Posts Tagged ‘fasting blood glucose’

Blood Sugar & Dementia

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Adapted by Wellsource & Tufts University Study. 
Keeping your blood sugar levels under control is a proven practice to help prevent diabetes. A simple blood test can provide you with important information about your fasting blood sugar level, glucose levels, and your risk for diabetes. But there may be other uses for measuring blood sugar than diabetes alone.A new study of seniors shows that keeping blood sugar levels low can help keep your brain healthy and prevent dementia. The Tufts University study included 2,000 seniors, all free of dementia at the start of the study. After nearly seven years of follow-up, 524 people developed dementia.

Among non-diabetics, those who developed dementia had higher fasting blood sugar levels. Those with higher glucose levels were 20 percent more likely to develop dementia.

Among diabetics, the increase in risk of dementia was even higher – 40 percent higher in those with higher blood sugar levels.

Whether you’re diabetic or not, adopting a lifestyle to help control blood sugar levels is good for the brain and may help you avoid developing dementia.

Here are three proven ways to lower your blood sugar:

1. Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, even losing 10 to 15 pounds can help lower blood sugar levels.

2. Get regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking for 30-plus minutes daily. The exercise helps burn up extra sugar in the blood in both diabetics and non-diabetics.

3. Choose healthy meals – high in fiber from whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes. Eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and limit red meats and high-fat dairy products. Follow a low-glycemic diet by avoiding soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks. And limit potatoes, white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.

If you are a diabetic, you should monitor your blood sugar levels daily and adopt healthy lifestyle habits to prevent complications from this disease. Your doctor may also adjust your medications to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range, as measured by an A1C level of less than 7 percent.

Source: Tufts University.

 


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Diabetes, Blood Sugar and Glycemic Index

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Your blood sugar has highs and lows throughout the day.  Typically, blood sugar increases after meals but will drop lower later on.  What you eat can lesson the intensity of the blood sugar swings.

Glycemic Index (GI)

The glycemic index is a tool to rate carbohydrate containing food by how much they boost the blood sugar in your body.  Many people who are diabetic use this tool to help keep their blood sugar under control and to keep the high peaks and low valleys in their blood sugar from affecting daily life.  Not only is a low glycemic diet good for moderating blood sugar but it has also been shown to reduce the risks for cancer, heart disease and other diseases.

low glycemic image resized 600

Carbohydrates and the Glycemic Index Values

There are many foods that contain carbohydrates which are basically made up of sugar molecules such as glucose and fructose.  There are other types of carbohydrates that are considered starches and can be found in potatoes, corn and wheat which are just chains of glucose.  When we think of food with carbohydrates we typically think of bread, pasta, cereals, beans, etc., but carbohydrates are in many foods.

The Glycemic Index (GI) is an indicator of how a carbohydrate containing food affects the blood sugar levels.  It is determined by how quickly the food type breaks down in the digestive system, releasing the sugar molecules.   The index measures how the food will boost your blood sugar as compared to digesting pure glucose.  For example, a slice of white bread has a glycemic index of 71 so it would increase your blood sugar as much as 71% as compared to 100% if you ingested pure glucose.  The higher the glycemic index the higher it can raise your blood sugar as would eating straight glucose.  Naturally, you want to keep the glycemic index of the food you eat in a lower range or you can add some fat or acid to offset the impact on your blood sugar. For instance, if you eat bread with olive oil or something acidic, like vinegar or lemon juice, can slow the conversion of starch to sugar, and so lower the glycemic index.

The internet has many charts that will provide the glycemic index of common foods and you should use this as a tool when eating or planning meals.

Low Glycemic Index for Diabetes and Other Health

A low glycemic index diet can help regulate blood sugar but there are other health benefits.  Since most low glycemic index foods are low in carbohydrates, are not processed, contain whole grains, and vegetables, it helps with other health issues.  Studies have shown that high glycemic index diets have been linked to increased risk of certain cancers:  prostate, colorectal, breast and pancreatic.  It has also has been linked to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

How to Incorporate the Glycemic Index in Your Diet

  1. Try to substitute high glycemic index food items with low glycemic index foods.
  2. Choose low glycemic index foods with values of 55 or less
  3. Eat low glycemic foods more frequently throughout the day to avoid blood sugar lows and highs

Some easy substitutes for common foods include:

Ditch the instant oatmeal and opt for slow cooked or steel cut oatmeal

Ditch the white rice and opt for brown rice

Ditch the white bread and opt for whole-grain bread

Ditch the corn and opt for lettuce, cooked greens or leafy vegetables

Recommendation

To see the long term impact of blood sugar levels, it is recommended to have your Hemoglobin A1c tested every three months.  The Hemoglobin A1c provides an average of your blood sugar control over a six to 12 week period and is used in conjunction with home blood sugar monitoring to make adjustments in your diabetes regimen.

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.  Please visit www.HealthOneLabs.com for more information.


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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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There is increasing awareness to conduct blood sugar testing or blood glucose testing in order to determine if you have diabetes.  There are two blood tests that are used in addition to an exam by your physician:

Fasting Glucose Blood Test : Fasting values are usually high in diabetes.  Certain drugs, such as thyroid, diuretic and birth control pills as well as recent intake of food, can elevate glucose levels.

Hemoglobin A1C Blood Test : Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to this fraction of hemoglobin, and stay bound to it for months. The higher the amount of blood glucose, the higher the amount of hemoglobin A1c, and according to its value, one can obtain the average blood sugar during the previous 8 to 12 weeks.

 

a1c screenshot resized 600

Most people who are diagnosed with diabetes experienced some degree of prediabetes:  their blood glucose values or A1c values were higher than normal but not high enough to be considered as diabetes.  Early action, including diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes, can positively affect your blood sugar levels.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the inability to regulate blood sugar.  The hormone insulin moves glucose (sugar) for energy.  When the body cannot produce enough insulin, or the cells don’t use insulin effectively, then excess glucose remains in the blood stream. There is NO CURE for diabetes but it can be managed successfully by diet, exercise, prescribed medication, etc.  It’s important to avoid the complications of diabetes which is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, vision loss, kidney disease and other serious complications.

Myths about Diabetes (from American Diabetes Association)

Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: The answer is not so simple. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.

Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages include beverages like:

  • regular soda
  • fruit punch
  • fruit drinks
  • energy drinks
  • sports drinks
  • sweet tea
  • other sugary drinks.

These will raise blood glucose and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving!

See for yourself:

  • Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate. This is the same amount of carbohydrate in 10 teaspoons of sugar!
  • One cup of fruit punch and other sugary fruit drinks have about 100 calories (or more) and 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Myth: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.

Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.

Fact: Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan. What is important is the portion size. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks. The key is portions. For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods per meal is about right. Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.

Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.

Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions so you focus your meal on more healthful foods.

Myth: You can catch diabetes from someone else.

Fact: No. Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can’t be caught like a cold or flu. There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle factors also play a part.

Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.

Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.

Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.

Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.

Myth: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.

Fact: Fruit is a healthy food. It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be included in your meal plan. Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.

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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Type 2 Diabetes and White Rice Link

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Many people are consuming white rice every day.  Whether it be visiting Asian and Latino restaurants or adding it to home cooked meals, white rice use has increased.  It’s a common food in soups, entrées, desserts and sides and the taste and low cost make it a convenient choice.  Additionally, much of the rice today is more processed in order to decrease the cooking time.  Recent research suggests this high-starch grain may be linked to type 2 diabetes.
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In a recent study by the British Medical Journal, researchers examined data of an estimated 353,000 people. They looked at the data to measure white rice consumption and cases of type 2 diabetes. The research found that those individuals that ate the most amount of white rice (four servings per day) were 27 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who ate the least amount of white rice.  The researchers also found that for every large bowl of white rice (5.5 ounces) a person ate per day, the risk for type 2 diabetes rose 10 percent.

Health advisors address these research findings by explaining how glycemic index is the main cause:  white rice is rapidly converted to sugar in your blood stream.  White rice isn’t the only culprit with a high glycemic index, other high-starch carbohydrates (and highly processed food) include white bread, white pasta and white potatoes.  Essentially, eating high glycemic foods that are quickly converted to sugar can leave you feeling hungry thereby increasing the probability of overeating and developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetics typically have a fasting blood glucose level higher than 126 mg/dl.  This is done by testing the blood after fasting for 12 or more hours and taking a blood glucose test.  A better indicator is the hemoglobin A1c test that provides the average blood glucose levels during the previous 8-12 weeks.  When blood sugar gets this high, the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to convert glucose into energy.

People at risk for developing type 2 diabetes can improve their ability to regulate blood sugar by

  • losing weight,
  • exercising, and
  • modifying diet.

If their blood sugar levels remain high, despite behavior modification, medication may be necessary.

White rice is popular, tasty, but may not be the best dietary choice.  The good news is there are healthy alternatives that are just as tasty and easy to make.  For instance, brown, rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa and other grains.  These types of grains have more bran and fiber than white rice, and contain additional nutrients.  Naturally, we all know that eating more fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains combined with regular exercise can also prevent diabetes and help regulate blood sugar levels.   Just another friendly reminder to try an establish good habits.
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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