by groups in which there may be a conflict of interest. In the case of this article, the study looks to be funded by Duke University researchers. Duke University Medical Center has begun to perform many gastric bypass surgeries, although I will admit that gastric banding is not the procedure used most frequently by their surgeons. The article linked here, is written by the manufactorer of the gastric banding device! Hence, the possible issue with veracity.

Obesity is a problem in our country and the world, no doubt about it. Many people are desperate for help to gain control over their weight and it can be  frustrating and even frightening for some. It is important to keep in mind that there really are no short cuts that work. Whatever you utilize to help you lose weight, proper diet with help and guidance if needed, as well as a program of activity is the cornerstone of achieving control.

There are many programs such as Weight Watchers available to help people gain control over their choices. We have designed a program here that can be used in conjunction to other programs. I would like to help people learn to make good decisions, learn to combat stress related choices, and how to put a program in place and keep it in place. Try it out and see if it helps, just click on The Menopause Guide above….and please give me your feedback!

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We have talked about cortisol in prior posts, and many of you may be wondering why this particular

Too tired to Sleep

hormone is so important during menopause. We often think the cause of all our problems is from low estrogen. This is only part of the reason for your symptoms.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that we need when our bodies are under stress.The problem comes when our bodies have been under prolonged stress such as caused by hectic lives lacking adequate sleep and relaxation.

  • Cortisol increases heart rate,
  • slows digestion,
  • slows cell repair and regeneration,
  • breaks down healthy muscle and bone
  • weakens the immune system.

This increase in cortisol can wreck havoc on the balance of the different hormones that has been maintained. The falling estrogen levels also contribute to the stress response, as estrogen is involved in many functions within the body.

Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands along with other hormones such as progesterone, some forms of estrogen, adrenaline, and testosterone. These hormones all come from the same parent hormones. What this means is that one hormone can be produced in excess at the expense of other hormones. When the body is under stress, the adrenals will cause the progesterone to be broken down to cortisol alone which leads to a reduction of DHEA (parent compound of estrogen and testosterone).

This cortisol then helps the liver to produce glucose because the body is anticipating the need for action and is providing the energy for this. In our modern day world, this kind of physical action rarely occurs, so what happens to all that excess glucose (sugar)? You guessed it, it is stored as fat. Usually visceral fat.

The adrenals also play a role in attempting to maintain estrogen levels as the ovaries are declining in function. The elevated cortisol levels will cause visceral fat to be made and stored in the abdomen. This visceral fat produces estrone, which is a form of estrogen. The adrenals produce estrone and belly fat produces estrone. This may very well be why all of a sudden, around the time of menopause, you have belly fat  (or more belly fat)!

The adrenals do not act on their own, they have help from the brain. The brain, specifically the hypothalamus and pituitary, are the master controllers of our endocrine functions. Without these areas controlling and regulating, the separate organs may produce too much or too little of whatever hormone they are responsible for. During stress, the brain is attempting to reduce reproductive capacity, growth and thyroid function. This is done to help with survival. In this country and in this day and age, we are rarely in a position of having our very survival threatened. So the stress of our lives are unnecessarily causing all these problems.

So what do you do?

Reduce stress, reduce stress, reduce stress. This will reduce cortisol, which will hopefully reduce visceral fat production and reduce glucose production. This in turn will reduce heart disease, insulin resistance, and improve endocrine function of the non-stress hormones produced in the adrenals.

Reduce stress in a way that is enjoyable to you. Therefore you will be likely to make this part of your daily routine. Exercise, mediation, yoga. You must get adequate sleep, at least 7 hours a night. Your diet is important also, reduce sugar, alcohol, caffeine as these items can contribute to elevated cortisol levels.

Start with little changes, pick one new thing you will do and do it daily for a few weeks. When that is a common practice for you, pick another item you want to change. Change can be slow, this is often the more effective way to make changes that stick.

Anne Vaillancourt PAC

Write in the comments section and tell us your stories on changes you have made. Your story will most likely help and inspire someone else to make a change!

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Health News for Women in Menopause

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Remember all the controversy about mammograms?

When should a woman begin to have them and how often. It seems that there is no formula in medicine.  What is the woman’s risk factors?  What sets her up to have a breast tumor?  We have written about this topic in posts on Breast Cancer tests for the type of Chemotherapy

Reduce your risk of Breast Cancer

The New Mammogram Screening Guidelines

Now there is a news article about the science behind the guidelines.  It is confusing when you try to apply a formula and not do what is best for patients.  Some women obviously need screening earlier and some can wait.  Click on the link to read more about the opinion of a Harvard Radiologist.

We all know that many women in menopause tend to gain weight. There are multiple factors for this that we have documented and some Ways to Eat we recommend to help with this problem. This news article on Weight gain after 50 being related to Diabetes after age 65 is one of a long list of reasons to become an expert on controlling your own eating and exercise habits.

What are your Challenges? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think, want and need.

Bruce Bair

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18 Tips to Lose Weight and control Blood Glucose

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If You don’t Defend against Diabetes Now,

You’ll Regret it Later

Diabetes type 2 is a common type of diabetes.

Many Americans have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes,
and many more are unaware they’re at high risk.

Some groups have a higher risk for developing diabetes type 2 than others.
Type 2 diabetes is much more common in

  • African Americans,
  • Latinos,
  • Native Americans,
  • Asian Americans,
  • Native Hawaiians
  • other Pacific Islanders,
  • as well as the older population.

In type 2 diabetes, either one’s body does not produce enough insulin or the cells ignore the insulin.

Insulin is necessary for the body to use glucose for energy. When you eat food, your body reduces all the sugars and starches into glucose.  Glucose is the basic fuel for the cells in your body. Insulin takes the sugar from your blood into the cells. During a condition called insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells. High levels of insulin and glucose in the blood results in diabetes complications like vision loss, loss of feeling in the feet or kidney, heart and brain disease.

You have the  power to protect your body! Eating less and moving more plus making good life-style  choices (like not smoking), makes you  feel better, stronger, and healthier. You will reduce your risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, coronary disease and stroke when you do make these choices.

What is Healthy Weight?

There’s a great way to find out if your current weight puts you in danger of developing serious diseases.


and take the Body Mass Index (BMI) test.

The final results should be 25 or below for the average person. Knowing your BMI will allow you to decide if you need to give consideration to your weight.

The Better You Eat, the Better You Feel

Here are some basic guidelines that can help you and your family make healthier food decisions.

* Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

* Choose whole grain foods over processed grain products.

Try brown rice instead of white. Substitute brown bread bread for white. (or don’t eat bread)

* Eat fish 2 – 3 times weekly.

* Select leaner cuts of meat like those that end in “loin.”

* Remove the skin from poultry and turkey.

* Eat non-fat dairy

* Drink water and no calorie non-carbonated drinks.

* Use liquid oils like olive for cooking rather than solid fats.

* Reduce high calorie snacks like chips, cookies, cakes, and regular frozen goodies.

Hunt for baked chips and reduced calorie snacks. Or have a bit of fruit instead. (It is all about

portion control and keeping that blood sugar low – Editor)

* Be careful about your portion sizes. Too much  “healthy” food will cause an increase in weight too.


* Compare labels of similar foods, then choose the one with smaller amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol      and      sodium.

* Adults should consume below 2400 mg. of sodium each day. If you have high blood pressure, you should target even less. (High insulin levels make your kidneys dump potassium and magnesium that lower blood pressure and save sodium that raises it. Keep insulin low in the blood by keeping glucose low in the blood.)

* Try adding seasonings in your own cooking to replace salt for enhancing flavor. (curry, sage and rosemary are good for your brain and on the tongue)

A little bit Exercise Goes a long way

Anything that  gets you up and moving will work for you. (Dancing, walking, hiking, bike riding, swimming, an hour of yard work)

Here’s what it will do:
* Lower your risk of developing diabetes type 2 symptoms

* Decrease your risk of coronary disease and stroke by  lowering blood pressure and cholesterol

* Reduce blood glucose (sugar) levels if you have diabetes or Pre-diabetes, which can decrease your risk of developing diabetes-related complications

* Alleviate tension

* Help you reduce weight

* Give you more energy

* Help you sleep better

* Build stronger bones and muscle
Its not necessary to visit a gym, play sports or use fancy equipment. Of course, you need to consult your medical professional before beginning any exercise program.

In case you have Diabetes.

Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active are even more important when you have diabetes.

Well-balanced, appropriately-sized meals will help keep your glucose (sugar) level  in close proximity to normal.

Being active likewise helps you reduce blood glucose. If you increase your physical activity levels, your Doctor will probably decrease the amount of insulAuthor Patriciain or diabetes pills. If you are very inactive, have heart disease or maybe a history of foot ulcers,   talk to your doctor about safe exercise to suit your needs.

Check your blood glucose before exercising. If it’s under 100 mg/dl, eat some fruit, crackers or have a glass of milk or juice.

Check it again after exercising to find out how your blood glucose reacts to physical exercise. Bring a snack if you will be active for an hour.

About me -Patricia Harris, a dental hygenist writes for the
diabetic menu ideas blog , her personal hobby site centered on ways to eat healthy to prevent and manage diabetes.

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