All Entries For diabetes

8 Health Benefits of Coffee

If you enjoyed a cup of coffee this morning, you have already started the day on a healthy (and possibly more productive!) note. Not only does a cuppa Joe deliver your trusty a.m. caffeine boost, but it also may reduce the risk for certain health problems and can improve bodily functions. Check out the top eight health benefits of consuming coffee.

Increased Alertness and Energy Levels

Coffee contains caffeine, which is responsible for the increased alertness you feel once your first cup has kicked in. Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning that it increases heart rate, respiratory rate and metabolic activity. As a result, more body cells respond to nerve impulses, which improves energy levels.

Stronger Cognitive Functioning

When consumed in small amounts over a period of time (such as two hours), the gradual increase in caffeine heightens the amount of impulses within the brain cells. As a result, the brain recognizes stimuli faster and with more resolve. 

Posted 8/17/2015  10:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 7 comments   12,802 views
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Find the Blood Glucose Meter That's Right for You

It’s a buyer’s market out there. Whatever you need – from a smart TV to walking shoes – you’ll find a sea of options. These days, even blood glucose meters have seemingly infinite variations and features.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed with all the different glucose meters out there, it might help to start with these three criteria: ease of use, required sample size and cost of the meter and test strips.

Is the Meter User-Friendly?
If you choose a meter that’s user-friendly and delivers quick, accurate results, you’re much more likely to stick to your testing schedule. Testing regularly will help you understand how your blood sugar responds to everything from your meal choices to physical activity.

Ease of use means something different for everyone, so consider everything from the size and weight of the meter to how readable the display numbers are. You might benefit from a larger meter that’s easier to hold. If you’re always on the go, a super portable meter that allows you to test discreetly might suit you better.

What Size Blood Sample Is Needed?
If you’re like most people, you’ll be interested in a meter that requires a small sample size. This is particularly important if you need to test often or have sensitive fingers. Fortunately, you’ll find that many meters use less than 1.0 microliter – or 1.0 μL – and take 10 seconds or less to display results.

The FreeStyle family of products offers several meters that require a sample size of just 0.6 microliters or less, and can display results in 5 seconds, on average or less.

How Much Do the Meter and Supplies Cost?
We all know that diabetes can be an expensive condition to manage, so out-of-pocket costs for testing supplies will probably factor into your decision. Although buying a meter may be a one-time cost, it’s really the test strips that are the recurring expense, so make sure you look closely at the total cost when selecting a meter and test strips.  

Bonus Tip: Consider Buying Your System Over the Counter
In addition to all the other options in the marketplace, there is another approach to diabetes management – buying your test strips over the counter. Now you can avoid the hassles of insurance, including paperwork, pharmacy lines and the ever-increasing cost of copays.
Until recently, it hasn’t been possible to buy meters and test strips from leading brands over the counter at accessible prices. But now, you can get the FreeStyle Precision Neo meter and test strips at your pharmacy without a prescription. This gives patients a quality alternative to using insurance and paying high copays for blood glucose test strips. You can find the FreeStyle Precision Neo meter and test strips at major retailers or drugstores in the diabetes supplies section, or you can buy them online. Prices may vary, but the MSRP for 50 test strips is $21.99.
The bottom line: You have to find what works for you! To help you come up with your ''Best for Me'' short list, be sure to tap into resources like user reviews, manufacturer comparison charts and how-to videos. Good luck finding the meter that suits your needs best. 
Posted 7/6/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 6,059 views
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3 Money-Saving Tips for People with Diabetes

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been managing diabetes for years, you know that out-of-pocket expenses can add up fast. The American Diabetes Association reports that, on average, people who have been diagnosed with diabetes spend more than twice as much on medical expenses than people who don’t have diabetes.Here's how to keep costs down while managing your diabetes as effectively as possible.
Posted 6/1/2015  12:00:00 AM By:   : 12,746 views
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Be Aware of Your Diabetes Risk

Since November is Diabetes Awareness Month, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind you about all the tools and content you can find on SparkPeople to help you successfully manage your diabetes whether you've been diagnosed as pre-diabetic or are living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. According the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes, while another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Many diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed with careful attention to diet, exercise, medication and blood glucose monitoring.
Posted 11/8/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 1 comments   10,119 views
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Try This 42-Calorie Spaghetti Swap

Fall and winter squash varieties, including acorn, butternut and spaghetti, are now showing up in farmers’ markets. You’ll be delighted by how delicious, easy to prepare and versatile spaghetti squash can be.
Spaghetti squash is named for its uncanny resemblance to pasta once cooked. The squash is tasty yet neutral enough to pair with anything you would normally eat atop pasta.
And, if you're watching your carb intake, spaghetti squash should go in your cart. Take a look at how it measures up against standard noodles:
Posted 4/2/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 125 comments   582,320 views
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What You Need to Know about Nectresse, the Zero-Calorie Sweetener

I turned the corner and headed down aisle #6--the baking section of my local grocery store--eyes peeled for the "new kid" on the shelf. The new zero-calorie sweetener, Nectresse from the makers of Splenda.  There it was, in canister and packet form. The label read: "100% natural" and "made from monk fruit."  Really?  100% natural?  Made from monk fruit? 
Now, it was time to investigate.
What is monk fruit?  Monk fruit (a dark-green, plum size fruit) comes from the plant, Siraitia grosvenorii, which is native to southern China and northern Thailand. The fruit also goes by the names Swingle fruit, Buddha fruit, luo han guo or luo han kuo. This fruit is noted for its intense sweetness, which comes from naturally occurring sweet constituents called mogrosides. In pure form, mogrosides are up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.  There are five different mogrosides, numbered from I to V, with mogroside V being the desired component.  To remove the interfering components and aromas, manufacturers used an ethanol solvent solution
How do they extract the sweetener? The end product is a powdered concentrate of mogroside V which is about 150 times sweeter than table sugar (depending on the mogroside V concentration).  This non-nutritive sweetener is calorie-free and diabetic-safe, as it does not raise blood sugar levels.  The powdered concentrate is very soluble in water and ethanol, heat stable, and can be stored for long periods of time without changes in taste, smell, or appearance.  
Is it safe to eat? It is classified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).  Therefore, it can be used as a tabletop sweetener, as a food and beverage ingredient (gums, baked goods, snack bars, candy, drinks, etc), or as a component in other sweetener blends (since it may have an aftertaste at higher levels on its own).  There is very preliminary research investigating possible health benefits—anti-cancer properties, antioxidant activities, benefits for diabetes with insulin production.  However, much more research is needed before any health claims can be made.
What is in Nectresse? And is it 100% natural?
Posted 1/18/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 60 comments   30,473 views
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The Truth about Carbs

Gone are the days of carbohydrates being the evil enemy of weight loss. But before you serve up platters of pasta and piles of pancakes, it’s important to separate the truth from the myths we've all heard about carbs. (These rules do not apply to those who have diabetes.)

Myth: You don't need carbs.
Truth:  Carbohydrates are the body’s ideal fuel for most functions.  They supply the body with the energy needed for the muscles, brain and central nervous system.  During digestion, these carbohydrates are broken down into glucose before they can enter the bloodstream, where insulin helps the glucose enter the body’s cells.  Some of the glucose is used for immediate energy needs.  Some is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles for future energy needs such as fueling your workout.  If there is extra glucose, it will then be stored as body fat. 
Posted 11/9/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 40,108 views
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Diabetes-Friendly Dinners

It's hard enough to decide what to make for dinner when you don't have any dietary restrictions. When you have to create meals that are diabetes-friendly, it can make mealtime more challenging. That's why we rounded up a week's worth of diabetes-friendly meals that are healthy, simple, and delicious!
Posted 8/10/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 9 comments   24,188 views
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The Scoop on Lower-Carb 'Milk Drinks'

There are many non-dairy drink options available in supermarket dairy cases these days. Whether people are allergic to cow's milk or avoid it for other reasons, finding delicious milk alternatives is relatively easy. Although almond milk saw a 79% increase in sales last year, soy milk has been the leading dairy alternative for years. Recent reports indicate that in 2011 soy milk comprised 68.7% of the dairy alternative beverage market followed by almond milk (21.2%), rice milk (7.2%), and coconut milk (2.6%).

Did you know that science has created a way for people to enjoy the nutrition of milk but with less carbohydrates, sugar, and calories? Perhaps you have seen milk beverages or milk drinks on supermarket shelves as well. They might not catch your attention if you don't live with diabetes or aren't seeking new ways to control carbohydrate-containing foods to manage blood glucose levels. However, for those who are, it is exciting to see these new options on store shelves. Here is some information to help you decide if a dairy beverage is right for you.
Posted 4/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 19 comments   16,144 views
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Is Everyone Being Too Hard on Paula Deen?

Paula Deen's recent announcement that she has type 2 diabetes set the media ablaze with speculation and discussion regarding the role of her diet and the potentially deadly disease. Some critics claim that her high-fat, high-calorie, high-sodium Southern-style cooking increases the risks of hypertension, strokes, and heart attacks, in addition to type 2 diabetes. Others take note that she was diagnosed three years ago but is only coming forward now that she and her sons have a business deal with a diabetes company to share new recipes and healthier living ideas.
From Paula's perspective, she reports telling those close to her when she was first diagnosed but chose not to tell the world because she needed time to figure out what this new diagnosis would mean. She is also quick to point out that every food is OK in moderation, including her tasty Southern-style cooking. Paula cautions viewers and fans alike to remember that she is a cook: She is simply teaching you how to make a great-tasting meal or specialty dish. She's not your doctor, telling you what you should eat. She reminds people that they need to take personal responsibility when it comes to what they eat and how it influences their health. Paula is excited to help people see diabetes in a new light by encouraging them to establish healthy habits including lighter cooking, getting more exercise, and working with their health-care team to manage diabetes so they can live a full and active life.
Well, we agree with both the critics and Paula. Consuming a diet that is consistently high in fat, calories, and sodium does increase a person's risk of developing hypertension and type 2 diabetes that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. This is especially true if you also have someone in your immediate family who has hypertension or diabetes and you are overweight or inactive. We also agree that everyone has to be responsible for his or her own health. Just about any food can be included in a healthy diet but the key is to include moderation and portion control in your healthy eating plan as well.
We totally understand why Paula initially kept her new diagnosis to herself. It most certainly takes time to accept any new medical condition and to understand what it will mean for your life and career while also learning to live and thrive with it. Anyone that gets a new diabetes diagnosis deserves the right to work with their medical team to find a treatment plan that works to manage their condition while allowing them to live a full and vibrant life. You can't accurately answer questions about something that you don't fully understand yourself. Paula seems to have developed a great plan with her family and medical team and is now ready to help other people take control of their health as well.
Perhaps you are newly diagnosed with diabetes or maybe you just haven't taken your diabetes diagnoses as seriously as you should. Regardless of which of these fit your situation, here are three tips to help Paula and you, spark your way to a healthier life with diabetes.
Posted 1/20/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 228 comments   22,218 views
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Reduce Your Stroke Risk Eat More Fish

According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke or "brain attack" is the third leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability. Since up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable, knowing what you can do to reduce your risk is very important.
Everyone has some risks of stroke due to age, gender, race, and family history that can't be changed. These uncontrollable risks make it is even more important to control the risk factors that you can. According to a recent international analysis report, people that eat fish a couple times a week have a slightly smaller risk of suffering a stroke compared to those individuals that do not. The Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans increase the amount and variety of seafood they consume by choosing more seafood each week as a protein source in place of other meat and poultry options. Fish provides a variety of beneficial nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and selenium. Any or all of these nutrients could be the key to reducing stroke. Regardless of the reasoning, the analysis found that people who ate the most fish were 12 percent less likely to have a stroke compared to those people that ate the least.  
Here are seven other key ways to reduce your stroke risk in addition to including more fish in your diet.
Posted 10/17/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 6 comments   9,761 views
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The Skin Condition That's a Dark Sign of What's to Come

Before I started medical school, I noticed something strange about the skin of some of my family members, the ones who were overweight or obese, like I was then.
Various folds of skin--on the neck, arms, and legs, among other places--I noticed their skin was darker and thicker. It didn't look the same as the rest of their bodies. I wondered what it was, what caused it--and whether I would also get it.
This dark, leathery skin is quite common, and you may even have this condition yourself. You might have brushed it off as a skin imperfection and thought that there was nothing that you could do about it. Would you believe that this condition can lead you to the diagnosis of medical disease?
Before we talk about what it can help diagnose, let's talk about motivation, one of my favorite topics. In my opinion it doesn’t really matter where your initial motivation for weight loss comes from. Vanity, a desire to fit in, trying to find a partner, hoping to get a better job--all of these reasons are fine.  But, these are “extrinsic motivators.”  What happens when you lose the weight and you meet these goals? What is going to keep you coming back?  Educating yourself about the effects of obesity is one tool that you can use to prove to yourself that the lifestyle changes are worth it, that you must be willing to stick to it for the long haul. 
One of the best things that you can to do to keep yourself coming back to SparkPeople (and reaching your goals) is to do things that motivate you and will withstand the test of time, such as your health.  So, I hope that you will take a moment to learn about something that you may have never heard of and something that may inspire you to continue reach towards and meet your goals. 
Let's let acanthosis nigricans, that skin change I mentioned earlier, be one of those motivators.  
Posted 9/27/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Birdie Varnedore, M.D. : 46 comments   97,991 views
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Diabetes Killed My Grandfather

These days, it's hard to ignore the news of exploding increases in type 2 diabetes. According to a recently published study, nearly 350 million people worldwide now have type 2 diabetes, which is twice the number of adults who had diabetes just 30 years ago. And here in the U.S., the incidence of diabetes is rising twice as fast as in Western Europe, say researchers.

What's really scary is that diabetes doesn't just affect you in the short term. It is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, which triggers the onset of heart disease, stroke, kidney and nerve problems, and a host of other problems. These aren't just "things that happen to other people" either. These are very real consequences that can happen to anyone who isn't taking steps to keep their diabetes under control.

Despite these very real risks, a study presented last month at the 71st Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association found that nearly 90% people with diabetes know that healthier habits (like weight loss) could help their condition, but very few take any action: Only 70% tried to lose weight within the last year; less than 1/3 of those maintained that loss for more than 6 months. Only 13% had been physically active within the last week, even though 63% said their doctors has told them to start exercising.

My grandpa was one of those people. And his choice not to change his diet or lifestyle killed him.
Posted 7/8/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 93 comments   20,687 views
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Tips for a Healthy Summer with Diabetes

It's summertime! Did you know that if you have diabetes you need to be extra careful during the summer? Do you know which summer footwear is better for people with diabetes? Do you know if sunburns affect blood sugar levels? Do you know how to protect your testing supplies and medications during hot weather? Trying to have an active summer with outdoor picnics or visiting amusement parks or hitting the road for short day trips or vacations while maintaining an eating and blood testing routine can be difficult. However, with a few precautions, you can enjoy the summer while also maintaining good blood glucose control
Posted 6/27/2011  9:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 9 comments   9,760 views
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Let's Help Stop Diabetes during American Diabetes Month

Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels as a result of defects in the body's ability to produce or use insulin. In 2006, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death according to U.S. death certificates. In that year alone, over 72,500 people died with diabetes as an underlying cause.

There can be a variety of complications associated with diabetes of cardiac nature such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Diabetic retinopathy is not uncommon and causes vision impairment and in some cases, legal blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and in 2005, there were nearly 179,000 people with end-stage kidney disease either living on chronic dialysis or with a kidney transplant in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Over 60 percent of people with diabetes experience mild to severe nervous system damage known as neuropathy due to nervous system disease. Sixty percent of all non-traumatic lower extremity amputations occur in people with diabetes due to decreased wound healing and nerve damage.

These statistics illustrate the known fact that diabetes is not simply a condition but a disease with deadly consequences. Because of this realization, in 2009 the American Diabetes Association launched a national movement to Stop Diabetes. The goal was to raise awareness about the disease by gathering the support of millions of Americans to raise their hands to help confront, fight, and help stop diabetes. Perhaps you have already seen this year's new Stop Diabetes PSA with Bret Michaels. If you haven't, more than likely you will in coming weeks during American Diabetes Month. Nearly 24 million adults and children are worrying, testing, treating, and fighting the silent epidemic that is diabetes. Here are some ways you can join the movement this November.

Posted 11/4/2010  11:46:36 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 29 comments   12,575 views
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