All Posts tagged diabetes

Almonds: Go Nuts

Personally, I’m a big fan of having nuts for a snack.  It provides that saltiness, but not all of the carbohydrates and saturated fat of chips or other typical snack foods.  I’ve always heard that almonds were healthy for you, but I never realized how healthy until I started doing a little research.  They are high in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and they are considered one of my most nutritious nuts. The almond that we think of as a nut is technically the seed of the fruit of the almond tree, a medium-size tree that bears fragrant pink and white flowers.  Like its cousins, the peach, cherry and apricot trees, it bears fruits with stone-like seeds (or pits) within. The seed of the almond fruit is what we refer to as the almond nut. The almond is one of the healthiest snack foods you can eat.  Its health benefits are wide and varied.  Below are some of the health benefits that almonds have:

  1. Helps heart health:  A study showed those who consumed almonds five times a week had a 50% reduction in risk of heart attack.  They have large amounts of vitamin E that acts as an antioxidant and reduces the risk of heart diseases.  Almonds also help reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) which causes artery-damaging inflammation.
  2. Reduces bad cholesterol:  Almonds are a good source of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fats which help to lower the low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol).  A handful every day can lower your bad cholesterol level by 8 to 12 percent.
  3. Improves blood circulation:  Almonds are high in potassium and low in sodium, both are factors that regulate blood pressure.  The high level of magnesium in almonds has a very positive effect on our arteries and veins and helps to improve the overall flow of nutrients through our bodies.  It also contains iron, which helps carry oxygen to all of the body’s cells and organs.
  4. Good source of Protein:  Almonds provide one of the best plant sources of protein.  They provide high quality and highly absorbable protein. A quarter-cup (containing around 30 nuts) contains around 7.6 grams of protein.
  5. Strengthens the bones:  Almonds are a good source of calcium which prevents osteoporosis and strengthens the bones, teeth and muscles.  It also provides other nutrients that help to increase the bone mineral density, which helps to strengthen the skeletal system.
  6. Good for brain power:  The almond is a source of many nutrients which helps in development of the brain development.  I’ve heard it recommended having 5 almonds in the morning everyday for maximum brainpower.  They contain phenylalanine, a brain-boosting chemical, which aids in healthy development of our cognitive functions.
  7. Helps you lose weight:  Almonds have high fiber content, protein and the good type of fat which satisfies your appetite very soon therefore you are less likely to have cravings and overeat.  Studies have revealed that almond rich low calorie diet is good for obese people to assist in shedding their weight.
  8. Good for diabetic people: They are a low glycemic index (GI) food. When eaten with a high GI food, it helps in reducing the rise in sugar and insulin levels after meals.
  9. Reduces the risk of Cancer:  Being high in natural fiber, it improves the movement of food through the colon, thereby preventing colon cancer.  Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, phytochemicals and flavonoids which suppress the growth of cancer cells. It is also rich source of boron which helps to prevent prostate cancer.
  10. Prevents Gallstones: People eating at least 5 almonds a day have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones, a study confirms.  Almond oil also possesses laxative properties and helps to produce soft stools and avoid any constipation.
  11. Good for skin:  An almond face pack prevents dry skin, pimples and black heads and is a good long term cure for acne.  It also improves skin complexion and premature aging. It nourishes the skin making it smooth and soft.
  12. Energy booster:  Nutrients present in almonds like Protein, Manganese, Copper & Riboflavin are all used to generate energy in our body.

So you can see, almonds are a nutritious snack that will have a positive effect on your overall health.  So Go Nuts on Almonds!!!!

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How to Add More Fiber to Your Diet

Fiber’s an important part of your diet.  Fiber is basically the parts of plants that your body cannot digest.  There are two categories of dietary fiber:  soluble (fiber that can be absorbed in water) and insoluble (fiber that can’t be absorbed in water).  Insoluble fiber is what bulks up your stool and increases the ease and speed of digestive material traveling through your colon.  Everyone needs insoluble fiber in their diet, but it is especially helpful for those with constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and irregular stools.  Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gelatinous substance that can lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Getting enough fiber in the diet can help to lower the risk of developing certain health conditions.  Evidence is now growing to support the notion that foods containing soluble fiber such as oats, rye, barley and beans can have a positive influence on cholesterol, triglycerides, and other particles in the blood that affect the development of heart disease.  Some people believe that fiber can help protect against colon cancer because it speeds up the passage of food through the body, thus preventing harmful substances from being absorbed.  Others believe that cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer that are linked with over-nutrition can also be prevented by a fiber-rich diet.  Adding fiber to the diet helps lower blood sugar levels, which is important in avoiding diabetes.  In addition, some people with diabetes can achieve a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels and may be able to reduce their medication.  In addition, rapid digestion leads to a rapid release of glucose into the bloodstream.  To cope with this, the body has to release large amounts of insulin into the bloodstream, and this can make a person more likely to develop gall stones and kidney stones as well as diabetes and high cholesterol.

The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine recommends that adult males under 50 consume 38 grams of fiber a day (men 50+ should eat around 30 grams daily), and adult women should include about 25 grams (for 50+: 21 grams) in their diet. That may sound like a lot by itself, but there are some simple ways to ensure you are getting your fair share of fiber.  Choose whole-grain breads and pasta over processed products.  Eat more of your fruits and vegetables raw, leaving the skin on whenever possible.  Replace juices with whole fruit to feel fuller and get more nutrition for the same number of calories.  Snack on nuts instead of chips; the healthy omega-3 fatty acids will help you feel full, with the added benefit of fiber.

Here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic on how to add more fiber into your diet:

  1. Eat a high-fiber cereal for breakfast (5 or more grams of fiber per serving). You can also add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
  2. Add crushed bran cereal of unprocessed what bran to baked products such as meatloaf, breads, muffins, casseroles, cakes and cookies.  You can also use bran products as crunchy topping for casseroles, salads or cooked vegetables.
  3. Switch to whole-grain breads. These breads list whole wheat, whole-wheat flour or another whole grain as the first ingredient on the label. Look for a brand with at least 2 grams of dietary fiber per serving.
  4. Substitute whole-grain flour for half or all of the white flour when baking bread. Whole-grain flour is heavier than white flour. In yeast breads, use a bit more yeast or let the dough rise longer. When using baking powder, increase it by 1 teaspoon for every 3 cups of whole-grain flour.
  5. Eat more whole grains and whole-grain products. Experiment with brown rice, barley, whole-wheat pasta and bulgur.
  6. Take advantage of ready-to-use vegetables. Mix chopped frozen broccoli into prepared spaghetti sauce. Snack on baby carrots.
  7. Eat more beans, peas and lentils. Add kidney beans to canned soup or a green salad. Or make nachos with refried black beans, baked tortilla chips and salsa.
  8. Eat fruit at every meal. Apples, bananas, oranges, pears and berries are good sources of fiber.
  9. Make snacks count. Fresh and dried fruit, raw vegetables, and low-fat popcorn and whole-grain crackers are all good choices.
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Apple Cider Vinegar: A Health Remedy

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular health remedies in use today.  It has been used since ancient times as a remedy for many different ailments, and even Hippocrates is said to have used it as an antibiotic.  In fact, apple cider vinegar is an effective natural bacteria-fighting agent that contains many minerals and trace elements that are vital for a healthy body.  Natural apple cider vinegar is made by crushing freshly grown apples and allowing them to mature in wooden barrels.  This boosts the natural fermentation qualities of the crushed apples.  This differs from the refined and distilled vinegars found in supermarkets.  When the vinegar is mature, it contains a dark, cloudy, web-like bacterial foam called mother, which becomes visible when the rich brownish liquid is held to the light.  Natural vinegars that contain the mother have enzymes and minerals that other vinegars in grocery stores may not have due to over-processing, over-heating, and filtration.  For this reason, it is recommended that you purchase only natural apple cider vinegar, with an ideal acidity (pH) level of 5 to 7.

Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Weight Loss

Many people claim that apple cider vinegar promotes weight loss. Some theories suggest that it helps to speed up the metabolism, while others suggest that it burns calories. A number of nutritionists also believe that combining Vitamin B6 and Lecithin with Apple Cider Vinegar is highly effective for weight loss. A suggested remedy is to mix 2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with a glass of water and drink this before every meal or sip it slowly throughout the day.  Others like to use it in salad dressings or drink a tablespoon diluted in a glass of water once or twice per day.

Dandruff

Apple cider vinegar is said to treat dandruff by destroying the fungus Malassezia furfur and restoring the pH balance of the scalp. Some people recommend applying a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar, applying it to the scalp, and leaving it to dry. Others suggest applying a couple of tablespoons of straight vinegar to the scalp and leaving it on for an hour or two before rinsing.

Warts

A reported treatment for warts is to soak the affected area for 20 minutes per day in a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.

Bad Breath

Due to its acidic properties, apple cider vinegar is a wonderful remedy for bad breath or halitosis.  Add ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and gargle the mixture in your mouth for 10 seconds at a time until the cup is empty.

Body Odor

Apple cider vinegar is an effective body odor remedy, since it can help adjust the skin’s pH level which helps to eliminate odor-causing bacteria.  For armpit odor, wipe them once each morning with undiluted apple cider vinegar.  For foot odor, fill a pan with arm water and add 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, then let your feet soak for 15 minutes once a week.

Sunburn

A bath of apple cider vinegar is said to reduce the effects of sunburn.  The vinegar soaked on a cloth and applied to the sunburned areas may also be helpful.

Acne

Apple cider vinegar is a natural cure for acne.  When diluted with water 50/50 it is often used as a toner for the face.  Be very careful when applying it to your face because apple cider vinegar is dangerous to the eyes.

Age Spots

Apple cider vinegar contains sulfur that fights the effects of aging.  Finely chop or blend an onion, and use a strainer or cheese cloth to squeeze and extract the onion juice.  Take one part of apple cider vinegar and one part of onion juice and mix them together.  Dab a cotton pad into the solution and apply it directly to the age spots.  Leave this on the skin for a minimum of 30 minutes or as long as you are comfortable with it.  Repeat this once a day for approximately 6 weeks.  If the spots haven’t completely disappeared after the 6 weeks but have started to fade, keep repeating the process until they do.

Constipation

Apple cider vinegar assists with natural bowel movements since it contains significant amounts of pectin, which is a water-soluble fiber that helps to improve digestion by normalizing the acid levels in the stomach.  For constipation, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into an 8 oz glass of water, and drink this 3 times a day.  The vinegar can also be mixed with apple or grape juice to help with the taste.

Diarrhea

Apple cider vinegar is a good remedy for diarrhea since the high pectin concentration acts as a protective coating which soothes the irritated lining of the colon.  As with the constipation remedy, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a glass of water, and drink this 3 times daily while symptoms persist.

Cholesterol

Drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day with a little honey helps to lower cholesterol.

High Blood Pressure

A teaspoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water per day is said to lower blood pressure.

Diabetes

Apple cider vinegar may help to control high blood sugar levels.  Take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and add a pinch of salt to it.  Mix it in a glass of water, and drink it before every large meal.

What to Look for When Buying Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be found in almost any health or nutrition store.  Look for it with a pH level of 5 to 7.  Apple cider vinegar can also be found in a capsule form.

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Green Tea, A Miracle Drink? Part 1

The health effects of green tea have long been touted by the Chinese people, but within the past few decades, green tea has received more attention in the United States.  Because green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), it is a powerful anti-oxidant.  Drinking green tea is reputed to be helpful in preventing cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, infection, and impaired immune function.

What makes green tea different from other Chinese teas?

Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camelia sinensis plant.  However, green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG from being oxidized.  Black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Green Tea Fights Against Cancer

Most scientists believe that catechins in green tea have a tremendous effect on cancer.  It is believed that it lowers the toxicity of certain carcinogens, thereby reducing their cancer-reducing potential.  It also interferes with the binding of cancer-causing substances to the DNA of healthy cells.  Green tea also acts as an antioxidant, protecting your body from free radical damage.  Furthermore, scientists believe that green tea works together with antioxidants and enzymes in the small intestine, liver, and lungs to prevent tumors from starting.  Thus, it inhibits tumor activation.

Interest in green tea and its effect on cancer was initially aroused by a comparison of the lung cancer rates in Japan to those of the United States.  The Japanese seemed to smoke nearly twice as many cigarettes as Americans, but had only about half the amount of lung cancer.  So far, green tea has been studied as having a positive influence on stomach, pancreatic, colon, esophageal and prostate cancers.  With stomach cancer, a case-controlled study in Northern Kyushu, Japan, found that people who drank 10 or more cups of green tea per day had a decreased risk of gastric cancer.  With pancreatic cancer, a study found that those who drank 2 or more cups of green tea per day, the risk of developing pancreatic cancer was almost 60% lower than those who did not drink tea.  With colon cancer, a 1990 study published in the Japanese Journal of Cancer Research found that consumption of green tea lowered the risk of colon cancer.  In 1994 the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly sixty percent.  And finally, in a recent study by the University of Purdue, prostate cancer cells were mixed with testosterone, the hormone that makes them grow uncontrollably. But when green tea extract was added to the solution, the cells grew more slowly. The more green tea, the slower the growth of the cancer cells.

Green Tea Helps Stabilize Diabetes

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is made in response to the level of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. Insulin serves two purposes: it lowers blood sugar levels and increases the availability of sugar for normal cell functioning.  Normally, after a meal, complex carbohydrates are digested and absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream in the form of glucose and other simple sugars.  This resulting rise in blood sugar causes the pancreas to secrete insulin, which encourages the transportation of sugar from the blood into the cells. As blood sugar levels fall, blood insulin levels return to the pre-meal state.

With diabetes, either the pancreas secretes too little or no insulin in response to the rise in blood sugar after a meal or the pancreas secretes a normal amount of insulin but the cells do not respond to the hormone.  In either case, the result is that blood sugar levels remain high, and many complications can develop in the body from the abnormal blood sugar levels.

One study found that feeding green tea to rats reduced both blood glucose and insulin levels, and that catechins were very effective starch and sucrose blockers in the digestive tracts of rats.  Similar results were observed in humans.  When 300 mg (about 3 cups) of green tea were given to subjects ten minutes before taking in 50 grams of starch, their glucose and insulin levels did not rise nearly as much as was expected.  Besides, because of green tea’s starch-blocking effect, it may also help get rid of excess fat, the villain that can make diabetes much worse.

Green Tea Prevents Cardiovascular Disease

Drinking green tea is said to improve cholesterol levels, thereby reducing platelet aggregation, and helping keep blood pressure in check.  There is research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol.  Green tea also inhibits the abnormal formation of blood clots.  This is important when you consider that thrombosis (the formation of abnormal blood clots) is the leading cause of heart attacks and stroke.  Much of these affects can be contributed to green tea’s antioxidants that decrease the effects of free radicals from a fatty diet that contribute to blood clot formation and atherosclerosis.

If you remember in the 1990’s researchers studied the “French Paradox” where the French people consumed a higher fat diet than the Americans but had a lower incidence of heart disease.  The answer was the French drank more red wine which contains resveratrol.  In a 1997 study, researchers from the University of Kansas determined that EGCG found in green tea is twice as powerful as resveratrol.

If you find this post interesting, please return here tomorrow for part two of this post which will include the treatment of acne, weight loss, tooth decay, and how much green tea you should drink to get its benefits.

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