Archive for February, 2013

What is Your Lifetime Risk for Diabetes?

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Diabetes is a serious and costly disease which has increased 40 percent in the last 10 years. Based on research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), new estimates suggest that as many as one in three people born recently will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

Here are the estimates for people born after 2000:

• Men, 32.8% will develop diabetes in their lifetime
• Women, 38.5%
• Hispanic males, 45.4%
• Hispanic females, 52.5%

The odds of being diagnosed with diabetes is high and the complications of diabetes are serious:

  • coronary heart disease,
  • kidney failure,
  • blindness,
  • increased risk of cancer, infections, and dementia.

The CDC implemented a Diabetes Prevention Program that took a large group of people who were already pre-diabetics and put them on a lifestyle change program for one year. This included a healthy eating plan (lower calories and saturated fat, and a higher fiber intake), plus 150 minutes of exercise weekly. On this program they lost five to seven percent of their body weight. They also reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent compared to a control group that made no changes.

important diabetes tests

The Harvard University Nurses’ Health Study found that about nine out of 10 cases of diabetes could be avoided by taking these seven simple steps:

  1. Control your weight. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes sevenfold. Losing just 10 to 15 pounds (if you’re overweight) can significantly reduce your chances of getting diabetes.
  2. Be more physically active. Limit TV viewing and other sedentary pursuits. Harvard found that walking briskly for even 30 minutes daily cut the risk of type-2 diabetes by 30 percent, even without weight loss. They also found that for every two hours of TV a person watched daily, the risk of diabetes increased by 20 percent. By choosing more active leisure time activities you greatly improve your health. Try riding a stationary bike when watching your favorite TV program.
  3. Choose whole grains over white bread and other refined grains. When Harvard combined the research from both the Nurses’ Health Study and the men’s Health Professional Follow-up Study (a total of 160,000 people) they found that those who chose more whole grains (at least two to three servings daily) were 30 percent less likely to develop type-2 diabetes during the 18-year study compared to those who ate primarily white bread, white rice, and other refined cereals.
  4. Skip sugary drinks. Sugar is a high glycemic food that causes the blood sugar to rise rapidly. French fries, white bread, white rice, and refined grains were all linked to higher risks of developing diabetes. For example, in the Nurses’ Health Study, women who had one or more sugar-sweetened drink daily had an 83 percent higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes compared to women who seldom drank sugar-sweetened beverages. Go for water instead of a soft drink.
  5. Choose good fats. Harvard found that as saturated fat went up in the diet, so did the risk of diabetes. On the other hand, those who chose healthy polyunsaturated fats found in liquid vegetable oils, nuts, nut butters, and seeds actually had a lower risk of developing diabetes. Be sure to avoid all trans fats. These very unhealthy fats are found in many solid margarines, packaged baked goods, fried foods in most fast-food restaurants, and any products that list “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” on the label.
  6. Limit red meat and avoid processed meat. Red meat and other foods high in cholesterol raise the risk of type-2 diabetes. In a study of over 440,00 people, Harvard found that eating just three ounces of red meat daily (a serving about the size of a deck of cards) raised the risk of type-2 diabetes by 20 percent. Eating processed meats had an even greater risk. Eating just two slices of bacon, or one hot dog daily raised the risk of diabetes by 51 percent. In the Adventist Health Study that including nearly 90,000 people, researchers found that those who ate a healthy, plant-based diet had only one-fourth the prevalence of diabetes compared to those who ate meat regularly.
  7. If you smoke, quit. Smoking significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes.

You can help prevent diabetes or minimize the complications of this disease. Here’s how: Stay lean and be active. Choose healthy meals that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Make it a goal to eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. And choose foods that are low in sugar and other refined carbohydrates.

Sources:
The Journal of the American Medical Association; 290(14):1884-1890.
National Diabetes Prevention Program. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wellsource Newsletter, February 2012
Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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In a meta-analysis of 10 chocolate studies, researchers found that eating dark chocolate reduced LDL cholesterol by more than 6 mg/dL. This isn’t a big drop, but it is significant when combined with other healthy foods that lower cholesterol.

dark chocolate image resized 600

Flavanols, the substances found in dark chocolate that are thought to be protective, have been long known to be good for the cardiovascular system. Flavanols are thought to work by slowing cholesterol absorption. Dark chocolate is also a strong antioxidant and may help protect the cardiovascular system that way as well. Other studies show that dark chocolate can improve endothelial function and lower blood pressure – two measures of cardiovascular health.

These findings confirm results from another meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year. In this similar study, researchers also found that dark chocolate lowered LDL cholesterol levels by about 6 mg/dL.   It’s easy to add dark chocolate to your diet and it’s you can order your own lab tests to check your cholesterol blood levels.

Another meta-analysis of seven studies including 114,009 people, looked at chocolate intake and the risk of developing a cardiovascular disorder.

Researchers found that those who consumed the highest level of chocolate, versus the lowest level, had a 37-percent decrease in cardiovascular disease, and a 29-percent reduction in stroke.

So, if you enjoy chocolate and want a treat occasionally, you don’t have to feel guilty. It’s important to remember, however, that dark chocolate is also high in calories. If you are going to have dark chocolate, eat only a moderate amount so you don’t increase your body weight. You might also consider walking an extra mile or two to walk off some of the calories. That way you’ll get a double benefit – dark chocolate and the benefit of exercise.

Sources:

Wellsource, February 2013 Newsletter
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
British Medical Journal, 2011.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, you are probably checking your blood glucose levels and watching your diet.  Some have added an exercise routine and these actions are all part of the overall program to keep your blood sugar in check.  It is also recommended to take additional routine tests since diabetics have a higher incidence of secondary health issues that should be addressed early:

  1. blood pressure
  2. foot exam
  3. Hemoglobin A1c blood test
  4. urine microalbumin test
  5. cholesterol tests
  6. eye dilation exam

diabetes tests

Blood Pressure

If you have diabetes, the risk of developing high blood pressure doubles.  The latest recommendations are systolic and diastolic values under 120/80.  Interestingly, a nurse said there is no such thing as “White Coat” symptoms : when a patient has unusually high blood pressure while getting measured by a health professional.  She indicated that if a person has high blood pressure they have high blood pressure no matter who is taking their vital signs.  If you are unsure, invest in a home blood pressure monitor and track your blood pressure.  Take these readings to your physician to determine if additional diet, exercise or medication needs to be adjusted.

Check Your Feet

A diabetic’s foot is very sensitive.  Do a self check to ensure there are no pressure sores, cuts or ingrown toenails that can ultimately lead to infections and gangrene.  Infections can lead to amputation.  Doctors recommend you do a self exam daily.

Average Blood Sugar – Hemoglobin A1c

This test measures how well you are managing your blood sugar levels over the last two or three months.  Order a Hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months to see if your protocol for blood sugar management is indeed working or if it needs adjustment.

Urine Microalbumin Test

This urine test measures the amount of albumin, a certain type of protein in your urine.  Abnormal ranges of albumin may indicate kidney damage.  It is recommended to order a urine microalbumin test once a year.

Lipid Profile Test

Lipids are the fats in your blood and this test will measure cholesterol, triglycerides, high density lipoproteins and low density lipoproteins and determine if they are within the recommended ranges.  It is recommended that you order a lipid panel test every 6 months.

Dilated Eye Exam

If you have diabetes, your ophthalmologist or optometrist should perform a dilated eye exam to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy.  It is recommended that you conduct this test annually.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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Cholesterol Blood Test – NMR Lipo Test

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So, you had your cholesterol tested recently and some or all of your values are out of the normal range.  We always recommend discussing your lab results with your physician and together you may decide to recheck your cholesterol lipid levels with a more sophisticated test: NMR LipoProfile.

The NMR LipoProfile Test

The NMR LipoProfile test indicates the number of LDL particles (LDL-P).  The blood test is used to assess your risk of cardiac heart disease and a means to provide a protocol to minimize the damaging affects of cholesterol.  Knowing your LDL particle information along with your LDL cholesterol values provides a more complete picture to manage and maintain your heart health.

The NMR LipoProfile test should be used in conjunction with other lipid measurements (e.g. the typical, inexpensive Lipid Panel) to manage cardiovascular disease.

plaque in arteries

Lipid Panel Test

The typical lipid panel, an inexpensive test, is an excellent way to test for the following components and estimating your risk for heart disease:

  1. Total Cholesterol
  2. Triglycerides
  3. HDL Cholesterol
  4. VLDL Cholesterol
  5. LDL Cholesterol
  6. Total Cholesterol/HDL Ratio
  7. Estimated Cardiac Heart Disease (CHD) Risk

The NMR LipoProfile test also includes Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL, but also measures the LDL density pattern.   LDL is what is considered the bad cholesterol and the density pattern provides additional information – small and dense LDL can infiltrate the lining of the artery walls and can aggressively promote plaque formation. It is believed that the smaller, denser LDL particles are more likely to cause clogged arteries than particles that are light and less dense.  The NMR LipoProfile test can provide this additional information.

The NMR LipoProfile test also provides an Insulin Resistance Score.  The score combines information from lipoprotein particle concentration and size to give improved assessment of insulin resistance and diabetes risk.

Should You Get the NMR LipoProfile Test?

If you have any of these factors that contribute to cardiometabolic risk, the NMR LipoProfile test — The Particle Test — may be right for you:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiometabolic risk
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Previous heart attack
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Low HDL (dyslipidemia)
  • High triglycerides

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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Control the Risk Factors of Heart Disease

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February is National Heart Month and there will be many articles on how to improve your heart health and reduce your risk of heart disease.  Note that if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic, your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol is even higher. Some researchers indicate that it is better to get your blood pressure and cholesterol under control then work on your glucose levels.  Check with your physician for the best protocol.

Research shows that you can control one or more of these risk factors if you elicit help from a friend, family member or professional.  Everyone can benefit from these simple choices, so find a partner and see if you can make some healthy choices:

  1. Get regular check-ups to monitor your health
  2. Measure your blood pressure and test lipids (cholesterol)
  3. If you are overweight, take control and start to lose pounds gradually
  4. Take all prescribed medicine as directed
  5. Get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise
  6. Quick smoking
  7. Modify your diet to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish
  8. Read food labels to minimize food high in saturated fats & cholesterol
  9. Limit your salt intake to 2300mg/day.  Most of this comes from processed foods
  10. Drink in moderation – men: 2 drinks/day and women: 1 drink/day

Research also indicates that alternative medicine can be a major factor in meeting goals for a heart healthy lifestyle.  Studies show that massage and acupuncture can reduce stress, reduce blood pressure, assist with smoking cessation and improve circulation and range of motion to help maintain an exercise program.

Do you know your numbers?  There are convenient ways to get your blood pressure and cholesterol (lipid) blood tests done.  Almost every pharmacy has a blood pressure machine and it is a good practice to check your blood pressure often.  Discount blood testing is available to have your lipids checked.  This includes cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL and VLDL.  Test now then make dietary changes and test again.

Other simple ways to incorporate heart healthy lifestyle changes is to

  1. meditate
  2. prioritize and delegate tasks to reduce stress
  3. limit distractions or focus on less stressful events
  4. grill, steam or roast your food
  5. reduce portion sizes – try a smaller plate
  6. exercise in short bursts – 3×10 minute intervals = 30 minutes of recommended exercise and is just as effective

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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