How to Stay Connected to Loved Ones Despite Social Distancing

woman feeling alone because of social distancing

Before COVID-19, people kind of disregarded the personal space of others. (Raise your hands, close-talkers and sidlers.) Now that social distancing etiquette is in full effect, we’ve all had to become even more mindful of the three-foot rule. In the age of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the three-foot rule has become the six-foot rule. And in instances where people are infected, isolation and quarantine have become the new normal.

On top of that, a growing number of states have implemented stay-at-home orders in a further effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. The order’s name pretty much indicates what we should do — stay home unless you’re an essential worker or you need to go out for healthcare services or household necessities.

If you’re not a homebody by nature, you’re going to have to find a way to make this essential routine more bearable and comfortable. One way of doing so is by keeping the lines of communication open with your family and friends.

“This is a difficult time for many of us because as human beings, we like to have control over our environment,” says health psychologist Amy Sullivan, PsyD, ABPP. Dr. Sullivan believes that by remaining social during times of uncertainty, we can maintain some control in our lives. She recommends checking in regularly with friends and family through social media and even getting creative with communication apps.

Start with the youngest and oldest members of the family

Dr. Sullivan says the two major groups that could really benefit from regular check-ins and video chats right now are the elderly and children.

“It’s especially important to connect with the elderly who may have some fears around this and to ask them if we can help them. And then on the flip side, our children need to be given information that is age-appropriate,” says Dr. Sullivan. “We owe it to the elderly and to our children at this point to either protect them or support them — and we owe it to our family and friends to stay connected with each other,” Dr. Sullivan adds.

Check on the extroverts and the introverts

While memes might convey that this is a great time for introverts and a terrible time for extroverts, no one is immune to the disappointment of not being able to do things according to plan. “For an extrovert or an introvert, there’s going to be some disappointment in every situation,” Dr. Sullivan says. When you think about the vacation plans that you’ve had to abandon, the business opportunities you’ve lost or the major celebration that you had to reschedule, it can leave you feeling helpless and overwhelmed. So, it helps to check in on our friends regardless of where they fall on the social spectrum.

“Disappointments are going to be in everybody’s life no matter if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. So for me, it’s important to first recognize the disappointment in missing these situations,” says Dr. Sullivan. Talking to your friends about these things can help them work through their feelings. And in doing so, stress can be alleviated.

And if you know a few introverts, don’t just assume that they’re loving all of the solitude. Let them know that you’re there for them. Dr. Sullivan recommends doing quick check-ins to see how they’re doing or if they need anything. She even suggests asking if they’d be interested in watching a television show or doing another quiet activity with you.

Create fun, new ways to interact with friends and family

It’s evident that social media has become a lifeline for many of us. You’ve probably noticed that people who swore off Facebook are now more active than ever. What’s cool is that we’re starting to use social platforms in more creative and genuine ways. From dance classes to DJ sets, live storytime sessions to virtual tours, we’re discovering unique ways to stay connected and engaged.

Dr. Sullivan is a huge proponent of creative communication methods in a time of crisis because pulling away from the people we love and trust will only make the situation harder to manage.

“I believe that America is the engine of ingenuity, ” says Dr. Sullivan. “We should be creating ways to stay connected or inventing something interesting or fun right now to be creative. And we should be coming up with these ideas and letting our kids participate in them to help build their emotional IQ and their self-confidence as they’re navigating this normal as well,” explains Dr. Sullivan.

Kids are very clever and imaginative. If you need inspiration as you’re trying to come up with new ways to spend time with loved ones while the stay-at-home order is in place, look to them. Dr. Sullivan illustrates this through examples from her own children.

“My kids were able to FaceTime their cousins who live in Cincinnati and play a board game with them. I thought that was a very creative way to stay connected,” says Dr. Sullivan. Her daughter even wrote stories and read them to her grandparents over FaceTime.

“I think we can utilize this time to be innovative and to be creative in terms of how we’re going to cope with this, and we can also use it for good. Meaning, we can look at what we still have in our lives and be grateful for that versus what we’re missing right now,” adds Dr. Sullivan.

Connect on a deeper level

We know this is a tough time for the huggers and hand-holders, but you can still touch your loved ones’ hearts in extraordinary ways. Spend time with them by watching movies or your favorite shows through video chat. Try having dinner or shaking your groove things together with a virtual dance party. These activities can speak volumes and show that you truly do love and care about your favorite people.

If you prefer low-tech methods, Dr. Sullivan recommends sending a simple email, postcards or even handwritten notes to people in your circle to stay connected.

Communicate to help manage anxiety and stress

During this time of sheltering in place or even being quarantined under the same roof, it’s highly possible that stress, anxiety and even depression might start to get the best of us. If it happens to you, know that it’s normal especially under chaotic circumstances.

“This is a time of fear and stress,” says Dr. Sullivan. “There could be physical illness in your family and then stress as we’re looking at the economy around us. So, we’re seeing all of these major stressors in our lives and I think we have to realize that people who didn’t have mental health issues may start having mental health issues. And then, more importantly, for people who have been diagnosed with mental health issues or have struggled with them their entire lives, their fear and anxiety are going to be exponentially greater at this moment in time,” Dr. Sullivan explains.

That’s why it’s so important to keep in touch during these uncertain times. No one should struggle alone. If you find that you still could use someone to talk to or you know someone who is in need of assistance, here are a few resources that can help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800.273.TALK (8255)

National Alliance on Mental Illness HelpLine
800.950.NAMI (6264)

You can find help from your local healthcare provider as well. “For instance, at Cleveland Clinic, our Center for Behavioral Health’s psychiatry and psychology programs have all transitioned to virtual visits,” says Dr. Sullivan. “We are available to help people with any crisis or with anxiety or depression at this point,” she adds.

Dr. Sullivan explains that managing our stress level is also critical right now. “Stress contributes to a lot of very negative physical and mental effects on the body. Some of the things that stress can impact are our gastrointestinal system, our immune system, our cardiac system and obviously, our mental and emotional health. So, we need to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves from a physical and emotional standpoint.”

To check in with your own feelings, Dr. Sullivan suggests taking the time to write in a journal if you don’t already. You can also practice self-care at home and most importantly, talk to someone if you’re having a hard time coping with current events.

And if social media is becoming too much, it’s OK to take a break

If you’ve been on social media a lot, you’re probably starting to feel a little overwhelmed or burned out from all of the coronavirus posts. If you’ve reached that point, take a break. Dr. Sullivan compares social media to a very disastrous, unorganized closet. She suggests going in, taking a quick peek to get what you need and then pulling yourself right back out.

Cherish opportunities to spend time with those who matter the most

Despite the coronavirus craziness, Dr. Sullivan encourages people to see the positives in what has become the new normal. In fact, she’s even applied this way of thinking on a personal level.

“My husband and I always say, ‘Gosh, if we only had the time to do this, it would be so much better.’ And now we have the time, I’m just going to embrace the moment. I’m going to recognize the gifts that are right around me — and they are the most important people to me.”

Does Coffee with Lemon Have Benefits? Weight Loss and More

Proponents claim that the mix helps melt off fat and relieves headaches and diarrhea.

Since coffee and lemon each have multiple proven health effects, you may wonder whether drinking the two together offers any additional benefits.

This article reviews the evidence on coffee with lemon to either validate or debunk the claims.

Coffee with lemon

A drink with two common ingredients

Coffee and lemons are two common ingredients found in almost every kitchen.

Coffee — one of the most consumed beverages worldwide — is made by brewing roasted coffee beans (1).

In fact, about 75% of Americans report drinking it daily, and it’s sought after mainly due to its caffeine content, which stimulates the central nervous system and increases alertness and mood (123).

On the other hand, lemons are a fruit that belongs to the genus Citrus. They’re the third most produced citrus fruit in the world, after oranges and mandarins (4).

They’re a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants — along with many other beneficial plant compounds — which is why they have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties (4).

The coffee with lemon trend suggests mixing 1 cup (240 mL) of coffee with the juice of 1 lemon.

While some may think that it’s an unusual combination, others believe that the benefits outweigh the odd flavor — although science may disagree.

SUMMARYCoffee and lemon are two common ingredients with beneficial effects on your health. While some believe that mixing the two offers impressive benefits, science may disagree.

Coffee and lemons pack multiple health benefits

Both coffee and lemons have many proven health benefits, which are predominantly associated with their high content of antioxidants. These are molecules that protect your body from the harmful effects of excessive amounts of free radicals (5).

Here’s an overview of the benefits that each has to offer.

Evidence-based benefits of coffee

Roasted coffee beans contain over 1,000 bioactive compounds, but caffeine and chlorogenic acid (CGA) stand out as key active compounds with antioxidant capacity (6).

The two have been shown to activate pathways that protect against cancer growth, linking coffee to a reduced risk of several types of cancer, including liver, prostate, endometrial, breast, gastrointestinal, and colorectal cancer (6789).

Additionally, coffee has been associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease, and depression, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (16710).

Lastly, its caffeine content is responsible for the drink’s energy-boosting effect, positive influence on endurance exercise performance, and ability to increase the number of calories you burn, resulting in weight loss (3111213).

Evidence-based benefits of lemon juice

Lemons are a great source of vitamin C and flavonoids, both of which act as powerful antioxidants (14).

Both vitamin C and citrus flavonoids have been linked to a lower risk of specific cancers — namely esophagus, stomach, pancreas, and breast cancer (1516171819).

Also, both compounds offer protection against heart disease, while vitamin C protects your immune system and helps fight infections (15192021).

As you can see, coffee and lemons offer a wide range of benefits that protect your body from chronic ailments. Still, mixing the two doesn’t necessarily translate to a more potent drink.

SUMMARYCoffee and lemons contain plant beneficial compounds with cancer-fighting properties. They may also protect you against chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Popular claims about drinking coffee with lemon

There are four main claims about the benefits of drinking coffee with lemon.

This is what science has to say about them.

Claim 1. It helps melt off fat

This notion is prevalent among various trends that involve the use of lemon, but ultimately, neither lemon nor coffee can melt off fat.

The only way to get rid of unwanted fat is either by consuming fewer calories or burning more of them. Thus, this claim is false.

However, studies show that coffee may help you lose some weight, which is why some people may experience a slight weight reduction upon consuming the drink.

Recent research has found that caffeine may stimulate brown adipose tissue (BAT), a type of metabolically active fatty tissue that decreases with age and can metabolize carbs and fats (12).

One test-tube and human study determined that caffeine from a standard 8-ounce (240-mL) cup of coffee can boost BAT activity, causing an increase in metabolic rate that leads to weight loss (12).

Similarly, older studies from the 1980s and 1990s explain that caffeine may increase your metabolic rate during the 3 hours after ingesting it, upping your burned calories up to 8–11% — meaning that you may burn an extra 79–150 calories a day (222324).

That said, the potential weight loss effect may be due to the caffeine in coffee, not the mixture of coffee with lemon.

Claim 2. It eases headaches

Headaches and migraines have been ranked worldwide as major contributors to disability in those under 50 years old (25).

Hence, it’s common to find multiple home remedies for their treatment. Still, research is very divided when it comes to the use of coffee for this purpose.

One hypothesis suggests that the caffeine in coffee has a vasoconstrictor effect — meaning that it tightens your blood vessels — which reduces blood flow toward your head and relieves the pain (26).

Research also suggests that caffeine can amplify the effects of medication used for headaches and migraines (262728).

Yet, another hypothesis believes that caffeine may act as a headache trigger for some, along with other beverages and foods, such as chocolate, alcohol, and citrus fruits like lemons (25).

Therefore, drinking coffee with lemon may either relieve or worsen a headache. And if it does help reduce pain, it would be again due to the caffeine in coffee, not the coffee and lemon drink itself.

Claim 3. It relieves diarrhea

This remedy calls for eating ground coffee with lemon instead of drinking it.

Still, there’s currently no evidence to support the use of lemon to treat diarrhea, and coffee stimulates your colon, which increases your need to poop (29).

Additionally, diarrhea causes a significant loss of fluids that can lead to dehydration, which coffee’s diuretic effect may worsen (3031).

Claim 4. It offers skin care benefits

Research suggests that both coffee and lemon’s antioxidant content may provide skin benefits, so there seems to be a shred of truth behind this claim.

On one hand, coffee’s CGA content is believed to improve blood flow and hydration in the skin.

Studies show that its consumption may reduce skin scaliness, improve smoothness, and reduce the deterioration of the skin barrier (323334).

On the other hand, lemon’s vitamin C content may stimulate the production of collagen — a protein that provides your skin with strength and elasticity — and reduce skin damage caused by free radicals that originate from sun exposure (153536).

However, you may still take advantage of these benefits by consuming coffee and lemons separately, as no evidence suggests that the effect is only exerted when the two are mixed.

SUMMARYCoffee seems to be responsible for most of the purported benefits of drinking coffee with lemon, though lemons also play an important role in the skin care claims. Yet, no evidence suggests that they should be consumed together for greater benefits.

Coffee with lemon downsides

As is the case with their benefits, the downsides of drinking coffee with lemon are due to the drawbacks of each ingredient.

For instance, evidence suggests that heavy coffee drinkers may become addicted to caffeine, which is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a clinical disorder (37).

Further studies also indicate that regular caffeine intake is linked to sleep disturbances and associated daytime sleepiness, as well as an increased risk of pregnancy loss (738).

As for lemons, while generally uncommon, some people may be allergic to citrus fruits’ juice, seeds, or peels (39).

SUMMARYWhile coffee and lemon are two highly consumed ingredients, coffee may impair sleep, cause caffeine addiction, and increase the risk of pregnancy loss. Meanwhile, lemons may cause allergies in rare cases.

The bottom line

Coffee and lemons offer a wide range of health benefits, mostly due to their antioxidant contents.

However, there’s no evidence to support the claim that drinking coffee with lemon relieves diarrhea or causes fat to melt away.

As for the rest of the mixture’s proclaimed benefits, they can be obtained by consuming coffee or lemon juice separately. Thus, there’s no need to mix the two if you don’t feel like it.

A Home Cleaning Schedule Everyone Should Get Behind

Take this study, in which half of the 100 homes assessed tested positive for a foodborne pathogen. According to the FDA, 1 in 6 people in the United States get sick from food contamination each year.

As Brian Sansoni, the vice president of the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) puts it, just because something looks clean doesn’t mean it really is.

“Regular disinfecting can do a good job of removing allergens and germs, helping to prevent illnesses and promote wellness,” he says. “While you can’t control every germ in your environment, it makes good sense to defend against the germs that can make you sick.”

With that in mind, we put together this guide to the best ways to keep your living spaces sparkling and safe.

good cleaning habits

Cleaning cheat sheet

Here’s the too long, didn’t read version for all you busy bees out there.

Every time you come homeDailyWeeklyBiweeklyMonthly
Disinfect your phoneDoorknobs, light switches, faucetsSinksToiletShower and tub
Wash your handsPhones, keyboards, remotes, electronicsBathroom mirrorsMicrowaveWindows
Kitchen counters, dining room tablesWaste bins (trash, recycling, and compost)Floors (mop)
Floors (sweep)Rugs and carpets
Dishes
Buy EPA-registered cleaning products

When shopping for cleaning products, look for an EPA registration number on the label. This guarantees the active ingredients in the product are strong enough to kill dangerous germs, including COVID-19

What to clean daily

Think back to everything you’ve touched today: the light switch, the doorknob, your phone, the doorknob again. These are what cleaning pros call “high traffic” areas, and they’re breeding grounds for bacteria.

Sanitize high traffic areas

Why: Frequently touched items, like our phones, are great places for the virus to hang out. Luckily, simply wiping down your phone with an antibacterial wipe has been shown to kill the majority of bacteria.

How: Every night before heading to bed, use a disinfectant to wipe down doorknobs, light switches, faucets, remotes, keyboards, and anything else that gets pawed regularly.

Since you touch your phone so often, we recommend disinfecting it every time you come home and after washing your hands.

Also, per the CDC, you should always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds when you reenter your home. If singing the happy birthday song to yourself 25 times a day sounds maddening, try using the chorus of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” instead.

 

Wipe down counters and tables

Why: Between the grocery bags, the packages, and your BFF’s backside, your kitchen counter gets a lot of germ traffic. Since this is ground zero for food preparation, it’s extra-important to sanitize these surfaces daily.

How: Use an antibacterial disinfectant to wipe down countertops at the end of every day. The ACI also warns against cutting raw poultry, fish, beef, or pork directly on countertops and suggests using a cutting board instead. And if something spills, clean it up quickly rather than letting it seep in.

Sweep up post-cooking floor debris

Why: A 2013 study found that floors were the most bacteria-rich areas of a house. And even though you’re not eating dinner off the floor, bacteria moves pretty easily from one surface to the next.

How: Especially if you do a lot of cooking, make sure to clean up the floor after dinner. Sansoni recommends using a broom or an electrostatic dry mop to sweep up loose dirt, food, and other debris that falls to the floor.

Do the dishes

Why: Aside from the fact that a sink full of dirty dishes is an eyesore, the longer the dishes hang out in the water, the more likely bacteria, mold, and other germs are to form, according to the ACI.

How: Check out the ACI’s specific regimen for doing dishes. And keep these tips in mind:

  • Sanitize sponges daily, either by microwaving them or by running them through the dishwasher. (And if you want to really be safe, avoid using a sponge altogether.)
  • When dishes have touched raw meat, sanitize them by adding about 1 tablespoon of bleach to cool dishwater or letting them soak in hot water (170 degrees or higher) for at least 30 seconds.
  • If you have a dishwasher, leave enough space for the water to flow freely. Place the bowls toward the back of the top rack (so you can’t see the inside from below).

What to clean weekly

Here’s an idea: Replace those Sunday Scaries with a Sunday Sanitizing mantra. Believe it or not, a tidy home is associated with a more positive outlook on life, and research has shown that clutter makes it harder to focus.

Clear off sink crud

Why: Like any other surface that’s often wet, sinks can grow mold when they aren’t given enough scrubbing action. And if they get clogged, expect a hefty plumbing bill.

How: Baking soda is your bestie when it comes to keeping sinks fresh. In addition to killing bacteria, it’ll leave your dull stainless steel sinks brighter.

  1. Sprinkle a little baking soda onto a damp soft cloth and buff out the stainless steel.
  2. Rinse well, so you don’t leave behind any streaks.
  3. If you have a white sink, clean with a mixture of 1/4 cup of warm water, 3 tablespoons of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.

Mind the bathroom mirrors

Why: There’s more on that mirror than your beautiful mug — think toothpaste spatter and soap residue. Sansoni says many people forget about this surface.

How: If you see something, clean something. In other words, wipe away anything you see with a disinfecting cloth.

For caked-on gunk:

  1. Apply rubbing alcohol with a cloth to remove gunk.
  2. Mix 1 cup of distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water and spray on the mirror.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to finish the job.

Wipe down the waste bins, inside and out

Why: Your waste bins are pretty much in contact with endless germs that only multiply over time. The more frequently you clean them, the less gunk will have a chance to build up.

How: Once you’ve removed the bag, combine 1 cup of distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water and wipe down the inside and outside of the can thoroughly with this solution. If odors linger, use a disinfectant spray for extra precaution. You may want to wear cleaning gloves for this, especially if bits have stuck to the bin.

What to clean every 2 weeks

These areas of your house do attract germs, but they take a bit longer to build up. That’s why experts recommend washing and sanitizing ’em every 2 weeks. If you can swing it, it might be worth hiring a professional so you don’t have to dig into the grime yourself.

Keep that toilet gleaming

Why: Unsurprisingly, any area that comes into contact with poop is bound to be germ-alicious. And if you let toilet buildup go too far, you’ll end up with mineral deposits that cause discoloration to the porcelain and become very tough to scrub off.

How: The ACI recommends using a long-handled toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner to sanitize the rim holes as far into the trap as possible. You can also get an in-tank continuous cleaner that’ll help maintain freshness.

ACI and Sansoni stress that all areas of the toilet need our attention — from the tank to the seat to the base. They recommend using a nonabrasive all-purpose disinfectant cleaner on the seat and bowl to avoid scratches.

They also advise reading the product label, since some cleaners need to sit for 15 to 30 minutes to ward off the grime before being flushed.

 

Stay ahead of the microwave grime

Why: This hot kitchen appliance collects germs both inside (from food that has bubbled over) and outside (from our dirty fingers).

How: The ACI says to clean away any microwave spills ASAP so they don’t get baked on. Typically, this is super easy, since a warm substance will wipe right off.

For a biweekly deep clean, heat a bowl of lemon juice in the microwave. The steam will loosen stuck-on food remnants and help with odors. Then, use a disinfectant wipe to clean the outside and inside.

Mop the floors

Why: “Our shoes obviously track in annoying dirt from outside that can be visible on our floors and stain carpet, but they also bring in all kinds of germs from everywhere we’ve been,” explains Jenna Buckley, professional organizer and owner of Realistic Cleaning.

How: First things first — Buckley suggests implementing a “no shoes in the house” rule to minimize tracking. And although you should sweep up messes and dirt daily, it’s important to pull out your trusty mop biweekly. Use a cleaner and ensure that every inch is scrubbed. Then, let dry.

 

Toss hand towels into the wash

Why: Although it’s environmentally friendly to swap disposable paper towels for fabric ones, these frequently used household staples can hold bacteria and odors if they aren’t washed often enough.

How: Start by soaking the hand towels — both bathroom and kitchen — in warm water with vinegar for 15 minutes. Then add them to your washing machine on a warm water cycle. Transfer to the dryer as soon as possible to prevent bacteria from growing.

 

Vacuum rugs and carpets

Why: Dust and debris on rugs and carpets is unsightly, and it’s been linked to asthma, mild cognition issues, and other physical irritations. For those of us who suffer from allergies or asthma, it’s even more important to ensure these plush surfaces are cleaned.

How: Use a vacuum cleaner of your choice, and run it over any area in your home that has carpets or rugs. If you have expensive rugs that need to be professionally cleaned, Buckley suggests doing this every 3 to 6 months, depending on use.

 

What to clean every month

Part of keeping a house clean (and *ahem* #adulting) is going through a deep-cleaning process monthly.

These are the tasks and chores that are easy to put off and put off. But keeping to a monthly cleaning schedule doesn’t just protect against infection, it also makes your living environment that much more cozy and nurturing.

Scrub the shower and tub

Why: The places where we wash away the day need TLC every month to rid them of any bacteria. Buckley says that if someone in your home is sick, it’s worth cleaning these areas more often, just to play it safe.

How: When you’re living with a coughing and sneezing person, keep disinfecting wipes nearby for a quick rubdown after every shower. Otherwise, Buckley suggests using a shower cleaner to scrub each surface thoroughly.

Make sure to read the back label since some formulas need to sit for a certain amount of time to get through the grime effectively.

 

Clean smudges off windows

Why: Though your windows don’t carry too much risk from a germ perspective, keeping them free of smudges can make your whole house feel more tidy. Buckley says this can be done monthly if you’d like, or even seasonally.

How: Use a window cleaner and wipe every area, including the windowsill. You can also use a disinfectant wipe on the ledge.

Cleaning kit

If you haven’t experienced the pure adulting joy that is stocking up on cleaning products, we recommend you give it a shot.

Remember to always read the label of a cleaning product to find out how long it needs to sit to be most effective.

Which are the best bedtime snacks for diabetes?

A high-protein, low-fat snack before bed may help people with diabetes stabilize their blood sugar levels overnight.

Everyone’s blood sugar levels change throughout the night. In people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, these fluctuations can cause high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia, in the morning. A tactical late-night snack before bed may help balance these levels.

In this article, we investigate why having a bedtime snack can be a good idea for people with diabetes and discuss some snack options that can help keep blood glucose levels under control throughout the night.

How do glucose levels change overnight?

senior lady recording her glucose levels
A person can identify how their glucose levels change during the night by taking various readings.

A person’s blood sugar levels change during the night, mainly, because of two processes:

  • The dawn phenomenon. Between roughly 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., blood sugar levels surge as part of the process of waking up. This causes high blood sugar levels in the morning.
  • The Somogyi effect. Glucose levels drop significantly between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. The body responds by releasing hormones that raise blood sugar levels again. It can release too much of these hormones, leading to high blood sugar levels in the morning.

Eating a bedtime snack can prevent blood glucose levels from dropping very low during the night and lessen the Somogyi effect.

A person can determine how their glucose levels change throughout the night by taking readings at various points, such as just before bed, between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m., and again when waking up.

Understanding how the body is processing blood sugar is the first step toward picking more healthful snacks in the evening and before bed.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), being overweight or having obesity increases the risk of diabetes-related complications. A variety of bedtime snacks can fit into a balanced, healthful diet.

Best snacks before bed

People can tailor their snacking based on their weight goals and how their body reacts to sugar overnight. A dietician can help.

The best snacks for each person will depend on how the body responds to the dawn phenomenon and the Somogyi effect, as well as personal preferences and goals.

The ADA recommend that people develop a personalized meal plan with their healthcare team, and this can include snacks and their timings.

Little scientific evidence points to an ideal bedtime snack, but researchers believe that beneficial snacks will contain:

  • high levels of protein
  • healthful fats
  • limited carbohydrates

Foods with this composition may help limit blood glucose spikes during the night and ensure lower blood glucose levels in the morning.

Try one the following healthful snacks before bed to help manage blood sugar levels and satisfy nighttime hunger:

1. A handful of nuts

Almonds, walnuts, and peanuts contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and healthful fats. Almonds also contain plenty of vitamin E, and walnuts are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

2. A hard-boiled egg

Eggs are a great source of protein, with one large egg providing 6.29 grams (g). Eggs also contain very few carbohydrates.

Try eating the egg with a couple of whole-grain crackers to add fiber. Fiber slows down the digestive process, releasing the energy from the food over a longer period. This may help keep blood sugar levels stable.

3. Low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers

Cheese provides protein, while whole-wheat crackers add dietary fiber. Choose a healthful type of unprocessed cheese.

Whole-wheat and whole-grain crackers have lower glycemic index scores than white varieties, meaning that they have less of an impact on blood glucose levels.

4. Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or cucumber slices

Non-starchy vegetables are a great choice for a snack. They are very low in calories, fats, and carbohydrates, while offering plenty of vitamins and minerals.

These vegetables also provide antioxidants and a good dose of fiber to boost heart and gut health. For more protein, add a low-fat cheese slice to this low-calorie snack.

5. Celery sticks with hummus

Celery is a low-calorie, high-fiber food that also provides vitamins and minerals. Pair celery or another non-starchy vegetable with hummus to add a source of protein.

For the best results, avoid highly processed hummus, and try making it at home by blending chickpeas, tahini, and lemon.

6. Air-popped popcorn

Depending on the method of preparation, popcorn can be a light, healthful snack. It contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Add in a few mixed nuts for a source of protein.

7. Roasted chickpeas

Chickpeas provide a healthful boost of protein and fiber, providing 11.81 g and 10.6 g, respectively, per cup.

A person can prepare this easy snack in under 1 hour, for example by following this spicy roasted chickpeas recipe.

8. Sliced apple and peanut butter

Peanut butter is rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fats, an attractive nutritional profile for anyone looking to help control blood sugar levels.

Apples provide a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The ADA say that apples can play a role in a healthful diet for people with diabetes.

Try cutting an apple and adding a light spread of peanut butter to each slice. Or, try a different type of nut butter, such as almond or cashew butter.

9. Sugar-free Greek yogurt

The ADA advise that, along with skim milk and some reduced-fat cheeses, yogurt is one of the most healthful types of dairy. Yogurt contains calcium and high-quality protein.

10. A handful of seeds

Like nuts, seeds are a great source of protein, healthful fats, and fiber. Try a small handful of a mix of sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds in the evening.

Best ways to snack before bed

apple and peanut butter diabetic snacks before bedShare on Pinterest
A person should choose a healthful snack before bed.

The ADA no longer provide specific carbohydrate counts or recommended diets for people with diabetes.

Instead, the ADA’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes — 2019 suggest that a person follows an individualized meal plan tailored to their current eating patterns, preferences, and weight goals.

Some general tips that may be beneficial for everyone:

  • Eat mindfully by focusing on enjoying the food.
  • Avoiding snacking in front of the television or while reading, driving, or otherwise distracted.
  • Plan meals, snacks, and treats ahead of time.
  • Choose healthful snacks, rather than ones that contain empty calories and low-quality carbohydrates.
  • Learn about and pay attention to portion sizes.

Summary

Each person with diabetes can benefit from learning how their body processes blood sugar during the night.

Getting a sense of the rise and fall of blood sugar levels can help a person decide how much to eat in the evenings and whether to include a snack in a bedtime routine.

There are plenty of low-calorie, high-protein snacks to choose from. Add some fiber for extra health benefits.

What are the best foods to fight aging?

Eat well for a long and healthy life – that’s a mantra that we’re all familiar with, but what are the best foods to help us achieve that goal? In this article, we give you an overview of some of the most healthful and nutritious foods.

person holding grocery bag
What are the best foods for a healthful diet? We investigate.

Official figures indicate that, currently, the top three countries in the world with the highest life expectancy are the Principality of Monaco, Japan, and Singapore. These are places where the inhabitants experience a high quality of life, and an important element of that is eating healthful meals.

Often, we find praise for “superfoods” in the media – foods so high in nutritional value that they are seen as dietary superheroes.

Nutritionists reject the term “superfoods” as a buzzword that can influence people to place too high an expectation on a limited range of foods when, in reality, a balanced diet and healthful lifestyle require more effort than eating your five-a-day.

Still, there are certain foods that are more nutritious than others, and many that, as research has shown, have a protective effect against a range of diseases. Here, we give you an overview of some of the best foods that you may want to consider including in your diet in your quest for a happy, healthy life.

Edamame (soybeans)

Edamame, or fresh soybeans, have been a staple of Asian cuisine for generations, but they have also been gaining popularity on the Western front of late. Soybeans are often sold in snack packs, but they are also added to a varied range of dishes, from soups to rice-based meals, though they are served as cooked and seasoned on their own, too.

tofu, edamame, and soy products
Edamame and tofu are rich in isoflavones, which may have anti-cancer properties.

The beans are rich in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen – that is. plant-derived, estrogen-like substances. Isoflavones are known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer, and antimicrobial properties.

Thus, they can help to regulate the inflammatory response of the body, slow down cellular aging, fight microbes, as well as, reportedly, protect against certain types of cancer.

Edamame are rich in two types of isoflavones, in particular: genistein and daidzein. A study covered last year on Medical News Today found that genistein could be used to improve breast cancer treatment.

In the meantime, the study authors note that “lifetime intake of soy […] has been linked to reduced risk of breast cancer,” so we may want to include soybeans in our normal diet.

Tofu (soybean curd)

Similarly, tofu, a white cheese-like product made of soybean curds, has been linked to a wealth of health benefits for the same reasons. Tofu is often found cooked in typical Eastern Asian dishes; it can be fried, baked, or boiled (for instance, in soups).

As a soy product, it is rich in isoflavones, whose health benefits we’ve outlined above; it is also a good source of protein, and it contains all the essential amino acids that our bodies need to synthesize protein.

Moreover, it is also rich in minerals, which our bodies need to keep our teeth and bones strong and healthy, and to derive energy. Tofu is a source of calcium, iron, manganese, selenium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

Some specialists also suggest that eating tofu can make you feel fuller for longer, so incorporating it into your meals may help to prevent overeating.

Carrots

This common culinary ingredient, best known in its orange variety, is famously recommended for its high content of beta-carotene, a pigment — and carotenoid — that gives the widespread version of this root vegetable its color.

selection of carrots
Carrots can protect against age-related eyesight damage.

Beta-carotene can be converted by our bodies into vitamin A, which, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “is involved in immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication.” Our bodies cannot produce vitamin A on their own, so it must be derived from our diet.

This pigment is also an antioxidant that can protect the cells in our bodies from the aging damage caused by free radicals.

Moreover, research has shown that foods rich in carotenoids — and, of course, carrots are a prime example here — can protect against age-related macular degeneration, the vision damage caused by old age.

Some varieties of carrots, such as white carrots, do not contain the orange pigment beta-carotene, but they do all contain falcarinol, a nutrient which, some studies claim, may have a protective effect against cancer.

While raw carrots may be best for health, as they retain their nutrients, there are also ways of cooking carrots that can keep most of their nutrients “locked in.”

In an interview, one researcher who investigated the anti-cancer effect of falcarinol from carrots, Kirsten Brandt — from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom — suggests that we may want to boil our carrots whole if we want them cooked, but still bursting with nutrients.

Chopping up your carrots increases the surface area so more of the nutrients leach out into the water while they are cooked. By keeping them whole and chopping them up afterwards you are locking in nutrients and the taste, so the carrot is better for you all round.”

Cruciferous vegetables

Another important type of food on our list are cruciferous vegetables — also known as “Brassica vegetables” — which include a wide array of green foods, such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, radish, and kale.

basket of cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables can bring a wealth of health benefits.

These vegetables boast an especially rich nutrient content, including many vitamins (C, E, K, and folate), minerals (potassiumcalcium, and selenium), and carotenoids (lutein, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin).

Cruciferous vegetables also contain glucosinolates, the substances that give these greens their characteristic pungent flavor. These substances have been found to bring diverse health benefits.

Some glucosinolates seem to regulate the body’s stress and inflammation response; they have antimicrobial properties, and some of them are being investigated for their anti-cancer potential.

One recent study covered on MNT found that leafy greens, including some cruciferous vegetables such as kale and collard greens, helped to slow down cognitive decline. Consequently, the study researchers suggest that “adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health.”

Kale, broccoli, and cabbage have also been shown to have a protective effect on heart health, thanks to their vitamin K content.

Finally, cruciferous vegetables are also a great source of soluble fiber, which plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels and diminishing the absorption of fat, thus helping to prevent excess weight gain.

Salmon

Recent studies have suggested that consumption of meat — mostly red meat, but also some kinds of poultry meat — could be harmful to our health in the long run. A good alternative for protein in this case is fish, and salmon, in particular, affords many nutritional benefits.

salmon
Salmon could protect cognitive health, researchers say.

Salmon is packed with protein, and also contains plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which is said to be beneficial for eyesight. Research has demonstrated that omega-3 protects against dry-eye syndrome, characterized by insufficient lubrication of the eyes, which can lead to soreness and blurred vision.

Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with brain health, and research suggests that they can stave off cognitive decline associated with aging.

Salmon also has a high potassium content and, according to a new study reported on MNT last autumn, potassium can prevent the onset of heart disease.

Additionally, this type of fish is rich in the mineral selenium, which contributes to the health of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland helps to regulate hormonal activity and is involved in metabolic processes.

Although both farmed and wild salmon are available on the market, wild salmon has been found to be more nutritious overall, with a higher protein content, and also to have less saturated fat, which means that it is more healthful, and better for weight management.

However, farmed salmon is a more sustainable resource, and specialists say that the differences between farmed and wild caught salmon may not be so stark as to motivate us to prefer one type over the other.

Citrus fruits

Finally, citrus fruits are the unsung heroes of a healthful diet; these include a number of fruits that are now available worldwide, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, clementines, mandarins, and tangerines.

basket of citrus fruits
The flavonoids in citrus fruits have been cited in connection to longer lifespans.

For a long time, citrus fruits have been recommended by nutritionists and grandmothers alike for their high content of vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties, and is said to bring a wide array of health benefits, including to reduce inflammatory damage, and to fend off infections.

Specialists point out, however, that this type of fruits goes well beyond just vitamin C when it comes to nutritional content.

The fruits are abundant in other macronutrients, including sugars, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, calcium, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B-6, phosphorus, magnesiumcopper, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.”

If this list of dietary goodies hasn’t colored you impressed, the specialists then go on to explain how citrus fruits contain even more organic compounds — such as flavonoids, coumarins, and carotenoids — that have been said to have protective effects against cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Research has shown that flavonoids — in which citrus fruits are particularly rich — can “prevent or delay chronic diseases caused by obesity.”

Flavonoids have also garnered a lot of scientific attention for their anti-cancer potential, and consumption of especially flavonoid-rich citrus fruits has been associated with a significantly prolonged lifespan.

The inhabitants of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, known to be some of the longest-living populations of the world, regularly eat shikuwasa, also known as “shequasar,” a citrus fruit typical of the region, which contains more flavonoids than most other citrus fruits.

Drinking shikuwasa juice rich in flavonoid content has also been linked to better liver health.

Although all of the foods mentioned above are appreciated for their significant health benefits, we should not forget that well-being and longevity cannot be achieved without a balanced, inclusive diet and a healthful lifestyle.

Moreover, current studies suggest that our genetic makeup may have an important say as to which foods work best for our health. So, keeping our list of nutritious foods in mind, make sure you follow the healthful diet that is most effective for you!

5 On-the-Go Hearty, Heart-Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Preventive cardiology dietitian Katherine Patton, MEd, RD, CSSD, LD, offers five tasty, hearty and heart-healthy breakfast ideas that take no more than 10 minutes to prepare.

They can be eaten at home or on the go, so you won’t miss a beat in your busy day — and you won’t miss any flavor. Each incorporate carbohydrate, protein, and fat to ensure you start the day with a satisfying, balanced meal to fuel you all morning long.

Creamy, crunchy oatmeal

Measure a ½ cup dry serving of old-fashioned or steel cut oats oatmeal into a microwave-safe bowl (quick cook or instant versions are okay if you need to save more time). Pour enough water over the oatmeal to cover, and stir. Microwave on high for 2½ to three minutes until done. If you prefer a sweeter taste, try adding fresh fruit or a dash of vanilla extract. To balance out this complex carbohydrate containing meal with protein and healthy fat, add chopped nuts and/or seeds like chia or ground flaxseed.

oatmeal-600x401-459873759

Overnight oats

An alternative oatmeal option is soaking oatmeal overnight or for as little as 30 minutes in the morning. Start with ½ cup of your favorite oats and ½ cup of water or your favorite milk. Mix together and let soak. (Original oats need to be soaked overnight, instant can be soaked for ~30 minutes). Eat cold or warm up in microwave if desired.

egg-chesse-muffin

Egg and cheese English muffin

Ever cook an egg in the microwave? It’s fast and, unlike frying an egg in a skillet, you don’t have to add fat. Whisk one large egg (for extra fiber add chopped veggies like peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms) in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 45 to 55 seconds until firm. Set the cooked egg on a slice of whole-wheat English muffin and top with extras for more flavor: sliced avocado, tomato, onion, a slice of 2%-fat cheese or salsa. Top with remaining half of English muffin and serve with a cup of fresh fruit.

PB&J sandwich

Spread one tablespoon natural almond butter on one toasted or untoasted sprouted grain bread (or waffle) and a tablespoon of fruit preserves or sliced banana on another. Press the two slices together to make a sandwich. Enjoy with a 8 ounce glass of your desired milk — skim, 1%, soy or almond.

cereal-600x401-176986945

Cereal a go-go

For a quick on-the-go meal, prepare single-serving sandwich baggies filled with your favorite low-sugar, high-fiber (at least 3 grams of fiber) cereal, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Making your own mix allows you to customize to your taste buds and change it up from day to day. Don’t have time to make your own? Turn to a pre-packaged single serving trail mix

Is Food Coloring Safe for Kids?

From gummy bears to bread, artificial dyes make foods fun — but at what cost?

Do you notice your kiddo gets hyper after eating a cookie coated with bright green frosting and rainbow sprinkles? It’s natural to assume that sugar is the culprit, but research suggests some of the blame belongs to artificial food dyes.

Registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, highlights the possible risks associated with food dyes and how to minimize them.

Q: Why should I be concerned about food coloring?

A: Studies have linked artificial food dyes to:

  • Hyperactivity, including ADHD.
  • Behavioral changes like irritability and depression.
  • Hives and asthma.
  • Tumor growth (three of the primary food dyes contain benzene, a known cancer-causing substance).

Q: Are there studies that say artificial food dyes are dangerous?

A: The results are mixed. Some studies show a link between dyes and increased ADHD or hyperactivity in children. An Australian study found 75% of parents noticed an improvement in behavior and attention once the dyes were eliminated.

Researchers also found tumor growth in animals that consumed high doses of food dyes, though it can be hard to translate what this means for kids. Some studies say the small amount of benzene in the dyes can’t possibly pose a high risk.

Currently, the U.S. doesn’t ban any artificial food dyes. (Red Dye #3 was under a partial ban for a short time in 1990). But some countries say there’s enough evidence to justify banning them.

Q: How common are food dyes?

A: Food dyes are everywhere: in taffy, frosting, macaroni and cheese, sports drinks and breakfast cereal. Even some types of bread have food coloring. The list goes on and on.

Q: Should I avoid food coloring? And what steps can I take to stay dye-free?

A: I recommend minimizing food dyes in your kids’ diets. And if there is a cancer risk in your family, I would encourage you to be even more vigilant in avoiding artificial dyes.

These four strategies can help you limit how much artificial food dye your kids consume:

1. Read labels

Shoot for foods that use natural food coloring from fruit and vegetable extracts. Beets, blueberry juice or beta carotene are good alternatives.

Child medications (think liquid cough syrups or chewable tablets) can also contain food dyes, so look for dye-free versions.

2. Go for homemade

You have complete control when you make food yourself. If you need to bring a dessert into school, consider a chocolate chip cookie or a sugar cookie you won’t need to frost. If you have to frost something, choose dyes from a natural food store.

3. Focus on whole foods

Foods that come in a package are processed and almost always contain food dyes. Limit processed foods whenever possible.

4. Emphasize healthy choices

Avoid giving your kids processed foods for as long as possible. Once kids are used to eating these foods, it can be hard to get them off of it.

When you do encounter foods with dyes, talk to your kids about why brightly colored foods may not be the best choice for their bodies. If your kids go to a party, encourage them to choose apple juice over a sports drink or soda. And always model good behavior when you’re around your kids.

Q: How can I know if artificial food dyes affect my kids?

A: You can screen for food dye intolerance at home. Try cutting out all foods with food dyes for a week or two. Hopefully, you’ll notice an improvement in behavior. But you might not realize how dyes affect your kids until you begin to reintroduce foods and see their reactions.

Does a Drink a Day Help You Prevent Heart Failure?

It’s not the first time we have heard that drinking a little alcohol may have health benefits. But a recent study published in the European Heart Journal has reignited the discussion.

Seven drinks per week

Over two decades, researchers studied the heart health of more than 14,000 adults, ages 45 to 64. Study participants were categorized by their alcohol consumption:

  1. Abstainer
  2. Up to seven drinks per week
  3. 7 to 14 drinks per week
  4. 14 to 21 drinks per week
  5. More than 21 drinks per week
  6. Former drinker

(One drink was equal to a 12-ounce can of beer, 5 ounces of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor.)

Participants that had the lowest rate of heart failure during the study were those that reported consuming up to seven alcoholic drinks per week. Researchers found that men’s risk was 20 percent lower and women was 16 percent lower than those who abstained from alcohol.

Unanswered questions

So, can we conclude that a drink a day is good for you?

Maybe, maybe not, says David Taylor, MD, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic. While the results are encouraging, the study raises more questions. For example:

  • Does the amount of alcohol consumption cause the outcome or is it just a marker of a patient’s likelihood for heart failure?
  • Is there a difference between binge drinking and consuming gradual low doses of alcohol? In other words, could drinking a six-pack on Saturday protect you all week?
  • What about adults in their 20s and 30s? Would up to seven drinks a week produce the same outcome for them? And what happens later in life? If you abstained from alcohol in your younger years, should you start drinking at 65?
  • Why didn’t women get quite the same benefit as men?

“This study was merely observational,” says Dr. Taylor. “Patients who abstained from drinking alcohol weren’t randomly assigned to be abstainers and those who did drink weren’t assigned how many drinks to have. The only way to find some of the unknowns is to randomly assign participants to categories and then control everything else.”

One thing we do know: Heavy alcohol consumption is linked to higher risk of cardiac events, including heart attack and cardiomyopathy.

Moderation is still key

The study’s findings were in line, reporting that the heaviest drinkers (who consumed more than 21 drinks per week) had the highest risk of mortality — from any cause.

As for the rest of the findings, take them with a grain of salt, advises Dr. Taylor.

“The study suggests that if you’re healthy, between 45 and 64, and regularly have a drink at dinner or otherwise drink moderately, you won’t have a higher risk for heart failure — and you may even be a little better off,” says Dr. Taylor.

Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

Low-Calorie Diet

Several studies in England have looked at the effects of a very low-calorie diet on diabetes. Two had people follow a mostly liquid diet of 625-850 calories a day for 2-5 months, followed by a less restricted diet designed to help them keep off the weight they lost. Both studies found that nearly half the people who took part reversed their diabetes and kept their blood glucose near the normal range for at least 6 months to a year.

This type of diet is extreme. It means working with a professional and being very controlled with how many calories you eat. But the chance that it could send you into remission may give you strong motivation to stick to it.

Most of the people who reversed their type 2 diabetes lost 30 pounds or more. They also hadn’t had diabetes as long as those who weren’t as successful. So it’s important to get started on a weight loss plan as soon as possible after you’re diagnosed.

What Happens

When you have type 2 diabetes, cells that help your body control your blood sugar stop working right. Doctors used to think they were shut down for good, but research shows that certain cells may come back. People who lost weight had lower levels of fat in their liver and pancreas, and for some of them, that helped the beta cells in their pancreas that release insulin and control blood sugar start working again.

The odds of rescuing those cells are best early on. That suggests it may be better for doctors to help people lose a lot of weight after a diagnosis, rather than make small lifestyle changes and manage symptoms with medication.

Exercise

More physical activity is a way to improve diabetes, but it may be tough to lose enough weight to go into remission with workouts alone. When combined with changes to your eating, though, exercise helps. A modest, lower-calorie diet plus a big step-up in burning calories could put you on the path to remission.

A study that had people aim for 10,000 steps a day and at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate exercise a week — along with cutting 500-750 calories a day and following a specific insulin and medication routine — saw more than half of them reach near-normal blood sugar without medication. Some were able to keep those levels long-term, too.

The bottom line: It’s the weight loss that really matters. Exercise can help you get there, but expect to change your diet as well.

Bariatric Surgery

This type of surgery helps you lose weight by changing your stomach and digestive system to limit how much you can eat. Aside from helping you lose weight, it may help reverse diabetes in other ways, although scientists don’t yet know exactly why. One theory is that it affects the hormones in your gut to help your body control blood glucose.

Researchers estimate that upwards of three-quarters of people see their diabetes reversed after bariatric surgeryGastric bypass and gastric sleeve (also called sleeve gastrectomy) surgery have better long-term results than gastric banding.

Bariatric surgery is generally an option only when your BMI is 35 or higher. It works best for people who’ve had the disease for 5 years or less and don’t use insulin.

If you’re obese and recently diagnosed, it’s something to talk about with your doctor. Because it’s surgery, there are serious risks. But most people who have it done end up reversing their diabetes.

Fasting

Fasting can be a practical way to lose weight because it’s fairly straightforward, but it’s not a mainstream treatment for type 2 diabetes.

A very small study found therapeutic fasting — going without food and drink with calories for a set amount of time — can help reverse type 2 diabetes. Three people with diabetes followed a diet program of three 24-hour fasts each week for several months. They would eat only dinner on days they fasted, and lunch and dinner on days they didn’t fast, focusing on low-carbohydrate meals.

Two of the people in the study were able to stop taking all diabetes medication, and the third stopped three of his four medications. Within 1-3 weeks, all three of them could stop taking insulin. They lost between 10% and 18% of their body weight, or 20-23 pounds.Another study showed that eating very few calories (500-600) 2 days a week and a normal diet the other days helped people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels just as much as limiting calories to 1,200-1,500 every day.If you want to try fasting, you should work with your doctor so you get the right information and support to do it safely.

What Doesn’t Work

When it comes to reversing diabetes, there’s no magic pill. If you see a product that claims to cure diabetes or replace your prescribed diabetes medication, beware. The FDA cautions that many illegally marketed things are unproven and possibly dangerous, including:

  • Dietary supplements
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Alternative medicines
  • Homeopathic products
  • Prescription drugs

They found some products that claimed to be “all natural” had prescription drugs that weren’t listed as ingredients. Those could change the way other medications you’re taking work or cause you to take too much of a drug without realizing it.

6 Popular Ways to Do Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been very trendy in recent years.

It is claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health and perhaps even extend lifespan.

Not surprisingly given the popularity, several different types/methods of intermittent fasting have been devised.

All of them can be effective, but which one fits best will depend on the individual.

Here are 6 popular ways to do intermittent fasting.

1. The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day.

The 16/8 Method involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours, and restricting your daily “eating window” to 8-10 hours.

Within the eating window, you can fit in 2, 3 or more meals.

This method is also known as the Leangains protocol, and was popularized by fitness expert Martin Berkhan.

Doing this method of fasting can actually be as simple as not eating anything after dinner, and skipping breakfast.

For example, if you finish your last meal at 8 pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, then you are technically fasting for 16 hours between meals.

It is generally recommended that women only fast 14-15 hours, because they seem to do better with slightly shorter fasts.

For people who get hungry in the morning and like to eat breakfast, then this can be hard to get used to at first. However, many breakfast skippers actually instinctively eat this way.

You can drink watercoffee and other non-caloric beverages during the fast, and this can help reduce hunger levels.

It is very important to eat mostly healthy foods during your eating window. This won’t work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.

I personally find this to be the most “natural” way to do intermittent fasting. I eat this way myself and find it to be 100% effortless.

I eat a low-carb diet, so my appetite is blunted somewhat. I simply do not feel hungry until around 1 pm in the afternoon. Then I eat my last meal around 6-9 pm, so I end up fasting for 16-19 hours.

 

BOTTOM LINE:The 16/8 method involves daily fasts of 16 hours for men, and 14-15 hours for women. On each day, you restrict your eating to an 8-10 hour “eating window” where you can fit in 2-3 or more meals.

2. The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 2 days per week.

The 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days of the week, while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week.

This diet is also called the Fast diet, and was popularized by British journalist and doctor Michael Mosley.

On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, and men 600 calories.

For example, you might eat normally on all days except Mondays and Thursdays, where you eat two small meals (250 calories per meal for women, and 300 for men).

As critics correctly point out, there are no studies testing the 5:2 diet itself, but there are plenty of studies on the benefits of intermittent fasting.

BOTTOM LINE:The 5:2 diet, or the Fast diet, involves eating 500-600 calories for two days of the week, but eating normally the other 5 days.

3. Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-hour fast, once or twice a week.

Eat-Stop-Eat involves a 24-hour fast, either once or twice per week.

This method was popularized by fitness expert Brad Pilon, and has been quite popular for a few years.

By fasting from dinner one day, to dinner the next, this amounts to a 24-hour fast.

For example, if you finish dinner on Monday at 7 pm, and don’t eat until dinner the next day at 7 pm, then you’ve just done a full 24-hour fast.

You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch. The end result is the same.

Water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food.

If you are doing this to lose weight, then it is very important that you eat normally during the eating periods. As in, eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all.

The problem with this method is that a full 24-hour fast can be fairly difficult for many people.

However, you don’t need to go all-in right away, starting with 14-16 hours and then moving upwards from there is fine.

I’ve personally done this a few times. I found the first part of the fast very easy, but in the last few hours I did become ravenously hungry.

I needed to apply some serious self-discipline to finish the full 24-hours and often found myself giving up and eating dinner a bit earlier.

BOTTOM LINE:Eat-Stop-Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week.

4. Alternate-Day Fasting: Fast every other day.

Alternate-Day fasting means fasting every other day.

There are several different versions of this. Some of them allow about 500 calories during the fasting days.

Many of the lab studies showing health benefits of intermittent fasting used some version of this.

A full fast every other day seems rather extreme, so I do not recommend this for beginners.

With this method, you will be going to bed very hungry several times per week, which is not very pleasant and probably unsustainable in the long-term.

BOTTOM LINE:Alternate-day fasting means fasting every other day, either by not eating anything or only eating a few hundred calories.

5. The Warrior Diet: Fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night.

The Warrior Diet was popularized by fitness expert Ori Hofmekler.

It involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.

Basically, you “fast” all day and “feast” at night within a 4 hour eating window.

The Warrior Diet was one of the first popular “diets” to include a form of intermittent fasting.

This diet also emphasizes food choices that are quite similar to a paleo diet – whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.

BOTTOM LINE:The Warrior Diet is about eating only small amounts of vegetables and fruits during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.

6. Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient.

You don’t actually need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to reap some of the benefits.

Another option is to simply skip meals from time to time, when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.

It is a myth that people need to eat every few hours or they will hit “starvation mode” or lose muscle.

The human body is well equipped to handle long periods of famine, let alone missing one or two meals from time to time.

So if you’re really not hungry one day, skip breakfast and just eat a healthy lunch and dinner. Or if you’re travelling somewhere and can’t find anything you want to eat, do a short fast.

Skipping 1 or 2 meals when you feel so inclined is basically a spontaneous intermittent fast.

Just make sure to eat healthy foods at the other meals.

BOTTOM LINE:Another more “natural” way to do intermittent fasting is to simply skip 1 or 2 meals when you don’t feel hungry or don’t have time to eat.

Take Home Message

There are a lot of people getting great results with some of these methods.

That being said, if you’re already happy with your health and don’t see much room for improvement, then feel free to safely ignore all of this.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. It is not something that anyone needs to do, it is just another tool in the toolbox that can be useful for some people.

Some also believe that it may not be as beneficial for women as men, and it may also be a poor choice for people who are prone to eating disorders.

If you decide to try this out, then keep in mind that you need to eat healthy as well.

It is not possible to binge on junk foods during the eating periods and expect to lose weight and improve health.

Calories still count, and food quality is still absolutely crucial.