8 articles Tag diabetes

What You Need to Know About Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus
It is estimated that around 10% of the population of the United States of America suffer from diabetes mellitus, generally just referred to as diabetes, but it should not be confused with diabetes insipidus. Diabetes can be a life-threatening or very debilitating condition but it is also completely manageable such that people living with diabetes can have long and healthy lives. The important thing with diabetes is picking it up quickly by watching out for the symptoms and reducing risk factors for developing it. It is also important for those who have diabetes to manage it correctly so that it doesn’t negatively affect their life. There are a number of different choices for the management of diabetes which definitively include pharmaceutical intervention but also a number of natural health choices like modifying one’s diet. Authority Reports has more about this topic of healthy eating and getting enough nutrients and the right nutrients to improve your health.

What Exactly Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition that is characterized by being unable to absorb glucose from the blood to supply the body’s energy needs. There are generally two ways this can occur. The first is that there is a destruction of the beta cells in the pancreas which are responsible for making the hormone insulin. Insulin basically acts like a key that unlocks the gates in the body’s cells to let the glucose in. If the body doesn’t produce insulin then the glucose stays at very high levels in the blood that can actually cause harm. At the same time, the body uses other methods of producing energy which results in the formation of some toxic by-products.

The other way this can happen is that the “gates” on the cells no longer respond to insulin and the same thing happens.

What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Diabetes?

Diabetes is what medical professionals and scientists refer to as a multifactorial condition. This means that there are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of diabetes. Scientists have known for a very long time that there is a genetic link to diabetes which means if you have a family history then your risk is increased. If you have a history of pancreatic disease, then there is also a greater chance of developing diabetes. These factors are related to type 1 diabetes which is due to the destruction of the pancreas.

The more common risk factors, which are associated with type 2 diabetes, which is more insulin resistance, include:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle (very little exercise)
  • Being older than 45

There is also a temporary form of diabetes related to being pregnant known as gestational diabetes.

How Is Diabetes Diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed by checking blood glucose levels over a period of time. There is a fancy way that doctors do this now which is by measuring the amount of glucose in your hemoglobin. This measurement shows the average blood sugar level for the past 3 months before the test is taken. A reading of between 5.7 and 6.4 is considered prediabetes and a reading of 6.5 or higher on two different tests is diagnostic of diabetes.

The consideration for being tested is generally based on a person’s symptoms. These include:

  • Frequent thirst and urination
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Ketones in the urine

How Is Diabetes Managed?

The management of diabetes is very simple but does require dedication. The first line of treatment is to control the diet quite strictly by avoiding sugar and highly processed carbohydrates. A good exercise plan also helps to control glucose levels without any pharmaceutical intervention.

If diabetes can’t be controlled in this way then the person is given an insulin injection or pills that control glucose uptake. Throughout the process, constant monitoring of blood sugar is needed. There is also research that is looking at a pancreas transplant as a potential treatment for diabetes.

Some individuals have been cured of type 2 diabetes by simply controlling the risk factors that lead them to develop the disease.

Conclusion

We know a lot more about diabetes today then we did just a few years ago. Today it is no longer a scary and untreatable disease. Many diabetic people go on to live very long and fulfilling lives. The important thing for everyone is to manage their risk factors, and if they develop diabetes, to stick to the management plan to avoid complications.

Managing Type 2 Diabetes with LloydsPharmacy #LetsTalkDiabetes

Some of you may know that I’m a Type 2 diabetic; I’ve written about it a few times before but it’s not something I talk about at great length, probably because it’s just become a part of my life now. My diabetes started when I was pregnant with Sausage and never went away once I gave birth, probably due to the fact that I struggle with my weight and I have a family history on one side.

Anyway, type 2 diabetes is one of those condition which doesn’t need to take over your whole life, but it does need a certain amount of management to make sure that your sugar levels are not affecting your health in other ways. Unmanaged diabetes can cause heart problems, stroke, infections and other issues, so ensuring that your levels are correct is important, so when LloydsPharmacy asked me if I’d like to go along to one of their branches for a Medicines Check Up, Cholesterol & Heart Check and Blood Pressure testing, I thought it would be a great opportunity.

Lloyds Pharmacy

When I got there, I was greeted by a lovely lady who took my blood pressure and checked my cholesterol and blood sugar levels – it’s a super simple process which needed just one finger prick to get the blood for the sensors and it’s over in less than a second. She also took my blood pressure in both arms to ensure she was getting an accurate reading.

Once the results were in, I was handed a chart which showed my results, and as it turned out, my blood sugar was a little high at that moment (probably because I was slightly stressed out), as was my blood pressure, but that’s normal for me as I get what they call “white coat syndrome”. My cholesterol levels were interesting; my LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) was borderline – not great but not a worry, either.

My HDL (the “good” cholesterol) was actually a little bit low, and it was explained that I could stand to increase this by eating good fats like coconut oil, avocados and other things, which in turn will reduce the amount of bad cholesterol, too! Based on all of my results, I was told that my chances of having a heart attack in the next ten years was 6%, which may not sound high, but it’s a number that I’d like to dramatically reduce.

After my results were in, I was handed over to the pharmacist who came in to do my medicines check-up, and this was where it got really interesting for me. I take several different medications to manage different conditions, but one of the medicines that I take for my underactive thyroid should be taken half an hour before any other food or medication, but in the 12-odd years I’ve been taking it, I’ve NEVER been told this! I also learned that, not only have I been taking my diabetes medications at the wrong times of day, I also should have been taking it with food each time. I’m a HUGE fan of the NHS, but sometimes the lack of time they’re able to spend with each patient means that things can get lost in communication, exactly like this. I was also given a Type 2 diabetes support pack to take away and read at home, containing lots more useful info for managing my diabetes. You can download the support pack here.

LloydsPharmacy Diabetes Support Pack

I can’t believe how much I learned in one short consultation and my medicine routine has changed completely now. I’ve spaced my pills totally differently so that hopefully they should have a better level of effectiveness when I take them and I’ve booked myself in for a repeat health check with LloydsPharmacy in 3 months to see if there has been any improvement with my levels. I’ll be eating more avocado, too! If you’re concerned about any health issues or management of any existing conditions, I can totally recommend a trip to LloydsPharmacy.

According to Diabetes UK, there are 1.1 million people in the UK with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes and LloydsPharmacy is on the hunt to find them! They will be visiting a city near you to offer FREE type 2 diabetes screenings as well as lots of useful information, advice and support. Click here to find your local event.

Coconut and Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding (low sugar recipe)

Chia seeds are, in the world of food trends, pretty huge at the moment and it’s easy to see why. In terms of nutrition they’re quite a little power-house, containing more Omega-3 than salmon, pound for pound. The seeds come from a plant which is related to mint (although they don’t taste minty) and are high in fibre, protein and calcium amongst other things, and eating them has been proven to aid weight-loss. Some of us in the MTW house are a little iffy when it comes to dairy, which can make getting enough calcium hard, so adding chia will really help.

Chia Seeds

Getting seeds into your diet can be quite tricky if you don’t know how to prepare them, but luckily with chia seeds it’s really easy to make them into a pudding which uses just a few ingredients and is amazingly good for you. As you’ll know if you’ve gone through some of my slow cooker posts, we try to limit our sugar here in the Mum’s the Word house and instead opt for erythritol, which is actually a sugar alcohol which contains NO calories and none of the nasties of something like aspartame, and is zero-GI, making it completely safe for use by diabetics. If you also need Omega 3 supplements, this is our recommended site.

I’ve played around with a few chia seed pudding recipes, adapting as I go, and have ended up with something we all love…even Chuck likes it!!

Here’s how we make OUR chia seed pudding:

Coconut and Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding (low sugar recipe)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious pudding made from chia seeds and just a few other ingredients.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Healthy
Serves: 5x100ml portions
Ingredients
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • ½ a cup of chia seeds
  • 1½ tsp of vanilla extract
  • ½ a cup of erythritol
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Shaved coconut (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender
  2. Blend for 1-2 minutes until all of the ingredients are combined
  3. Pour into ramekins or individual serving bowls
  4. Top with a little shaved coconut (if you like it)
  5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 100ml Calories: 226 Fat: 19g Saturated fat: 13g Carbohydrates: 16g Sugar: 0.1g Sodium: 0 Fiber: 12g Protein: 4g

The thing that we love about this pudding is that it’s sweet enough to feel like a real treat for dessert, but not so sweet that it would feel overwhelming as a breakfast. A small 100ml portion is also incredibly filling and feels like a really nice alternative to porridge, especially if it’s a hot day and you don’t want to go off in the morning laden with a belly-full of hot oats!

chai seed pudding

Obviously, the flavour is very coconutty, which is great if you’re a fan of coconut, but not ideal if you aren’t, however you can also flavour it with other things. Husband uses protein powder as a supplement after weight-lifting and I’m thinking of adding a scoop of either chocolate or banana next time we make it (or maybe BOTH!) to see how it affects the flavour. I think people also add raw cacao powder to the mixture too, but I’ve not tried that yet.

Do let me know what you think if you give this a try, or if you have any alternative recipes for things to do with chia!

“Before 24 Weeks”

I’ve blogged before about being pregnant with diabetes and one of the implications of this is that I need to travel to London to have a foetal cardiology scan, to check that the baby’s heart is developing properly. Various scheduling issues have come up, mostly to do with the fact that St. Thomas’ appointment plan means I have to be in London either at the crack of dawn or just before the afternoon rush hour, making travel tricky. We had an appointment planned for the Thursday in half term, but decided to postpone it as the idea of dragging Sausage to London during half term, on Halloween no less, then trying to get her home on the tube during work-kicking-out time just didn’t appeal, especially as she’s not a huge fan of stairs, having lived in a bungalow her whole life.

When I called St. Thomas’ to change the appointment the lady on the other end of the phone started to make the appointment she stopped and said “Oh, wait, how far gone are you? How far gone will you be on the 18th?”. We worked out that I’d be 23+6 on the day of the scan, but the lady at the end seemed unsatisfied with my answer. She said “We like to have these things done, you know, before 24 weeks”. At first, her subtext didn’t penetrate my thick skull, but after I put the phone down, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

“Before 24 weeks” was her way of telling me that I needed to have the scan done in time to be within the legal limit for abortion, should there me any major issues with the cardiac scan.

I was told about the scan weeks ago and until now, I’d viewed it as a bit of an embuggerance because of the London factor, not something that would be a deciding factor in whether the pregnancy should be allowed to continue. It had never occurred to me that this could be a life or death situation.

Husband and I are pragmatic enough to have had discussions in the past about ‘worst case scenario’ situations, agreeing that we wouldn’t feel right about bringing a child into the world if we knew they’d have a severe disability which would leave them ill or in pain for the rest of their lives. It would be selfish of us to put our sadness at losing a child above the quality of life of another human being and I strongly feel that it’s our responsibility as parents to bear the brunt of this decision.

Having said that, the thought of getting this far in a pregnancy and having to terminate made me feel sick with anxiety. We already knew that our child is a little girl, we’d discussed names and even bought her her first item of clothing. She’s a person to us, not just a blob on a screen and we were seriously struggling with the idea that we may have to end her life.

I’m a strong believer in choice, not just for women but for humans in general, and I believe strongly also in a woman’s right to abortion, so I’m not objecting to termination on any sort of moral level, but this is a life that we intentionally created, a life that we already love.

Last Saturday, we had a nice lazy morning, spent lounging around the house, and the three of us (plus Chuck) sat on the bed for about an hour, playing music to my bump, waiting to see what sounds the baby would react to. As it turns out, she’s a huge fan of Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys, as well as her big sister’s voice, and Sausage felt her move for the first time. It was amazing but almost added to the anxiety and sadness that I was feeling ahead of my appointment.

Yesterday, I travelled to London to have the foetal cardiology scan done, and I’m delighted to say that, in the words of the consultant who scanned me, “the baby’s heart is perfect”. Today, I’m 24 weeks pregnant and I finally feel like I can start to enjoy the pregnancy, knowing that we’ve had all of the major tests completed and everything is hunky dory at this point, but it’s been a tough few weeks up until now. I don’t know what I would have done without my Husband, who’s been a rock during this time, soothing my anxiety and wiping my tears when I needed him to, as well as my group of EPIC online friends (they know who they are) who’ve provided me with support from all over the globe.

Today, at 24 weeks pregnant, I feel very blessed.

What (Pregnant) Women Want

I’m well over half way through this pregnancy now, with just under 17 weeks left until I give birth, and although this pregnancy has been a doddle compared to the last one, there are still things I’m struggling with. Being diabetic means that I’m on a strict diet, so as well as the usual regulations, there are extra things that I can’t have any more. I’m already fantasising about what I want to eat and drink when I’ve given birth, and the list seems to grow every day. Here’s just a few of them:

Orange Juice

glass-of-orange-juice

Fruit juice is one of those things that you think is super healthy, but is actually laden with sugar, meaning that it’s a big no-no for me, especially if it’s the one with no bits as that’s got all the sugar and none of the fibre, making it even higher in the glycemic index. However, you can begin to understand just how much I’d love to drink an ice-cold glass of fresh orange juice! I’m craving citrus, the same as I did in my last pregnancy, and not being able to indulge is torturous!

Pâté

Pate

This one is a real bone of contention with me, to be honest. The Food Standards Agency tells pregnant women to avoid pâté because it’s possible that it can contain listeria. However, in 2011 there were just 147 cases of listeriosis in the UK, which is just 0.0002333333333333333% of the populations – can you see where I’m going with this?! My chances of actually getting listeriosis from pâté is spectacularly low, but because I’m a paranoid lunatic, I still won’t take the risk, despite craving it in a major way.

Sushi

sushi

Sushi is probably my favourite food in the whole world, and although current guidelines say that it’s fine to eat if it’s been frozen, I can’t seem to get confirmation from anywhere that I’ve tried to buy it from whether it has been or not. This means that although I technically can have sushi, I’ve not been able to and I reeeeeally miss it!

Cake

marshmallow10cake

I’m sorry I can’t be more specific here, but I just want cake. All of it. Any cake. Or patisserie of any kind. Profiteroles, maybe? I don’t like custard tarts, but I’d go for one of those like a hungry greyhound goes for a rabbit.

(image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half)

Cheese

brie-cheese

I do love me a hunk ‘a cheese, and while I know I can still have the boring ones like cheddar and whatnot, what I really want is a massive pile of crackers, a board full of brie, camembert and stilton, some interesting chutneys and possibly a glass of wine. Not just cheese of cheese’s sake, but the whole awesome experience of proper cheese.

And now I’ve made myself really hungry and craving a ton of stuff that I can’t have.

 

And Onto Insulin I Go…

Humulin KwikPen Human InsulinSince I fell pregnant, I’ve known that my diabetes would be a complication. I had gestational diabetes whilst pregnant with Sausage, and it usually corrects itself after giving birth, but with a weight issue and family history of diabetes, mine never left me and I’ve been managing it with tablets ever since.

Once I started monitoring my blood sugars in this pregnancy, it became clear that the Metformin wasn’t doing enough and although with a pretty strict diet I managed to control my daytime sugar levels, every morning I’d wake up and the levels will have crept right up, despite having fasted over night. I’ve been testing my sugars 5 times a day and tracking them in a special diary so I knew, at a glance, that my morning levels were not at all ideal and that eventually I could end up on insulin.

I have to admit (and yes, I know, I’m a big baby…) that the prospect of using insulin scared me a bit. The thought of injecting myself was really daunting as I have a bit of a needle phobia and I built the whole thing up in my head to a point where I was genuinely really panicky about it.

Yesterday, though, I had a moment of clarity.

I thought about Jane, who writes Northern Mum, and her daughter who, at the age of 7 is already dealing with Type I diabetes. I thought about this post in particular and how Molly takes it all in her stride, a child of 22 years younger than me.

I thought about the many millions of women in the developing world who aren’t so lucky and don’t even know they have gestational diabetes until the worst happened.

Most of all, I thought about how lucky I am to be able to walk into a hospital, free of charge, and be told “Here you go, Mrs. Crammond. Here are the drugs you need to sustain yours and your baby’s life over the next 5 months. Do let us know when you need some more”.

After collecting my prescription from the hospital pharmacy, I went back to see my specialist diabetic midwife, who showed me how to set up my injection pen, what dosage I should be using and how to dispose of it all safely, after using it. My hands were shaking a ridiculous amount and I had to psych myself up to take the plunge and do it.

But, do you know what? For all of my worrying, I literally didn’t even feel the needle going in, it’s that thin. I’m on a low dose of what they call ‘background’ insulin for the time being to see if that will help to keep my fasting sugars down over night, but I’ll be liasing regularly with my midwife to monitor how the insulin is affecting me.

So, I no longer feel worried about the prospect of injecting or any of the other fears that I’d allowed to build up. I just feel lucky.

Very, very lucky.

(I want to give special thanks to Molly for being my inspiration and showing me how to man the heck up and stop being a great big baby. There’s a great video here where she shows you exactly how to a diabetic injects their insulin)

Five Tips for Low G.I. Eating

Five Tips for Low G.I. EatingI’ve been following a strict eating regime for the last few weeks, in an effort to keep my blood sugars regulated while I’m pregnant. I developed gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with Sausage and through a combination of stress and not taking care of myself, it stayed with me once I gave birth. Now that I’m pregnant again, going into pregnancy with Type II diabetes is a whole different ball game, it means closer monitoring and more appointments with specialists. In fact, this time around, I even have to have an extra scan, at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London, to check that the baby’s heart is developing properly.

I’ve been put on a diet of foods which are low on the Glycemic Index, but low GI eating is not as straight forward as it may seem – there’s more sugar in the most random things that you wouldn’t even expect. GI is calculated out of 100 and parsnips, for instance, are a whopping 98 on the Glycemic Index, which is almost as high as drinking glucose syrup! Along the way, though, I’ve managed to discover a few things, which have really helped, so I thought I’d share them in case there are any other miserable pregnant ladies out there, struggling to contemplate 9 months without sugar!

1. No Added Sugar Doesn’t Mean NO Sugar

When I first fell pregnant, Husband and I went to the supermarket to try to stock up on things I could eat and things that would make a convenient snack. We spotted some Vimto ready-made jellies on the shelves which had ‘NO ADDED SUGAR’ emblazoned on the pot and started throwing them into the basket with wild abandon. Something made Husband stop and look at the label and we discovered that they actually contained 25.6g of sugar PER POT. No added sugar doesn’t mean the same thing as sugar free, it simply means they’ve not added any extra sugar, on top of what’s already in the ingredients.

2. Peanut Butter is Magic

Peanut butter is around 29-ish on the G.I. scale, which is very low, and it’s been proven that eating a low GI food can actually help to reduce blood sugar. I have a slight dairy intolerance, which means I can’t eat a lot of cheese or eggs, but milk is okay in small doses, so Husband has started making me the most amazing peanut butter and chocolate milkshakes. They’re low GI, contain a whole load of vitamins and minerals and really help with the sugar Jones. (recipe to follow)

3. Meat is Good…Mostly

Meat, as we all know, is largely protein, so as a rule unprocessed meat won’t raise your blood sugar. However, processed meat contains bread, so things like sausages, breaded ham and shop bought beef or chicken burgers all contain breadcrumbs, which will make your blood sugars rise. Also, many meat items, such as chicken Kiev, turkey escalopes, scampi and nuggets are all coated in breadcrumbs or batter. Also, if you’re increasing your intake of animal fat, don’t forget to increase your cardio so that it doesn’t affect your cholesterol levels. In addition, if you have high blood pressure or are on a low-sodium diet, consult your doctor before increasing your intake of meat, especially red meat.

4. Drink Water

Drinking a 250ml glass of water after eating, and then another 20 minutes later, can also help to lower spikes in your blood sugar. That doesn’t mean you can eat a tray of Krispy Kremes as long as you drink a gallon of water afterwards! Also, if you’re increasing your intake of meat, the chances are you’re increasing your intake of sodium, so you’ll need to drink more.

5. Choose Your Carbs Wisely

When I first started eating low GI, I cut out all carbs altogether. I discovered that this meant two things: firstly, I was feeling exhausted by about 2pm and my energy levels were at an all time low. Secondly, it made eating both uninteresting and a bit of a chore. Now, I choose my carbs wisely. Go for wholemeal bread, wholemeal pittas, tortillas, thin spaghetti rather than thicker pasta shapes and oat-based things as opposed to things made from corn. I now know that I can happily eat spaghetti Bolognese, giving me a carb fix without making my sugars spike.

BONUS TIP:

Experimentation is key. I bought myself a little book from Amazon with an easy to read ‘traffic light’ system, which showed in red, amber or green dots which foods are low, medium or high GI. If you want something from the higher side of medium, combine it with two other low GI items and it can even things out. Also, I’ve noticed that some things are subjective – I read that sourdough bread was low GI, however it made my sugars go sky-high, so don’t be too disappointed if you try something thinking it’s low but has a negative effect on your sugars.

Most of all, don’t lose hope. I know it can be daunting, the prospect of feeling like you can never have anything you like again, but you will find things you can eat that don’t affect you.

(In case you’re worried about eating peanuts while pregnant, the NHS website says “Go ahead and eat peanuts or food containing peanuts (such as peanut butter) during pregnancy, unless you are allergic to them or a health professional advises you not to. You may have heard that peanuts should be avoided during pregnancy. This is because the government previously advised women that they may want to avoid eating peanuts if there was a history of allergy (such as asthmaeczemahay feverfood allergy or other types of allergy) in their child’s immediate family. This advice has now been changed because the latest research has shown that there is no clear evidence showing that eating peanuts during pregnancy affects the chances of your baby developing a peanut allergy.”)

Banana, Blueberry and Walnut Cake (It’s Healthy, Honest!)

I start my new job tomorrow so I wanted to do something nice with Sausage  today, but while we were getting ready to go out, the sky went black and didn’t fill me with much of a desire to go out and get tiddled on, so I suggested we do some baking instead. The trouble is, I’m trying to lose weight, so I had to find something vaguely healthy for us to make. My friend Kerry (And Then All I Thought About Was You) mentioned that the Slimming World banana cake recipe was nice and low-fat, so I found it online and decided to experiment by adding a few things. It also uses sweetener rather than sugar which, as a diabetic, makes it perfect for me. Here’s the recipe:

Continue reading →