Posts Tagged ‘diabetes’







I encourage you to look at the checklist below and make note if you have any of the follow conditions:


1.  High Triglycerides – 150 mg/dL or more.

2.  Low HDL Cholesterol – below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women.

3.  Abdominal Obesity – a waist circumference of 40” or more for men and
35” or more for women.

4.  High Blood Pressure – 130/85 or higher (or if you are taking high blood pressure

5.  Elevated Fasting Blood Sugar – 100 mg/dL or more.

If you checked off three or more of these conditions, you have what is called “metabolic syndrome.” Those with metabolic syndrome are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases including plaque buildup in the arteries, stroke, and heart attack.

The association of metabolic syndrome and increased risked of cardiovascular disease is confirmed with research from the Pritikin Center for Longevity reporting that one out of four adults, or 64 million Americans, have metabolic syndrome, and the Centers for Disease Control stating one out of four deaths in the United States is caused by coronary disease.

Most often, metabolic syndrome is a result of being overweight, physically inactive, eating a large proportion of calories from simple carbohydrates, and is a result of our lifestyle choices.

This is the good news – we can reduce our risk of cardiovascular diseases by making some better lifestyle choices. It may be difficult to make all the lifestyle changes as once, so tackle one at a time if that works better for you.

Lower triglycerides by limiting alcohol consumption, avoid white flour products, limit sugar to 4 teaspoons a day or less, limit fruits to 2-3 servings a day, and begin walking – even beginning at 10 minutes a day helps.

Raise HDL cholesterol by exercising, lose extra weight, and stop smoking.

Replace high caloric foods with fruits and vegetables to reduce waist circumference. Include strength training in your exercise regime.

Reduce blood pressure by eliminating salt. Remember salt comes not only from the salt shaker, but from processed foods also. Increase potassium in your diet which can be found in Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, celery, crimini mushrooms, and celery.

Reduce blood sugar levels by replacing simple carbohydrates (white flour, white sugar) with complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole grain pasta, oats, millet, beans). Fiber found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans will prevent unwanted spikes in blood sugars. Eliminate processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

By following these recommendations, you will feel better and the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as the risk of having cardiovascular diseases, will be greatly reduced.
erages that contain high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

By following these recommendations, you will feel better and the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as the risk of having cardiovascular diseases, will be greatly reduced.


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sugarsA war going on in the courtroom between competitors you may not be aware of. Both parties are trying to convince you they are right and are fiercely competing for your dollars.

This is not just a sweet disagreement between two competitors.  The Western Sugar Cooperative, which represents sugar growers and processors and the Corn Refiners Association, representing high fructose corn syrup manufacturers including Archer-Daniels Midland and Cargill, are in an all -out high stakes battle.  In addition, each have spent millions of dollars on lobbying lawmakers in Washington, each attempting to discredit the other.

It’s a battle between the sugar industry and the corn refiners. And the stakes are high.  We unknowingly eat a lot of sugar -150 pounds of sugar per year per person according to the USDA. (Picture thirty 5# bags of sugar in your cupboard!) Impossible you say? A form of sugar is in present in nearly all packaged foods as well as in foods you may not think have added sugar including ketchup, yogurt, peanut butter, salad dressing, canned vegetables, and frozen foods.

Corn refiners, the manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup, invested $50 million in advertising to promote renaming their high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as “corn sugar.” The Western Sugar Cooperative (sugar growers) sued. In support of their position, the corn refiners countersued, stating for years the sugar industry has tried to give corn syrup a bad name and have lead consumers to believe sugar is healthier than their high fructose corn syrup. The corn refiners report as a result, their market share has gone down since the sugar association made the allegedly slanderous remarks about them. Prior to the slander lawsuit, the Corn Refiners Association made an appeal in 2008 to the Food and Drug Association to allow them to use the name “corn sugar” rather than “high fructose corn syrup” because of the alleged smear campaigns and slanderous remarks the sugar cooperative have made against the corn refiners’ HFCS.  The request to rename HFCS was denied by the FDA some time after the slander lawsuit was filed.

The corn refiners have spent millions of dollars for research that concluded HFCS is not detrimental to our health. The sugar producers say their research is weak and was not conducted by an independent research group.

Let’s not be fooled here. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake, and so is our health.  I would guess litigation like this is not unusual within the food industry.  The marketing of food products, being nothing short of confusing to the consumer, makes me wonder if this is the intent. High fructose corn syrup goes directly to our liver and raises our blood glucose levels quickly – something we all want to avoid. The HFCS that is not used is stored in our liver as fat. Sugar also raises our blood sugar quickly.  Both HFCS and refined white sugar are high in calories, averaging about 50 calories per tablespoon, and have no nutritional value.  Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain, type II diabetes, high triglycerides, fatty liver disease, heart disease and other health ailments.  Naturally occurring sugar found in whole foods such as fruits and vegetables is not the problem. These foods are not calorically dense and contain vitamins and minerals. They also have fiber which slows down the body’s absorption rate of the sugar, preventing harmful spikes and sudden drops of sugar levels. The World Health Organization recently released new sugar guidelines recommending only about 5% of our calories come from added sugar.  This would be about 6 teaspoons a day for an average 2000 calorie a day diet.

We don’t know what the outcome of this lawsuit will be.  What we do know is consuming  any form of processed sugar is not in our best interest. Be a smart consumer. Rather than being influenced by multimillion dollar ad campaigns trying to convince us one form of sugar is better than another, remember they don’t have our health at heart.  Look at the facts when you buy. Read nutritional labels and ingredient lists on packaged goods.  Divide the number of grams of sugar listed on the Nutrition Facts label on the package by four to determine how many teaspoons of sugar are in a serving. So if the label shows 12 grams of sugar per serving, it is equivalent to three teaspoons of sugar. Ingredients listed ending in “ose” like sucrose, fructose, maltose, dextrose are all derivatives of sugar. Also the word “syrup” on the label such as brown rice syrup and barley malt syrup are sweeteners, as are evaporated cane juice and fruit juice concentrate. We eat and drink an enormous amount of hidden sugar each year. Don’t be “sugared over” with all the hype. For your health and waistline, read the Nutrition Facts label and ingredient list on packaged foods and avoid sweetened beverages. Keep your sugar intake to a minimum.

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transfatLast week the FDA took initial steps that will eliminate trans fats from all foods.  Food scientists and others can respond to this mandate to the FDA over the next 60 days.  This will help the FDA determine when to phase out all trans fats since manufacturers may need to reformulate some of their products. After that, food manufacturers will need to petition the FDA to allow trans fats in a particular product.

By forcing hydrogen atoms into vegetable oil and changing its molecular structure, trans fats are created. This saturates the oils and makes them solid. Trans fats improve the texture and extend the shelf life of manufactured food products. (Have you ever seen a moldy Twinkie?) Among the foods trans fats are commonly found in are frozen pizzas, frostings, popcorn, snack foods, crackers, pizza and cookie dough, stick margarine, cake mixes, fried foods, muffins, pies, cookies, and other baked goods. Most experts consider trans fats as the most damaging fat to our health. Clinical trials have shown trans fats to increase the risk of a heart attack and premature cardiovascular death. Our body metabolizes trans fats differently than other fats and is linked to liver dysfunction.

Looking for trans fats on the nutrition label of packaged goods can be tricky.  If there is less than .05 grams of trans fat per serving size, it does not have to be listed under “Total Fat” on the nutritional label.  Have you ever seen a ridiculous serving size – like 1/4 cup of macaroni and cheese is one serving?  It may be because by reducing the serving size, the manufacturer will not have to list trans fats on the label since a smaller serving size may have less than .05 grams of trans fats. Here’s what to do. Look at the list of individual ingredients on the nutrition label.  If it lists the words “partly hydrogenated,” the product contains trans fats.  With all of the navigation needed to read a label to see if a food contains trans fats, one wonders if the food industry is trying to hide trans fats from us.

Do we need another government mandate?  You decide. Not only do trans fats raise the level of LDL (bad cholesterol) in our blood, it lowers HDL (good cholesterol).  The American Heart Association welcomes the move stating it will “improve cardiovascular health in the United States.”  Studies show trans fats increase the risk of Alzheimer’s, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. The FDA has categorized trans fats as “not generally recognized as safe for use in food” and said the restrictions could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year. If your life is one that is saved by eliminating trans fats, this is a good mandate.

Food manufacturers and restaurants saw the writing on the wall several years ago and have already made significant strides to eliminate trans fats.  Many restaurants don’t use trans fats when frying foods. Food manufactures have reformulated some of their recipes to reduce or eliminate trans fats.

Denmark was the first country to eliminate trans fats in 2003.  In the United States, the FDA required trans fats be listed on the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods in 2006. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned the use of trans fats in bakeries and restaurants in 2006. California did the same in 2008. In 2011 Walmart ordered their suppliers to quit using trans fats by 2015. With these heavy hitters taking these bold steps, manufactures have already made significant progress in eliminating trans fats from their products. It can be done.

In preparation for the new law, food manufactures have reduced or eliminated trans fats in many of their products.  But the trans fats are still out there. In the meantime, read nutrition labels.  For the sake of your health and that of your loved ones, if the nutrition label has the words “partially hydrogenated” on it, put it back on the shelf.

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Fiber has many roles in keeping us healthy. A study at Northwestern University of more than 11,000 people found eating a high fiber diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber binds to cholesterol in the body and pulls it out, lowering cholesterol levels. Fiber protects against some cancers.  It attaches to estrogen, a cancer-promoting hormone, and eliminates excess amounts.  Without fiber, unused cholesterol and estrogen will be reabsorbed in the body.  Fiber absorbs water and helps food move through the digestive tract quickly.  This helps dilute and eliminate potential carcinogens.  Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate nutrients are absorbed in the blood stream.  To help lose weight, increase fiber consumption.  Fiber will make us feel full quicker.  Fewer calories will be consumed on a low fat, high fiber diet.

Contrary to belief, meat has no fiber. It is found only in the plant kingdom. Studies are inconclusive to the benefits of fiber that is added to food. Have a goal of 40 grams of fiber a day by eating high fiber foods such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

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A new study published in Pediatrics reported an alarming 23% of teens are pre-diabetic or diabetic, an increase of 14% over nine years. This dramatic increase cannot be attributed to genetics.  Today, 34% of children ages 12-19 are overweight or obese contributing to increased risk of type 2 diabetes.  This also puts them at higher risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems, gallstones, and joint problems – chronic diseases commonly found in adults. A future of damaged blood vessels, kidney disease, coronary artery disease, eye diseases, increased risk of stroke, and a lifetime of medications is not what we want for our children.

We need to be aggressive in attacking type 2 diabetes in teens.  Start by shedding the excess pounds by reducing fat in the diet by eliminating fried foods and dairy products. Read nutrition labels on the side of packaged foods for total calories, sugar, and saturated fat content. Slowly reduce eating packaged foods and increase eating whole foods. Drink water instead of sugary beverages such as soda and fruit/sports drinks. Enjoy outdoor family activities. Encourage playing outside, biking, walking, or enroll children in sport activities to increase physical activity.

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There is excitement in the air during the holidays.  It’s a time for celebrating our faith and to be with family and friends. It is a festive time that includes baking cookies, going to parties, and–overindulgence.

I don’t mean to put a damper on the holidays. But truth be told: it’s also a time of storing calories in the wrong places!  Too many cookies and cakes, dips and chips, candy and brandy, and whatever else is put in front of us–and who can resist?!  It’s grazing and–gaining.

Then, after the first of the year, when all has settled down, we’ll look at ourselves: and many of us will be frustrated and unhappy.  Losing the weight gained over the holidays will move to the top of our list of New Year’s resolutions – again.

This year, why not do something different?  The psychologists call it Mindful Eating. It’s really just paying attention to what we eat.  Enjoy all the celebrations, but exhibit some self-control and limit what you eat.    Drinking three or four glasses of soda can be 500-600 calories.  Eating just one ounce of a chocolate peanut cluster candy (who can do that!) is 175 calories, yet we don’t even give it a thought.  A donut averages about 240 calories and takes close to an hour to walk off.  Is it really worth it?  We get instant pleasure from eating the holiday treats, but the pleasure is gone as quickly as it started.  Yet the calories stay.  The second and third cookie never tastes as good as the first cookie. So why not settle for eating just one and enjoy it.

By being a bit more mindful of what we eat, we can enjoy the celebrations and be merry without having to deal with the consequences after the first of the year.

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Did you know the average Thanksgiving Dinner is 3,000-3,500 calories?  That’s nearly two days worth the calories eaten at one meal! You can forget counting calories and enjoy seasonal favorites with these Thanksgiving ideas.

First, look and what you’re serving and see if a lighter version can be made.  Do you add cream cheese and butter to the mashed potatoes?  Forget them and don’t tell anyone.  Instead add a couple of chopped turnips or parsnips to the boiling potatoes and whip with the potatoes for slightly sweet flavor and a nutritional boost. Prepare roasted vegetables by cutting any combination of potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and beets in ¾” chunks, drizzle with enough oil to coat, and sprinkle with rosemary and/or thyme and salt. Roast in a 400° oven for 30-35 minutes until tender tossing once.   A low calorie alternative to candied sweet potatoes is whipping cooked sweet potatoes with just a dash of cinnamon added.  

What about the green bean and mushroom soup casserole topped with fried onions? A calorie-reducing idea is to cook green beans in salted boiling water until crisp-tender for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Meanwhile sauté onion and sliced mushrooms in a little oil. Add the green beans and toss. Put in serving dish and top with sliced almonds.  Carrots will become a favorite by steaming sliced carrots and tossing them in a glaze of 2 tablespoons oil, one teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons of honey.  A new salad idea everyone will enjoy is mixed greens with walnuts and dried cranberries tossed in a vinaigrette dressing.

Limit the number of desserts offered. In addition to traditional pumpkin pie, try a fruit crisp.

You will keep the waistline in check and still enjoy a feast this Thanksgiving with these guilt-free ideas.

Anyone else have ideas of reducing Thanksgiving meal calories?

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