The Best Vegetables for Type 2 Diabetes

No food item is strictly forbidden for people with type 2 diabetes. Healthful eating for people with diabetes is all about controlling portion size and preparing a careful balance of nutrients.

The best vegetables for type 2 diabetes are low on the glycemic index (GI) scale, rich in fiber, or high in nitrates that reduce blood pressure.

In this article, we look at the best vegetables for people with type 2 diabetes. We also explain why vegetables are so important for people who are monitoring blood sugar, and we offer a range of tasty meal ideas.

Best vegetables for type 2 diabetes

Eating a wide variety of foods, including a mix of certain vegetables, can help people with diabetes stay healthy while enjoying a range of meals.

Low-GI vegetables

Vegetable skewers

The GI ranking of a food shows how quickly the body absorbs glucose from that food. The body absorbs blood sugar much faster from high-GI foods than low-GI foods.

People with diabetes should eat vegetables with a low GI score to avoid blood sugar spikes.

Not all vegetables are safe for people with diabetes, and some have a high GI. Boiled potatoes, for example, have a GI of 78.

The GI scores for some popular vegetables are:

  • Frozen green peas score 39 on the GI index.
  • Carrots score 41 when boiled and 16 when raw.
  • Broccoli scores 10.
  • Tomatoes score 15.

Low-GI vegetables are also safe for people with diabetes, such as:

  • artichoke
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • green beans
  • lettuce
  • eggplant
  • peppers
  • snow peas
  • spinach
  • celery

It is important to note that the GI gives a relative value to each food item and does not refer to the specific sugar content. Glycemic load (GL) refers to how much glucose will enter the body in one serving of a food.

High-nitrate content

Nitrates are chemicals that naturally occur in specific vegetables. Some manufacturers use them as preservatives in foods.

Eating natural, nitrate-rich foods can reduce blood pressure and improve overall circulatory health. People should choose vegetables with naturally high nitrate content, rather than those with nitrate that manufacturers have added during processing.

Nitrate-rich vegetables include:

  • arugula
  • beets
  • lettuce
  • celery
  • rhubarb

Protein

Protein-rich foods help people feel fuller for longer, reducing the urge to snack between meals.

Daily protein recommendations depend on a person’s size, sex, activity level, and other factors. People can speak to a doctor for the best insight on what their ideal daily protein intake should be.

Pregnant or lactating women, highly active people, and those with large bodies need more protein than others.

Vegetables higher than some others in protein include:

  • spinach
  • bok choy
  • asparagus
  • mustard greens
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower

Fiber

Fiber should come from real, natural food, not supplements, making vegetables essential in a glucose-controlled diet. Fiber can help reduce constipation, reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol, and help with weight control.

The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say that the correct amount of fiber per day is 25 grams (g) for women and 38 g for men.

This recommendation varies, depending on body size, overall health, and similar factors.

Vegetables and fruits with high fiber content include:

  • carrots
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • artichoke
  • Brussels sprouts
  • split peas
  • avocados

Why choose vegetables?

Grocer carrying box of vegetables

Good carbohydrates provide both nutrients and energy, making them a safe, efficient, and nutritious food choice for people with diabetes.

Low-to-moderate-GI vegetables, such as carrots, improve blood glucose control and reduce the risk of weight gain.

Nitrate-rich foods, such as beets, are among the best vegetables for people with type 2 diabetes who also have a higher than usual risk of cardiovascular disease. This fact remains true despite their high carbohydrate content.

The key to effective food management is to boost vegetable intake and reduce carbohydrate consumption elsewhere in the diet by cutting down on foods such as bread or sugary snacks.

A person with diabetes should include sufficient amounts of fiber and protein in the diet. Many dark, leafy greens are rich in fiber, protein, and other vital nutrients.

Fiber can help control blood glucose levels. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes have excellent fiber content.

Vegetables also support improved levels of healthy cholesterol and lower blood pressure. As with protein, fiber can make people feel fuller for longer.

Eating vegan or vegetarian with diabetes

Eating a vegan or vegetarian diet can prove challenging for people with diabetes. Animal products generally have the most protein, but vegans completely avoid dairy and other animal products.

Some of the most protein-rich vegan options include:

  • lentils
  • beans and chickpeas
  • peas
  • almonds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • amaranth and quinoa
  • sprouted-grain bread
  • soy milk
  • tofu and tempeh

A vegan or vegetarian person who has diabetes can eat a balanced diet. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lentils offer plenty of protein often with low calories.

Learn everything you need to know about the vegan diet here.

4 Kinds of Fruits You Should Choose Less Often

Sweetness, texture and taste make almost any fruit a tempting treat. And that can be good because fruit provides nutrients we need. It’s why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends two servings per day.

But some kinds of fruit are more nutritious than others. So if you’ve ever wondered which fruits don’t stand up to the hype, here are the less nutritious fruits that dietitians recommend reducing in your diet.

1. Pass on pre-made fruit juices or store-bought smoothies

Cold-pressed fruit juices may be a convenient way to get your daily fruit intake, but they can raise some red flags once they get into your system.

Most commercial juices contain an excessive amount of added sugar. “Even if they don’t contain added sugar many of these pre-made juices and store-bought blended smoothie drinks can really spike your blood sugar,” says dietitian Jennifer Hyland, RD, CSP, LD.

The reason is that the fiber in whole fruits is what keeps your blood sugar stable and reduces the danger of it spiking too high. In many pre-made juices and smoothies however, most of the fiber is commonly removed. And what you’re left with is just a lot of sugar.

“It’s much better to chew your fruits,” Hyland says.

Keeping your fruits whole or blending them at home ensures you’re preserving their real original nutritional potential.

If a lack of time is the reason you buy store bought juices or smoothies, try pre-making a batch of juice for the week made from fresh fruit in your own mixer or blender. You can also pre-prep your smoothies, freeze and re-blend them with ice or frozen fruit when you’re ready to have a healthier, just-as-convenient option.

“If you’re going to buy a cold-pressed juice, make sure it’s mostly made with vegetables,” she suggests. “And make sure you pair it with a handful of nuts or another healthy fat and protein to stabilize your blood sugar.”

2. Limit dried fruit

Dried cherries, apricots, berries and cranberries are convenient in many ways but it’s important to pay attention to the food label and the portion size.

Most dried fruits have added sugars that increase their calories and also spike your blood sugar.

Drying fruit removes most of their water content. Water (and fiber) are what help to fill you up in the first place. You might feel a need to eat more of them. When it comes to portion sizes, ¼ cup of dried fruit is the sugar equivalent of 1-2 pieces of whole fruit.

You can indulge in dried fruit occasionally, say in a trail mix when you’re out on a hike. But make sure to choose those with no added sugar. Remember your best bet is still fresh fruit.

3. Avoid fruit that’s canned

“Unless it’s packed in water, canned fruit contains extra calories from the juice it sits in,” Hyland says. “The fruit also loses much of its flavor because it’s saturated with liquid.”

It’s also easier to eat more canned fruit than fresh fruit at one sitting. When you take the time to prepare your food, you tend to eat more slowly. This means you’re more likely to take the time to appreciate and enjoy it, and not accidentally over-eat.

4. Go for grapes (a.k.a. “nature’s candy”) in moderation

“Grapes are so sweet and delicious it’s no wonder they’ve earned this title,” Hyland says.

While grapes also do have nutrients they’re also high in sugar and low in fiber.

“It’s dangerously easy to overeat them and that can have negative consequences on your health,“ she advises. “Be careful not to sit down with a whole bag, or you’ll get a mega-dose of natural sugars that will raise your blood sugar.”

Instead, she recommends portioning or separating the vines ahead of time and only pulling out single portions to eat at a time.

Another way to control the continuous popping of grapes into your mouth is by freezing them. This gives you a sweet treat that takes longer to eat, so you won’t eat as many. It’s also a great snack for hotter months.

Again, it’s always best to pair any fruit with a protein source, such as a handful of nuts or spoonful of nut butter to help prevent a spike of sugar in your bloodstream.

Use these tips to get the most from your two daily servings of fruit. You can still enjoy the fruits you love, but note how fast their sweetness makes you eat them — and try to keep them in moderation.

“Following these guidelines will definitely help you keep both your metabolism and blood sugar in check,” Hyland says.

What You Should Know About Cholesterol and Butter

Butter on Toast

Butter can be a rich, creamy delight, added to a hot piece of bread or used to cook some of our favorite foods. But it’s also known for not being very healthy, high in calories and fats.

Cardiologist Dennis Bruemmer, MD, PhD, talks to us about why butter isn’t very healthy for you, alternatives to avoid, and alternatives to embrace.

The problem with butter

Like bacon and beef, butter is an animal product which, according to Dr. Bruemmer, means it’s probably high in cholesterol. “It’s about as fatty as you can get,” he says.

“It’s high in cholesterol and high in calories,” he adds, “and if you’re using so much, a quarter of a pound or a half a pound, to cook during the day and bake during the day, it just adds up. Butter contains high levels of saturated fat and that’s what drives up cholesterol.”

The issue with butter ties in to larger issues with food consumption in the United States, Dr. Bruemmer says. “Over the past few decades, our patterns have changed here so that now 60% of our diets are ultra-processed food.”

“Processed food, you can still see that it’s food,” he continues. “Take a pickle, for example. It’s a cucumber that’s been processed, but you can still see it was food. With ultra-processed foods, like a donut or pizza, you can’t tell where the food came from.”

The consumption of ultra-processed food not only makes people gain weight and even eat more. And butter is often a processed ingredient that’s added to those ultra-processed foods, heaping its saturated fats on top of everything else.

Are there healthier alternatives?

Dr. Bruemmer says that occasionally using a little amount of butter to cook food in, in moderation, isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just that we tend to use so much butter, that health problems can develop.

While you’ll want to avoid margarine, as it can still contain high levels of transfat and saturated fat, a better alternative he suggests is vegetable oil which cuts out the saturated fats contained in butter.

Dr. Bruemmer also stresses the success of the Mediterranean Diet. “It’s the only diet in trials that in control studies has shown to improve health and lower the risk of heart attacks. It’s high in fruits and vegetables, adds some fish and lean white meats with grains, but it’s low in dairy products and red meat.”

And if you’re looking for something to spread on your bread, he points out that olive oil and a tomato spread, part of the Mediterranean diet, is popular in the Catalan region of Spain. “It’s not high in saturated fats content,” he says.

What’s Hiding in Your Dirty Pillows and Upholstery? (And Can It Make You Sick?)

When you lay your head down after long, hard day, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is how clean your pillow is. But that actually might be something worth considering at some point.

“Pillows and upholstery can carry germs of all types,” says family medicine doctor Amy Zack, MD. “And the biggest risk is actually insects, not bacteria or viruses.”

But before you decide to throw away all your furniture and bedding and start anew, Dr. Zack says there are simpler (not to mention cheaper) solutions. Here’s how to minimize germs in your home’s comfiest places.

Upholstery’s hidden health hazards

Pillows and upholstery can carry bacteria and allergens. But Dr. has some good news: The risk of contracting the coronavirus from these fabric surfaces is very low. “The virus that causes COVID-19 does not seem to live a long time on clothing and other fabric-type surfaces,” she says.

The biggest health risks from your pillows and cushions come from tiny insects, such as dust mites, bed bugs and fleas.

Can dust mites and bed bugs make you sick?

Insects on your upholstery can do more than stimulate your gag reflex. They can negatively impact your health, too. Here’s how:

  • Dust mites: These microscopic pests commonly trigger allergies and asthma. “They’re probably the most common type of insect that you would find on an upholstered surface, such as a couch, pillow or bed,” Zack notes.
  • Bed bugs and fleas: Bites from these insects can leave uncomfortable welts on your skin. Scratching those itchy bites could cause a secondary skin infection to develop.

What are signs of dust mites and other pests and microbes?

“If you have chronic asthma and allergies, dust mites are always a part of the conversation,” Dr. Zack relates. “If somebody has allergy symptoms, particularly during the night, then we might recommend they get pillowcases that prevent dust mites.”

Signs of bed bugs and fleas are more obvious — you can see them with the naked eye. “You may also develop insect bites after sitting on furniture,” Dr. Zack says. If you have the stomach for it, a simple image search online can help identify which pest it is.

When it comes to bacteria or viruses, it’s harder to tell what’s hanging out on your pillows. But a good rule of thumb is that if members of your household have the same infection or illness, assume there’s a virus or bacteria lurking. “Clean all of the surfaces in your home, including the upholstered furniture,” Dr. Zack says.

How do you clean dirty upholstery?

While cleaning some fabrics can be tricky, Dr. Zack says simple vinegar solutions and upholstery cleaners can adequately disinfect them.

“Bleach, in general, is best for disinfecting, but it’s not the best choice for fabric surfaces,” she says. “Instead, use a cleaner to wipe the surface with a sponge or light brush and then let it dry. You can also use a wet/dry vacuum.”

Dr. Zack also offers these recommendations to avoid problems with germs, pests and allergens:

  • Regularly clean and vacuum upholstered surfaces and in your home.
  • Cover fabric surfaces. “Dust mites need access to people to live,” Dr. Zack says. “If you cover a mattress or pillow in a dust mite cover, it prevents them from living on that surface and getting to you.”
  • Keep pets free from fleas.
  • Avoid secondhand upholstered furniture from unknown sources.
  • Wash bed linens and pillowcases in hot water and with bleach, if possible, weekly.
  • Buy products that say they are made for allergy and dust mite prevention.

HDL: Is It Possible to Raise Your ‘Good’ Cholesterol?

You mean cholesterol can actually be good for you? The answer is yes, when it’s high-density lipoprotein (HDL). That’s one of two types of cholesterol you’ll find on your lipid panel test results. The other is low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

“Think of HDL as the good, or ‘helpful,’ cholesterol, and of LDL as the ‘lousy,’ or ‘less desirable’ cholesterol,” says cardiovascular medicine specialist Heba Wassif, MD, MPH.

Why is HDL helpful?

LDL causes plaque build-up, and, over time, can lead to heart attack and stroke. HDL works in your bloodstream like a scavenger or cleaner. It removes the bad LDL cholesterol from the blood, taking it to your liver to be excreted.

It’s critical to keep your LDL low — ideally, under 100. (Your doctor may want to keep it even lower if you’ve had a cardiac event.) You also want to keep your HDL high — ideally, 50 milligrams per deciliter of blood or higher. (The normal range is 40 to 59 milligrams per deciliter.)

When HDL levels dip below 40 milligrams per deciliter, your risk of heart disease rises.

What can you do to keep HDL high?

“Although medications can increase HDL cholesterol, research has shown that they do not necessarily alter your risk of heart disease,” says Dr. Wassif. “So we focus on LDL cholesterol reduction and recommend lifestyle changes.” The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommends:

A healthy, well-balanced diet. Eat a Mediterranean-style diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and lean vegetable or animal protein and fish. (Limit trans fats, processed meats, refined carbs, and sweetened beverages.)

Regular exercise, such as walking. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity.

Maintain a healthy weight, or lose excess pounds if needed. Besides improving your diet and exercise habits, a comprehensive plan may include lifestyle counseling for stress, sleep hygiene, and other individual challenges you face.

Don’t smoke. If you smoke, individual or social support groups are recommended while trying to quit to increase your chances of success.

Manage your blood sugar. If you have type 2 diabetes, a healthy diet and exercise are crucial, along with any medications your doctor may recommend.

Aim for a blood pressure of < 130/80 mm Hg. Get the proper amount of good-quality sleep, follow a low-sodium diet and meet the recommended exercise guidelines.

Start by taking these small steps to change your lifestyle. They’ll help you boost your HDL, making it easier for your “bloodstream’s cleaner” to do its job.

The LCHF Diet Plan: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide

Low-carb diets can aid weight loss and are linked to a growing number of health benefits.

A reduced carb intake can positively impact those with various health issues, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, acne, PCOS and Alzheimer’s disease.

For these reasons, low-carb diets have become popular among those looking to improve their health and lose weight.

The low-carb, high-fat eating plan, or LCHF diet, is promoted as a healthy and safe way to lose weight.

This article reviews everything you need to know about the LCHF diet, including its potential health benefits and drawbacks, foods to eat and avoid and a sample meal plan.

What Is the LCHF Diet?

Low-Carb High Fat Diet Plan

The LCHF diet is an umbrella term for eating plans that reduce carbs and increase fats.

LCHF diets are low in carbohydrates, high in fats and moderate in protein.

This method of eating is sometimes referred to as the “Banting Diet” or simply “Banting” after William Banting, a British man who popularized it after losing a large amount of weight.

The eating plan emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods like fish, eggs, low-carb vegetables and nuts and discourages highly processed, packaged items.

Added sugar and starchy foods like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice are restricted.

The LCHF diet doesn’t have clear standards for macronutrient percentages since it’s more of a lifestyle change.

Daily carb recommendations on this diet can range from under 20 grams up to 100 grams.

However, even those consuming more than 100 grams of carbs per day can follow the diet and be inspired by its principles, as it can be personalized to meet individual needs.

SUMMARY: LCHF diets are low in carbs, high in fats and moderate in protein. The diet can be personalized to meet individual needs.

Is the LCHF Diet the Same as the Ketogenic Diet or Atkins Diet?

The Atkins diet and ketogenic diet are low-carb diets that fall under the LCHF umbrella.

Some types of LCHF diets have set restrictions on the number of carbs you can consume.

For example, a standard ketogenic diet typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs in order to reach ketosis, a state in which the body switches to burning fats for energy instead of carbohydrates.

To kick-start weight loss, the two-week induction phase for the Atkins diet only allows for 20 grams of carbs per day. After this phase, dieters can slowly add in more carbohydrates.

While these types of low-carb, high-fat diets are more restrictive, anyone can use the LCHF principles without necessarily following specific guidelines.

Living an LCHF lifestyle without following predetermined guidelines may benefit those who want flexibility with the number of carbs they can consume.

For example, some people may only find success when they reduce their carb intake to under 50 grams per day, while others may do well consuming 100 grams per day.

Since the LCHF diet is adaptable, it may be much easier to follow than more regimented plans like the ketogenic or Atkins diets.

SUMMARY: The LCHF lifestyle promotes reducing the number of carbs that you consume and replacing them with fats. The ketogenic diet and Atkins diet are types of LCHF diets.

The LCHF Diet Can Help You Lose Weight

person standing on white digital bathroom scale

A number of studies have shown that low-carb, high-fat diets are an effective way to promote weight loss

They help people shed pounds by suppressing appetite, improving insulin sensitivity, increasing protein intake and boosting fat loss.

LCHF diets have been found to promote fat loss, especially in the belly area.

Having too much belly fat, particularly around the organs, can increase the risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

One study found that obese adults who consumed a lower-carb, higher-fat diet for 16 weeks lost more body fat, particularly in the belly area, compared to those following a low-fat diet.

The LCHF diet not only boosts short-term fat loss, it also helps keep weight off for good.

A review showed that people who followed very low-carb diets of less than 50 grams of carbs per day achieved significantly greater long-term reductions in weight than people who followed low-fat diets.

Another study demonstrated that 88% of participants following a ketogenic diet lost more than 10% of their initial weight and kept it off for one year.

The LCHF diet may be a particularly helpful tool for those whose weight-loss goals are sabotaged by strong cravings for carbohydrates.

One study found that participants who followed a very low-carb, high-fat diet had significantly fewer cravings for carbs and starches, compared to participants who followed a low-fat diet.

What’s more, participants who followed the very low-carb, high-fat diet had greater reductions in overall reported hunger.

SUMMARY: Following an LCHF diet is an effective way to lose body fat, reduce carb cravings and decrease overall hunger.

The LCHF Diet May Benefit a Number of Health Conditions

Cutting carbs and increasing dietary fats can improve health in a number of ways, including promoting weight loss and decreasing body fat.

Studies demonstrate that LCHF diets also benefit many health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes

A study of obese adults with type 2 diabetes found that a very low-carb, high-fat diet led to greater improvement in blood sugar control and a more substantial reduction in diabetes medication than a high-carb diet.

Another study in obese participants with type 2 diabetes showed that following a ketogenic diet for 24 weeks resulted in significant reductions in blood sugar levels and a decreased need for blood sugar medications.

What’s more, some of the participants assigned to the ketogenic diet were able to discontinue their diabetes medications completely.

Neurological Diseases

The ketogenic diet has long been used as a natural treatment for epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures.

Studies show that LCHF diets may play a therapeutic role in other neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

For example, one study demonstrated that a ketogenic diet led to improved cognitive functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Plus, diets high in processed carbs and sugar have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline, while low-carb, high-fat diets seem to improve cognitive function.

Heart Disease

LCHF diets can help reduce body fat, lower inflammation and improve blood markers related to heart disease.

A study in 55 obese adults found that following an LCHF diet for 12 weeks reduced triglycerides, improved HDL cholesterol and decreased levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation linked to heart disease.

LCHF diets have also been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower blood sugar, decrease LDL cholesterol and promote weight loss, all of which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.

SUMMARY: LCHF diets may benefit those with heart disease, diabetes and neurological conditions like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

Foods to Avoid

breads in display shelf

When following an LCHF diet, it’s important to reduce your intake of foods high in carbs.

Here is a list of items that should be limited:

  • Grains and starches: Breads, baked goods, rice, pasta, cereals, etc.
  • Sugary drinks: Soda, juice, sweet tea, smoothies, sports drinks, chocolate milk, etc.
  • Sweeteners: Sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets, peas, etc.
  • Fruits: Fruits should be limited, but consuming small portions of berries is encouraged.
  • Alcoholic beverages: Beer, sugary mixed cocktails and wine are high in carbohydrates.
  • Low-fat and diet items: Items labeled “diet,” “low-fat” or “light” are often high in sugar.
  • Highly processed foods: Limiting packaged foods and increasing whole, unprocessed foods is encouraged.

Although the above foods should be reduced in any LCHF diet, the number of carbs consumed per day varies depending on the type of diet you are following.

For example, a person following a ketogenic diet must be stricter in eliminating carb sources in order to reach ketosis, while someone following a more moderate LCHF diet will have more freedom with their carbohydrate choices.

SUMMARY: Foods high in carbohydrates, such as breads, pastas, starchy vegetables and sweetened beverages, should be restricted when following an LCHF diet plan.

Foods to Eat

Any type of LCHF diet emphasizes foods that are high in fat and low in carbohydrates.

LCHF-friendly foods include:

  • Eggs: Eggs are high in healthy fats and essentially a carb-free food.
  • Oils: Olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil are healthy choices.
  • Fish: All fish, but especially those high in fats like salmon, sardines and trout.
  • Meats and poultry: Red meat, chicken, venison, turkey, etc.
  • Full-fat dairy: Cream, full-fat plain yogurt, butter, cheeses, etc.
  • Non-starchy vegetables: Greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, etc.
  • Avocados: These high-fat fruits are versatile and delicious.
  • Berries: Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries can be enjoyed in moderation.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Condiments: Fresh herbs, pepper, spices, etc.

Adding non-starchy vegetables to most meals and snacks can boost antioxidant and fiber intake, all while adding color and crunch to your plate.

Focusing on whole, fresh ingredients, trying new recipes and planning meals ahead of time can help you stay on track and prevent boredom.

SUMMARY: LCHF-friendly foods include eggs, meats, fatty fish, avocados, nuts, non-starchy vegetables and healthy oils.

A Sample LCHF Meal Plan for One Week

The following menu can help set you up for success when beginning an LCHF diet.

The carbohydrate content of the meals varies to accommodate more liberal LCHF dieters.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Two whole eggs with spinach and broccoli sautéed in coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Tuna salad made with smashed avocado atop a bed of non-starchy vegetables.
  • Dinner: Salmon cooked in butter served with roasted Brussels sprouts.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Full-fat plain yogurt topped with sliced strawberries, unsweetened coconut and pumpkin seeds.
  • Lunch: Turkey burger topped with cheddar cheese served with sliced non-starchy vegetables.
  • Dinner: Steak with sautéed red peppers.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: A shake made with unsweetened coconut milk, berries, peanut butter and unsweetened protein powder.
  • Lunch: Grilled shrimp served with tomato and mozzarella skewers.
  • Dinner: Zucchini noodles tossed in pesto with chicken meatballs.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Sliced avocado and two eggs fried in coconut oil.
  • Lunch: Chicken curry made with cream and non-starchy vegetables.
  • Dinner: Cauliflower crust pizza topped with non-starchy vegetables and cheese.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Spinach, onion and cheddar frittata.
  • Lunch: Chicken and vegetable soup.
  • Dinner: Eggplant lasagna.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Blackberry, cashew butter and coconut protein smoothie.
  • Lunch: Turkey, avocado and cheese roll-ups served with flax crackers.
  • Dinner: Trout served with roasted cauliflower.

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Mushroom, feta and kale omelet.
  • Lunch: Chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and caramelized onions.
  • Dinner: Large green salad topped with sliced avocado, shrimp and pumpkin seeds.

Carbs can be reduced or added depending on your health and weight loss goals.

There are countless low-carb, high-fat recipes to experiment with, so you can always enjoy a new, tasty meal or snack.

SUMMARY: You can enjoy many healthy recipes while following an LCHF diet.

Side Effects and Downfalls of the Diet

While evidence links many health benefits to the LCHF diet, there are some drawbacks.

More extreme versions like the ketogenic diet are not suitable for children, teens and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless it’s being used therapeutically to treat a medical condition.

People who have diabetes or health conditions like diseases of the kidneys, liver or pancreas should speak with their doctor before beginning an LCHF diet.

Although some studies show that LCHF diets can boost athletic performance in some cases, it may not be suitable for elite athletes, as it can impair athletic performance at competitive levels.

Additionally, an LCHF diet may not be appropriate for individuals who are hypersensitive to dietary cholesterol, often referred to as “hyper-responders”

The LCHF diet is generally well tolerated by most but can cause unpleasant side effects in some people, especially in the case of very low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet.

Side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia

Constipation is a common issue when first beginning an LCHF diet and typically caused by lack of fiber.

To avoid constipation, make sure to add plenty of non-starchy vegetables to your meals, including greens, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, peppers, asparagus and celery.

SUMMARY: LCHF diets may not be suitable for pregnant women, children and people with certain medical conditions. If you are unsure if the LCHF diet is the right choice for you, seek advice from your doctor.

The Bottom Line

The LCHF diet is a method of eating that focuses on reducing carbs and replacing them with healthy fats.

The ketogenic diet and Atkins diet are examples of LCHF diets.

Following an LCHF diet may aid weight loss, stabilize blood sugar, improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Plus, the LCHF diet is versatile and can be adapted to meet your individual preferences.

Whether you are looking to lose body fat, fight sugar cravings or improve your blood sugar control, adapting an LCHF lifestyle is an excellent way to reach your goals.

Should You Wear a Face Mask When Running Outdoors?

Wearing a face mask isn’t a huge hassle when grocery shopping or heading out to the pharmacy, but when you mix in running, the answer about wearing one isn’t always black or white.

Sports medicine specialist Caitlin Lewis, MD, discusses when the face mask rule applies to runners and when it’s OK to skip it.

Do I need to wear a face mask when I run outside?

Most of us have seen the pictures of crowded parks and trails with hoards of people bunched together. Some people in the crowd are wearing face coverings and others aren’t.

“Generally, when people ask if they need to wear a face mask when running outside, the answer to that question is that it depends where you’re at,” says Dr. Lewis.

Some states and cities have issued their own specific requirements regarding face masks, so you’ll first need to check with your local health officials. But it really boils down to where you live and where you’re planning on running.

As a general rule, wear a face mask when you’re running in an area where social distancing is hard to maintain. If you’re going to be passing people or weaving in and out of crowds or others around you, you’ll want to wear a mask, says Dr. Lewis.

But if you’re running alone in your neighborhood where you occasionally see another runner or dog walker, it’s likely that you don’t need to wear a face covering. Instead, be mindful about crossing the street to avoid getting too close or give the other person at least six feet when passing.

The same rules apply during other outdoor activities like hiking or biking. (But keep in mind that wearing a face mask is never a substitute for social distancing.)

Think about it this way: Wearing a mask reduces the chance that your own respiratory droplets will come in contact with someone else. (Because you could be carrying the virus and not know it.) If others are running or cycling past you in a crowded park, wouldn’t you want them to try to contain those droplets? The same holds true if you’re up running on an isolated mountain trail. If you’re not around other people, there’s no one around to protect by wearing a mask, so it’s not really needed, says Dr. Lewis.

How will a face mask affect my run?

If you’re in an area where an outdoor run or bike ride warrants wearing a face mask, there’s a few things to keep in mind.

“A face mask is going to decrease your airflow, making it a little harder to breathe,” says Dr. Lewis. “It won’t decrease your oxygen or retain carbon dioxide. But it will probably impact your performance or pace.”

This means that you might have a harder time catching your breath if you’re running in a face mask. You might also feel more fatigued quicker than you normally would, even if you’re in pretty good shape. Because of this, you might need to modify the intensity of your run.

Monitor how you feel or if you’re having any unusual symptoms. It’s important to know your body.

Be on the lookout for:

  • Chest pain.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Difficulty or labored breathing.

If you’re experiencing anything out of the ordinary, find a safe place off the trail or out of the way to distanced yourself from others and remove your mask. Sit down or walk until you catch your breath and feel better.

The good news is that, like all aspects of fitness, the more you do it, the longer and better you’ll be able to tolerate it. So your fitness level can adapt to a face covering.

What to look for in a running face mask

Running in a face mask presents you with the unpleasant sensation of a damp piece of fabric rubbing against your face.

“A sweaty or wet mask is going to be less effective at filtering,” says Dr. Lewis. “It’ll also be less breathable and more uncomfortable.”

Look for workout masks that are made with a moisture-wicking fabric, but be mindful that it’s not too thick or restrictive. Most running specific face coverings come as a traditional shaped mask with strings or elastic that goes around your head, a bandana or neck gaiter.

The mask should fit snug around your face and cover your nose and chin. A properly fitted mask will reduce the need for you to fuss around with it and touch your face.

It’s also important to keep your running mask clean. It’s a good idea to keep a few masks in your rotation and use a new one every run, says Dr. Lewis. If you’re going out on a particularly long run (or if you’re someone who sweats a lot), bring two masks with you to switch out halfway through if you can.

And remember, when wearing a mask, always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before removing it.

Should I Wear a Face Mask in the Car?

wearing face masks in car

I’ve seen some people wearing masks in the car during the coronavirus pandemic. Is this necessary, and should I be doing it?

A:

If you’ve been on the road lately and noticed other drivers sporting face masks, you might’ve wondered if they know something you don’t – Should I be wearing a mask while driving my car? If you’re traveling alone, then no. You don’t need to wear a face-covering in the car if no one else is in there with you.

That said, you may find yourself in other situations that make wearing a mask while driving a good idea. For example:

  • If you’re in the car with people who do not reside with you (in this case, it might be a good idea to avoid using the “recirculation” setting on your air conditioner or to open the car windows for air circulation)
  • If you’re sick and have other people in the car
  • If you feel anxious about being out in public right now and keeping a mask on comforts you
  • If you’re traveling a short distance between stops and don’t want to take the mask off only to have to put it back on again immediately
  • If the law in your state insists on wearing masks in vehicles

Since it’s generally a good idea to avoid touching your face mask (because it might be germy), it makes sense to just leave it on for a while instead of taking it on and off frequently. But if you do drive with it, understand that wearing a mask can reduce your field of vision. Always weigh the benefits of wearing a mask in your car against the potential risks involved.

Basically, when it comes to mask-wearing, think of your car as an extension of your home: Would you wear a face-covering in your living room? You might – if a repairman had to come in to fix your electrical wiring or something. But most of the time you would not wear a face mask inside your house, and you can use the same thinking to decide if you should don a mask in the car.

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Diabetes and yeast infections (candidiasis)

It is important for people with diabetes to recognize symptoms of a fungal infection and to receive prompt treatment to avoid potentially serious complications.

Yeast is present in the skin and near mucous membranes. It helps keep neighboring bacteria in check. However, if too much yeast collects, candidiasis — more commonly known as a yeast infection — can develop. It can cause discomfort, including pain and itchiness.

Yeast is most likely to grow excessively in areas that are warm and moist, including the mouth, the genital area, the feet, and in skin folds.

 

Diabetes and yeast infections

Man checks for fungal infection with diabetes
Fungal infections can affect the mouth, the skin, the feet, and the genital area.

 

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi, including yeast, can cause infections if a person’s immune system cannot control the levels in the body.

As a 2018 study — which included data from over 300,000 people — showed, a person with type 1 or type 2 diabetes has a higher risk of infection, including yeast infection, than a person without the condition.

In people with diabetes, symptoms can grow worse more quickly than in other people. Also, infections can be harder to treat. If an infection does not heal, it can lead to complications.

What increases the risk?

A person with poorly controlled diabetes has an increased risk of more severe and frequent yeast infections.

Researchers are still trying to pinpoint the link between yeast overgrowth and diabetes. It could involve the following factors.

Compromised immune system

Scientists have found associations between diabetes and immune dysfunction.

Type 1 diabetes happens when a problem with the immune system results in damage to cells in the pancreas. Immunological changes and increases in inflammation also appear to play a role in developing type 2 diabetes.

Poorly controlled diabetes may hinder the immune response. This could be part of the reason why having diabetes makes a person more prone to yeast infections.

Research into the exact relationship between diabetes and the immune system is ongoing. One theory is that high blood sugar leads to the suppression of certain immune proteins.

These proteins — called beta-defensins — help immune cells move toward infections and kill the microbes. If a condition, such as diabetes, inhibits these functions, a yeast infection could thrive unchecked.

Extra sugars in yeast-friendly areas

Diabetes can also make it easier for yeast and other pathogens to cling to skin cells and mucus glands. This may be because of the presence of extra sugars, which allow yeast to colonize at unhealthy levels.

When blood glucose levels are high, the body may excrete extra sugar in the:

  • mucus
  • sweat
  • urine

Yeast feeds on sugar, making these secretions the most likely factor in overgrowth.

People with diabetes also have increased levels of glycogen, a polysaccharide that the body uses to store glucose. Extra glycogen in the vaginal area can lead to an increase in acidity. This can contribute to yeast growth, according to a study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Persistent infections

Once yeast has colonized in an area, it becomes easier for an infection to return. A person who is susceptible to yeast infections, due to difficulty managings diabetes, will also have a higher risk of recurring problems.

Symptoms

woman checking smart phone on her bed
A person should seek medical help if they notice signs of a vaginal yeast infection.

 

Yeast infections can manifest differently in different parts of the body.

Skin infection: The skin may change color, or there may be itchy patches of varying shapes and sizes.

These symptoms usually develop in skin folds, but they can spread to other parts of the body, including the face or trunk. A yeast infection can also affect the scalp.

The name for a yeast infection in the skin is cutaneous candidiasis.

Genital infection: These are more common in females than in males, but a male who has difficulty managing their diabetes may have a higher risk.

A female may notice:

  • vaginal itching or pain, including a burning sensation
  • a white, cottage cheese-like discharge
  • a burning sensation or another type of pain while urinating
  • an unpleasant odor

A male may have an itchy, scaly rash on the penis.

Anyone with diabetes who notices these symptoms should see a doctor because they are likely to need treatment. Without treatment, complications can occur.

Eye infection: Symptoms include pain, redness, blurred vision, discharge, sensitivity to light, and watery eyes. Without treatment, it can lead to vision loss.

Foot infection: Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection.

For a person with diabetes, damage to the skin on the feet can lead to ulceration and, in some cases, the need for amputation. Nerve damage and circulatory problems that occur with diabetes can make this more likely to happen.

It is important to take measures to prevent fungal infections on the feet. Inspect the feet regularly and receive prompt treatment for any indications of an infection.

Oral thrush: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of oral thrush include:

  • white patches on the inside of the cheeks
  • redness or pain in the mouth
  • cracking and redness in the corners of the mouth
  • loss of taste
  • a “cottony” sensation in the mouth

A person with diabetes has a higher chance of developing a fungal infection in the mouth for various reasons. Diabetes can cause dryness in the mouth, increased acidity, and high levels of glucose in the saliva.

Without treatment, a yeast infection can become invasive in a person whose immune system is not working properly. It can spread to the bloodstream and from there to other parts of the body. If this happens, the infection can quickly become life-threatening.

Diagnosis

A doctor will examine the affected area, and they may take a sample of skin or urine for laboratory testing. They will also ask about symptoms.

If a person who does not have diagnosed diabetes experiences unusually frequent infections, they should speak to a doctor, who may test for diabetes.

Medical treatment

Once a doctor identifies a yeast infection, there are several treatment methods to try, depending on the type of infection.

Topical creams or suppositories

A doctor will usually recommend these first, as they work well during the early stages of an infection.

The doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream to apply directly to the affected area for up to 7 days.

Antifungal creams and suppositories are available over the counter, but a person should speak to a doctor before using them.

This is because:

  • The problem may not be a yeast infection.
  • Using these medications too frequently can cause yeast to become resistant to them.

Oral antifungal medication

If cream or suppository does not work, or if the person has had several yeast infections in a short time, a doctor might prescribe an oral antifungal medication, such as fluconazole (Diflucan).

One dose may be enough to resolve the infection.

How often can People donate Blood?

Several factors — such as medication, health conditions, and travel — affect how often people can donate blood.

This article looks at how often a person can donate blood and when they may need to wait before donating.

How often can a person donate blood?

Women at a blood bank discuss how often can you donate blood while waiting to donate.

How regularly a person donates blood will depend on the type of donation they are providing. This is because different components of the blood replenish at different rates.

For example:

  • Whole blood donation: This donation type provides all components of the blood, including red and white blood cells, platelets, and plasma. People can provide this type of donation once every 56 days.
  • Double red cell donation: This donation collects two units of red blood cells. Donors can give this type of donation every 112 days, up to three times per year.
  • Platelet donation: People can donate platelets every 7 days, up to 24 times per year.
  • Plasma donation: People can donate plasma every 28 days, up to 13 times per year.

Medications

If a person is taking certain medications, they may have to wait before they can give certain types of blood donation.

According to the American Red Cross, some medications that affect blood donation include:

  • Aspirin: People may need to wait 2 days after the last dose before providing a platelet donation.
  • Antibiotics: People may not be able to give blood if they are taking antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. This is to lower the risk of passing it on. People may be able to give blood on the day of their last dose or 10 days after a final antibiotic injection.
  • Bovine insulin: If a person has used bovine insulin since 1980 to treat diabetes, they will not be able to give blood. This insulin is no longer available in the United States.
  • Isotretinoin or finasteride: People will need to wait 1 month after the final dose before donating blood.
  • Dutasteride: People will need to wait 6 months after the last dose before donating blood.
  • Blood thinners: People will need to wait 2–7 days after the last dose before giving blood, depending on the type of blood thinner they took.
  • Human pituitary-derived growth hormone: People taking this will not be able to give blood at any time.
  • Thalidomide: People will need to wait 1 month after taking this medication before giving blood.
  • Mycophenolate mofetil: People will need to wait 6 weeks before they can donate.
  • Acitretin: People will need to wait 3 years before giving blood.
  • Etretinate: People who take this medication will not be able to give blood at any time.
  • Leflunomide, teriflunomide,vismodegib, or sonidegib: People will need to wait 2 years to donate blood after taking any of these drugs.
  • Hepatitis B immune globulin: People will need to wait 12 months after exposure to hepatitis B to donate blood.

People may be able to give whole blood donations while taking certain medications, but they will need to wait before giving platelet donations. These medications include:

  • ticagrelor
  • prasugrel
  • piroxicam
  • clopidogrel
  • ticlopidine
  • vorapaxar

People may have to wait to give blood if they have recently had certain vaccinations. These vaccinations include:

  • Zostavax: A person will need to wait 4 weeks.
  • Measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox vaccines: A person will need to wait 4 weeks.
  • Red measles, polio, and yellow fever vaccines: A person will need to wait 2 weeks.
  • Hepatitis B immunization: A person will need to wait 21 days, as long as they have no exposure to hepatitis B during that time.
  • Smallpox vaccine: A person will need to wait 8 weeks.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions affect if and how often people can give blood. This is to minimize the risk of passing on an infection to the person receiving the blood and the potential risk to the donor.

Medical conditions that can affect blood donation include:

  • Blood clotting disorders: People will not be able to donate, as they may experience excessive bleeding.
  • Asthma: People are able to donate if they have no symptoms on the day.
  • High blood pressure: People are able to donate if their systolic blood pressure is below 180 and their diastolic pressure is below 100.
  • Low blood pressure: People are able to donate if they feel well and their systolic blood pressure is at least 90 and their diastolic pressure is at least 50.
  • Cancer: People who have had blood cancer are not able to donate. People who have had successful treatment of other cancers can donate 12 months after treatment.
  • Heart disease: People will need to wait 6 months to donate after experiencing any heart-related issues. Some may not be able to donate at all.
  • Hemochromatosis: People with this condition will not be able to donate blood.
  • Hepatitis or jaundice: People with any symptoms of hepatitis or unexplained jaundice will not be able to give blood.
  • HIV or AIDS: If a person has AIDS, has ever had a positive HIV test, or is at risk of HIV, they will not be able to donate.
  • Sickle cell disease: People with sickle cell trait are able to donate, but those with sickle cell disease will not be able to.

If a person has had any exposure to hepatitis, they will have to wait before giving blood. People who have used intravenous nonprescription drugs are also unable to donate. This is because of the potential hepatitis or HIV risk.

Certain sexually transmitted infections can also affect when people are able to give blood. People who have had treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea will need to wait 3 months after treatment before donating.

People with chlamydia, venereal warts, or genital herpes are able to donate blood if they are feeling well at the time.

Other factors

People may also have to wait to donate blood if they feel unwell, have a fever, or have any symptoms of an infection.

This includes having a cold with a cough that produces phlegm or allergies that make it difficult to breathe through the mouth.

Pregnant women are also unable to donate blood and will have to wait 6 weeks after giving birth before doing so.

People will also need sufficient iron levels to give blood. Before giving blood, a person will undergo a test for hemoglobin, which is a protein in the body that contains iron. Iron is an important mineral, as it helps replenish red blood cells after donation.

If a person does not have the required hemoglobin levels, they may have to wait until their iron levels increase before donating.

Tattoos and piercings

If a person has a tattoo or piercing, it may affect when they can donate blood due to the related risk of hepatitis.

To be eligible to donate blood with a tattoo, people will need to make sure that they got their tattoo from a state-regulated tattoo facility.

The tattoo artist needs to have used sterile needles and fresh ink. If a tattoo meets these criteria, the person can donate blood right after they get it.

People with piercings can donate blood as long as the instruments the piercer used were single-use and disposable. If the piercer used reusable equipment or the person is unsure of what they used, they will need to wait 3 months before donating blood.

Travel

Traveling to other countries also affects when a person can give blood. If a person has traveled to or lived in a country that has a risk of malaria, they will have to wait before giving blood.

According to the American Red Cross, the time frames are as follows:

  • If a person has received treatment for malaria, they will need to wait 3 years.
  • If a person is returning from a country at risk of malaria, they will need to wait 3 months.
  • If a person has lived in a country at risk of malaria for over 5 years, they will need to wait 3 years.
  • If a person has traveled to an at-risk country and has not lived for 3 consecutive years in a country not at risk of malaria, they will need to wait 3 additional years.

If a person has traveled outside of the U.S. or Canada, the staff at the blood center will review the details to check that they can give blood.

Summary

By donating blood, people can help save lives. However, people need to be aware of certain factors that can affect how often they can give blood.

Before giving blood, a person will need to fill out a form providing certain details, such as their medical history. This ensures that the blood people donate is safe and can effectively help others.

In some cases, a person may need to wait a certain amount of time before they are able to give blood. People will also need to leave some time between donations, depending on the type of donation they choose.

 

 

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