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Diabetes: The Basics

Understanding Diabetes

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Diabetes: The Basics

Diabetes affects over 29 million people in the United States and nearly one-third of these people don’t know they have the disease.

89 million people (more than 1 out of 3) have pre diabetes and 9 out of 10 do not know it

Now that you know

Finding out you have diabetes can be difficult to handle emotionally. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available. You just want to know the best practices for you to be healthy. Like most issues with your health, it is important to stay positive. With knowledge and a plan, you can successfully manage your diabetes and go on to live a happy and healthy life.

What is Diabetes?

If you have been told that you have diabetes, it is important to understand the disease. People with diabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels. To understand what causes your blood sugar level to be high, you must understand how your body breaks down food for fuel. Your intestines break down the food you eat into sugar. This sugar is carried by the bloodstream to your body’s cells. To help your cells absorb the sugar, a gland organ in your body called the pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. The insulin is carried by the bloodstream to assist in the body’s cells absorption of sugar for energy.

Diabetes is a disease causing low levels of insulin in the bloodstream. The pancreas of people with diabetes makes little or no insulin. Some people with diabetes are also resistant to the insulin their pancreas does produce, which in turn prevents the body’s cells from absorbing enough sugar for energy.

The risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Excess body weight
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Ethnic background: African American, Hispanic, Native 
American
  • Low activity level
  • High fat, high calorie diet
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • History of diabetes during pregnancy
  • Given birth to baby weighing more than 9 pounds

Managing Your Diabetes

To live a healthy life, it is important to understand how to manage your diabetes. You can control your blood sugar levels with meal planning, exercise, medicine (if necessary) and visits with your diabetes care team. Your doctor or diabetes care team member will help you decide what blood sugar target range you should try to stay within. In order to maintain good control, you should monitor your blood sugar levels regularly and according to your doctor’s or diabetes care team member’s direction.

Your Diabetes Care Team

To properly manage your diabetes, it is important for you to work closely with the members of your diabetes care team. Some healthcare professionals who are a part of your diabetes care team and may help you with your treatment plan include:

  • Primary Care Doctors
  • Endocrinologists
  • Registered Dieticians
  • Educators and Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • CMSI – Your Diabetes Testing Supply and Education Partner
  • Other members of your diabetes care team may include: Ophthalmologists, Podiatrists, Cardiologists, Gastroenterologists, Urologists, Nephrologists, Neurologists, Obstetricians/Gynecologists, Psychologists, and Social Workers

Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

Characteristics of People Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes:

  • Body makes no insulin
  • Not overweight (slender)
  • Quick start of symptoms
  • Increased urination, thirst, and appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Positive urine test done by doctor
  • 10% of all Americans with diabetes
  • Usually diagnosed under 35 years of age

Characteristics of People Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes:

  • Body does not make enough insulin or makes insulin the body cannot use
  • Usually overweight
  • Slow start of symptoms or no symptoms at all
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-to-heal cuts
  • Tingling or numbness in hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, mouth, or bladder infections
  • Increased urination, thirst, and appetite
  • 90% of all Americans with diabetes
  • Usually diagnosed over 40 years of age (diagnosis in 
children and teens increasing rapidly)

Standards of Care

The American Diabetes Association has established Standards of Care for the treatment of people with diabetes and other diseases/conditions. Standards of Care provide standardized guidelines about treatment. It is important for you to know what you and your diabetes care team should be doing to properly manage your diabetes. 
The following list of exams and periodic lab tests will help you keep your diabetes in check and prevent or delay the long-term health problems associated with diabetes:

Daily

  • Self-monitoring of blood sugar (at least 2x/day)
  • Make healthy food decisions
  • Take medications if prescribed for diabetes control and 
blood pressure
  • Take baby aspirin (if doctor advises)
  • Get some regular exercise and activity
  • Check eyes, feet, skin for changes
  • Brush teeth after meals
  • Avoid smoking

Quarterly

  • Visit with doctor
  • A1C test (every three months if previous value was 
above normal range)
  • Blood pressure check
  • Foot exam (socks off)
  • Review of blood sugar self-monitoring records
  • Review diabetes self-care skills
  • Weight check
  • Review of all medications

Semi-annually

  • Visit with doctor
  • A1C test (unnecessary if previous quarterly value was 
normal)
  • Blood pressure check
  • Foot exam (socks off)
  • Review of blood sugar self-monitoring records
  • Weight check
  • Review of all medications

Annually

  • Visit with doctor
  • Screening urine (micro-albumin) level (and as needed)
  • Screening lipid (cholesterol) pro le (and as needed)
  • Foot exam with sensation check
  • Immunizations, including u shot
  • Routine EKG
  • Ongoing self-care education
  • Counsel on pregnancy planning (if needed)

Your healthy goals

Staying Healthy

By staying as close to your recommended blood sugar target range as possible, you can lower your risk of long-term complications related to your diabetes. Diabetes studies have shown that blood sugar control can reduce eye, kidney, and nerve disease resulting from diabetes by 50%. By improving your blood sugar control, you will reduce your risk of developing these complications.

To ensure that you are doing everything possible to stay healthy, review the following with your diabetes care team members

  • Feet exam – At each visit
  • High and low blood sugar test results – At each visit or 
as needed
  • Blood sugar target range goal – At each visit or as 
needed
  • Meal plan – At each visit or as needed
  • Glycosylated hemoglobin A1C levels – Quarterly
  • Cholesterol and triglycerides – Every 6 months
  • Urine micro-albumin or protein levels – Annually

What You Should Know 

Understand what diabetes is and how it may affect you. Your doctor and diabetes care team members will help you develop a plan to control your diabetes and live a healthy life.

What You Should Do

As you begin to manage your diabetes, the most important areas are:

  • Understand your goals
  • Proper meal planning
  • Be active every day
  • Monitor your blood sugar daily
  • Brush and floss your teeth
  • Take your medications (when prescribed)
  • Check your feet
  • Visit your doctor quarterly
  • Visit your dentist annually
  • Visit your eye doctor annually

Discovering that you have diabetes can be emotional. However, learning about the disease and how you can manage it is helpful to many with diabetes. Once you have an understanding of how this disease affects your body, you can work together with your diabetes care team professionals to establish the best treatment plan for you. To determine the effects of this treatment plan, you and your diabetes care team should closely monitor your condition. Through regular blood sugar testing, routine exams, and lab tests, you can successfully manage your diabetes.

You are not alone in this challenge. With the support of your diabetes care team, you can live a healthy and happy life with diabetes.

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Managing Diabetes

Discovering that you have Diabetes can be overwhelming and challenging news for many people.

Keep in mind that this condition affects individuals of all ages and races. Many people are born with the disease, and other people develop it later in life.

You are not alone managing diabetes. Take a deep breath and decide to take control of your diabetes, instead of allowing it to take control of you.

Incorporating exercise into your day, changing your eating habits and learning how to monitor your glucose levels will enable you to live a healthy and productive life.

You can also make sure you get adequate sleep and reducing any stress will also help to keep your blood sugar in check. These can be monumental lifestyle changes for some individuals.

Be patient with yourself. Do not try to overhaul everything on the first day. Knowledge is power. The more calm and open-minded you can stay while you educate yourself about this new condition, the better off you and your loved ones will be.

Risk Factors For Diabetes and How To Be Proactive

Understanding the risk factors of Diabetes will help you understand what kind of preventative measures you can take in reducing the associated risks that accompany this condition.

Many people learn how to listen to their bodies with this disease. Often it provides the wake-up call a person needs about some much needed lifestyle changes.

Other people, however, may go into denial about their condition. They may even rebel and decide not to take their medicine on time, or not to make time to check their blood sugar levels.

These individuals often suffer dire consequences as a result.

Instead of managing their disease, they allow it to progress and may end up dealing with numerous other health problems. Choose to be proactive and as healthy as you can be. It is never too late to start making positive choices.

Obesity

Obesity is the largest risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes. Unfortunately, obesity is considered to be at pandemic levels in many countries.

This abundance of excess weight causes a lot of stress on the entire body. The joints, the cardiovascular system and the internal organs are all affected.

Many studies have been done to determine why obese people have a higher tendency to develop Diabetes.

One theory shows that abnormal glucose output is actually increased in obese people and the pancreas has a difficult time responding with the required amount of insulin.

It is possible to deal with obesity in a healthy manner. Start with small changes in your daily routine. Park your car at the farthest point from work or the store and increase your daily steps.

Take the stairs whenever possible. Keep raw veggies in a bowl of water in the fridge for a nutritious go-to snack.

Drink a glass of water before every meal to help convince your body that you feel fuller faster. Visit with a dietician who specializes in Diabetes and learn some new recipes!

Sedentary Lifestyle

A sedentary or low activity lifestyle is another common diabetic risk factor. Keeping active and staying on your feet increases your blood flow and promotes healthy circulation.

If you sit at your desk all day, make time to stretch and get some fresh air during lunch and coffee breaks.

Are in the habit of watching TV after supper? How about choosing to go for an evening walk around the block instead? These small changes will have a positive impact on your overall health.

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Introduction to Diabetes

If you are, or think you may be, a diabetic and you feel like you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned in this article, please seek medical advice.

This article is not medical advice.

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes is a condition that results in high blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body. When the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin, high blood sugar levels result.

This may occur for one of two reasons: either the pancreas is not making enough insulin or the cells are unresponsive to the insulin that is being produced. Excess glucose in the blood is eliminated in the urine via the kidneys.

Insulin, a peptide hormone, is produced by the beta cells in our pancreas and is responsible for helping certain cells in the body absorb glucose or blood sugar and convert it into energy. Therefore, insulin is crucial in regulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism within our body.

Once control of insulin levels fail, the blood glucose or blood sugar level in the body can reach dangerously high levels, and Diabetes mellitus can result. This disease is considered to be a chronic disorder of carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.

If left untreated, this condition can have detrimental effects to your level of well-being. Many vital organs, including the heart and your circulatory system, the kidneys and the eyes may be adversely affected.

Symptoms of Diabetes

There are 3 classical symptoms of Diabetes, which may be remembered as the 3P’s:

1. Polydipsia or frequent thirst,
2. Polyuria or frequent urination and
3. Polyphagia or frequent hunger.

Additional symptoms to be aware of include:

• Severe weight loss or emaciation can occur despite being excessively hungry
• Skin ulcers that appear anywhere on the body and are slow to heal
• Weakness
• Boils
• Loss of tactile sensation in the fingertips
• In women, there may be itching of the vulvae present
• In men there may be inflammation of the glans penis.

Having continually elevated levels of blood glucose can cause changes in the shape of the lens in the eye, due to glucose absorption in the lens itself. This can result in vision changes and many people complain of blurred vision prior to being diagnosed with diabetes.

Diabetic dermadromes is a term describing a collective number of cutaneous conditions of the skin that are also commonly experienced by patients who have had Diabetes for some time.

Different Types of Diabetes

There are 3 main kinds of Diabetes mellitus: Type 1 DM, Type 2 DM and Gestational Diabetes. Other kinds of Diabetes mellitus include: Cystic Fibrosis related diabetes, different kinds of Monogenic Diabetes, Congenital Diabetes due to genetic defects of insulin production and Steroid Diabetes, induced through high doses of glucocorticoids.

Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus

This type of Diabetes requires daily insulin injections or wearing an insulin pump to regulate levels.

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 DM, results from an insulin resistance. In this condition, the cells fail to use the insulin produced by the pancreas correctly. This condition may also be combined with a complete insulin deficiency in some cases.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is a form that occurs in pregnant women. Often there is no previous diagnosis of diabetes and the high blood glucose level may return to normal after delivery.

In some cases, this may precede development of Type 2 DM; however, many women only require medication and monitoring for the duration of their pregnancy.

If you are, or think you may be, a diabetic and you feel like you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned in this article, please seek medical advice.

This article is not medical advice.

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Hyperglycemia vs. Hypoglycemia

If you are, or think you may be, a diabetic and you feel like you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned in this article, please seek medical advice.

This article on hyperglycemia vs. hypoglycemia is not medical advice.

Diabetic Hyperglycemia (also spelled Hyperglycaemia)

Hyperglycaemia refers to having abnormally high blood sugar. The prefix “hyper” translates to “high.” The main symptoms of this condition include extreme thirst or polydipsia and frequent urination or polyuria.

Hyperglycaemia is a symptom that occurs in both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.

In a healthy functioning system, the pancreas normally releases insulin after a meal to enable the cells of the body to utilize glucose for energy. In a non-diabetic, this fluctuation keeps glucose levels in a healthy range.

However with diabetes, the blood sugar levels become severely elevated. This can result in a medical emergency such as HHNS or hyperglycemia hyperosmolar state. Diabetic ketoacidosis or DKA can also be another severe consequence that can result from the body trying to cope with too much glucose.

Symptoms and Signs of Hyperglycemia

Diabetes is the main cause of hyperglycaemia; however, there are other medical conditions that may cause this condition to present including: Pancreatitis, Hyperthyroidism, Pancreatic cancer, Cushing’s syndrome, unusual tumors that secrete hormones, severe illnesses and certain medications.

The long term effects of hyperglycemia can be quite dramatic. Often, these issues develop slowly over a period of years, especially in diabetics who are not effectively managing their health properly.

Some key complications include: heart and blood vessel disease, which can increase the risk of peripheral artery disease, stroke, and heart attack. Nerve damage is another potential problem that can lead to tingling, pain and burning sensations. Gum disease and eye diseases including damage to the retina, cataracts and glaucoma are also prevalent.

Diabetic Hypoglycemia (also spelled Hypoglycaemia)

Hypoglycemia on the other hand, is a medical emergency of diminished blood glucose or excessively low blood sugar. The prefix “hypo” translates to “low.” Also referred to as “Hyperinsulinism,” low blood sugar levels result from overstimulation of insulin in the pancreas.

The pancreas eventually becomes exhausted from releasing insulin too frequently in order to combat the high levels of sugar present in the blood.

Symptoms and Signs of Hypoglycemia

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia can vary greatly, however, the main concern are issues arising from an inadequate supply of glucose to the brain.

Hypoglycemic manifestations can be divided into the following: Adrenergic manifestations due to falling glucose; lack of glucose in the brain resulting in neuroglycopenic symptoms; and glucagon manifestations.

Neuroglycopenic effects due to a shortage of glucose in the brain can cause a severe impairment of function, known as neuroglycopenia.

Neuroglycopenic symptoms can range from dizziness, tiredness, weakness, blurred vision, confusion and difficulty concentrating. Inappropriate behavior can also occur that may be mistaken for intoxication. In severe cases, seizures, unconsciousness, coma and even death can occur.

Many people consider themselves to be “Hypoglycemic.” Typically, these individuals are referring to symptoms triggered by falling glucose adrenergic manifestations.

This condition may present with anxiety, shakiness, coldness, dilated pupils, nervousness, tachycardia or rapid heartbeat and palpitations. Paresthesia or feeling of “pins and needles” or numbness is also commonly experienced. Immediately consuming some orange juice or candy can usually remedy this uncomfortable situation.

Glucagon manifestations of hypoglycemia may present with the following: abdominal discomfort; vomiting; hunger, stomach rumbling or borborygmus and headache.

There are some great ways you can be proactive with your diet and eating habits. Becoming educated on the glycemic index and starting to read food labels are great places to start.

Try some new recipes and think positive about re-learning your relationship with food.

If you are, or think you may be, a diabetic and you feel like you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned in this article, please seek medical advice.

This article on hyperglycemia vs. hypoglycemia is not medical advice.

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Glycemic Index: Diet and Diabetes

The Glycemic Index or Glycaemic Index, often referred to as GI, can a useful tool for diabetics.

It can be helpful for practically anyone who wishes to educate themselves on how quickly glucose levels in the blood rise after eating a certain kind of food.

This index provides numerical values for foods. You can easily use the Internet at home or on your phone to find out the glycemic index of a particular food.

The GI estimates how much each gram of available carbohydrate, which is the total carbohydrate without the fiber content, in a food raises a person’s blood sugar level after they eat it.

This measurement is relative to consumption of pure glucose, which has its own glycemic index of 100.

One of the things to take into consideration with the glycemic index is that it does not factor in the actual amount of carbohydrate that is consumed in the serving.

The Glycemic Load however, a related measure, takes this into account by multiplying the carbohydrate content of the actual serving by the glycemic index of the particular food.

Foods that are considered to be Low GI measure in at 55 or less. Medium GI foods are considered to be 56-69 and High Glycemic Index foods measure at 70 and above.

Understanding your portion size or the amount of food you are eating per serving and how fast this food will be broken down into glucose, will enable you to make wiser food choices.

If you do want that extra glass of wine or piece of chocolate cake, you will be able to calculate the rest of your daily meals to ensure you are balancing your carbohydrate intake safely.

Avoid High Glycemic Foods

We all know, or need to know, that sweets and processed foods are not healthy. Carbohydrates which break down easily during digestion and rapidly release glucose into our bloodstream are considered to be high glycemic foods.

Be wary of pure fruit juices, salad dressings, condiments, health bars and cereals, white rice, potatoes, white bread, ice cream, chocolate, oranges and bananas. These foods are all considered to be on the higher side of the glycemic index.

Be sure to read labels on condiments, sauces and pre-packaged foods. Even many foods we grew up considering to be healthy can lead you astray.

Proportion is everything. Also note that ingredients are listed in the order of abundance; the first ingredient being the most prominent all the way down to the least.

Oftentimes the “pure or natural” ingredient advertised on the packaging will be way down on the bottom of the list! Be a smart consumer.

If you have never previously read your food labels, now is the time to start. Your blood sugar and the rest of your body will thank you for taking the time!

Examples of Low Glycemic Foods

Carbohydrates that break down slower and release sugar more gradually into the bloodstream are considered to be low glycemic foods.

Wholegrain bread, oats, barley, millet, wheat germ, lentils, baked halibut, soybeans and most beans are some popular choices.

Peaches, strawberries, mangoes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and most vegetables are also great choices.

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Exercising With Diabetes

If you are a diabetic thinking about starting a new exercise regime, it is a good idea to check with your doctor first.

Getting into the habit of checking your blood sugar before, during and after your workout will also give you a clearer picture of how your body responds to increased physical activity.

Have a conversation with your doctor about how frequently you should be checking your blood sugars. Some people use their glucometer 6 times or more a day.

Everyone is different. Speak with your doctor to see what they recommend in your particular case and follow their advice.

Understanding the way your body metabolizes glucose will help prepare you to pack the appropriate post-workout snack, especially if you are travelling to a gym or exercising outside of the home.

Incorporating exercise into your day is also a great way to relieve stress, not to mention of course, helping keep your body fit. Maintaining an active lifestyle will help keep your body functioning at its peak performance.

Physical Activity

Exercise lowers blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that exercise is comparable to medication which lowers blood glucose but with less side effects. People with diabetes still excel in sports and compete in competitions.

Having an active lifestyle and incorporating daily exercise is very beneficial to those living with this condition. Going for a bike ride, walk or swim each day can bring you a variety of health benefits.

You do not have to sign up for an expensive gym membership in order to live a more active lifestyle.

Diabetes and Stress

Stress hormones are naturally produced in our bodies when we are under emotional or physical stress. Every person on the planet succumbs to these feelings on occasion.

For diabetics however, stress can have an even greater negative impact on your total health.

Since stress can significantly raise the blood sugar levels in your body, it is important to find healthy ways to alleviate these emotions to avoid their consequences. Exercise is an invaluable option during these times.

Doing a quick set of push-ups, squats or shadow-boxing will help you release that pent up negative energy and burn up some potentially dangerous blood sugar.

Often stressful situations can make us want to overeat or drink too much alcohol, both of which will increase blood sugar levels. Choosing to go for a brisk walk will be a much more beneficial coping mechanism.

Low-impact exercises that protect your knees and your feet are also great choices.

Sensory Neuropathy and Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Sensory Neuropathy is one of the main concerns that Diabetics may have cause to deal with; particularly when it comes to implementing a new exercise routine.

In this condition, the patient loses feeling in their feet due to the high glucose levels interfering with the electrical impulses in the nerves.

Symptoms including burning, coldness and tingling sensations, along with extreme sensitivity to touch are common. The loss of sensation and numbness can leave patients unaware that they have injured their feet.

Diabetics may severely burn themselves while stepping into a bathtub filled with hot water too! This is why washing the feet with ONLY warm water is strongly recommended.

If the feet are not properly dried or if exercising in new shoes, chafing or blisters may occur. The open wound or sore on the foot may become infected if it is not healed quickly. Preventing infection is a top priority in this situation.

Disinfecting the wound with diluted tea tree oil will help keep it germ free and assist healing, plus wearing pressure relieving pads in the shoes can also be beneficial.

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Healthy Diabetic Meal Tips

Ideally, a diabetic diet consists of a high intake of lean meats, lots of vegetables and whole grains.

Additionally, it is low in sugar, low in salt and low in simple carbohydrates. Just because you have diabetes does not mean that you have to sacrifice your love of all richly-flavored and delicious foods. Many of your favorite recipes can be adapted to become a healthier version that your entire family will enjoy.

Healthy and Tasty Diabetic Meal Tips

Don’t know where to begin? Following are some tried and true suggestions for improving your diet. These changes need not be sudden or dramatic, but adopting these practices so that they become the new normal for you and your family will provide a path to greatly improved dietary health.

Discarding Unnecessary Fat

Fatty cheeses and meats are known to increase the levels of cholesterol in the blood. This can greatly increase the risk of heart disease over time. Developing an increased risk of heart disease is one of the complications of Diabetes and hyperglycemia.

A diabetic who regularly consumes fatty foods could greatly increase their risk of stroke or heart attack.

A diabetic diet that focuses on protein sources which are low in saturated fats, such as beans, fish and lean meats is a much healthier option.

Grilling, broiling or barbecuing meats is an excellent way to reduce your fat content at mealtime. Utilizing non-stick cookware means you can still sauté your favorite dishes without adding extra fat.

Substituting some of the meat in your casseroles with brown rice, bulgur or tofu, will help you replace some of the meat in your diet with a lower fat option.

Another great trick is to allow your cooked stew, spaghetti sauce or soup to chill. This enables the fat to congeal on the top and you can easily scoop this layer off before reheating and eating.

Baking in the oven with a rack over a drip tray is another simple way to remove fat while you are cooking and thereby keep your calories lower and your cardiovascular system healthier.

Steaming

Steaming vegetables and adding flavorful herbs to the water or broth during the steaming process can be a great way to enjoy your favorite colorful vegetables.

To begin with; thyme, rosemary, sage and parsley are popular savory herbs that can spice up almost any meat, fish or veggie dish. Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are other herbs that you only need a pinch of in order to deliver a punch of flavor!

Vegetarian Night

Try making one night a week “vegetarian night”. Meatless dishes can provide a great opportunity for you to be creative. Enjoy some marinated bean salads, experiment with quinoa or try a stir-fry with tofu.

Vegetarian chili is another great option. Adding kidney beans and lentils to your favorite soups is another nutritious way to fill up. Indian style curry dishes may become a new family dish.

Discover New Cheese

Experiment with different cheeses. Using sharper flavors will allow you to use less in your dishes and enjoy stronger flavor. If you don’t prefer the grease that often occurs from baking cheese, perhaps place some freshly grated on the table at meal time and people can sprinkle on for a tasty alternative.

Portion Control

To help you keep track of your portion size, work with the space on your plate. Substituting large supper plates with smaller dishes can dramatically reduce your portion size.

Filling up a salad plate with supper for instance, will help you fill your plate with less food. A well-balanced plate may consist of ½ vegetables, ¼ of proteins, such as fish or chicken and a ¼ starch, such as brown rice or quinoa.

If you top it all off with fresh fruit for dessert, you will have a satisfying and nourishing meal and won’t feel like you are missing out on anything.

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Diabetic Apps and Online Resources

Remembering to check your glucose levels and monitoring your blood sugar can be challenging for many diabetics.

Thankfully, there are a variety of smartphone, iPad and iPod Touch Apps or applications that you can download to help educate you on your journey with diabetes.

Some of these apps offer reminder alarms for taking medication or for checking blood glucose levels. There are other apps available that will monitor your exercise and your carbohydrate intake and offer built in medical terminology explanations. Other applications have suggestions for exercise, meals and tracking net carbs along with overall calorie intake.

Many of these apps offer comprehensive tools for either Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetics.

For example, users of practically any age can organize all of their data such as: medications, insulin, test, diet, and glucose etc. required to improve and manage their condition. Many people utilize the ability to generate reports and graphs that can be shared via email with their healthcare professionals or printed out and logged at home.

Online Resources

There are a variety of free online tools available to help diabetics manage their health. Logbooks that can help keep track of medication intake, exercise regimes, blood pressure and glucose levels are often useful to help users track inputs and outputs and identify trends in their daily routine.

Community support combined with collaborative sharing to improve health and motivate positive changes are additional beneficial online tools.

Many glucometers come with a cord or have one available for purchase that will enable you to download information directly onto your computer. Speak with your doctor and local pharmacist to see what type of meter they recommend. Do some research and ask around.

Check in with your health insurance provider as many will cover your glucometer or test strips or at least a portion of your supplies.

Online Support Groups

Feeling angry, guilty or in denial about having diabetes is commonly experienced by many individuals after they are diagnosed. You may find support from diabetes groups online. If you are having difficulty dealing with the stress, speak with your doctor as they may be able to help you.

As well as online support groups there are often local support groups that can be a great place to connect with others who are dealing with similar issues. Your doctor can refer you to a dietician and a counsellor if needed too.

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Understanding Blood Glucose for Diabetes Prevention

Every person’s blood contains sugar that is also referred to as glucose. Blood sugar is essential for human health.

We obtain glucose from the foods that we eat. The blood takes the role of carrying it into the different organs of the body in order to provide energy to the cells thus allowing the muscles to move, the brain to think and other important functions of the entire body.

Blood glucose is the fuel for normal body and brain function. But like most things in life, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! Uncontrolled levels of blood sugar can have devastating and long-lasting, even permanent, effects on organs and tissue.

Maintaining Normal Levels of Blood Glucose

When talking about blood glucose, balance is the key. Although blood glucose is very important for the many processes that are taking place inside the body, its levels should not be too high or too low. Otherwise, the person becomes at risk of some serious health problems.
Fortunately there are many things that you can do in order to keep healthy levels of glucose in the body. Aside from regularly monitoring your glucose levels, which is a must if you have diabetes or at high risk of developing such condition, you also need to get a better understanding of how glucose behaves and functions in order to keep it functioning at an optimum level.

The Importance of Having Normal Levels of Blood Glucose

The human body has the innate ability to keep the levels of glucose high enough for the millions of cells to stay well nourished. The human body also has this natural scheme of preventing glucose from going too high to avoid it from getting in the way of many important biological processes that are necessary for keeping the body healthy.

In order to regulate the levels of glucose, the body needs the help of some other parts of the body including: the muscles, fat tissue, brain, liver, small intestines, pancreas and a variety of hormones including insulin.
However, when one or any of these glucose-regulating body parts do not function well for some reason the individual may suffer from elevated levels of blood glucose, resulting in diabetes.

If left untreated, having elevated levels of glucose may damage the person’s eyes, nerves, blood vessels, and kidneys.

How Blood Glucose Behaves Inside the Human Body

For people who do not have diabetes, their bodies are capable of keeping the levels of blood glucose within 70- 100 mg/dl. After eating, foods will be broken down for their nutrients to be used by the different parts of the body.

As the process of digesting the food is taking place, their blood glucose will temporarily increase. While the levels of blood glucose are increasing, the release of insulin is additionally being triggered by the pancreas to ensure that blood glucose levels do not get too high.

Insulin is a peptide hormone produced within the pancreas. It is released into the bloodstream to help regulate fat and carbohydrate metabolism.

At this time, signals are being sent to the numerous cells inside the person’s body, especially those that are found in their fat, liver, and their muscles. Once the signals are received, these body parts will absorb the extra glucose to convert it into energy or store it in the liver as glycogen for future use.

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Helpful Eating Tips for Diabetes Prevention

Studies have shown that individuals, who have a high-risk of developing diabetes, significantly lowered their risk and prevented or delayed developing the disease after losing weight.

The very best way to maintain a healthy weight is to enjoy a healthy diet. A healthy diet combined with regular exercise may be the best prevention against diabetes.

If your doctor finds you a high-risk candidate for diabetes, they may recommend you follow a specific meal plan that is tailored to your current nutritional needs.

It is important that you eat three meals in a day and have appropriate snacks in between to maintain an optimal blood sugar balance. Skipping a meal is a big no-no for people who have diabetes or who are at risk. Keeping regular meal times will help you have better control over your blood sugar levels.

When eating, it is vital to be very aware of your portion sizes. You may need to research a bit about the right portion sizes for each food category. You may wish to ask your doctor or your dietitian about portion sizes and food servings to ensure that you are eating the correct amounts of the right foods.

Limit your intake of foods that contain high levels of unhealthy fats. You also need to be careful about cooking methods.

For example, when you need to use oil, make sure to select the kind of oil that does not contain trans-fats or saturated fats.

Other foods that you should limit if not eliminate in your daily diet includes fatty portions of meat, whole milk and other dairy products that contain whole milk, fried foods, candies, crackers, cakes, pies, salad dressings, lard, and non dairy creamers. It is always better to opt for foods that are raw, boiled, broiled, grilled and steamed as they do not contain unhealthy fats.

Whole grain foods are a rich source of fiber. This can be found in cereals that contain 100% whole grains, oatmeal, and other foods which are made from whole grains such as bagels, pita, rice and tortillas. Other rich sources of fiber also include dried herbs, flax and sesame seeds, edamame, sun-dried tomatoes, beans and passion fruit.

Reduce Your Sugar Intake

If you are fond of reaching for a can of soda, then now is the time to start ditching that habit. It is a good idea to start getting used to drinking coffee without sugar in it and avoid those fruit-flavored drinks as well.
You may also want to ask your doctor or dietitian about healthy sugar substitutes. If you want to get rid of your craving for soda, try making your own fresh fruit juice. Fresh fruit juice already tastes sweet and it does not have to be added with sugar in order to taste delicious. Your juicer can become your new best friend.

Be Conscious With Your Carb-Cravings

As a person who is at high risk of developing diabetes, you need to be aware of your carbohydrate intake as well. Carbohydrates can have a great impact on your blood sugar levels and this is the reason why you need to be conscious about the amount of carbohydrates that you consume on a daily basis.

You may ask for help from a dietitian with regard to measuring food portions. If you are not already doing so, aim towards becoming well-educated about reading food nutritional labels when you are shopping. Particularly pay more attention to portion sizes and the amount of carbohydrates that each food product has.

A healthy diet is ideally coupled with regular exercise. Ask your health care provider and your fitness expert before starting any exercise regimen.