Resources for Eye Care, Exams, and Glasses: How to See More and Pay Less

By Marie Tetsu and Kira Wang

Cost can sometimes be a barrier to proper eye care, but a variety of programs offer free or low-cost eye exams and other resources. Are you eligible? 

Most people rely on their sight every day, making eye care essential to our health. For people with diabetes, annual dilated eye exams are especially necessary to catch early signs of eye disease. But eye care can be expensive: adults with diabetes report that associated cost or a lack of insurance are some of the main reasons for not receiving eye care in the past year. While cost may prohibit people with diabetes from getting vital care, there are many programs that offer free or low-cost eye exams and glasses. Given the added financial burdens that so many people are facing as a result of COVID-19, we’ve built a list of resources designed to help people with diabetes and support those experiencing vision loss.

Note: to qualify for many of these resources, you or your family will need to meet certain criteria. Each organization has different requirements – which we’ve done our best to lay out – but be sure to check each website!

1. EyeCare America

EyeCare America offers medical eye exams to qualifying people in the United States, often with no out-of-pocket cost. Two main programs are included in EyeCare America: the Seniors Program and the Glaucoma Program.

  • The Seniors Program connects people over the age of 65 with volunteer ophthalmologists in their area who provide free eye exams, and it offers up to one year of follow-up care for any diagnosed conditions. To qualify, you must:
    • Be a US citizen or legal resident
    • Not belong to a health maintenance organization (HMO) insurance plan or have Veterans Affairs (VA) eye care benefits
    • Not have received an eye exam by an ophthalmologist in the last three years
  • The Glaucoma Program provides a free glaucoma exam to qualifying people who are uninsured. If you have insurance you may still request an appointment through the program but will be responsible for any co-payments. To qualify, you must:
    • Be a US citizen or legal resident
    • Neither belong to an HMO nor have VA eye care benefits
    • Not have had an eye exam in the last 12 months
    • Be at an increased risk for glaucoma, which is true if you have diabetes, have a family history of glaucoma, are African American and over the age of 50, or are Hispanic and over the age of 65

Regardless of insurance coverage or income level, anyone can use the EyeCare America Drug Discount Card in English or Spanish. Unfortunately, EyeCare America does not cover eyeglasses or services such as surgical operations.

2. Lions Club International

Lions Club International provides access to eye care and assistance with purchasing glasses for people who are considered low income. The non-profit also offers classes and services for those who are blind or have limited vision. Lions Club presents many of these vision programs through OneSight eye care centers located across the US and around the world. Lions Club International also provides a limited number of vouchers for free glasses, and offers mobile eye care services to children. You can find your local Lions Club here.

3. VSP Eyes of Hope

Eyes of Hope through VSP Global provides eye care and gift certificates for eyeglasses to children, adults, and people affected by disaster. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, the distribution of new certificates is currently paused.

  • For children: Sight for Students gift certificates provide free eye care and prescription glasses from a local optometrist to people under the age of 19. To qualify, children must have a family income at or below twice the Federal Poverty Level for their family size, and cannot have received care through VSP in the last 12 months. To acquire a gift certificate, parents can find a local partner here.
  • For adults: Adults who make less than twice the Federal Poverty Level and have not received care from a VSP program in the past year are eligible for vouchers. Mobile Eye Care Clinics are also available to people but are suspended until 2021 due to COVID-19.
  • For people affected by disaster: If you have been affected by a natural disaster (like fire, hurricane, tornado, or flooding), are in need of eyeglasses or eye care, and do not have vision insurance, you can qualify for a VSP gift certificate. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter.

4. Medicare

Medicare Part B covers an annual dilated eye exam for people over the age of 65 with diabetes. Dilated eye exams are extremely important for monitoring vision in people with diabetes. Medicare does not provide free routine eye exams or eyeglasses. Under Medicare, you’ll pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount and the Part B deductible. If you are receiving care in a hospital outpatient setting, a co-payment is also required.

5. OneSight

OneSight is an independent non-profit that provides eye exams and glasses to people, and establishes permanent vision centers around the US. People can take a free online vision exam here. While this online exam does not replace an in-person visit with an eye care professional, it can provide useful information about your sight.

6. New Eyes

New Eyes offers prescription eyeglasses to children and adults who are at or below 2.5 times the Federal Poverty guidelines. You can sign up with the help of a clinician or social worker and use vouchers on the New Eyes website.To qualify, you’ll need to meet the financial requirements, have had an eye exam within the last two years, and not have received other charitable or government resources to pay for eyeglasses. People financially affected by COVID-19 can apply directly here (without the help of a social worker or other health advocate).

7. Mission Cataract

Mission Cataract USA offers free cataract surgeries one day a year to people of all ages who have no insurance and don’t qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or other forms of government support. Cataracts cause the lens in your eye tobecome cloudy, and your vision may become blurred or less vibrant. Aging is the most common cause of cataracts, however, people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing cataracts.

8. Operation Sight

Operation Sight is another group that provides free cataract surgery to US citizens and permanent residents. To qualify, you must be at or below twice the Federal Poverty Level, and uninsured or underinsured (this would indicate that your insurance does not cover cataract surgery). If you receive Medicare Part B you will not be eligible. You must also have a formal cataract diagnosis. Fill out this form to find out if you qualify.

9. Support Groups for Vision Loss

If your vision, or that of a family member’s, has been harmed by diabetes-related eye disease or other causes, you might consider joining a vision loss support group. VisionAware helps adults adjust to life with vision loss. Whether in-person or online, support groups can offer a space to share your stories and concerns, and it is a space to learn from others with similar experiences. Check out VisionAware’s featured support groups here and find your local chapter.

Learn more about the risks diabetes poses to eye health in our recent article, “Seeking Healthy Vision: Eight Strategies For Caring for Eyes.” If you meet the qualifications of any of the programs we’ve listed, make sure to inquire and apply. Prioritize your vision and keep your eyes as healthy as possible for a long lifetime of use!

About Marie
Marie Tetsu is a rising senior at the College Preparatory School in Oakland, California. She is an eye-care enthusiast, and has been wearing prescription eyeglasses for the past ten years. In college, Marie plans to double major in English and Biochemistry on the pre-med track.  

About Kira

Kira Wang graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Duke University with a degree in psychology and minors in biology and chemistry. At Duke, she wrote a senior thesis on the coping strategies of parents and youths with chronic illness and spent over two and a half years researching retinal imaging techniques in the Duke Eye Center. She’s currently taking a gap year and plans to go to medical school.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Top 5 Low-Carb Swaps for High-Carb Favorites

A diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes means you should be mindful of what you eat and how different foods affect your blood sugars at all times. Enjoying some of our favorite foods can be more challenging when we have to factor in the impact on blood sugars. People who are insulin-dependent have to be very precise about their insulin dose and timing. Others rely on oral medication and high blood sugar may take hours to come back down, if diet is not considered. With that said, you can still enjoy some of your favorites thanks to so many new healthier options available both to make at home and in stores.

Here are my top 5 low-carb replacements for high-carb favorites:

1. Edamame Pasta

If you told me pre-diagnosis that I would be trying substitutes for pasta such as zucchini, black bean and edamame pasta, I would not have believed you. Yet here I am, more than six years later, having never touched real pasta once after finding these delicious substitutions. My favorite is edamame linguini, I find the taste and texture to be most similar to the real deal. I add in some ground beef, turkey or some grilled shrimp and the result is a protein-packed, low-carb and filling meal without having to worry about blood sugar spikes.

2. Mashed Cauliflower

Who doesn’t love to indulge in comfort food? One cup of mashed potatoes is 35 g of carbs and has a little over 200 calories. With most people also adding butter, cheese, and other toppings, this can result in a “perfect storm” of high-carbs and high-fat that is very tricky to bolus for and can lead to stubbornly high blood sugar levels. Stubborn highs can make you more insulin resistant, so for those on insulin, you may require more than your usual dose to bring it down. For those who aren’t on insulin and rely on exercise to bring down blood sugar spikes, you may have a harder time getting your blood sugars back in range. The good news is not only can you make this yourself but you can now find it in many freezer aisles as well.

3. Chicken Crust Pizza

This one is a best-kept secret among keto lovers! I have seen so many recipes for low-carb pizza circulate through the diabetes online community and I have tried several. I enjoyed the “fathead” recipe (many variations exist online) but found it very high-calorie and filling. I found the cauliflower options to be very grainy and not the texture I am used to when it comes to pizza dough. But using ground chicken meat as your pizza “dough” actually has the right consistency and also gives you upwards of an extra 20+ grams of protein per slice making this delicious option my top choice!

4. Protein-Packed Low-Carb Ice Cream

I miss the days where I could sit down with a bowl of ice cream and watch mindless TV while I mindlessly ate. Now, while I am sure I could still do that, albeit tricky when it comes to blood sugars and wanting to fit into last summer’s favorite jeans, I choose not to. There are so many alternatives that taste just as creamy and delicious and don’t contain a ton of calories and carbs. While a lot of these recipes require an ice cream maker, this one is simple and foolproof with just a blender needed. Simply blend 1 scoop of protein powder, ¼  cup almond milk, ¼ cup water and 1 tbsp. cocoa powder. I personally also add 1 tbsp. of chunky peanut butter for a great flavor and bite! Next, freeze it until ready to eat it and then leave it out for about 10 minutes before eating for optimal consistency and the most authentic ice cream experience!

5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

Smoothies sound healthy, in theory. Many contain yogurt, milk and fruit, all which on their own offer plenty of nutritional value. But throwing it all into a blender, while it makes for a refreshing drink, it can be loaded with calories and carbs. Instead, opt for unsweetened almond milk and Greek yogurt and protein powder as your main ingredients and add in berries that contain the lowest amount of carbs of all fruit. You can also use peanut butter. There are low-sugar versions now available on the market, like Legendary and many others.

While I love having delicious treats, I also enjoy normal blood sugars and feeling good in my own skin. Using lower-carb and lower-calorie substitutes for some of my higher-carb favorites allows me to satisfy my sweet tooth without sacrificing my health and wellbeing.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

What is the Gut Microbiome and How Does it Relate to Diabetes?

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Matthew Garza

The microbiome is an exciting area of research for diabetes management. What do we know and what questions do we still have about the microbiome?

Interest in the microbiome, and how much it may affect our bodies, has been on the rise. People often talk about the microbiome as it relates to the immune system, the digestive system, chronic diseases, and more. But what exactly is the microbiome and how does it relate to diabetes?

What is the microbiome?

The human body is made up of tiny cells. However, we also have trillions of microorganisms (called microbiota or microbes) that are found in and on our bodies. These microorganisms include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses.

While “microbiome” is defined as all the genes and DNA that these microorganisms contain, people often use the word to describe the entire population of microorganisms themselves. Even more specifically, the most common use of the word microbiome is to refer to the population of microbes that live in your gut (including your stomach and digestive tract) where the largest concentration of these microbiota can be found. While most of the microbes in the body are symbiotic (which means that both the human and the microbes benefit from the relationship), some are pathogenic, meaning that they promote diseases. In healthy individuals there is a balance between the microbes and the human host cells. If there is a major disturbance – for example, an infectious disease, the introduction of a bacteria-destroying medicine like antibiotics, or even a new diet – it can lead to the system becoming unbalanced.

Your microbiome is entirely unique to you and is determined by a number of factors including:

  • Your DNA
  • Your diet
  • Your level of activity (exercise)
  • Environmental factors – a person’s microbiome can change based on exposure (for example, to new foods or medications).

How do the microbes that make up the microbiome affect the body?

The human body needs a healthy and diverse microbiome to properly function. Our microbiomes are essential for human development, work closely with the immune system, are vital for nutrition, and even regulate how sensitive we are to insulin.

The microbiome interacts with the immune system frequently. The immune system includes all of the cells and processes in our body that fight and protect us from harmful bacteria, viruses, and disease. When germs enter the body through food or drinks, the gut microbiome plays a role in making sure we do not get sick. The microbiome also helps make vitamins and molecules that our body needs, such as B vitamins including thiamine and riboflavin, and vitamin K, among others. Microbes help break down harmful food molecules and complex carbohydrates so that the body can use the products for nutrition, muscle function, and the prevention of certain chronic diseases.

Humans share about 99.9% of their DNA (genetic material) with other humans. However, most human microbiomes are 80-90% different from person-to-person. This means that differences within the microbiome may be used for personal medicine. People respond to treatments differently for a variety of reasons, and personal medicine is a new concept for treating diabetes. If doctors know more information about the genetic makeup, or in this case the unique microbiome, of a person with diabetes, they may be able to use specific strategies for preventing, detecting, treating, or monitoring that individual’s diabetes.

How does the microbiome relate to diabetes?

Knowledge of the microbiome is limited given its relatively recent discovery. We are learning new things about the microbiome and how it relates to specific diseases, such as diabetes, every day. However, here are some of the discoveries and hypotheses being made related to the microbiome and diabetes.

For type 1 diabetes (T1D), the relationship between diabetes diagnosis and changes in the microbiome is not yet fully understood. Two studies (found here and here) highlight some of the key findings in this research:

  • People with T1D have less variety in the types of microorganisms in their microbiome.
  • Certain types of bacteria are more prevalent in people with T1D than those without – usually this means there is a smaller population of beneficial microorganisms.
  • Drastic changes in the gut microbiome could lead to a greater chance of inflammation in people with T1D. T1D is partially caused by inflammation of the cells in the pancreas where insulin is produced. Inflammation occurs when something damages your body’s cells and the immune system releases chemicals that increase blood flow and support to that area.

Similar to T1D, for type 2 diabetes (T2D) there is a lot of new research in the field, but much is still unknown. This paper summarizes many major findings:

  • Certain species of gut bacteria such as A. muciniphila can affect gut permeability, and increased gut permeability is often observed in people with T2D. Some bacteria could help decrease leaks in the gut by creating more tight junctions in our cells or by stopping the destruction of the mucin layer, a thin layer which lies on top of the inner lining of the gut. Tight junctions are small proteins between cells in the gut which prevent particles from leaking in or out.
  • Some microbes can influence blood glucose levels and control the digestion of sugars, e.g. bacteria which produce butyrate from the digestion of dietary fiber. Butyrate is a fatty acid that plays a role in homeostasis and metabolism.
  • Some microbes may affect the production and release of gut hormones, which is also highly influenced by butyrate. It has been shown that insulin sensitivity may be influenced by particular microbes.

What can you do to support the health of your microbiome?

There are a number of things you can do which have been shown to support the health of the microbiome. Here are some proactive steps you can take:

  • eating fiber (digestible and nondigestible carbs, like asparagus, onions, garlic, and chicory)
  • reducing the amount of sugars and artificial sweeteners you eat
  • avoiding taking antibiotics when not medically necessary, since this can damage your gut bacteria
  • eating plenty of fruits and vegetables

Other strategies for staying healthy also strengthen the microbiome and the immune system. These include:

  • reducing stress
  • exercising
  • getting good, quality sleep
  • not smoking at all

There are countless groups doing valuable research on the microbiome and its relationship to diabetes; however, so much is still unknown. We look forward to learning more about how to strengthen our microbiomes to keep them healthy and properly functioning.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Should You Be Afraid of Insulin?

It’s an all-too-common fear for people with diabetes. There is the completely natural fear of needles, but depending on the messages they’ve received from their care providers along with the experiences with insulin from other people in their family or circle, they can feel like insulin is the last resort or that they’ve failed on everything else. We’ll dive into all of that.

Topics

  • What is insulin
  • Why is it prescribed
  • Common messages and fears
  • Should you be afraid of insulin?

Transcript

Scott K. Johnson – Hey, thanks for tuning in to another episode of Coaches Corner. It is great to see you again. Let me know where you’re watching from today. I’d love to hear that. Post it in the comments. One small way that mySugr is giving back is by hosting the short conversations with our diabetes coaches, to talk about staying healthy in body and mind. We really appreciate you sharing some time with us. Now I do have to give the standard disclaimer. We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care. Today my sugar coaches Kristen and Maggie, talk about if insulin is something to be afraid of. Let’s take a look. And hi Maggie. Today we are talking about being afraid of insulin which is something that is quite common, especially for those who are new to diabetes, don’t really understand some of how it all works. But maybe we should start with some of the basics. So what is insulin?

Maggie Evans – Yeah, great, great start. So it is always useful to break down the basics. So we hear in the word insulin quite a bit. So I agree kind of, you know, understanding what that is. Insulin is a hormone that’s created by our pancreas or pancreas, it’s kind of right next to our stomach, and insulin is released in response to a meal. So when we eat a meal that’s broken down, and it tends to raise our blood sugar. So when that blood sugar response increases, that’s when insulin is released into the bloodstream. Now, when we explain the mechanism, mechanism of insulin, it’s helpful to use a term of just like a lock in a key. So imagine there’s a bunch of little locked doors on the outside of a cell, and insulin is that key to unlock the door to allow glucose into the cell. So when glucose is allowed in, that helps us create energy and helps us live our lives and do our thing. So thinking of insulin in that way, that it’s just simply a hormone that our bodies already make, I think can kind of help break down that barrier a little bit more too in terms of if it is something that ends up being prescribed.

Scott K. Johnson – Yeah, great point. So let’s from there, ask the question, why is insulin prescribed? If our body is already making it, what leads us to then need it as far as a prescription?

Kristen Bourque – Yeah, so Scott, I think, when we talk a little bit about first the differences between type one and type two, and we’ll talk more about this in our conversation. But essentially, insulin is provided as a treatment for diabetes. So with type one, our pancreas is no longer producing insulin. So there are multiple types of insulin that are provided to help essentially regulate the blood sugar right? With type two, generally what happens over time is the pancreas produces less insulin. So maybe additional insulin might be needed along with the use of oral medications to help regulate blood sugar.

Scott K. Johnson – And it’s, there’s actually quite a few misconceptions about insulin right? Can we dive into some of those? So especially, and I think this is one that’s, that I hear most common is the feeling of, of being a failure, right? Or the doctor saying, all right, let’s try with type two diabetes, as you mentioned, let’s try this this and this, and there’s always this phrase that if that doesn’t work, then we’ll start on insulin right, so it can be a hard step for people to take.

Kristen Bourque – And I think that you bring up such a great point Scott ’cause unfortunately sometimes we hear this kind of being almost used as a maybe a scare tactics sometimes for patients as well. If you don’t follow this and that insulin will be put on your regimen. And so I think there is a lot of unfortunately, negative kind of connotation around insulin. But the important thing to remember is with type two diabetes especially is over time. Again, as I mentioned, the pancreas produces less insulin, it can be up to 75%. So even if we’re doing, you know, diet, exercise, oral medications, we still might not get those numbers that we’re striving for. So yes, it’s very important to kind of wash away those ideas of feeling inadequate or like a failure because what we’re doing and those behavior changes may only sometimes bring us so far. So this is important to remember, is to rely on your healthcare team to find a way of providing you with various options for medications and whatnot to kind of find the best thing for you and ultimately, our goal is right to manage our blood sugar. So insulin may be put on the table, as just another option for you and it does nothing to mean that you did anything wrong in your management of your diabetes at all.

Maggie Evans – I think also emphasizing the fact that just like everybody’s body is different, everybody’s diabetes is different. And that your management of diabetes is going to look different than your neighbor with diabetes or someone else with diabetes. So recognizing that your body’s response to somethings just like what Kristen said, might be different than other people, and you just might well, need insulin. And yet again, breaking down the barrier to that and just recognizing that it is simply that hormone that we already produce, and sometimes we just need a little extra help along the way.

Scott K. Johnson – I love that. There’s a one of my good friends. His name is Bennet. And he has a catchphrase that he says that your diabetes may vary. And it really what it comes down to is right, whatever it takes to manage your blood sugars in a way that works for you. And so you’re able to meet your diabetes management goals, and also your quality of life goals. And it’s different for everybody. So I’m so glad that you mentioned that. What are some other misconceptions around insulin?

Maggie Evans – I think there can tend to be a fear of injections or a fear of needles, fairly common for a lot of people with diabetes. But recognizing that now there’s so many different options and the technology in the diabetes world is just advancing. I feel like every day I hear something new. But there’s other ways around giving yourself insulin injections either every day or with every meal. Now we have pumps that are available. So the pump system uses a little smaller needle that tends to just go right under the skin and barely noticeable. But that can be another way to reduce the amount of injections that you’re given throughout the day or throughout the week. And also knowing that the syringes now, the advancement in the needles is much better, they’re much smaller, they’re thinner, so you can barely feel them. So that makes it much less painful. I’ve even had people tell me that their actual insulin injections are much less painful than just their finger pricks for their, for their glucose checks, so, really interesting to hear that. But just knowing that there are other options and now they’re even coming out with an inhalable insulin, which is very effective as well. So if there is that fear of needles or fear of it being painful, reach out to your providers, reach out to your diabetes care team, let them know these concerns. And there’s always going to be options available. So just as long as you let people know what you’re feeling that can help us and your team kind of direct you in the right direction.

Scott K. Johnson – I’m glad you mentioned that, that open conversation. So if my provider has prescribed insulin, but I’m struggling to take that insulin because of the fear of needles, which, by the way, is completely normal, there is nothing normal about poking yourself with sharp objects, so but like you say, maybe talking with your, your team about the challenges that you are facing in doing what they ask of you, that makes a big difference. So what else are we dealing with?

Kristen Bourque – Oh, when I was going to just add to that kind of what you and Scott, Maggie you mentioned is kind of that fear of the unknown. I think too, with that, with the injection piece of it too. So, like you mentioned, Scott is talking to your healthcare team. But also a lot of times especially when initially prescribed that they’ll do a demonstration with you. So that kind of fear of the unknown, maybe having someone kind of walk it through with you, versus just kind of sending you home on your way, also will, I think help kind of minimize that fear over time too. So yeah, the next thing I would say, of course, is the fear of weight gain, we always kind of get this. And this would also be, the case of certain oral medications as well. But I think that insulin and weight gain are oftentimes associated together. But it’s important to remember that some patients will experience this overall, it helps the body to use food more efficiently. But again, this is going back to is everyone’s different, this isn’t going to be a for sure, side effect that happens. But it is again, going back to talking to your health care team about some of these fears or concerns that you have, in regards to I don’t want to gain weight once I go off, go on insulin. So just kind of let your doctor know, but important to still maintain, healthy diet and activity and all those things as well, to help kind of mitigate that as well, too.

Scott K. Johnson – Great, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So if we, if we were to kind of wrap this question of should I be afraid of insulin? In a summary, few points, what would that look like?

Kristen Bourque – Of course, no. But just to kind of go off of some other reviews that we’ve mentioned, is that, I think, again, it’s very important to talk with your healthcare team about your concerns about your fears about this. They’re there to get, provide support and be there with you through this journey, but let them know kind of what your thoughts are around it, and see if they can kind of help you to feel more comfortable. But and then kind of just going off of what Maggie had mentioned is there’s so many different options for insulin nowadays, too. So this is another conversation to have with your provider is what you feel more comfortable with. Some people like to use a pump. Some people like to use insulin injections. So again, these are great options that we have that we did not have years ago. So you can ask someone that has had diabetes for quite some time, the differences in the technology and the needles and everything. So, you know, it’s great to know that there’s options available as well, so.

Scott K. Johnson – That’s great, that’s great. And I think that, it’s a very, very useful tool in the diabetes management toolbox. And if you’re struggling to meet your goals on the therapies that you’re using now, and the idea of insulin is there, it might be a way that you finally feel successful in doing what you need to do to get your blood sugars where they need to be. So I think it’s a very powerful tool, and not something to be afraid of. So thank you, thank you for breaking that down a bit.

Kristen Bourque – Yeah, and I think it’s like you said, Scott, it’s, and it’s an important thing to remember that it’s, it will get you closer to your goal. And that’s of course, what we want to focus on, is to manage our diabetes to manage it well. So insulin is just one of those other therapy options that’s available to us. And it’s a great option. So something to be again, a little bit less fearful and more open-minded if it comes up in conversation with your doctor.

Scott K. Johnson – Makes sense, great. Thank you. Well, with that, let’s wrap this session up and we’ll be back again soon. All right, I hope that was helpful. Carol, great to hear that this helps with your expectations, should insulin become a thing for you. Today was actually our last live episode of Coaches Corner. We have really enjoyed our time together. And for those of you who are using the mySugr bundle, I encourage you to continue asking great questions to your coach. They are there for you and happy to support you in your journey of living well with diabetes. If you would like to review any of the information in past episodes, we’ve pulled everything together into a single place, and we’ll put the link here for you. With that stay well, have a great weekend, and I hope to see you again sometime soon.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

6 Healthy and Easy Asparagus Recipes

The easiest way to prepare asparagus is to roast them. Just toss them in with oil and seasoning and bake it for a few minutes, and you have a crispy side dish for your chicken or pork dishes. This quick method of preparation always works well, even if you just use salt and pepper to taste. 

If you have extra time in the kitchen, you can be extra creative with this vegetable. Here are some ideas you might want to try: 

Cream of Asparagus Cheddar Soup 

If you find yourself craving for some healthy soup this summer, this low-carb, high-fat recipe is worth a try. You will need a food processor to puree the asparagus, but the rest is just about tossing in the ingredients into the pan. Super easy! 

Photo credit: Diane of Eat Better Recipes

Cheesy Roasted Asparagus

This recipe takes roasted asparagus to the next level. Marinating the asparagus spears enhances the flavor, and the cheese on top of it makes it palatable even for picky eaters. Pair this with grilled meat to complete your low-carb meal. 

Lemon Ginger Chicken Asparagus Stir Fry

Why take out Asian food when you can try this simple recipe at home? Simply cook the chicken and asparagus in oil, garlic, and ginger, and then add the sauce. Keep stirring until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens up.

Asparagus Tart

Photo credit: Brenda or Sugar-Free Mom

Low-Carb Keto Asparagus Tart

This tart is perfect for brunch or light lunch with some salad. Its crust consists of only three ingredients and does not need any equipment to make it. You can store this in the fridge for up to three days for make-ahead meals. 

Photo credit: Laura of Cook at Home Mom

Asian Steak Kebabs with Asparagus

You would like to use thick asparagus for this recipe so that the spears stay intact when you thread them onto the skewers with the marinated beef and mushrooms. Optionally, you can add more colors to your kebab by adding onions, bell peppers, or fresh pineapple your stick. 

risotto

Photo credit: Caroline of Caroline’s Cooking

Cauliflower Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Cauliflower “rice” isn’t new to the low-carb society, but this variation is just full of flavor. Simply stir-fry onion and garlic in oil and then add the sliced mushroom, asparagus, cauliflower, and other ingredients as instructed. Healthy, easy, and tasty. 

Do you have any easy asparagus recipes to share with us? Write them in the comments. 

Source: diabetesdaily.com

10 Most Common Questions Answered After a Type 2 Diagnosis

Facing a new diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be a difficult and confusing time. Many ask “why me?”,  some may feel shame due to the stigma surrounding type 2,  while others want to know what they can proactively do to better their health. I asked people living with type 2 diabetes what their initial questions were at diagnosis. Hopefully, this can help some of you who are learning how to live with this new condition.

1. What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the presence of excess sugar in your blood due to your body’s resistance to insulin and, in many cases, production of too little insulin. You can think of insulin as the key that opens cells and allows glucose (i.e. sugar) to enter your cells. If your body is insulin resistant, then it cannot use the insulin effectively enough to allow the correct amount of sugar to enter your cells. In this case, it builds up in the blood, causing high blood sugar levels.

2. Why did this happen to me?

We know that there are both environmental and genetic factors associated with a type 2 diagnosis. We also know that obesity can lead to diabetes, but not everyone who is obese winds up with type 2 diabetes. Age, ethnicity and numerous other factors also come into play. Try not to be discouraged by your diagnosis. Instead, use it as an opportunity to start or maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will help you to avoid issues down the road, and can help turn the diagnosis into a positive change in your life.

3. What should my blood sugars be?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends a fasting or before meal blood glucose of 80-130 mg/dL and 1-2 hours after the beginning of the meal (postprandial) of less than 180 mg/dL. There are of course factors related to food and insulin doses that can affect these numbers. Fasting numbers should ideally be under 100 mg/dL, but this will vary from person to person. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn what their specific recommendations are for your unique situation.

4. Are there alternative treatments?

While there are complementary and alternative treatment options available, they do not claim to cure diabetes. However,  they may be beneficial in many ways that can indirectly improve your diabetes health. With that said, traditional medicine prescribed by your doctor should always be taken, and alternatives could be an addition to your regular treatment protocol.

One alternative approach that is a surefire way to help your overall health and improve your blood sugars is improving diet and exercise. Eating healthy — making sure you get plenty of protein and focus on unprocessed and nutritious foods, like plenty of vegetables — and making sure to stay active can help you to stay maintain optimal shape and blood sugars.

Other alternative treatments to consider are meditation and aromatherapy, both of which may help to alleviate stress, a contributor to high blood sugars. Also, be sure to explore acupuncture and acupressure if you have neuropathy-induced pain, as both of these are known to alleviate pain and improve circulation.

While some herbs and supplements may help prevent heart disease and have other health benefits, there is no evidence that they can actually help a person manage their diabetes. The ADA, in its 2017 Standard of Medical Care in Diabetes statement, stated the following, “There’s no evidence that taking supplements or vitamins benefits those with diabetes who do not have vitamin deficiencies.”

5. Will I have to go on insulin?

At diagnosis and in the early stages of type 2 diabetes, your doctor will likely advise you to incorporate lifestyle modifications, like diet and exercise, to help lower your blood sugar. If that doesn’t help, or if you are not diagnosed early on, then oral medication is often recommended. If your blood sugars aren’t at an optimal level, it is possible that your doctor may suggest going insulin.

While some people will think going on insulin means they failed at controlling their blood sugars on their own, that is not the case and oftentimes, people prefer to be on insulin as you can be more flexible with what you eat and when. Insulin may also help your pancreas to make insulin longer and has been shown to help control blood sugars better than oral medications alone. It doesn’t matter how, but that you maintain healthy blood sugars to avoid complications such as vision loss, nerve and kidney damage and heart disease.

6. What doctors should I see annually?

Living with diabetes could mean complications down the road so it is important to stay on top of your diabetes care so you can flag issues before they worsen. You should visit your eye doctor annually, such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist, to check for potentially serious conditions, such as: glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema.

Patients who have been living with type 2 diabetes for a long time are at a greater risk for kidney disease and may also need to be under a nephrologist’s care. They can also administer dialysis, for those patients undergoing dialysis treatment.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Podiatrists are also important doctors to routinely visit as nerve damage can ensue over time for patients living with diabetes. People with diabetes can also be more susceptible to wounds not healing properly, and podiatrists can check for infections that could worsen and lead to gangrene and even amputation.

Other specialists to consider are a dietician and personal trainer, if you feel you need help with reaching your diet and fitness goals.

7. How much should I expect this disease to cost me?

Living with type two diabetes places a significant economic burden on the individual. Costs vary depending on what country you live in. A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine concluded that the average medical costs over someone’s lifetime were $85,200, of which 53% was due to treating diabetes complications, and 57% of the total attributed to macrovascular complications. Making sure to see your doctors regularly and staying on top of your diabetes management can result in long term savings in healthcare costs.

8. Can I manage it just through diet and exercise? Can it be reversed?

Remission of type 2 diabetes is possible.

While you can’t necessarily “reverse it” you can certainly control it and some can even put it into remission. This depends on the individual, their overall health, how far into the condition they are along with other factors such as beta-cell function and insulin resistance. However, with healthy eating and regular exercise, many are able to free themselves from medications, and maintain normal blood glucose levels, thus preventing complications.

Be wary of fad diets and gimmicks that promise to cure you of type 2 diabetes. Reversing and prolonging the progression of this disease is up to the individual and their dedication to a healthy lifestyle and numerous other health factors (like co-existing health conditions and access to the most appropriate and affordable healthcare) may help or hinder their efforts.

9. Does having diabetes lower my life expectancy?

Diabetes is historically known for shortening a person’s lifespan but the good news is that with medication, technology, and a little effort, this doesn’t have to be the case. According to the CDC, diabetes is the 7th most common cause of death in the United States. This statistic doesn’t distinguish type 1 from type 2 diabetes and it also doesn’t take into account all of the complications that could be the main cause for death.

If you are actively managing your diabetes, you are less likely to develop these issues that could lead to a shorter life span. And, on a positive note, many find that they are actually healthier once diagnosed, as it helps them to make better choices for a healthier lifestyle.

10. Are my children at risk?

While genetics do play a strong role, this only means you are more at risk of developing diabetes, not that you will necessarily be diagnosed. Many other factors come into play, and while diabetes runs in families, developing healthy habits, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping active can help stave off a diagnosis as well.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes doesn’t have to be a death sentence. With a little determination and support from your medical team and loved ones, you can manage this condition. Asking questions and staying on top of your diabetes care is key to maintaining long term success.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Sinigang Na Hipon – Filipino Soup

This content originally appeared on Low Carb Yum. Republished with permission.

Imagine fresh, delicious shrimp in a broth that is savory, sweet, and sour all at once. No wonder it’s such a popular dish.

Traditional sinigang is served over a bed of white rice. For this recipe, I wanted to create a low carb version without the rice.

The soup is incredible all on its own. And it’s so easy to make! Everything comes together in one pot, and you simply add the ingredients and boil until they’re ready.

What Is Sinigang Soup?

Sinigang soup is a type of Filipino soup that is sour and savory. Sinigang (pronounced ‘see-Nee-Gangh’) is typically made with either pork (usually ribs), beef, chicken, shrimp, or fish.

Na Hipon, which means shrimp, is just one version of the Filipino soup.

Most sinigang soups feature a tamarind broth to achieve the characteristic flavor.

sinigang na hipon

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Sinigang Na Hipon Shrimp Filipino Soup

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This easy shrimp soup recipe is low-carb, gluten-free, and delicious! It features whole shrimp in a tamarind broth.
Course Soup
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Shrimp
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 160kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds large shrimp shells tails, heads intact
  • 1 piece green tomato quartered
  • 3 pieces ripe tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion quartered
  • 1 piece daikon radish sliced
  • 5 ounces green beans bite sized cuts
  • 3.5 ounces okra small
  • 14 ounces spinach fresh
  • 3 pieces green chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce or to taste
  • 1 packet tamarind soup mix 40 Grams
  • 2 to 3 cups water

Instructions

  • Properly wash shrimps with cold running water. Pat dry. Opt to season with salt.
  • In a casserole or deep large pan, add ¼ cup water, tomatoes and onions. Sauté until onions are translucent. Add the remaining water and bring to a boil.
  • Once water has boiled, slowly add okra, radish, green beans and sprinkle tamarind soup mix. Continue to boil for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables start to soften.
  • Add the shrimps to the boiling broth, make sure they are all submerged in broth. Cover and boil for 5 to 8 minutes or until each shrimp turned golden orange in color. Do not overcook shrimps. Turn off heat and add spinach. Cover. Allow spinach to wilt before serving.

Notes

  • 2 to 3 cups water – Usually, rice washing is used instead of water.
  • Properly wash shrimps with cold running water. Pat dry. Opt to season with salt. – Some would season shrimps with salt, I don’t.
  • Once water has boiled, slowly add Okra, radish, green beans and continue to boil for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shrimp, make sure they are all submerged in broth. Cover and boil for 5 to 8 minutes or until each shrimp turned golden orange in color. – Some heads of shrimps are black – they are cooked but the hepatopancreas differs in color when raw and cooked due to their diet (based on what I read).
  • I used an 11-inch deep pan and had to transfer the vegetables to another container while batch boiling the shrimps to make sure they are cooked properly.
  • Filipinos love to pair sinigang with lots of white rice.
  • Fish sauce (to taste) – Only added 1 tablespoon.
  • There is a small amount of sugar in the soup mix, but the amount of carbs in a serving shouldn’t be enough to impact. A tamarind paste and additional seasonings can be used instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 286mg | Sodium: 1925mg | Potassium: 590mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 4962IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 248mg | Iron: 4mg


Please note that the nutritional information may vary depending
on the specific brands of products used. We encourage everyone to check specific
product labels in calculating the exact nutritional information.

Sinigang Na Hipon – Filipino Soup Recipe

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Summer Is Here: Are You Still Safer at Home?

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Julia Flaherty

States and regions across America are slowly reopening, which means social distancing guidelines have become a bit fuzzy. However, the same principles apply to ensure you are best protecting yourself and others. COVID-19 is still a threat and will remain so until we have a widespread vaccine.

It’s important to remember that whether or not you’d like to slowly emerge back into society is your choice. You can absolutely still stay at home if that makes you feel safest and you are able to. But as more businesses and workplaces reopen, you may not have that choice.

It is also completely understandable that, after months inside, you’re ready to begin weighing the risks of certain activities to maintain other physical, mental, and emotional health needs. Both mentalities are okay. But if you plan to re-emerge or have to, there are important guidelines to keep in mind.

Know Your Risks

Public Gatherings

To remain cautious, keep your social circles small. Continue to limit your interactions to the people you live with, and be mindful of any emerging illnesses among your household members. If someone in your household does get sick, the CDC advises quarantining any ill family members in a specific room of your house (if they do not have to be monitored in a medical facility) to keep everyone safe from the spread.

Experts have outlined the risk factors of certain summer activities. While hosting an outdoor barbecue in your backyard with one other household is low to medium risk, going to a beach or pool among strangers is medium to high. Experts also say eating indoors at a restaurant is medium to high risk.

There are still many safety benefits of engaging with friends and family via virtual chats, ordering takeout instead of sitting down at venues (meanwhile supporting your local economy), and enjoying the great outdoors. Experts rate exercising outdoors and camping as low-risk summer activities.

Hygiene

Keep your hands and face (eyes, nose, mouth) clean. The CDC continues to advise washing your hands after treating someone who is sick, eating, preparing food, using the bathroom, tending to a wound or sore, touching pet litter, food, or treats, touching the garbage, interacting with out-of-home surfaces, and so on. Wet your hands with clean running water each time you wash them, and lather your hands, covering all areas of them, for at least 20 seconds. Dry them well using a clean hand towel each time.

Hand sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol volume is good to use in the interim if you do not have immediate access to soap and water, but the best method is still washing your hands, as hand sanitizer doesn’t eradicate all types of germs. Be mindful of this standard amid all of your summer activities to stay safe.

Regularly launder your clothes and shower. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your clothing, and then throw away your tissue or change your clothing. When cleaning, use an EPA-approved disinfecting product. Frequently clean high-touch surfaces.

Masks

Though many of us are growing eager to be close to friends and family again, suffering from lockdown burnout and fatigue, it’s still important to remember that masks do not replace the six feet apart social distancing rule. If you are slowly working on re-emerging, keep in mind that not everyone will practice mask safety in a compliant fashion, which puts you at risk.

Some do not know how to wear masks properly, while others still do not have access to compliant masks, and some may choose not to wear a mask at all. To ensure your safety, continue to wear a mask in public settings, such as the grocery store or your workplace if you are returning, and keep staying six feet apart. Experts have commented there are no known grocery store linked cases, indicating that grocery store shopping remains a low risk so long as you follow social distancing guidelines.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Is Healthcare Provider Knowledge of Diabetes Lacking?

People’s experiences with healthcare providers can vary widely. When it comes to living with diabetes, many people expect that their healthcare providers, even if they’re not specialists, will be at least somewhat knowledgeable about their health condition. Many have found however, that while endocrinologists and diabetes education specialists tend to be more attuned to the ins and outs of diabetes management, even their knowledge can be outdated, while the knowledge of other providers, is sometimes starkly lacking.

Meanwhile, two informal polls in two separate diabetes social media groups, highlighted that over 85% of people with diabetes expect any healthcare provider (even if not a diabetes specialist) to have a basic working understanding of diabetes, at the very least the two major types and general treatment options.

Nevertheless, when the asked to share their own experiences, many reported a lot of confusion and uneducated statements about diabetes from various healthcare providers. The consensus during the crowdsourcing research tended to be “while we expect it, we do not routinely see it.”

We asked people to share some of the comments that they received about diabetes from healthcare providers. Here are some surprising responses and stories to ponder:

“When did you have your insulin pump surgery?”

“Type 1 diabetes develops over 2-3 days, not months.”

“He was a big baby so clearly he’s was a diabetic when he came out.”

“You will kill your child with this low carb nonsense… I will not stand by and watch you do that… I’m sure one of the other doctors will call CPS with this.”

“Diabetics like you are only allowed 4 eggs a week. Period.”

“You should eat more carbs, it’ll stabilize your blood sugars.”

“Do not correct under 13 mmol/L [~234 mg/dL].”

“You need to eat a minimum of 45 g carbs per meal.”

“If you don’t like seeing high fasting blood sugar numbers in the morning, don’t test your blood sugar then.”

“You will likely be dead from diabetes by age 30. If by some miracle you are still alive, you will be blind, on kidney dialysis, and in a wheelchair due to amputations.”

“Are you sure you have type 1?”

“It’s probably best if you stop sports and strenuous exercise.”

“If you go low-carb, you’re going to kill yourself.”

“An A1c below 6.5 is dangerous.”

“You don’t have to bolus for corn or peas, they are freebies.”

“Your insides are destroyed from having diabetes so long.”

One woman shared the following story:

“When my daughter was diagnosed at age 2 (I had diagnosed her and had to fight with her pediatrician to test her blood, because her urine test was normal. We already ate low-carb, so I had to feed her a high-carb meal and take her back and storm the pediatrician’s office and force them to give her a test, which came back at around 500, at which point they finally sent us to the ER). After diagnosis, the endo told us she needed at least 100 g carbs for each meal (at age 2!!!), plus 30–50 g snacks in between meals. Insanity! They had her on massive amounts of Lantus, NPH, and Novolog. They told me to feed her lots of ice cream before bed every night to hold her steady at around 200, which was a great night-time number for a kid that age! I swear I still have PTSD from that whole experience! Nightmare! I had to fight with them every step of the way!”

Such stories amassed very quickly, with many nodding their heads at having similar experiences. Is there perhaps a gap in basic diabetes education, in particular for non-specialists?

Image credit: Haidee Merritt. Republished with permission. Please visit her Etsy store for more original work and gifts. 

Almost all will likely agree – while we cannot expect every healthcare provider to be fully attuned to the latest developments in diabetes diagnostics and treatment, an accurate knowledge of the basics should be a requirement – especially with the high number of diabetes diagnoses, and undiagnosed or misdiagnosed patients.

Moreover, ensuring better understanding of diabetes and its management across the board, for all providers, is highly likely to improve patient outcomes in various situations, including recovery from illness and surgery, and more effective prevention of numerous diabetes-associated complications.

***

What are your thoughts on this issue? Have you ever had a surprising conversation about diabetes with a healthcare provider?

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Are CGM Users Aware of Time in Range?

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Eliza Skoler and Rebecca Gowen

dQ&A surveyed 2,540 CGM users with type 1 or type 2 diabetes to find out how aware they are of their own time in range: 87% of respondents knew how much time they spend in range daily

Time in range is the percentage of time that a person spends in their target blood glucose range (70-180 mg/dl). This measurement of diabetes management along with time below range and time above range helps people assess patterns and trends throughout the day to inform daily treatment decisions in a way that A1C cannot. It is also becoming more well-known and accepted in the world of diabetes as a good indicator of diabetes management.

dQ&A, a market research company, wanted to measure people’s awareness of their own time in range. They surveyed 2,540 people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who use continuous glucose monitors (CGM). The following question was posed to respondents: “Do you know roughly what percentage of your day (on average) you typically spend with your blood sugar between 70-180 mg/dl?” For those people who answered yes, dQ&A then asked them what percentage of time they typically spend in the target range (70-180 mg/dl) each day. It is important to note that the majority of people included in this survey were White, had type 1 diabetes, and were using an insulin pump.

Important survey results included:

  • 87% of all respondents knew roughly how much time they spent in range each day, while 13% did not. These results were generally consistent across several factors including people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, adults and children, and people with type 2 diabetes who were or were not taking insulin.
  • 29% of respondents reported that they typically spend 71-80% of their day in range. 30% of the people surveyed reported a time in range above 80% while 41% of respondents reported a time in range lower than 71%.
  • People with type 2 diabetes who are not taking insulin are significantly more likely to report spending 91-100% of their day in range (36%), compared to adults with type 1 diabetes or people with type 2 diabetes on insulin (9% and 11%, respectively).
  • Time in range was higher in older age groups. The group with the lowest self-reported time in range was people under the age of 18: only 44% of people 18 years or younger spent more than 70% of the day in range, compared to 56% of people ages 18-44, 62% of people ages 45-65, and 68% of people over the age of 65.

Our takeaways from this data:

  • Among people who use CGM, the majority acknowledge time in range as a measurement of their glucose control. However, we believe more people can be educated on how to understand and act on their time in range data.
  • The majority of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes report achieving the  time in range target of more than 70% and this was particularly true for those in older age groups.
  • An important focus should be placed on helping young people find strategies to improve their time in range and incorporate it into their self-management.

To learn more about time in range click here.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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