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Carbohydrates and Aging

Carbs and Aging

Early on, I remember reading how Diabetes ages a person at least 10 years.  I never quite understood this theory but I knew I didn’t like it, and would do whatever I could to slow or prevent this from happening to me.  Recently, there has been much more written about this phenomenon and when broken down into phases, we diabetics should have enough understanding of carb counting to keep this at bay.

I’ve come across a recent article,  “Do Carbs Age Your Body Faster?” by Mike Geary, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Catherine Ebeling, an RN, BSN and author of  The Top 101 Foods that FIGHT Aging.  Simply put,  NO, it all depends on the amount and types of carbs consumed.  It is however, high spikes in glucose levels that cause the aging, and THIS IS caused by consuming carbs with no thought to  the consequences.  As diabetics, we should be aware of carb counting, if you are not, there are small, pocket sized books, that should be like your bible until you are comfortable with it.   All carbs will increase your blood sugar, but the difference is the timing.  Is it a slow process or a rapid spike, leaving your meds playing catch up later.    The author illustrated a  good example of the difference  as follows:

2 slices of whole wheat toast;  45 mins after eating, blood sugar spiked from an 86 fasting level to 156.

1 bowl of oatmeat, (equivalent grams of carbs as 2 slices of toast above) 45 mins after eating; blood sugar raised from 86 fasting to 112.

Now, everyone’s numbers  will be different, however, the food and portion is in your control.  Please reread my earlier posting on “Glycemic Index Basics” from April.  We have all been taught that  whole wheat is the healthier choice if breads and muffins are going to be eaten, however, now we are learning that whole wheat and other grains  have a unique type of starch which spikes blood sugar more that pure table sugar.  These high blood sugar spikes are what, over time, are responsible (at least in part) for accelerated aging.  High blood sugars circulating around in our bodies leave deposits  known as Advanced Glycation End Products  (AGEs) this is known as glycation.  It is these compounds which speed up the aging process including damage, over time,  to your organs,  joints and wrinkled skin.

Of course now we all want to run out and totally never eat another carb, however, carbohydrates DO have a necessary place in our diets.  Extreme low-carb diets like the once very popular Adkins was excessive.  Thyroid hormones, as well as, Leptin hormone levels can drop too low to  maintain a healthy metabolism (weight gain).  Since being diabetic, our main concern should, as always, be keeping out blood sugars down to a healthy number,  avoid spiking highs and lows, which in and of themselves are dangerous.  Always remember, there are such things as healthy carbs, in moderation, with attention to BS testing and getting to know how a particular one affects YOUR blood sugar.

Vacation Nightmare with the Pump!!!

Vacation Nightmare with Pump

I consider myself to be well organized in matters of my diabetes.  I have been doing basically the same routine for over 40 years, maybe only 15 years with the pump, and each time I have to readjust my routine, something goes awry.  Unfortunately this time I was on a cruise ship.

When packing, always make sure to have extra everything, which I do, and in my travel bag I have designated a baggie with extra infusion set, prep pads, and alcohol swabs, basically the things that have no expiration date.  On my most recent trip, I packed 2 extra cylinders of insulin for my pump, which must be kept refrigerated.  So once arriving at my mothers house in Fl. Lauderdale, into the fridge went my back-up insulin, as we were there several days ahead of cruising.  Morning of cruise arrived, we were packed and ready to go.  While waiting for our cabin to be ready,  we relaxed on the  back deck, already meeting some characters whom we would be sharing this adventure with.   Hours later, after enjoying our first of many great meals, it dawned on me, yeah you guessed it.  My extra insulin was still in my moms fridge.  Needless to say, panic set in, more for my poor husband than me.  I new I had enough in the pump for 3 days, surely we could buy some somewhere.

Next morning we visited the infirmary,  quickly being told that they had some, however, they did not sell whole bottles and it was costly.  The MD told us our first stop was on Cozumel, where he was sure the main pharmacy there would have some cheaper.  Apparently, money was not the object at this point, as my husband was ready to have me heliported back to Ft. Lauderdale.   After a 6 mile taxi ride into the main village, going from one so called “pharmacy” to the next, all within blocks of each other,  we soon realized they call any corner store that sells suntan lotion and toothpaste, a pharmacy.  Following another lead, we came upon a Medical Clinic, surely they would have some.  They did not.  The look on my husbands face made me so sad, that I had caused him all this grief and worry.  The clinic was kind enough to call the “Mega Pharmacy”  before we trekked over there, another 3miles away.  Success!!!

We made it there in no time as my husband’s pace seemed to have increased at this point.  We entered and spoke with the only clerk who understood us, it took them time to find, for some reason, but it was a trusted name brand of insulin.  NEXT!!!   The cost was very reasonable, as we are all aware, we in the states are getting ripped off for pharmaceuticals, this bottle cost me what my co-pay is with insurance, however, my credit card rejected payment due to “security reasons” and being used out of the usual territory.   NOTE TO SELF,  next time I travel I will call the credit card company first.  I couldn’t use my cell, too expensive, so we paid cash, a whopping $35.   Now  for the pilgrimage back to the ship,  after attaining some ice in a baggie to put insulin in for the long walk back, there was a sigh of relief.  I just didn’t inform my husband that the only canister I had was the one in the pump which are not meant to be refilled.  Once the  piston has pushed cork up to top, there is not an  empty compartment left for insulin.  (if you use a pump, you will appreciate this next move.)  In my McGyveresq thinking, I took an empty syringe, filled it with air and pushed it into canister several times, eventually the cork was pushed back to bottom and I was able to refill my canister for the end of the trip.

All  in all, I missed one day of using the pump, I simply took  many shots and lots of  finger sticks to check,  like the old days.    Blood sugars stayed 130 or lower and I was able to enjoy the rest of the trip, ready for my next vacation,  with better preparation.

Ups and Downs of Blood Sugars

Ups and Downs of Blood Sugars

Many people are confused by terms their doctors use referring to blood sugar levels.   Rightly so, as the “normal” ranges have continually  been  lowered and lowered.  I too, thought it was a scam from the big pharmaceutical companies who relish the idea of everyone being on medications for Type 2 Diabetes.  ChaChing, ChaChing go the cash registers.  Anyway, after much reading and re-educating myself on the effects of higher than normal ranges for extended amounts of time,  has conceded that it is detrimental for people to maintain lower blood sugar levels, and here’s why.

There has been an epidemic, yes, it is now an epidemic, of Type 2 Diabetes among adults, and yes, young adults as well.  Beginning in 2007  figures had already been astronomical,  25.8 million people diagnosed, that was 8.3% of the population at a cost of 174 billion dollars a year.   What stands out in my mind is that at THAT time, 79 million people (25% of the population) had blood sugar levels in the “high normal”  range, which to me is an oxymoron.  Mainly because these are the people who today, 2013, have Type 2.  I believe it is mainly due to lack of educating these folks on what was important for them to know.   Preventing Type 2 is doable.  The following information comes from a book by a Dr. Brownstein, who wrote “Balancing Your Blood Sugar” and is a must for Type 2′s who care about helping themselves, and yes, of course, he is trying to sell products, but that is your choice.  I find his info helpful for anyone wanting to understand their infliction, or prevent it from happening.

Our American diet is such that we overload on simple carbs, fats, sugars, and starches which causes our blood sugar to hit those dreaded “high normals”  after our meals, this in turn causes our pancreas to produce and release more insulin to return our blood sugar levels back to normal.  Many things come into play here,  but simply, the more we allow these ups and downs of our blood sugar, the more we over work our systems of checks and balances.  Our bodies like a happy medium, homeostasis , where everything is neutral.  Prolonged excess sugar in our system devastates small vessels leading to eyes, kidneys, heart, and even circulation to  lower extremities, and this is so gradual, most adults do not realize the damage until it is serious and only THEN do they discover they are Type 2.  

Too much insulin is another issue all of it’s own.  Once an overload of insulin is released to combat all the glucose in your system, it can do it’s job all too well, causing you to feel weak, tired, sweaty, unable to focus, and cause you to crave more food, so of course we grab whatever sweets are around to fix the fix, which in turn, you guessed it, causes more insulin to be released to correct your correction.  If this were a perfect world, our problem would be solved, however, every food we eat gets processed at different speeds,( please refer to glycemic index) some taking much too long to correct your low, so we eat more, causing a higher blood sugar level.  This, my friends, is known as the ” Blood Sugar roller coaster”, and unless you understand it, you are in for a ride.  Been there, done that!

In my mind,  ”pre-diabetic”,  ”high normal range”, and “metabolic syndrome” all mean you should restrict yourself from eating as carelessly as you once did, monitor what you put in your meal plan,  what you keep around the house to snack on, and increase your activity levels to assist your body’s use of glucose.  MOST Type 2 can be prevented, do  not allow yourself to accumulate all the visceral fat which leads to poor health.


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