Smorgasbord Health Column – Pre-diabetes, Blood Sugar Control – Chromium


Last week I posted about the epidemic levels of Pre-diabetes and today I am following up with a mineral that is contained in sufficient foods to include on a daily basis in your diet that helps to control blood sugar levels. And in my experience help to curb sugar cravings.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/smorgasbord-health-column-pre-diabetes-the-epidemic-that-goes-unreported/

Chromium.

Chromium is an essential trace mineral that helps the body maintain normal blood sugar levels. A deficiency of the mineral can lead to diabetes and this is where the primary research into this mineral has been directed.

Chromium first and foremost is a component of the ‘glucose tolerance factor’ which is required for maintaining a normal blood glucose balance. Chromium works with insulin to ease the absorption of blood glucose into the cells and it may also play a part in other activities that involve insulin such as the metabolism of fats and proteins.

This last activity has opened a line of research in the effect of chromium on weight loss, building muscle and decreasing body fat and has led to a lot of chromium based products being put on the market in recent years. There is no definite proof that it works although some studies do claim that in a study that people on chromium lost more body fat over three months than those who did not take it.

It is more important to look at the role of chromium as we age, as there is an increasing numbers of patients who are diagnosed with late onset diabetes. This is nearly always related to dietary deficiency and the concern is that with our current trend towards eating processed foods and excess weight are responsible as we are automatically taking in less chromium in raw and unprocessed foods.

Chromium is very easy to lose from the body in urine, sweat and if we engage in excessive physical activity without the appropriate diet. However, chromium is very easy to include in any healthy diet and should not be needed in supplement form.

Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels.

There are still a number of studies looking at the effect of Chromium Picolinate on high blood pressure and the reasoning is that increased blood sugar does increase blood pressure. Additionally high levels of LDL or low density lipoprotein, which has small particles and when oxidised clumps and blocks the arteries, resulting in high blood pressure, may also be reduced by taking Chromium Picolinate. Hence the use of it in this form in supplements especially as it is more easily absorbed by our digestive tracts.

We do not manufacture or store chromium in the body so it is necessary to eat foods regularly that contain it. One concern however, is that the foods that we eat that contain chromium, might not be as rich in the mineral as they used to be. It depends on the levels of the mineral in the soil they are grown in which is variable, dependent on the area and farming methods in use.

Foods rich in dietary chromium.

vegetablesBroccoli has the highest levels of chromium followed by other dark green leafy vegetables, romaine lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Wholegrains, potatoes, oysters and other seafood, liver, cheese, chicken, turkey, beef and lamb also contain. As you can see there is plenty of foods that are usually included daily in our diet but only if we are cooking from scratch. If your diet is primarily industrially produced in a packet you may not be getting the chromium you need.

Just taking a supplement is not the answer and if you are pre-diabetic. The body is used to processing foods to obtain the nutrients that it needs and the first place to start is a review of your diet.

If you have a severe sugar craving then you might then look at taking a chromium supplement to work alongside your diet. Do buy a high quality supplement as they are not all as good for you as you might think.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/25/absorbing-the-nutrients-and-avoiding-the-additives/

If you are a diabetic then you must make sure that you work with your medical advisor before taking any chromium supplement, as it will affect the dosage of any insulin you may be taking.

If you have any questions then please put in the comments section or if you wish to ask me something privately then please email me. sally.cronin@moyhill.com

 

Smorgasbord Health Column – Pre-#Diabetes – The epidemic that goes unreported.


I posted on pre-diabetes two years ago, but the latest statistics are in and they make for very worrying reading. It is estimated that there are 84 million Americans who are pre-diabetic and are at very high risk of developing full blown diabetes. CDC January 2018

According to the World Health Authority it is estimated that there are 400 million people worldwide with diabetes. In the US around 30 million and the UK approximately 3.8 million have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Unfortunately it is the many millions who are undiagnosed that are at the greatest risk

You do not need to have full-blown diabetes to be suffering from some of the symptoms associated with the disease. There is a condition called pre-diabetes that can be managed with diet and exercise and does not have to lead to the development of type 2 diabetes in the future.

It is also called impaired glucose intolerance and in my experience very closely connected with lifestyle and diet and a possible overgrowth of Candida Albicans. Being overweight, not doing enough exercise and elevated LDL cholesterol levels are also part of the equation. LDL (low density lipoprotein) has smaller particles than the HDL (high density lipoprotein) and because of this it is easier for the LDL to clump and form plaque in the arteries which will narrow them causing a blockage.

Symptoms of Pre-Diabetes

There are a number of symptoms that you might experience either singularly or in combination with one or more of the others.

  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Losing or gaining weight without much change to your diet
  • Feeling weak as if you might have the flu
  • Slow healing of cuts or bruises
  • Unexplained skin rashes
  • Bladder infections
  • Vision problems.

If pre-diabetes is tackled positively with food and exercise the symptoms can disappear in a few weeks and if the healthy approach is maintained there should not be any further reason for concern.

Unfortunately some people do not suffer any symptoms at all making this a silent disease and if this is the case it might not be detected until the person is suffering from full blown diabetes.

If you are at all concerned a simple blood test will identify if you are at risk and your Doctor of Pharmacy will talk you through the process. 

Taking the first step to avoiding the development of diabetes.

The evidence is very strongly pointing toward lifestyle and diet changes as being the most effective way of dealing with the problem and it is very easy to incorporate the right foods in an appetising way as part of a healthy programme. Even a 10% change to weight can make a huge difference and adding a brisk walk a day, five days a week for 30 minutes at least is also very important.

What are some of the dietary changes necessary.

Apart from getting to a healthier weight there are some other dietary changes you can make to reduce your blood sugar levels. There are certain foods that will cause your blood sugar levels to rise and I cover that later in the post, where I look at the Glycemic value of foods and their effect on the body.

Fibre is important – Apart from the nutrients that wholegrains, fruit and vegetables supply they also contain great amounts of fibre necessary to clean the circulatory system of cholesterol plaque and toxins, keeping the blood clear of unnecessary additives.

Protein is essential and it should not be taken out of the diet. Protein does not have to come from animal sources but if you choose to be vegetarian then make sure you are including beans and fermented soya products for example.

It is our liver that is instrumental in determining our cholesterol levels in combination with certain foods. However, there are some myths surrounding certain foods such as avocados and eggs, which are very misleading.

Fat is absolutely necessary in our diets and there is no evidence to show that eating plant based fats, eggs and animal lean protein moderately causes high cholesterol. It is the hydrogenated fats found in processed protein such as hams, sausages and pastries and other processed prepared foods that are likely to cause a problem.

What about refined sugars and their role in our diet.

We live in a real world and as a Candida or pre-diabetes sufferer it would be pretty miserable without some sugar in your diet. However I do recommend that for the first six weeks you give up sugar completely except for a piece of low GI fruit each day.

The types of sweeteners used by food manufacturers are not natural and many are downright toxic. The one thing that I am definitely sure about is that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and acesulfame-k have no place in our food chain.

Exercise

When you exercise your body uses insulin which controls your blood sugar levels. If you’re doing moderate exercise for a longer time, your muscles take up glucose at several times the normal rate. This is the type of exercise you should be aiming for.

Start slowly for 30 minutes walking slowly over a fixed distance and then increase you pace over the same distance until you are walking briskly, just slightly out of breath. Then increase your distance each week until you are walking a mile in 15 minutes.

Once you have reached that fitness level it is very effective to add in some high-intensity activity for just a minute every 10 minutes. That might be running for a minute, skipping with a rope, cycling at full speed (static bike) etc.

Carbohydrates

The other recent trend is to demonise all carbohydrates including grains as being the culprits behind most of our modern ills. As with all food advice, one size does not fit all and I am not an advocate for cutting out all food groups entirely based on what is the trend at the moment. We need varying amounts of the main food groups as we get older and complete the transition to adulthood. However, there comes a time in later life when our digestive system is not so effective, when we need to increase certain food groups to ensure we are getting sufficient nutrients.

Our bodies have evolved over several hundred thousands of years. We were and still are opportunistic feeders. Whatever we could get our hands on. The biggest problem occurred when we no longer had to travel miles a day to either hunt or gather our food. That would have included seasonal game, fish, wild grains, berries and fruit, roots, honey etc. It would have been eaten raw until the discovery of fire and we would have not bothered cutting off the fat or counting the calories.

However, today we just have to pop into the car, drive to the nearest supermarket and fill our trollies with foods from all over the world, all year around. That is where ‘moderation’ comes in. Now that most of us, certainly in the western world have so much food available it is down to us to be careful about how much we consume of this bounty.

The glycemic value of the foods that we eat has an impact on our blood glucose levels and I have found that my clients following a lower glycemic approach to carbohydrates and the other foods have found it effective in maintaining a healthy level.

THE GLYCEMIC INDEX.

Not all carbohydrate foods behave the same way when eaten. The Glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels.   Foods are ranked according to their effect in relation to pure sugar which would be 100.

So a food that is ranked at 50 has a much slower effect on blood glucose levels than sugar which causes a much faster reaction. The slower the reaction the less insulin is released into the bloodstream.

This results in less fat being stored, particularly around the hips and thighs.

A low Glycemic diet reduces the onset of dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels and therefore will regulate the feelings of hunger. In addition lower Glycemic foods are usually much higher in nutrients and fibre having an overall effect on health.

Low Glycemic Index foods are slowly digested, releasing sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream gradually, resulting in a slow and steady increase in blood sugar that helps keep your body functioning well for longer than high GI foods.

High Glycemic Index foods are quickly digested and metabolized, producing a rapid rise in blood sugar. It’s best to avoid these high GI foods that cause spikes in blood sugar that can result in your body “crashing” or feeling hungry again quite quickly after you eat.

LOW GLYCEMIC FOODS (under the value of 55) Can eat daily

  • Most Vegetables: asparagus, avocados, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, carrots (small portion) cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery, red cabbage, cucumber, lettuce particularly rocket, mushrooms, onions (very important as they contain chromium which naturally controls blood sugar levels), Garlic, peppers, spinach squash and yams.
  • Fruits: apples, apricots, grapes, blueberries, cherries, lemons raspberries, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prunes
  • Juices: apple, grapefruit, pineapple, tomato (unsweetened) small glass and add sparkling water to dilute.
  • Legumes: black, navy, pinto, and kidney beans; chickpeas; lentils; black-eyed peas
  • Starches: The key is to have a moderate portion and always have protein with it as this offsets the Glycemic affect. So for example:- porridge with milk (but not lots of sweeteners). Sandwich with chicken etc. Piece of toast with an egg. You must avoid white processed carbohydrates however and this includes biscuits, cakes and white bread as these are most likely to contain artificial sweeteners and trans-fats. I find that whole grain baguettes made in most large supermarket bakeries have few additives but check labels. Or make yourself
  • Milk products– cheese is wonderful but it is fattening – Milk in tea and on cereals is not a problem but if you are trying to lose weight then go easy when pouring. A piece of mature cheddar a couple of times a week if you are exercising and eating lots of vegetables and lean protein is not an issue – much better than eating a bar of chocolate. Fermented yoghurts may have some benefit on intestinal flora and help the digestive process – watch for sugar content – plain is quite boring but you can add nuts or a small amount of the low glycemic fruit to improve.
  • Sweeteners: I have used Stevia – I don’t particular advocate because I think it just feeds your sugar craving. I am suspicious of other artificial alternatives and if you can do without entirely. If not then like salt, use pinches of sugar to sprinkle on your cereal rather than a teaspoon, it will teach your taste buds to expect less!
  • Beverages –Start the day with hot water and fresh squeezed lemon. Not only does it hydrate, give your body a Vitamin C hit but it also gets the digestive process started, helps the liver and retrains your taste buds. You should find within a week that you no longer have a sugar craving. Tea is fine – green tea is excellent as it lowers blood sugar levels. Scientists are on the fence about coffee consumption – some research indicates that it might reduce blood sugar levels and others the opposite. My advice is if you enjoy a cup of coffee then get ground decaffeinated and have a cup every day and enjoy!
  • Protein. You need protein every day but not as much as people think. If you are eating yoghurts and drinking milk you will be obtaining protein but you can also eat 1 oz. cottage cheese – 1 egg – prawns – chicken – lamb, pork or fish per day. Avoid red meat as this can increase sugar cravings. Oily fish are good for you so try to eat three times a week this includes fresh sardines, salmon and tuna. I would suggest that you also use goat’s cheese and feta cheese as an alternative. Also in Spinach, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
  • Salad dressings. Make your own with low fat yoghurt and lemon juice, or cider or balsamic vinegar and herbs.
  • Nuts and seeds. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Made up into 2oz packets and used for snacks – the healthy fat will act as a brake on the insulin production and will help with hunger pangs. Buy from a good source and make the mix yourself – unsalted of course. Find the right size zip lock bags and they will keep for ages. Take one to work with you as one of your snacks.
  • Oils– Very important to include extra virgin olive oil for dressings as this is a fat that is good for you. Would suggest that you also use this on bread rather than butter and mix with seasonings to use on vegetables and salads. For cooking use ordinary olive oil and I find that rather than frying, it is a good idea to brush some oil onto your meat, fish or poultry and bake in the oven.

MEDIUM GYLCEMIC FOODS(56 -69) eat two or three times a week.

  • Vegetables: white and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits: bananas, tropical fruits (mango, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple), kiwi fruit, raisins, figs, fruit cocktail
  • Juices: orange,
  • Starches: cous cous
  • Cereals: oats, homemade muesli (without dried sugar) Weetabix.
  • Sweeteners: honey (Manuka honey can be consumed more often)

HIGH GLYCEMIC FOODS(above 70) eat very occasionally.

  • Fruits: watermelon, dates
  • Processed foods– It is important over the initial period to avoid processed sauces, meats, meals or anything else that might have hidden sugars or too many carbohydrates. Prepare everything fresh – for example pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc.
  • Snacks: popcorn, rice cakes, most crackers (soda, Stoned Wheat Thins, Water Crackers), cakes, doughnuts, croissants, muffins, waffles, white bread, baguette, bagels
  • Starches: millet
  • Most Cereals: Bran Flakes, Cheerio’s, Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Shredded Wheat, Special K, Total or any cereal that is sugar coated.
  • Sweeteners/Sweets: table sugar, hard candy, soft drinks, sports drinks, fizzy diet drinks, chocolate except for 2 squares of dark (85%) chocolate once or twice a week.
  • Alcohol. It is a good idea to give up alcohol all together for six weeks if you want to stabilise your blood sugar levels.

Eating Patterns.

Personally I eat within an eight hour window every day which is a form of Intermittent Fasting that suits me best. This gives my body 16 hours each day to get on with what it needs to do in the way of processing the food I have eaten, extracting the nutrients and also allowing for some downtime for major organs such as the liver.

If you usually finish eating at 6.00pm then you can easily eat three balanced meals a day with a couple of snacks between if you need additional energy but they should be nuts, seeds and certain low GI fruits rather than chocolate bars.

This does not mean that if you enjoy chocolate that you cannot eat it. I have two squares of dark chocolate each day after my lunch. (Antioxidants).

©sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 1998-2018

As always please feel free to share the post and spread the word. Also if you would like to ask a question you can do so in the comments or you can email me on sally.cronin@moyhill.com

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Food in the News – Thumbs up for Coffee


Smorgasbord Health 2017

I love my morning cup of coffee but I usually have at around 11.00 .. it is decaffeinated however.. otherwise I would be wired for the rest of the day.

Summary

Scientists have found that people who drink coffee appear to live longer. Drinking coffee was associated with lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease. People who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. This association was even stronger for those who drank two to three cups a day — 18 percent reduced chance of death.
An extract from the article published on https://www.sciencedaily.com

Here’s another reason to start the day with a cup of joe: Scientists have found that people who drink coffee appear to live longer.

Drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory and kidney disease for African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and whites.

People who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die compared to those who didn’t drink coffee. This association was even stronger for those who drank two to three cups a day — 18 percent reduced chance of death.

Lower mortality was present regardless of whether people drank regular or decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the association is not tied to caffeine, said Veronica W. Setiawan, lead author of the study and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association,” Setiawan said. “If you like to drink coffee, drink up! If you’re not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start.”

The study, which was be published in the July 11 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, used data from the Multiethnic Cohort Study, a collaborative effort between the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine.

To read the rest of the article and the benefits identified: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170710172118.htm

 

Thanks for dropping by and look forward to your feedback.. Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Health 2017 -Top to Toe – The Male Reproductive System – Part One


men's health I am aware that some of you will have also seen these articles before on Men’s Health but I hope the message that they are trying to convey will encourage you to read again and also to share.

Understanding how our bodies work is the first step to prevention and then next and very vital step is knowing when something is not right. Early diagnosis saves lives and not only impacts your life but those closest to you.

The articles are aimed at increasing awareness about diseases, that if diagnosed early, can be monitored or treated to ensure that they do not reach a point where the outcome is fatal.

Both men and women are aware of the external components of their bodies but what lies beneath the skin is where silent killers prefer to lurk. Most of us did biology at school, but the nearest I got to seeing the internal reproductive organs, was the horrifying sight of a splayed dissected frog on a work bench one science lesson.

This means that most of us do not have a working knowledge of the organs or the systems that make up this amazing and miraculous system that reproduces another human being.

This series is not just aimed at men but to their partner in life.  They often notice changes in our bodies or our normal behaviour before we do. Also in the case of men, it is often their partners who are doing the shopping and the cooking. Diet and lifestyle play a crucial part in our health and having someone working with you to ensure you are eating a balanced diet is ideal.

Between 16 to 19 million men will die worldwide in the next 12 months. It is estimated that once you take out the non-medical reasons that over 65% of those men will die from noncommunicable diseases. This term applies largely to what I call Lifestyle induced disease.

The top killers of men are:-

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Certain cancers such as lung and prostate,
  3. Chronic lung disease,
  4. Diabetes. 

The formula for most of these diseases that are lifestyle related are:

Diet + Lifestyle choices + lack of exercise + stress.

I will be posting articles on the male reproductive system since this is what makes men unique from women. This is as important for the women in your life as it is to you. Since diet and lifestyle plays such a fundamental role in our health it is also important that if you are in a relationship that you are on the same page about this.

In my years of working in nutrition with clients, I soon discovered that when I reached the point where I was designing an eating programme for someone to improve their health or to lose weight, I needed to ask their partner along.  This came about after a wife accosted me in the supermarket one day. She gave me a severe talking to about how her cooking had been good enough for 25 years for her husband and how dare I suggest otherwise. I do most of the cooking in our household and I do understand the issue. Actually we did all work together and her husband lost five stone and was able to come off his blood pressure meds.. She also lost two stone and gave him a run for his money.

My point being? If you do decide that you need to make changes to your diet and lifestyle to improve your health or diet, don’t do it in isolation. Work together with your partner and explain the reasons why you want to make the changes and the benefits at the end of the day.  In some cases this could mean you being around for several more years so it is an important discussion.

The male reproductive system

Although this first comment has raised many a laugh over the years…the drivers behind our reproductive systems are indeed all in the mind.  Of course we will have certain organs in place before birth. However, it is the master controllers in the brain that will send out messages at various stages in our lives to increase or decrease the reproductive system’s development and activity levels.

You can find the posts on the brain in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-2017-top-to-toe/

For the purposes of this series though I want to focus on the physical aspects of the system.

Although the male reproductive system is not quite as complex as the female system it still is prone to infections and diseases that can affect men at different stages in their lives.

As with women, men’s reproductive organs are divided into two parts, the internal and external organs and the gonads called the testes. When boys reach puberty, between 10-14 years old, gonadotropic hormones are secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain and the gonads grow and become active. The gonadotropic hormones also stimulate the production of the androgens or testosterone hormones, which in turn will promote the growth, and development of external genitalia as well as stimulating changes in the larynx. One of the outward signs of a boy reaching puberty is his voice breaking and then becoming deeper over the next few months.

The male reproductive organs are external and internal and include the testicles; duct system made up of the epididymis and vas deferens, the spermatic cord, the seminal vesicles and the penis.

The testicles or testes are oval shaped and grow to about 2 inches (5 centimetres) in length and 1 inch (3 centimetres) in width. They are formed in the embryo from a ridge of tissue at the back of the abdomen. They gradually move down the abdomen during the pregnancy, reaching the scrotum in time for the birth. They consist of seminiferous tubules, where sperm is manufactured and interstitial cells which produce the hormone testosterone. As a boy matures he produces more and more testosterone, so in addition to his deepening voice, he will develop more body hair, bigger muscles and produce sperm.

Alongside the testes are the epididymis and the vas deferens of the male duct system. The epididymis consists of elaborately coiled tubes that are attached to the back of each testis. These carry the sperm into the vas deferens, an extension of the epididymis that has become a muscular tube that takes the sperm up into the penis in semen.

The testes and the duct system are protected by a skin bag called the scrotum. One of its main roles is to maintain a slightly lower temperature than the rest of the body otherwise the testes will be unable to produce sperm.

There is a complex connective system between the penis and the testes called the spermatic cord that not only suspends the testes but contains and protects the blood vessels, sperm and hormone carrying tubes, nerves and lymph system that supply the scrotum. It is also covered by a number of layers including the cremasteric muscle, which is responsible for contracting the scrotum in extremes of temperature or during ejaculation.

As the sperm move up the vas deferens they pause in a storage area called the ampulla where they are bathed in seminal fluid from the vesicles situated just above each side of the prostate gland. This fluid stimulates the sperm to move spontaneously and actively as it passes through the prostate gland and penis into the vagina.

The prostate gland is a very small walnut shaped structure that sits at the base of the bladder and surrounds the ejaculatory ducts at the base of the urethra. Its role is to produce an alkaline fluid that mixes with the semen from the vesicles before it is passed into the penis to be ejaculated. This probably acts as a booster for the sperm keeping them active and therefore more likely to fertilise an egg should the opportunity arise. Unfortunately problems with the prostate can arise as men age and this either results in difficulties with the bladder or actual disease of the prostate. I will cover that in more detail later in the series.

The shaft of the penis contains a central tube, the urethra, leading to a small hole in the head of the penis called the meatus. This enables urine to pass from the bladder and out of the body or allows for the ejaculation of semen during intercourse. Because the urethra has a dual purpose, a strong muscle ring at the connection between the bladder and the tube ensures that urine only passes through when intended.

The penis is made up of groups of tissue that are responsible for erections. These tissues are supplied with a rich network of blood vessels, which become distended when a man is aroused. The blood is unable to flow back into the body and the penis therefore stiffens and rises as the internal pressure increases. After ejaculation the blood flow reduces to normal levels and the penis returns to a flaccid state.

All boys are born with a fold of skin that protects the glans from injury. This is called the foreskin and during an erection this peels back to allow the tip to be stimulated during intercourse. A lubricant called smegma is produced by the foreskin and the skin on the glans to make this action smooth, but poor hygiene, or irritants can lead to severe infections. Circumcision is often carried out on baby boys for both religious and health reasons.

Next time- The hormone element – Testosterone.

©sallygeorginacronin – Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot – Men’s health workshop manual 2012.

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Stinging Nettle – Arthritis and Scorpion Stings!


medicine woman

Certainly if you live in the UK you will have come across stinging nettles at some point in your life.. hopefully right next to a convenient patch of dock leaves to alleviate the sting. The common nettle has a long history and not just for causing pain to inattentive hikers.

images

Stinging Nettle or to give it its posh name Urtica Dioica, is found anywhere that is left wild such as meadows and woodlands or by the side of the road beneath hedges. Originally the nettle had an important role to play in daily life in the form of cloth as it was twisted to make fibre.

If you lived in ancient Greece and were unlucky enough to get poisoned with hemlock, receive a Scorpion sting, or get bitten by a snake, you would be dosed with nettle. There is an old expression ‘to grasp the nettle’, meaning to get on with a job however difficult, and it orginated from the belief that by grasping nettles with your bare hands and pulling them out of the earth they would cure a fever.

Even today nettles are used in herbal medicine and there is some evidence to suggest that the plant can reduce blood sugar levels and high blood pressure but as always I have to remind you not to stop any medication that you have been prescribed for these conditions without consulting your doctor.

  • Having said that I use nettle infusion with some other herbs when I am on a gentle detox as an aid to purifying the blood and reducing water retention.
  • There is evidence to suggest that nettle’s properties that help urinary tract infections and water retention might also be helpful for men with an enlarged prostate. Also that when used in conjuction with another excellent herb for men, Saw Palmetto, it might help prevent the spread of prostate cancer cells.
  • Nettle has been used to treat internal bleeding, excessive menstrual bleeding and nosebleeds.
  • Despite having a vicious sting, the nettle when infused as a tea and as a lotion can improve skin conditions such as allergic reactions or eczema.
  • The same can be said for osteoarthritis which benefits from the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb taken internally and used as a cream.
  • There is some cosmetic uses for the herb too especially if you are suffering from thinning hair or over oily hair.

The sting of the mature nettle comes from the formic acid in the leaves that raises blisters on the skin. But, you can eat the leaves of the young plant, before it develops the formic acid, in salads and they contain a similar range of nutrients to spinach.

The leaves are high in Iron and contain potassium and calcium.. You will also get a healthy boost of Vitamins A and K.  Here is a brief look at what these nutrients mean to the body and might perhaps change you view about this plant that appears to be out to get you!

VITAMIN A: RETINOL; Essential for healthy sight especially at night. It helps cells re-produce normally. It is needed for healthy skin, mucous membranes of the respiratory system, digestive and urinary tracts also bones and tissues. In reproduction it is required for the normal growth and development of the embryo and foetus. It has been shown to influence the function and development of sperm, ovaries and the placenta. As an Anti-oxidant it boosts the Immune System

VITAMIN K: PHYLLOQUINONE; Necessary for proper bone formation and blood clotting.

IRON: The main function of iron is in haemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying component of blood. When someone is iron deficient they suffer extreme fatigue because they are being starved of oxygen. Iron is also part of myoglobin which helps muscle cells store oxygen and it is also essential for the formation of ATP

CALCIUM: The most abundant and essential mineral in the body. There are approximately two to three pounds mainly found in the teeth and bones. Apart from its role in the formation of teeth and bones it is also required for blood clotting, transmission of signals in nerve cells and muscle contractions. There is some indication that higher calcium intake protects against cardiovascular disease particularly in women. If you are at risk of kidney stones consult your doctor before taking in additional calcium supplements. This also applies if you are suffering from prostate cancer where there may be a link between increased levels of dietary calcium in dairy products and this form of cancer. It is thought it is thought that excess calcium causes lower levels of Vitamin D, which helps protect against prostate cancer.

POTASSIUM: This is the main cation (positively charged electrolyte). It reacts with sodium and chloride to maintain a perfect working environment in and around each cell. It allows the transmission of nerve impulses and helps maintain the correct fluid balance in the body. It also regulates levels of acidity and alkalinity in the body. It is also required for carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It is connected to normal heart rhythms.

When not to use Nettle.

Nettles can cause contractions so must not be used if you are pregnant. In fact you must not take any herbal medicine when pregnant without consulting a qualified herbalist.

You should also be careful if on prescription drugs that contain lithium as nettle acts as a diuretic can could effect the body’s ability to excrete excess lithium which can lead to serious side effects.

Also should not be taken if you are taking medication for diabetes as it could drive your blood sugar too low. Similarly if you are on medication for blood pressure as this could lower the pressure too far.

If you are on blood thinners designed to prevent clotting, taking nettle with its high levels of Vitamin K which aids clotting, could result in the wafarin or other drug becoming ineffective.

You can find a number of products containing nettle such as teas and tinctures in health food shops along with lotions and hair products.

I hope you have found the post interesting and as always welcome your feedback.  Sally

Men’s Health Week Revisted – Key Risk Factors for major and fatal diseases – Number 1 – Obesity


men's health

Welcome to the second in the posts from Men’s Health Week last year and I hope that you will find the articles useful and informative.  If you read them last year then I would be grateful if you would still share on social media to reach a new audience.

On saturday I gave you some statistics that are pretty concerning.

An estimated 56 million people die each year worldwide.Tragically, 6 million children die before the age of five years old and of the remaining 50 million, more men than women will die at certain life stages. Particularly during the years 18 to 24. After that it will converge.

However, assuming that there is a more or less an even division, it is estimated that 25 million men will die in the next twelve months. It is even more disturbing that 65% to 75% of those men, depending on the report, will die from noncommunicable diseases.

Noncommunicable includes the top four diseases – Cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Diseases that are usually lifestyle related.

That means that in the next twelve months 16.25 million to 18.75 million men will die from mainly preventable diseases. Or diseases that if detected early enough can be cured.

There is rarely just one factor that triggers a lifestyle related disease. It is usually a combination of all the following. However, there is no doubt that obesity not only impacts our size but also severely impairs the functions of both organs and operating systems in the body.

When I weighed 330lbs, twenty-five years ago, being that overweight was not common. The reasons were simply put down to eating too much. I discovered during my studies and my own weight loss that there were a number of factors in play. Today the rise in obesity has at least provided plenty of scope for intensive and desperate research programmes!

Being overweight in itself leads to the other six risk factors that I shall be covering.  I have therefore put it into pole position. I have written a number of posts on the subject that I have linked to and the serialisation of my own book. However, the decision for you to lose weight is not mine… but YOURS.

Do the simple sum below and determine if you are overweight. If you need to lose more than three stone you are obese and therefore at far greater risk of the other factors that could develop into a life threatening condition.

Scare tactics? Absolutely.  And if a doctor had not scared the wits out of me 22 years ago that pushed me to study and to change my lifestyle… I would not be here today.  I already had the other six risk factors.  Today I do not.

It is as simple as that.

Here are the seven main risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and other potentially fatal conditions.

  1. Being more than two to three stone overweight.
  2. Late diagnosis of fatal diseases
  3. High Blood Pressure,
  4. Poor balance between LDL (unhealthy) and HDL (healthy)cholesterol
  5. High Blood Glucose Levels.
  6. Low Exercise levels.
  7. Stress

Risk factor Number One – Obesity

Being more than two to three stone overweight puts enormous pressure on your body structurally and also on your major organs. Unhealthy fat is not just stored under your skin but around major organs and is especially dangerous if around your middle. A beer belly is not about the beer but is about the sugars.

The closer you are to a healthy weight the lower your risk for most of the major and fatal health issues such as cardiovascular disease, cancers and diabetes.

There are a number of ways to measure your weight but it can get complicated. I use this method for a quick and dirty check on weight.

Using the method for a medium framed men

As a base, use 106lbs up to five foot and then 7lbs for every inch over that height. Modify either way by 5% if you have a light frame or heavy frame.

A light framed man of 5’ 6” would have an optimum weight of: 106lbs + 70lbs = 176lbs Subtract 5% for light frame = 9lbs -This gives an optimum weight of 167lbs or 75.9Kilos.

Most of you will know if you are light, medium or large frame build but if you are unsure here are a couple of sites that will guide you through the process.

Take your wrist measurement with a tape measure and plug in with your height.

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/17182.htm

http://www.healthstatus.com/calculate/fsz

Further Information.

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/dietandphysicalactivity/bodyweightandcancerrisk/body-weight-and-cancer-risk-effects

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=39840

Safe weight loss.

Dieting is as individual as we are and if you do need to lose weight safely and healthily then I do suggest that you join a group or find a qualified weight loss counsellor. Please do not use diet programmes that are chemically formulated, often full of sugar and have little nutritional content for your body’s needs. You are simply contributing to the billion dollar diet industry. For the same money you could buy an huge amount of fresh produce.

It is very important that you do not suddenly stop eating. You need a balanced and varied diet that supplies you with all the nutrients you need to be healthy.  This means cutting out the Industrially prepared foods and sticking to natural fresh vegetables, fruit, protein, eggs, dairy and some wholegrains. It definitely means cutting out the refined sugars that are loaded into prepared foods including those using artificial sweeteners.  These have the same effect on your body as actual sugar an can also be toxic.

I will be starting one of my six week weight loss programmes on the blog starting in a couple of weeks and that is aimed at losing a stone in that time safely and eating great food prepared well.

Next time another reason that men are at greater risk from early death. Millions of men do not go to a doctor in the early stages of a disease. This late diagnosis is costly.

Thank you for dropping by and please feel free to comment and share.

©sallygeorginacronin 2015

 

Men’s Health Week Revisited – Some statistics and the posts to come.


men's health

An estimated 56 million people die each year worldwide.Tragically, 6 million children die before the age of five years old and of the remaining 50 million, more men than women will die at certain life stages. Particularly during the years 18 to 24. After that it will converge.

However, assuming that there is a more or less an even division, it is estimated that 25 million men will die in the next twelve months. It is even more disturbing that 65% to 75% of those men, depending on the report, will die from noncommunicable diseases.

Noncommunicable includes the top four diseases – Cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. Diseases that are usually lifestyle related.

That means that in the next twelve months 16.25 million to 18.75 million men will die from mainly preventable diseases. Or diseases that if detected early enough can be cured.

I have worked with both men and women in my capacity as a health counsellor.  For weight management, but also pre-operative preparation and post-operative nutritional support. Men in particular will admit to only going to the doctor after several months of worrying symptoms or because they were nagged by their wives.

It is recognised that far too many men are being diagnosed with potentially fatal diseases too late.

There are a number of actually quite valid reasons for this. Some are personal, cultural and genetic! However, over the next few weeks as we revisit the posts from last year; I hope to convince all men to look at this from a different perspective.

If you have a partner and a family you owe it to them to be around for a very long time. If single you owe it to yourself to look after your greatest asset, which is your health. The reasons for not being checked are easily worked around and in my first post  I will show you strategies to do that. Ways to get checked for some of the key indicators to your health. Completely free or at a very reasonable cost, during hours that suit you, often with free expert advice and assistance thrown in.

During the the rest of the series I will post articles on the male reproductive system with symptoms you should be aware of. Prostate Cancer and how early diagnosis and targeted treatment can save your life.  Heart disease and symptoms to be keep an eye open for. Stress and how to manage to prevent your body developing many physical and mental lifestyle related health issues. Diabetes and how you, and the person buying and preparing your food, need to work together to reduce your risk. I also have a six week programme to reduce both Blood Pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.

I will be taking a look at some of the silent killers that we invite into our lives. One in particular would seem to be very innocuous.. and 11billion of them are eaten each year in the UK alone.

There are some guest posts lined up from men who have shared their health experiences and those of members of their families. Delighted that Geoff Le Pard, Kevin Cooper and John Maberry have contributed.

I hope that you will join me next Monday for the start of Men’s Health Week revisited and help spread the message to #Getchecked.

Women’s Health Week Revisited – Diabetes and It Takes A Family by Author Linda Bethea RN


women

This guest post is by Linda Bethea, who may be more familiar to you as Ibeth of Nutsrok blog and also the her new book Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad.

Linda had a long career as a nurse and worked with patients and their families who were undergoing dialysis. Working so closely with patients and their families provided Linda with the perfect opportunity to experience the impact family and friends made on a patients will to continue to fight the challenge of illness.

Diabetes statistics.

Some basic statistics on diabetes make for grim reading and these have been updated since last year with an alarming increase in numbers. There is an estimated 415 million people living with Diabetes worldwide. This does not include those that are currently pre-diabetic and at extremely high risk of developing disease. In the United States there are approximately 45 million diabetics and in Europe 60 million.

In twenty years’ time it is estimated that worldwide the figure of people living with diabetes will be 642 million.

Many of those suffering diabetes are in under-developed countries where a staple diet does not provide adequate nutrition and often white starchy foods are the only nourishment available. But, we in western countries really have no excuse. It is the ‘white’ diet that is killing us. Industrialised foods that have been chemically enhanced, contain no nutrients and to make them acceptable taste wise, padded out with table sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Additionally our exercise levels have dropped off radically in the last 30 years with two car families, remote controls, computers and fear of children playing safely in the streets. If our children are getting no exercise and are eating sugar in large quantities then they will make up the additional 225 million diabetics in the world in 20 years’ time.

A little of what you fancy does you good… I am with you on that one and I love chocolate along with most people. But instead of under 10 teaspoons of sugar a day most of us are consuming between 20 and 60 spoons a day depending on how much industrial food we eat.

You think that you are in charge of your diet and health… Sorry not so… it is the food manufacturers who have you hooked.

Although this is not specific to women’s health I think it is important to remember that we as women do tend to do the food shopping and preparing and as such do have some control about what members of our family are eating, at least at home.

Here are some interesting facts on Diabetes.  As always I am very happy to help anyone who has further questions or would like to break the sugar habit.

http://www.idf.org/worlddiabetesday/toolkit/gp/facts-figures

Now over to Linda for her excellent post on diabetes and the support provided by family.

 It Takes a Family by Linda Bethea

Sixty-two-year old Bessie was a delight. Even though diabetes had robbed her of her kidneys, she had a bright outlook. She had her difficulties, but after her daughter, Martha and her children moved in when she started dialysis, they all managed pretty well. Bessie and Martha had worked together at the chicken processing plant until Bessie started dialysis. Sissy, Martha’s twenty-three year old daughter, and her three-year-old girl, Martie, lived with them as well. Between Bessie’s Social Security Disability check and the younger women’s paychecks, they covered the rent, car note, utilities, and groceries. They all pitched in on childcare.

Martha had a “spell” at work one day. She was found to have had a mild stroke due to her longstanding, untreated high blood pressure as well as Chronic Kidney Disease. She had been under a doctor’s care a few years back, but didn’t feel bad, so she never went back and got her prescriptions refilled after losing her insurance. She was told she might develop kidney failure at some point if she could no longer be medically managed. Of course, this was quite a blow, knowing well the problems her mother faced on dialysis. She was extremely concerned about keeping her job. She went back to work, under a doctor’s care, determined to optimize her health. She and Sissy walked regularly, a practice that helped both with weight loss and blood pressure control. Of course, Grandma Bessie encouraged them, not wanting Martha or Sissy to go down the same road she had.

About this time, Sissy found she was pregnant. Sissy’s Fiancé, Joey, as well as his whole family was delighted to be welcoming a new baby, but very concerned when Sissy was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and hypertension. Immediately, she was put on a low-salt, no-concentrated sweets diet, and trained to do regular blood sugar checks at home. With regular follow-up, her glucose and blood pressures stabilized. Martha and Bessie helped her with her diet, making sure she had the foods she needed, since she had little time for shopping with her work schedule, child, and busy life.

Joey stepped up to the plate, with financial and emotional support. Both families were regular churchgoers and received tremendous help from their church family, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, offers for childcare, and assistance with rides to doctor’s visits and dialysis. The extra expenses would have wreaked havoc on their already tight budget. In the past, all three of these women had been staunch supporters of others in need in the church family, so they were appreciative of the help, knowing they’d return the favor sometime.

The family thrived, despite their limited resources and serious health issues. Martha, with her family’s encouragement, made her own health care and diet and issue.   Sissy’s income was low enough that she qualified for the Medicaid Program to cover her obstetric and general health care costs as well as the WIC nutritional program for herself, the expected baby, and Little Martie. Little Martie, Sissy’s daughter hadn’t had medical care, except in the emergency room since she was six weeks old. She started regular checkups, caught up her immunizations, and qualified for a nutritional program. With her re-entry into the system, Martie was entered into an Early Childhood Education Program which she loved. This gave Great-Grandma, Grandma, and Mom time to concentrate on other things. They all worked with her on the work she so proudly brought home.

Sissy and Joey married and moved their growing family into Bessie’s house. Bessie and Martha moved into senior citizen housing, just around the corner. They were all able to maintain their close family ties as the three families worked together.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and blindness in our country, followed by hypertension. Most often high blood pressure goes hand in hand with diabetes. Patients are often diagnosed with both at the same time. Both are familial problems. Adult Onset or Type II Diabetes occurs when the pancreas loses its ability to effectively produce insulin, but can be stimulated with oral medications. It is usually associated with obesity. Families quite often share the same dietary habits, leading to patterns in families.

Type II Diabetes is just as serious as Type I diabetes, or Insulin Dependent Diabetes, leading to same problems if not controlled. Dietary control, blood glucose monitoring, blood pressure control, and regular exercise under a doctor’s care go a long way toward optimizing health. Getting the whole family on board is key.

©LindaBethea July 31st 2015.

About Linda Bethea

Linda bethea two

I live in Louisiana and now that I’m done with the bothersome business of workday world, I am free to pursue my passion, capturing the stories I’ve loved all my life. The ones you’ll read on my blog all have a kernel of truth, perhaps mixed in with a healthy serving of imagination, embroidery, and if necessary to make a point, outright confabulation. I’ve preyed shamelessly on my family, living and dead, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, often changing the names to protect the innocent and not so innocent. My mother illustrates my blog. I come from a rollicking family of nuts, hence the name of the blog Nutsrok Enjoy.

About Everything Smells Just Like Poke Salad

51qb8fm4dqL._AC_US240_QL65_One of the wonderful reviews for the book.

By Dr. M on July 31, 2016

Very nicely woven tales of one family through the eyes of one girl born in depression era and still alive. She not only shares the stories but also helped illustrate the book. The author paints a very vivid yet poignant picture of what went on in lives of ordinary Americans during depression, such that it seems that you actually seeing the scenes happen rather than just reading.

Even the epilogue is a memorable one in its own way. Kathleen, now in her eighties says this about not remarrying after death of her husband decades ago, “There’s nothing wrong with men. I just don’t want to marry another one. They keep breathing in and out!”
Those who whine all the time about money issues for no good reason should read the book to see how America survived the depression and came out stronger because of great Americans like the heroine in this book.

Buy the Book. https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Smells-Just-Like-Salad-ebook/dp/B01IVUXROQ

How to connect with Linda
Blog: https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bethea_linda

My thanks to Linda for this article which perfectly illustrates that it does indeed Take A Family. We would be delighted if you would share. thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Women’s Health Revisited – Cardiovascular Disease – Heart Attacks and Strokes


smorgasbord health

Welcome to another of last year’s posts featured in Women’s Health Week.  Many health issues are shared by men and women equally but there are some diseases that are either female specific or in the case of cardiovascular disease becoming more prevalent in women than every before.

Most of us dread hearing C for cancer but we should really be concerned about C for cardiovascular disease. The signs can be subtle and it is only when there is a catastrophic event that a condition might come to light. Understanding how your body works and keeping an eye out for abnormal tiredness, breathlessness and unusual heart rhythms is very important.

Key Indicators.

In the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

Some facts about this silent killer.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – heart disease and stroke – is the biggest killer of women globally, killing more women than all cancers, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

  • Heart disease and stroke cause 8.6 million deaths among women annually, a third of all deaths in women worldwide. Of this:
  • 3.4 million women die of ischemic heart disease
  • 3 million women die from stroke each year
  •  Remainder 2.2 million women die primarily of rheumatic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, and inflammatory heart disease
  • Not just a male disease
  • Women in low- and middle-income countries fare worse than men, experiencing a higher proportion of CVD deaths than men
  • Women with diabetes have higher CVD mortality rates than men with diabetes
  • Younger women who have a heart attack have higher mortality than men of the same age
  • Women are more likely than men to become more disabled by stroke
  • Immediately following stroke, women are more likely to experience serious problems compared to men
  • However, women are less likely to be prescribed aspirin in prevention of a second attack, less likely to receive sophisticated pacemaker models and less likely to be recommended for potentially life-saving cardiac surgery

Under-recognition of the risk

  • Women do not perceive CVD as the greatest threat to their health.
  • Young women still feel more threatened by cancer than they do by CVD

Risk Factors

Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are largely similar for men and women.

    • Factors such as age and family history play a role, but it is estimated that the majority of CVD deaths are due to modifiable risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes
    • A woman who is obese, even if physically active, increases her risk of coronary heart disease by 2.48 times, compared to a woman of normal weight
    • Women who engage in physical activity for less than an hour per week have 1.48 times the risk of developing coronary heart disease, compared to women who do more than three hours of physical activity per week
    • Women who smoke double the risk of stroke. The more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk
    • Exposure to second-hand smoke increases the risk of dying from heart disease by 15 per cent in women

Women with high blood pressure have 3.5 times the risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) compared to women with normal blood pressureIn the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

blood pressure

Key Indicators.

In the western world we can also have key indicators such as blood pressure, blood sugar and elevated LDL (low density lipoprotein) checked regularly.

Ideal Blood Pressure for your age.

blood-pressure-chart-by-age1

Symptoms of a heart attack differ between men and women and here is what to be concerned about.

These six heart attack symptoms are common in women:

  • Chest pain or discomfort. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but some women may experience it differently than men. …
  • Pain in your arm(s), back, neck, or jaw. …
  • Stomach pain. …
  • Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness. …
  • Sweating. …
  • Fatigue.

It is also important to recognise the symptoms of a stroke in yourself or in others.

If any of these five symptoms appear suddenly, you may be having a stroke:

  • numbness or weakness of the arm, face, or leg, especially on just one side of the body.
  • confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech.
  • trouble seeing in one eye or both.
  • trouble walking, loss of balance, lack of coordination or dizziness.
  • Unable to raise arms above your head.

In both cases call Emergency services immediately or get someone you are with to do so.

Both of these outcomes can be avoided by regular checks for the Key Indicators.

For further information visit this link.

http://www.world-heart-federation.org/press/fact-sheets/cardiovascular-disease-in-women/

Infographic http://www.idealbloodpressure.com

For further information on the circulatory system there are a number of posts in the Health Directory in the menu.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/

Even if you read this post last year, it would be terrific if you could share to your wider readership base to get the message out there.. Thank you Sally

 

Smorgasbord Health – A – Z of Common Conditions – Pre – Diabetes


According to the World Health Authority it is estimated that there are 350 million people worldwide with diabetes. In the US around 30 million and the UK approximately 3.2 million have been diagnosed. Unfortunately it is the many millions who are undiagnosed that are at the greatest risk

You do not need to have full-blown diabetes to be suffering from some of the symptoms associated with the disease. There is a condition called pre-diabetes that can be managed with diet and exercise and does not have to lead to the development of type 2 diabetes in the future.

It is also called impaired glucose intolerance and in my experience very closely connected with lifestyle and diet and a possible overgrowth of Candida Albicans. Being overweight, not doing enough exercise and elevated LDL cholesterol levels are also part of the equation. LDL (low density lipoprotein) has smaller particles than the HDL (high density lipoprotein) and because of this it is easier for the LDL to clump and form plaque in the arteries which will narrow them causing a blockage.

SYMPTOMS
There are a number of symptoms that you might experience either singularly or in combination with one or more of the others. Feeling hungry all the time, losing or gaining weight without much change to your diet, feeling weak as if you might have the flu, slow healing of cuts or bruises, unexplained skin rashes, bladder infections or vision problems.

If pre-diabetes is tackled positively with food and exercise the symptoms can disappear in a few weeks and if the healthy approach is maintained there should not be any further reason for concern.

Unfortunately some people do not suffer any symptoms at all making this a silent disease and if this is the case it might not be detected until the person is suffering from full blown diabetes.

TAKING THE FIRST STEP TO AVOIDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF DIABETES.
The evidence is very strongly pointing toward lifestyle and diet changes as being the most effective way of dealing with the problem and it is very easy to incorporate the right foods in an appetising way as part of a healthy programme. Even a 10% change to weight can make a huge difference and adding a brisk walk a day, five days a week for 30 minutes at least is also very important.

There is a distinct possibility that the fungal infection Candida Albicans could be the cause of blood sugar imbalance and you can find more about sugars and Candida in the Smorgasbord Health Directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-directory/

How you can help yourself.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DIETARY CHANGES NECESSARY?
Apart from getting to a healthier weight there are some other dietary changes you can make to reduce your blood sugar levels. There are certain foods that will cause your blood sugar levels to rise and I cover that in the second part today where I look at the Glycemic value of foods and their effect on the body.

Fibre is important – Apart from the nutrients that wholegrains, fruit and vegetables supply they also contain great amounts of fibre necessary to clean the circulatory system of cholesterol plaque and toxins, keeping the blood clear of unnecessary additives.
Protein is essential and it should not be taken out of the diet. Protein does not have to come from animal sources but if you choose to be vegetarian then make sure you are including beans and fermented soya products for example.
It is our liver that is instrumental in determining our cholesterol levels in combination with certain foods. However, there are some myths surrounding certain foods such as avocados and eggs, which are very misleading. Fat is absolutely necessary in our diets and there is no evidence to show that eating plant based fats, eggs and animal lean protein moderately causes high cholesterol. It is the hydrogenated fats found in processed protein such as hams, sausages and pastries and other processed prepared foods that are likely to cause a problem.

WHAT ABOUT INCLUDING SUGARS?
We live in a real world and as a Candida or pre-diabetes sufferer it would be pretty miserable without some sugar in your diet. Having said that there are good and bad sugars as there is good and bad fat. I include honey and fruit as sugar substitutes in my diet and when I design a programme for clients with Candida or Diabetes. There is a great deal in the news at the moment about the effect of processed sugar in our diet which is something that many of us have known for years. However, as always, it takes research from the scientific community to make it ‘fact’. The types of sweeteners used by food manufacturers are not natural and many are downright toxic.The one thing that I am definitely sure about is that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and acesulfame-k have no place in our food chain.

EXERCISE
When you exercise your body uses insulin which controls your blood sugar levels. If you’re doing moderate exercise for a longer time, your muscles take up glucose at several times the normal rate. This is the type of execise you should be aiming for.

Start slowly for 30 minutes walking slowly over a fixed distance and then increase you pace over the same distance until you are walking briskly, just slightly out of breath. Then increase your distance each week until you are walking a mile in 15 minutes.

CARBOHYDRATES?
The other recent trend is to demonise all carbohydrates including grains as being the culprits behind most of our modern ills. As with all food advice, one size does not fit all and I am not an advocate for cutting out all food groups entirely based on what is the trend at the moment.  We need more or less of the main food groups as we get older and complete the transition to adulthood.  However, there comes a time in later life when our digestive system is not so effective, when we need to increase certain food groups to ensure we are getting sufficient nutrients.

Our bodies have evolved over several hundred thousands of years. We were and still are opportunistic feeders. Whatever we could get our hands on. The biggest problem occurred when we no longer had to travel miles a day to either hunt or gather our food. That would have included seasonal game, fish, wild grains, berries and fruit, roots, honey etc. It would have been eaten raw until the discovery of fire and we would have not bothered cutting off the fat or counting the calories.

However, today we just have to pop into the car, drive to the nearest supermarket and fill our trollies with foods from all over the world, all year around. That is where ‘moderation’ comes in. Now that most of us, certainly in the western world have so much food available it is down to us to be careful about how much we consume of this bounty. The words ‘No thank you’ tend to be underused when we are offered food to eat and this includes when we are filling our own plates!

The Glycemic value of the foods that we eat has an impact on our blood glucose levels and I have found that my clients following a lower glycemic approach to carbohydrates and the other foods have found it effective in maintaining a healthy level.

THE GLYCEMIC INDEX.
Not all carbohydrate foods behave the same way when eaten. The Glycemic index or GI describes this difference by ranking carbohydrates according to their effect on our blood glucose levels.   Foods are ranked according to their effect in relation to pure sugar which would be 100. So a food that is ranked at 50 has a much slower effect on blood glucose levels than sugar which causes a much faster reaction. The slower the reaction the less insulin is released into the bloodstream. This results in less fat being stored, particularly around the hips and thighs.

A low Glycemic diet reduces the onset of dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar levels and therefore will regulate the feelings of hunger. In addition lower Glycemic foods are usually much higher in nutrients and fibre having an overall effect on health.

FOODS TO INCLUDE, EAT MODERATELY AND TO EXCLUDE TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF DEVELOPING DIABETES.
Low Glycemic Index foods are slowly digested, releasing sugar (glucose) into the bloodstream gradually, resulting in a slow and steady increase in blood sugar that helps keep your body functioning well for longer than high GI foods.

High Glycemic Index foods are quickly digested and metabolized, producing a rapid rise in blood sugar. It’s best to avoid these high GI foods that cause spikes in blood sugar that can result in your body “crashing” or feeling hungry again quite quickly after you eat.

LOW GLYCEMIC FOODS (under the value of 55) Can eat daily

  • Most Vegetables: asparagus, avocados, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, carrots (small portion) cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery, red cabbage, cucumber, lettuce particularly rocket, mushrooms, onions (very important as they contain chromium which naturally controls blood sugar levels), Garlic, peppers, spinach squash and yams.
  • Fruits: apples, apricots, grapes, blueberries, cherries, lemons raspberries, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, pears, plums, prunes
  • Juices: apple, grapefruit, pineapple, tomato (unsweetened) small glass and add sparkling water to dilute.
  • Legumes: black, navy, pinto, and kidney beans; chickpeas; lentils; black-eyed peas
  • Starches: The key is to have a moderate portion and always have protein with it as this offsets the Glycemic affect. So for example:- porridge with milk (but not lots of sweeteners). Sandwich with chicken etc. Piece of toast with an egg. You must avoid white processed carbohydrates however and this includes biscuits, cakes and white bread as these are most likely to contain artificial sweeteners and trans-fats. I find that whole grain baguettes made in most large supermarket bakeries have few additives but check labels. Or make yourself
  • Milk products – cheese is wonderful but it is fattening – Milk in tea and on cereals is not a problem but if you are trying to lose weight then go easy when pouring. A piece of mature cheddar a couple of times a week if you are exercising and eating lots of vegetables and lean protein is not an issue – much better than eating a bar of chocolate. Fermented yoghurts may have some benefit on intestinal flora and help the digestive process – watch for sugar content – plain is quite boring but you can add nuts or a small amount of the low glycemic fruit to improve.
  • Sweeteners: I have used Stevia – I don’t particular advocate because I think it just feeds your sugar craving. I am suspicious of other artificial alternatives and if you can do without entirely. If not then like salt, use pinches of sugar to sprinkle on your cereal rather than a teaspoon, it will teach your taste buds to expect less!
  • Beverages – Start the day with hot water and fresh squeezed lemon. Not only does it hydrate, give your body a Vitamin C hit but it also gets the digestive process started, helps the liver and retrains your taste buds. You should find within a week that you no longer have a sugar craving. Tea is fine – green tea is excellent as it lowers blood sugar levels. Scientists are on the fence about coffee consumption – some research indicates that it might reduce blood sugar levels and others the opposite. My advice is if you enjoy a cup of coffee then get ground decaffeinated and have a cup every day and enjoy!
  • Protein. You need protein every day but not as much as people think. If you are eating yoghurts and drinking milk you will be obtaining protein but you can also eat 1 oz. cottage cheese – 1 egg – prawns – chicken – lamb, pork or fish per day. Avoid red meat as this can increase sugar cravings. Oily fish are good for you so try to eat three times a week this includes fresh sardines, salmon and tuna. I would suggest that you also use goat’s cheese and feta cheese as an alternative. Also in Spinach, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
  • Salad dressings. Make your own with low fat yoghurt and lemon juice, or cider or balsamic vinegar and herbs.
  • Nuts and seeds. Walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and almonds. Made up into 2oz packets and used for snacks – the healthy fat will act as a brake on the insulin production and will help with hunger pangs. Buy from a good source and make the mix yourself – unsalted of course. Find the right size zip lock bags and they will keep for ages. Take one to work with you as one of your snacks.
  • Oils – Very important to include extra virgin olive oil for dressings as this is a fat that is good for you. Would suggest that you also use this on bread rather than butter and mix with seasonings to use on vegetables and salads. For cooking use ordinary olive oil and I find that rather than frying, it is a good idea to brush some oil onto your meat, fish or poultry and bake in the oven.

MEDIUM GYLCEMIC FOODS (56 -69) eat two or three times a week.

  • Vegetables: white and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits: bananas, tropical fruits (mango, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple), kiwi fruit, raisins, figs, fruit cocktail
  • Juices: orange,
  • Starches: cous cous
  • Cereals: oats, homemade muesli (without dried sugar) Weetabix.
  • Sweeteners: honey (Manuka honey can be consumed more often)

HIGH GLYCEMIC FOODS (above 70) avoid all together.

  • Fruits: watermelon, dates
  • Processed foods – It is important over the initial period to avoid processed sauces, meats, meals or anything else that might have hidden sugars or too many carbohydrates. Prepare everything fresh – for example pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc.
  • Snacks: popcorn, rice cakes, most crackers (soda, Stoned Wheat Thins, Water Crackers), cakes, doughnuts, croissants, muffins, waffles, white bread, baguette, bagels
  • Starches: millet
  • Most Cereals: Bran Flakes, Cheerio’s, Cornflakes, Rice Krispies, Shredded Wheat, Special K, Total or any cereal that is sugar coated.
  • Sweeteners/Sweets: table sugar, hard candy, soft drinks, sports drinks, fizzy diet drinks, chocolate except for 2 squares of dark (85%) chocolate once or twice a week.
  • Alcohol. It is a good idea to give up alcohol all together for six weeks if you want to stabilise your blood sugar levels.

I hope that has answered some questions about the Glycemic index and please feel free to pass it on.  thanks Sally

©sallycronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2017