Beat it

Beat it

8 things every diabetic should do in 2016

Just monitoring your glucose levels might not be enough. Here is all that you need to do to avert complications.

Debjani Arora 

For a diabetic, the new year hardly changes anything; your sugar levels are going to be as notorious as it was the previous year. Well, that’s not true, experts and doctors have been stressing the importance of diabetes management for too long, claiming that doing the right things at the right time can help control blood sugar level and also save one from the complications of diabetes. Dr Sanjay Verma, MD (Internal Medicine) and Consultant Diabetologists, Apollo Sugar, Delhi explains what you need to do this year to keep your blood sugar level under control.

1. Keep a tab on your sugar levels: This seems cliché, but what better way to keep your sugar level under control. The first step towards managing diabetes is to invest in a good glucometer. Measure your blood glucose level four times a day – fasting (before breakfast), two hours after breakfast, before dinner and two hours after dinner. Don’t miss doing this on weekends. Not everyone would need to monitor blood sugar so meticulously, but if your sugar level keeps fluctuating and touches 200 mg/dL and is hard to tame, it is better to keep a tab so you can take necessary action. Also, go for a HbA1C once in three months to get a better review of your blood sugar status over the months. Read to know what should be your normal blood sugar reading.

2. Make urine tests a habit: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to chronic kidney failure as excess glucose in the blood makes the kidneys overwork. They need more effort to filter the toxins out of the blood and over time, the tiny blood vessels get damaged. This leads to excess water and salt retention along with leakage of protein through urine. Protein traces in urine marks the onset of kidney damage. So make sure you go for a urine test every six to eight months. Get your microalbuminuria (protein remnant) in urine with the second morning sample to understand how healthy your kidneys are. Here are five reasons for kidney damage that you should know.

3. Go to a cardiologist: Keeping your sugar level in control and meeting your diabetologist regularly might not be enough. Diabetes overtime hardens the arteries of the heart, brain, kidneys, legs, eyes, etc. However, your heart takes the maximum blow. Even if you don’t suffer from heart ailments, just being a diabetic puts you at a risk. So don’t ignore your heart and go for a cardiac wellness check up annually, starting this year if you haven’t done it till now. Here is how diabetes affects your heart.

4. Get your eyes checked: You can suffer from a gamut of related eye disorders – cataract, glaucoma and the worst being, diabetes retinopathy. Eye disorders due to diabetes can also render one blind, so be careful and don’t miss on an eye-check up, even if your sight is perfect. Here is how diabetes affects your eyes.

5. Learn more about glycemic index: When people use the word glycemic index (GI) in context to food, remember it is not a fad-diet term. Diabetics should be wary about GI. Remember, saying no to carbohydrates is not a smart way to deal with diabetes, instead knowing how to include it is a better solution. GI of foods indicates the rise of blood sugar after a carbohydrate-rich meal. Some carbohydrate rich foods have low; some have medium, and some have high GI values. Hence, the knowledge of the GI of each type of carbohydrate is very helpful in controlling the rise in blood sugar.

6. Don’t neglect your feet: If your diabetes is long standing, go to a podiatrist for a complete feet check up. They can tell you your ‘at risk’ areas where you can develop non-healing ulcers or sores. This helps you to take better care of your feet. Apart from doing the usual, like wearing tight shoes, walking bare feet, cutting the nails in a squarish front (to avoid ingrowing toenail) address corn and calluses to avoid foot infection. If your feet is at risk, getting a customised foot sole can also help in preventing complications.

7. Maintain speed and consistency while exercising: Exercising, even a simple brisk walk, can help in managing diabetes. But if you simply walk, it is of no help. The walking speed should be 6 km/hour i.e. neither a lazy stroll nor running. An early morning walk is desirable for best effects on obesity and diabetes control. However, you can choose other aerobic activities and games too. Here are five types of exercises every diabetic should do.

8. Talk to a counsellor: Don’t hesitate to do this. Fluctuations in blood glucose level lead to a change in levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and 5HT. When this happens, it makes one prone to mood swings and then to anxiety and depression in the long run. Mood can be affected every minute of the day. Uncontrolled mood swings can make one stop self-care entirely. This will make glucose levels go haywire, and affect brain function. Before you reach this stage, make sure to take help from a therapist.

3 reasons why bell pepper is good for diabetics

Eat a raw yellow capsicum every day to lower your risk of obesity and diabetes.
Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti  

Diabetics have to follow strict diet rules and think twice before putting anything on their plate. And this limits the intake of various fruits and vegetables. However, adding bell pepper, also known as capsicum, to your diet not only controls your blood glucose level but also lowers the risk of various health complications associated with it. Here’s how capsicum helps:

#1 Slows down digestion of carbohydrates and lipids
Anthocyanins present in bell peppers inhibits the activity of two key digestive enzymes – alpha-glucosidase and lipase [1].  The alpha-glucosidase enzyme aids in breaking down carbohydrates into glucose, whereas pancreatic lipase helps in degradation of fats or lips into fatty acids. If the digestion of carbohydrates and lipids is slowed, the concentration of blood sugar and lipids is also reduced, thereby lowering your risk of hyperglycemia and helping you to control your blood glucose level. Planning to lower your blood glucose levels naturally?

#2 Exerts powerful antioxidant activity
With an increase in your blood glucose level and hyperlipidemia, you are more prone to oxidative stress [1]. Capsicum contains high levels of phytochemicals which act as powerful antioxidants. These compounds scavenge the harmful free radicals released due to oxidative stress and lower your risk of various health complications caused due to diabetes. Here are 7 antioxidants your body needs (and how to get them naturally).

#3 Is low in calories
If you are obese and have a family history of diabetes, then you are at a high risk of suffering from diabetes. However, studies have shown that intake of capsicum, along with a workout regimen, helps you lose weight and thus, keeps your blood sugar within control [2]. It contains capsaicin that stimulates fat burning and speeds up your metabolic rate, thereby controlling obesity and improving your overall well-being.

Tips to keep in mind
The research study published in the Journal Natural Products Research have shown that yellow bell pepper is better than the green one in controlling blood sugar level in diabetics, and also lowers the risk of diabetes.

Raw capsicum is better than cooked one for diabetics. You can add capsicum along with other vegetables while preparing salad, sprinkle some cinnamon powder and eat it as a snack

1. Chávez-Mendoza, C., Sanchez, E., Muñoz-Marquez, E., Sida-Arreola, J. P., & Flores-Cordova, M. A. (2015). Bioactive Compounds and Antioxidant Activity in Different Grafted Varieties of Bell Pepper. Antioxidants, 4(2), 427-446.
2.         Mukherjee, A., Mukherjee, S., Biswas, J., & Roy, M. (2015). Phytochemicals in obesity control. Int. J. Curr. Microbiol. App. Sci, 4(4), 558-567.

Women more likely to get vascular dementia - caused by reduced blood supply to the brain from damaged blood vessels - than men

Diabetes raises the risk of getting dementia by 60%

•           Study looked at more than 2 million people and 100,000 with dementia
•           It found both men and women had higher chance of dementia if diabetic 


Patients with type 2 diabetes are 60 per cent more likely to develop dementia, a study has claimed.
Women with diabetes were more likely to get vascular dementia - caused by reduced blood supply to the brain because of damage to blood vessels - than men, researchers found.
It occurs following a stroke or when the blood vessels supplying the brain become furred up or blocked. 
Women who are diabetic are significantly more likely than men to develop vascular diabetes, a study found
The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, which is non-vascular, the study by Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
Study author Rachel Huxley said diabetics can cut their chances of dementia by giving up smoking and drinking, exercising more and eating healthily.
Researchers reviewed 14 studies involving more than 2.3 million people, including more than 100,000 dementia patients, and reported their findings in Diabetes Care. 
'In Alzheimer's disease, nerve cells throughout the brain die off, and abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain for reasons not entirely known,' said Ms Huxley.
'Vascular dementia, in contrast, is the result of impaired blood flow to the brain, usually by a series of small, imperceptible strokes.'
Diabetes in women seems to lead to more risk for other conditions as well.
'These findings add to the evidence that diabetes confers a greater vascular hazard in women compared with men,' she said.
In Alzheimer's disease, nerve cells throughout the brain die off, and abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain (pictured). People with diabetes are 60 per cent more likely to develop dementia, the study found
'Diabetes confers a greater risk of developing heart disease, stroke and now vascular dementia in women compared with men.'
Overall, people with diabetes were 60 percent more likely to develop any dementia than people without diabetes.
Women with diabetes were more than twice as likely as those without it to develop vascular dementia, compared to a smaller increase in risk for men with diabetes.
More research is needed to look into how sugar in the blood interacts with the blood vessels and whether that process is different in women in men, she said.
Women tend to be under-treated for vascular risks relative to men, the study found.

Other factors, such as obesity, could form part of the relationship between dementia and diabetes which is why a healthy lifestyle is important to lessen the risk of both diseases, she concluded. 

Psychoactive plant may play key role in reversing diabetes

More than 29 million Americans are living with diabetes, and 1 in 4 are likely unaware that they have the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. As the cost of care for diabetes patients and the overall presence of it continues to increase, news of a possible natural treatment is offering hope.
Researchers are currently studying the effects of a rainforest vine called ayahuasca, a psychoactive plant that contains a key ingredient that may play a role in reversing diabetes.
“Diabetes involves either an inadequate production of pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for the production of insulin, or a failure on the part of pancreatic beta cells to actually produce enough insulin to stabilize blood sugar,” Chris Kilham, The Medicine Hunter, told from Peru. “Scientists have wondered for decades, ‘Is there a way to stimulate more growth of pancreatic beta cells in the human body?’”
Kilham added that in humans, pancreatic beta cells develop within the first year of life, and continue to work to keep blood sugar levels stable to prevent the development of diabetes. In a recent study published in the journal Nature, scientists reported that the alkaloid harmine, which is found in the ayahuasca vine, actually causes the production of new pancreatic beta cells. Harmine is also found in a plant called Syrian Rue, which may also be a source of the alkaloid.
“But what the scientists found was that introducing this alkaloid harmine into a living system resulted in the proliferation of pancreatic beta cells,” Kilham said.
“This is a very big breakthrough,” he said, adding that it could potentially mean that type 2 diabetics might be able to achieve a reversal of their condition by taking harmine in some form, while type 1 diabetes patients might be able to produce healthy new pancreatic beta cells, therefore no longer requiring insulin therapy or being considered diabetic.
Kilham cautioned that the science is still relatively new, and the study’s authors said harmine alone won’t cure diabetes. Moving forward, researchers will need to find a way to specifically target beta cells with this chemical, without it appearing elsewhere in the body.

The next phase of research may take time, but the discovery could lead to the development of drugs that may one day reverse diabetes.

Taking drugs for depression linked to better diabetes control

People who have both diabetes and depression may have an easier time keeping their blood sugar levels under control if they also take medication to address their mental health symptoms, a U.S. study suggests.
Diabetics can be more prone to depression and stress than other individuals, and these mental health problems are linked to increased risks of dangerously high blood sugar levels and other serious complications, previous research has found.
When diabetics do get depressed, however, taking antidepressants is linked to 95 percent higher odds that their blood sugar will be well controlled, the current study found.
"We don't know the mechanism by which the use of antidepressants is associated with better blood sugars in those patients with both conditions," said lead study author Dr. Jay Brieler of Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
It's possible that when depression improves, people may be more likely to follow a healthy diet, exercise, check their blood sugars and keep up with medications for diabetes, Brieler said by email. Scientists are also exploring whether there's a physiologic connection between the two diseases, which might mean shifts in stress hormones tied to antidepressant use might also affect blood sugars.
"Regardless of the mechanism, I think that our study adds to the evidence that it is important to properly diagnose and treat depression in diabetics," Brieler added.
Brieler and colleagues reviewed electronic medical records for about 1,400 diabetics, including lab tests for blood sugar and prescription data on antidepressant use, from 2008 to 2013.
On average, patients were around 62 years old. Most were obese.
All of them had type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes, which happens when the body can't properly use or make enough of the hormone insulin to convert blood sugar into energy.
Many had other health problems, too, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Most - 1,134 of them - didn't suffer from depression, but the study included 225 people being treated for depression and 40 individuals who were diagnosed with depression but were not taking medication for it.
Researchers estimated average blood sugar levels over the course of several months by measuring the percentage of hemoglobin - the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen - that is coated with sugar.
This sugar-coated form of hemoglobin is known as hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c. With diabetes, keeping HbA1c test results below 7 percent is generally considered to be good blood sugar control.
Overall, only 44 percent of diabetics in the study had their blood sugar under control, or below 7 percent, and average HbA1c levels were 7.7 percent.
About 51 percent of people with treated depression had their blood sugar under control, compared to only 35 percent of those with untreated depression.
One limitation of the study is that researchers couldn't determine whether treating depression led to better blood sugar control or whether lowering blood sugar eases depression symptoms, the authors acknowledge in Family Practice. Both scenarios are possible.
It's also important for patients to know that certain antidepressants and antipsychotics can be associated with weight gain and poor blood sugar control, noted Dr. Robert Cohen, a researcher at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and the Cincinnati VA Medical Center who wasn't involved in the study.
"That's why it is important to have those medications prescribed by a health care provider who will be following along closely enough to detect that and determine when changes are needed," Cohen said by email.
These risks shouldn't deter diabetics from seeking depression treatment, however.

"From my experience, getting depression under control by whatever means can help people overcome their inertia that prevents them from making their best efforts to deal with their diabetes," Cohen added.

Blueberries, red wine can help in erectile dysfunction

BY INENEWSLONDON– Flavonoid-rich foods are associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction, says a new study.
Eating foods rich in certain flavonoids trims down the risk of erectile dysfunction in men, especially in those under 70, reveals a collaborative study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in UK and Harvard University in the US.
A combination of consuming flavonoid-rich foods with exercise can reduce the risk by 21 percent, the researchers said.
“This is the first study to look at the association between flavonoids and erectile dysfunction, which affects up to half of all middle-aged and older men,” said Aedin Cassidy, a professor from UEA.
The research shows that of all the different flavonoids, anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes and blackcurrants), flavanones and flavones (found in citrus fruits) were found to offer the greatest benefits.
“The top sources of anthocyanins, flavones and flavanones consumed in the US are strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears and citrus products,” Cassidy said.
Eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as good for erectile function as briskly walking for up to five hours a week, the findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed.
More than 50,000 middle-aged men were included in this large population based study.
Dating back to 1986, they were asked about their ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse.

Discovery by Montreal scientists could help treat diabetes, obesity

New enzyme, G3PP, controls glucose and removes excess sugar from cells

The enzyme G3PP was discovered by scientists at the Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre. (CBC)
Taxing sugary drinks could help cut consumption, researchers say
Obesity health strategy in Canada shifts to prevention
A new enzyme discovered by a Montreal research team could be key to fighting obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
The enzyme, glycerol 3-phosphate phosphatase (G3PP), was discovered by researchers at the Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre and the findings were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"It's a very exciting discovery in terms of metabolism, cardiovascular disease at large, diabetes and obesity," said Dr. Marc Prentki, who led the research along with his colleague, Dr. Murthy Madiraju.
G3PP is a naturally occurring enzyme that controls glucose and removes excess sugar from cells. In doing so, it protects insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and various organs from damage caused by high glucose levels.
"A major problem in our modern society is that people in general ingest too many calories compared to what they expend," said Prentki.
Dr. Marc Prentki led the research team with colleague Dr. Murthy Madiraju. (CBC)

This imbalance produces glucose levels that are too high for the body and can lead to the progressive deterioration of various organs.