Should You Wear a Mask at Home?

From March until now, you’ve heard it hundreds of times — masks work. Considering that the coronavirus has yet to pack up and head out of town, we’ll have to keep putting up with the foggy glasses, muffled voices, mask acne and everything else for safety’s sake.

One given — we need to wear masks when we’re out in public. We’re among people we don’t know so it makes sense. But what about when we’re with friends and family in a place we know extremely well — our homes. Why should we wear masks while we’re in a familiar place with the people we love or an occasional guest or two? Isn’t that overkill?

You’d be surprised to find out that it’s actually not. With the help of infectious disease specialist Donald Dumford III, MD, MPH, we’ll cover why you should wear a mask at home, especially with the holidays fast approaching.

Wear a mask around people who don’t live with you

You’ve been on the hand washing and mask patrol since the pandemic started and you trust that everyone under your roof is physically distancing and wearing their masks in public. But you can’t really be sure about every relative or repair person who shows up at your door. Instead of guessing or assuming that they’re doing what is recommended, mask up when someone who doesn’t live with you enters your home. You can also politely ask visitors to wear masks as an extra precaution.

“We have seen many instances of transmission this way whether it be a birthday party or a baby shower. I’ve seen patients become ill after they had friends over for dinner. They thought guests were low risk, but days or weeks after the visits, they started experiencing symptoms. Some of them have even been admitted to the hospital. This just goes to show how those with COVID-19 can start to spread the virus days before becoming ill,” says Dr. Dumford.

For college students, the holidays often mean trips home for extended stays with mom, dad and sometimes grandma or grandpa, too. To reduce the risks —and rule out the unknowns (including those undercover parties with more than a few people), have the college student in your life wear a mask when they come home. If they don’t want to or have planned to hang out with friends while they’re home, it’s probably best to have them stay elsewhere.

Dr. Dumford explains why.

“You hate to tell someone so close to take these kind of precautions, but we know that this most recent wave has been fueled by mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic people between the ages of 12 and 20. In fact, we’ve seen how counties with Big Ten and Big 12 schools have had a disproportionate increase in cases of COVID-19.”

Wear a mask at home when you or someone else is sick

Is it a cold? Is it the coronavirus? If you’re not sure, it doesn’t hurt to be safe and not expose those who live with you to whatever you have. When you’re sick, wear a mask until you know that you’re in the clear. The same goes for everyone else in your home.

“Given the wide variation in symptoms, it is difficult to tell if you have COVID-19 or something else. If you have respiratory symptoms, it’s best to self-isolate until you know what you are dealing with. When you can’t self-isolate, wearing a mask will reduce the risk to your loved ones,” says Dr. Dumford.

Research shows that masks work in close quarters

If you’re not convinced that masks can make a difference, a recent scientific brief from the CDC shares a few real-world examples of how masks prevented the spread of the coronavirus in close quarters.

In a study of 124 Beijing households with more than one laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, mask use by asymptomatic patients and family members helped reduce secondary transmission by 79%.

Another study took a look at the outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, a setting that has congregate living quarters and close working environments. When face coverings were used on-board, the risk of contracting COVID-19 was reduced by 70%.

If you or a loved one has COVID-19, self-isolate

In addition to wearing a mask, self-isolation is also key if you or a loved one has COVID-19. If you’re sick, stay away from other people in your home. Avoid common areas like the bathroom and kitchen if you can. Also, frequent disinfection is a must to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Another thing you can do is open a window to air out your home and promote circulation.

If you’re a people person, it might be tough to stay away from everyone. But Dr. Dumford says that self-isolation for ten days after your symptoms start is essential to stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Who should wear a mask at all times?

The CDC recommends those 2 years of age and older wear a mask:

  • In public settings.
  • When you are around people who do not live in your household.
  • When caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19 (whether at home or in a non-healthcare setting).
  • If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19. (Wear a mask when you need to be around other people or animals, even in your own home.)

Masks should not be worn by:

  • Children younger than 2 years old.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Which Is the Healthiest Olive Oil?

clear glass bottle beside brown wooden bowl with brown and white nuts

A RAFT OF RESEARCH suggests that olive oil – which is a key component of the Mediterranean diet – is associated with heart health and an array of other benefits.

There are several olive oils typically available on U.S. store shelves, including:

  • Extra virgin olive oil.
  • Olive oil, also sometimes known as pure olive oil.
  • Extra light olive oil.

These three are the main labels consumers will see in the U.S., says Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, an international olive oil consultant based in Petaluma in Sonoma County, California. She’s also CEO of Extra Virgin Alliance, an international association of producers dedicated to olive oil quality.

Extra virgin and olive oil are both grades of olive oil. Extra light is a marketing term used for a lighter tasting version of olive oil, but it’s not a grade, Devarenne says. Olive oil, pure olive oil and extra light olive oil are all blends of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is clearly the healthiest olive oil, because it’s the one that’s the least processed, says Jack Bishop, chief creative officer of America’s Test Kitchen. “Extra virgin is the industry standard,” he says. Using heat and chemicals to process olive oil can degrade its nutritional value; extra virgin olive oil is, by definition, cold-pressed.

Defining ‘Extra Virgin’ Olive Oil

So what, exactly, is “extra virgin” olive oil?

It’s a common question. One survey by the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis, found widespread confusion among consumers regarding the term. The center is comprised of university faculty members, research specialists and farm advisers who address the growing and education needs of California olive growers and processors.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture lists five grades of olive oil. Most olive oil organizations list five or six grades of olive oil, Devarenne says. For example, the International Olive Council lists six grades of olive oil. Meanwhile, the California state government, which is one of a handful of states that regulate the quality of olive oil, lists five grades. Higher grades of olive oil indicate quality, Devarenne says. “The grades indicate type and quality. Extra virgin is the highest grade and the highest quality.”

The center’s survey found that 55% of consumers believed they understood the meaning of different olive oil grades. However, no more than 25% of participants responded correctly to statements about the grades.

Refined olive oil is flavorless, colorless and odorless. Virgin olive oil is added to refined olive oil for flavor and color, Devarenne says. Refined olive oils also contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, she says. The American Heart Association recommends that the majority of fats people eat should be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

There’s no one extra virgin olive oil standard that every olive oil producer and seller in the U.S. or overseas applies, Devarenne says.

“All this talk of standards can be confusing, but the important thing to know is that extra virgin is the best tasting and healthiest choice,” Devaranne says.

Overall, at least 75% of the extra virgin olive oil marketed in the U.S. is sold by companies that say they apply the USDA or IOC standards, says Joseph Profaci, executive director of the North American Olive Oil Association. There’s no federal governmental agency enforcing these standards. The USDA standards are voluntary. Though the USDA extra virgin oil grade guide puts “U.S.” in front of each of the five types of oil graded, many companies that import olive oil also apply these standards, Profaci says.

A couple of other things to know about extra virgin olive oil: This grade of oil is extracted from olive pulp with a press, typically centrifugal in nature, and no chemicals or heat, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as a “cold-press” product, Profaci says.

Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest kind of olive oil because it contains natural chemical compounds known as phenols or polyphenols that provide a host of health benefits, says Mary M. Flynn, a research dietitian and associate professor of medicine, clinical, at Miriam Hospital and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Research suggests that phenols provide an array of health benefits, including:

  • Decreased blood pressure.
  • Lower inflammation.
  • Higher levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL (good) cholesterol.
  • Improved HDL function.
  • More efficient use of insulin to better store glucose.

Finding Extra Virgin Olive Oil

clear glass cruet bottle

 

You’ll only get the full health benefits of extra virgin olive oil if you purchase the real thing, rather than a lesser product inside a bottle with a misleading label.

Experts recommend these strategies for purchasing extra virgin olive oil:

  • Buy online, directly from the producer when possible.
  • Shop at specialty stores.
  • Look for a sell-by or a harvest date.
  • Know the taste of fresh oil, and sample it before you buy it.
  • Choose a protective container.
  • Store the oil in a cool and dark place.
  • Look for a seal denoting high quality.

Buy online, directly from the producer if possible. When you buy directly from the person who is making the oil – which will usually mean buying online if you’re outside the olive-oil-producing areas of the U.S. – you have a greater assurance of attention to quality, Devarenne says. Many producers have a website that will tell you about their farm and products. Although some of the online sellers are just bottlers of other people’s oil, you can find online olive oil boutiques that carry a small range of high-quality imported and domestic extra virgin olive oil straight from the producer.

Shop at specialty stores. Your chances of finding high-quality extra virgin olive oil are best if you shop at a boutique store that takes food – and olive oil – seriously, Devarenne says. Ethnic markets and gourmet stores or well-curated grocery outlets can be good bets.

Flynn suggests trying boutique stores that sell only vinegar and olive oil. Some of these stores allow customers to sample olive oil before purchasing it.

For example, the California-based olive oil company Veronica Foods distributes extra virgin olive oil to more than 400 boutique stores nationwide, says Veronica Bradley, the company’s owner. Veronica Foods supplies written material showing the chemistry of its products to the stores it distributes to (which she says shows the oil is high-quality virgin grade), and the retailers display the information for customers. The stores Veronica Foods distributes to typically allow consumers to taste the oil before purchasing it, she says. (All olive oil stores and many specialty markets will allow consumers to taste olive oil before they buy it, Devarenne says.)

Look for a sell-by date or a harvest date. A sell-by date is important because a harvest date may not be on the bottle, says Selina C. Wang, research director at the Olive Center. A typical average shelf life for olive oil that’s unopened is about two years, though this can vary depending on the packaging and the quality of the olives and of the oil after milling.

Ideally, you could opt for the freshest option by looking for a harvest date. Here are the times of year that olives are harvested in different parts of the world:

  • March-June, throughout the Southern Hemisphere.
  • August-September, California and Mediterranean desert regions.
  • October-January, throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

“With enough time, all olive oils, even the highest-quality oils, will become rancid from oxidation,” Wang says. “The bright flavors and health benefits in olive oil will diminish with time.”

It’s best to finish a bottle of extra virgin olive oil between six weeks and four months of purchasing it, depending on how many people are consuming it and the size of the bottle. “Don’t save it for special occasions,” Wang says. “The oil will never get fresher or better. The earlier you can use it, the better.”

Know the taste of fresh oil, and sample it before you buy it. Extra virgin olive oil is a minimally processed food and should taste of fresh olives, not cured ones, Devarenne says. (Traditional table olives are cured by fermentation, which is not a good thing in olive oil.) The fruity notes in olive oil can be green, like grassy, herbaceous or artichoke; or ripe, like nutty, buttery or banana.

In general, olive oils with higher phenol content will have a bitter and/or peppery taste as well, she says.

If the store doesn’t allow you to taste the oil before you buy it, take it home and taste it right away, Profaci advises. If you don’t like it, take it back. Return policies may vary, but generally supermarkets will take such products back and not charge the customer, he says. “Just don’t use half the bottle before returning it,” he recommends.

Choose a product that’s in a protective container. Extra virgin olive oil’s biggest enemy is oxidation, which is caused by light, heat and oxygen. Therefore, it’s best to purchase olive oil that’s in a container that can keep the product as fresh as possible, Profaci says.

If given the choice, consider that olive oil in a light-resistant (typically dark) container would have been protected from light, Profaci says.

Store the oil in a dark and cool place. To protect olive oil from oxidation, store it in a cool and dark place, like a kitchen cabinet, Wang says. It’s not necessary to refrigerate olive oil, but it’s best not to leave it out on the kitchen counter near the stove, either.

Look for a seal denoting high quality. When you’re shopping, look for olive oil bottles that have a quality certification seal, like the ones from the California Olive Oil Council or the North American Olive Oil Association, which follow the standards of the International Olive Council, Profaci says. Such seals confirm the product meets the standards of those organizations. They indicate that the manufacturer has had the organization issuing the seals test its oils for quality. It doesn’t mean every batch is examined.

7 Foods That Make You Look Younger

 

Some of the most beautiful people I know are the most insecure about their looks. Take my friend Giselle (believe me, not her real name!). She’s one of those women always invited to events most of us rarely go to—award shows, boutique openings, glamorous parties. With her long blonde hair and sparkly blue eyes, she could have her pick of men. But she spends most of her time picking on herself.

“I wake up every morning looking older than the day before!” she told me recently. She already does a lot of the right things—doesn’t smoke, avoids too much sun, gets enough sleep, and takes time to relax and let go of her stress. But when I asked about her diet, she was surprised. “I don’t worry about my weight!” she said.

Maybe not, but the right diet can do more than just lead to weight loss. It can turn back the hands of time, as well. If finding eternal youth youthful is on your to-do list, try adding these Eat This, Not That!-recommended foods to your daily diet plan.

1. Shiitake Mushrooms to Stop Greying Hair

Shiitake mushrooms
Joanna Kosinska/Unsplash

Grey hair is beautiful when it’s age-appropriate, but unfair for folks who start to salt-and-pepper before they’ve finished life’s main course. One cause of early greying: a lack of copper. A study in the journal Biological Trace Elemental Research found premature-graying individuals had significantly lower copper levels than a control group. Your body requires copper to produce pigment for your skin and hair, and shiitake mushrooms are one of the best dietary sources. Just a half cup provides 71 percent of your recommended daily intake of copper—and for only 40 calories!

2. Sweet Potatoes to Regain Your Glow

Roasted chickpea stuffed sweet potato
Shutterstock

A study in the Journal Evolution and Human Behaviour showed eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables gives a healthier, and more attractive, golden glow than the sun. Researchers found people who ate more portions of red and orange fruits and vegetables per day had a more sun-kissed complexion than those who didn’t consume as much—the result of disease-fighting compounds called carotenoids that give those plants their colors. And no, you won’t look like an Oompa Loompa. In fact, given the choice between a real suntan and a glow caused by diet, study participants preferred the carotenoid complexion. Few foods are as rich in the beauty stuff than sweet potatoes; just half a medium potato with the skin provides 200 percent of your daily recommended intake.

3. Cheddar Cheese to Whiten Your Teeth

Orange cheddar cheese
Shutterstock

Good news, politicians: Cheesy smiles may be good for you. One study in the journal General Dentistry of people who didn’t brush their teeth for 48 hours (don’t try that at home),found snacking on cheddar cheese raised their mouths’ pH to freshly-brushed levels. (Like cavities, discoloration is increased when you have an acidic environment in your mouth.) Plus, compounds in the cheese that adhere to tooth enamel, like a white strip, help to fend off acid.

4. Spa Water to Erase Dark Circles

Spa detox water
Shutterstock

Puffy, dark circles under the eyes may indicate you had too much fun the night before, but it can also indicate another more common, less exciting issue: dehydration. Salty foods, alcohol, exercise, hot weather and just plain not drinking enough water can create inflammation, which results in the Rocket Raccoon complexion. Start replenishing your body right away: Cut up some citrus fruits (rind included) and soak them in a pitcher of ice water. Now drink copiously. The citrus not only improves flavor, but the rinds contain a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called de-limonene, which helps the liver flush toxins from the body, according to the World Health Organization.

5. Lean Beef to Get Strong, Shiny Nails

Grilled skirt steak
Shutterstock

Weekly manicures can keep your nails in tip-top shape, but so can Sunday’s top round roast dinner. Researches say a diet rich in protein, iron and zinc are the key to long, strong, beautiful nails. And you’ll get a healthy serving of all three nutrients from a small portion of lean red meat. A recent study in the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology that looked at nail growth over the past 70 years found that dietary protein was the difference between spurts and lags in nail growth. It’s perhaps no wonder, considering nails are made from protein—keratin, specifically. Nail it with a small 3-4 ounce portion of top round or sirloin, which are the leanest cuts of red meat, one to two times a week.

6. Almond Butter to Thicken Your Locks

Almond butter
Shutterstock

No, you don’t rub it into your scalp like Rogaine. But almond butter is one food that contains a wide variety of nutrients—including protein, healthy fats, and certain vitamins—that have all been linked to hair health. It’s the vitamin E content in the nuts that researchers say is particularly good for keeping your locks thick and lustrous. One eight-month trial found men who supplemented daily with vitamin E saw an increase in hair growth by as much as 42 percent. Just a tablespoon of almonds provides nearly two-thirds of your RDA for fat-soluble vitamin E.

7. Tomatoes to Reverse Sun Damage

Roasted tomatoes
Shutterstock

New research has found that the reason melanoma rates are so low in regions like the Mediterranean—where going topless on the beach is all part of the summertime fun—has to do with the Mediterranean diet. Foods high in antioxidants, particularly deeply colored fruits and vegetables, can help fight the oxidizing effect of UV rays. One study in the British Journal of Dermatology found participants who ate five tablespoons of tomato paste (a highly concentrated form of fresh tomatoes) daily showed 33 percent more protection against sunburn than a control group. And tomatoes work double duty to boost beauty: While the carotenoids and antioxidants help the body fight off oxidation that ages skin cells, they also boost pro-collagen—a molecule that gives skin its taught, youthful structure.

Can Intermittent Fasting cure type 2 Diabetes?

A new study involving three men concluded that occasional fasting can help reverse type 2 diabetes.

Three men with type 2 diabetes were able to stop insulin treatment altogether after intermittent fasting, but experts are warning that people shouldn’t try such a practice on their own.

A small study published in BMJ Case Reports looked at three men between the ages of 40 and 67 who tried occasional fasting for approximately 10 months.

All of the men were able to stop insulin treatment within a month after starting the intermittent fasting. One of the men was able to stop insulin treatment after only five days of the fasting technique.

“This study shows that a dietary intervention — therapeutic fasting — has the potential to completely reverse type 2 diabetes, even when somebody has suffered with the disease for 25 years. It changes everything about how we should treat the disease,” Dr. Jason Fung, author of the study and director of the Intensive Dietary Management Program

Fung’s assertions that type 2 diabetes can be reversed is contrary to the views of other diabetes experts who spoke with Healthline.

“It’s potentially dangerous to tell patients their diabetes has been reversed, because one is always at risk for progression, even if not being treated by medication,” Dr. Matthew Freeby, director of the Gonda Diabetes Center in Los Angeles and the associate director of diabetes clinical programs at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine, told Healthline.

What happens with diabetes

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 to 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes.

In a person with type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin, which helps control the amount of sugar in the blood.

“When we eat foods containing carbohydrates (breads, cereals, pasta, fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy), the body digests the carbohydrates into single sugars. The pancreas simultaneously receives a signal to release insulin. Insulin is released into the bloodstream and acts as a key to unlock the cells, allowing the single sugars to enter the cells and provide energy,” Lauri Wright, PhD, assistant professor of public health at the University of South Florida, told Healthline.

“Without enough functioning insulin as we see in type 2 diabetes, some of the single sugars build up in the cell and aren’t able to provide cells with energy,” she said.

High blood sugar levels can be damaging to the body and cause other health issues, such as kidney problems, vision loss, and heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes may be managed by healthy eating and exercise. Some people may get prescribed injectable insulin to help manage blood sugar levels.

Results from the study

In Fung’s study, three men attempted intermittent fasting to see the impact it had on their diabetes.

Two of the men fasted every second day for 24 hours. The third man fasted for three days in a week.

On days when the men fasted, they were allowed to drink low-calorie drinks such as water, tea, coffee, and broth. They were also permitted a low-calorie meal at night.

“Fasting is literally the oldest dietary intervention known to mankind, having been used for thousands of years and having been part of human culture and religion for at least as long,” Fung said.

“The thing that surprised me most was how quickly patients got better,” Fung added. “Even after 25 years of diabetes, the maximum time it took to get off insulin was 18 days. All three patients improved their diabetes to the point that they no longer required insulin, and it only took from 5 to 18 days in this study,” he said.

“Imagine taking insulin for 10 years, and all that time, somebody could have treated you with intermittent fasting, and you would not have needed to inject yourself daily for the last decade,” Fung said.

Fung concedes his study is small and more research is needed.

Some cautionary words

All of the experts who spoke with Healthline urge caution when interpreting the results of such an anecdotal study.

“To many people with diabetes, such a study conclusion can be perceived as insulting,” Raquel Pereira, a registered dietitian specializing in diabetes, told Healthline.

“People with diabetes already suffer from the disease prognosis, complications, and limitations. Imagine hearing that the way that they can manage such disease is to then deprive themselves of nutritious foods, which provide health benefits as well energy and pleasure,” she said.

“As researchers, we must invest our efforts into solutions that are more attainable and have a more positive health impact for the vast majority of people with diabetes,” Pereira added.

She says fasting for a person with diabetes can be potentially dangerous and requires medical supervision.

“The research in fasting is minimal, and we definitely need more well-controlled research trials to determine if there are any benefits, but especially who might benefit,” Pereira said.

“Disordered eating patterns are quite common in diabetes, and I would be very concerned about the long-term consequences of fasting. Many people may feel low energy, low mental concentration, low reflexes, headaches, lower immunity, and as a result have their quality of life and productivity suffer,” she said.

Wright says fasting doesn’t always have a positive effect for people with diabetes.

“For diabetic patients, especially on insulin, fasting can cause hypoglycemia. We see some people that fast or go for long periods of time binge-eat when they resume eating, which is counterproductive for diabetes,” she said.

“A study such as this gives us clues for further research,” Wright added. “The research overall on intermittent fasting in diabetics is limited and needs to be expanded before we can make recommendations supporting fasting.”

The bottom line

A small study of three men with type 2 diabetes showed they were able to stop insulin treatment after intermittent fasting.

However, experts say more research is needed, and people shouldn’t undertake such fasting without consulting with their healthcare provider.

Here are the Best Vegetables for 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 and beet juice
  • 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
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.

 

Healthful diabetes meals

People cooking recipe in kitchen

Any meal that blends several of the above ingredients will offer excellent nutrition.

To keep meals healthful and flavorsome, people with diabetes should avoid using too much added salt or relying on prepackaged ingredients that are high in sodium.

Careful calorie counting will also support glucose control. Excess calories can turn an otherwise healthful meal into a risk factor for excessive weight gain and worsened insulin sensitivity.

Some simple meal options include:

  • avocado, cherry tomato, and chickpea salad
  • hard-boiled eggs and roasted beets with black pepper and turmeric
  • low-sodium cottage cheese spread on toasted sweet potato slices. Add black or cayenne pepper to boost the flavor
  • tofu burger patty with spinach and avocado
  • spinach salad with chia seeds, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a light sprinkling of goat’s cheese
  • quinoa and fruit added to unsweetened Greek yogurt with cinnamon
  • quinoa with pepper or vinaigrette season, or on its own
  • almond butter on sprouted-grain bread with a topping of avocado and crushed red pepper flakes

Balancing less healthful foods with more nutritious ones is a way to remain healthy while also satisfying a sweet tooth. For instance, eating a cookie or two per week is usually fine when balanced by a high-fiber, plant-rich diet.

People with diabetes should focus on a balanced, overall approach to nutrition. There is a risk that forbidding certain foods can make them feel even more appealing. This can lead to poorer control over food choices and raised blood sugar over time.

Vegetables are bursting with nutrition, but they are just one part of managing a lifestyle with diabetes.

People should eat a wide variety of foods from all food groups and plan to stop eating 2–3 hours before bedtime, in most cases, as 12 or more hours of nighttime fasting helps glucose control.

A doctor or dietitian can provide an individualized diabetes meal plan to ensure that a person with the condition receives a wide enough range of nutrients in healthful proportions.

Honey and Diabetes: Is It Safe?

honey and diabetes

Some people add honey to their coffee and tea or use it as a sweetener when baking. But is honey safe for people with diabetes? The short answer is yes, but only under certain conditions.

People living with diabetes have to control and manage their carbohydrate and sugar intake. This doesn’t mean they have to avoid sweets altogether.

In moderation, honey isn’t only safe, but it has anti-inflammatory properties that might also reduce diabetes complications.

What is honey?

Honey is a thick, golden-colored liquid produced by honeybees and other insects, like some bumblebees and wasps.

It comes from the nectar within flowers, which bees collect and store in their stomachs until back at the hive.

Nectar is made up of sucrose (sugar), water, and other substances. It’s roughly 80 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent water. Bees produce honey by ingesting and regurgitating the nectar over and over again. This process removes the water.

Afterward, bees store the honey in honeycombs to be used as an energy source during the winter when it’s harder to find food.

Although it’s a natural sweetener, honey has a bit more carbohydrates and calories per teaspoon than table sugar.

According to the United States Department of AgricultureTrusted Source, 1 tablespoon of raw honey has about 60 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates.

Honey also contains many vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It’s also an antioxidant, which are substances that prevent and slow cell damage.

Honey can be raw or processed

Raw honey is also known as unfiltered honey. This honey is extracted from a beehive and then strained to remove impurities.

Processed honey, on the other hand, undergoes a filtration process. It’s also pasteurized (exposed to high heat) to destroy yeast and create a longer shelf life.

Processed honey is smoother, but the filtration and pasteurizing process does remove some of its nutrients and antioxidants.

There are about 300 different types of honey in the United States. These types are determined by the source of the nectar, or more simply, what the bees eat.

For example, blueberry honey is retrieved from the flowers of the blueberry bush, whereas avocado honey comes from avocado blossoms.

The source of the nectar affects the taste of the honey and its color.

How does honey affect blood sugar?

Because honey is a natural sugar and a carbohydrate, it’s only natural for it to affect your blood sugar in some way. When compared to table sugar, however, it appears that honey has a smaller effect.

A 2004 study evaluated the effects of honey and table sugar on blood sugar levels. This study involved individuals with and without type 1 diabetes.

Researchers found that in the group of people with diabetes, honey caused an initial increase in blood sugar 30 minutes after consumption. However, participant’s blood sugar levels later decreased and remained at lower levels for two hours.

This leads researchers to believe that honey, unlike table sugar, may cause an increase in insulin, which is an important hormone for controlling blood sugar. More research is needed.

Can honey prevent diabetes?

Even though honey may increase insulin levels and help people with diabetes control their blood sugar, there doesn’t appear to be any conclusive research supporting honey as a preventive factor for diabetes. This might be plausible, however.

Researchers have found a possible connection between honey and a lower glycemic index.

In a study of 50 people with type 1 diabetes and 30 people without type 1 diabetes, researchers found that, compared to sugar, honey had a lower glycemic effect on all participants.

It also raised their levels of C-peptide, a substance released into the bloodstream when the body produces insulin.

A normal level of C-peptide means the body is making sufficient insulin. More studies are needed to determine whether honey can be used for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Are there risks to eating honey if you have diabetes?

Keep in mind that honey is sweeter than sugar. If you substitute honey for sugar, you only need a little.

Because honey can affect blood sugar, avoid it and other sweeteners until your diabetes is under control.

Honey should be consumed in moderation. Speak with your healthcare provider before using it as an added sweetener.

If your diabetes is well-controlled and you want to add honey to your diet, choose pure, organic, or raw natural honey. These types are safer for people with diabetes because all-natural honey doesn’t have any added sugar.

However, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems shouldn’t consume raw honey, as it’s not pasteurized.

If you purchase processed honey from a grocery store, it may also contain sugar or syrup. The added sweetener can affect your blood sugar differently.

Are there benefits to eating honey if you have diabetes?

One benefit of eating honey is that it could increase your insulin level and help control your blood sugar.

Replacing sugar with honey can also be beneficial, considering how honey is a source of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.

A diet rich in antioxidants can improve how your body metabolizes sugar, and the anti-inflammatory properties in honey could potentially reduce diabetes complications.

Inflammation can lead to insulin resistance, which is when the body doesn’t respond properly to insulin.

The takeaway

Honey is a natural sweetener that could have a positive effect on your glycemic index. But as with any type of sweetener, moderation is key.

Talk to your doctor before adding honey to your diet. Honey isn’t right for everyone, including people who need to lower their blood sugar levels. If you eat honey, make sure it’s organic, raw, or pure honey that doesn’t contain added sugars.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Diabetes?

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for Diabetes?
Chances are you have a bottle of apple cider vinegar sitting in your cupboard. You might use it to make salad dressing or sauces. Some people use apple cider vinegar for cleaning or rinsing their hair. Not surprisingly, perhaps, apple cider vinegar is also used as a health remedy (and has been since the time of Hippocrates). For example, it’s used to treat dandruff, sooth sunburns, acne and sore throats, and keep armpits and feet sweet-smelling.

More recently, apple cider vinegar has ventured into the realm of diabetes. Claims abound on how this condiment can help to lower blood sugars, as well as promote weight loss. But are these claims all hype or is there some substance behind using apple cider vinegar as a form of diabetes treatment?

 

What is apple cider vinegar?

Vinegar is a liquid that’s produced through the fermentation of ethanol alcohol. There are a number of foods and beverages that contain ethanol that can be used to make vinegar. These include distilled grain alcohol, beer, champagne, berries, grapes and apples.

In the case of apple cider vinegar, or ACV, for short, yeast is used to break down the sugars in apples and convert them to alcohol. Then, a bacterium called acetobacter turns the alcohol into acetic acid through the process of fermentation. The acetic acid is what gives vinegar its sour, tangy flavor (in fact, the word “vinegar” comes from the French phrase “vin aigre” which means sour wine).

ACV is available in two forms: filtered or unfiltered. Both forms are made from a “mother,” which is the bacterial culture that turns apple juice into vinegar. Filtered ACV, which is clear in appearance, has had the mother removed and is often pasteurized, whereas unfiltered ACV contains some of the mother, making it cloudy in appearance. It’s usually unpasteurized and often organic.

Apple cider vinegar nutrition

ACV is naturally low in calories and carbs. According to the website Nutritionix, a one tablespoon serving of ACV contains:

· 3 calories

· 0.1 grams of carbohdyrate

· 0 grams of fat

· 0 grams of protein

· 0.8 milligrams of sodium

· 11 milligrams of potassium

You can see why ACV is often recommended for people who are aiming to lose weight as its calorie content is so low. ACV is also a good condiment choice for people who need to limit their sodium intake.

In terms of other nutritional benefits, ACV contains small amounts of potassium and even smaller amounts of iron, calcium, copper and magnesium. It’s also a source of antioxidants and probiotics, which can support gut health.

 

Does apple cider vinegar lower blood sugar?

Can swallowing ACV really help you lower your blood sugar? Maybe. In a sea of numerous health claims surrounding ACV, there’s actually a glimmer of credible evidence supporting the use of ACV for managing diabetes; however, the number of studies is relatively small. Here are few highlights:

· A 2018 study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine was a review that looked at 12 articles reporting 11 studies of 278 subjects with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The conclusion of this review article was that ACV did lead to a significant but small reduction in A1C levels after eight to 12 weeks. In the short-term, subjects who took ACV did notice a reduction in blood sugar levels after 30 minutes, but compared with control groups, there was no meaningful difference after 30 minutes. The authors of this article concluded that while vinegar is a “promising candidate and should be thoroughly evaluated for its possible incorporation as an adjuvant” in diabetes management, larger studies are needed, and more information is needed in certain areas, such as establishing an appropriate dose of ACV and any differences in people using oral diabetes medication vs. insulin, for example.

· A more promising study using ACV in people with type 2 diabetes was published in the journal Diabetes Care in 2007. This study was very small, very short-term and looked at 11 men and women with type 2 diabetes not taking insulin. For two days, the subjects were given either two tablespoons of ACV or water at bedtime with an ounce of cheese. Fasting blood sugar levels were reduced by up to 6% in subjects who took the vinegar at bedtime.

· A study published in Diabetes Care in 2005 included 10 people with type 2 diabetes, 11 people with insulin resistance, and a control group of eight people without diabetes or insulin resistance. They were randomly assigned to drink ACV or a placebo (inactive) drink and then eat a meal of a white bagel, butter and orange juice. The vinegar increased insulin sensitivity and significantly reduced post-meal blood glucose and insulin levels.

Other studies have hinted that ACV can benefit blood sugar levels after eating meals, but again, the number of subjects in these studies has been small.

How might ACV work to help with lowering post-meal blood sugars? It’s thought that the acetic acid in the ACV blocks enzymes that digest starch, a type of carbohydrate, leading to a lower rise in blood sugar after eating. In fact, using vinegar (or another acidic substance, like lemon juice) can lower the glycemic index (GI) of a food, by slowing the digestion of starch into glucose.

So, should you use ACV to get your blood sugar levels down? First, it’s important to not replace your diabetes medicines (including insulin) with ACV. Second, go easy with the amount of ACV (or any type of vinegar, for that matter) that you consume at one time. Here are some tips for taking ACV safely:

Tips for taking apple cider vinegar

· Dilute a tablespoon of ACV in a large glass of water and drink it before meals or before bedtime.

· Avoid drinking undiluted ACV as this can irritate your esophagus and stomach, and possibly damage your tooth enamel. Stop drinking ACV if you have any side effects.

· Use ACV combined with some olive oil as a salad dressing or try it as a marinade for meat and poultry.

Keep a close watch on your blood sugar levels if you decide to go this route, especially if you take insulin or take pills called sulfonylureas (e.g., glimepiride, glipizide or glyburide), as these medicines can increase your risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Also, if you have gastroparesis, talk with your healthcare provider before using ACV as it may contribute to further delayed stomach emptying and more frequent hypoglycemia.

Finally, using a large amount of ACV over the long-term may lead to low blood potassium levels, which is particularly concerning if you take certain types of medications such as diuretics to lower blood pressure.

Apple cider vinegar for diabetes and weight loss

Can taking ACV really lead to weight loss? It depends. Obviously, it’s a very low-calorie condiment, so from that perspective, it can certainly be part of a weight-loss plan. But on its own, is ACV some magical substance that can peel away the pounds?

Of course, there just happens to be an “apple cider vinegar diet” that has made the rounds on social media. The basis for this diet stems from small studies, including one from 2009 in which 175 who drank a beverage containing 0, 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar daily. After three months, the people who drank the vinegar had lost two to four pounds. The, a 2018 study divided 39 people into two groups. One group was given a lower calorie diet with ACV and the other a lower-calorie diet without ACV for 12 weeks. Both groups lost weight, but the ACV group lost more (8.8 pounds vs. 5 pounds for the group without ACV). They also improved their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. However, keep in mind that this was a very short-term study, the subjects were following a reduced-calorie diet, and they also exercised.

As with any fad diet, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Swallowing one to two teaspoons of vinegar as suggested by the apple cider vinegar diet proponents is unlikely to do much in the way of weight loss unless you’re also altering your eating and exercise habits at the same time. Also, avoid going the route of an apple cider vinegar detox, which is a cleansing diet that has no scientific evidence to support its safety or effectiveness.

More about apple cider vinegar

ACV may not be the answer to lowering your blood sugar and helping you lose weight, but it’s definitely worth fitting into your eating plan. Try whipping up some dressings using apple cider vinegar.

ACV will last for at least five years, thanks to its acidity. Keep it stored in a cool, dark place to preserve its quality. Over time, it may become hazy or cloudy; if you’re concerned as to whether it’s safe, give it a smell and a quick taste. If it seems off, discard it.

7 Best Sweeteners for people with Diabetes

Low-calorie sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, can allow people with diabetes to enjoy sweet foods and drinks that do not affect their blood sugar levels. A range of sweeteners is available, each of which has different pros and cons.

People with diabetes must take special care to avoid blood sugar spikes. Controlling blood sugar is important for avoiding the more severe complications of diabetes, including nerve damage and cardiovascular disease.

Choosing alternative sweeteners is one way of maintaining sweetness in food and drink. However, not all alternative sweeteners are good options for people with diabetes. Agave syrup, for example, provides more calories than table sugar.

In this article, we look at seven of the best low-calorie sweeteners for people with diabetes.

1. Stevia

Sugar and sweeteners on wooden table and wooden spoons with leaves

Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant.

To make stevia, manufacturers extract chemical compounds called steviol glycosides from the leaves of the plant.

This highly-processed and purified product is around 300 times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar, and it is available under different brand names, including Truvia, SweetLeaf, and Sun Crystals.

Stevia has several pros and cons that people with diabetes will need to weigh up. This sweetener is calorie-free and does not raise blood sugar levels. However, it is often more expensive than other sugar substitutes on the market.

Stevia also has a bitter aftertaste that many people may find unpleasant. For this reason, some manufacturers add other sugars and ingredients to balance the taste. This can reduce the nutritional benefit of pure stevia.

Some people report nausea, bloating, and stomach upset after consuming stevia.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classify sweeteners made from high-purity steviol glycosides to be “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. However, they do not consider stevia leaf or crude stevia extracts to be safe. It is illegal to sell them or import them into the U.S.

According to the FDA, the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of stevia is 4 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of a person’s body weight. Accordingly, a person who weighs 60 kg, or 132 pounds (lb), can safely consume 9 packets of the tabletop sweetener version of stevia.

Various stevia products are available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

 

2. Tagatose

Tagatose is a form of fructose that is around 90 percent sweeter than sucrose.

Although it is rare, some fruits, such as apples, oranges, and pineapples, naturally provide tagatose. Manufacturers use tagatose in foods as a low-calorie sweetener, texturizer, and stabilizer.

Not only do the FDA class tagatose as GRAS, but scientists are interested in its potential to help manage type 2 diabetes.

Some studies indicate that tagatose has a low glycemic index (GI) and may support the treatment of obesity. GI is a ranking system that measures the speed at which a type of food increases a person’s blood sugar levels.

Tagatose may be particularly beneficial for people with diabetes who are following a low-GI diet. However, this sugar substitute is more expensive than other low-calorie sweeteners and may be harder to find in stores.

Tagatose products are available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

3. Sucralose

Top down view of woman sprinkling sugar or coconut into bowl of flour while baking

Sucralose, available under the brand name Splenda, is an artificial sweetener made from sucrose.

This sweetener is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar but contains very few calories.

Sucralose is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners, and it is widely available. Manufacturers add it to a range of products from chewing gum to baked goods.

This alternative sweetener is heat-stable, whereas many other artificial sweeteners lose their flavor at high temperatures. This makes sucralose a popular choice for sugar-free baking and sweetening hot drinks.

The FDA have approved sucralose as a general-purpose sweetener and set an ADI of 5 mg/kg of body weight. A person weighing 60 kg, or 132 lb, can safely consume 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of sucralose in a day.

However, recent studies have raised some health concerns. A 2016 study found that male mice that consumed sucralose were more likely to develop malignant tumors. The researchers note that more studies are necessary to confirm the safety of sucralose.

A range of sucralose products is available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

4. Aspartame

Aspartame is a very common artificial sweetener that has been available in the U.S. since the 1980s.

It is around 200 times sweeter than sugar, and manufacturers add it to a wide variety of food products, including diet soda. Aspartame is available in grocery stores under the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal.

Unlike sucralose, aspartame is not a good sugar substitute for baking. Aspartame breaks down at high temperatures, so people generally only use it as a tabletop sweetener.

Aspartame is also not safe for people with a rare genetic disorder known as phenylketonuria.

The FDA considers aspartame to be safe at an ADI of 50 mg/kg of body weight. Therefore, a person who weighs 60 kg, or 132 lb, could consume 75 packets of aspartame in the form of a tabletop sweetener.

Many different aspartame products are available to purchase online. Click here to check them in Amazon

5. Acesulfame potassium

Acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K and Ace-K, is an artificial sweetener that is around 200 times sweeter than sugar.

Manufacturers often combine acesulfame potassium with other sweeteners to combat its bitter aftertaste. It is available under the brand names Sunett and Sweet One.

The FDA have approved acesulfame potassium as a low-calorie sweetener and state that the results of more than 90 studies support its safety.

They have set an ADI for acesulfame potassium of 15 mg/kg of body weight. This is equivalent to a 60 kg, or 132 lb, person consuming 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of acesulfame potassium.

A 2017 study in mice has suggested a possible association between acesulfame potassium and weight gain, but further research in humans is necessary to confirm this link.

6. Saccharin

Sweeteners in individual packets in tray

 

Saccharin is another widely available artificial sweetener.

There are several different brands of saccharin, including Sweet Twin, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet. Saccharin is a zero-calorie sweetener that is 200–700 times sweeter than table sugar.

According to the FDA, there were safety concerns in the 1970s after research found a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in laboratory rats.

However, more than 30 human studies now support the safety of saccharin, and the National Institutes of Health no longer consider this sweetener to have the potential to cause cancer.

The FDA have determined the ADI of saccharin to be 15 mg/kg of body weight, which means that a 60 kg, or 132 lb, person can consume 45 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of it.

People can purchase a range of saccharin products online. Click here to check them in Amazon

7. Neotame

Neotame is a low-calorie artificial sweetener that is about 7,000–13,000 times sweeter than table sugar. This sweetener can tolerate high temperatures, making it suitable for baking. It is available under the brand name Newtame.

The FDA approved neotame in 2002 as a general-purpose sweetener and flavor enhancer for all foods except for meat and poultry. They state that more than 113 animal and human studies support the safety of neotame and have set an ADI for neotame of 0.3 mg/kg of body weight.

This is equivalent to a 60-kg, or 132-lb, person consuming 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of neotame.

Considerations

When choosing a low-calorie sweetener, some general considerations include:

  • Intended use. Many sugar substitutes do not withstand high temperatures, so they would make poor choices for baking.
  • Cost. Some sugar substitutes are expensive, whereas others have a cost closer to that of table sugar.
  • Availability. Some sugar substitutes are easier to find in stores than others.
  • Taste. Some sugar substitutes, such as stevia, have a bitter aftertaste that many people may find unpleasant. Make sure that the manufacturers have not added chemicals or other sweeteners that reduce the nutritional benefit.
  • Natural versus artificial. Some people prefer using natural sweeteners, such as stevia, rather than artificial sugar substitutes. However, natural does not always mean lower-calorie or more healthful.
  • Add fruit instead of sweetener: Where possible, add a sweet fruit to a meal instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Options include strawberry, blueberry, and mango.

 

Summary

Many people with diabetes need to avoid or limit sugary foods.

Low-calorie sweeteners can allow those with the condition to enjoy a sweet treat without affecting their blood sugar levels.

Although the FDA generally consider these sugar substitutes to be safe, it is still best to consume them in moderation

When Is the Best Time to Weigh Yourself?

If you’re trying to lose weight, the scale can be a double-edged sword. When you’re slaying your diet and exercise goals, stepping on it brings a wave of joy. But when you hit a slump or plateau, you might have the urge to throw it out the window.

Your scale can be a useful tool in your health journey. But you need to know when and how to weigh yourself to get accurate and helpful info from it. Registered dietitian Chelsey Ludwiczak, RD, shares her expertise on how to use your scale to reach your health goals.

Should you weigh yourself regularly?

Your weight is just one piece of your overall health picture. So do you really need to weigh yourself?

“Regularly weighing yourself can help you stay on track with your weight loss or weight maintenance goals,” says Ludwiczak. “It’s like having a weekly budget. If you go over your budget one week, you want to know so you can fix it. If you don’t realize you’re overspending every week, it adds up.”

The scale helps you keep track of your own weight so that you can change behaviors before 1 pound of weight gain becomes 5 or 10.

But there’s an exception to the weigh-in habit. “If you have a history of eating disorders or anxiety about the scale, avoid weighing yourself for now,” Ludwiczak says. “Speak with a psychologist or mental health professional about these concerns.”

How often to weigh yourself

It’s not how often you weigh yourself, but how you do it, Ludwiczak says. The key is consistency.

“It should always be on the same scale, at the same time and wearing the same thing or without clothes,” she explains.

If you want to step on the scale weekly, for example, do it on the same day each week. “Your weight won’t be consistent if you weigh yourself on Friday and Monday,” she says. “Many people have a different routine on the weekends. They might eat out more, drink alcohol or snack more. Compare that to Friday, if you’ve been eating consistently for five days, and you’ll see a big difference.”

You’ll also get a more reliable result if you weigh yourself first thing in the morning, as food and drink can change what the scale says for a few hours.

The best day to weigh yourself

Some research says you should weigh yourself on Wednesdays because it’s the middle of the week. Ludwiczak says Wednesdays are good, but you’re not tied to that day.

“Many people like to see what they weigh on Friday because they’ve had a consistent routine throughout the week,” she explains. “You see where your weight is after you’ve held a routine for five days. Then you can adjust your routine if you’re not seeing results.”

Reasons for “overnight” weight gain

Certain things may cause a rapid change on the scale, sending you into a panic. But take a breath — overnight weight gain is not a thing. “Some people ask why they seemingly gained five pounds overnight,” Ludwiczak says. “We know that 3,500 calories equals one pound of weight gain. If you’ve gained five pounds overnight, it’s unlikely that you ate 17,500 calories. It’s probably due to other factors.”

Water retention is a major cause of an overnight change on the scale. You might be retaining more water if you:

  • Ate high-sodium foods.
  • Drank alcohol.
  • Traveled, including flying or long drives.
  • Have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or started your menstrual cycle.

If you’re retaining water without an obvious reason, see your doctor.

Maybe you’re not bloated, but your weight still went up overnight. In those cases, think about the last time you went to the bathroom. Constipation is another reason people see a rapid weight increase.

When the scale won’t budge

Even the most dedicated person can hit a weight-loss plateau, which is oh-so frustrating. But the number on the scale is a piece of your overall health, not the whole picture.

“During any health journey, there’s more than one way to measure success,” Ludwiczak says. “The scale is just one factor. You can also take body measurements once a week, such as your waist or thighs. Those measurements may show that you’re losing inches instead of pounds, suggesting you’re losing fat mass and gaining muscle, since muscle weighs more than fat.”

Look in your closet for another way to check in on your health goals. “Maybe your favorite pair of jeans fits better, even though you haven’t lost much weight,” Ludwiczak says. “This could be a sign that your body composition is changing, even though the scale isn’t reflecting that.”

Your weight doesn’t define you

Maybe you’ve got a number in mind, but your scale taunts you with another one. Don’t give up. It’s time to take some power away from the scale.

“You’re more than that number,” Ludwiczak says. “Your scale isn’t going to reflect all the positive changes you make. Think about how your food choices are making you healthier. Focus on the amazing mental and physical benefits of regular exercise. Maybe you have more energy to play with your kids. So many victories are not scale-related.”

Please like us on Facebook and receive Diabetes Tips Videos for Free

10 Tips to Lower Cholesterol With Your Diet

grayscale of woman carrying dumbbell

We all want to be heart healthy, and ensuring healthy levels of cholesterol — a fat, or lipid, carried through the bloodstream — is the first step.

Low-density lipoprotein or LDL (bad) cholesterol contributes to plaque buildup along with triglycerides, another kind of lipid. Plaque can threaten the blood supply to the heart, brain, legs or kidneys, leading to heart attack, stroke or even death.

High-density lipoprotein, or HDL (good) cholesterol, discourages plaque buildup.

To reduce your risk for heart-related emergencies, registered dietitian Kate Patton, MEd, RD, CCSD, LD, and exercise physiologist Michael Crawford, MS, share tips for lowering cholesterol through diet and making the most of exercise.

1. Cut back on animal fats

Forgo fatty, processed meats such as bologna, salami, pepperoni and hot dogs, as well as fatty red meats like ribs and prime cuts of beef, pork, veal or lamb. Also, skip skin-on chicken or turkey. Avoid full-fat dairy products such as whole milk, cheese, cream, sour cream, cream cheese and butter. These foods contain saturated fat as well as cholesterol, which are both associated with higher blood cholesterol and plaque buildup.

2. Make friends with fiber

Specifically, get friendly with foods high in soluble fiber. In the gut, soluble fiber can bind to bile (which is made up of cholesterol) and remove it. Look for soluble fiber in oats, oat bran, ground flaxseed, psyllium, barley, dried beans and legumes, fruits, and whole-grain cereals.

3. Go veggie

Choose at least one meatless meal per week. Substitute animal protein (meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese) for plant-based protein such as beans, lentils, tofu or quinoa. Try these plant-based proteins in salad, soup, stir fry, or a burrito to decrease your saturated fat intake and increase your fiber intake. If you enjoy meatless meals, try to go meatless for one day per week!

4. Be mindful of carbs

Research shows that following a low-carb eating plan can help you lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors. Choose high-fiber carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole grain starches, beans, lentils and whole fruit, which will provide the energy you need but also keep you feeling full. The key is to watch your portions — aim for no more than about 1 cup of starch and/or fruit with meals. Also, fill up on vegetables which are low in calories and high in fiber.

5. Lose weight (if you need to)

If you’re overweight or obese, shed the extra pounds. Weight loss helps lower LDL cholesterol. Even a small-to-moderate weight loss — just 10 to 20 pounds — can make an impact. Start by decreasing your portion sizes. Aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth of it with a whole-grain starch and the other one-fourth with lean protein. Avoid drinking your calories, too. Instead, choose zero-calorie beverages as your primary fluid source. Be mindful of your hunger levels to limit extra calories from mindless snacking.

6. Move more

Work up to 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day for optimum heart health and weight loss. Cardiovascular exercise means any activity that uses large muscles repetitively and increases the heart rate — think walking, cycling, rowing, using the elliptical and swimming. If you find 90 minutes daunting, start with 30 minutes and work your way up a little at a time. For some people, 45 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise is enough.

7. Pick the right tempo

Aim for a moderate level of exercise. You’ll know you’ve reached it when you can carry on a conversation when you exercise but can’t sing. Once you have safely mastered moderate-intensity exercise, consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) one to two times per week. Emerging research suggests this type of training can improve upon moderate-intensity exercise benefits, especially for raising HDL cholesterol.

8. Make a habit of it

Consistency is the key. Work out regularly and you’ll watch your triglyceride levels drop. Triglycerides are the only lipid in the cholesterol profile used for energy. They decrease an average of 24 percent with regular cardiovascular exercise.

9. Change it up

Variety is the spice of life, so try different exercises to stay motivated, to challenge other muscle groups, to reduce the risk of overuse injuries and to enjoy your physical activities.

10. Get technical

Many great technology tools can give you feedback on your exercise. Smartphone apps often have exercise tracking, motivation techniques, calorie trackers and tips. In addition, biofeedback devices such as heart rate monitors (models with chest straps have better accuracy) and pedometers can help guide your exercise plan or help you with motivation.

Note: If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. A cardiac rehab program is a great way to learn the right exercises for you and jump-start your diet and exercise program. If you experience chest pain, pressure, tightness, excessive shortness of breath, lightheadedness or palpitations, stop exercising and consult a doctor.

Please like us on Facebook and receive Diabetes Tips Videos for Free