Category Archives: Healthy Living

Want to Feel Better? Lower Your blood Sugar Now!

It’s Simple — Take Care of Your Body Every Day

You recently found out that you are prediabetic or moving in that direction with higher than acceptable blood sugar levels.

You are concerned and do not want to go on medication.

You have heard that blood sugar can be controlled through diet and believe it is worth a shot.

Your intel is correct. The most direct way to impact blood sugar levels is through a healthy diet.

Rather than think in terms of “diet” think it terms of “lifestyle.”

Make Smart Choices

Living a healthy lifestyle and making smart food choices will minimize the risk of high blood sugar and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Making smart choices is not complicated. All that is required is a commitment to taking care of your body so that it can serve you for many years to come — as it was meant to do.

The following are seven important pieces of information to remember.

All Carbs Are NOT Created Equal

Blood sugar or blood glucose is directly affected by the foods you eat — especially carbohydrates. They are converted into glucose and enter the bloodstream as blood sugar.

Because carbohydrates have the largest impact on blood sugar levels, it is important to be aware of your intake.

When you consistently consume large amounts of sugar, the pancreas will secrete extra insulin. Eventually, it won’t be able to produce enough to keep blood glucose at normal levels.

Sometimes carbs get a bad rap, but they are actually good for you and necessary for the body as fuel. They also protect against disease and help control weight.

But . . . all carbs are not created equal.

Each carb has a Glycemic Index (GI) or ranking based on how they affect blood glucose. Carbs with a GI index of 55 or less digest slowly, creating a lower and slower rise in blood glucose. These are called “complex carbs.”

Carbs with a GI index closer to 100 are broken down and enter the bloodstream quickly, causing a spike in blood sugar. They are called “simple carbs.”

Consuming low GI carbohydrate sources can keep blood sugar levels within the normal range.

Foods with a low Glycemic Index (GI) include:

  • Meat
  • Oats
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Legumes
  • Sweet potatoes and yams
  • Corn
  • Some fruits (cherries, apples, oranges, plums, grapefruit)
  • Vegetables (celery, asparagus, broccoli, avocados, cauliflower)

Choose wisely the types of carbohydrates you include in your diet.

  1. Eat fiber-rich, whole fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables without added sugar.
  2. Always eat whole grains. Refined grains (white flour and white flour products) are stripped of most of the nutrients and fiber.
  3. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are good sources of calcium and protein, plus many other vitamins and minerals. Watch for added sugars like sweetened yogurts.
  4. Legumes — which include beans, peas, and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They are typically low in fat and high in protein (making them a good substitute for meat), folate, potassium, iron, magnesium, and they contain beneficial fats and fiber.
  5. Read labels carefully and avoid added sugars – less than 10 percent of calories you consume every day should come from added sugar.
  6. Avoid processed foods of any kind as much as possible. Processed, sugary items have been stripped of all-natural fiber, leaving it to be rapidly metabolized into glucose.

Fiber Is Critical

Fiber in your diet is a big YES — it is good for you for many reasons.

— Feeds gut bacteria.

— Nourishes the colon wall.

— May help you lose weight.

— Lowers cholesterol levels.

— Decreases the rise in blood sugar after high-carb meals

There are 2 different types of fiber — soluble and insoluble. Both are important for health, digestion, and preventing diseases.

Soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar and improves blood sugar levels by controlling glucose and insulin spikes. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables.

Insoluble fiber helps the food pass quickly though the stomach and intestines. It is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains.

High fiber foods include — pears, berries, apples, bananas, carrots, broccoli, beets, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, popcorn, and dark chocolate. (Great Choices!)

National fiber recommendations (for individuals over 50) are:

— 30g to 38g daily for men

— 25g per day for women.

Another guideline is to simply consume 14g of dietary fiber per every 1,000 calories in your diet.

The bottom line is . . . More fiber = lower blood sugar.

Excess Weight Must Go

Being overweight or obese has been clearly linked to high blood sugar and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Even though you may not like the idea and consider it a “pain in the you-know-what” — the surest way to lose weight is by eating fewer calories than you burn (calorie counting).

The perfect partner to calorie counting is portion control, which is not easy to do when everything these days is “oversized.” Think about often are you are served enough food to feed two people.

Portion control is not a precise science, but it has been proven to be an effective way to lose weight.

For more information on portion control, check out my book, WOW! You Look Fantastic(available through Amazon).

The best ways to make counting calories and portion control easier are:

  • Use a food scale: it can be difficult to accurately determine caloric intake without determining precise serving sizes
  • Use an app: there are several easy-to-use free apps that will record calories and servings.
  • Learn to read food labels: They provide calories per servings — but the servings can be misleading (you think a package is one serving when it’s actually two or three.)
  • Eat slower: Studies have shown the speed at which you eat can have a direct effect on obesity, BMI, and waist circumference. Eating slower may also prevent weight gain.

Four Additional Steps

Diet may be the most direct and obvious way to keep your weight within healthy levels and help you control blood sugar.

But, there are four other factors in the success formula for building and sustaining a healthy body and help prevent Type 2 Diabetes.

Sleep More

Getting enough good rest is essential for overall health and well-being.

Sleep lowers stress, strengthens your immune system, and decreases blood pressure. It is also critical for good mental health including alertness, memory, and mood regulation.

Poor sleeping habits also affect blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

Studies show when people do not get adequate quality rest they have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The benefits of a good night’s rest are important for maintaining hormonal balance and glucose regulation.

Exercise Regularly

The most important part of exercise is making the time to do it. Regular exercise (at least 5 days a week) in conjunction with a proper diet can help you maintain or lose weight.

When you exercise, blood sugar is more effectively used for energy and muscle contraction. A single bout of exercise can increase insulin sensitivity for up to sixteen hours.

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels

Glucose levels can vary significantly depending on many outstanding factors, like diet, sleep, and exercise. It’s important to continually monitor levels on a regular basis to get a clearer picture of health — especially if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

Regular monitoring of blood sugar levels will help determine where you stand. If you are pre-diabetic, it’s important to get levels down to the normal range to prevent full diabetes from occurring.

If you already have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes you must regularly check and log blood sugar levels to prevent seizures or a diabetic coma.

Discuss monitoring your blood sugar levels with your doctor and select the best method for you.

In Conclusion

Keeping your blood sugar within normal recommended ranges is important for everyone’s overall health.

By effectively controlling these levels you are less likely to develop diabetes.

Make smart lifestyle decisions — maintain a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly.

There are no acceptable excuses when it comes to your health.

Stay healthy.  Stay strong.  Stay happy.

 

Additional Reading:     Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

This article was originally published on MEDIUM – it has been removed from that platform.

Still Man’s Best Friend – Especially for Baby Boomers

Man's Best Friend

Now that you are an empty nester, what would you do without Gimley, your ‘fur baby’  –  man’s best friend?

You may even be living alone, trying to figure out what comes next and Gimley keeps you sane.

You are one of the 76 million Baby Boom Generation, born between 1944 and 1964 – a generation that loves dogs.

Dogs have been called ‘man’s best friend’ since they were first domesticated, thousands of years ago. But, Baby Boomers seem to have taken it to heart more than other generations.

They make up 37% of all dog owners – a sizeable chunk of the dog-owning population.

If you are a ‘boomer’ or are related to a ‘boomer, you know their dogs  are more than just a friend to keep them company as the years pile up and retirement is looming. They are part of the family.

Why Boomers Relate Differently to Dogs

Baby Boomers were welcomed into a world that was enjoying a new level of comfort. Life was different and possibilities unknown to prior generations were everywhere. This included dog companionship on a different level.

They grew up with their dogs in the home and developed strong bonds with their furry friends at an early age. The connection to pets was intense and those relationships were carried into adulthood.  

The Shift from Outside to Inside

Before the Baby Boomers, dogs were primarily outside pets. You may remember the backyard dog houses. But with the Boomer Generation things changed.

Pups were kept inside and integrated into the family, which created a companionship dynamic that had never before existed.

The strong bond Boomers have with their dogs goes a long way in keeping them feeling fulfilled and sociable.

Coping with Change

The companionship and unconditional love that dogs provide helps owners adjust more easily to life changes.

  1. The empty nest – filling the gap when children leave.
  2. Physical well-being (staying active) – dogs must be walked, so owners get more exercise.
  3. Mental health – there are issues that can arise as a person moves into different stages of life. The loving companionship of a dog reduces loneliness and lessens the risk of depression and anxiety

Dogs Are Social Facilitators

Boomers know that dog owners reap social benefits that do not come with other types of pets.

Dogs love to be outside, they love to run and play, and they have to be “walked” for exercise and relief. The result is dog owners tend to get out of the house several times a day and enjoy the side benefit of easily connecting with other dog owners.

A few activities that Boomers enjoy with their furry best friends:

  • Getting to know the neighborhood and the neighbors
  • Being part of a dog-walking group
  • Attending dog-focused events
  • Regular visits to the dog park

Dogs Are Good for the Heart

When it comes to heart health issues, dogs have your back. According to a nationwide study, dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease.

The researchers also found there is a link between the breed and the relative risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Hunting breeds were related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than any other breed of dog.

So, if you are in the market for a dog, you may want to consider a Labrador, beagle, Weimaraner, golden retriever, or bloodhound.

And . . . That’s Not all

There are many health benefits of living with man’s best friend.

The companionship and higher levels of exercise that come with having a furry friend lowers the risk of high blood pressure.

It is hard to stay stressed when you feel the unconditional love that dogs provide. Studies have found that the simple scratching of your dog’s head can improve your mood significantly.

To sum it up – dogs are still man’s best friend, just ask any Boomer dog-owner.   

Related Article: High Stress Slows Down Your Brain

The article was adapted with permission from the original published on FOMO Bones.

Are You at Risk for Diabetes?

Diabetes Testing
Free photo 82963377 © creativecommonsstockphotos – Dreamstime.com

You haven’t been feeling very well the last couple of days, and have had trouble concentrating.

You’re always thirsty and constantly running to the restroom.

And . . . the headaches are driving you crazy.

What’s Going On? 

The quick answer is that it may be high blood sugar. But before you panic, ask yourself some questions about the last few days. 

  • Are you under an excessive amount of stress?
  • Have you been eating a lot of unhealthy foods?
  • Did you stop exercising?
  • Have you eaten an excessively carb-heavy meal?

Any of these can lead to a blood sugar spike.

An occasional spike doesn’t mean that you are immediately at risk for poor health, but consistently high blood sugar is serious.

It is often related to Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

Two Types of Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, known as juvenile or childhood diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin – and requires insulin injections.

Scientists think it is either genetic or caused by environmental factors like a virus that can trigger the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is more common and typically develops in older children and adults, but can occur at any age.

With this type, the individual’s body does not  respond to insulin as well as it should and in advanced stages, the body doesn’t make enough insulin.

Type 2 can often be controlled by diet and lifestyle changes.

Primary Risk Factor

The primary risk factor is obesity – which afflicts more than 1 in 3 people in the U.S.

 If you are extremely overweight and have been for a while, you should have your blood sugar levels checked regularly. Once diabetes develops, other health issues with the heart, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels can appear.

In 2017 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes,

Medical News Today recently reported that 9% of the U.S. population have diabetes and it is the 7th leading cause of death.

Even if you are not diagnosed with diabetes, having higher-than-recommended blood sugar levels can be dangerous and indicate a condition known as “pre-diabetes.” An additional 38% of the population has been diagnosed with this condition.

What Is Blood Sugar?

The terms “sugar” and “glucose” are used interchangeably, but they are slightly different. When sugar is consumed it is converted to glucose (blood sugar) as a fuel source for the body. 

The brain prefers to burn glucose for energy, which means it is reliant on carbohydrates. But, the rest of the body can also burn fat for fuel in between carb-rich meals. Glucose storage is low in comparison to fat storage in the body.

If you do not eat enough carbs, small amounts of glucose can also be made through non-carbohydrate food sources. The body can also slowly learn to make ketones from fat, which can be supplementary brain food, if necessary.

Glucose Levels Must Be Controlled

Glucose powers the body, but uncontrolled levels can be dangerous.

Diabetes is uncontrolled high blood sugar (glucose) levels.

When you are healthy, blood glucose levels are controlled by the secretion of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is a regulator that lowers blood glucose levels, as needed.

When certain foods cause blood sugar levels to rise, insulin is secreted from the pancreas to normalize the levels and all is well.

With Type 2 diabetes, the cells don’t respond correctly to insulin and high levels of blood sugar occur which is called hyperglycemia.

Impact of Weight Gain and Weight Loss

A definite link has not been established between weight gain and increased blood glucose. However, one study showed weight gain increased the risk of diabetes.

Studies have also shown that weight loss can have major beneficial effects over time. Every kg of body weight lost annually was associated with a 33% lower risk of diabetes.

Even modest weight gain can have a substantial impact on the risk of diabetes.

Careful monitoring and maintenance of weight are important for overall health. This is particularly important if diabetes runs in your family or if you have been diagnosed with “pre-diabetes.”

Are You at Risk?

It is important to listen your body – to pay attention to how you feel. Headaches, feeling thirsty frequently and have to pee a lot are indicators of potential problems and should be discussed with your doctor.

American Diabetes Association offers a quick Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test. The link will take you to the site.

Your health is your most important asset. Take good care of it! A few simple steps to keep you are track and ensure a long, healthy life.

  • Eat a healthy diet, be sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
  • Avoid junk food/fast foods – the additives and sugar content are harmful to your mind and body. 
  • Exercise regularly – to keep everything working as it should.
  • Have a complete physical checkup every year.
Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

Eat Well – Stay Well – Live Well.

I know you can do it.  

Adapted with permission from an article originally published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal

Related Articles: 5 Simple Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

Age in Place – Are You Prepared or Is There a “Rest Home” in Your Future?

Age in Place
Image by JacobLund@iStock

You are worried about what will happen to you as you get older.

You do not want to lose your independence.

Living somewhere else is not acceptable.  You love your home. 

It is your right to age on you own terms and in your own way

Everyone must plan for the future and how you will live as you approach your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond.  The decisions you make today can affect your health, comfort, and safety during those years.

Many people are making  the decision to “age in place.”

Age in Place

The CDC defines this as “the ability to live in your own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

At first glance, it seems like the ability to age in your home is simply a matter of keeping yourself healthy and active for as long as possible. That is an important piece of the puzzle, but not the only piece.

Choosing to age in place isn’t just about your home and your ability to remain active. It includes your connections and involvement with everything in your community.

Familiarity with your community/neighborhood gives you the confidence to move about and to engage with friends and neighbors.

I also allows for easy access to familiar health-enhancing resources like doctors (and other service providers), parks and walking trails, book club, and yoga class, etc. 

Risks of Isolation

The benefits of staying at home are important, but there is a downside.

A new study at Brigham Young University shows that prolonged loneliness and being socially isolated is the health equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. While friendships and meaningful relationships with others support our immune system, reduces our stress levels, and can actually reduce the risk of developing dementia.  

The author of the study and psychology professor, Tim Smith, said that the United States is facing a possible “loneliness epidemic,” revealing that more people live alone today than at any other time in recorded history.

The study’s co-author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, states that,

Loneliness should be considered a serious health issue. Just as one starts planning financially long before retirement, we should also consider our social resources in planning for retirement.”

 It is easier to work on preventing loneliness than trying to work your way out of it.

These social resources of the choice to age in place include planning how you will stay connected and involved in your community.

Do you have a family – siblings, adult children, and grandchildren – nearby? Do you have both long-term friendships and a way to meet and make new friends?

If not, you can consider a service like Silvernest that provide ways to meet like-minded people – in this case, to make a roommate match. Having someone living in your home with you helps to create a new friendship and provides a safety net should you need help.

Home Adaptations

Now (not later) is the best time to plan and execute changes to your home that will keep you safe and comfortable.

No one likes to look at things that scream, “You are getting older,” like ugly grab bars in the bathrooms. Thank goodness the design of these features has come a long, long way. When you are ready, take the time to shop around. You can find things that keep you safe and are also aesthetically pleasing.

You may find that it’s the little things that limit you – like kitchen utensils or the height of your toilet. These can be easily fixed. There are great alternatives that people of any age would enjoy.

If you aren’t already familiar with them, check out the universal design features of OXO kitchen products, or bathrooms from Kohler that are designed well without feeling old.

Projects, like leveling floors from room to room, living on a single level, and widening doorways, are all important adaptations, but they are also more costly. This is particularly true of homes in older, desirable neighborhoods.

Experts advise that if you plan to age in your home, make adjustments while you are working and have an income to support the costs. Also, the disruption caused by home improvements is easier to live with when you aren’t recovering from an accident or struggling with a health problem.  

Take an inventory of your home. Look for anything that seems annoying or limiting to you now – even in the slightest. This will only be exacerbated as you get older.

Technology for the Ages

If you have aging parents, stay on the lookout for the developments in technology that will help them stay connected and remain as independent as possible.

Apps are available for caregivers to keep you informed on their care and activities.

We live in a “sharing economy” that makes it possible to have almost anything delivered to the front door.

Ten years ago it would have been unimaginable to get into a stranger’s car or to have a roommate as you age, but companies like UberLyft and Silvernest have made it the norm – and these are services you will rely on more as you get older.

The world offers many advantages that early generations couldn’t have imagined as they aged.

The most important advantage you have right now is your planning window to age in place. 

With a bit of thought, you can make plans that support both your physical and mental health and keep your home the vibrant and safe place it is today.

This is an adaptation with permission of the original article published at Silvernest.com.

Related Topic:  7 Foods that Accelerate Aging

7 Ways to Teach Your Children to Eat Healthy

Eat Healthy
Image by monkey_business

It is so frustrating.  I want my children to eat healthy, but the only vegetable Johnny will eat is raw carrots.

My youngest wants chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

I try to get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, but it seems like an uphill battle.

I talk to them about eating right all the time, but they just don’t seem to listen.

Children are visual learners — they watch, they see, they do.

So . . . let them “DO.” Turn your kitchen into a “learning lab.”

Cooking with Mom or Dad can be one of the most fun and educational experiences possible for children. And . . . it will create memories that last a lifetime.

Once you get them started, my guess is they will want to do a lot of cooking on their own.

My mom was a great basic cook — and never used a recipe (at least not that I can remember). It was her ability to cook delicious meals so effortlessly that inspired me to develop my own skill set.

Her gift to me was free rein in the kitchen to experiment and cook as often as I wanted. That freedom developed my passion for the art and an appreciation of what it takes to create good meals for the family.

If you want your children to enjoy long, healthy lives that are sustained by healthy eating habits, now is the time to start them on the right path.

Seven Ways to Inspire Them

One-on-One Time

Work with one child at a time. Let him/her be your partner in planning a healthy balanced dinner. When you finish planning, make a list of the groceries needed and take him/her shopping with you.

Shopping provides a first-hand experience for buying healthy foods like organic produce, pastured eggs, and grain-fed beef. They can also learn how to read labels to avoid dangerous additives (If they don’t know what it means, or can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.)

Keep a Stool in the Kitchen

Invite the children to watch while you cook. In the beginning, you can explain what you are doing, why you chose the foods you are using for good nutrition and how the flavors and textures make more interesting meals. Make the explanations fun and interesting.

Let them help whenever possible — reading the recipe, helping you measure, mixing dry ingredients together, tossing the salad, etc.

Kids are also great taste testers, which is a smart way to get them to sample new foods.

Start Them Early

How early? As soon as they show interest. Many four-year-olds love being in the kitchen.

Start with fun, easy foods like healthy snacks, breakfast meals, and sandwiches. Making cookies was a family favorite for my kids. Even with desserts, you can impress on them the importance of making foods from scratch — so they have control over the ingredients.

Depending on age and ability when preparing full meals, let them do as much as possible. Teach them how to peel and cut up vegetables, break lettuce leaves for the salad, combine and toss the salad, place chopped veggies in the steamer, wash the potatoes for baking, layer the foods for a casserole, etc.

As early as possible, teach them how to use knives safely. The younger ones can use kitchen scissors. It is easy to teach kitchen safety when they are cooking with you.

Introduce them to healthy cooking techniques: steaming, sautéing with healthy oils, baking, roasting, and broiling.

Family Night Cook-Off

This can be a wonderful family activity. One night a week have everyone help prepare dinner.

Each week have a different family member (including mom and dad) plan the menu, which must include a main dish, a vegetable, and dessert.

There should be no restrictions as long as the dishes are made from scratch with healthy ingredients**.

Before you start preparation, be sure everyone is clear about his/her responsibility. (Don’t forget setting the table, and clean up.)

A Family that Eats Together . . .

Always sit down together for dinner (and for breakfast as often as possible) The old adage, “A family that eats together, stays together” is still very true.

Sitting down to a healthy, delicious family dinner every night to eat, talk, and laugh is a powerful glue for holding the family together.

This has never been more important than it is today. Unfortunately, eating together is becoming less and less common. Don’t let that happen to your family.

Be Subtle When Introducing Habit Change

We live in a world of “super-sized” everything and frequent mindless eating, which makes portion contol more difficult.

Over the years, the average size of a dinner plate has increased from seven or eight inches to 12 inches.

Rather than preaching portion control that may or may not work, buy and use smaller plates (nine inches max) for your meals so the plate looks full, with less food.

You will probably have to buy “lunch” plates in order to get a smaller size. They can be purchased on Amazon and Target.

It would be wise to fill the plates and serve (rather than having people serve themselves). Keep the serving sizes reasonable — leave a little white space around the portions — avoid stacking.

Also, discourage mindless munching of unhealthy snacks when sitting at the computer or while watching TV.

Always have healthy snacks available. For example, fresh fruit (washed and ready to eat), plain yogurt topped with fresh berries and drizzled with a little honey, or real cheese and 100% whole-grain crackers.

Create Eating Adventures

Introduce new foods often. Make it fun. This helps develop a willingness to try new foods.

If you have a picky eater, adding something new to the menu with foods they already like can increase their repertoire of nutritious foods.

The rule in our family was they must each one bite of everything served. It worked most of the time. As adults, three out of four of my children eat almost everything.

If over time there are foods that several family members really dislike, don’t worry about it. There are enough healthy foods available they can still maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

The habit of healthy eating begins early — at home. As a parent, it is important to take every opportunity to help your children develop a positive attitude toward healthy eating so they can live long, productive lives.

Final Factors to Consider

Are you setting the example you want your children to follow? What changes do you need to make?

By implementing any or all of the above suggestions, you will be helping you children to enjoy preparing and eating healthy foods. 

Adventures in the kitchen and eating well will become family traditions. 

**When you prepare meals from scratch, you have full control over the ingredients and you know that your family is getting the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

We recommend TWEENS and TEENS, A Cookbook to Get You Started, as a useful tool to use with those just learning to cook.

Related Article:  Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Foods