10 Ways to Love Your Heart

Here are some things you can do to live healthfully, take care of your diabetes, and protect your heart and other body parts.

  1.  Exercise more.  You don’t have to run 5 miles daily to do your body a favor.  Just taking more steps can have a benefit.  “The muscles are involved in the utilization of glucose, so regular moderate exercise is critical to individuals with diabetes in terms of treating their diabetes and cardiovascular risk.  It’s important to build some regular activity into your life,” says Laurence Sperling, MD, FACC, FACP, FAHA, professor of medicine in cardiology and director of the Emory Heart Disease Prevention  Center in Atlanta.
  2.  Sit Less.  Many of us spend our days in a seated position-whether at work, driving, watching TV.  The American Diabetes Association recommends that you get up and move around every 30 minutes.
  3.  Manage weight.  Losing weight, if needed, and maintaining a healthy weight are important.  When losing weight, don’t get fixated on an ideal number.  “You can make significant gains in health and the treatment of diabetes, and other risk factors related to diabetes, with very modest weight loss,” says Sperling.  Focus on attainable goals, and weigh yourself weekly.  Losing just 10 to 15 pounds can make a big difference.  Talk to your doctor about specific steps you can take to start losing weight.
  4. Take medication.  Diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol meds will help manage risk factors for CVD.  It’s important to take your medication as directed by your doctor.  So you don’t forget, take it at the same time every day, set an alarm, or use a pill box as reminders.
  5.  Eat well.  A quick way to plan good-for-you meals is to “create your plate” with the right portions (how much you eat) of healthy foods.  Fill 1/2 of your plate with nonstarchy vegetables.  Fill 1/4 of your plate with protein.  Fill 1/4 of your plate with carbohydrate foods like whole grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, or yogurt.  *Remember that milk also contains carbohydrate and might impact what goes in this section.  Drink water or a no-calorie beverage.
  6.   Manage stress.  Exercise, meditation, relaxation, music, and art help with stress management and heart health. “Stress releases hormones in our body, and many of these hormones raise our blood sugar and make it harder for our diabetes to get under good control,” says Sperling.  And stress impacts the blood vessels, making it harder for them to relax, which increases the risk of heart disease.  “Really try to ask yourself: What are some of things I can do to diffuse stress in my life?” he says.
  7.  Follow up with your care team.  You are the most important member of your diabetes care team, but remember to tell your doctor and other health care professionals how you’re doing.  Make sure to mention if you have any of the symptoms of CVD or if any other health problems come up.
  8.   Sleep better.  Poor sleep can increase stress hormones.  “six to eight hours is probably the ideal amount of sleep for most adults,” says Sperling.  One thing that can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult for people with diabetes is sleep apnea, a condition many people don’t even know they have.  Symptoms include loud snoring, spells where you stop breathing at night, and excessive sleepiness during the day.  Talk with your doctor if you experience any of these.  It could be affecting your glucose levels and upping your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.
  9.  Go to a diabetes education class.  Learning how to live well with diabetes is best done by taking part in an education class or program.  Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) services are the formal name for these programs and, with a referral from your doctor, are often covered by insurance, especially when you are first diagnosed.  DSMES answers your questions about diabetes and helps you gain knowledge, skills, and confidence in taking care of your health.  DSMES is also useful when your body or situation changes over time, helping you live a long and healthy life.
  10.   Know your numbers.  Keep track of your health stats using a chart or log, says Sperling.  Check your blood pressure and blood glucose as directed, and be aware of your most current blood test results, including A1C and cholesterol.     References:  Diabetes Forecast Magazine/ November, December 2017 Issue

Small Steps for Your Health

There are many things the “experts” tell us to do to get to and stay at a healthy weight and prevent type 2 diabetes:  Choose healthy foods, make healthy meals, be active 30 minutes a day.  But where should you start:  It’s not easy to do all of this every day living in today’s fast-paced and fast-food world.  And it can be even harder if you have a lot of changes you want to make.

It’s easier to make lifestyle changes one step at a time-over months and years.  think of each small step as one piece of your effort to change your habits.Making changes one step at a time gives you the best chance to reach and stay at a healthy weight and prevent type 2 diabetes.

The good news is that making just a few small changes can have make a big impact on your weight and health.  Learn how to make these changes step-by-step.

IS YOUR HEALTH AT RISK?

People around you may tell you that you have a problem with your weight or health.  But what do you think?  If you don’t believe you have a problem, you will probably notwant to make changes. You may even resent or be angry at the people pushing you to change. If you do think you have a problem, you will probably succeed. Step number one:accept that you have habits you need to change.

ARE YOU READY, WILLING, and ABLE TO CHANGE?

To succeed at making lifestyle changes you need to answer YES to the question, “Are you ready, willing and able to change?”  the experts say that for people to change, making the change must be important to them.  In other words, you must have good reasons to change.  For example, maybe you want to live long enough to see your grandchildren grow up.  You must have more reasons to change than reasons not to change.  The experts also say that you must be confident-believe that you can change.

To succeed, take what you want to do and break it down to small steps. Then think about a few things you are ready, willing and able to change.  Leave other habits that you don’t feel ready, willing and able to change for another time.

WHAT ARE YOU READY, WILLING, AND ABLE TO CHANGE?

To answer this next question, think about your current eating and activity habits.  What foods do you buy?  How active are you?  Try to keep honest food records for a few days to get a true picture to what you eat. Based on your current habits, start with a few changes that are easy to tackle. Pick some changes that you want to do the most, land that will make the biggest impact.  Perhaps choose one change in your eating habits and another in activity.  Remember ; don’t try to change everything at once.

For example, maybe you tend to eat a bowl of ice cream every night while you watch TV.  Can you switch that ice cream to a healthier snack?  Maybe fruit or a small bowl of cereal?  Or just a smaller portion of ice cream.  And can you take a 15 minute break from the TV and go for a walk?

For each goal, think about four things:

  1.  How long will you try to reach this goal?  Keep it short.
  2.   Is it easy to do in your regular daily life:  Keep it realistic.
  3.  Is it limited in scope?  Be specific.
  4.   How often will you do this?

Keep your goals realistic.  Don’t try to do much too quickly.  Let’s look at three examples of realistic goals. 

1.  Eating:  For the next month (how long), four days each week (how often) I will eat two pieces of fruit a day-one at breakfast and one as an afternoon snack. (realistic and specific).

2.  Eating:  The next five times (how long) I go to a fast food restaurant (how often), I will order a small French fries and a single hamburger, rather than a large French fries and double hamburger (realistic and specific).

3.  Physically active:  for the next month (how long), four days each week (how often) I will take a 15 minute walk after lunch (realistic and specific).

Notice that the eating goals are not “I will eat more fruit” or “I will eat healthier.”  The activity goal is not “I’ll walk more.”  these goals aren’t specific like the examples above.

Set 1 to 3 goals at a time.  Write them down.  Put them in a place where you will see them often-on the refrigerator, your bathroom or bedroom mirror, or in your purse or wallet.

Did you Succeed?  

The last step is to see how you did at making the change.  Once the time you set is over, look at the goals you set.  Ask yourself these questions:  did you succeed?  Did you set your sights too high?  did something happen in your life to keep you from being successful?  If you were successful, give yourself a BIG pat on the back.  (or maybe a trip to the movies!)

Wait, you are not done!  Making a change for two weeks or a month does not mean that it will stick for life.  It’s so easy so slip back to your old ways.  Practice the new habits faithfully.  It will take months before they become your way of life.  If you weren’t successful, try again.  Revise your goals or choose easier ones.  Make sure they contain the four parts of setting a goal that’s within reach.  Make sure you want to make changes in the area and that you believe you can.

What is Your Next Step?

Start the lifestyle change cycle again.  choose some new goals to work on.  slowly, goal by goal, over time you’ll be eating healthier and being more active… and you’ll be a t a healthier weight. You’ll also be on your road to preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes.

References:  Article from Diabetes Forecast Magazine

 

 

HEALTHY SNACKING

Let’s be real, we all snack.  And actually snacking isn’t “bad” for you if you do it in moderation and make healthy choices.  Try these tips to do both!

Yes, we all have long days at work where we start craving something sweet or need something salty to help us snap out of the workday lull, but if you’re smart about how you snack you’ll feel, and maybe even look, better.  And who doesn’t want that?

As boring as “healthy snacks’ might sound, you’d be surprised at just how tasty they are, all the new things you’ll get to try, and how easy they are to tote around with you on the go.  (Seriously, they fit in your laptop bag, purse, workout bag or backpack just as easily as the prepackaged stuff.)

So let’s toss the excuses aside and run through some of the healthy, nutritious items that you should adding to the top of your grocery list.

First:  Munchies that crunch.

So we’re talking about:

.  Apples and pears

.  Carrot and celery sticks

.  Bell pepper slices

.  Zucchini or cucumber circles (sounds fancy, huh?)

.  Roasted chickpeas

.  Broccoli and cauliflower florets

.  Popcorn (it’s a whole grain!  Who knew?)

.  Rice cakes and whole-grain crackers

.  Nuts and seeds (Hit those good fats!)

Ditch your high-sugar go-to and try:

.  Plain or sparkling water (Not glam enough?  Add some fruit and herbs to it!)

.  Fat-free milk or plain soymilk

.  Unsweetened tea or coffee

.  100% fruit juice (Stick to a small glass)

.  Low-sodium tomato or mixed vegetable juice

Third:  Snacks that satisfy.

Guaranteed to fill you right up:

.  Whole-grain toast with peanut or almond butter

.  Cherry tomatoes with hummus

.  Low-fat or fat-free yogurt (an awesome pairing with fruit!)

.  Fruit and veggie smoothie

.  Whole-grain crackers with canned tuna or salmon

And finally (drumroll please):  Snacks to curb your sweet tooth.

Give these a try:

.  Canned fruit (in natural juice or light syrup)

.  Thin slice of angel food cake or homemade banana-nut bread

.  Baked apple

.  Raisins, dates, figs and other unsweetened dried fruits

.  Frozen banana

.  Frozen grapes

.  Fresh fruit salad (Use your imagination and get creative when choosing fruits)

We’d be slacking if we didn’t remind you to check out the nutrition label and choose wisely when shopping.  Watch for added sugars and salt, and try making healthier versions of packaged snacks at home so you can choose the ingredients.

Copyright:  2017   American Health Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

 
 

Advisory: Replacing saturated fat with healthier fat could lower cardiovascular risks

By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

 

 

 

 

Replacing saturated fat with healthier fat in the diet lowers cardiovascular disease risk as much as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, according to an American Heart Association advisory issued Thursday.

“This important paper reaffirms the scientific evidence that saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, a leading cause of atherosclerosis,” said Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D. a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont, who was not an advisory author. “Furthermore, replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease.”

Atherosclerosis is the hardening and clogging of arteries that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.

Cardiovascular disease was lowered by about 30 percent, similar to the effect of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs when vegetable oil replaced saturated fat in the diet, according to the advisory. The switch to healthier oils also was associated with lower rates of death from all causes.

The finding doesn’t mean that people prescribed statins to lower heart disease risk should give up medication. Nor should they eat too much saturated fat, said Frank Sacks, M.D. lead author of the advisory and professor of cardiovascular disease prevention in the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.

“That statin is only going to go part of the way,” he said. “You’re going to mess up the effect of the statin if you’re eating all unhealthy foods.”

Researchers culled hundreds of research papers published since the 1950s, finding evidence supporting the AHA’s recommendation that saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent of daily calories for healthy Americans.

The tipping point that led to the advisory was a well-publicized 2014 study that concluded that the amount of dietary and saturated fat had no bearing on the risk of heart disease, said Sacks.

But the study had at least one major flaw: It didn’t consider what people ate in place of saturated fat, Sacks said.

“The people who were eating low saturated fats were eating a lot of junk food carbohydrates,” Sacks said.  Trading bad fat for bad carbs doesn’t reduce cardiovascular disease, he said. “You wouldn’t tell people, ‘Hey reduce your sat fat and replace it with sugary soft drinks or donuts.’”  You’d tell them to replace it with unsaturated oils, whole wheat bread, vegetables, nuts or beans, Sacks said.

The publicity surrounding the study and others has shaped public perception about saturated fats, partly reflecting the way nutrition studies are reported by news media, said Sacks.

“One of the real problems in transmitting health information is that generally people who are writing about it don’t look into what’s come before,” he said. The media also don’t pay much attention to new studies that support or extend current dietary recommendations. “The overall effect has misled the public on the science of dietary fats,” he said.

People are also quick to believe trends that aren’t supported by science, he said.  A prime example is coconut oil, widely touted for its health benefits. “I just don’t know” who is pushing it, but it’s not scientists, Sacks said. It may be driven by manufacturers looking to profit, or some countries’ economic dependence on coconut oil, he said.

According to the advisory, coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat, and studies show it raises LDL “bad” cholesterol as much as butter, beef fat or palm oil. Canola oil, on the other hand, has only 7 percent saturated fat. All fats and oils have varying levels of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

One reason people may have a hard time reducing their saturated fat intake is the familiarity of foods made with it, Sacks said.

“People also have a strong emotional connection to what they eat,” Sacks said. “What you’re brought up eating, what people call their comfort food — there’s a lot of emotion in that.” But nutrition science may not support the health of that kind of eating, he said.

Overall fat intake was higher when early studies of saturated fats were done in the 1950s and 1960s, according to the advisory. The studies showed that reducing saturated fats lowered cholesterol, reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke, and in some cases lowered the risk of death from coronary heart disease.

Although people are eating less saturated fats today than in the 1950s, they still eat too much, Sacks said.  Most restaurants today cook with unsaturated fats, but foods like beef and bacon still contain saturated fat.

“If you have a cheeseburger or bacon burger, you get sat[urated] fat from almost everything except the bread,” Sacks said. Despite its lower fat status, a white bread bun isn’t particularly healthy either, Sacks said.

He advises people to reduce saturated fats by not cooking with butter, but with canola, or corn oil or soybean oil, or extra virgin olive oil.

Johnson said the main sources of saturated fats are butter, lard, beef tallow, palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil. Healthier oils include canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and walnuts, she said. Olive oil, avocados and tree nuts such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and pecans are low in saturated fats, and largely composed of monounsaturated fats, Johnson said.

Surprisingly, Sacks isn’t against frying foods, even deep frying.

“There’s nothing wrong with deep frying as long as you deep fry in a nice unsaturated vegetable oil,” he said.

The Need For Vitamin D

Getting enough vitamin D is important for overall health-and early studies suggest it may also be key for managing diabetes.  

If a vitamin D supplement isn’t in your medicine cabinet, it should be.  Data shows that many Americans are deficient in the sunshine vitamin.

That might be because vitamin D is a tricky little guy.  It’s present in very few foods, and even then it appears in relatively small amounts.

Lucky for us, nature built in a fail-safe: You can get vitamin D through sun exposure.  But that has its challenges, too.

So why make the effort for this elusive vitamin?  Because it’s crucial for so many aspects of your health, and new studies suggest it may help you manage your diabetes as well.

Why you need it

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and promotes bone health (people with diabetes are at risk for fractures).  It’s also key for reducing inflammation and boosting immunity.  Researchers note that fewer hours sunshine in winter may be linked to why that time is cold and flu season.

Emerging research suggests that people with type 2 who have higher blood levels of vitamin D tend to have better blood sugar control.  And people at risk for type 2 with higher vitamin D levels are less likely to develop the disease.

Even more:  Studies show a link between low vitamin D levels and increased risk of nerve, kidney, and eye complications, as well as cardiovascular disease and hypertension.  But clinical trials about the effects of adequate levels of vitamin D are mixed and in early stages.

What we do know for sure:  Vitamin D is important for many aspects of your health, so you should make an effort to get the recommended dosage each day.

What’s right for you

So how can we get enough of the sunshine vitamin?  It’s especially important for those who have difficulty maintaining adequate levels, including obese people, older adults, people with limited sun exposure, people with darker skin, and those with inflammatory bowel disease or who have had gastric bypass surgery.

According to the USDA, fatty fish (salmon, tuna and sardines) is a top source.  You also get some vitamin D in egg yolks and beef liver.  In the American diet, fortified foods provide a lot-including milk, orange juice, breakfast cereal, and even mushrooms exposed to UV-B light.

Still, most of the foods have only timy amounts of vitamin D.  For example, you’d have to drink 13 cups of milk to get the 1.500-2,000 IU the Endocrine Society recommends for adults.

A guideline for boosting your body’s D production is to expose the most skin possible to sunlight, getting half the amount of sun exposure it takes for your skin to turn pink, according to the Vitamin D Council.

In the end, the best way to get enough vitamin D is to take a daily supplement.  These pills are easy to take, affordable, and widely available. If you’re concerned you’re deficient, ask your doctor to check with a simple blood test at your next visit.

SOAK UP VITAMIN D

Try the D-Minder Pro app to help you figure out how much vitamin D you can make from sun exposure in your location.  It takes into account your skin you expose.  Free at dminder.ontometrics. com.

VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENT KNOW- HOW

The endocrine society recommends 1,500 IU, while the NIH recommend 600 IU for adults.  Ask your doctor what’s best for you.

Look for supplements labeled D3, the same form your body makes from sunlight.  D2 is not as potent as D3.

1,000 IU supplements are widely available in grocery stores and pharmacies; less potent versions mean more daily doses.

Supplements also come in gummies and chews, but note carbs so they don’t spike blood sugar.

Eat a fat source, such as peanut butter, avocado, or an egg, with your supplement to better absorb vitamin D.

References:  Diabetic Living Dec. 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Type 2 Diabetes: Five tips for a Diabetic Friendly Diet

There are several things that I do to help me stick with my diet.  All are designed to keep me from over indulging in A1C raising foods.  Below are some of the things that I do that they make work for you:

Drink Water:  I usually try to drink a half a gallon of water a day to flush my kidneys.  While water may not be as satisfying as a sugared beverage, I’ve found that it keeps me hydrated and away from other beverages such as soda.

Use stevia instead of sugar:  Many people are not familiar with the leaf plant that is twice as sweet as sugar, but I’ve found that stevia satisfies my sugar craving just fine.  There are several types of stevia brands, but pure stevia is better that stevia blends which often include added ingredients that are found in other sugar substitutes, such those found in Sweet-n-Low.  While some may complain of an aftertaste with stevia, I haven’t found anything displeasing about it.  I use it to sweeten my tea, oatmeal, coffee, and anything else I would add sugar to.  Best of all, stevia has zero calories!  I often stash a few packets in my car so whenever I stop by a gas station for a cup of coffee, I can sweeten it with stevia in stead of sugar.

Load up on the tuna:  Tuna is high in Omega 3.  In addition to my Flaxseed capsules; I also eat a healthy dose of tuna each week.  While a succulent fat ribeye may be tempting, I try to stick to tuna whenever possible.

Supplement with supplements:  While it would be nice to get all of the nutrients that we need to fight diabetes through our food intake, sometimes we have to supplement with vitamins or herbs.  I place flaxseed high on the list of anti-diabetic foods, but I haven’t integrated flaxseed into my cooking.  Instead, I use flaxseed supplements since they are more convenient and easier to take.  Some foods naturally contain chromium, but I regularly use chromium capsules instead.

Eat fiber:  A high fiber diet is good in the fight against diabetes, and I get a good amount each week usually in the form of black or kidney beans.  Legumes can add up to 32% of the recommended daily value per serving.  Many fruits and vegetables also offer high amounts of fiber in addition to other nutrients, so I also try to add a significant amount of these to my diet as well.

Sticking to a diabetic friendly diet can be like trying to eat an entire elephant in one bite.  I have found that I can have much more success in sticking to a diet if I try to adhere to a few, more manageable goals.

references:  Diabetes Health Magazine June 2017/  Eric Morris

 

5 Ways to Safeguard Your Sight

  1.  Tune into vision changes.  When blood sugar is high, it can cause fluids to leak into the lens of the eye, causing blurry vision.  As blood sugar returns to normal, vision should sharpen.  If blurry vision is a persistent problem, report it to your care team ASAP.  And try this test:  Check your blood sugar during an episode – if your reading is in a normal range, it could be a sign of retinopathy.  NOTE:  Blurriness my occur when you start treatment with insulin and other medications, typically due to your changing blood sugar levels.
  2.   Keep tabs on your BP.  People with diabetes often have high blood pressure too.  And the combo can damage eye vessels.  Aim for healthy blood pressure levels-130/80 or below-and ask your care team if you’re a candidate for medication.
  3.   Get a dilated eye exam once a year.  This allows your healthcare provider to look inside the eye for any signs of damage.  When caught early, doctors can treat diabetic retinopathy and prevent blindness.
  4.   Eat greens.  People with diabetes are also prone to cataracts, a clouding of the lens.  Green like spinach, kale, broccoli and collards are packed with the anitoxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which have been study-proven to help fend off cataracts.
  5.   Don sunglasses:  Direct exposure to sunlight can lead to cataracts. so wear UVA/UVB-protective sunglasses whenever you’re in daylight, even if it’s cloudy.

References:  Diabetes  Healthmonitor Magazine  Spring 2017 pg.26

 

Yoga is The Perfect Workout for Diabetes

My passion for Yoga started in my teens.  While everyone else was signing up for track I was in the gym breathing and stretching and gazing at my navel.  I’m not quite sure why yoga caught my attention but I am absolutely glad it did.  Eight years ago I was diagnosed with type 1 LADA diabetes, almost 22 years into my life as a yoga practitioner and teacher.  The diagnosis floored me.

Before my diagnosis I taught and shared yoga worldwide and was adamant that yoga had the potential to cure any disease.

After my diagnosis?  A cure was questionable at best.

Yoga has many benefits to support anyone living with chronic disease, but nothing can replace a life saving medication like Insulin, especially if you live with type 1 diabetes.

In spite of my diagnosis, I didn’t give up on yoga.  I truly believe yoga saved my life. Yoga not only works on the physical body to increase our strength and stamina it also supports us to let go of accumulated stress and tension.  This is crucial when managing our health.  How many times have you noticed your own moods shift and change with unpredictable blood sugars?

SO WHY IS YOGA SO BENEFICIAL?  It is a physical activity.

Findings suggest that when you participate in regular physical activity blood glucose control improves and type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.  More specifically, Yoga, due to  the engagement of the musculo-skeletal system, hugging muscles to bones and moving isometrically, improves Insulin resistance which in turn enables those of us with either type of diabetes to uptake the insulin more efficiently.

IT IMPROVES YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM FUNCTION THEREBY REDUCING STRESS

The autonomic nervous system governs automatic functions in the body like heart rate, breathing, digestion etc.  Reducing stress is key because due to mental and emotional stress around unpredictable lows and highs, we spend way more time in the fight or flight response.  A human being is designed to spend about 80% of the time in the relaxed nervous system and 20% in the fight or flight response, but that’s not what happens with diabetes.  Every incident in managing the disease increases stress so our time spent in the fight or flight mode is more like 80% while the relaxed part gets the 20%.

YOGA MAY HELP PROMOTE WEIGHT LOSS.

Regular physical exercise has been known to improve anyone’s health and wellbeing and to keep the body weight at its optimum.  But what about Yoga exercises?  According to a study held in India which recruited people not only with type 2 diabetes but with a family history of type 2 for an 8-week program.  The results indicated that yoga is a feasible intervention strategy and may help reduce weight, BMI and waist circumference, three important factors in the risk of type 2 diabetes.

YOGA IMPROVES SLEEP AND IMMUNE SYSTEM FUNCTION

Something that’s not talked about much in the management of diabetes is how much our sleep suffers.  For those of us with type 1 we can be up at all hours of the night with fluctuating levels.  With type 2 the fear of complications can be so overwhelming that we suffer from anxiety and depression.  When we don’t spend enough time in the deep sleep state our immune system suffers.  Ideally a good nights sleep equals a healthy immune system.  So how does Yoga help?

Specific restorative postures support the body and mind to be comfortable in a state of deep rest while specific breathing ratios to increase the length of the exhalation enable the mind to relax and slow down.  Also the sister science of yoga, ayurveda offers specific lifestyle guidelines which includes a daily self massage with sesame oil (called abhyanga) which penetrates the layers of the skin to relax the nervous system.

In my personal experience yoga over many years of practice has also increased my physical strength, flexibility, concentration and improved my overall wellbeing.

But, to be honest when there are so many factors involved in managing my diabetes on a daily basis, it takes discipline to step onto my mat every day.

What gets me there, more than knowing the benefits, is the overall feeling I get from my daily practice.  It’s in those last few moments after opening my eyes and gazing out at the world that I know why yoga works.

The world always feels bright, I feel calm and rejuvenated and ready to face the day exactly as it is.

Rachel Zinman is a senior yoga teacher with over 30 years’ experience teaching internationally.  At 42 she was diagnosed type 1 LADA diabetes.  Passionate about the benefits of yoga for diabetes, Rachel writes diabetes publications.  Find out more about Rachel on HER blog http://www.yogafordiabetesblog.com

References:  Diabetes Health Magazine pg, 6-8    2/2017  Rachel Zinman

CASES OF DIABETES ARE DROPPING

The number of new cases of diabetes in Americans ages 18-79 has dropped in recent years, according to the latest data from the CDC.  Between 1980 and 2009, the annual number of newly diagnosed cases skyrocketed from 493,000 to 1.7 million.   Since then, the number has dropped to 1.4 million per year.  More than 90 percent of these cases are type 2 diabetes.  Overall, about 11 percent of American adults, or 29 million, have diabetes, the highest percentage among developed nations, according to the International Diabetes Federation.  It isn’t known why the diabetes rate has started to drop in the U.S., though a reduction in the per capita intake of sugary beverages and a leveling off of the obesity epidemic are likely contributors.

References: Diabetes Focus Magazine  pg.6, Fall 2016

Diabetes and Influenza

COMING  down with a case of the flu is no fun for anyone.  But it poses extra risks for people with diabetes or other chronic health problems.

A bad case of the flu can lead to viral or bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, ear infections and sinus infections, especially in children.  Influenza can also make chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, asthma and congestive heart failure worse.  Though numbers vary from year to year, an annual average of more than 200,000 hospitalizations and approximately 36,000 deaths are attributed to influenza or complications from influenza in the United States alone.  On a global scale, the flu is responsible for the deaths of half a million people each year.  People with diabetes make up a disproportionately large number of those affected.  They are six times more likely to be hospitalized with flu complications than the population at large.  Deaths among people with diabetes rise 5 to 15 percent during flu epidemics, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Each year, between 10,000 and 30,000 deaths among people with diabetes are associated with influenza and pneumonia. 

WHY INFLUENZA  IS ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES.  Flu symptoms such as fatigue can make it harder to perceive both high and low blood-glucose episodes.   Some medicines, antibiotics and steroids used to treat illness can also raise blood-glucose levels.

” A lot of times people with think that because they aren’t eating, their blood sugar isn’t going to go up,” said Kris Bischoff, certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian at Adams Memorial Hospital in Decatur, Indiana.  “What people don’t understand is that when you are sick, your body has that fight-or-flight response.”  Because your body can’t run away from the germs that are causing the infections, it dumps sugar into your bloodstream to help prepare for battle.  “For some people,” she explains,”a higher blood sugar reading is the first sign that they are getting sick or getting an infection.”

Diabetes can compromise the body’s immune system, making it less effective at fighting viral infections such as the flu.  This puts people with diabetes at greater risk of developing secondary infections such as pneumonia.  And pneumonia is nothing to take lightly; according to the CDC, about 5 percent of cases involving adults who develop pneumonia result in death.

People with type 1 diabetes who get influenza may be more prone to dangerous levels of ketones.  This can cause diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which can result in coma or even death.

THE HIDDEN BENEFITS OF GETTING A FLU SHOT FOR PEOPLE WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES    The best way to protect yourself against influenza and the complications that can arise is to get a flu shot.  Not only does the vaccine protect against some of the viruses that can cause influenza, but a recent study has suggested that people with type 2 diabetes who receive flu vaccinations may have a reduced rusk of cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in July 2016 in The Canadian Medical Association Journal, sought to examine the effectiveness of influenza vaccination in preventing hospital admissions for cardiovasular and respiratory conditions.  The research subjects were 124,503 British adults with type 2 diabetes who were studied over a 7 year period, from 2003-2010.  About two-thirds of the people in the study had received influenza vaccinations.

Even after controlling for variables such as age, sex, smoking, medications and body mass index, the researchers found that having received a flu shot was associated with a 30% reduction in flu-season hospital admissions for stroke.  Hospital admissions for heart failure were down 22%, hospitalizations for heart attack were down 19%, and hospitalizations for pneumonia or influenza were down 15% among people with type 2 diabetes who had received a flu shot.

MOST SIGNIFICANT OF ALL:  The death rate among those who received a flu shot was 24% lower than in those who had not been vaccinated, the researchers said.

The study wasn’t intended to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between influenza vaccine and the reductions in death and hospital admissions.  However, the results do suggest that the benefits of getting a flu shot extend beyond simple peace of mind.

References:  DiabetesHealth Magazine/ DEC. 2016  pg. 8-10