Do’s and Dont’s of Blood Sugar Management

You’ve heard it from a young age “you are what you eat!” “eat your greens” and other sayings along those lines. While eating a healthy diet is the first essential step towards a healthier lifestyle, it’s even more important for people with diabetes. Food can affect your blood sugar in an instant, so you have to be incredibly careful about what you put in your body

If you’re still eating tons of refined carbohydrates and unhealthy saturated fats, stop now! If you dive for that donut you see gleaming in all its sugar laden glory from the display case, then you are going about it all wrong.

Even just a few small changes in your diet can have a monumental effect on your life and the way you manage your diabetes. We’re going to look at some foods that are on an immediate blacklist, these foods are horrible for your body and raise your glucose levels, not to mention that they’re just plain gross! But, there is a flip side, we’re also listing some foods that don’t affect your blood sugar and are great choices to improve your health and happiness.

Don’t eat- Pasta.

If you haven’t already cut pasta out of your diet, do it now! This ridiculously unhealthy food is filled with empty carbs, loads of hidden sugar and no nutrition whatsoever. There are lots of other options, besides refined flour pasta. Brown rice noodles, spaghetti squash, bean threads and kelp noodles to name a few.

Do eat- Leafy greens.

Greens are such a huge part of any healthy lifestyle, and great news for a person who lives with diabetes, they don’t affect your blood sugar at all. They’re the powerhouse vegetable of the food world; they are filled with tons of vitamins and minerals that promote a healthy lifestyle and provide high energy throughout the day.

Don’t eat- Sweets.

Okay, this one is a no-brainer, and it covers an exceedingly broad category of food that we all have a weakness for. Try to resist the temptation! Sweets of any kind wreak havoc on your blood sugar, this includes ice cream, cakes, puddings, cookies, pastries, and candy. Processed sugar is your worst enemy here, avoid it at all costs. Turn instead to natural sweeteners like dates, figs and raw honey. You will be surprised at how “real” they really taste.

Do eat- Avocados.

These little green gold mines are just fantastic for your health, filled with healthy fatty acids Omega 3 and 6 and a multitude of essential vitamins and minerals. Avocados are so delicious, soft, and easy to prepare. Eat them plain as a snack, chop some up to top off your salad or even blend them into a smoothie.

Don’t eat- Fast food

Once again, hopefully, you’ve already cut fast food out of your diet. This greasy fare is as bad as it gets. Fast food is chock full of unhealthy fats, deep fried in gross oils, and jam packed with additives, sugar, and horrible chemicals. Fast food is an addictive drug that is designed to keep you coming back for more. If you really love french fries, make your own at home using coconut oil. Once you try these, you will never eat a fast food fry again… promise!

Do eat- Coconut

By now you’re probably aware of the tropical superfood coconut. Whether you’re eating the meat or unrefined organic oil, you are getting tons of health benefits from this powerhouse nut. Ditch other unhealthy oils and if you’re cooking or baking, turn straight to the coconut oil. Coconut doesn’t mess with your blood sugar at all and you can eat it worry free. You can even eat the coconut meat plain for all the same benefits.

Once you get the hang of what is real food and the impostors, you will be better able to keep your blood sugar in check.

-Be Well

Tips for Self-Monitoring Your Weight and Food Intake

Do you know exactly what you have eaten in the last say or so? How about how much you weigh from week to week, month to month, or even year to year? How many steps did you walk yesterday or the day before that?  While it is pretty easy to eat it and forget it, this is not the case when you are practicing self-transparency and monitoring your weight, food intake and even your movement.

Self-monitoring is very easy and will help you achieve your weight and healthy lifestyle goals. By definition, self-monitoring is simply the practice of watching and recording your thoughts and actions and using the information to formulate, follow or realign your health goals

Self-monitoring uses a few tools such as diet journals/logs, regular weigh-ins and measurements and even pedometers.  The key is, to be honest and observant about what you are eating, how much you are moving and even how you are feeling.

Benefits of self-monitoring

Here are just some of the reasons why self-monitoring should be part of your health journey:

  • You will eat less: Research has demonstrated that when people record what they eat, they eat less. 
  • You will exercise more and even enjoy it more.
  • You will see immediate results. Seeing immediate results is an excellent motivator.
  • You will know what works: Tracking what you are eating, and your exercise regime along with your weight and measurement will help you decide what works best.
  • Your goals can seem manageable: Self-monitoring is an excellent way to break your big goals into smaller and more achievable and realistic pieces.
  • You can be flexible: When you record what you eat, and your exercise patterns measure your efforts on a regular basis, you can be more flexible about things like special occasions or day’s off. Once you know what works for you, you can use this information to create whatever kind of lifestyle schedule works for you.
  • You can see how your choices impact your plan: When you weigh in, get measured, etc., and lining these evaluative tools up against what you are doing, you can see just how much or little your choices impact the result.
  • You will avoid plateaus: Many times people have great success with their weight only to find themselves on a plateau. If you record everything with 100% honesty, you can see what works and what doesn’t work

Self-monitoring tools that work

Now that you know the benefits, how exactly does self-monitoring work? Here are some very useful and practical tools that will provide you with valuable data to keep you heading the right direction.

Food/exercise diary

The foundation of any self-monitoring program begins with a food diary or log where you write down everything that you eat and your activity in a given day. Both of these things provide insight into what works best for you. If you are tracking things like calories, steps, etc.. do your best to include these. If you are a diabetic, it is useful to track carbohydrate consumption rather than calories.

Other interesting things to note include time of day, a few sentences about how you feel about an hour after eating or exercising. The things that you include in your diary should be predetermined so that you glean the best information possible to reach your health goals.

Top rated food and exercise diaries:

There are numerous ways to keep track of your food intake and fitness the old fashioned way. Here are two journals that will help you meet your goals.

This inexpensive food journal allows you to keep track of important things like water consumption, daily calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This book lays flat for easy recording and has room for up to five meals as day.

Keep track of your activity in this portable  journal that allows you to record your cardio, strength, daily goals and even some nutrition notes. With 60 pages, this little notebook is easy to slip into your gym bag and durable enough to take a beating.

Scale

Whether you like what you see or not, stepping on a reliable scale once a week may be just the thing that you stay motivated and even encouraged. Keep in mind that the scale is not your enemy, but rather a way to keep you informed. When you combine your food and activity log with your weight records, you can get a good picture of what is working and what is possibly getting in the way of your success.  For best results, use the same scale each week ( a reliable one) and be sure to weigh yourself at the same time each week.

Here are two scales that are both accurate and affordable:

Although this scale only costs $ 32.95 it scores big with over 12,000 positive reviews on Amazon. This scale offers instant readings, a large lit display, precision g sensors in .2 lb increments up to 440 pounds. The platform is durable and large and there is an auto calibrate feature and an auto shut off.

This scale measures not only body weight but also % body fat, % body water, % muscle mass and bone mass. Another nice feature of this scale is that it can store data for up to 8 users. These features make it well worth its $44.95 price tag.

Pedometer

Pedometers provide an accurate way to keep track of the steps that you take daily. These little devices are well worth the money you will spend which can average between $15 – $75 depending on just how fancy you want to go.

Although most people get about 3,000 steps per day, 6,000 steps are suggested for health maintenance. It is recommended that you walk at least 10,000 steps if your objective is weight loss. Walking is a very low risk, safe and inexpensive way to stay in shape and keeping track of your steps will show you just how effective it is.

Here are two popular pedometer tools to choose from:

This top of the line fitness tool does a lot more than count your steps. You can monitor calories burned and even stairs climbed. In addition access data about how long and well you sleep, set your fitness goals and earn motivational badges to help you do your best. Sync your stats wirelessly on your computer or on over 150 smartphones.

The Yamax is an affordable tool that claims to be 98 to 99% accurate. You can track your steps, distance, stride, calories and fat burned using this low-cost pedometer. Other features include a 30-day memory and a clock.

Accelerometer

If you want to take your tracking to a new level, consider an accelerometer. This device measures frequency, duration and intensity of physical activity. You can find these in a wide variety of prices from $50 to $1,000.

Apps

Technology can be an excellent thing when it comes to self-monitoring. If you prefer to use an app on your smartphone to keep track of your diet and exercise, there are plenty to choose from. What makes mobile apps so great is that they are always with you making it easy to keep track. Here are two top performers:

This little app is fabulous at helping you set your goals for weight loss and exercise. It even helps you track your blood pressure, sleep and more. This powerful program allows you to count calories, share favorite meals with friends and even scan food items using your camera and bar codes. One of the best features of this app is the ability it has for you to connect to accountability partners. Who doesn’t need a little motivation from time to time. Keeping track of your exercise and setting personal challenges is also included.

While the free version does plenty, the premium for just $39.99/year is loaded with awesome features such as informative content and tools to manage conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

Some call this food, fitness, and overall health tracker one of the best free programs available. You can customize your weight loss and fitness goals, store your favorite food items and recipes, count not only calories but also micronutrients and find nutrition facts.You can access even more free tools at livestrong.com such as meal plans, free workout videos and the latest in health and wellness.

For just $29/year you can become a gold member. With this membership, you will have advanced statistics tools, a private community board, a clean eating guide with recipes and tips, priority customer support and more

It counts to pay attention

If you are serious about your health, it will serve you well to be serious about self-monitoring. Although it is unclear as to what extent of self-monitoring is best for optimal performance and compliance with healthy lifestyle plan, it is evident that there are many benefits to becoming more aware .

– Be Well

 

 

Smash Blood Sugar Spikes with Apple Cider Vinegar

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., and with the latest reports showing the number of Americans estimated to be diagnosed with prediabetes at an astounding 86 million, and a further 29.1 million diagnosed with diabetes, it’s no surprise that there are millions of people who are searching for ways to avoid blood sugar spikes.

If you’re one of those people, you’re probably aware of both the short- and long-term effects of a post-meal blood sugar spike. Some of the more immediate effects can include severe fatigue and tiredness, so much so you that you could find yourself plopping down into a chair and quickly falling asleep. Your vision might blur, and you probably won’t feel very well overall either.

Over the long-term, if those blood sugar spikes continue, your HbA1c level will rise, which has been scientifically shown to increase the risk of some serious complications like heart disease, kidney disease and retinopathy, which can even result in the loss of vision.

One of the most common approaches to lowering blood sugar spikes after a meal is to take more insulin – but unless your blood sugar levels remain high for three to six hours after eating, that’s not going to help, and it will likely result in low blood sugar levels before you get to your next meal.

What you eat is a very important part of controlling blood sugar – in fact, some experts, like Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Blood Sugar Solution, believe that eating the right foods not only help one to manage blood sugar levels, but they may even be able to help reverse diabetes

This is where apple cider vinegar comes into play for smashing those blood sugar spikes.

Documented benefits of apple cider vinegar

The benefits of apple cider vinegar have been well-documented. It has no adverse side effects, and it costs considerably less than most conventional treatments. Vinegars of all types have long been popular for use as a weight loss aid, as they help make you feel fuller. One study found that participants who ate a slice of bread along with apple cider vinegar felt fuller than those who ate bread alone.

A study conducted out of the University of Arizona discovered that drinking apple cider vinegar before a meal can help reduce the release of sugar into the blood and improve insulin sensitivity.  This is similar to how some diabetes medications are designed. Certain medications block the digestion of starches and sugars. By doing so, they are able to prevent blood sugar spikes, helping to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

Carol Johnston, Professor and Associate Director of the Nutrition Program of Arizona State University, who has been studying the effects of vinegar on blood glucose for more than a decade, says that apple cider vinegar can act like some diabetes medications, helping to block the body’s ability to digest sugar and starch. Her theory, according to an article by NYMag, is that “acetic acid blocks an enzyme that digests starches, thereby preventing some carbs from being absorbed.” 

Blood sugar response involving apple cider vinegar and healthy individuals

Consuming apple cider vinegar has been found to be effective not just in those who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, but healthy individuals as well. According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers studied the effects vinegar’s acetic acid on blood glucose response after healthy people ate a meal. They then discovered that the acetic acid had a potent effect on glycemic response, leading the experts to conclude that vinegar can help regulate blood sugar levels whether one is healthy pre-diabetic, or has been diagnosed with diabetes. 

Apple cider vinegar at bedtime

While much of the research on apple cider vinegar has been focused on drinking it before a meal, one study found that taking it just before bedtime was able to help moderate blood sugar upon waking. The study involved 11 participants diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who weren’t taking insulin, but were taking oral anti-diabetic medication. They were given either an ounce of cheese and water, or an ounce of cheese and two tablespoons of vinegar at bedtime each night for two days. Another trial was conducted several days later, in which the two groups were reversed. 

The experts found that those who ingested vinegar and cheese saw a drop in fasting blood glucose levels by 4 percent, compared to 2 percent who received cheese and water. But when the researchers examined the data closer, they discovered that those with the highest fasting glucose levels experienced a more significant difference, with blood glucose levels dropping by 6 percent.

Taking apple cider vinegar to smash your blood sugar spikes

If you’d like to try it, keep in mind that the results can vary from one individual to the next – most studies concerning apple cider vinegar have found that one to two tablespoons are sufficient to receive the benefits.

You may want to experiment by trying both, meaning sipping it just before a meal as well as before bed.

Be sure to use organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar like Bragg’s or Spectrum Naturals. Add a tablespoon to warm, but not too hot, water. If you don’t like the taste, you can add a dash of cinnamon or a teaspoon of raw, organic honey (don’t overdo it, because honey is mostly sugar). If you’re one of the few people that really enjoy the taste of vinegar – don’t be tempted to drink it undiluted as it can cause burns to the sensitive tissues of the throat and mouth.

-Be Well

5 Diet Rules for a Healthy Heart

Heart disease may be the leading cause of death for Americans, but here’s a heartening statistic: about half of heart-disease deaths in the U.S. are preventable. According to an Emory University study, the leading five controllable risk factors are obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking. Eighty percent of Americans have at least one risk factor; these heart-healthy diet tips can help you fight the big-five risk factors and get on your way to a healthier heart.

Focus on fiber

You don’t have to follow a strict diet to lose weight, according to a 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Individuals who simply ate 30 grams of fiber daily lost almost as much weight as those on a low-calorie diet. So chow down on fiber-rich foods, such as raspberries, broccoli, and lentils. Also, choose whole-wheat over white flour products whenever possible, and try swapping brown rice for white rice, cooking whole-wheat pasta instead of white, or making whole-wheat couscous instead of regular. You’ll get more fiber and nutrients by going for the whole-grain option.

Skip sugary sips

Added sugars (e.g., sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup) supply few nutrients but add plenty of calories to your day. Those calories add up particularly quickly when they go down in liquid form, such as in sugary soft drinks, sports drinks or premixed iced tea or lemonade. Smart sipping doesn’t have to be boring—infuse your water with cucumber or mint or switch to seltzer with lemon to get taste without the sugar.

Go vegetarian

Giving up meat may have a similar impact on your blood pressure as nixing salt, found a review published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Going vegetarian was associated with a 5 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure, which could reduce your risk of death from heart disease by up to 9 percent. Eating a variety of vegetables will also help you get the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs, as well as boost your fiber intake.

Get omega-3s

Research has linked the omega-3s found in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna and in flaxseed and walnuts with better heart health. Eat fish twice a week, sprinkle walnuts and ground flaxseed over your yogurt or cereal in the morning  to boost your omega-3 intake.

Enjoy eggs

No need to give up eggs, found research from The FASEB Journal. Compared to those who ate an oatmeal breakfast every day for a month, people who ate eggs instead saw no increase in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Plus, HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased. Oatmeal eaters kept LDL steady, but didn’t get the HDL bump.

Watch your refined salt

It goes without saying that cutting your sodium intake may help lower high blood pressure. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams (about 1 teaspoon) per day, and less than that if you’re 51 or older, African-American or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Special guest author: Lainey Younkin, M.S., R.D.
With permission by EatingWell

 

What Can a Type 2 Diabetic Have for Breakfast?

The answer to this question depends on where you are in the process of reversing your type 2 diabetes.

Here at Barton Publishing we offer a three-phase plan called the Diabetes Solution Kit to help you on your way to reversing type 2 diabetes. You can do this primarily through diet, accompanied by physical activity and natural supplements.[1]

Let’s start with those who are just beginning Phase One of our plan. In this phase, we recommend drastically reducing your carbohydrate intake to just 20 grams of low glycemic carbs per day. This is a short-term phase with the goal of jump-starting your reversal.

The cells of a type 2 diabetic are loaded with sugar rendering them insulin resistant. By dramatically reducing your carb intake for a few weeks, you will purge your cells of sugar enabling them to receive sugar from your bloodstream again. This will lower your blood sugar levels and set you on the path to normal levels.[2]

In Phase One, you’ll want to limit your carbs at breakfast to about four or five grams. Some of the best options for doing this include: eggs, cheese, bacon, ham, breakfast sausage, steak, and a wide variety of low carb vegetables. Adding any combination of tomatoes, greens, basil, onions, mushrooms, and peppers to eggs can create a delicious omelet or breakfast medley.

One additional tip in Phase One that is huge: avoid any and all sweetened drinks! Coffee or teas are fine, but without any kind of sweetener. Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes—even though some claim no carbs and no calories—do impact your blood sugar significantly. The same goes for any kind of juice during this first Phase.[3]

You’ll know when your cells have been purged of sugar by testing your fasting blood glucose level and obtaining normal readings of 99 mg/dl or less. We recommend that you engage in this program under the supervision of your doctor. If you are already on type 2 diabetes medications, your doctor will most likely take you off your meds once you reach normal blood sugar levels.[4]

In Phase Two of our program, you begin adding back many of your favorite carbs into your diet. You do this while continuing to monitor your blood sugar levels to ensure that you are maintaining normal readings. In particular, the fasting blood sugar level is most telling.

In this second Phase, your options for breakfast include everything listed in Phase One, plus additional tasty delights. In Phase Two try introducing: cereals based on oats, barley and bran. You really have to be careful with cereals because the more processed they are, the more sugar they usually contain.

Also introduce: breads with whole grains, stone-ground flour, or sourdough. For breakfast, this opens up choices like toast, and whole grain bagels and English muffins. You can also add all other fruits and vegetables that you might normally eat for breakfast. Grapefruit, oranges, and all types of berries are especially good.

For breakfast try unsweetened yogurt mixed with your favorite berries, or cottage cheese with peach slices. Or how about a whole grain English muffin with peanut butter and unsweetened jam?

Juices and other sweetened drinks will often be a person’s downfall. If you watch everything else, but drink sweetened beverages, those alone may prevent your diabetes reversal and spike your blood sugar levels.[5]

Every person is unique—not only in our likes and dislikes, but also in how various carbs impact our blood sugar. Get to know your body’s reaction to all the various carbs. Create a broad and varied list of all the foods that you can eat and focus on these. (this list of the worst fruits for type 2 diabetics will help you get started) Bon appetit!

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT REVERSING YOUR TYPE 2 DIABETES

What Fruits Are Best For Diabetics And Which Should I Avoid?

Fruits provide a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and carbohydrates that our bodies need in order to function well.[1] This is equally true for diabetics. Let’s look at the following issues related to fruit:

  • The glycemic index of fruits
  • How the fruit is prepared
  • What quantities of fruit to eat
  • Know how your body reacts to various fruits

A key factor to take into consideration regarding fruits is their glycemic index (GI). This is a measure of the extent to which a food impacts blood sugar levels.[2] Glycemic index is shown as a score between zero and 100. The higher the higher the GI, the more likely that food will raise your blood sugar levels. A low GI is 0-55, medium GI is 56-69, and high GI is any food 70 or above.[3]

The following fruits fall into the low GI category: apples, bananas, blueberries, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries, and strawberries.[4] These fruits are in the medium GI range: apricots, cantaloupe, figs, kiwifruit, papaya, raisins and pineapple. Watermelon is ranked high on the glycemic index at 72.

For the diabetic, those fruits in the low GI range will typically be best, impacting your blood sugar least. But the fruit itself is not always the determining factor. How the fruit is prepared is also very important. The American Diabetes Association recommends that it is best to eat fruits fresh, frozen, or canned without added sugars.[5]

Fruit juices are not the same as eating the whole fruit and will generally raise your blood sugar levels rapidly. The reason for this is that juice no longer has the fiber that the fresh fruit naturally contains, so the body digests juice very quickly. Similarly, fruit canned with added sugar will have a higher GI because of the sugary syrup in which the fruit is packed.

Dried fruits in general also have a higher GI. Because the water has been removed from the fruit, the concentration of sugars is higher.[6] A diabetic can eat dried fruit, but in small quantities. The problem with dried fruit is often our perception. Dried fruit is smaller, so we tend to eat more of it, not accounting for the higher sugar content.

For instance, let’s say that we determine a half-cup of grapes (about 15 grapes) is a serving size. And 15 grapes can be satisfying. But would we limit ourselves to just fifteen raisins (dried grapes) as a portion? Nobody eats just 15 raisins! A half-cup of raisins contains over eight times the number of carbs as the same portion of grapes.[7]

That brings us to the next factor: what quantities of fruits to eat. Dr. Scott Saunders, MD, tells about a 22-year-old woman with prediabetes who could not lose weight on a 1000 calorie-per-day diet. He had her write down everything she ate for a week to determine the cause. It was fruit! She was eating lots of watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes that were raising her blood sugar levels and preventing her from losing weight.[8]

In addition to watching the GI of foods for maintaining a healthy diabetic diet, portion control is also very important. Too much of any carb will raise your blood sugar levels.

The final factor to consider is how your own body reacts. How do YOU respond to certain foods, their quantity, frequency, or combination with other foods? Everybody is different. I talked to one type 2 diabetic who has found that she cannot eat bananas, pineapple, or grapes without those fruits spiking her blood sugar levels. Other type 2 diabetics may be able to eat those fruits without experiencing such a rise in blood sugar.

For this reason, it’s very important to keep track of what you eat, when you eat it, and how it impacts your blood sugar levels. While the other three factors I’ve mentioned are important and provide general guidelines, this last factor is one that only you can monitor and control.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT REVERSING YOUR TYPE 2 DIABETES