Cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancers, and diabetes are the four main groups of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). They’re also a main cause of preventable, premature deaths.
New research shows that over 15 years 37 million premature deaths due to NCDs can be prevented. How? By reducing or curbing only six modifiable risk factors: tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, salt intake, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity. As in, if you keep up your bad habits, chances are you won’t live as long. If you drop them, and get healthier, you’ll likely live longer, and our guess is your quality of life will improve too.
How, exactly would changing these 6 factors improve your life expectancy and reduce your risk of premature death?
Tobacco Use – Kick the habit to reduce risk of death by at least 30 percent, and up to 50 percent
- Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death, and is responsible for 5 million deaths per year worldwide.
- By reducing tobacco use by 50 percent, risk of dying from the four main NCDs would drop by 24 percent in men and 20 percent in women.
For years I felt original for using what I thought was my own word to describe how cranky, snippy, and sassy I get when I haven’t eating in a long time. The word is “hangry”, a fusion between hungry and angry, and it describes pretty perfectly the mood that affects many of us when we have low blood sugar. Hearing the first few people use my word was exciting and unifying, like we were apart of the same witty food-pun club! But lately I’ve been hearing it more than ever, so I am reluctant to admit that perhaps I did not, in fact, invent the word hangry. (I’m also being overdramatic, so perhaps I am currently hangry.)
At any rate, science has recently solidified the use of this word: A new study shows that being hangry is a real thing, or at least proves that being hungry definitely affects a person’s mood.
Researchers from Ohio State University set out to prove that low blood sugar is indeed the underlying cause of hunger-induce crankiness. (Read the full NPR report here.) But they didn’t just want to look at how strangers interacted, they wanted to know how we treat our loved ones when we’re hangry, so they studied spouses. 107 couples were recruited for the study and each given voodoo dolls. (more…)
Around the holidays I found myself suffering from a cold. Since going gluten-free and dairy-free, it’s an anomaly for me to need an anti-histamine or decongestant. Knowing how sugar impacts the immune system, I assumed one of the culprits must be the holiday sweets I was consuming, even though it was in moderation. When I received the book the 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo as a Christmas gift, I decided that I would give the program a try starting January 1.
Last year around this same time, I completed approximately 16 weeks of a three-level allergy-detox (stopping when I had lost too much weight). The programs did not seem all that different so I didn’t think it would be that difficult to go 21 days.
One of the most important things I have learned about dietary change is that restriction can lead to binging. If we feel limited, desire increases and takes on more importance. During my allergy detox, while I constantly had to check my list of approved foods, I was able to eat as much steak and eggs or bacon burgers (no bun) as I needed to. While I realize not everyone agrees, I don’t have a problem with eating fats.
Pamela Reilly, ND, CNHP, MH, CWHP, is a Naturopathic Physician and speaker that I trust with my own health and wellness. She designed the allergy-detox program that I completed last year. She clarifies that “if an eating style is extremely restrictive it is not intended to be permanent.”
I do think part of the secret to success is making sure that you do not feel restricted and finding indulgences when you need them. Sometimes you really do just need to make it just a few more hours before the craving subsides. On the other hand, over indulging does not do your body any favors.
Even if the indulgence is something like grapefruit—too much of even a good thing is still too much. Reilly believes that “people who truly want to change react really well to restrictions”; however, she adds that she “always provides substitutes when telling people to remove something” because she believes “it’s a lot healthier to function from an abundance mindset and to focus on the benefits and not what you are eliminating.” (more…)
Invokana is the newest diabetes drug to hit the market and uses an innovative mechanism to help control blood sugar for type 2 diabetes. Invokana, produced by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, will make a splash in the market as this is the first drug of its kind.
The statistic for this drug that I’m most interested in is the reduction in A1C percentage. Hemoglobin A1C is the percent of glucose that is bound to red blood cells. It also gives a three-month big picture of the patient’s control of their blood sugar. The higher the number the higher the person’s daily blood sugars will be; the goal is to be under seven percent. Trials have shown that Invokana has lowered A1C percent by approximately 1 percent over 26 weeks with a 300 mg dose and a 0.77 percent decrease with a 100 mg dosage. A one-percent reduction is approximately a decrease of 14 points on an average daily blood glucose reading. Lower blood sugars overall will prevent complications which can include blindness, renal failure and amputations. (more…)
By Emily Wade Adams, CNC for Natal-Nutrition.com
Nearly 10 percent of infants in the U.S. are overweight. As they get older, this percentage grows along with them: almost 70 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. But weight gain is largely preventable – and prevention begins in the womb.
Mama-to-be? Keeping your blood sugar steady can prevent your baby from having an excessive birth weight. It can also help your baby stay lean throughout his life. High maternal blood sugar prompts the fetus to develop more fat cells, which can make it easier to become fat later in life.
Not only can your blood sugar levels affect your baby’s development, but they can also affect your comfort levels during pregnancy. Low blood sugar is associated with morning sickness, and high blood sugar may lead to pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes (Hudson, 2008). Gestational diabetes, in turn, predisposes your baby to obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes later in life.
Keeping your blood sugar stable is easier than it sounds – but it requires a little advance planning. Here are some tips to help you maintain a steady blood sugar level in order to protect you and your baby: (more…)
My life, like many others’, is centered around my iPhone. I can’t imagine my life without it. Web developers realize the increase in smartphone use could be helpful in managing diabetes and there are apps that can help diabetics count carbs and track their blood sugar trends. I reviewed a few of the free apps for the iPhone to see if they could be beneficial for diabetics.
This is a great starter app but there are definitely some limitations. It logs glucose readings but doesn’t indicate a before meal reading or post-prandial (1 hour post meal). These readings are the best for truly seeing how well the sugar is being controlled or how different foods can affect the blood sugar. It has the ability to upload your information to Twitter (#bant) and there is an online community for support and to share ideas. You can also upload your results to websites like www.healthvault.com so your doctor can see your trends at your next appointment. I think adding a medication reminder to help taking insulin or oral medications would be a useful tool to help people stay on track. Currently this app does not have nutritional information to help with tracking calories and carbohydrates.
Good news for people who don’t naturally gravitate to doing exercise: less can sometimes mean more in the way of health benefits. A new study has found that just 30 minutes of weekly high-intensity exercise is enough to lower blood sugar levels for 24 hours and help prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes in people with type 2 diabetes.
“If people are pressed for time – and a lot of people say they don’t have enough time to exercise – our study shows that they can get away with a lower volume of exercise that includes short, intense bursts of activity,” said the study’s senior author, Martin Gibala, professor and chair of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada.
The current recommendations by the American Diabetes Association are in line with most fitness experts – people with diabetes should get a minimum of 150 minutes of at least moderate exercise each week or about 30 minutes most days of the week. Since people often complain of not having time, the researchers wanted to see if shorter more intense exercise would also do the trick of controlling blood sugar levels. (more…)
The DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, can be used for patients with high blood pressure and is often recommended for diabetics because of the potential to lower their blood pressure. The diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure in as little as two weeks. Diabetics usually have blood pressure issues and are more prone to complications such as kidney disease. Diabetics are usually put on a blood pressure lowering drug called an ACE inhibitor that has protective properties for the kidneys.
The DASH diet consists of lowering sodium intake to less than 2400 mg per day, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and carbohydrate sources coming from whole grains. It also includes proteins coming from lean meats, fish and chicken, and moderate amounts of fats such as olive oil and nuts. The DASH diet has been endorsed by the American Heart Association, The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the Mayo Clinic. It also was used to form the new dietary guidelines. (more…)
The life of a diabetic can’t be easy. Tons of doctors appointments, meetings with nutritionists and getting poked with needles cannot be much fun. Plus, there is so much information to learn especially about nutrition and changing your lifestyle to better manage your blood sugar. Diabetes is such an all encompassing disease that there are tons of products marketed specifically for this group of people. The American Diabetes Association estimates that medical expenses are 2.3 times more for diabetics than for non-diabetics, which includes special food products just for diabetics. I spoke with Mary Hartley, RD, MPH to find out if popular products like Glucerna and Boost are useful tools for diabetics or simply a sales ploy.
Mary Hartley, a registered dietian from New York City and newest edition to the Diets In Review team, thinks these products are great for monitoring nutrients. “The consumer knows exactly how much he’s getting in terms of carbohydrate, fiber, fat, protein and anything else that is measured and these products are formulated to minimize spikes in blood sugar,” Mary says. Excellent point and a great start for newly diagnosed patients or diabetics that lead an active lifestyle and want to throw a shake or bar in their gym bag. I recommend having a small snack on hand at all times to help avoid low blood sugar. Mary adds that this is another perk as these products are extremely portable and convenient.
It’s nothing new in the scientific community that there is more than just lifestyle choices that come into play when determining who is fat and who is thin. There are various biological factors that often play a significant role in people’s weight.
While the most commonly known biological factor for one’s weight is varying resting metabolisms, there are also neurological factors. The latest findings assert that obese people have a tendency to lack impulse control when it comes to food.
Researchers compared the brain scans of thin people to obese people when both looked at pictures of high-calorie foods. What they found was that there was an increased activity in a region of the brain used for impulse control with thin people, but there wasn’t so much activity in the region of the obese people.
“I think there may be biological reasons why people can’t necessarily control their desire for food,” said Robert Sherwin of Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut, who worked on the study. (more…)