How to Count Carbs with Diabetes

In the United States, 30.3 million people have diabetes, and a further 84.1 million have prediabetes, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Diabetes is an incurable yet manageable medical condition in which the body struggles to regulate blood sugar. This happens when the body cannot produce enough insulin, or when insulin does not work correctly.

Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas makes to help the body process glucose, which is the simplest form of sugar. The cells use glucose to create energy. When the cells cannot take in glucose, it remains in the bloodstream, which can lead to severe health problems.

People who have diabetes must be careful about the foods they eat. Consuming an excess of certain foods might lead to persistent high blood sugar. This can lead to severe complications, such as nerve damage, vision and hearing loss, and cardiovascular disease.

In this article, we explore carb counting as a technique to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates are complex sugars. Many people with diabetes need to count the number of carbohydrates in each serving of food to control their blood sugar levels. People refer to this as carb counting.

Carb counting involves more than resisting a chocolate or ice cream craving, as some seemingly healthful fruits and vegetables might also contain a high carbohydrate content that contributes to blood sugar spikes.

How carb counting works

carb counting

The first step in carb counting is identifying which foods contain carbohydrates and how rapidly these carbohydrates will boost blood sugar levels.

People can use a system called the Glycemic Index (GI) to calculate this. Every food has a GI ranking, with higher scores demonstrating a food’s rapid effect on blood sugar.

Having diabetes often means that people struggle to regulate their blood sugar levels. So, it is also a good idea for people with diabetes to focus on their diet. Consuming low-GI foods can lead to a slower, more controllable increase in blood glucose levels.

Doctors and dietitians will help people with diabetes work out how many carbohydrates they should consume each day and suggest meal plans to help them maintain a healthful, nutritional balance.

Previously, doctors and dietitians suggested a typical range of carbohydrates that was a fit-all solution for everyone with diabetes.

Now, doctors and nutritionists work with individuals on a one-to-one basis to calculate the ideal daily caloric intake and carbohydrate percentages and servings each person needs.

These amounts will vary according to a range of factors, including the person’s weight, height, activity levels, and whether they are taking medications.

Aims of carb counting

Carb counting alone is not a substitute for managing diabetes using medical care and prescribed medications.

The goal of carb counting is to keep blood sugar levels steady for the following reasons:

  • maintaining overall health in those with diabetes
  • preventing the complications of excessively high or low blood sugar
  • improving energy levels

Getting started with carb counting

Carb counting may help many people with diabetes to maintain steady blood sugar levels. However, it is only one way to manage diabetes.

Before trying carb counting, people should always speak with a nutritionist, diabetes educator, or doctor to determine:

  • whether carb counting is appropriate
  • the recommended daily allowance for carbohydrates
  • which foods they recommend

Different people will require different amounts of carbohydrates depending on the type and severity of diabetes they have.

Speak to your doctor about the ideal calorie and carbohydrate intake.

Calculating carbs

When a person has to calculate how many carbs they can consume each day, it is vital to know which foods contain carbohydrates, how many they contain, and their caloric and GI value.

In general, 1 gram (g) of carbohydrate provides around 4 calories. This can help a person calculate how many calories a particular snack or meal is providing.

There is no single number of carbs that is safe for every person with diabetes. Doctors shape the target based on individual needs and disease progression.

It is essential for those with diabetes to understand the content of food nutrition labels. Some describe nutrient serving per half portion, so it is necessary to be sure of exactly how many carbs a meal provides.

When reading nutritional labels, take note of the total number of carbohydrates per serving and add these totals into the total daily carbohydrate allowance.

For example, there are approximately 15 g of carbohydrate in each serving of the following foods:

  • a slice of bread
  • one-third of a cup of pasta or rice
  • a small apple
  • one tablespoon of jelly
  • a half-cup of starchy vegetables, such as mashed potatoes.

However, non-starchy vegetables contain only 5 g of carbohydrate per serving. This means that a person with diabetes can safely eat three times more non-starchy vegetables than starchy vegetables.

Carb counting tips

serving cups

Carb counting may be challenging at first because it forces people to think about meals differently, and people might take a while to get used to it.

Some tips can help make carb counting a little easier, such as:

  • Counting mixed foods by the cup: On average, a fist is the size of a 1-cup serving. For a mixed dish, this is an effective way to judge the carb totals based on cup size.
  • Count tablespoons: It is helpful to know the number of carbohydrates in a tablespoon of food. People can count level tablespoons to create a healthful plate.
  • Count carbs in pizza using the crust: If possible, choose a thin-crust pizza. This will save 5–10 g of carbohydrate per serving size when compared to a slice of regular or pan pizza.
  • Smoothies may not always be the best bet: On average, a 12-ounce (oz.) smoothie might contain more carbohydrates than a regular soda if it contains juice. Drink smoothies in moderation.

Here is our recommended book: The Complete Guide to Carb Counting by the American Diabetes Association

Click here to check the price in Amazon

4 Fantastic Foods You Can Eat in Bigger Portions

When the food on your plate or in your bowl doesn’t match a proper, healthy serving size, you may have “portion distortion.”

But food lovers, rejoice: Portion distortion goes both ways. Registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, explains that there are some foods people tend to overeat, but there are certain foods people eat in too-small portions, too.

The four foods below come with plentiful health benefits — and you can probably eat more of them than you think.

  1. Berries: Berries contain an amazing amount of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals — all in a tiny, power-packed package. These sweet or tart treats come with an extra benefit: You can snack on them by the handful. Berries often come in pint-sized containers. Because a proper portion is one cup, you can eat half a container at a time. Enjoy, and eat up.
  2. Green leafy vegetables: If you want to improve the ratios on your dinner plate, add more vegetables, which people tend to under-eat, and smaller portions of proteins such as meat, which people tend to overdo. Whether you’re munching on asparagus for its antioxidants, fiber and folate or digging into a plate of Brussels sprouts for their cancer-fighting properties, a good rule of thumb is ½ cup of cooked or one cup of raw vegetables. But if you want more than that, you can. Americans eat way too few leafy greens to begin with.
  3. Walnuts: Walnuts are the only nut that contains Omega 3 fatty acids. A good snack portion of walnuts is ¼ cup, which contains 11 grams of polyunsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat may help improve lipids in the blood and lower the risk of heart disease. In addition to containing this beneficial fat, walnuts are a good source of fiber and vitamin B6.
  4. Starchy vegetables: Starchy vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They include white potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and a variety of winter squashes, green peas and corn. When eaten in moderation, they provide a rich source of vitamin B-6 and potassium. Generally, ½ cup is a good — and filling — serving size for starchy vegetables. A baked potato is the exception; keep your portion to about the size of a computer mouse.

Top 10 Worst Foods If You Have Diabetes

Hot dogsa one of worst foods to eat for diabetes

 

If you have diabetes, in many ways your diet is your medicine. As diabetes educators, we help patients understand what food and beverage choices are best to avoid. When foods are high in carbohydrates, fat and sodium, they increase your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, heart disease and uncontrolled sugar.

Top 10 offenders

  1. Sweetened drinks. These include regular pop/soda, fruit punches and iced teas. These are loaded with sugar and calories, and they usually have little or no nutritional value. Instead, try infusing plain water with different berries and fruits so you can enjoy the natural sweetness.
  2. “Designer” or specialty coffee drinks – including frappuccinos or cappuccinos. That “once a day special treat” can add up to lots of extra sugar, calories and saturated fat. Instead, go for straight java, either black, with artificial sweetener or a small splash of skim milk.
  3. Whole milk. It has too much fat, which can lead to weight gain. Switch to 2% , 1% – or even better: skim milk. Keep in mind that one cup of skim milk has 12 grams of carbohydrates. If you don’t like milk or are lactose intolerant, you can drink almond milk, rice milk or soy milk instead—but remember to get the low sugar varieties.
  4. Hot dogs. These grilled little favorites are still high in saturated fat and sodium—yes, that even includes turkey dogs! Try to avoid them or eat them only occasionally.
  5. Packaged lunch meats. These are also high in saturated fat and sodium. Check your deli for low sodium meats—or better yet use sliced meat that you’ve roasted at home to make your sandwiches. Also remember that sandwich toppings can be very unhealthy too (think high-fat mayonnaise). Instead add flavor to your sandwiches with mustard, veggies and/or a little bit of hummus.
  6. Sweetened cereals. These are high in carbohydrates because of the added sugar. Go for the plain cereals and add a little fruit or artificial sweetener.
  7. Regular pancake syrup. It’s very high in carbohydrates. Light or low-calorie syrup usually contains at least half the carbs of regular. And with these lighter syrups, remember that the serving size is still small. Take a look at the food label and use sparingly.
  8. Sherbet. Many people believe sherbet is a good alternative to ice cream, but a half cup of sherbet has almost double the carbohydrates of a half cup of ice cream.
  9. Fast food baked potatoes with all the fixin’s. You take a relatively healthy item—the plain baked potato—and add cheddar cheese, butter, sour cream, ranch dressing or bacon and it just turned into a high-sodium, fat laden disaster. The same goes for nachos and other cheese-covered appetizers when eating out.
  10. Anything fried. We know fried foods are not good for anyone. The fat is absorbed into the food and leads to high cholesterol and weight gain which can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes or worsen control if you already have diabetes. This goes for everything from French fries to fried chicken to that panko-crusted tilapia at your favorite restaurant. Try baking or broiling your food or even consider checking out the new air fryers that use hot air instead of oil. They are a healthier option than deep-fat fryers.

Now for the best foods…

All of the foods on our list have a low glycemic index (which represents the total rise in a person’s blood sugar level after eating the food) and provide important nutrients you need to stay healthy.

  1. Sweet potatoes. A great source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or allspice for extra flavor.  ½ cup cooked sweet potato = 1 carb serving
  2. Cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts. These non-starchy vegetables are rich in potassium, folate and vitamin C. 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked = < 1 carb serving. They are just 5 grams of carbohydrate and 15 grams is one carb serving so you can load up on these!
  3. Legumes. These include a variety of beans such as black, garbanzo, kidney, lima, navy, pinto and white. They are loaded with fiber and protein, which will help you feel full with fewer calories. ½ cup cooked = 1 carb serving
  4. Nuts. Especially walnuts, almonds and pecans. They are a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants and they reduce LDL cholesterol and promote heart health.  Consume in small amounts as they are high in calories. Add to salads, oatmeal and yogurt. If you are trying to watch your calorie intake, buy the 100 calorie packets in a box. They may cost a little more, but they help with portion control.  1 serving = 1 carb
  5. Berries. They are full of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber. Add to salads, cereal, summer desserts and yogurt. 1 cup of strawberries, blue berries or raspberries = 1 carb serving

What are the best foods to fight aging?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edamame (soybeans)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tofu (soybean curd)

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

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

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

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

Carrots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cruciferous vegetables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Salmon

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

salmon
Salmon could protect cognitive health, researchers say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Citrus fruits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Best Exercises for People with Diabetes

woman smiling near tree

If you have diabetes, exercise offers surprising benefits. As it lowers your stress levels, it lowers your blood sugar level.

How much exercise is right for you? For people with diabetes, The National Institutes of Health  (NIH) recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Exercise is so important for people with diabetes that the American Diabetes Association recommends that these patients miss no more than two days of aerobic exercise in a row.

5 exercises for people with diabetes

There are many exercises that will benefit people with diabetes. Here are five we recommend:

  1. Walking — Because anyone can do it almost anywhere, walking is the most popular exercise and one we highly recommend for people with diabetes. Thirty minutes to one hour of brisk walking, three times each week is a great, easy way to increase your physical activity.
  1. Tai Chi —This Chinese form of exercise uses slow, smooth body movements to relax the mind and body. In 2009, researchers at the University of Florida studied 62 Korean women assigned to one of two groups—a control group and an exercise group that began a regular practice of Tai Chi. Those who completed the tai chi sessions showed significant improvement in blood sugar control. They also reported increased vitality, energy and mental health.
  1. Yoga — A traditional form of exercise, yoga incorporates fluid movements that build flexibility, strength and balance. It is helpful for people with a variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes. It lowers stress and improves nerve function, which leads to an increased state of mental health and wellness. According to the ADA, yoga may improve blood glucose levels due to improved muscle mass.
  1. Dancing —Dancing is not only great for your body. The mental work to remember dance steps and sequences actually boosts brain power and improves memory.  For those with diabetes, it is a fun and exciting way to increase physical activity, promote weight loss, improve flexibility, lower blood sugar and reduce stress. Chair dancing, which incorporates the use of a chair to support people with limited physical abilities, makes dancing an option for many people. In just 30 minutes, a 150-pound adult can burn up to 150 calories.
  2. Swimming — Swimming stretches and relaxes your muscles and doesn’t put pressure on your joints, which is great for people with diabetes. For those with diabetes or at risk for developing diabetes, studies show it improves cholesterol levels, burns calories and lowers stress levels. To get the most benefit from swimming, we recommend that you swim at least three times a week for at least ten minutes and gradually increase the length of the workout. Make sure to have a snack and monitor blood sugars. Lastly, let the lifeguard know that you have diabetes before you get in the pool.

Exercise safety

Before starting an exercise program, talk to your doctor to be sure the exercise you choose is safe and appropriate for your type of diabetes. Remember to start slowly, especially if you have not been physically active for a while.

Below, find other safety tips:

  • Check your blood sugar before and after exercise until you are aware of how your body responds to exercise.
  • Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, make sure your blood sugar is less than 250 mg/dl before exercising. For people with Type 1 diabetes, exercising with a blood sugar higher than 250 mg/dl may cause ketoacidosis, which can be a life threatening condition resulting from a lack of insulin in the blood.
  • Do a five-minute warm-up before and a five-minute cool down after exercising.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
  • Be prepared for any episodes of low blood sugar.  Have something available that can bring sugar levels up, such as hard candy, glucose tablets or 4 oz. of juice.
  • Wear a medical alert ID band. If an emergency occurs, EMS will know how to treat you properly.
  • Always carry a cell phone.
  • Avoid exercising in extremely hot or cold temperatures.
  • Wear proper shoes and socks to protect your feet.

Listen to your body. If you become short of breath, dizzy or lightheaded, stop exercising. Report any unusual problems you experience to your doctor.

The Link Between Diabetes and Sexual Dysfunction

couple affectionate in bed

In the famous words of George Michael, “Sex is natural, sex is good.” Of course, we know the obvious — when the mood is right and the chemistry is there, sex can be mind-blowingly awesome.

From lowering blood pressure to even helping ease stress and anxiety, sex offers quite a few health-related benefits. But if you’re one of the 300+ million Americans living with Type 2 diabetes, sex might not be that spectacular to you.

Endocrinologist Shirisha Avadhanula, MD, explains how diabetes could impact your desire or ability to enjoy sex. And she offers suggestions to help you get back to having fun in the bedroom.

The sexual side effects of diabetes

“Sexual dysfunction includes any problems that happen within the sexual response cycle,” says Avadhanula. “Everything from attaining an erection to reduced libido can be an issue for people living with diabetes.”

Avadhanula says that while most of the studies focus on sexual dysfunction in men with diabetes, the disease affects women as well. “With both genders, the longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to experience sexual dysfunction in some way,” she says.

If you have diabetes, plus any of these symptoms, there may be a connection:

  • Lessened (or nonexistent) libido: Do you feign headaches more often than not to get out of sex?
  • Arousal inability: Does it no longer get up the way it used to? Or, have you stocked up on lubricant because you go through it so quickly?
  • Decreased sensation: Are you going through the motions without the promise of an orgasm?
  • Intercourse-related pain: Do you avoid sex because it just plain hurts?
  • Infections: Have you routinely experienced vaginitis or urinary tract infections?

Diabetes increases the risk of sexual dysfunction

There are several reasons people with diabetes experience sexual dysfunction more often than the general public.

“Obesity, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and depression are common conditions that occur alongside diabetes,” says Avadhanula. “Obesity can indirectly lead to erectile dysfunction (ED). Sleep apnea can cause ED for men or put women at a higher risk for sexual difficulties. Depression and anxiety can also negatively impact the libido or lead to the use of medication that affects sexual interest or function.”

Emotional health concerns

Men and women who wear an insulin pump may feel self-conscious. Plus, the time and energy spent managing diabetes and related conditions can take a toll on emotional health. This may lead to disinterest in sex or the use of a medication that negatively affects sexual function.

Hormonal changes

“Changes in testosterone or estrogen (because of diabetes, menopause or co-occurring conditions) can impact libido, lubrication and the ability to become sexually aroused,” says Avadhanula.

Less blood flow

Diabetes impacts blood flow, which could affect blood reaching the penis or vagina. For a man to achieve and sustain an erection, he needs blood to flow to the penis. In women, decreased blood flow could play a role in vaginal dryness.

Medication side effects

“High blood pressure medications may impact the ability to achieve or maintain an erection,” says Avadhanula. “And some medications which  help manage depression or anxiety are notorious for inhibiting arousal or sexual interest.”

Nerve damage

Having high levels of glucose can damage nerves. The tip of the penis and clitoris are loaded with nerves. If those nerves become damaged, the result might be decreased sexual sensation or even painful intercourse.

Diabetes doesn’t have to ruin your sex life

“The reasons for sexual dysfunction are different for each person. It’s the role of your provider to tease things out to get to the bottom of what’s causing the concerns,” says Avadhanula. “But some people go years without saying anything to their doctor.”

According to Avadhanula, approximately 80% of patients reported they prefer if a doctor asks about sexual function, so they don’t have to bring it up. “If your provider doesn’t ask about your sex life, bring up any concerns because sex is an important component of a high-quality life.”

Avadhanula says providers will ask a series of questions to determine the cause of the sexual dysfunction. Your provider will also perform a physical exam. This approach helps your doctor determine what the cause could be and how to treat it.

“There are treatment options for both men and women,” says Avadhanula. “You may not see instant success but keep talking with your care team to move to the next option. There is hope that you can resume an active, enjoyable sex life.”

What’s the Best Way to Stay Awake When Driving?

We’ve all felt drowsy behind the wheel from time to time. But it’s incredibly dangerous.  Preventing it from happening is obviously very important for your safety and everyone sharing the road.

While we may think there are tried and true ways to keep ourselves awake on the road, preventing the grogginess from ever happening is best.

Why the things we keep trying don’t work

Some common tactics people rely on to stay awake behind the wheel include talking on the phone, blasting the radio, eating candy or snacks, or rolling down the windows to let a gust of air in.

Some may resort to slapping or pinching themselves.

But if you’re drowsy, unfortunately none of these techniques will make you more alert. Especially because they happen after the sleepiness has already set in.

According to sleep medicine specialist Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, DO, MS, more than a century of sleep deprivation research shows that humans can’t recognize severe sleepiness adequately under sleep-deprived conditions.

That means being prepared before you head out instead of doing the things you’ve already tried.

The problem with eating while driving

If you stock your car with gas-station foods like crackers or candy during your travels, the carbs and sugar will likely cause you to sugar or carb crash.

“Once they metabolize and the sugar spike in your bloodstream wears off, drowsiness can increase even more,” Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer says. “This only adds to the problem.”

Slapping and pinching yourself don’t work

Despite the desperate attempts, hitting or pinching yourself only causes some annoying physical pain and does little to awaken the part of your brain that needs to be stimulated back into being alert.

What to do to stay awake while driving

Here are some solutions that are more likely to prevent you from dozing off in the first place or can help if you’re aware enough to react.

  • Drink a cup of coffee (since caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant). Try using less sugar so you don’t crash once it wears off.
  • Pull over somewhere safe as soon as you can and take a 20-minute nap to refresh your alertness level.
  • Be preventive before you get behind the wheel by doing a 20-minute workout before leaving the house. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and can lower your level of stress hormones. These can keep you more alert while driving.

Talk with your doctor, make some lifestyle changes

“Of course, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and eating healthy on a regular basis is always the best way to increase your energy level overall and prevent grogginess, dependency on caffeine, or carb and sugar cravings in the first place,” she says. “Especially when you’re driving.”

According to Dr. Foldvary-Schaefer if you regularly have trouble nodding off on the road you should see a sleep specialist to make sure it’s not a form of a more serious medical condition.

“You should also consider making lifestyle choices if you’re able to,” she says. “Riding a bike, taking public or rideshare transportation, or investing in a car that has visual, audio or vibrating alerts if your car begins to drift off are all great ways to keep yourself safer on the road.”

10 Best and Worst Drinks for Diabetes

Best-and-Worst-Drinks-for-Type-2-Diabetes-01-1440x810

If you have type 2 diabetes, you know it’s important to watch what you eat — and the types of drinks you consume. Drinks that are high in carbohydrates and calories can affect both your weight and your blood sugar.

“Generally speaking, you want your calories and carbs to come from whole foods, not from drinks,” says Nessie Ferguson, RD, CDE, a nutritionist at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

The best drinks have either zero or very few calories, and deciding on a beverage isn’t really difficult. “When it comes right down to it, good beverage choices for type 2 diabetes are good choices for everyone,” she says.

Some good drinks for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Water
  • Fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Black coffee
  • Unsweetened tea (hot or iced)
  • Flavored water (zero calories) or seltzer

But sugary soda is one of the worst types of drinks for type 2 diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. The problems with soda include:

  • Empty calories. Soft drinks are very high in sugar, have zero nutritional value, and are often used in place of healthy drinks such as milk.
  • Cavities. The high sugar combined with the acid in soda dissolves tooth enamel, which increases the risk of cavities.
  • Weight gain. Sugary sodas have about 10 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce can.
  • Boosts risk of diabetes and risk of complications for those who have diabetes.

Some people with type 2 diabetes continue to drink alcohol, but you should be aware that any alcohol consumption may result in dangerously low blood sugar levels for up to 24 hours. That’s why it’s important to check your blood sugar often and get your doctor’s okay before you drink alcohol. People with diabetes should only consume alcohol if their diabetes is well controlled and should always wear a medical bracelet that says they have diabetes. Staying well-hydrated and only drinking alcohol on a full stomach are other ways to limit the effects drinking has on blood sugar levels.

The best alcoholic drinks for diabetes include:

  • Light beer and dry wines. These alcohol drinks have fewer calories and carbohydrates than other alcoholic drinks.
  • Liquor neat, on the rocks, or with a splash. By skipping the mixer, you’re eliminating any additional calories or carbohydrates and limiting the effect your drink will have on your blood sugar.
  • Sugar-free mixers for mixed drinks. Try diet tonic, lemon or lime juice, club soda or seltzer. These mixers will not raise your blood sugar.

Whatever your poison, drink only in moderation. Findings show drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may lower the risk of diabetes. Mayo Clinic defines moderate alcohol use as one drink a day for women and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.

What counts as one drink?

  • 12 fluid ounces of beer
  • 5 fluid ounces of wine
  • 1.5 fluid ounces of hard liquor

A study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that moderate wine intake, particularly red wine, may be part of a heart healthy diet among those with well-controlled diabetes.

Here are some of the best drinks to quench your thirst, as well as a few drinks you should avoid with diabetes.

Water Helps Cut Down on Calorie Intake

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Water should always be your first beverage choice when you have type 2 diabetes. “Drinking about 16 ounces (oz) of water before your meals is one of the best ways to cut down on calories,” advises Ferguson. “You should be drinking at least 8 oz, eight times a day. And don’t forget to replace water lost during exercise.” If you want to make water more flavorful, try squeezing in a little lemon or lime juice.

Milk Is One of the Best Drinks Nutritionally

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Nutritionally, milk is one of the best drinks for your health. Because of the calories and carbohydrates in milk, portion control is still important. Though not free of calories, milk is considered one of the good drinks for a diabetes-friendly diet because it provides calcium and vitamin D and is a lean source of protein. If you currently drink whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk, it’s wise to gradually switch to low-fat (1 percent) or skim. “Don’t be afraid of milk, but limit your serving size,” says Ferguson. An 8 oz cup of skim milk comes out to 90 calories and 12 grams (g) of carbohydrates.

Avoid Sugary Soda With Type 2 Diabetes

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Whether you know it as pop, tonic, or soda, this sugary beverage is among the worst drinks for folks with type 2 diabetes. One regular-size soft drink contains 140 calories and is the equivalent of downing about 10 teaspoons of sugar. “You would need to walk for a mile and a half to work off the calories,” says Ferguson, not to mention the effect it would have on your blood sugar levels. If you’re craving the fizzy stuff, a diet soda that contains 0 g of carbohydrate can be a better choice, but the best choice of all would be club soda or seltzer to get your bubbly fix.

Eat Whole Fruit Instead of Drinking Juice

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Thirsting for some juice? You may be surprised to learn that it’s best to skip that cup of juice (even if it’s 100 percent juice) and reach for a piece of fruit instead. “You get more nutrition and fiber from eating whole vegetables and fruits,” says Ferguson. Another surprise? This is also what’s recommended for those who don’t have diabetes. Most of the fiber and much of the nutritional value are removed during processing, which means that, much like soda, juice can have a dramatic effect on blood sugar levels.

Black Coffee Won’t Raise Blood Sugar

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Consider black coffee one of the best drinks for type 2 diabetes. It has fewer than 5 g of carbohydrates and 20 calories or less per serving, and won’t raise your blood sugar. Unless otherwise advised, up to 400 mg of caffeine from coffee and other sources each day is generally considered safe for a healthy individual. Of course, if you use cream and sugar or enjoy a mocha latte, the coffee is no longer carb-free and will affect blood sugar as a result. Instead, try adding just a little skim milk and a small amount of sugar substitute (only if needed).

Unsweetened Tea May Help Protect Against Type 2 Diabetes

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Unsweetened tea is another carb-free food. And like coffee, teas are healthy drinks loaded with antioxidants, substances that eat up the free-radical molecules that can contribute to disease. Some studies suggest that both coffee and green tea may offer some protection against type 2 diabetes. A review published in June 2013 in the Diabetes & Metabolism Journal analyzed the effects of green tea and type 2 diabetes based on the results of a Japanese study involving more than 17,000 men and women ages 40 to 65. The researchers found that people who drank six cups or more of green tea or three cups of coffee every day were about one-third less likely to get type 2 diabetes.

Alcohol Can Cause Blood Sugar to Drop or Spike

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Alcohol beverages aren’t the best types of drinks when you have type 2 diabetes. That’s because alcohol can interfere with some diabetes drugs and cause your blood sugar to drop or spike. “Alcohol is empty calories and can send your blood sugar levels on a roller-coaster ride,” warns Ferguson. “It can also cause you to relax and let your guard down, which could lead to other bad diet choices.” If you want to drink, check with your doctor first to make sure any alcohol is safe for you. Even with the green light, drink moderately. Only drink with meals, and avoid mixed drinks because of the added sugar they contain.

Top 7 Most Inspiring Books on Weight Loss

a woman reading a book

Losing weight can be a roller coaster of emotions. There are days when your pants fit a little looser and you feel like celebrating, and then others when you feel defeated after you step on the scale and see the number hasn’t budged.

“Losing weight is hard, plain and simple,” says Amy Cirbus, a licensed therapist at Talkspace who is based in the New York City area. “The elation of success, when we reach a point we’re proud of achieving, is a powerful high. The sting of disappointment, shame, anger, and doubt creep in when expectations aren’t met.”

Generally, this comes when life gets in the way of your best-laid weight loss plans. Cirbus says things can start out great — you establish an eating and exercise plan and commit to letting go of problematic old habits in favor of forming positive new ones. And then something happens that throws you off course — maybe you can’t resist a slice of cake at a friend’s birthday party, or work interferes with your gym time. “We’re left to work through the disappointment and frustrations of falling off the wagon in order to get back on,” Cirbus says. “It becomes a mental game as much as a physical one.”

It’s completely normal to take these setbacks personally. “When we cheat on a diet, we mistake the behavior with the person and absorb the failure,” Cirbus says. “The day we decided to eat all the cake at the party becomes a hangover of sugar and regret, and can make us feel horrible about ourselves.”

It helps to know that setbacks are part of the process. “Losing weight is a marathon, not a sprint,” Cirbus says. She says to picture your weight loss journey as a graph, where the individual day may not have been so great, but overall your progress is trending in the right direction.

If you need help along the way, pick up one of these seven inspiring books that depict what the weight loss journey is really like.

1. Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

In this powerful memoir, which earned a lot of buzz in 2018, Kiese Laymon tells his story of growing up in Mississippi and how he learned to lean on food to cope with life. The book deals with more than just weight issues — it chronicles Laymon’s complicated relationship with his mother, his history with sexual violence and gambling, and the difficulties he’s experienced being black in America.

Click to check the price in Amazon

2. The Elephant in the Room, by Tommy Tomlinson

The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson

When the journalist Tommy Tomlinson was approaching his 50th birthday, he weighed 460 pounds (lb) and was at risk for the negative health issues that come with being overweight, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. He explains that the weight didn’t creep up on him. In this vividly written memoir, Tomlinson details his lifelong battle with his weight, which he partially attributes to being born into a family that loves Southern food and considers rich fare a luxury. He also describes what it’s like to go through life every day as an obese man (researching restaurant seating in advance and fearing tumbles on the subway, for instance) and how he’s attempted to move the needle by counting his calorie intake with a food journal.

Click to check the price in Amazon

 

3. Walking With Peety: The Dog Who Saved My Life, by Eric O’Grey with Mark Dagostino

Walking With Peety: The Dog Who Saved My Life by Eric O'Grey with Mark Dagostino

Picture this: Eric O’Grey is 150 lb overweight and dealing with type 2 diabetes and depression. He goes to see a new doctor who leaves him with an unconventional prescription: a shelter dog, Peety, who’s also overweight. This uplifting read tells the story of how the pair became friends and turned their lives around together. Both of them lost weight (150 lb for O’Grey, which was enough to put type 2 diabetes in remission), and O’Grey regained control of his life and found love and happiness.

Click to check the price in Amazon

4. It Was Me All Along, by Andie Mitchell

It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

This New York Times bestseller tells the story of a young girl from Boston who found comfort in sweets and junk food. Andie Mitchell’s awakening came when she stepped on the scale at age 20 and was shocked by the number she saw. The story that ensues is partially about weight loss (she ends up losing about half of her body weight by seeking balance and eating in moderation) and also about self-acceptance and how Mitchell learns to love herself.

5. Always Too Much and Never Enough: A Memoir, by Jasmin Singer

Always Too Much and Never Enough: A Memoir by Jasmin Singer

Jasmin Singer is an animal rights advocate who adopted a vegan diet, which she learned did not automatically make her thin. In her poignant memoir, Singer touches on how she successfully lost 100 pounds (cutting out processed foods and incorporating juice fasts are two tactics that helped), the ways in which heavy people are brought down by society, and how unpacking her destructive relationship with food helped her rebuild her self-esteem.

Click to check the price in Amazon

6. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

In this popular memoir from the celebrated New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay, the writer dives into her past and reveals how the violence she experienced as a 12-year-old girl made her rely on food as a way to protect her body. Gay details how the societal shame of being overweight has infiltrated aspects of her life as a 6-foot-3 bisexual adult with obesity. The story will pull you in with its wonderful writing, and while Gay herself doesn’t view her story as inspiring, it may push you to rethink your relationship with food and your own body and how necessary it is to do the work to make sure that relationship is a positive one.

7. The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, by Shauna Reid

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl by Shauna Reid

Looking for a lighthearted and hilarious read? This one is for you. Scotland-based Shauna Reid started a blog — The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl — to document her journey from a 351-lb 23-year-old to a slimmed-down version of herself half that size. The book weaves in other plotlines, including Reid’s travels, work issues, and dating life, as it tells the story of how she overcame obstacles in a way many readers looking to lose weight will find relatable.

Click to check the price in Amazon

15 Foods you can Binge without Gaining Weight

 

In theory, dieting seems like a piece of cake. When you actually get down to business though, it’s a very grueling process, full of struggles and suppressed temptations. It’s so bad that you may even cry just looking at a plate of brownies. But we often go about doing it wrong – eat all the wrong things or eat nothing at all, which completely botches all our plans of having a perfect bikini body, or just a toned one.

Being on a diet means eating selectively and being very careful about the nutritional value of your food. Here’s a list of foods to binge on while you’re trying to shed off that fat.

1. Almonds

Packed full of Vitamin E, protein and fiber, they not only boost your skin, but also keep you from feeling hungry for long periods of time. Try swapping them for your usual mid-morning snack and see how they work wonders!

Source:Unsplash 

2. Potatoes

Surprising, right ? But they’re not just popular for their taste. They have a little bit of almost everything we need, so they help in maintaining a top-notch health as well.

If you boil potatoes and then allow them to cool for a while, they will form large amounts of resistant starch, a fiber-like substance that will keep you satiated and hence, prevent you from eating other foods, thus helping you lose weight. 

Source:Eye Swoon 

3. Leafy Greens

They’re the quickest way to flush out water retention and flatten a stubborn stomach. They have various vitamins, minerals, a high content of fiber and low amount of calories – basically, they’re the perfect mixture. Include them in your meals and wait for them to work their magic!

Source:Colour Box 

4. Avocados

Fats aren’t your enemy, as long as they’re the right kind. Oleic acid is a compound in the fats present in an avocado that helps in suppressing hunger for long periods of time. Eat a quarter or half of this creamy fruit each morning and say goodbye to the loose belly fat.

Source:Fly Wheel 

5. Olive Oil

That’s right! Oil is on the list too. Replace your mustard oil and ghee with olive oil which also contains Oleic acid and prevents hunger as well as aids the breaking down of fats.

Source:West Elm’s Blog 

6. Dark Chocolate

For those of you with a sweet tooth and an insatiable craving for desserts, pick a square or two of this. It contains way less fat than most deserts and calms down your hunger after it as well, even for long periods of time.

Source:Jim Scherer

7. Eggs and Sausage

This just keeps getting better. Eggs and sausages, an extremely protein rich meal for breakfast makes you feel fuller right away, no matter how big your appetite is. This has a long-term effect and it is scientifically proven that you automatically consume less calories for the rest of the day.

Source:Gourmet Girl Cooks 

8. Beans

They may be little, but each of these come with a bunch of nutrients especially proteins and fiber. The best part is that they remain low in calories and full of slow-release energy. This, in simple terms, means that your muscles will get toned and you’ll not feel hungry for long periods of time.

Source:WordPress 

9. Peppermint

It’s known for its effective healing properties, but it is also very efficient for digestion. It’s very popular and easily available in tea form for consumption, preferably organic. Three cups a day, after every meal, will keep the weighing scale and your stomach very happy.

Source:500 px 

10. Apple Cider Vinegar

This digestive tonic kills harmful bacteria in the intestines, flushes out toxins and relieves water retention from the stomach. A few spoon-fulls everyday will help detoxifying the body daily. It can also be used as a salad dressing or to cook with vegetables.

Source:Get It Durban 

11. Apples and Pears

A very cheap but nonetheless, fruitful solution to your problem. Firstly, for juice consumers, eating the fruit itself is more beneficial because the chewing motion of our teeth makes the brain comprehend it as substantial eating and the high fiber content keeps us full. They’re also jam packed with antioxidants – it’s a win win situation.

Source:Wallpaperzi 

12. Cranberry Juice

An excellent antioxidant topped with high amounts of Vitamin C, it rids the body of excess fluids through excretion. Have a glass in the morning before starting your day for best results!

Source:WordPress 

13. Lemon

Along with being a great taste enhancer, it also has high amounts of Pectin fiber which will surely help you ward off hunger. They also raise the intestine’s pH levels, thus aiding digestion and weight loss.

Source:Interior Design Files 

14. Fish

Again, it is an extremely protein rich food but also very satiating. Many types of white fish are extremely lean, and fattier varieties such as salmon pack healthy omega-3 fats, but all prove to be extremely beneficial.

Source:Unsplash 

15. Tomatoes

The list of recipes to try with tomatoes is endless really. It’s not looking too bad right now. They’re full of antioxidants, reduce inflammation and water retention and reverse our body’s Leptin (a protein that helps us to regulate our metabolic rate and apetite) resistance! Honestly, miracle workers.