It’s a Miracle!

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Eating & Cooking, General, Management & Care | 4 comments

If you’re paying much attention to what is said on social media about type 2 diabetes; how we get it and how we can get rid of it, then you’ve probably seen this:

okra and water

Wouldn’t it be nice?  Let me say right up front: I hate the term Diabetes Sufferers!!!!

Let’s discuss this claim that okra water will make diabetes “go away”.  There are some rather scary claims here.

First, that okra water “played the role of insulin”.  Anyone who has type 1 knows that there isn’t anything that can replace their injected insulin.  However, many, many people with T2 are apt to grab onto any claim that will help them stop injections.  This is dangerous, in my opinion, because people may stock up on okra and not take their insulin shots based solely on this claim.  T2s who use insulin are doing so for a good reason.  Their blood glucose is on the high end and they need insulin to keep it under control.  While not injecting insulin with T2 doesn’t have the same ramifications as someone with T1, it does mean that folks may be dealing with much higher blood glucose than they should; wreaking havoc with their bodies and possibly developing complications down the road.

Second, the claim that okra water will make diabetes “go away” leaves you with the impression that “all you have to do” is drink this stuff and you can go on eating all the junk you want, without concern.  Diabetes will not go away.  Period.  There are many things we can do to help control our blood glucose but, even if we are seeing normal numbers, that doesn’t mean that diabetes is gone.  It’s still there, lurking, ready to rear its ugly head if we should stray from the path that is working for us.  We need to accept that reality and move on.

I did a little snoping (ie: I went to Snopes.com.  I do know how to spell).  This article at Snopes lays out the controversy quite well.  Lo and behold, Snopes didn’t call BS, but instead said that there is a mix of true and false in the information found in the plug about okra.  It basically says what I did above about the misinformation and added this:

As noted in the 2012 textbook Bioactive Food as Dietary Interventions for Diabetes:

There is anecdotal evidence for the amelioration of diabetes by dietary consumption of okra but what are lacking are controlled clinical trials. There are constituents of okra such as polyphenolic molucules that provide encouragement for such studies in the future.

The article goes on to say that there is enough evidence to indicate that consuming okra might have a positive effect on blood glucose but more, extensive, studies need to happen before it can be said that it makes a difference.

This all tells me that drinking okra water might help to lower blood glucose, just as cinnamon and vinegar (not together, blergh) might work.  Some people do see an improvement with both of these things, but some don’t.  Each of us is different.  The thing to take away from all the hoopla is that it may be worth it to try okra water to see if it helps you but don’t ever buy into claims that something, anything, will make your diabetes disappear.  Only hard work and attention, by you, can make a difference.  We need to take ownership  of our diabetes.  Okra is a good veggie to eat.  Add it to soups and stews or even drink the water, but don’t put it up on a pedestal and think it’s going to change your life.  It’s just a vegetable, one of many you should be eating.

Read More

Too much of a good thing

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in Eating & Cooking, General |

I recently read an article that warns about the “dark side” of kale.  Kale is the latest superstar of the nutritional world and yet this article warns that if you’re consuming too much it can be bad for you.  Hmmm, too much of a good thing…

This caused me to stop and think about diet/health trends and how we are so eager to jump on any bandwagon that tells us we will be healthier/thinner/happier/stronger if we just eat this or that.  I’m always leery of the “just do this” advice we’re all weary of hearing but it doesn’t seem like a bad thing when someone is touting healthy vegetables.  What harm can it do?

The thing is that, even when it’s healthy foods being pushed, we’re still looking for that magic pill; that one thing we can do to make us healthier.  Here’s the deal: there isn’t just “one thing”.  Instead we should be concentrating on a combination of healthy foods.

Drinking kale shakes until we turn green isn’t a good thing.  It’s not going to cure your ills any better than popping cinnamon pills or drinking vinegar.  They all might help you be healthier but they won’t fix you all by themselves.  Kale is awesome, in moderation.  Add some to your salad or bake it into chips, but don’t fall into the trap that more is better.

Be smart and focus on a balance of healthy foods.  Don’t zero in on one idea and only do that one thing.  Eat sensibly.  Eat a variety of whole foods.  Take supplements that you and your healthcare provider agree might help.  There is no one thing that will do the trick, unless that one thing is you making smart choices.  Think about that before you buy into any health claims.

 

Read More

Blood sugar testing for type 2 diabetics

Posted by on Nov 23, 2013 in Management & Care | 1 comment

Many people with type 2 diabetes do not regularly check their blood sugar levels.  No one enjoys poking their fingers and bleeding.  No one.  However, just like watching what we eat and adding more regular exercise to our day, checking our blood sugar levels at different times of the day is an important step toward controlling our diabetes.

I have written posts on my personal blog about why I test.  It seems like it shouldn’t be necessary to explain why; everyone should be testing!  I still fail to understand why people with diabetes don’t test!  Denial?  Fear?  Economics?  Part of the reason people with type 2 (who don’t use insulin) don’t test is because they aren’t encouraged by their healthcare team to do so.  Insurance companies (including Medicare) don’t generally allow T2s to have test strips.  Ludicrous!  This has to change.  Studies have shown that checking our blood sugar when we don’t use insulin doesn’t do any good.  Instead of just getting upset about that, I looked into the why of that statement.  The reason is because T2s often don’t do anything with the information they receive from testing.  If you test, and don’t make changes in what you’re eating or how much you’re exercising, then your blood sugar will likely not improve.  Your diabetes will likely progress much faster.

The important thing to remember when you’re dealing with a life with diabetes is that you do have some level of control.  Yes you do!  YOU control what you eat.  YOU control how much you move.  YOU are in charge!  Checking your blood sugar, and doing something with that information, is a basic tool for improving your health.  USE IT!

Here are some basic things to know about checking your blood sugar and what to do with the information.

  • Checking your fasting blood sugar every morning will give your healthcare provider valuable information about how your body is doing overnight. If your numbers are consistently high, then a change in medication might be in order. It will also give you information about how many carbs you can safely eat for breakfast.
  • Checking before and after certain meals will help you to understand how your body is handling those foods.  Check before your first bite and then again approx. 90 minutes after your first bite. “They” recommend checking 1-2 hours after eating.  Everyone is different and you need to determine for yourself when your peak sugar point is.  Mine is 90 minutes.  How do I know?  Because I took the time long ago to test at 1, 1.5 and 2 hours after a few meals.  Lots of pokes; worth the effort.

What should you do if your blood sugar rises too high?  You have several options: Stop eating that food, reduce your portions or tweak the meal, ie: add more protein and/or fat and reduce the carbs.

  • Want a snack?  If you check your blood sugar level before snacking you can avoid serious spikes.  Testing before snacking can help to guide you to a better food option.  Blood sugar high?  Drink water and munch on veggies/pickles/nuts.  Blood sugar lower?  Go ahead and have a few carbs if you want.

Do you have to test all the time?  Heck no.  I test, on average, three times per day.  I’ve been known to test 10 times in one day but that’s only when things are out of whack and I’m trying to regain some control.  I’ve also had many days when my fasting reading is the only one I do.

Now that you’re testing, be sure to write down your results.  You need a record of your results to share with your healthcare team and to remind you of what your body does in certain situations.  Personally, I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use, because I’m a geek, where I record my readings along with comments like: “I was sick”.  “Today sucked.” “I don’t freakin care!!!!”  “Dang, I’m good!”  Stuff like that.  You can use whatever works for you; paper and pencil, computer or even a fancy tracker app on your smart phone.  Whatever method you use, be sure there’s an option to print out/email/show your doctor.

That’s about it.  I cannot stress enough how important this is.  Testing can enable you to better control your diabetes.  Information is essential.  Don’t fly blind!  Also remember that it’s just a number; a number that can help you make informed decisions about your health.  It isn’t a judgment or a “test”.  It’s just a smart way for you to be in control.

Read More

Taking Ownership

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Management & Care | 3 comments

I recently read an abstract on the American Diabetes Association’s website that I found quite disturbing.  (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2013/07/18/dc13-0331.abstract)   In a nutshell, the article states that there is inertia in the medical community in regards to treatment of type 2 diabetes.  Treatment is not intensified even when glucose numbers are screaming for attention.

In a similar vein, I see comments online from people with type 2 diabetes who are struggling with their glucose control.  They might say something like “my blood sugar is out of control and nothing my doctor tells me to do is fixing it” or “my doctor isn’t hearing me when I say my treatment isn’t working” or even worse “today’s blood sugars were way out of whack but tomorrow will be better”.  This last statement is made without any indication that the person is going to do anything about those high readings other than hope they improve.  Hope is good but it doesn’t do much if it isn’t paired with an action plan.

The common thread here is that people aren’t taking ownership of their diabetes.  Whether we like it or not, we have to own our diabetes in order to control it.  We can’t ignore it.  We can’t let someone else tell us what to do when things aren’t working.  We have to take the reins and do what we can to fix things ourselves.

This post isn’t about following a certain diet or medication regimen.  There are as many food plans and medicine options as there are folks with T2D.  This post is simply saying “Take charge and educate yourself.”  If something isn’t working, then make a change!  If your doctor, dietician or CDE is telling you to follow a certain plan and your blood sugars are still out of whack, speak up!  Ask for another plan or, God forbid, make a suggestion to them that you feel might help you.  If your healthcare team isn’t listening to you, fire them and find someone who is willing to work with you.  It’s your diabetes.  It’s your responsibility to own it and figure out what works best for you.  Don’t rely on a doctor who you might see a total of 1 hour per year, but instead, be active in your own treatment.  I’m not advocating that you ignore your doctor, I’m pleading with you to be part of the team.  Heck, lead your team.  Don’t sit in the back seat and let someone else steer you to your future health.

 

Read More

Raising Awareness

Posted by on Aug 6, 2013 in General | 7 comments

Today I’m feeling a mixture of frustration and determination.  The frustration comes from reading, yet again, comments after an online article that imply that people with type 2 diabetes caused their condition.  Those comments were made by parents of children with type 1, for the most part.  That fact increases my frustration because, not only do we have to battle the general public but, even those folks within our own community don’t understand type 2.  How can we change that?  What can we do?  That’s where my determination kicks in.

My initial response to these comments was sadness and defeat.  While I’m still feeling those emotions to some extent, they didn’t control me for very long.  Now I’m feeling a heightened level of determination.  I am determined to continue to do all I can to crush the myths about type 2 diabetes and raise awareness both inside and outside our community.

Posting here seems a bit like preaching to the choir.  Most of you who are reading this already get it, but there might be a few who don’t.  There are still many people with type 2 diabetes who feel as if they are responsible for their condition.  You’re not!  I’ve said this, ad nauseam: If poor diet, excess weight and lack of exercise cause type 2 diabetes, then why doesn’t the entire population of overweight folks have diabetes? 36% of Americans today are considered to be obese.  8% of Americans have diabetes; all types.   What about those skinny type 2s? The argument just doesn’t hold water.

I’m posting this here, not only to get it off my chest, but to ask you all to continue to do what you can to crush the myths and stop the stigma.  You may hear someone speak a mis-truth.  You may read a comment online that isn’t factual or accurate.  Someone may question the food on your plate, insinuating that you can’t eat something because you have diabetes.  Try to put your emotions aside and respond in an intelligent, thoughtful way that will help that person to understand things a bit better.  I’m just as guilty as the next person of responding emotionally.  “I did NOT cause my diabetes!”  Seriously, what good does that do?  It just makes us look like a bunch of whiny people who are ultra-sensitive.  Maybe we are at times, but we need to show a united front; a front that says that we are just like anyone else.  That we aren’t lazy slobs who deserve what happened to us.  That raises awareness of this very real, very serious disease.  Join me and be a loud voice that refutes the stigma!  Together we can make a difference.

Read More