Monday, September 21, 2015

The challenges of eating right

Eating a healthy diet is important not only for people in general, but also for diabetics -- and especially for type 2 diabetics.  Eating right and exercising can improve or even completely reverse type 2 diabetes, so that's often the advice doctors give type 2 patients.

So what constitutes eating right?

Cutting out fast food is the first thing, of course, but increasing fruits and vegetables is also part of eating a healthier diet.  Unfortunately, new findings are telling us there aren't enough vegetables in the U.S. for us all to start eating the way we should be.

The U.S. Doesn't Have Enough Of The Vegetables We're Supposed To Eat

Friday, July 17, 2015

Taking statins or not: Dueling perspectives

I've written a lot of posts on here about the issue of diabetes, cholesterol, and taking statins.  I suppose it's a pet topic of mine.  So when I saw these two articles almost back to back (they were published a couple years apart, but I only just saw both of them the other day) I had to blog about it.

April 3, 2013: Side Effects Prompt Patients To Stop Cholesterol Drugs

July 15, 2015: When To Start Taking A Cholesterol Pill? The Decision Is Yours

The two articles provide two contrasting points of view.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dieting for diabetics

There was an interesting interview on NPR a little while back, about why diets don't work.  I found this story compelling because the world, or at least my little part in it, seems obsessed right now with dieting.  I'm getting pretty sick of reading status update after status update on Facebook about dieting, exercise, and everyone's weight obsession -- usually promoting some sort of product or pyramid scheme, of course.

And I can't help but notice how no one seems to be losing weight.  Seriously.  I watch everyone I know struggle with this day in and day out, obsessively restricting calories and foods and just as obsessively working out, and no one loses any weight.  I don't think that's a coincidence.

So I was extremely interested in what Traci Mann had to say about why diets don't work:

Friday, July 3, 2015

The debate on low fat

Low-fat foods may not be the ticket to health that we've been told they are.

New reports are starting to show that low-fat is not any healthier, and may actually be contributing to more weight gain.

Farewell, Low-Fat: Why Scientists Applaud Lifting A Ban On Fat

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Obesity vs. walking

Years ago I read a book called Diabetes Rising.  That book was about the rising number of diabetics, particularly type 2 diabetics.  Maybe we should be calling it "obesity rising" (although the percentage of type 1 diabetics is going up as well).

There are now more obese people than overweight people in the United States.

This is scary.  Very very scary.  Obesity amplifies all the health risks that are worsened by being overweight.

Luckily it turns out that just walking every day benefits your health much more than you realize.

Friday, June 19, 2015

If I had a nickel...

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the media is reporting yet another potential cure for diabetes.  This one is a vaccine that supposedly stops the autoimmune response, but of course in order to truly "cure" the person they have to still have to be able to still produce enough insulin to adequately control their body's sugars.  Which means you have to catch it early in order for this vaccine to work -- by the time most people are diagnosed, their body isn't producing enough insulin and therefore their sugars are way high.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Taking dieting too far

I believe that people in the United States need to eat healthier.  I believe that a lot of our country's health problems are directly related to the rising rate of obesity.  However, I also believe that you can take trying to be healthy too far.

I feel like I'm surrounded with people who take it too far.  Many of my friends are obsessed with taking supplements and working out, and to be perfectly honest I can't see that it does any of them any good.  But most disturbing to me are the people who push their dieting habits onto their kids.

That's why this article caught my eye:

I freaked out when my 10-year-old told me she had a salad for lunch. Here’s why.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trying to snack less? Change how you store food

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, less mindless snacking is a good thing.  For someone who is type 1, mindless snacking means you might not know how much insulin to give yourself, in addition to the potential of eating too much and gaining weight.  For someone who is type 2, you're probably needing to watch your caloric intake and hopefully lose weight.

New studies show that snacking can be influenced by how you store food.

How We Store Food At Home Could Be Linked To How Much We Eat

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Knowing when to go to the doctor

This interesting article was on NPR the other day:

For Headaches, A Lifestyle Change May Be Better Than A Doctor Visit

They have a point when they say that patients are better informed than ever, and often go into the doctor with an idea of what is wrong with them and what they want to do about it.  That's what this article is about, how often -- with headaches -- what people really need is to exercise more, eat better, sleep better, or something of the like, rather than going through lots of potentially harmful tests and taking potentially harmful medication.

Of course, as someone on Facebook commented, if they hadn't gone to the doctor for their headaches, they'd be dead of cancer.  Sometimes going to the doctor IS the right decision.

So how do you know which one?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The fight against overtreatment

I've read a lot of stuff about the overtreatment that runs rampant in the American medical industry: tests being ordered that aren't needed, drugs being prescribed when they shouldn't, etc.  Sometimes it's because doctors are told that's what they're supposed to do, but there was an article on NPR the other day about how sometimes it's in spite of the recommended procedures.

Why Many Doctors Don't Follow 'Best Practices'

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Is your health insurer following the rules?

There was an article the other day about how health insurers are finding loopholes and getting away with not providing required services, such as birth control with no co-pay.

Health Insurance Companies are Illegally Charging for Birth Control

My insurer is guilty of that, as the brand name birth control pill I take is free, but the generic is not.  So of course the doctor tends to want to write prescriptions for generics, because people usually want those, and if she doesn't the pharmacy substitutes, and then I have to have them all change it back because otherwise I get charged for something I'm supposed to be getting for free.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Rethinking that daily aspirin

It used to be recommended that people take an aspirin every day in order to lower their risk of heart attack.  In recent years, though, this recommendation has come under fire.  I can remember when they pointed out that the studies that found a daily aspirin was helpful had actually not been done on women, and it had been found that the daily aspirin actually wasn't helpful for women.

Now they're going further, and saying that if you are healthy, the benefits of the daily aspirin are actually outweighed by the risks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Good news if you hate blood draws

When my sister was a kid she had to have surgery to remove a bone fragment from her elbow.  When they went to put the IV in, they couldn't find her vein at first -- apparently she was so nervous that it constricted.

I've never had that problem, as I have veins that stand out pretty prominently, especially once you put a tourniquet on.  I have one good vein especially that is the number one choice for blood draws.  But my veins do roll sometimes, so I have been poked over and over before in an attempt to get blood or place an IV.  It's not fun.

There is hope though, in the form of this new invention!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What about that annual physical?

On the subject of obsessing about your health, which I posted about last week: What about annual physicals?  Aren't they supposed to be good for you?

NPR ran this article last week as well, which, if I hadn't been so busy and distracted, I meant to blog about sooner.

Maybe You Should Skip That Annual Physical

Monday, April 13, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Can you pay TOO much attention to your health?

Years ago, my first endocrinologist checked my full labs at every visit.  We're talking every three months, four times a year.  It never occurred to me that this might be a bad thing.  In fact, I thought it was necessary because I was diabetic, and surprised when I switched endos and my new doctor only checked once a year.  Ish.

Turns out now that there are studies that say that obsessing over your health can actually make you sicker.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

When statins aren't necessary any longer

I was happy to see this article on NPR's Facebook feed the other day:

If You're Going To Die Soon, Do You Really Need Statins?

Why we need a study to tell us that terminally ill people can and should stop taking any drugs that aren't completely necessary at that stage in their lives, I don't know, but I'm pleased with the findings.

Going off statins didn't cause a significant increase in heart attack risks or hasten death, the study found. People lived about seven months from the start of the study. And though there weren't significant differences in quality of life, people did say they felt better and were happier to be taking fewer medications.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tips for making shots less painful

This morning two women at Starbucks were talking about how the one woman's daughter was going to need daily shots for something (I didn't catch what).  I felt bad about inadvertently overhearing, but as soon as she mentioned shots, I was paying attention, by choice or not.  Since I'm diabetic and I take shots all the time, it caught my attention, especially since she was talking about giving them to a little girl.

I gave her some quick advice on making the shots less traumatic: Get her to relax first (so that the shot hurts less going in), and give the injection slowly (so that it doesn't burn).  I wish I'd had more time to explain though, as it needed a more detailed explanation.

If I'd had more time, this is what I would have said.  This is what I've learned with my insulin injections, but I think it applies to other shots as well.

Are new insulins better or just better promoted?

Today I saw this frustrating article on my Facebook feed:

Why Is Insulin So Expensive In The U.S.?

The article talks about how the older kinds of insulins -- and we're talking about really old, back when insulin used to be harvested from animals -- is still available in other countries, and provides a more affordable alternative to the more modern insulins.

Although this doesn't me (I understand why people would want a cheaper alternative available, even though there is a very good reason we went away from these insulins), there are also things in this article that infuriate me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The cost of having diabetes includes more than just medical care

This morning while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across this scary but unsurprising headline:

If You're One Of The World's 382 Million Diabetics, Your Wages May Dip

The article talks about both the developing world, in which there is quite a lot of variation by country as to how much diabetes will cost you in lost wages, and the first world.  Think we're immune to this kind of discrimination?  Hardly:

In the U.S., the analysis finds that employment opportunities for women with diabetes are reduced by about 50 percent, and that women with diabetes lose about $21,000 in earnings per year.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The importance of sleep

We are realizing more and more how important sleep is for our physical and mental health.  A lack of sleep is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, probably because while you sleep, your body releases the hormones that helps you to process fat stores.  As a result, too little sleep leads to weight gain due to an imbalance of those fat-processing hormones, and of course, being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes. In addition, chronic sleep loss leads to higher levels of insulin, which in turn produces an insensitivity to insulin and an increase in appetite.

So while sleep can't lower your risk of type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease and unrelated to weight or lifestyle), it can significantly decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  This is important to remember right now, when everyone is fretting over the upcoming switch to Daylight Savings Time.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is socialized health care as bad as we're told?

In America, the popular opinion is that socializing health care ruins it.  The waiting lists!  The control out of our own hands!  The horror!

Well, as anyone with a chronic condition such as diabetes knows, the idea that we have control of our own health care in the U.S. is ludicrous.  Try to get an expensive procedure or treatment or piece of equipment and you'll see what I mean.

Anyway, my rants aside, check out this article about an American citizen who moved to the U.K., and what he has to say about Britain's socialized health care.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The question of an artificial pancreas

NPR ran a story the other day about advancements that are "inching us closer" to an artificial pancreas for diabetics.

Diabetes Technology Inches Closer To An Artificial Pancreas

Apparently this journalist hasn't been around long, because I've been seeing claims about this for probably the last eight years.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The case for avoiding sugar -- and diets

I've long held that fad diets like resets and detox diets are not healthy for you.  The other day NPR ran a story about the healthier alternative:

From Detox To Elimination Diets, Skipping Sugar May Be The Best Bet

From the article:

We spoke to Dr. Ranit Mishori, a faculty member in family medicine at Georgetown University Medical School who has reviewed the literature on colon cleanses. She told us that lots of her patients are asking about detox and cleansing diets, especially at this time of year. Her advice: Steer clear.

The way she explains it, our bodies have an excellent built-in system for getting rid of toxins. Our kidneys and livers, for instance, both play an important role in helping to filter out potentially harmful compounds.

"The human body has evolved over many years, and it has a very sophisticated [filtering] system through the liver, through the kidneys," Mishori told us.

Instead, the article recommends cutting back on sugar, which was been connected to all kinds of health conditions, including diabetes.

So what kind of simple, good-for-you changes should you consider? Mishori offered her top three tips: "Cutting on sugar is always a good idea. Cutting on processed foods is always a good idea. Being better hydrated is always a good idea," she told us.

Diets don't need to be all-or-nothing. When it comes to sugar, the idea is to reduce consumption and be more mindful.

Currently, as we've reported, the typical American consumes about 22 teaspoons a day of sugar, which is about three times more than what's recommended. And the evidence is piling up that this is doing all kinds of damage to our bodies.

That's such a scary amount of sugar!  But the problem is that sugar is in many processed foods -- even things that don't seem sweet, like crackers -- so by cutting back on processed foods, you'll also be cutting a lot of sugar from your diet.

I highly recommend that before anyone embarks on some miracle, cure-all detox or reset or any other extreme fad diet, that you simply try cutting back on sugar and processed foods -- especially since these foods can have more of an impact on blood sugar than whole foods.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A new way to make diabetic test strips?

NPR ran this story recently, about a new material with which diabetic test strips can be made:

Weavers Turn Silk Into Diabetes Test Strips

I have to admit, this is intriguing -- not just because the silk strips are cheaper than plastic or paper to make, but because I wonder if it means anything new for the product and, overall, the industry.  I think there would be some concerns here, though, if people are opposed to using silk for ethical reasons.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Finally! An article on type 1 diabetes

Anyone who has read much of my blog knows that I've complained ad nauseam about articles that lump type 1 diabetes in with type 2, as if they are anywhere close to being the same disease.  Finally, today, NPR ran a piece on the trials of living with type 1 diabetes -- except that it's not a very flattering picture.

Tight Control Of Type 1 Diabetes Saves Lives, But It's Tough

As someone who has lived with Type 1 myself for over 40 years – I was diagnosed in 1973, at age 9 – I can tell you that keeping my blood sugars in control 24/7 is incredibly difficult. And that's despite having the knowledge on how to do it, as well as the health insurance that covers my test strips and insulin pump supplies. Many others with Type 1 diabetes don't, which helps explain the gap between what the studies say is best practice and what happens in real life.