Archive for the ‘diabetes’ Category

Blood Pressure – Watch your Numbers

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Blood pressure is self explanatory: it is the pressure of the blood in the circulatory system.Your blood pressure is recorded as two numbers:

  • Systolic blood pressure (the upper number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when the heart beats.
  • Diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) — indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while the heart is resting between beats.

It is important that your systolic blood pressure (upper number) remain under 120 rather than just below 140 because it reduces your risk of heart failures or strokes by 33%. Often times when people are trying to lower their blood pressure they always go to drugs right away, but lifestyle changes can be just as effective and permanent. People with high blood pressure typically don’t exercise, are overweight, store fat in their bellies, eat a lot of sugary/fried food, and/or have low levels of vitamin D. Changing eating habits and staying active can go a long way when trying to lower your blood pressure. The best time to check your blood pressure is before you go to sleep at night or right after you wake up because these times are when your blood pressure is the lowest, so if it is above 120 during these times then you should make some lifestyle changes.

Click here for the American Heart Association suggestions on how to take your blood pressure readings.

Generally, physicians are more concerned with the systolic blood pressure (the top number) because it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50.   As you age, the systolic blood pressure can rise due to increased stiffness in the large arteries and build-up of plaque. There is also risk of high diastolic measurements also:  the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.

The following are a few recommendations to help lower your blood pressure:

  • Limit alcohol to no more than 2 drinks a day, and if possible avoid it
  • Avoid sugary/fried foods
  • Exercise, build muscle
  • Keep Vitamin D levels above 75 nmol/L
  • Try not to consume red meats or processed meats & foods
  • Try to avoid smoking and reduce your exposure to air pollutants

Take control of your health!


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What is Glycemic Index?

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Glycemic index(GI) is a scale from 0 to 100 that ranks carbs on how they will affect your glucose levels. Similarly, glycemic load(GL) tells you how much carbs you are eating based on the GI value and quantity of carbs in a meal. A high value of consumed GI carbs is absorbed and digested faster thus, spiking your glucose levels right after eating said food, and then quickly dropping glucose levels. On the other hand, consuming foods with a low GI value increase glucose levels slightly and tend to keep you fuller longer.

glycemic chart

A GI of 0-55 is low, 56-69 is medium, and 70-100 is high. Some examples of low GI foods are wholegrain bread, porridge, and oils. A few foods high in GI are baked goods, pasta, and rice. It is important to know your GI because it is a possible indication of your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Eating a low GI diet is linked with reduced chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, acne, obesity and even certain cancers. The following are a few ways you can lower your GI intake.

  • You should aim to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that aren’t starchy such as broccoli and asparagus
  • Try to consume soluble fibers like oats, barley, and chia seeds
  • Consume whole grains that aren’t processed like whole rolled oats
  • Eat balanced meals that are rich in good carbs, protein, and a little bit of good fat

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Nutrients Combat Disease

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Everyone knows certain foods are better for you than others but what many don’t know is that certain foods can actually be medicine to fend off various diseases. Eating foods that help prevent disease is very different then taking drugs because foods are not isolated substances. Food contains vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that work together to reduce risks of diseases. Studies have shown diets such as the Mediterranean diet are high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables and actually reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, inflammation and even some cancers. The following are some examples of foods with medicinal benefits:

Berries:

    • Blackberries cause the self destruction of colon, breast, oral, and prostate cancer and has antibacterial action
    • Blueberries are not only antioxidants but are also rich in Omega-3 and help protect the Aorta blood vessel
    • Raspberries may help to prevent the growth of cancer cells

Broccoli:

Triggers cells in the body to produce enzymes that protect against inflammation and oxidative stress which in turn is beneficial for cardiovascular health and cancer prevention

Fish:

Is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which has anti-inflammatory properties.Omega-3 fatty acids also help lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, reduce irregular heartbeats, and reduce risks for heart heart failure

Ginger and turmeric:

These have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties. Ginger may also help relieve nausea and vomiting

Nuts:

Full of good fats and fibers which are very good for cardiovascular health. They also promote health blood sugar and weight levels

Food is medicine and you should put the best in your body to improve your health!


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Foods that Help Boost Satiety

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Maintaining a healthy weight is a struggle for many people because they let themselves get to the point to where they’re starving and just go on a junk food binge because it’s the only thing they feel will satisfy them. Starving yourself is never a good idea and can actually cause you to gain weight as opposed to losing weight. If you’re looking to maintain your weight or even lose weight it is vital that you eat foods that will keep you full. Satiety-boosting foods are rich in fiber, monounsaturated fats, and protein. Such foods take longer to digest thus making you feel full for a longer period of time. Eating satiety-boosting foods can prevent a junk food binge and will keep you feeling full for a while. Processed and sugary foods may make you feel full for a little bit, and then extremely hungry later which can cause overeating. The following are some examples of satiety-boosting foods:

  • Oatmeal: Contains β-glucan which is type of soluble fiber that promotes feeling full because the body takes longer to digest fiber. The soluble fiber creates a gel in your stomach which slows down digestion. Studies show that people who eat oatmeal for breakfast ate 31% less calories than those who ate processed cereal
  • Avocado: Is high in monounsaturated fat which not only increases satiety, but is also great for cardiovascular health. Eating one-half if  an avocado with a meal may reduce hunger by 40%
  • Almonds: Are high in fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fats, a triple threat. Eating almonds do not cause weight gain because they reduce the calorie intake on your next meal/snack. Eating 1 ½ ounces of almonds a day can decrease hunger
  • Greek Yogurt: Is high in casein protein that helps slow down digestion keeping you full longer. Eating a high protein greek yogurt snack in the afternoon promotes satiety and reduces calorie intake at dinner. You should opt for plain greek yogurt to avoid added sugars

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Do You Have Carb Phobia?

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When you are trying to lose weight you often try to reduce or eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet, but in the process you will also be eliminating some vitamins, minerals, fibers and phyto-nutrients. It is important to not group all carbs as the same because there are different types; some are more beneficial than others.

Everyone knows that bread, pasta, cereal, etc. are high in carbs; but so are some vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Carbs have such a negative connotation so it’s important for you to be able to differentiate the “good” vs “bad” carbs.

Why Do People Avoid Carbs?

Generally, carbs are avoided by many people because they are thought to cause weight gain; and in some cases that is true. All carbs are equivalent to 4 carbs per gram, but the quality of the carb you eat can determine whether it will make you gain or lose weight. Any sugar sweetened foods or refined grains such as white bread are related with weight gain. On the other hand, consuming whole grains, dairy, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables are associated with weight loss.

Furthermore, the quality of the carbs consumed may also increase or decrease risk of type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating quality carbs like total fiber, grain fiber, and fruit fiber decreased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 20 percent. It also showed that consuming a lot of starchy carbs like white bread, corn, and white potatoes are related with 23 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Consuming carbohydrates is an important part of your diet, without them you may even struggle with everyday activities. They are like fuel for your muscles. It is important for you to choose quality carbs instead of completely cutting all carbs out of your diet.

 

 


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How to Have a Less Stressful Lifestyle

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Having a little bit of stress or pressure on you can often better your productivity and senses, however, having a high amount of stress on you can hinder you from doing everything that you’d like to get done. A lot stress can make you sick both mentally and physically. In order for you to lower your stress level, you need to first identify the symptoms of stress and then take action. If you experience moodiness, trouble falling asleep, negative thoughts and an overwhelming feeling then you might be too stressed out.

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The first step to reduce your stress is to identify the symptoms, and the second is to take action. There are many things you can do to reduce stress and lead a healthier lifestyle. You should try to have a more positive attitude to things that are in your control, don’t worry too much about things that you can’t change. Exercise is key when trying to reduce stress levels, it is recommended to exercise for at least thirty minutes a day. Exercise goes hand in hand with your eating habits. You should strive to eat foods that are high in protein and contain vitamin C, B, and A which help to lower stress. It is also important to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, being well rested allows you to have a more positive attitude. You should have a group of people who support you and that you can count on for help, like if there’s something bothering you, you can go to these people and express your feelings. You should never have feelings bottled up, if you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or a family member about something, seek help from a counselor. Lastly, you should simplify your schedule for the things that are really important in your life, spreading yourself too thin might be the source of your stress.

Take Control of Your Health

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Diabetes and Eye Health

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There is a strong connection between diabetes and your vision health.  If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes it is important to get your blood glucose levels under control.  The American Diabetes Association says that individuals with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness than do those without diabetes and are 40 percent more likely to have glaucoma and 60 percent more likely to have cataracts.  Those statistics are staggering and we must protect the gift of sight.

There are various types of retinal damage caused by diabetes.  This is typically referred to as diabetic retinopathy.  If you have chronic blood glucose levels (high blood sugar) the tiny blood vessels that supply needed blood to your retina in your eye get damaged and are unable to function properly.  Lack of blood supply to the retina can eventually cause vision loss.  Additionally, your body may trigger the development of new blood vessels (to compensate for the damaged blood vessels) which can rupture and leak blood.  These blood vessels can eventually cause retinal detachment or glaucoma.

The longer you have had the diagnosis of diabetes increases your risk of getting retinopathy.  If your blood sugar is not under control, the likelihood of complications increases substantially.

What are the common symptoms?

  1. blurry vision
  2. dark floating spots

See your ophthalmologist every six months if you are diabetic.  Additionally, it is important that you manage your blood sugar levels.  Many diabetics will check their blood sugar levels at home, but be sure to see if you are managing those levels by getting a Hemoglobin A1c test which is a way to find out your average blood sugar levels over time.

Some discount blood lab tests to consider:

Or order our Diabetes test package for a economical way to get all the tests above plus additional screening tests to be sure your organs are not affected by high blood glucose levels.

Take care of you health!

Additional resources:

Basic Diabetes Information from Mayo Clinic

American Diabetes Association

Two websites for you to place your orders:

www.HealthOneLabs.com

www.InquireLabs.com

 

 

 


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If you are diabetic, you know that it is important to maintain and test your blood sugar levels daily. But did you know that it’s also recommended that you test your hemoglobin A1c levels?

What is hemoglobin A1c?

Hemoglobin is the compound in the red blood cells that transports oxygen. One of the types of hemoglobin is called hemoglobin A (HbA); hemoglobin A1c is a specific subtype of HbA. Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to hemoglobin A1c and stay bound to it for months. The higher the amount of blood glucose, the higher the amount of hemoglobin A1c, and by measuring its value, one can obtain their average blood sugar level during the previous 8 to 12 weeks.

Why test hemoglobin A1c levels?

Because it measures average blood glucose levels over a period of two to three months, the hemoglobin A1c blood test is commonly used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Once diagnosed, the A1c test is then used to gauge how well you are managing your diabetes.

This test goes by many other names including glycated hemoglobin, glycosylated hemoglobin, hemoglobin A1c, and HbA1c, but no matter what you call it, if the results show a high A1c level, then your blood sugar is not well-control ed. And if you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, the poorer your blood sugar control, the higher your risk of diabetes-related complications such as kidney failure, vision problems, and leg or foot numbness. (Conversely, the lower your A1c level, the lower your risk for diabetic complications.)

The importance of testing hemoglobin A1c to manage diabetes

The A1c test is known as the “gold standard” for evaluating the risk of damage to tissues caused by high blood sugar levels. It is therefore one of the most useful tools to assess how effectively your diet and your diabetes medication are regulating your blood sugar, and it can help your doctor determine whether your medication needs to be adjusted.

If you are diabetic and want to have better insight into your blood sugar levels, get a hemoglobin A1c test. Discuss this test with your physician if you have further questions.  Remember, if you have diabetes, keeping good control of your blood sugar reduces your risk for long-term health problems, like eye, heart, and kidney problems, and even stroke.

Take control of your diabetes and your health; order your own hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months!

Two websites to take advantage of our discount online blood testing:

www.HealthOneLabs.com for Hemoglobin A1c

www.InquireLabs.com for HemoglobinA1c

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 healthcare 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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As we highlighted last week, there are numerous blood tests that can aid your doctor in diagnosing and/or monitoring your unique health issue. Let’s take a look at some other commonly ordered blood tests.

test tube imagesAutoimmune disease tests

Autoimmune diseases are a group of conditions in which the immune system incorrectly attacks the body’s own normal, healthy tissues. Some commonly known autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, celiac disease, and psoriasis. The autoimmune disease blood tests measure specific antibodies produced by the immune system to attack specific bodily tissues. A few example tests include:

  • Rheumatoid factor (RF): This test detects and measures the RF antibody in the blood. The presence of RF indicates inflammatory and autoimmune activity.
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA): Ordered when a patient shows signs and symptoms that are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus or another autoimmune disorder.
  • Thyroid antibody: Primarily used to help diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disease and to differentiate from other forms of thyroiditis. It may be ordered to investigate the cause of a goiter, or it may be performed as a follow-up when other thyroid test results (such as T3, T4, and/or TSH) show signs of thyroid dysfunction.

Blood sugar (plasma glucose)

This is the test performed to diagnose diabetes or assess known diabetes patients. Plasma glucose can be tested in two manners: fasting (FPG) or casual (CPG). Tests taken on blood drawn from an arm vein are more accurate than blood from a finger pick test, also called capillary blood glucose.

Sometimes several plasma glucose tests are done over a period of a few hours. This is called a blood sugar series and is usually done to test how well established diabetes patients are able to control their sugar levels.

Plasma glucose sometimes is measured at defined times after the patient drinks a specific amount of glucose in water. This is done either to confirm a diabetes diagnosis (known as the glucose tolerance test [GTT]) or as a screen for gestational diabetes during pregnancy (known as the glucose challenge test).

>> Related: Learn about the Hemoglobin A1c test for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes. (LINK to this blog if it has been posted)

Disease marker tests

Disease marker blood tests monitor the levels of specific chemicals in the blood, which indicate the progress of certain diseases.

  • Prostate specific antigen (PSA): Perhaps the best known of the disease marker tests. Many men with prostate cancer will have elevated levels of PSA in their blood, however, a PSA level within the normal ranges does not mean that prostate cancer is not present. Also, some men with prostate cancer have normal PSA levels.
  • Alpha fetoprotein (AFP): There are two versions of this disease marker test–one is used to monitor for liver cancer; the other monitors testicular cancer.
  • Cancer antigen (CA) 125: Can help detect the presence of ovarian tumors and is used to monitor the progress in ovarian cancer.

Single blood tests

There are a handful of tests that your doctor may order singly. A few examples…

  • Beta human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG): This hormone is produced and is present in the blood in early pregnancy (just one week after conception). It is the basis of the urine pregnancy tests, however sometimes the hCG blood levels are measured if there is a concern about a potential ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy.
  • Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH): Can aid in the diagnosis of pituitary disorders or diseases involving the ovaries or testes. FSH is used to help determine the reason a man has a low sperm count and is also useful in the investigation of menstrual irregularities. In children, FSH and luteinizing hormone are used to diagnose delayed or precocious (early) puberty. Consistently high levels of FSH in a woman can indicate the onset of menopause.
  • Serum Amylase: This is typically ordered for people experiencing severe abdominal pain to see if the pancreas gland is inflamed or if its duct is obstructed.

Two websites to take advantage of our discount online blood testing:

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through HealthOne by using our convenient search feature. >>

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through InquireLabs by using our convenient search feature. >>


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There are hundreds (if not thousands!) of reasons why your healthcare provider might order blood tests for you. Abnormal hormone levels, vitamin deficiencies, diseases, and more can be diagnosed by examining different chemicals and molecules within the blood. Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly ordered blood tests.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

This is the go-to test to analyze the three main types of cells within the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Red blood cells contain a molecule called hemoglobin that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. A CBC shows the number of red blood cells, their size and shape, and the concentration of hemoglobin within each cell. Red blood cells can be low if a person has been losing blood or if they have anemia (low hemoglobin levels). If you are diagnosed with anemia, your doctor will then order more specific tests to determine if your anemia is the result of recent blood loss, low iron levels, or a vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency.

The white blood cells are a key player in the body’s immune system, defending you against potentially harmful organisms. A CBC gives a total white cell count and the percentages of the different types of white cells, which can help your doctor determine what sort of infection your body is fighting (bacterial, parasitic, etc.). Additionally, leukemia, which is a cancer of bone marrow, can be diagnosed if abnormal white cells are present in the blood.

A blood platelet count in the normal range is necessary to ensure the blood clots as it should, preventing excessive blood loss from injuries or surgery. Learn more about the blood factors that help the blood clot properly. >>

test tube blood

Kidney Function Tests

The urea test (or blood urea nitrogen [BUN] test as it is sometimes known) and the creatinine test are the two most commonly order kidney function tests. These two substances are produced during the metabolic process in the body, and it is the kidneys’ job to filter them out of the blood and put them into urine to be excreted out of the body. Elevated levels of urea or creatinine in the blood suggest that the kidneys may not be working properly.

Other common kidney function tests include uric acid levels (raised levels can cause gout), electrolytes (the blood’s levels of potassium and sodium), and calcium and phosphate levels.

Liver Function Panel

The liver converts nutrients into energy for the body and breaks down dangerous toxins. A liver (hepatic) function panel is a blood test to check how well the liver is doing these vital jobs. Your doctor may order a liver function panel if you have symptoms of liver disease like abdominal pain, jaundice, dark urine, and fatigue. This test would also likely be ordered if you have recently been exposed to the hepatitis virus or if you are taking a medicine that could potentially cause liver damage.

The test measures the blood’s level of total protein, albumin, bilirubin, and liver enzymes. High or low levels could be indicative of liver damage or disease.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Blood Tests

A number of STDs (or STIs [sexually transmitted infections], as they are sometimes called) can be diagnosed by using blood tests.

  • Hepatitis: Hepatitis is not always transmitted sexually, so the antibody and antigen testing can be included in the STD tests as well as with Liver Function Tests.
  • Herpes:  Antibodies for this virus can be measured to assess a past or present herpes simplex infection.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV):  The screening test looks for the presence of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus antibody. It can take time for the body to produce HIV antibodies (up to 6 months after infection), so they may not be detectable early on in an infection. This is why a repeat test may be needed some time after potential exposure.
  • Syphilis: Syphilis has an incubation period of between 9 days and 3 months (the average is 21 days). This test looks for antibodies, which are usually at detectable levels by 6 weeks post-infection. If positive, your doctor will likely recommend a repeat or different test for confirmation.

Thyroid Function Tests

The thyroid gland regulates metabolism in the body. Your doctor may order a thyroid panel if you have symptoms of low thyroid hormone production (hypothyroidism) or high thyroid hormone levels (hyperthyroidism). Sometimes just the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test will be ordered as it can often rule out a thyroid problem. Learn more about how thyroid problems can affect people as they age. >>

Two websites to take advantage of our discount online blood testing:

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through HealthOne by using our convenient search feature. >>

Learn more about these and other value-priced blood tests available through InquireLabs by using our convenient search feature. >>

 


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