Dawn Phenomenon

Everyone experiences a hormone surge called the “dawn phenomenon” each morning several hours before they wake up. For people with diabetes, however, this hormone surge results in higher-than-normal blood sugar levels because they don’t have a normal insulin response to adjust for it.

The dawn phenomenon happens because during the night the body produces less insulin while at the same time the liver produces more glucose. The lack of insulin results in a blood sugar rise in the morning.

If your fasting blood glucose is higher or lower than ideal most mornings, it may help to eat dinner earlier and avoid carbohydrates late at night. Exercising in the evening also may help keep your morning blood sugar within range. 

Health Apps – Growth of Health IT

While it is probably true that ‘there is an App for everything’, how does one know what is out there and which is personally worthwhile. Especially in the health area, this is paramount as positive impacts using health technology abound. Health IT is big and getting bigger. Before you download any App you do research – correct? 

I have recently been directed to the online Health Informatics program at the University of Illinois, Chicago. A valiant effort by responsible parties. I want you to read this orienting article, which will arm you with important info on the state of mobile health technology.

This ‘teaser’ article covers quite a few of the topics for which there are Apps out there: diabetes, medication reminders, nutrition, menstruation, anxiety, and stress to name a few.

Details cover all you need (inc. Apple – Android) but as always chose what is going to work for you- you don’t want to download an app looks good but is useless for your needs.

 

Got Holiday Blues

Holiday blues are more common then you think and have varying degrees of severity

This time of year the lights are blinking, festive music is on all the airwaves yet not everyone is gleeful.  Seasonal depression is more common than you think, statistics approx. that 14% of Americans experience “ the winter blues”. Together, in very close proximity, Christmas and New Year’s and Hanukkah can engender an overwhelming sense of routine change, precipitating demands and challenging us. Whether it is that you can’t get home for the holidays, or working the end of year craziness, and/or financial stresses arise, all of these can play in. Don’t forget year ending parties, family obligations also can contribute to higher stress levels. Please know you’re not alone. 

If you’re already struggling with depression it’s going to be made even worse.

Watch out for the following to help to recognize depression in yourself and others;

  • simple activities become more difficult, can’t get out of bed, you don’t want to make dinner, don’t want to take a walk
  •  everything is a ‘monumental’ effort, you feel more tired than usual, you lose interest easily
  • you’re having trouble concentrating.

 

I’m going to just quickly list a few things that may help you deal with this: 

  • Don’t think that alcohol will help, actually it is when you should limit alcohol.
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Learn to say ‘NO’!
  • Be open to new ideas don’t be rigid about exactly what your image of the holiday should be, it is not supposed to be stress generating event
  • Get support from loved ones especially if this is the first holiday without a loved one.  Spend extra time with loved ones
  • Exercise regularly plug in your iPods and take a quick 10-minute walk to get those mood-boosting endorphins released. Do something fun especially if you had recent stress at work or at home or in a motional
  • Don’t overeat! Please en route to gatherings eat some prepared carrot or celery sticks.

Have a Blessed & Healthy Holiday

Smell and Memories

Recently I learned that our noses can remember 50,000 different scents. Impressive, even more, is that memories can be recalled in detail from way back in our past.

So if you recall as a child smelling your mother’s perfume your brain waves will respond including neural networks with synchronized brain waves of 20-40 Hz. Emotions corresponding to memory will cause endorphin secretion and more.    Brain waves connect smell through memories and smell is the strongest retainer

E-Cigs A Safe Alternative?

Safer to use an e-cigarette ( ‘e-cigs’ – vaping nicotine’) or go with a traditional cigarette (‘cig’) -Just as if not more’ is the resounding finding -although not absolutely say, researchers.

Finding related to heart disease included used only e-cigarettes had higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, and lower levels of total cholesterol than non-smokers. But the level of ‘good’ cholesterol -HDL- was lower in both e-cig and cig groups.

A recent study (Public Health Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) literally measured heart flow in 19 healthy adults 24-32 as they smoked using each method. Scans performed to measure microcirculation during stress and rest, resulted in finding surprising to the researcher -Dr. Rader reported, “In smokers who use traditional cigarettes, blood flow increased modestly after traditional cigarette inhalation and then decreased with subsequent stress. However, in smokers who use e-cigs, blood flow decreased after both inhalation at rest and after handgrip stress.”  you do not have to be a physician to know this is BAD news.

However as with looking into many medical questions,  there is another study with very different deductions, albeit a short  (one month) small (114 subjects) study population.  Results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed when measuring heart blood vessel dilation (how diameter narrows and  tightens) found:

  • Healthy non-smokers had a score of 7.7%
  • Smokers had a score of 5.5%
  • But those who switched to nicotine e-cigarettes for a month had a score of 6.7%

This report from the team at Univ. of Dundee suggesting that vaping with nicotine had smokers about halfway back to a healthy score, but authors note usually only one type of e-cig. is used team, at the University of Dundee, stressed vaping was “not safe” – just less harmful than tobacco.

Can I enlist you in doing whatever possible (legal that is) to deter someone from using e-cigs.  Countries esp. in South America (Brazil in 2014) Asia and the Middle East have already banned these e-sticks

Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Omega 3-oil has been touted to be helpful for treatment and even prevention of many conditions from heart disease to anxiety and depression.Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fat. Small amounts are essential for good health and can be found in the food that we eat including nuts and seeds and fatty fish, such as salmon. In the body, this class of fats is needed for cells to operate, they are anti-inflammatory. It breaks down to become phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes. Commonly ALA, EPA & DHA are the subtypes that have been studied, but there are more.

While there is a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)and Adequate Intake (AI), there is no established Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) and Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). Visit the NIH fact sheet on omega 3   and learn the AI for you. They are even suggested in cat and dog diets.

A series of human studies recently completed is changing the belief that omega 3 fish oil is a crucial supplement but rather the ingestion of foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids is what is beneficial. Also conflicting findings as regards the effect on cardiovascular disease.

Triglycerides seem to decrease rather consistently with an intake of omega 3. The American Heart Association recommends 2–4 g/day of EPA plus DHA under the care of a physician. Several prescription omega-3 preparations are also available to treat hypertriglyceridemia.

Check with your healthcare provider and get enough omega 3 from foods that your body needs.

Sugar and Inflammation

A high sugar diet is well known to cause bodily harm. Effects include making any disease worst, and of course, weight gain, and tooth decay. I would like to blog, however, about the low-grade chronic inflammation that occurs from a persistent diet high in sugar/starch, saturated and trans fat.

Inflammation is natural and the acute response of the body when faced with injury or infection. During inflammation, the body’s immune system activates. It is helpful and normal BUT chronic inflammation is not helpful can result in damage to healthy cells throughout including the gut and cause insulin resistance. A measurable increase in inflammatory markers can be found in the blood following such a diet.

This study scared me; folks having one can regular soda daily for 6 months had an increase of uric acid that causes inflammation and insulin resistance and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Those having a diet soda, milk, or water did not have inflammatory markers in their blood. Don’t forget the weight gain! Other studies have shown an increased risk of cancers, diabetes, and heart disease from diets high in refined sugars and refined carbs.

Note: Natural sugar, those in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are actually anti-inflammatory. Listen Up!  to the podcast from earlier this year on anti Inflammatory diet.

Realize if no insult to the body that requires an inflammatory response to mend, then inflammation will do bad things to the body. Pain, just one negative effect, can result from chronic inflammation

 

 

 

Avocado + Apple A Day

Yes, I do blog a bit more on heart conditions. Fact is so many Americans suffer from cardiovascular disease that much research and commentary is warranted. So let us look to the produce aisle and specifically to avocados. Avocados are quite high in healthy fats, carotenoid (critical for eye health), but now they are recognized as heart-healthy!

Previous data supported bad cholesterol-lowering by eating apples regularly. But move over apples after a 2-week diet, researchers have shown overweight individuals who ate one avocado daily had lower LDL specifically a subtype -small density LDL. Small, dense LDL cholesterol particles are especially harmful by encouraging plaque build up in blood vessels. Don’t want them around.

Interesting if you follow a moderate-fat diet without avocados yet the diet incorporates the same monounsaturated fatty acids found in avocados, the results are not the same.

Hence there is something else in the avocado that influences its action on bad cholesterol. Certain medical conditions make eating avocados a no-no. If your doctor wants you to avoid foods that create histamine or has said stay away from foods that enhance inflammation, DO NOT eat avocados! Also best to check with your healthcare provider.