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Scientists halt diabetes with insulin cells

Sept 12th 2018

Shakes and soup diet 'could become radical treatment for Type 2 diabetes'

Fat-free shakes and soups could be prescribed to diabetics as part of a “radical treatment” for the disease, it has been reported.

A trial has seen nearly 300 people suffering from Type 2 diabetes given the 850 calories-a-day diet and could be rolled out nationally.

The Daily Mail said research found half of those following the four-meal-a-day diet were in remission within 12 months and further details of the strategy would be revealed in November.

Jonathan Valabhji, of NHS England, was quoted in the paper as saying the plans were “exciting”.

He said: “The trial involved 300 people, of those in the intervention arm a staggering almost 50% saw their diabetes go into remission.

“Their blood glucose levels fell into the non-diabetic range. 

“That excites us. The beauty of the research is that it was implemented in GP surgeries. It wasn’t hugely expensive.”

The idea of the diet is that it will help patients lose weight which will, in turn, lower blood glucose levels.

At between 810 and 850 calories daily, the diet provides a lot less than the 2,000 calories recommended for a woman and 2,500 for a man.

Patients will stay on the diet for three to five months and then will be allowed to replace a shake with a meal.

Over the following six weeks, patients will gradually replace the shakes or soups with meals until they are back to eating normally again.

Bridget Turner, of Diabetes UK, told the Daily Mail: “The early results have been very exciting, so it’s very encouraging to hear that NHS England sees the potential to enable more people to benefit from programmes like this through the Health Service.”

 

Aug 22nd 2018

Diabetes 'can be kept at bay with a glass of MILK every day at breakfast time'

Scientists have found that a morning high-protein milk drink lowers blood sugar levels and reduces appetite at lunchtime - by making people feel fuller longer

Drinking milk at breakfast time cuts the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, research suggests.

Scientists in Canada found a morning high-protein milk drink lowered blood sugar levels and reduced the appetite at lunchtime.

Milk contains whey and casein proteins, which release gastric hormones that slow digestion.

High levels of protein make people feel full for longer.

Prof Douglas Goff, whose findings are published in the Journal of Dairy Science, said: “Metabolic diseases are on the rise globally, with type 2 diabetes and obesity as leading concerns in human health.

“Thus, there is impetus to develop dietary strategies for the risk reduction and management of obesity and diabetes to empower consumers to improve their personal health.”

The study found that milk consumed with a high-carbohydrate breakfast reduced blood glucose even after lunch, and high-protein milk had a greater effect.

Prof Goff, of University of Guelph, said: “This study confirms the importance of milk at breakfast to aid in the slower digestion of carbohydrate and lower blood sugar levels.”

 

Aug 12th 2018

Fad diets which swap carbs for fat could increase diabetes risk, research finds

Fad diets that cut out carbs and replace them with more meat and fish may increase the risk of diabetes, research suggests.

Ketogenic diets low in carbohydrate and high in fat have soared in popularity in the last few years, with celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kim Kardashian extolling their benefits.

They aim to force the body to burn fat as fuel, leading to rapid weight loss. This means the dieter can eat large quantities of fat-rich food such as meat, butter and cheese.

But new research suggests the diets could lead to insulin resistance in the liver - a condition that prevents the body responding properly to the hormone insulin and is a stepping stone to Type 2 diabetes.

Lead researcher Professor Christian Wolfrum, from ETH Zurich University in Switzerland, said: "Diabetes is one of the biggest health issues we face. Although ketogenic diets are known to be healthy, our findings indicate that there may be an increased risk of insulin resistance with this type of diet that may lead to Type 2 diabetes.

"The next step is to try to identify the mechanism for this effect and to address whether this is a physiological adaptation. Our hypothesis is that when fatty acids are metabolised, their products might have important signalling roles to play in the brain."

The findings are reported in the Journal of Physiology.

The ketogenic diet was first developed in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy.

Doctors discovered that a low-carb diet appeared to help reduce seizures, possibly by altering the supply of energy to the brain.

Normally the body relies on carbohydrates as its primary source of glucose, which provides fuel for cells.

A ketogenic diet mimics what happens when the body is starved of carbs. The liver is forced to use fat for fuel, converting it to "ketone bodies", molecules that provide an emergency glucose substitute based on acetone.

Most ketogenic diets provide 70 per cent or more calories from fat, 15-20 per cent from protein, and 10 per cent or less from carbohydrates.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "Cutting out whole food groups risks damaging long-term health.

"A healthy balanced diet, based on the Eatwell Guide, should include higher fibre starchy carbohydrates - this can help minimise the risk of serious illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers."

 

July 27th 2018

This Man Says a 'Rare Gene' Cured His Type 1 Diabetes. Experts Are Skeptical.

Type 1 diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is an incurable disease that requires lifelong treatment. That is, unless you're Daniel Darkes.

About eight years ago, Darkes said, doctors diagnosed him with type 1 diabetes: a potentially life-threatening condition in which the immune system kills off the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, the hormone necessary for transporting glucose, or sugar, into cells so they can produce energy.

But early last year, routine finger-prick tests showed his blood-sugar levels were normal, so doctors advised him to stop his insulin injections, Darkes said. Now, his doctors have told him they're 80 percent sure he's cured, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo reported. If true, this would mean Darkes could be the first person ever to naturally experience complete remission of type 1 diabetes. [27 Oddest Medical Cases]

Darkes has become a celebrity within the diabetes community, particularly in the United Kingdom, and he was happy to talk with Live Science about his experience.

But does Darkes' story really mean type 1 diabetes can be cured? Darkes declined to provide his medical records, and the experts Live Science spoke to said there were several missing or confusing pieces of information in his story. Usually, incredible medical stories like this one are reported as case reports in the medical literature, the experts said. And even if the details of his story can ultimately be confirmed, the experts emphasized that it's extremely unlikely that Darkes' case would lead to a widespread cure for type 1 diabetes, as reports in the media have wrongly suggested.

A lifelong diagnosis

Darkes, who is 30 years old and an army veteran, lives in Northamptonshire, England. Soon after he left the army, he began feeling symptoms of type 1 diabetes: sweating, blurred vision, tiredness and weight loss. "It lasted three or four days," Darkes told Live Science. "Then I collapsed at work."

Darkes said that a blood test showed his body wasn't producing C-peptide, a by-product of the body's production of insulin, which can reveal how much of the hormone the pancreas makes. Additional tests led doctors to diagnose him with type 1 diabetes, Darkes said.

It's unclear how people get the disease — genetics plays a big role, though unknown environmental factors may also trigger the disease. Either way, the disease causes the immune system to mistakenly attack and kill insulin-producing cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas. (This differs from type 2 diabetes, in which the body initially makes sufficient insulin but the cells cannot properly use it.) Without enough insulin working to remove glucose from the blood stream, and allowing glucose to enter the body's cells, blood sugar levels spike. Left untreated, this insulin deficiency leads to a deadly complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. What's more, having high blood sugar over the long term can cause life-threatening complications such as kidney damage or heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The primary treatment for type 1 diabetes is lifelong insulin injections and consistent blood sugar monitoring. Darkes said he gave himself insulin injections four times a day to keep his blood sugar levels in check. But something changed in 2016, when he began training intensively for ultramarathons.

Darkes said his blood sugar began crashing, especially at night. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause fatigue, hunger and irritability and, if left untreated, can cause seizures or death.

"That lasted three or four weeks, so I decided to go to my doctor," Darkes said.

He visited Northamptonshire General Hospital, where he said doctors explained that he was experiencing hypoglycemia because his insulin injections were causing his body to remove too much glucose from his blood. Darkes said his doctors also told him that his test results suggested that his diabetes had disappeared.

Live Science requested Darkes' medical records from Northamptonshire General Hospital communications manager Eva Duffy. She said the European Union forbids the release of patient medical records or test results even with a signed waiver. Duffy would not confirm or deny any of Darkes' claims.

"His story surfaced a year and a half ago, and we have never commented on Daniel's situation at any point," Duffy told Live Science.

At the recommendation of his doctors at Northamptonshire General, Darkes said he traveled to St. Louis in January 2017, where he underwent additional testing. First, he said, "I had a microchip placed into my lower back where my kidneys sit to measure protein levels and blood sugar, where it stayed overnight."

But Dr. David Klonoff, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco's Diabetes Center, who specializes in biotechnology for diabetes, was perplexed by the microchip Darkes described.

"My job is to keep up with this stuff," Klonoff told Live Science. "When something's out there, there's a good chance that I've heard about it, but I haven't heard anything about this [technology]." 

When he was in St. Louis, Darkes said, he also underwent a running test "aimed at me personally" (since the doctors knew he was an avid runner), and a blood test to measure key pancreatic molecules and "to see if cells were alive and what percentage," he said.

Darkes said several medical professionals worked with him when he was in St. Louis, but he could name only his senior consultant, Dr. Michael Berk. Berk is an endocrinologist who runs his own practice in St. Louis and is also a clinical associate at Washington University. Because Darkes declined a request to submit a medical release form to Berk's office, Live Science could not confirm key elements of his story, or whether or not he was even a patient of Dr. Berk. 

The results of his medical tests are still being analyzed, Darkes said, but he hasn't needed insulin injections for a year and a half. "It took a long time to sink in," he noted. But Darkes is confident he no longer has type 1 diabetes. He said that doctors told him that he has a "rare" gene that somehow facilitated his cure. "I'm the only one who carries [the gene], at the moment," and there's no further explanation so far, he said.

Too good to be true?

The first media reports of Darkes' supposed cure, along with a similar description of the "rare" gene that partially explained it, began surfacing in February 2017. At the time, Darkes made it clear that his doctors in Northampton were still reviewing the test results, and that they would report on their findings soon. A story published in March 2017 in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo reported that Darkes' test results "are expected to be published next week."

But they haven't been published, and now well over a year has passed. So, what is going on?

"Yes, it's a frustrating case," Darkes told Live Science in an email. "But the doctors have to be as accurate as they can be with what's happened, so they've given a 2-year time scale for completed type 1 reversal." Darkes explained that if he can go without insulin injections for two years, his doctors will be 100 percent sure his diabetes is gone.

Darkes said he asked his doctors if he could share more information about his case with the media but was told "not to give details about the medical case and results at present," he said. "There's nothing I can do until my consultant and team finalize later this year."  

This makes Darkes' story seem less plausible, said Dr. Matthias von Herrath, a professor of developmental immunology at La Jolla Institute in California, and an expert in type 1 diabetes. This type of claim is "earth-shattering," he said. "If it's not well corroborated, it's like your grandmother's rumor kitchen" — there's nothing backing the story. If there is a clinical record and the data are clear, the doctors should publish a case report, Von Herrath told Live Science. 

"The rare-gene story makes me doubt whether this is truly type 1 diabetes," said Bart Roep, a clinical immunologist at City of Hope's Diabetes and Metabolism Research Institute in California. "About 5 to 11 percent of [type 1] diabetic patients are misdiagnosed. What they have is MODY," or maturity-onset diabetes of the young.

MODY is an inherited form of diabetes mellitus caused by a change in one of 11 genes, which results in the body not producing enough insulin, according to Harvard Medical School. MODY can look similar to type 1 diabetes, but its symptoms and treatment vary depending on which of the 11 genes is affected.

"There have been cases where patients were treated with insulin for years until they discovered it was a rare genetic variant" of MODY, Roep told Live Science. Those people are no longer diagnosed as having type 1 diabetes, and they may be able to manage their blood sugar levels with either oral drugs or diet and exercise changes, "but that would not be the same as being cured," Roep said.  

What could be happening

Beta cells, the cells that produce insulin, can regenerate and regain function in some cases, Von Herrath said. There's a wide spectrum of severity when it comes to type 1 diabetes, and that means some people may lose virtually all of their beta cells while others may retain a portion of them.

"What is interesting is that some patients retain beta cell function for over 50 years," he said. "And, it seems if you retain some, that's a lot better." So, for Darkes to still have some functioning beta cells would not be impossible, but it wouldn't eliminate the disease, Von Herrath said. "Depending on how many beta cells he has, maybe his form of type 1 diabetes was not very severe."

"You only need 10 percent of your beta cells to supply sufficient insulin," Roep said. He said there have been a couple of rare cases where a patient had typical type 1 diabetes but could go through long periods without insulin injections. "Insulin needs can be a moving target, and if you have a lifestyle change it's very plausible that you have a lesser need for insulin, and you can deal with [diabetes] with the beta cells you have," Roep said.

Researchers have only recently started to realize that diabetes is a far more diverse disease than they used to believe, Roep said. And every unique case "shows us that we don't know what we think we know," he said. But because of that diversity, "we will never have a magic bullet, drug or pill that will cure everybody."

Von Herrath agreed, and said he's frustrated every time he sees an article or study claiming that a cure for diabetes is on the horizon. It's really not true, he said, and those kinds of statements give people false hope.

All of the experts who spoke with Live Science hope to see evidence of Darkes' story in the scientific literature soon, but they aren't holding their breath. "It's a very strange story," Von Herrath said. "At any rate, wish him good luck."

 

July 17th 2018

It is 11:50 PM on September 7, 2017. It is the night before my beautiful wife gives birth to our second child. I am alone thinking about the future of my children and the critical role I will play in their lives. My responsibility to these 2 children is to be the best father I can. To be the best, I must be there, physically and mentally. Being there is my biggest challenge in life. A challenge that I am accomplishing every day with love, support and determination. I want to be there for my children and participate in all the events of their lives no matter how insignificant or momentous they are. For me to be there for my children I need and Kidney transplant. I need your help.

My name is Joe Weissinger. I am 42 years old and I suffer from Membranous Nephropathy. In layman’s terms, my kidneys deteriorated because of my disease and I am staying alive by dialysis 5 days a week. How I got my disease is unknown. I was living a relatively normal life of a man finding his way through life. One night in the spring of 2009 I went to a Phillies game and noticed my feet were awfully swollen. My skin was overlapping the leather straps of my flip flops. My feet and ankles looked like they were stung by bees. I told my girlfriend at the time (My wife Bridget) and she had me meet with a cardiologist. Bridget worked at a hospital in Philadelphia and she could get me an appointment right away. I was in the care of this top cardiologist for 6 months then he determined that I had a kidney issue and that I should see a Nephrologist. Sure enough, after having a biopsy, my disease was discovered. It is a rare disease with unknown origins. The doctors told me 33% of the patients diagnosed can manage it, 33% of patients see it go away, and 33% wind up with end stage renal failure. I was taking aggressive and experimental regiments of medications along with high doses of diuretics for about 4 years. Finally, in June of 2014 as predicted by my nephrologist I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and my kidneys no longer functioned. I could not process the fluid from my body. My lungs were filling up with fluid and I was slowly drowning. Dialysis was the only way for me to survive.

Immediately after being released from the hospital I was enrolled into a Home Hemo-Diaylsis program. I learned on how to administer dialysis at home with a care partner. I am stubborn and determined to be independent while on dialysis. I did not want to burden someone with caring for me although I need someone in my house when I am treating in the case of an emergency. I learned the ins and outs of the treatment, machines, equipment, and cannulating. I started by administering dialysis by a port that was sticking out of my chest to eventually getting a fistula put in my left arm. It was a long road to master dialysis, however I have no choice, this is how I stay alive. Without dialysis I won’t be able to survive more than a few weeks. Dialysis is a job. I spend 5 days a week with a 5-hour commitment to dialysis. I not only complete a treatment, I also manage inventory, repairs, and all scheduled appointments with my care team. The luxury of treating at home is also a burden to manage. Again, I do this mostly on my own. I have help when needed, I just rather be as independent as possible when treating. I try the best I can to just lead as normal of a life as possible.

In the beginning of my life on dialysis I had a career and worked full time. However, after a year of struggling with maintaining my health along with the normal pressures of work I had to stop working and go on Social Security. The physical part of my job was not very demanding for a normal person; however, I am not normal. Something as simple as a long drive in a car is now a struggle. I become very fidgety when driving and my stamina does not last long. I find myself sleepy and anxious when driving anymore. I can become exhausted from daily chores. A few trips up and down the stairs in my house and I need to sit.

What is more troublesome is keeping up with my children. We have a 4-year-old who is full of life and involved in everything he can dream of. We also have a newborn who we want to provide the same opportunities for. As most people know being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding job of all. I struggle to keep up with my kids. My son is more aware of what is going on with me and ask about it all the time. The other day he asked me, “How much longer are you going to be on dialysis?” He wants to know why I do not go to the doctor for a new kidney so I can play with him all the time. It is funny that such an innocent thought of a child hits so deep. He is right.

Physically I can only keep up for so long. My son and I can only wrestle for a few minutes, I can only run and play tag for just a short period of time. A trip to a zoo, or theme parked must be well planned out with opportunities for me to rest and recover. Any vacation my family goes on is limited due to scheduling dialysis. Day to day I try my best to keep up with my role as the father of the house but I exhaust myself when I do. I know I push myself too much and it is getting harder for me as I get older. No one knows this more than my wife. Ironically the more I do the harder it is on her. For example, last week on my day off dialysis I spent an afternoon assembling and cleaning baby furniture for our daughter. Once I was finished I was done for the day and in bed. My pregnant wife then had to take care of me and our toddler son.

Now I am tired of being tired. I want a new kidney. I want a new lease on life. I want to be able to keep up with my kids and my role as a father and husband. I used to be uncomfortable with people volunteering to donate a kidney to me and there have been a few. For various reasons they did not work out. I was OK with waiting for the hospital to call with a kidney. It was not personal and easier to deal with if I did not know who donated a kidney. However, this course of action is delaying my progress. I hear a lot of success stories of people campaigning to the public for help and I am ready to do that now. There are good people in this world that can do amazing things for others. I need one of those people in my life now. So please, if you or someone who know wants to help me, share my story. Any possible donors can contact me or the transplant team at Jefferson Hospital.

Thank you,
Joe Weissinger (Type O+)
2329 S. American St
Philadelphia PA 19148

Jmweiss114@gmail.com

Jefferson University Hospital Transplant
215-503-4000
888-855-6649
Email: livingdonor@Jefferson.edu
Website: http://hospitals.jefferson.edu/…/kidney-t…/living-donor.html

 

June 27th 2018

More than a third of us have a serious health condition that puts them at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes – and 90 percent of them don't know it.

Called prediabetes, this condition is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be type 2 diabetes. Those with prediabetes typically have some insulin resistance, or their pancreas is unable to make enough insulin to keep their blood sugar at a healthy level.

Although those with prediabetes have up to a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes over the next five to 10 years, with lifestyle changes – like eating foods that lower blood sugar – you can reduce your risk.

'Prediabetes is a warning sign that you have been insulin resistant for some time,' says Hillary Wright, RD, director of nutrition for the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health. 'However, many are able to prevent or postpone diabetes.'

In addition to becoming more active, losing weight, decreasing stress, quitting smoking, and getting proper sleep, eating healthier can help prevent or reverse prediabetes.

Start with the tips below, and talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who specialises in diabetes for more personalised advice.

How to eat to prevent diabetes

Eat every 3 to 6 hours

Have breakfast within an hour or two of waking up and then eat a snack or meal every three to six hours after that, says Rebecca Denison, RD, doctor of integrative medicine and diabetes educator at Greater Baltimore Medical Center’s Geckle Diabetes and Nutrition Center. This will add up to three to six total meals and snacks daily. It takes about four to six hours for your body to digest a meal. 'You want to eat just a teeny bit before you actually need it so that your body doesn’t have to figure out how to keep your blood sugar stable,' Denison explains.

Balance your meals

Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. Split the other half in two between protein and whole-food carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, beans, legumes, or ancient grains such as amaranth, millet, or farro. These complex carbohydrates have more fibre and nutrients than processed carbs such as white rice, bread, and pasta, and the fibre helps control blood sugar levels.

Eat your bigger meals earlier in the day

Follow the adage, 'Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar'. While a small bedtime snack of about 100 to 150 calories is OK, be sure supper is at least four hours before retiring for the day. 'Eating more at the end of the day may escalate the risk of obesity and diabetes,' explains Wright, author of The Prediabetes Diet Plan. 'Evidence suggests you may need to secrete more insulin to regulate your blood sugar compared to eating earlier in the day.'

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Spread out your carbs

In addition to eating small meals at night, it's best to limit dishes piled high with pasta, rice, sugar, and other carbs. 'When you focus on whole-food carbs spread throughout the day, the less pressure there's going to be on your pancreas to constantly chug out insulin,' Wright says. You want your blood sugar to roll like hills over the course of the day rather than spike like mountain peaks and plummet to valleys, she adds.

Be mindful of portions

If you are overweight, losing weight can help reduce your risk of types 2 diabetes. Eating smaller portions can help you cut calories and still feel satisfied. Wright recommends thinking of your hunger on a scale of one (not hungry) to 10 (starved) to help with portions. 'People are more mindful about their food choices if they eat when their hunger is a five or six,' she says. 'That way, you are not desperate and starving.'

Drink water

Choosing water as your go-to source of hydration will help cut back on unnecessary liquid calories that don't fill you up.

Choose a lifestyle change, not a diet

If you need to lose weight, find an eating plan you can stick with. 'Whatever results in lasting weight loss for you is the best approach for you,' Wright says. 'If you make over-restrictive changes you can't maintain, as soon as you tire of that diet, you will fall back to what you did previously, gain weight, and raise your risk of type 2 diabetes.'

GETTY IMAGESENRIQUE DÍAZ / 7CERO

The best foods to lower your blood sugar

Focusing on the following foods can help regulate your blood sugar.

Non-starchy vegetables

Make non-starchy vegetables the star of your plate, taking up half of it. 'For anybody at risk of diabetes, it's important to take your vegetable intake to the next level,' Wright says. 'Balancing your plate with half vegetables will fill you up without loading you down with tons of carbs.' Credit the fibre and water in the vegetables for helping keep you satisfied.

Leafy greens

All non-starchy vegetables are good, but leafy greens may pack a more powerful punch. In a review of six studies, researchers found that consuming 1.35 servings (about 1 1/3 cups raw or 2/3 cup cooked) of leafy greens daily was associated with a 14 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to eating only 0.2 servings daily.

Whole fruit

'Whole fruit is nothing but good for people who have prediabetes,' Wright says. Just don't consume produce in the form of juice or smoothies. 'Though a smoothie does give one a concentrated source of nutrients, they are often packed with calories that don’t satisfy our hunger as there is little fibre in them,' Denison says. So rather than drinking your fruit, eat it, spacing it out over your day.

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Whole grains

Eating whole grains has been shown to cause blood sugar levels to rise more slowly after a meal and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The fibre in whole grains slows the digestion of carbs, reducing the demand for insulin. Whole grains also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that may also play a role in helping prevent diabetes.

Legumes

In a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers followed the diets of more than 3,000 adults who didn't have type 2 diabetes for more than four years. They discovered that people with the highest consumption of legumes – especially lentils –had the lowest risk of diabetes. Replacing half a serving of eggs, bread, rice, or baked potato with legumes daily also was associated with lower risk of diabetes incidence. All legumes, which includes lentils and all types of beans, are high in fibre and a good source of protein.

Healthy fats

Like carbs, fats are about the issue of two Qs: quality and quantity, Wright says. Unsaturated fats have been linked to improved insulin resistance. Choose sources such as nuts, seeds, olive oil, canola oil, and avocado, but be mindful of portions since fats are calorically dense. Moderate amounts of fat at your meals also helps boost satiety.

Lean protein

Protein helps you feel fuller for longer. It also slows digestion so your blood sugar rises and also falls more gradually after a meal. Choose fish, plant-based proteins such as beans and legumes, poultry, and lean beef.

 

June 19th 2018

Are honey and maple syrup healthier than sugar?

It’s widely known that excess sugar is linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and some cancers. The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugars to 10 percent of your daily calories. This includes sugar from any type of sweetener, but not sugar found naturally in whole foods like fruit, vegetables and milk. That 10 percent works out to about 40 to 50 grams per day for most women. To put that into perspective, a can of Coke contains 55 grams and a Starbucks Grande White Chocolate Mocha contains 60 grams.

Granulated table sugar, or sucrose, comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. It provides 49 calories and 13 grams of sugar per tablespoon (and nothing in the way of other nutrients). Other natural sweeteners are often marketed as “healthy” alternatives to sugar. Is there any truth to those claims? Here are the facts:

Honey

Produced by bees from nectar in flowers, honey contains 65 calories and 18 grams of sugar per tablespoon. This means you need less honey than you would table sugar to achieve the same level of sweetness. It contains trace amounts of nutrients, including manganese (0.9%)*, zinc (0.6%), iron (0.5%), selenium (0.4%), vitamin B6 (0.4%), niacin (0.2%), potassium (0.2%) and calcium (0.1%). Honey also contains phenolic acids, flavonoids and certain enzymes that are thought to have antibacterial, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. Raw, unpasteurized honey has more health benefits than honey that has been highly processed, and local honey may be more beneficial for allergies. Swap honey for sugar in your coffee or tea, use it in homemade granola, energy balls and salad dressings, drizzle a little on unsweetened yogurt, or on toast spread with all-natural peanut butter. Brew a jug of your favourite tea, add a little honey, then chill, to make lightly sweetened iced tea.

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Molasses

Molasses is the thick, syrupy byproduct of boiling down sugarcane juice to make granulated sugar. It’s a source of nutrients like iron (5.6%), calcium (4.4%), manganese (18%), magnesium (16%), selenium (7%), phosphorus (1%) and potassium (6.6%), and has 62 calories and 16 grams of sugar per tablespoon. It’s best used in recipes like cakes, cookies, baked beans and homemade ketchup rather than on its own. Fancy molasses is most common in cooking and baking. Blackstrap molasses, made from the third boiling of the cane juice, has less moisture and tastes saltier and more bitter. It contains higher levels of nutrients, especially iron (20%) and calcium (18%). It’s too bitter to be used interchangeably in most recipes, but some people like it stirred into coffee or oatmeal.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is the boiled down sap collected from maple trees. One tablespoon contains 51 calories and 12 grams of sugar. It also has some minerals, including manganese (26%), calcium (2.2%), zinc (1.8%), magnesium (1.3%), potassium (1%), and iron (0.3%), as well as phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties. Roast squash or Brussels sprouts with a fine drizzle of maple syrup (Brussels sprout haters will become converts with this trick!), brush onto baked salmon fillets, stir a little into pureed soups or use it in cocktails instead of simple syrup.

Agave Nectar

Agave is a syrup made from the sap of the cactus-like agave plant. It tastes sweeter than sugar, so less is needed. Agave provides 43 calories and 9.5 grams of sugar per tablespoon, as well as vitamin K (3.4%), vitamin C (3.2%), riboflavin (2.1%), beta carotene (1.9%), thiamin (1.5%), folate (1%), niacin (0.7%) and selenium (0.4%). Agave has been touted as a healthier sugar for people with diabetes, the claim being that its high fructose content means it doesn’t spike blood sugars as much. However, even though fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar levels in the short-term, it’s possible that it may actually be harmful and lead to insulin resistance over time.

Stevia

Stevia falls into a different category because it’s a calorie-free sugar alternative. Approved and regulated by Health Canada, Stevia contains zero grams of sugar and no nutrients, so it has no effect on blood sugars. Because it comes from the leaves of the stevia plant and is “all natural,” it’s seen by some as a good alternative to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose. Even though it’s natural, some people find it has an artificial taste and a slight bitterness, which is why it’s often paired with other sweeteners when used in products like ice cream, snack bars or breakfast cereals. Stevia is sold in powder and liquid drop form. It won’t work for baking, but it can be used in coffee, tea and other beverages, and to sweeten foods such as oatmeal, sauces or yogurt. Some people experience side effects from Stevia such as bloating or diarrhea. As with all non-nutritive sweeteners, there may be unintended long-term metabolic effects that we don’t know about yet.

The Verdict on Sugar Substitutes

If a sweetener contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and/or enzymes, is it healthy to eat lots of it? These components do make sweeteners like honey, molasses and maple syrup marginally more nutritious than refined granulated sugar, so swap them in where you’d normally use sugar, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy to consume them in excess. The trace amounts of nutrients are still outweighed by the excess energy. Sugar makes foods delicious, which makes life wonderful! But don’t fool yourself — all sweeteners should be eaten in moderation.

*Note: These percentages, based on a serving size of one tablespoon, come from the vitamin and mineral Recommended Dietary Allowances/Adequate Intakes for women ages 31–50.

June 3rd 2018

What Is Blood Sugar?

Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in blood. The body gets glucose from the food we eat. This sugar is an important source of energy and provides nutrients to the body's organs, muscles and nervous system. The absorption, storage and production of glucose is regulated constantly by complex processes involving the small intestine, liver and pancreas.

Glucose enters the bloodstream after a person has eaten carbohydrates. The endocrine system helps keep the bloodstream's glucose levels in check using the pancreas. This organ produces the hormone insulin, releasing it after a person consumes protein or carbohydrates. The insulin sends excess glucose in the liver as glycogen.

The pancreas also produces a hormone called glucagon, which does the opposite of insulin, raising blood sugar levels when needed. According to the Johns Hopkins University Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, the two hormones work together to keep glucose balanced. 

When the body needs more sugar in the blood, the glucagon signals the liver to turn the glycogen back into glucose and release it into the bloodstream. This process is called glycogenolysis.

When there isn't enough sugar to go around, the liver hoards the resource for the parts of the body that need it, including the brain, red blood cells and parts of the kidney. For the rest of the body, the liver makes ketones , which breaks down fat to use as fuel. The process of turning fat into ketones is called ketogenesis. The liver can also make sugar out of other things in the body, like amino acids, waste products and fat byproducts, according to the University of California

Glucose vs. dextrose

Dextrose is also a sugar. It's chemically identical to glucose but is made from corn and rice, according to Healthline. It is often used as a sweetener in baking products and in processed foods. Dextrose also has medicinal purposes. It is dissolved in solutions that are given intravenously to increase a person's blood sugar levels.

Normal blood sugar

For most people, 80 to 99 milligrams of sugar per deciliter before a meal and 80 to 140 mg/dl after a meal is normal. The American Diabetes Association says that most nonpregnant adults with diabetes should have 80 to 130 mg/dl before a meal and less than 180 mg/dl at 1 to 2 hours after beginning the meal. 

These variations in blood-sugar levels, both before and after meals, reflect the way that the body absorbs and stores glucose. After you eat, your body breaks down the carbohydrates in food into smaller parts, including glucose, which the small intestine can absorb.

Problems

Diabetes happens when the body lacks insulin or because the body is not working effectively, according to Dr. Jennifer Loh, chief of the department of endocrinology for Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii. The disorder can be linked to many causes, including obesity, diet and family history, said Dr. Alyson Myers of Northwell Health in New York. 

"To diagnose diabetes, we do an oral glucose-tolerance test with fasting," Myers said.

Cells may develop a tolerance to insulin, making it necessary for the pancreas to produce and release more insulin to lower your blood sugar levels by the required amount. Eventually, the body can fail to produce enough insulin to keep up with the sugar coming into the body.

It can take decades to diagnose high blood-sugar levels, though. This may happen because the pancreas is so good at its job that a doctor can continue to get normal blood-glucose readings while insulin tolerance continues to increase, said Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder of Proactive Health Labs (pH Labs), a nonprofit that provides health care education and tools. She also wrote "Minerals – The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy" (Proactive Health Labs, 2016). 

Health professionals can check blood sugar levels with an A1C test, which is a blood test for type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This test measures your average blood glucose, or blood sugar, level over the previous three months. 

Doctors may use the A1C alone or in combination with other diabetes tests to make a diagnosis. They also use the A1C to see how well you are managing your diabetes. This test is different from the blood sugar checks that people with diabetes do for themselves every day.

In the condition called hypoglycemia, the body fails to produce enough sugar. People with this disorder need treatment when blood sugar drops to 70 mg/dL or below. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of hypoglycemia can be:

·       Tingling sensation around the mouth

·       Shakiness

·       Sweating

·       An irregular heart rhythm

·       Fatigue

·       Pale skin

·       Crying out during sleep

·       Anxiety

·       Hunger

·       Irritability

Keeping blood sugar in control

Stephenson-Laws said healthy individuals can keep their blood sugar at the appropriate levels using the following methods: 

Maintaining a healthy weight

Talk with a competent health care professional about what an ideal weight for you should be before starting any kind of weight loss program. 

Improving diet

Look for and select whole, unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables, instead of highly processed or prepared foods. Foods that have a lot of simple carbohydrates, like cookies and crackers, that your body can digest quickly tend to spike insulin levels and put additional stress on the pancreas. Also, avoid saturated fats and instead opt for unsaturated fats and high-fiber foods. Consider adding nuts, vegetables, herbs and spices to your diet.

Getting physical

A brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can greatly reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

Getting mineral levels checked

Research also shows that magnesium plays a vital role in helping insulin do its job. So, in addition to the other health benefits it provides, an adequate magnesium level can also reduce the chances of becoming insulin-tolerant.

Get insulin levels checked

Many doctors simply test for blood sugar and perform an A1C test, which primarily detects prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Make sure you also get insulin checks.

 

May 31st 2018

Blood sugar and glucose levels: What they mean, and what they should be

Your blood sugar level is in constant flux, depending on what you've eaten, when you ate it, and what you did afterwards. A finger-prick blood test can ascertain your level at any moment in the day – it's a crucial tool for diabetes sufferers, as they need to manage their body's insulin response. 

In people with diabetes, explains Dr Soon Song, a consultant physician and diabetologist at BMI Thornbury Hospital in South Yorkshire and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the blood glucose levels are raised both before and after a meal.

“In a healthy individual without diabetes,” he says, “the body produces the correct amount of insulin from the pancreas to normalise the blood glucose level. But in diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or the body is not able to use the glucose effectively due to lack of responsiveness to insulin action (known as insulin resistance).

“So the blood glucose level rises to abnormally high levels, which puts pressure on the body’s organs and nerves. causing permanent damage.”

What is blood sugar and glucose?

Sugar is a carbohydrate found naturally in food. There are different types of sugars: glucose belongs to a type of sugar called monosaccharides or simple sugar. It is the primary source of energy and the body tissues need glucose to function normally, especially the brain. “The terms blood sugar and blood glucose are often used interchangeably and refer to the amount of glucose carried in the blood,” says Dr Song.

What is a normal blood sugar level?

Blood sugar level refers to the amount of glucose in the blood, sometimes known as blood glucose; the concentration of glucose in the blood is expressed in mmol/l.

In healthy people without diabetes, your blood glucose should measure between 4.0-5.5 mmol/l before a meal and should be less than 8.0 mmol/l two hours after a meal.

The blood glucose level is also measured by glycated haemoglobin, HbA1c, which gives information on the average blood glucose level over the last 2-3 months. A healthy person without diabetes should have HbA1c less than 42 mmol/mol.

Diabetes is diagnosed when the fasting blood glucose is greater than 7.0 mmol/l, random blood glucose greater than 11.1 mmol/l, or HbA1c greater than 48 mmol/mol.

A fasting blood glucose level between 5.5 and 6.9 mmol/l or HbA1c between 42 and 47 mmol/mol may indicate increased risk for type 2 diabetes, particularly those with obesity, family history of diabetes or from certain ethnic groups.

What happens if I don’t control my blood sugar?

Poorly controlled blood glucose levels can lead to health complications, warns Dr Song. “High glucose levels over a prolonged period, usually over several years, can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, nerves and legs (peripheral vascular disease and gangrene). It can cause a heart attack or stroke. Apart from poor diabetes control, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels also contribute to these complications. These risk factors are common in type 2 diabetes. Adequate treatment of the blood pressure and cholesterol levels are as important as managing the glucose control to reduce the complications.

“Type 2 diabetes is often not diagnosed in the early stages due to lack of symptoms. As a consequence, approximately 50 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes have some form of complications at diagnosis.”

What are low blood sugar symptoms?

Low blood glucose is also known as hypoglycaemia. It is defined by blood glucose below 4 mmol/l.

“In the early stages of hypoglycaemia,” says Dr Song, “the body will react by releasing hormones such as adrenaline to warn that the blood glucose is going low so that actions can be taken to reverse the hypoglycaemia.

“This causes symptoms include palpitations, hunger, feeling warm or flushed, tremulous and sweaty.

“If the blood glucose falls lower, brain function will be affected resulting in confusion, irritability, aggressive behaviour, seizure and coma.

“Since the brain is highly dependent on glucose to function, frequent hypoglycaemia can cause cognitive impairment.”

Some people with diabetes may have hypoglycaemia unawareness where the warning symptoms are weak, especially during the early stages of hypoglycaemia. This usually occurs in those with long duration of diabetes, tight diabetes control or frequent hypoglycaemia. This condition is potentially dangerous as the patient is unaware the blood glucose is going low and therefore, not able to correct the low blood glucose at an early stage until it is too late when the brain function is affected. If untreated, prolonged severe hypoglycaemia can cause permanent brain damage. 

What are the symptoms of high blood sugar?

The symptoms of high blood sugar occur when diabetes is uncontrolled, regardless of the type of diabetes. Typically, the patient experiences thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, blurred vision and tiredness. In more extreme cases, weight loss can occur. 

How to monitor and test your blood sugar levels

At home, the blood glucose level can be checked by the person with diabetes using a finger prick test with a blood glucose meter. This method checks the glucose level in the capillary blood obtained from the finger prick.

“It is important that the finger is clean and not contaminated by any glucose-containing material when this test is done,” says Dr Song “as otherwise, it can lead to erroneous results. 

“This self-monitoring of blood glucose can help to guide diabetes treatment, especially with insulin injections, that will achieve a satisfactory glucose control.”

May 16th 2018

Number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes rockets by 25 per cent in just four years

The number of children and teenagers with type 2 diabetes – a condition more typically associated with middle age – has soared by 25 per cent in just four years.

The condition is caused by eating too much and exercising too little. It is not usually diagnosed until later in life because it tends to take years for problems to accumulate to such an extent that blood sugar levels spiral dangerously out of control.

The latest figures show that in 2016-17, the number of people under 20 with type 2 diabetes was 1,043 – the first time it has risen above 1,000. In March 2013, the figure stood at 836.

If left uncontrolled, type 2 diabetes can lead to blindness, infections resulting in amputations, and an early death.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said the 25 per cent rise had occurred because

Britain had ‘totally failed to stop obesity in its tracks in the early years’

One in three children leaving primary school is now overweight or obese, according to the National Child Measurement Programme.

In the worst areas one in two is affected. Mr Fry said: ‘We have ignored these rises in childhood obesity. Now we are living with the consequences.’

As The Mail on Sunday reported last week, TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has accused Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of ‘running scared’ over the issue. 

He revealed he wanted to question Mr Hunt on his series Britain’s Fat Fight over whether the Government planned to curb junk food adverts aimed at youngsters but had been fobbed off.

A Health Department spokesman defended the Government’s record on diabetes, saying: ‘There is nowhere in the world setting more stringent sugar reduction targets than this Government has set.

‘We are also taxing sugary drinks, helping children to exercise more and funding research on junk food advertising. We are monitoring progress closely and have not ruled out taking further action.’

May 8th 2018

How to prevent your child from developing type 2 diabetes

With obesity rates on the rise – and, perhaps most importantly, on the rise in children – type 2 diabetes is an ever increasing strain on the NHS.

While manageable, it's a disease best avoided.

Diabetes affects how the body glucose, which is the main type of sugar in the blood.

Glucose is sourced from the food we eat. To process it, we need a hormone called insulin. Diabetes inhibits this from happening properly.

Before we look at how to help kids avoid developing diabetes, here are the two types so that you can differentiate, if you're unaware. The NHS has the information handy.

What is diabetes?

1. Type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system attacks the pancreas and destroys the cells that make insulin.

2. Type 2 diabetes, in which the pancreas can still make insulin, but the body doesn't respond to it properly.

In both forms, glucose can't get into human cells properly. This causes a rise in blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious health complications.

Type 1 cannot be prevented. Doctors can't tell who's going to get it – simply, it's the luck of the draw. Today, the disease can be treated and people don't have to get ill.

In both types of diabetes, glucose can't get into the cells normally. This causes a rise in blood sugar levels, which can make someone sick if not treated.

It's not contagious nor is it hereditary. It's just there and your doctor will best guide you in dealing with it.

Type 2 though is developed over time. And is preventable in many cases, especially in children.

Is my child at risk of diabetes?

Excessive weight gain, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle are all things that put youngsters at risk in later life.

Today, more kids and teens are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes than ever before due to unhealthy lifestyles.

Diets high in sugar and fat contribute to the likelihood of getting diabetes. A lack of exercise also isn't good.

It's true that some people are more susceptible to developing the disease than others. Some racial groups are at heightened risk too. But the best thing to do for your kids is give them the best possible chance of avoiding type 2 diabetes.

NHS facts on diabetes in kids

·       Diabetes is a condition where a person’s normal hormonal mechanisms do not control their blood sugar levels.

·       About one in 700 school-age children has diabetes.

·       Children with diabetes normally need to have daily insulin injections, monitor their blood glucose level and eat regularly.

·       Diabetes in children and young people is increasing.

·       Over 31,500 young people under the age of 19 in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes. Of these, about 95% have type 1 diabetes (insulin deficiency) whereas the remainder are largely type 2 where insulin is produced but does not act properly.

·       Managing the demands of diabetes in daily life can be challenging: currently only 18.4% of children in the UK are achieving the recommended level of blood sugar (glycaemia) control.

How can I protect my children from developing type 2 diabetes?

These steps are provided by Diabetes UK, the leading charity in tackling the disease.

• Make sure kids eat a healthy diet. Encouraging your kids to eat low-fat, nutrient-rich foods – like whole-grain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and lean proteins – can help prevent excessive weight gain, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

• Limit sugary foods and beverages. Consuming lots of sugar-filled foods and beverages – like sodas, juices, and iced teas – can lead to excessive weight gain.

• Encourage lots of physical activity. Staying active and limiting the time spent in sedentary activities – like watching TV, being online, or playing video or computer games – can help reduce the risk of weight gain and help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Being active can be as simple as walking the dog or mowing the lawn. Try to do something that gets you and your kids moving every day.

Diabetes in children

If your child is overweight and at risk, talk to your doctor, a nutritionist or a dietician.

With them, set goals and stick to them – it'll take hard-line parenting. But if medical professionals deem it necessary, it's worth trying.

"Type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes because it tended to occur mainly in people over the age of 40," The Conversation reports.

"But as obesity levels around the world continue to soar, so has the number of young adults with the disease."

Having diabetes at a young age can have a huge impact on later life.

If not properly treated, diabetes can lead to blindness, cause kidney failure, and even mean limb amputation.

All of these factors still require more research. The risk and cause is known, but how such serious health complications arise as a result of diabetes is still being studied.

Simon Fraser, Clinical Lecturer in Public Health, University of Southampton, writes in the The Conversation that such large-scale behavioural changes – which would help prevent diabetes rates continuing to soar – is tricky.

School intervention isn't thought to have hugely positive results. It appears a healthy lifestyle is best implemented at home.

Exercise and a good diet is key. And this is already being encouraged by governments, health organisations and charities around the world. It just need to be put into action for children.

·        

April 6th 2018

Sugar could be sabotaging your sex life: From erectile dysfunction to weaker orgasms - all the ways sweet stuff crushes your passion, and how to beat it

Many of us are considering the effects of consuming too much sugar on our long-term health. 

One such effect is increasing our risk of type 2 diabetes, which is now at epidemic proportions, with no signs of slowing down.

Millions of people may have type 2 diabetes but don't know they have it, health officials warn.

Yet few of us know the devastating effects that type 2 diabetes can have on our bodies and our lives including blindness, increased risk of heart attack and foot problems.

And what only a tiny proportion of us know is that type 2 diabetes can seriously affect our sex lives.      SHARE SELECTI

Sugar could be sabotaging your sex life: From erectile dysfunction to weaker orgasms - all the ways sweet stuff crushes your passion, and how to beat it

·       Nutritionist Cassandra Barns warns sugar impacts sex by affecting blood flow

·       A survey found 80% of us don't realize how our sugary diets damage our health

·       Here we explain the consequences and 5 ways to prevent these issues 

Many of us are considering the effects of consuming too much sugar on our long-term health. 

One such effect is increasing our risk of type 2 diabetes, which is now at epidemic proportions, with no signs of slowing down.

Millions of people may have type 2 diabetes but don't know they have it, health officials warn.

Yet few of us know the devastating effects that type 2 diabetes can have on our bodies and our lives including blindness, increased risk of heart attack and foot problems.

And what only a tiny proportion of us know is that type 2 diabetes can seriously affect our sex lives.  

A new survey found 80 percent of us don't realize how our sugary diets are damaging our health. By impacting our blood flow, it could be playing havoc with our sex lives

Sugar and sexual performance

A survey carried out by CuraLin Diabetic Supplement on 2,022 Brits found a lack of awareness of some of the more serious consequences of type 2 diabetes – including its effects in the bedroom. Eighty percent of people questioned did not know that type 2 diabetes could lead to erectile dysfunction.

This happens because high blood sugar causes damage to the nerves and blood vessels, decreasing sensitivity and making it more difficult for a man to get an erection. High blood pressure and heart disease, which often accompany diabetes, can also contribute to the problem.

Type 2 diabetes may affect women's sexual function too because the damage it causes to blood vessels can affect blood supply to the vagina and clitoris, causing dryness and reduced arousal along with nerve damage. Both can affect sensitivity, meaning reduced pleasure and difficulty reaching orgasm.

Now, if you're having problems in the bedroom, this doesn't mean you have diabetes. But if you also have other risk factors, such as being overweight, or regularly indulging in sugary foods, it could be worth seeing a doctor to get a check up.

The CuraLin survey also found that over half the people questioned didn't know that type 2 diabetes could lead to heart disease (62 percent), blindness (53 percent) or loss of limbs (54 percent) – all potential consequences of long-term uncontrolled blood sugar.

What are we doing about it?

Lack of awareness aside, the research also found that once diagnosed, Type 2 diabetes sufferers aren't doing enough to manage their disease.

CuraLin's survey revealed that 25 percent of sufferers are not exercising for even 30 minutes a day, despite medical and government advice. Plus, although 75 percent were aware there are natural supplements that could lower blood sugar levels or reverse the condition, only a mere 21 percent take them.

Can we prevent or reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes?

London GP Dr Wendy Denning, emphasises that there is plenty that those suffering with the condition can do to help themselves. 

'There are ways that people can reverse and manage the disease through exercise, diet, sleep and natural supplements,' says Dr Denning. 

'These approaches can be used in conjunction with the medication that your doctor prescribes, which can be reduced as blood sugar decreases.'

5 steps to managing your blood sugar

A healthy diet is key to managing your blood sugar, whether you have type 2 diabetes, or simply think you could be eating too much sugar or refined foods. If you are concerned about the risks, here are five steps you can take to get back in control.

1. Processed foods out, whole foods in

Most processed foods contain refined carbohydrates or added sugars that can quickly spike your blood sugar. Switch away from white breads, pastries and sugary breakfast cereals and move towards whole grains, pulses, vegetables and whole fruit. Aim to prepare meals with fresh ingredients wherever you can.

2. Swap out the sugary snacks and drinks

Go for whole fruits, nuts or seeds, natural yogurt with berries, carrot sticks with hummus, or some nut butter or cream cheese on an oatcake. All of these will help to balance blood sugar by breaking down and releasing their sugars slowly into the blood. Fruit juices are counted as 'sugary drinks' too and should only be an occasional treat.

3. Ramp up the vegetables and protein 

Aim for low-starch vegetables such as green veg or salad vegetables to make up half your plate at each meal. Their fibre helps to keep you fuller for longer and will balance out your blood sugar. They are also low in calories – bonus. (This doesn't include potatoes however, as they're higher in starch.)

A good source of protein with every meal is super-important, too. Protein helps to keep you feeling full and slows down the release of carbohydrates and sugars in the meal. Good sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, natural dairy products such as feta cheese, nuts and seeds – one of these should make up around a quarter of your meal.

Then, the remaining quarter can be a good source of slow-releasing carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potato, wholegrain pasta or oatcakes.

4. Be a label detective 

If you are buying pre-packaged foods, watch out for hidden sugars. They can be in everything from cereals, to breads, to sauces, to ready meals, to tinned foods. And they can be under numerous names: glucose, dextrose, honey, syrups and malt are just some of them. Generally, over five grams per hundred grams (five percent) of sugar is considered a high sugar product, so check the levels on the label.

5. Go easy on the booze 

Alcohol can play havoc with your blood sugar too. Long-term drinking can encourage both weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which increase your risk of diabetes. And if you're concerned about sugar sabotaging your sex life, alcohol will only make things worse! Stick to the recommended maximum 14 units a week… or cut it out altogether.

In addition… exercise and a good night's sleep are vital to managing blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

 

April 5th 2018

Blood sugar and glucose levels: What they mean, and what they should be

Your blood sugar level is in constant flux, depending on what you've eaten, when you ate it, and what you did afterwards. A finger-prick blood test can ascertain your level at any moment in the day – it's a crucial tool for diabetes sufferers, as they need to manage their body's insulin response. 

In people with diabetes, explains Dr Soon Song, a consultant physician and diabetologist at BMI Thornbury Hospital in South Yorkshire and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the blood glucose levels are raised both before and after a meal.

“In a healthy individual without diabetes,” he says, “the body produces the correct amount of insulin from the pancreas to normalise the blood glucose level. But in diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or the body is not able to use the glucose effectively due to lack of responsiveness to insulin action (known as insulin resistance).

“So the blood glucose level rises to abnormally high levels, which puts pressure on the body’s organs and nerves. causing permanent damage.”

What is blood sugar and glucose?

Sugar is a carbohydrate found naturally in food. There are different types of sugars: glucose belongs to a type of sugar called monosaccharides or simple sugar. It is the primary source of energy and the body tissues need glucose to function normally, especially the brain. “The terms blood sugar and blood glucose are often used interchangeably and refer to the amount of glucose carried in the blood,” says Dr Song.

What is a normal blood sugar level?

Blood sugar level refers to the amount of glucose in the blood, sometimes known as blood glucose; the concentration of glucose in the blood is expressed in mmol/l.

In healthy people without diabetes, your blood glucose should measure between 4.0-5.5 mmol/l before a meal and should be less than 8.0 mmol/l two hours after a meal.

The blood glucose level is also measured by glycated haemoglobin, HbA1c, which gives information on the average blood glucose level over the last 2-3 months. A healthy person without diabetes should have HbA1c less than 42 mmol/mol.

Diabetes is diagnosed when the fasting blood glucose is greater than 7.0 mmol/l, random blood glucose greater than 11.1 mmol/l, or HbA1c greater than 48 mmol/mol.

A fasting blood glucose level between 5.5 and 6.9 mmol/l or HbA1c between 42 and 47 mmol/mol may indicate increased risk for type 2 diabetes, particularly those with obesity, family history of diabetes or from certain ethnic groups.

What happens if I don’t control my blood sugar?

Poorly controlled blood glucose levels can lead to health complications, warns Dr Song. “High glucose levels over a prolonged period, usually over several years, can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, kidneys, nerves and legs (peripheral vascular disease and gangrene). It can cause a heart attack or stroke. Apart from poor diabetes control, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels also contribute to these complications. These risk factors are common in type 2 diabetes. Adequate treatment of the blood pressure and cholesterol levels are as important as managing the glucose control to reduce the complications.

“Type 2 diabetes is often not diagnosed in the early stages due to lack of symptoms. As a consequence, approximately 50 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes have some form of complications at diagnosis.”

What are low blood sugar symptoms?

Low blood glucose is also known as hypoglycaemia. It is defined by blood glucose below 4 mmol/l.

“In the early stages of hypoglycaemia,” says Dr Song, “the body will react by releasing hormones such as adrenaline to warn that the blood glucose is going low so that actions can be taken to reverse the hypoglycaemia.

“This causes symptoms include palpitations, hunger, feeling warm or flushed, tremulous and sweaty.

“If the blood glucose falls lower, brain function will be affected resulting in confusion, irritability, aggressive behaviour, seizure and coma.

“Since the brain is highly dependent on glucose to function, frequent hypoglycaemia can cause cognitive impairment.”

Some people with diabetes may have hypoglycaemia unawareness where the warning symptoms are weak, especially during the early stages of hypoglycaemia. This usually occurs in those with long duration of diabetes, tight diabetes control or frequent hypoglycaemia. This condition is potentially dangerous as the patient is unaware the blood glucose is going low and therefore, not able to correct the low blood glucose at an early stage until it is too late when the brain function is affected. If untreated, prolonged severe hypoglycaemia can cause permanent brain damage. 

What are the symptoms of high blood sugar?

The symptoms of high blood sugar occur when diabetes is uncontrolled, regardless of the type of diabetes. Typically, the patient experiences thirst, dry mouth, frequent urination, blurred vision and tiredness. In more extreme cases, weight loss can occur. 

How to monitor and test your blood sugar levels

At home, the blood glucose level can be checked by the person with diabetes using a finger prick test with a blood glucose meter. This method checks the glucose level in the capillary blood obtained from the finger prick.

“It is important that the finger is clean and not contaminated by any glucose-containing material when this test is done,” says Dr Song “as otherwise, it can lead to erroneous results. 

“This self-monitoring of blood glucose can help to guide diabetes treatment, especially with insulin injections, that will achieve a satisfactory glucose control.”

Feb 16th 2018

Two-thirds of Brits won't go to the doctor for fear of getting bad news

Two-thirds of Brits would put off going to the doctor - because they are scared they will receive bad news, according to research.

A study of 2,400 adults revealed 61 per cent would consider delaying a GP appointment for fear of being told they have a serious illness.

And over half would hold off seeking medical attention because they are worried about how a diagnosis could affect their family.

The research was commissioned by AbbVie, as part of their Live:Lab project, in line with the launch of their new gamified quiz ‘Crush your FOFO’.

The quiz creates a deeper understanding around the psychological health phenomenon that experts are calling the ‘Fear of Finding Out’ (FOFO).

“Crush Your FOFO”, www.crushyourfofo.co.uk , can be played online to help experts and the public better understand the Fear of Finding Out, and empower individuals to seek medical attention when needed.

Mark McGovern, 47 from Devon, ignored worrying health symptoms for years, with devastating consequences.

Back in 2011, Mark, father-of-three, started to experience increased urination, excessive thirst, pins and needles, and tiredness.

But describing himself as a provider for his family, he explained he was reluctant to see a doctor in case it resulted in time off work.

Mark, foreman at a turf company, said: “I always thought the symptoms had just been a sign of getting older, and never saw them as being anything serious enough to bother a doctor with.

“It’s also widely reported in the news how over-stretched our GPs and NHS are, and so I didn’t want to bother them with my little symptoms.

“I am a typical bloke – as long as I can get up and go to work there’s no point bothering the doctor, well that was my attitude then anyway.”

After sitting on his “little” symptoms for five years, Mark’s health took a dramatic turn for the worse in 2016, when he suffered a transient ischaemic attack (commonly known as a mini-stroke), quickly followed by a full stroke.

A stroke is a serious and life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, and is most common in older people over 70. It was therefore a frightening and confusing time for Mark, who was only 45 at the time.

“From the moment I was put in the ambulance I was scared. I actually thought I was dying. When I got to hospital I was rushed in and there were people all around hooking me up to monitors, putting cannulas in, and asking me questions – it was really frightening,” Mark remembers.

It was only then, during Mark’s stay in hospital, that doctors identified he had been living with type 2 diabetes for years, and that the underlying condition was likely the cause of his stroke.

According to the Stroke Association’s recent State of the Nation report released earlier this month, if not properly managed, type 2 diabetes almost doubles the risk of stroke within the first five years of onset.

Mark recalls: “The doctor went on to tell that me this was the main cause of my stroke

"It had gone undiagnosed for too long and if I had gone to my GP earlier, then the stroke would not have happened; and now that a stroke has happened, it makes it more likely for me to have more.

“Knowing what I know now, if I had gone to my GP earlier, I would have got the help I needed which could have avoided the stroke.

"I also wouldn’t have had so much time off work which put me into financial difficultly, a problem that still affects me now.

“I am on daily medication which I will now be on for the rest of my life.

“It’s all really impacted on my work as I find it hard to do the same as what I used to due to a lack of energy.

"I have to be extra careful I don't cut myself because I am now on blood thinners. My employer is concerned about me being on jobs on my own, which could mean a wage reduction which I cannot afford. Basically I am not the man I used to be.

“All this because I didn’t go to the doctor in the first place. That’s a lot to sacrifice for ignoring symptoms.

“My advice to anyone who notices anything different to normal health, no matter how small, get it checked. You can ask your GP, talk to your pharmacist or ring 111 for advice. Or speak to family and friends if you are scared, just do whatever you can to not ignore it.

“It's important to be more health conscious throughout middle age, especially if you have a family and the sooner you can identify a problem the sooner you can get treatment, or it could be irreversible.

“And to men like me, you can still be a "man’s man" and look after your health – it is not a sign of weakness.”

Dec 19th 2017

Social participation in clubs and groups has been linked to a lower risk of diabetes.

A study found that socially isolated individuals were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes more often than individuals with larger social networks.

A lack of participation in clubs or other social groups was associated with 60% higher odds of pre-diabetes and 112% higher odds of type 2 diabetes in women compared to those with normal glucose metabolism.

In men, lack of social participation was associated with 42% higher odds of type 2 diabetes, the research carried out in the Netherlands found.

Men living alone was also associated with 94% higher odds of Type 2 diabetes.

Dr Miranda Schram, of Maastricht University, said: “High-risk groups for Type 2 diabetes should broaden their network and should be encouraged to make new friends, as well as become members of a club, such as a volunteer organisation, sports club or discussion group.

“As men living alone seem to be at a higher risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, they should become recognised as a high-risk group in health care. In addition, social network size and participation in social activities may eventually be used as indicators of diabetes risk.”

Lead author Stephanie Brinkhues said: “We are the first to determine the association of a broad range of social network characteristics – such as social support, network size or type of relationships – with different stages of type 2 diabetes.

“Our findings support the idea that resolving social isolation may help prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.”

But they pointed out that the study does not allow for cause and effect, as early changes in glucose metabolism may cause people to feel tired and unwell, which could explain why individuals limit their social participation.

Nov 25th 2017

Using mouthwash twice a day increasing a person's chances of contracting diabetes by 50 per cent, a new study has claimed.

Scientists in the US claim those using over-the-counter mouthwash twice a day run a significantly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The author of the study, Professor Kamudi Joshipura, says mouthwash kills helpful as well as harmful bacteria, destroying those that protect against diabetes and obesity.

Prof Joshipura, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, found the risks were heightened for all mouthwash users, regardless of sex, weight or diet.

He said: "Most of these antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash are not selective.

"In other words, they do not target specific oral bacteria. Instead, these ingredients can act on a broad range of bacteria [including the protective ones]."

Another study, published earlier this year, found that some mouth bacteria help protect against both diabetes and obesity.

Leading diabetes experts in the UK have so far said it is too early to comment on whether dropping mouthwash could help protect against the condition.

Nov 23rd 2017

Diabetes is “decimating men”, with one in 10 now affected, a report by a men’s health charity has warned.

The report, created by the Men’s Health Forum, highlights that men are 26% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women, which can potentially have life-changing or even life-ending consequences.

The researchers also found that men are more likely to be overweight than women (with a body mass index of 25+), which is known to raise the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, men are also more likely to develop diabetes at a lower BMI than women.

Despite this, men are less likely to be aware that they are overweight or to participate in weight management programmes.

In light of the findings, the charity has called on the National Diabetes Prevention Programme to be better designed and delivered in ways that work for men.

Looking at NHS data, the research uncovered that the vast majority (69.6%) of diabetes patients presenting with a foot ulcer are men.

Furthermore, men were found to more be likely impacted by diabetic retinopathy -

which can affect eyesight - than women.

Worryingly, the stats indicated men are also more than twice as likely to have a major amputation as a result of diabetes than women.

Finally, the charity warned that men are more likely to suffer premature death as a result of diabetes than women.

The age-standardised mortality rate for men with an underlying cause of death as diabetes mellitus was found to be 40% higher than it is for women.

In light of the findings, the charity has called on health policy makers and practitioners to better engage men through:

NHS Health Checks

Routine eye tests

Weight management programmes

Diabetes education programmes

Martin Tod, chief executive of the Men’s Health Forum commented: “Men are more likely to get diabetes. More likely to suffer complications. More likely to face amputation as a result of diabetes. And more likely to die from diabetes.

“Diabetes is hitting men especially hard, but too little is being done to understand the problem and tackle the problem. The Men’s Health Forum wants to see a serious programme of research and investment to ensure men get the support and care they need to prevent and manage diabetes.

“The toxic combination of ever more men being overweight, men getting diabetes at a lower BMI and health services that don’t work well enough for working age men is leading to a crisis. We need urgent action.”

Peter Baker, Men’s Health Forum associate and the report author, added: “Diabetes has been described as a national health emergency but the burden of the disease on men has not been fully recognised or responded to by health policymakers and practitioners.

“What’s now urgently needed is an approach that takes full account of sex and gender differences so that both men and women’s outcomes can be improved.”

In response to the report, Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England’s national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, told The Telegraph: “Men are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes with a lack of exercise, poor diet and being overweight all risk factors to developing type 2 over time.

“Across the majority of England people at high risk can now get help on the NHS’s diabetes prevention programme, which is seeing almost as many men attend as women - a much higher proportion than usually seen in weight loss programmes.”

April 5th 2017

Sugar gets a bad reputation. And for a good reason. There are multiple unusual side effects of sugar. Added sugar can have multiple effects on the body, including its contribution to teeth decay, weight gain, heart disease, and yes, even cancer. But there is another side effect of sugar that nobody is talking about.

Natural vs. Artificial Sugar

The main difference between natural sugar and high fructose corn syrup is the balance of fructose and glucose in high-fructose corn syrup.

As the name suggests, there is more fructose in the syrup than in regular sugar. The difference, however, is that an apple contains fiber and other nutritious elements that outweigh its sugar content.

So how does an excess of sugar make one gain weight?

How It Works

When you ingest sugar, the liver metabolizes the fructose and converts it into fat. The spike in triglycerides also leads to a reduced amount of HDL cholesterol (or the 'good' kind of cholesterol).

What Too Much Sugar Can Do to You

Ingesting too much sugar hurts the metabolism and, over time, it weakens it. This causes metabolic dysfunction, meaning your insulin stops working properly. This is one major side effect that most people are unaware of.

This side effect can directly lead to obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes. In addition, added sugar is especially addictive. So the more sugar you eat, the more likely you'll become addicted and reliant on it.

The best way to cut back on your sugar intake is to be aware of what and how much you eat. A sugary treat every once in a while is normal. Overindulgence in anything is where it gets dangerous. So, overall eat those foods with high sugar in moderation and remember healthy eating may be easier than you think.

June 8th

Did you know that you should not use Bazuka wart remover if you are diabetic, read the small print on the leaflet.

Scientists halt diabetes with insulin cells

A cure for type I diabetes has been brought closer why scientists who halted the conditions for six months using insulin producing cells

Researchers from American hospitals and institutions including Harvard University transplanted cells into mice the researchers were able to show they could prevent the cells being rendered useless by the body's immune system which was effectively "switched off" the findings potentially provide signals towards finding a cure for type I diabetes, which affects four hundred thousand people in Britain. Scientists are working to replicate the results in patients with the condition.

Scientists led by Doug Melton a professor at Harvard, discovered in late two thousand fourteen how to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells. The islet cells used for the latest research were generated from human stem cells developed by Professor Melton

After implantation in the mice, the sales began to produce insulin in response to blood glucose levels, which remained within a healthy range for the length of the study. The findings were published in the journals Nature Medicine and in Nature Biotechnology.

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