Friday, October 7, 2011

U.N. holds chronic diseases summit

I cannot believe that I was unaware that the U.N. General Assembly recently held a meeting to discuss the chronic diseases epidemic facing the world. This is the first time that the Assembly has met to discuss cancer, diabetes, and heart disease--all of which can be prevented. In the past, the Assembly has fought against the spread of flus, AIDS, and tuberculosis. However, with the growing number of people being diagnosed with diabetes, cancer or heart or lung disease, it is no wonder that the Assembly has forged a new agenda against these life-threatening conditions.

It's disheartening to read that in developing countries a diabetes diagnosis might mean death because the patient does not have the resources to stay healthy. While these countries have qualified specialists, there are not nearly enough for a country with millions of citizens.

So, what is the Assembly proposing? They plan on educating countries about the health risks associated with these chronic diseases. They also aim to provide developing countries with aspirin and blood pressure medicine. Some might feel like the Assembly could do more to help those in need; however, with the global economy in decline they are offering what they know they can deliver.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Diabetes and Alzheimer's Linked

Diabetes and Alzheimer’s are two of the most difficult diseases to cope with because they take a noticeable toll on you and your loved ones. People living with diabetes are already at a greater risk for a slew of life-threatening diseases and conditions. Sadly, a recent long-term Japanese study states that having diabetes doubles your chances of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia later on in life.

People living with diabetes are not the only ones at risk. People with prediabetes are at risk for developing some form of dementia as well because their blood sugar levels are dangerously high.

Although scientists are unsure as to why diabetics are at a higher risk than non-diabetics, there are a few possible explanations. First, insulin resistance may play a role in the link because it could be blocking the body’s ability to dissolve a specific protein that builds brain plaques. Also, a high blood glucose level causes oxidative stress. Moreover, the combination of high blood glucose and high cholesterol levels harden and narrow the brain arteries.

This most recent study reiterates the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, especially for older diabetics. According to the study, 20 percent of non-diabetics developed Alzheimer’s within 15 years whereas 27 percent of diabetics developed the debilitating disease in the same span of time.

As the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes increases so will the percentage of people living with both diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It is important for those at risk to pay attention to potential Alzheimer’s symptoms. These symptoms include memory loss, difficulty solving problems, failure to complete routine tasks at work or home, confusion of time and location, changes in personality, misplacing objects, and poor judgment. If you are noticing several of these symptoms, either in yourself or a loved one, then visit your doctor.

If you are currently living with diabetes then it is crucial to maintain a strict routine based on diet, exercise, and medicine intake. Keeping track of your glucose levels on a daily basis with the help of diabetes supplies is instrumental to your health.

Regardless of whether or not you are at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s, it is important to keep your body and mind moving. Go for a walk or read a book instead of watching television. Simple steps towards a healthier lifestyle will greatly improve your well being and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Raw food diet: Is it worth it?

There has been a lot of discussion on whether or not a raw diet can reverse diabetes. Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes- Type 1 or 2. However, the raw diet does possess some interesting benefits.

Now, you might be wondering what qualifies as a raw diet. Well, a raw diet means that 75% of your food cannot be cooked. The motive behind this is that cooking destroys valuable nutrients. Obviously, processed and junk foods possess less nutritional benefits than uncooked vegetables and fruits.

Although the raw food diet sounds simple enough, eating the same vegetables and fruits can grow old. For this reason, most raw food enthusiasts find ways to make tasty meals without sacrificing the nutrients. Personally, a raw food diet seems to be more trouble than it is worth; however, I know a few people that are passionate advocates for the diet. Well, it is less of a diet and more of a conscious lifestyle change. And that's exactly what a raw food diet is-- a lifestyle change. Unless you've grown up with raw foodies as parents, transitioning to a point where your food is only cooked 25% of the time is daunting. Diabetics who've gone raw swear they've been cured because of how great they feel. This just goes to show that a healthy diet high in fiber and low in fat can be effective at helping you treat your diabetes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Did you know that our four-legged friends are at risk for diabetes too?

Did you that your household pets are at risk for diabetes also? I didn’t. Similar to children and young adults, man’s best friend is becoming increasingly susceptible to diabetes. A growing number of dogs and cats are gaining an unhealthy amount of weight because of a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is the most prevalent cause of diabetes in these animals. Sadly, as their owners become less active so do their pets. Symptoms in dogs and cats mimic those in humans. Excessive thirst, constant hunger, change in demeanor, and an inexplicable weight loss are all signs that your beloved pet could have diabetes. For dogs, diabetes most commonly occurs in older breeds; however, feline diabetes does not discriminate against age or type. Dogs have a higher rate of diabetes than cats. More specifically, female dogs and male cats most commonly have the condition. Fortunately, if treated correctly, dogs and cats can continue to live long and healthy lives despite having the disease.

Your veterinarian can figure out whether or not your pet has diabetes by testing the amount of sugar in its urine. Once diagnosed, your vet will go over a recommended dietary plan for your pet as well as demonstrate how to administer the insulin shots. Following this health plan is crucial to maintaining stable blood glucose levels. Furthermore, an ideal diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. In addition to a balanced diet, dogs and cats will require twice daily insulin shots. Most owners find administering insulin shots to be the most difficult aspect of a diabetic routine; however, once your pet grows accustomed to its new routine, the shots will be easier to handle. Diabetic supplies, like testing strips, are an effective way to keep track of your pet’s glucose levels.

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health issues in both pets. For instance, an unhealthy diet and lack of insulin could lead to cataracts for your dog, potentially causing permanent blindness in your four-legged friend. Moreover, your cat could face a debilitating weakness in its limbs. These are serious complications, but they are preventable as long as you take excellent care of your pet.

Since pets are not capable of taking care of themselves, the responsibility rests on the owners. It is up to you to make sure your dog or cat is eating the right food, getting enough exercise on a regular basis, and receiving the correct dosage of insulin. These deceivingly small steps are vital to your pet’s well being.

By knowing this I can begin to improve my lab’s quality of life. Although I leave a relatively active life, I have failed my dog by not bringing her along on my trail runs. Like most owners, my dog is not simply a pet. She is more than that. She means more to me than most things in the world. If I truly do love my dog—which I do—then I will make the extra effort to take her out for a walk and feed her less. I have to care of her because she takes care of me.

How Coming Face to Face with Diabetes Changed Me

I do not have diabetes nor am I currently at risk; however, I have been screened. At 12, I went in for an annual physical examination, but this examination was unlike any other. My doctor noticed something unusual, indicative to Type 2 diabetes, so a week later I was back in the doctor’s office for a screening. I was flabbergasted. Since I was five, I have played a sport. I had no clue how serious diabetes was because my health classes had never covered the subject. So, here I was sitting in the waiting room completely unaware of just how life changing a diagnosis can be. After my screening I was made well aware of the risk factors, symptoms, and the various diabetic supplies.

I had to wait 2-3 weeks for my results, and without a doubt those were the longest 2-3 weeks of my life. As the days passed I began to reexamine how I was living my life. I seemed healthy enough, but it made me realize that exercise was not enough. In order to keep myself healthy I needed to change my unhealthy eating habits. In addition to cutting out candy and soda, I made an effort to reduce the amount of carbohydrates I ate. Being Italian this was initially incredibly difficult; however, I kept my long-term goals in mind.

2-3 weeks later my results were in. I did not have diabetes. I cannot express how relieved my parents and I were to hear the news. Even though I did not have diabetes, the experience changed me forever. So many years later and I am still mindful of what I eat as well as getting regular exercise. The experience has also made me mindful of those that do in fact have diabetes. It is frustrating to read about the recent rise of Type 2 diabetes diagnosis among Americans under the age of 20.  I am even more upset when I read blogs by people blaming diabetics. I blame the rise on the lack of education in schools. Kids cannot be expected to understand this complex disease on their own. It is important for kids to receive proper health education in order to make the next steps toward a healthier lifestyle.