5 Simple and Healthy Summer Swaps

The warm weather is finally here, and the pandemic is subsiding. For me that means a lot of barbeques and entertaining in my backyard. It is very easy to be a people pleaser and get what you think everyone else wants, but that could leave you dealing with a roller coaster of blood sugars. When you are hosting, it can be hard enough to find time to actually enjoy yourself and the last thing you need is to be worrying about your numbers. So, make sure to get plan on some recipes that are blood sugar friendly so that you can be present and enjoy the day.

The warm weather makes me crave light and refreshing foods. Thankfully, these foods are typically lower in carbs than their hearty winter counterparts. It is also so easy to find lower carb options at the grocery stores nowadays, making swaps super simple! Here are five alternatives to some of everyone’s favorite go-to hearty foods:

1. Zucchini Linguini

Put down the pasta! There are so many healthy alternatives available to us that you really don’t have to take a gamble with your weight or your blood sugar! Zucchini linguini is a great go-to that can also be turned into a cold pasta salad which is perfect for summer barbeques (pro tip: edamame pasta is my personal favorite, check it out here).

healthy summer swaps

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

2. Cauliflower

People love comfort foods and meatloaf and mashed potatoes is a fan favorite. However, being hot and humid doesn’t really make me in the mood for such a rich and filling meal. You can lighten it up by replacing the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower. You can also create a cold potato salad, hashbrowns and so much more! Add your seasoning of choice to spice it up!

mashed cauliflower

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

3. Meat and Cheese Roll-Ups

I definitely have a weak spot for mozzarella sticks. Anytime my kids order them at a restaurant, I take an extra unit or so of insulin in the hopes there will be one for me. I decided to make a healthier version at home and it turns out to be something my son loves. I bake clumps of shredded cheese on parchment paper in a 400-degree oven until it looks melted and then throw a pepperoni in the center of each one and wait until the cheese is bubbling which means it’s ready to come out. You can broil it for another minute if you like it extra crisp. And if you need a quick lunch or high protein snack, opt for meat and cheese roll-ups. There are so many variations, you are sure to like one!

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

4. Guacamole

I love cheese and dips but many of them are very fattening and loaded with calories. Avocado, on the other hand, is a fruit full of healthy fats and vitamins. It contains 9 carbs each but 7 of those carbs are fiber leaving it with a total of 2 net carbs. You can prepare guacamole however you like it and I recommend using endive as the “scooper”.

guacamole dip with fresh vegetables

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

5. Make Your Own Low-Carb Pizzas

Pizza is quick and affordable which makes it an easy go-to when you are running around. The only problem is pizza is loaded with carbs and fat making this a food notorious for being hard to bolus for. Why not turn pizza into a fun family activity and make your own using almond flour, egg and mozzarella as the crust? Then everyone can personalize as they see fit. Store them in the freezer and make them on those hectic nights instead of having to make another trip before you head home!

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

It is much easier than you would think to find low-carb alternatives for some of our favorite foods. You just need to take the time and plan ahead. Both your blood sugars and waistline will be glad you did!

Have you found some healthy summer swaps for your heartier winter favorites? Comment and share below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Two Brothers Take Control of Their Type 2

Peter and Johnny are brothers and good friends of mine, we were lucky enough to meet through our sons. They both have type 2 diabetes, just like their dad did. Just recently, they promised each other to begin taking their health seriously – and the changes they’ve made have been inspiring. I want to share their story.

Peter was diagnosed with type 2 eight years ago, right before I was diagnosed with type 1. Over the years, Peter and I have spoken a lot about our diabetes, and it has been so nice to share information and experiences with someone who “gets it.” I remember one time, we were all at a dinner party, and my continuous glucose meter was reading 49 with an arrow down. Peter understood the severity when most wouldn’t have, and quickly ran to the waiter to get me a coke. It has been nice to have someone to talk blood sugars with, but it became bittersweet when Peter’s brother Johnny was dealt the same fate of a type 2 diagnosis.

I thought it would be great to hear from Peter about his journey and how he started to take it seriously and commit to his health. I also spoke to Johnny about his surprising diagnosis, and how he quickly took action and control of his type 2. These brothers helped motivate and encourage each other, and now both can reap the rewards of their efforts.

Peter, Allison and Johnny celebrate taking control of their diabetes and their health.

Thank you so much for taking the to speak with me today. I thought many of our readers would love to hear how you both have taken care of your health thanks to your type 2 diagnosis. Making lifestyle changes isn’t always easy, but it is well worth the journey. And what a bonus to have your brother right by your side!

It is my understanding that your father had type 2 and eventually became insulin-dependent. Did you understand a lot about the disease growing up? 

Peter: Yes, we were six kids growing up, and my brother Johnny and sister Roula would give my dad his insulin shots 2x a day. They did not come mixed back then, so we had to mix the two vials (N&R) together to give his shot.

Did your father take care of his health? 

Johnny: No, he was first diagnosed at 37 but never took care of his health or made any lifestyle changes until later in life. Unfortunately, because of this, he had a toe amputated because of low circulation. It also affected his vision. He had multiple surgeries for this, and it ultimately lead to heart disease and heart failure. We lost him on his birthday at 71.

Knowing your family history, did you pay close attention to your diet and exercise habits? 

Peter: No, I thought I was invincible and that this disease would not affect me.

At what age were you diagnosed with type 2, and what were the symptoms? 

Peter: I was diagnosed at the age of 37. I really did not have any symptoms, but I had gone for a regular checkup and my blood levels were off the charts, and my doctor sent me to a specialist. The specialist put me on medication, but I was not taking the pills as prescribed, as I felt fine and didn’t want to take any medicine. I was not testing my blood sugar at that time.

How did you manage at first, and what lifestyle changes have you made since? 

Peter: I was in total denial and really did not change anything about how I was eating or going through my day-to-day life. Once I turned 45 and understood the severity and saw how much my blood sugar was rising, I made significant lifestyle changes. I started eating healthier, more vegetables (finally eating greens!), switched my alcohol choices (low-carb beer and lower sugar drinks). I started going to the gym prior to Covid, and then turned to walking.

I understand that recently you started to monitor your blood sugar more frequently and even tried out the Freestyle Libre. What was your experience with the Libre? Did you like being able to monitor your blood sugar all the time?  

Peter: I didn’t believe it! When I saw the numbers I thought they were wrong. I did like the ability to see how what I ate affected my blood sugar immediately, but I was not ready for the Libre until I took control of my lifestyle and lost weight, the full journey to get to where I am now. I feel like it would be better for me now, as it is extremely easy.

controlling type 2 diabetes

Peter before his weight loss

Please tell us about your brother, Johnny, and his surprising diagnosis. 

Peter: My brother happened to come over to my house when I was taking my blood sugar prior to my making healthier lifestyle changes and choices. My numbers were in the mid 200’s, and I thought my glucose meter was broken. My brother said, “Take mine so we can see how it’s working.” His numbers came over double mine at 468 [mg/dL]. We definitely thought the machine was broken until my sister-in-law took her blood sugar (with no history of diabetes in her family). She was at 90. At that point, we knew the numbers were correct, and we both knew that this was the defining moment of the rest of our lives.

What was your initial reaction to this pretty shocking news?  

Johnny: I was in total disbelief – I felt like I was going to die and really took a long, hard look at the life that I wanted and made a lot of decisions on how I needed to make some dramatic life changes.

Had you had any symptoms? 

Johnny: I felt completely fine, however, my wife always said that when I didn’t eat I would be very HANGRY. Snickers commercials had nothing on me, and truthfully when my numbers get too low now, I feel exactly the same. It is something I need to continue to control, to level out my sugar levels.

What were some of the first things you did to better get control of your health and your blood sugars?  

Johnny: I immediately stopped eating all processed carbs. No bread, rice, pasta, beer, sugar, desserts, and milk. I replaced these items with Ezekiel bread, zucchini linguini, almond milk, sugar-free coffee sweetener, and condiments (sugar-free ketchup and BBQ sauce).

Johnny before and after choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

I know you have both come a long way since you found out you had type 2 diabetes. Can you each tell us a little about your successes? 

Johnny: I was 238 lbs before my diagnosis. By changing my eating habits, exercising every day, walking 2 miles, and working out, I now weigh 194 lbs. I’ve lost two pant sizes and feel like a new person, one that will be around for my family for a long time. And my wife says I’m super sexy now.

Peter: I was 232 lbs when I was first diagnosed, and with all of the changes in my everyday lifestyle, I now weigh 186. I feel like a million dollars and realize I should have made these changes years ago. Life is too short. Make the changes now.

You both should be very proud of yourselves for turning this diagnosis into a stepping stone towards a healthier life. What would be your advice to a newly diagnosed person?  

Peter: Control it now, before it gets out of control.

Johnny: Take it seriously as this life is precious and life is worth living without complications – it only gets worse as you get older. The best part, I feel like I’m 18 again!

Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. I am truly impressed with how you both taken on this disease. I know your story will inspire many of our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Diabetes Self-Care: How I Got Into and Out of a Bad Habit

By Julie Hyland

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in July 2013 at the age of 37. I lost a lot of weight, mostly muscle. Looking back at pics, I looked so sickly but I had so much going on at that time I didn’t notice. I was moving to another state, my father passed away and my son was also moving to a different state, all within a two-month period.

After getting diagnosed, I had a very strong mindset that I wasn’t going to let this disease control me, and I was going to show the world I could do even more now with type 1 than I could do before. I have always worked out and watched what I ate, so I was ready to kick diabetes butt. Well, I gained my muscle and weight back and kept that mindset for about 5 years.

Left: Right after I got diagnosed when I lost all my muscle | Right: After I worked to get my muscle back

Then, I let it get to me. The feeling like I suck when my sugars were high. The fear when my sugars went low. The fear of going to bed and dropping low. The constant stressing and worrying about what to eat, what to drink and what to dose. The anger when I would attempt to work out and drop low. The feeling of being stupid because you can’t figure out this disease. So I stopped working out, and I started eating whatever I felt like. But most of all, I drank.

I have always loved alcohol. It was my best friend. It got me through sad times, happy times, stressed times, anxiety, fear. It was my life. It was there for me…so I thought. I began to drink so much, I now know it was a way of numbing my hatred for this disease. The same disease I said I wouldn’t let affect me. If I was drunk or drinking, I was able to ignore a million thoughts of this disease. This disease I got like winning a bad luck lottery.

Because I was always drinking, I stopped noticing how I looked. I mean, I noticed my clothes not fitting and how I looked in the mirror. But because I would just numb myself more, I was able to overlook it. All it took was one video I saw of me getting out of the pool. I couldn’t believe how I looked. I also started doing yoga at that time and I was in my house thank God, but in one of the positions, I had to lift my stomach up in order to do it…what the h*ll?! Never in my life had I experienced anything like this.

How I looked in May 2020

That day was May 18, 2020. I decided that day I was done drinking and punishing myself for something I had no control over. I quit drinking. I started walking. I got a treadmill and a weight rack, bench and weights. I started working out and eating better.

Because I wasn’t drunk and hungover all the time, I felt great and it began to change how I looked at everything. The scale doesn’t show a huge amount of weight loss, but I’ve lost so far 7 inches off of my stomach. I have gone from a size 12 jeans to a size 6. I have started running and I love it. I dabbled in running about 15 years ago but never could run for long distances and always felt like death. When I started in July 2020 I couldn’t run for even 15 seconds. I can now run 3 miles and not feel like death. I will be running my first 5k at the end of May, which is also my one-year of sobriety month. I am nowhere near where I want to be but I’m so happy and proud of what I’ve accomplished so far. After my 5k, I want to do a 10k and then a half-marathon and so on.

April 2021

If I have any advice about this disease it’s “don’t be so hard on yourself”.

I also wish there would be more information out there about adults getting type 1 and more people talking about it. When I first got diagnosed there was barely any information about adults getting diagnosed. I started a YouTube channel in hopes to help other adults and it’s also a good way for me to get all my worries, stresses and journey out to everyone. I stopped making videos when I was in my funk, but I’ve started back up now. Documenting my sobriety and my running journey and how it all affects my blood sugar. If you are interested and want to follow me along in my progress. You can subscribe on YouTube at imtype.01.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Metformin, But Were Afraid to Ask

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Marcia Kadanoff and Timothy Hay

Starting on metformin? My journey as a type 2 of learning how to deal with side effects, “faux lows,” and learning more about this therapy. 

Editor’s note: this article is in Marcia’s perspective of living with type 2 diabetes, as written by Timothy Hay in January 2019. It was updated in March 2021.

When I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 58, my doctor immediately put me on metformin, a medication I didn’t know much about.

I soon learned why metformin is considered the first line of defense for people with the condition, as it is safe, effective, and affordable. It’s not linked to weight gain and it puts very little stress on the internal organs. I also read that metformin has side effects for some people.

I expected it to work like insulin in pill form and drop my blood sugar (around 180 mg/dl at the time) right away. But metformin doesn’t work like that. Not at all.

I learned – as millions of people with type 2 diabetes have – that metformin doesn’t immediately lower your blood sugar. It can take four or five days to experience the full benefit, depending on your dosage.

It might not solve all your problems in the blink of an eye. But it is an effective medicine, and its interaction with the body is complex and interesting.

Want more information like this?

What We Know About Metformin

Metformin, which is also sold under the trade names Glucophage, Fortamet, Glumetza, and Riomet, is of the class of drugs called biguanides, which inhibit the production of glucose in the liver.

How does metformin work?

The medicine does not increase insulin levels in the body, but instead lessens the amount of sugar the body produces and absorbs. As it lowers glucose production in the liver, metformin also lowers blood sugar by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It also decreases the amount of glucose that our bodies absorb from the foods we eat.

What is metformin used for?

Metformin is commonly used to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. For most, metformin works to bring down blood sugar gradually when combined with a healthy diet and exercise (I found Adam Brown’s book, Bright Spots & Landmines: The Diabetes Guide I Wish Someone Had Handed Me to be helpful, particularly in deciding what to eat and not to eat). It’s not so much a quick fix with overnight results as it is an important component of a larger health regimen that keeps the condition manageable.

Is metformin safe?

Metformin is considered a safe, cheap, and effective medication worldwide, and is widely accessible in most countries.

What are the most common side effects of metformin?

Metformin does cause side effects in some people, but many of these are mild, and are associated with taking the medicine for the first time. Nausea and gastric distress such as stomach pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea are somewhat common among people starting up on metformin.

For some people, taking large doses of metformin right away causes gastric distress, so it’s common for doctors to start small and build the dosage up over time. Many people start with a small metformin dose – 500 milligrams once a day – and build up over a few weeks until the dosage reaches least 1,500 milligrams daily. This means there’s less chance of getting an upset stomach from the medicine, but also means it may take a bit longer to experience the full benefit when getting started on metformin.

I experienced some mild side effects when I started taking metformin, and I found that the symptoms correlated with how many carbs I had in my diet. Once I dropped my carbs to 30-50 grams per day – something that took me weeks to do – any symptoms of gastric upset went away.

Asking your doctor for the extended-release version of metformin can keep these symptoms at bay, and so can tracking your diet.

What is the best time to take metformin?

Standard metformin is taken two or three times per day. Be sure to take it with meals to reduce the stomach and bowel side effects that can occur – most people take metformin with breakfast and dinner.

Extended-release metformin is taken once a day and should be taken at night, with dinner. This can help to treat high glucose levels overnight.

What are less common side effects of metformin?

The medication can cause more serious side effects, though these are rare. The most serious of these is lactic acidosis, a condition caused by buildup of lactic acid in the blood.  This can occur if too much metformin accumulates in the blood due to chronic or acute (e.g. dehydration) kidney problems. Severe acute heart failure, or severe liver problems can also result in a lactate imbalance.

Metformin can also increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), particularly for those who take insulin and drugs which increase insulin secretion (such as sulfonylureas), but also when combined with excessive alcohol intake. Even though I’m not on insulin, I started on continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to be able to keep a closer eye on my blood sugar levels. Of course, regular checking with a blood glucose meter is also helpful in preventing low blood sugar episodes.

Because long-term use of metformin can block absorption of vitamin B12, causing anemia, sometimes people need to supplement vitamin B12 through their diet as well.

For most people who take metformin, side effects are mild and relatively short in duration.

Metformin

Image source: diaTribe

The “Faux Low”

There is another common side effect often experienced by people taking metformin for the first time. It’s something called a “faux low.”

A faux low happens when you drop your blood sugars to a “normal” range after running consistently high (i.e. above 180 mg/dl), whether by starting on a therapy like metformin or going on a low-carb diet, or both! Your body responds to this change as if it’s in real hypoglycemia (below 70 mg/dl).

Although every person with diabetes has a different blood-sugar threshold and different symptoms, people often feel irritable, tired, shaky, and dizzy when their blood sugar is 70 mg/dl or lower. When I experienced faux lows, I felt similarly dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, and extremely hungry.

Tool

Image source: diaTribe

If you experience symptoms like these and have confirmed with a glucose meter the low you are feeling is indeed false (i.e. your meter says you’re at 96 mg/dl), keep taking your metformin as directed. Don’t start carb-loading (eating carb-rich foods like orange juice to bring sugars back up).

If I’m indeed having a faux low and not a real one, I found that drinking water and taking a high-sodium, non-carbohydrate snack (nuts are great for this, especially macadamia nuts which are high in fat) nips the symptoms in the bud, allowing me to move on with my life.

Note that especially for type 2 folks out there on metformin and insulin or sulfonylureas, hypoglycemia is a real risk. If you’re feeling low, check your blood sugar – there will be times when you do need to treat hypoglycemia with glucose tablets or orange juice or the like.

Metformin interactions: what should I avoid while taking metformin?

When taken at the same time, some drugs may interfere with metformin. Make sure your healthcare team is aware of any medications that you take before you start on metformin, especially certain types of diuretics and antibiotics. Remember, insulin and insulin releasing medications can increase your risk of hypoglycemia, so it is particularly important to carefully monitor your glucose levels.

You should also avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while taking metformin – aim for no more than one glass per day for women, and two per day for men. Alcohol can contribute to lactic acidosis.

Does metformin cause cancer?

In 2019 the FDA investigated whether some forms of metformin contain high levels of a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemical called N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). In 2020, the FDA recommended the recall of several versions of extended-release metformin, and more than a dozen companies have since voluntarily recalled certain lots of the medication. While low levels of NDMA are commonly found in foods and drinking water, high levels of the substance are toxic and can cause cancer.

You can check to see if your metformin has been recalled here. For people taking extended-release metformin, the FDA recommends that you continue to take your medication until you talk to your healthcare professional.

Other Possible Metformin Benefits

Most people with type 2 diabetes tolerate metformin well and are glad it’s available in generic form, which keeps the price low. The medication is so effective as a first-line therapy the American Diabetes Association includes it in its diabetes Standards of Care.

But metformin could have additional uses and benefits outside of treating type 2 diabetes.

Researchers are currently studying whether the medicine can help in the fight against cancer, neurodegenerative conditions, vision problems like macular degeneration, and even aging. It will be a while, however, before uses other than blood-glucose lowering are proven to be effective.

At the same time, metformin is also used in the treatment of gestational diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome.

The American Diabetes Association has said more doctors should be prescribing metformin to treat prediabetes (a state of higher-than-normal blood glucose levels that doesn’t meet the diagnostic criteria for diabetes), especially for people under the age of 60, although the FDA has yet to bless metformin’s use for the condition.

Can metformin cause weight loss?

The FDA has also not officially approved metformin as an aid in losing weight. Many people with type 2 diabetes have lost weight after taking the drug, as researchers are still torn over exactly how metformin affects the weight. Some believe it decreases appetite, while others say it affects the way the body stores and uses fat.

Scientists are also examining metformin’s potential to protect against heart disease in people with type 2 diabetes – some older data supports this. While robust heart outcome trials with metformin are yet to be conducted, more attention is being paid to this research area.

Metformin and type 1 diabetes

It will be an exciting development if metformin is helpful in the treatment of cancer or neurodegenerative conditions like Huntington’s. But what if it is found to help people managing type 1 diabetes?

Metformin is not currently approved by US or European regulatory agencies for use in type 1s, but people have been known to take the medication anyway, and many doctors prescribe it if someone with type 1 diabetes is overweight. There are actually several reasons metformin is an attractive option for many type 1s. One, metformin has been found to help reduce glucose production in the liver, which is a problem in type 1 diabetes. Two, people often form resistance to the insulin they take, and metformin can help improve insulin sensitivity.

And, metformin may support weight loss and protection against heart disease. A study published in the Lancet following type 1 participants for three years found that compared to placebo, participants taking metformin lost weight. Particularly because insulin often causes weight gain, healthcare providers prescribe metformin “off-label” (not for intended use approved by regulatory agencies) to their type 1 patients. While the study didn’t find that metformin definitively protects against heart disease, based on observed trends in the data, the authors concluded that it may have a role in heart disease risk management.

The Bottom Line?

Metformin

Image source: diaTribe

If you are a person with type 2 diabetes, there are plenty of benefits to taking metformin for its original, intended purpose.

Its side effects are minimal for most people. It’s affordable and covered by Medicare and most insurance plans. Speaking for myself: metformin doesn’t have to cure aging or cancer to be immensely valuable. It helps me process insulin and go on with my life. For me, that’s enough.

About Marcia Kadanoff

Marcia Kadanoff is an advisor to The diaTribe Foundation. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in June 2017 at the age of 50-something, and both her parents and grandparents died of diabetes-related complications. With the help of diaTribe and Adam Brown’s book, Bright Spot & Landmines, Marcia discovered that type 2 diabetes can be put into remission with lifestyle changes. Over the next 7 months, Marcia worked to reverse her diabetes through a LCHF (low-carb, healthy fat) way of eating and regular exercise. Along the way, she lost 45 lbs (!) and found that she no longer suffered from sleep apnea and fibromyalgia. Marcia has maintained her weight loss for a year and had a 4.9% A1C at her last checkup. She wants other people with type 2 to know that they too can put their diabetes into remission.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How to Lose Weight and Be Active With Type 1 Diabetes

Editor’s Note: Cliff Scherb, Founder of the Glucose Advisors Consulting community and Tristar Athletes LLC, is a nutrition, health, and dosing expert. He consults virtually through the Glucose Advisors University, teaching the Scherb Method decision support system for insulin management, nutrition, weight loss, and activity. To inquire about program openings, courses, and general questions working with Cliff or Glucose Advisors, join the community or email him directly at cliff@glucoseadvisors.com.

Most of my career as a health expert, I have had the privilege of helping others. In the type 1 diabetes  (T1D) spotlight, I am one who walks the walk and talks the talk when it comes to general health and well being. Yes, most of my career has been spent as a more extreme endurance athlete – yet these days most of my endurance is spent behind a computer teaching others how to achieve their T1D goals, still active but more inclined to also be happily chasing my 1.5 year old daughter as she grows up.

Cliff Scherb

Photo credit: Cliff Scherb

Sitting more regularly and burning less energy overall each day has had some meaningful changes to my management methods. Let’s face it, if I continued to eat the same amounts of calories each day such as when I was racing and training, I would blow up like a balloon!

I have always maintained what I will call a “normal” lifestyle and stayed true to what most do in life who do not have T1D. Meaning I don’t bend my will to T1D and I’m not afraid of carbohydrates or feel compelled to eat only fats. I believe that you can do what’s best for you, and if it makes you happy to join one of these extremes, by all means do it.

The internet is full of advice for people with T1D and never before have we had the wealth of information at just a fingertip-length away. How you put that information together and use it to your benefit is what is not so easy to do. Knowing what is worth your time and what is not can mean the difference between brilliant blood sugar control and avoiding longer term complications. The following tips we use have helped our students stay on track.

Here are five things you can do as a person with T1D that can help to improve your blood sugar and to help maintain a lean body composition:

1. Consider an Insulin Pump

If you have the option and ability, the pump allows you to lower and raise your total daily insulin dose more easily. When there are periods of your day that do not include insulin, there is a greater opportunity to process fat stores. If you are using multiple daily injections you may want to speak with your doctor about moving away from long-acting insulins such as Lantus, which have close to a 24-hour duration. On an insulin pump, only short-acting insulin is used, which is out of the body more quickly and may help lower the total daily insulin dose.

2. Choose More Fiber

Consuming an adequate amount of fiber in your diet can help not only by giving you the feeling of fullness but also by not requiring any extra insulin. Considered a carbohydrate, it does not generally impact blood sugars and can be subtracted out of your total carbohydrate count at meals.

3. Choose Lean Proteins

Proteins are great at promoting blood sugar stability and also have fewer total calories per gram when compared to fats. Fat grams, while having the benefit of blood sugar stability, can promote insulin resistance (increased insulin demand) and have nearly twice as many calories.

4. Time Your Carbohydrates Earlier in the Day vs. Later at Night

This means having a larger carbohydrate-loaded breakfast to supercharge your energy during the day and setting it up so that your insulin levels overnight are lower. This is a great way to lower your total daily insulin dose. You should also try to limit insulin prior to activity and time it post-activity when you are more sensitive and need less insulin overall.

5. Create Insulin Sensitivity

Being active is a great way to introduce a higher level of insulin sensitivity. This sensitivity will lower your total daily dose overall, aiding in total reductions in body fat. When timed with an appropriate meal plan and diet it can be a recipe for success!

Keep in mind, anything worth doing takes work! What is one of the biggest obstacles to T1D management success? It certainly isn’t a lack of desire. No, it’s just one thing…

Follow-through.

All the tools in the world don’t matter if you aren’t implementing what you learn. Practicing your nutrition timing and activity can help you to create greater insulin sensitivity which lowers your total daily dose. Ultimately, when you track the total daily insulin dose, this can help lead to longer-term weight loss and happiness with enhanced blood sugars.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Virta Health: An Unparalleled Leader in Reversing Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterized by high blood glucose levels due to the inability to effectively utilize insulin (insulin resistance). It is well-known that it is often possible to reverse type 2 diabetes by adjusting lifestyle factors, in particular, through dietary changes and sustained weight loss. However, many patients are not able to achieve this.

Virta is a company that was founded in 2014 and has made it their mission to help people reverse their type 2 diabetes. In their program, “most patients achieve blood sugar control while removing medications like insulin, often in a matter of weeks.”

The program centers around utilizing a very low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet, tailored specifically to meet each patient’s need. The dietary change can help facilitate both weight loss, and improve blood glucose levels, often quickly, allowing for discontinuation of various blood glucose medications under medical supervision.

In addition to a health coach”, blood sugar testing supplies, a “smart scale”, the company offers a variety of educational resources, community engagement among patients, and personalized advice provided by medical experts.

“Powered by technology and data science, physicians and nurses provide expert medical care, when and where patients need it, via Virta’s custom-designed app medical records system.”

One of the main reasons that a very low-carbohydrate diet can work so well for many people with diabetes is depicted below.

Photo credit: Virta Health

In fact, a very low-carbohydrate approach as an integral part of diabetes management is becoming more and more accepted and recommended by medical professionals and health organizations. Learn more about the most recent research and recommendations about low carb for diabetes here:

Low-Carb for Type 1 Diabetes

Low-Carb for Type 2 Diabetes

Low-Carb for Pre-Diabetes

Check out some of the very impressive Virta clinical study outcomes in patients who utilize the program:

Additionally, the researchers noted weight loss as a “side-benefit”, with patients losing an average of 30 lbs., or 12% of their body weight, a clinically-significant result that was maintained at the one-year mark since the start of the trial. Even more strikingly, participants experienced significant cardiovascular disease risk reduction, lower blood pressure levels, lower levels of inflammation, and lower risk for fatty liver disease.

Of course, all these health improvements also translate to cost savings for both patients and health insurance providers. Many employers and health plans are now working with Virta to increase patient access to this treatment approach. To get started, you can fill out a short form to schedule a free call to determine the next steps in the process.

With superior success to a traditional diabetes care approach already established, Virta aims to continue to broaden its reach with the challenging and very admirable goal of “reversing type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025.

Have you heard of or participated in this program? What are your thoughts on carbohydrate restriction as a primary means to achieve weight loss and tighter blood sugar management? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

How the Keto Diet Paved the Way for a “Normal” Life

By Matt Barrie

I have type 1 diabetes since age three, and am now 37 years old. Living a ‘normal life’ has always been my number 1 goal, but how this has manifested has been different through different stages of my life. As a teenager, I hung out with friends and wanted to do all the same things as them, eat the same things as them and just be a ‘normal’ kid. I made it through, although there were several seizures and hospital visits.

My twenties had their ups and downs both with health and life events. I had weight fluctuations from quite low to an extra unhealthy 20 lbs., and my HbA1cs were also all over the map. By 26, I made some big changes and adopted a healthy, standard carb-diet lifestyle and enjoyed that sense of ‘normalcy’ that we all crave. I played soccer, ran, skied, and lifted weights.

By my late twenties, I made some big life-changing decisions, like heading back to school to change direction with my career. Through studying and supporting myself at the same time, my health began to slip slowly and steadily. By the time my degree was finished, I had put on 50+ lbs., had developed very unhealthy eating habits, and could barely make it up a flight of stairs without being out of breath.

Doctors were giving me all the warnings, my HbA1c was up in the 8s and 9s and most significantly, the diabetic retinopathy that had begun to develop in my 20s worsened and progressed into macular retinal edema. So, monthly visits to the ophthalmologist (daily, when I developed an infection from the injections I was getting that almost took my eye!) became my new normal. With fear as a driving factor and determination as the driving force, I jumped into action, although not sure where to begin.

keto diet

Moussaka made with eggplant, zucchini, cashew-béchamel, ground beef sauce and cheese. Photo credit: Matt Barrie

I started experimenting with the ketogenic diet after reading that it had proved successful for many people with diabetes, both types 1 and 2. This was around 3.5 years ago. Most of the success I read about then was regarding type 2 diabetes and reversing it with the diet.

I was very curious though how I could make this work for myself so the experimenting began. I tried cyclical, where you rotate carbs in and out, but this didn’t work. I tried semi-strict, with the infamous ‘cheat days’ which I needed at the time to preserve those foods I ‘missed’, but ultimately this didn’t work either. I tried many different iterations of the diet and for two years saw small successes – up to 20 lbs. [weight loss] here and there. It was enough to keep me going but I never saw that breakthrough success that I was truly after.

After the summer of 2019, I had taken a ‘break’ with visiting relatives and had gained back all my losses and then some. It was very discouraging, but it was the motivation I needed to make a serious change. I hit a saturation point where I knew I couldn’t keep continuing on the way I had been. I weighed in over 210 lbs., which on my 5’8″ frame felt like [an extra] 100 lbs. I committed to myself that I would be absolutely strict keto, I signed up with a trainer twice a week to stay accountable, and committed to running twice a week. I also began practicing intermittent fasting with the 16 hour/8 hour split between my fasting and eating window.

Photo credit: Matt Barrie

Within the first month, I dropped 15 lbs. and the weight and body composition began to change week by week, month by month. By the time the pandemic hit, I was well on my way to my weight loss goal and was able to stay on track. I lost 50 lbs. by April of 2020 and have been working on building lean muscle mass ever since!

My insulin needs have dropped significantly – basal by about a quarter and fast-acting by over 3/4! My HbA1c is in the low 6s and most significantly, I have reversed my macular edema and the retinopathy seems to be going into remission as well. My ophthalmologist was blown away that there was no fluid in my retina.

Photo credit: Matt Barrie

It’s hard to put into words the effect these lifestyle changes have had in my life. My energy, ability to perform, clarity of mind, spirit, and purpose are all significantly improved. Thinking and being told by convention that carbs were essential led me to high levels of insulin resistance, fat storage, yo-yo blood sugars, and unnecessary highs and lows due to over-correction. I now enjoy steady blood glucose levels during exercise, during waking hours, and overnight. I’m also enjoying much lower insulin needs and feel confident that my risk of diabetic complications is significantly decreased.

Keto Diet - Matt Barrie

Left: Sablefish (black cod) with puréed butternut squash, pan-fried Brussels and topped with red cabbage sauerkraut. Right: Grilled pork chop with seared zu Chinju, roasted carrots and cauliflower. Finished with mushroom cream sauce. Photo credit: Matt Barrie

I can’t shout from the roof loud enough that the ketogenic lifestyle can be such a powerful tool for diabetes management! I’m not saying it’s the only way, but it has certainly worked for me and changed my life. At first, you do miss the foods from a standard carbohydrate diet that we are all programmed to accept, but with time the cravings go away and the way you feel on the other side is totally worth it! It doesn’t even feel like a sacrifice anymore and being creative in the kitchen to make satisfying, delicious food is all part of the fun!

Left: Zucchini tuna melts with cheese and avocado mayo. Right: Cauliflower, bacon and asparagus soup with homemade almond flour cheese scone. Photo credit: Matt Barrie

If you’d like to follow my journey and pick up any tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way, I’ve recently started a public Instagram account. You can follow along @type1ketoguy.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

10 Healthy Foods that Can Sabatoge Your Diet

Some of the most popular go-to healthy foods can often be very high in calories, which can make reaching your goals more challenging. This doesn’t mean you should avoid them but if you’re aiming to stay within a certain daily calorie allowance, you’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with how these foods measure up in terms of calories as well as the other macronutrients.

Here are some common healthy go-to foods that may sabotage your weight loss efforts so be mindful of the labels and your portion size:

Protein Shakes/Smoothies

Everyone loves a good protein shake or smoothie, especially at this time of year. But you must be mindful of what you are putting in it as most are between 250-600 calories per a 16-oz serving. Also, check the labels of your protein powder to make sure you are using one with minimal sugar. My favorite low-carb and low-calorie protein shake consists of 1 scoop of protein powder, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter powder, 1/2 of a small container of Greek yogurt and a splash of almond milk. It is filling but macro-friendly.

Guacamole

Guacamole is packed with heart-healthy and potassium-rich avocados, and it’s also packed with calories. One cup (which sounds like a lot but have you ever sat at a table with guac and chips?!) contains about 360 calories. If you want to indulge, you can swap your chips for veggies to cut out some calories and carbs.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a great healthy choice thanks to their fiber, omega-3, and protein content but they are also very caloric. A single tablespoon contains 70 calories, meaning you can easily add an extra 200 calories to that smoothie without even realizing it. Use chia seeds sparingly in order to still get the health benefits minus the unwanted calories.

Olive Oil

Just 2 tablespoons of olive oil add 238 calories to your meal or salad. And yes, those calories count even if you are just using it to cook. While olive oil is full of healthy fat, use it sparingly to keep the calories in check. Consider using avocado oil which has fewer calories and can withstand high heat.

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is high in sugar and carbohydrates and it’s not the easiest snack to keep to one portion at a time. It also doesn’t have the water associated with regular fruit, so it is not as filling and satiating. You are best served to single-portion this snack out ahead of time to keep the calories in check.

Nuts and Nut Butter

Nut butter is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. It contains healthy fat and is very versatile and can be added to a variety of snacks or dishes, such as smoothies, yogurts and much more. But 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain almost 200 calories, so be careful with your serving size or consider one of the many new peanut butter powders which are less caloric and contain less fat, too.

Nuts are also a great healthy snack, just one small handful of almonds contains over 7 grams of protein and 18 grams of healthy fats. Since they’re very calorie-dense, just two handfuls per day with a meal or as a snack can quickly add hundreds of calories. Make sure to be mindful of portion size with this snack.

Gluten-Free Foods

If you are one of many people living with diabetes who also have celiac disease, you are probably accustomed to eating gluten-free foods. While they are amazing substitutes for wheat, they are not necessarily healthier. Many contain less protein than their wheat counterparts. Also, while the calorie count usually remains the same, you may eat more of the gluten-free one because it appears “healthier.”

Prepared Salad Kits

We all love the convenience of running into a store on your lunch break and grabbing a salad to go. But to think that is automatically a healthier choice because it is a salad is incorrect. Many are loaded with extra calories and fat from the cheese, bacon and pouches of dressing. You can still buy these prepared kits but don’t overload on all the toppings. Or better yet, create your own salad and keep the calories in check.

Granola

One cup of homemade granola can serve up a full meal’s worth of calories. At 597 calories and a whopping 29.4 grams of fat per cup (exact totals may differ based on ingredients), this is one of the foods you should skip if you want to lose weight. Consider making your own, there are great recipes out there to try.

Sushi

The fish and vegetable components of sushi are healthy, but once you add in the creamy sauces, fried dough and rice, it can become a real dent in your diet. One roll can easily contain 500 calories! Consider having a few pieces of a sushi roll along with a salad, miso soup and edamame. Or, choose rolls that don’t contain mayonnaise or fried ingredients.

Watching calories can be tricky but if you are mindful of your choices, you can definitely succeed! Do you have any low-calorie staples that help you not go overboard? Comment and share below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Review: Withings Connected Devices Help You Manage Your Health

Featured in Newsweek Best Products of 2020, Withings products and services can provide a range of accurate real-world data, including weight, heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure readings, as well as activity and sleep—so you can be on top of your health and also have data that can be very useful for your healthcare provider to help manage your care. With much of healthcare going remote, these products are more important than ever to stay on top of your health.

Who They Are

A start-up company founded in 2008 by Eric Carreel sought out to develop connected devices and apps that allow people to measure, and track what is important for their health and then take the information to make educated decisions to achieve their goals.

Today, Withings connected scales, hybrid watches, blood pressure monitors and sleep monitors, are used by millions of people around the world.

What Products Do They Offer

Withings carries scales, watches, blood pressure monitors, thermometers and sleep monitors–all of which are synced to one app for easy tracking. You can also share this data with your medical care team, which will make your appointments that much more productive. And now with most healthcare professionals switching over to telehealth in the wake of COVID-19, having useful information to share with your provider will help you get the most out of these virtual appointments.

My Review

I received the Withings Body + scale which was voted best body composition scale of 2019 by Verywell and the BPM connect blood pressure monitor. The company provided me with the product at no charge. I received no additional compensation for this review and all opinions are my own.

Withings Scales

Withings offers 3 different scale options all of which give you a comprehensive view of your health by performing a 30-second reading when you step on the scale. Within seconds you can get a complete body analysis–an accurate weight, BMI, body fat, water %, muscle and bone mass. Each of the scales offers slightly different features, with the Body Cardio scale also offering cardiovascular health via heart rate. Another great feature on all of the scales is the local weather. This is great for me since I usually weigh in before I step outside for the day.

Every time you weigh-in, the information appears in the Health Mate’s easy to set up app, automatically, via WI-FI or Bluetooth sync. It can store information for up to eight people at a time and also connects to over one hundred other apps. There is also a baby and pregnancy mode, which helps new moms or moms-to-be during this exciting time. Having all of this information at your fingertips can help you keep up the good work and make better decisions regarding your health.

For me, personally, as a person who weight trains, I love having the muscle mass feature and body fat % feature since I am much more concerned with my body composition than my weight. I am also constantly trying to stay hydrated so being able to see my water % gives me the motivation I need to go refill my cup. Having a full body composition scale allows me to measure so much more than just the number on the scale. This scale also isn’t an eyesore with its sleek look and chrome finish, it is easy to tuck away or display.

Withings reports that two-thirds of their users having a weight loss goal reported losing weight within the first six months of installing their scales. They also found that 7 out of 10 users lost a significant amount of fat loss after tracking using their new Withings scale.

Blood Pressure Monitor

High blood pressure is the most preventable cause of cardiovascular disease and can often go without symptoms. The American Heart Association recommends home monitoring for anyone with hypertension in order to continuously reassess and make any necessary medication changes.  Now, with telehealth appointments becoming the new normal, having a blood pressure monitor system at home is of the utmost importance.

Developed alongside cardiologists, Withings blood pressure monitors are clinically validated, ensuring you are getting the most accurate results. The arm monitor is easy to use and only takes one push of a button. It then syncs to the Health Mate app via Bluetooth and WiFi, providing you with key information using international standards and explains your results in an easy to understand manner.

Both the BPM Connect and BPM Core offer blood pressure and heart rate readings immediately on both the device and the app. Both models allow you to share the information with your doctors so your doctor can also track your health. The BPM Core also offers ECG records and a digital stethoscope. A bonus perk of the BPM connect model is that it is FSA (flexible savings account) eligible.

For someone looking to invest in some useful technology that can help track their health goals as well as weight goals, the Withing products are of the highest quality and accuracy. Making an investment in your health is always a good idea but now, more than ever, having home monitoring products like this is so beneficial for maintaining your overall health. These products are also extremely useful to healthcare providers so they can track their patients remotely, conduct research studies as well as other wellness programs. Withings is a company whose products are exactly what we need as we embark on this new way of healthcare.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Book Review: Diabetes Essentials

Diabetes Essentials: Tips & Recipes to Manage Type 2 Diabetes, is a brief, easy-to-understand, illustrated introduction and guide to living with type 2 diabetes, that was recently published by registered dietitian and diabetes educator Karen Graham, and endocrinologist Dr. Mansur Shomali. I received the book for review at no charge and all opinions are my own.

My Review

When a person is newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes it can feel isolating and overwhelming, especially for those who were previously unfamiliar with the condition and what diabetes management entails. This short, easy-to-understand, illustrated guide covers the main concepts and provides concrete advice to help set new patients on the right path to healthy living with diabetes.

The information in the book is organized in easy-to-read “top-ten” lists and focuses on many categories that are relevant to life with diabetes, including diet, exercise, blood sugar management, healthy lifestyle choices, weight loss, mental health, planning for pregnancy, and much more. The information covers the basics, without going into detail, and is in line with the commonly prescribed medical advice that is typically offered to patients with diabetes.

Throughout, the book offers helpful and specific tips that aim to help people with diabetes better understand their condition and improve their health. From advice on mindful eating to smoking cessation to preventing and identifying complications, this book covers so many aspects of living well with diabetes. I particularly liked the list with advice for getting through the first 10 days after a diabetes diagnosis, as well as the guide to different doctors’ appointments.

A considerable section of the book is dedicated solely to “diabetes-friendly” recipes, including a sample ten-day meal plan, along with ideas for salads, soups, dinners, snacks, and desserts. Most of the recipes are moderate in carbohydrates, high in fiber, and low in fat. Detailed nutritional information is provided alongside each recommendation.

One section I liked, in particular, discussed trending research and recent diabetes advancements. These included a discussion of continuous glucose monitoring technology, as well as newer insulins and diabetes medications. The authors also cited some relevant information from the national Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). I thought this section was particularly useful to help new patients understand how recent advances in care (even if not yet practiced in the mainstream) can help people with diabetes better manage their condition.

The last section of the book consists of quizzes on various topics to help readers reinforce their understanding of the educational materials. This also provides a fun way to learn about some common misconceptions. Finally, the detailed index at the end makes it easy to quickly find a specific topic of interest.

Summary

Overall, this text provides a competent and easy-to-understand overview of type 2 diabetes basics and advice for newly diagnosed patients. It informs without overwhelming the reader with too many details and provides concrete strategies to help manage the condition and related health issues.

Diabetes Essentials costs $24.95 and can be purchased online here.

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Have you purchased this book already? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Also, check out this comprehensive list: The Best Books About Diabetes.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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