Monthly Archives: July 2015

refined carbs

Prediabetes, A Cry For Help

Diabetes doesn’t just come knocking at the door one morning when you wake up.  Diabetes is foreshadowed if you understand its disguise.  If you can catch prediabetes before it becomes diabetes you can prevent some the permanent damage to your cardiovascular system and pancreas, the insulin-producing organ.

The Significance of Prediabetes

There are over 86 million people in the US that have prediabetes and 9 out of 10 of those people do not even know they have it.  Once someone is diagnosed with prediabetes they will most likely develop diabetes within ten years if they do not make lasting lifestyle changes.  Being diagnosed with prediabetes is a gift or warning to make changes now before permanent damage occurs.

How Would You Know If You Have Prediabetes?

Prediabetes doesn’t have any signs or symptoms.  That is the scary thing.  Your body doesn’t give any warning until diabetes has shown its ugly face.  However, your healthcare provider may have checked a basic or complete metabolic panel that includes a blood glucose test.  In our busy healthcare system, having an elevated blood sugar at the prediabetes level often gets missed by busy providers.  Ask for your results and if your glucose level was done after you had been fasting and was greater than 100, then you should have this repeated with one of the tests below.  If you have symptoms of excessive thirst, increased urination, blurry vision or frequent fatigue, then this could indicate that you have diabetes.

What Is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is a problem with processing sugar or glucose, mostly from the foods we eat, leading to higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough to be diabetes.   This is partially due to the body not utilizing insulin in the normal way.  Over time this problem with insulin progresses, leading to higher blood sugars and diabetes.  There are three tests for diagnosing prediabetes and diabetes:

  • Glycated Hemoglobin (A1c) which indicates an average blood sugar over 2-3 months time.   An A1c between 5.7-6.4 indicates prediabetes.  An A1c over 6.4 over two different occasions indicates diabetes.
  • Fasting Blood Sugar is done by taking a blood sample after 8 hours of fasting (usually done overnight).  Under 100 is considered normal.  Having a result between 100-125 indicates prediabetes.  Having a result 126 or greater on two different occasions indicates the individual may have prediabetes.
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test is a slightly more involved test but probably the most accurate since it directly assesses how the body manages a glucose challenge.  This test is done fasting as well but the individual is given a sugary drink and blood sugar levels are checked before and several times afterwards.  A normal reading is under 140.  Having a reading between 140-199 is considered prediabetes; greater than 199 is considered diabetes.

Who Should Be On Alert For Prediabetes?

The exact cause of prediabetes isn’t well understood but there is a genetic link and it is associated with leading an inactive lifestyle and having abdominal fat.  The following are indications for getting checked for prediabetes:

  • Have/had a parent with type 2 diabetes
  • Having a waist circumference > than 35 for women, > 40 for men
  • Are overweight
  • Are inactive
  • Are of Asian, African, Pacific Island, Hispanic or American Indian descent
  • Are over 45
  • Had gestational diabetes or a baby weighing over 9 pounds
  • Had PCOS- polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Have sleep apnea
  • Have high triglycerides, low HDL or have high blood pressure

Prediabetes Is A Chance For A Do-Over!

The Diabetes Prevention Program, a multi-center clinical research study, showed that a 7% weight loss along with 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week greatly reduced the risk of developing diabetes in those who had prediabetes.  For a 200 pound individual that’s only 14 pounds!  That’s not a huge amount of weight.  Couple that with a walk after dinner most nights and that’s a pretty doable plan.

Let Me Help You

This is my passion.  I understand the nuances to making lifestyle changes.  I will help you find your steps towards prevention of diabetes.

The Best Exercise For Weight Loss

The Nutrition Action Health Letter just released the best exercises for weight loss.  This article was based on the book Exercise Testing and Prescription by exercise physiologist specialist, David Nieman.  His list of calories burned, based on a 150 pound person, also lists the effectiveness of each activity in building cardiovascular as well as muscular strength.  And of course, the heavier the person, the more calories burned.

The American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of high intensity.  What this article also shows is that even the activities needed be done around the house – like mowing and gardening – can burn calories and help with weight loss.

Top Contenders in Exercise

Some of the best activities were also some of the most fun to do!  Canoeing or rowing (that means kayaking) burns a whopping 815 calories in an hour and scores a 5/5 for cardiovascular health and a 4/5 for muscular health.  Get out on the water, enjoy the peacefulness, all while toning your upper body and burning a ton of calories.

Even dancing with your partner will burn 305 calories in an hour and I’m sure if that includes a little tango those numbers would go up!

For us northerners who had to put up with a very snowy, cold winter at least we can say it provided a great opportunity to burn some calories with an hour of shoveling burning up 580 calories and scoring a 4/4 in both cardiovascular and muscular benefits.  And if you enjoy the outdoors regardless of temperature, cross country skiing burns 610 calories in an hour and scores a 5/5 in cardio health and 4/5 in muscular health.  And I promise that about 10 minutes into cross country skiing you will not notice single digit temperatures!

Exercise Pace Does Matter

I’ve heard people argue that walking slow versus a faster pace, burns off the same number of calories.  Well, based on Nieman’s findings, an hour of walking at a slow pace burns off 170 calories and a faster pace burns off 270 calories.  And of course the faster pace yields a higher cardiovascular score at a 3/5 versus a 2/5 for a slower pace.  Both score a 2/5 for muscular health.  So if you can get your arms swinging and put some lively, fast beat music on your electronic device then perhaps you won’t mind picking up your pace.

Find What Works For You

There is a variety of choices when it comes to exercise.  Even the cold weather always winter activities or a shift to indoor activities in a community center.  For those who have difficulty with weight-baring activity, swimming and chair dancing provide great alternatives.

And keep in mind, that exercise isn’t just about weight loss, it’s really about slowing down the aging process of our organs, reducing the cardiovascular inflammation due to diet and stress, and having a great night’s sleep.  Now what pill can top that?  Just do it.

 

 

Getting Fish Into Your Budget

Eating fish gives your body an internal massage.  Fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines and blue fish are really high in omega 3’s which reduce inflammation and artery clogging triglycerides.  In particular, it’s the omega 3 fatty acids DHA and EPA that have all kinds of health benefits.  According to WebMD eating 2-3 servings of fatty fish a week can:

  • reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering triglycerides
  • reduce inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis and asthma
  • reduce the risk of dementia
  • reduce symptoms of ADHD
  • reduce symptoms of depression

With these kinds of benefits, can’t you hear your blood vessels purring?  And from my anecdotal experience I have brought my triglycerides down to 51 without medication, well below the guidelines of 100 and have been able to cut my asthma inhaler dose in half.  Between the fish I eat on a regular basis and my daily smoothie that is loaded with flax seed, containing another omega 3, ALA, I feel the best I have felt in years.

The Cost Of Fish

I discussed five different ways of preparing fish in the last post.  Three of the recipes were different ways of preparing salmon by cooking it once and recreating different meals in order to save time and not get bored with leftovers.  The total budget for the five meals in the last post came to $102 for a family of four.  That comes out to $5.10 per meal.  That might be more expensive than hot dogs and chips but the comparison ends there.  Eating fish will make you feel better, reduce health complications, possibly reduce the need for as many cholesterol lowering meds, asthma meds, blood pressure meds, arthritis meds and even antidepressants.  Now go enjoy that hot dog.  Your mouth and stomach might be humming right now, but the rest of your body will not be purring.

How To Get Fish Into Your Food Budget

The salmon was $8.99 a pound and the cod was $7.99 a pound – more expensive than most meals unless you can get in on a really good sale. But you can still make it work if you look at the overall picture.  You can offset the cost of fish meals by making other meals during the week much less expensive.  On the weeks you choose to eat salmon make some vegetarian or meatless meals.  My lentil soup recipe costs less than ten dollars and serves eight.

frittata

Frittata – tata!

My Frittata also costs less than ten dollars, makes eight servings, and can be served for breakfast or dinner. It’s delicious in a wrap with some spinach and grated cheese and salsa.

Both these meals, at $1.25 a serving, make enough for two meals for a family of four and can offset the expense of the fish meals.

And there are cheaper sources of fatty fish like sardines that are just as high in omega 3’s.

You Can Do The Fish Meal Shuffle On A Budget

My meal shuffle is all about preparing really healthy meals with less time and money.  The pork and beans meal shuffle came to $3.75 per meal and the chicken and barley meal shuffle came to $4.16 per meal.  Buying meat and fish on sale certainly will reduce the cost.  And cooking things like grains, beans and even soups in abundance and freezing, are all time-saving tips that can keep you from going out to eat.  In a study done by JAMA internal medicine, the average calorie count of a sit down meal at a restaurant was 1,128 calories.   My meals are less than 500 calories and will have your body purring.  Now that’s a loud ME-OOOOOW!!!