How Sweet it is - a New Sugar for Diabetics

October 3rd, 2012

Coconut Palm Sugar has been making headlines lately as a low glycemic alternative to cane sugar. This delicious sweetener has been used in traditional Southeast Asian cuisine for thousands of years but is a relative newcomer to the US market. It has been touted as nutrient rich (yes you read that correctly) natural sweetener with an extremely low glycemic index in comparison with traditional sugars such as white and brown sugar. This is great news for diabetics who need to manage their blood glucose levels. A new medication, Januvia is a once-daily pill prescribed to treat diabetes and lower blood sugar level.

Coconut Palm Sugar has a Glycemic Index (GI) rating of 35 whereas cane sugars, both brown and white have a GI rating of 68. Coconut Palm Sugar's Glycemic Index even measures lower than agave nectar at 42, and honey at 55! Coconut Palm Sugar is also said to be high in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron as well as B-Vitamins 1, 2, 3 and 6. Compared with brown sugar, Coconut Palm Sugar has 36 times more iron, 4 times more magnesium, and over 10 times the amount of zinc!

While it shouldn't be considered a "health food" per se, it is a healthier alternative to traditional sweeteners and a more natural alternative to artificial sweeteners such as sucralose. Its slow energy release also makes it a great alternative for diabetics who would like to enjoy an occasional sweet treat. Coconut Palm Sugar is produced from the sap of flower buds cut from a coconut palm tree. The sap is collected and then heated to evaporate its moisture content. It is then further reduced to create crystals, and then packaged and sold in small bags at your local health food store or natural grocery store. It can even be found in the natural foods section of some larger grocery store chains.

It is similar in appearance to brown sugar but has a much more complex taste. It has been described as tasting similar to brown sugar but with a slight caramel or butterscotch flavor. It's warm, rich flavor tastes great as a sweetener in coffee or tea, and can be used as a one to one replacement for both white and brown sugar in recipes. Its granulated crystals are quite large, but it can be powdered down in a blender or food processor when a more delicate sugar is needed.

Lisa's Coconut Palm Sugar, Apple Berry Crisp

Filling:

2 baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin

3 cups of mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, black berries), fresh or frozen

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Topping:

1 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)

cup all purpose flour

cup coconut palm sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

cup butter softened (can be replaced with coconut oil for a healthier alternative)

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place all filling ingredients into an 11 x 7 inch pan. Gently stir to combine.

In a medium mixing bowl add rolled oats, flour, coconut palm sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine. Add vanilla extract and then butter using a fork or your hands to combine. Crumble topping evenly over filling.

Bake for 40 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Enjoy warm from the oven.

Higher Risk Groups for Diabetes

October 18th, 2012

Although diabetes can strike anyone, there are certain groups of people who show a stronger than average tendency toward developing the disease. For instance, if you are middle aged and African American, studies suggest that you may be three times as likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Why African Americans are at greater risk for diabetes is still open for debate. In many instances, the diabetes gene may be passed down through the family. Deaths resulting from diabetes are 20% higher for African American men than white males and 40% higher for African American women than white females. That is significant. However, the good news is that fewer African American children seem to develop type 1 diabetes.

Another group that appears to have a higher rate of secondary issues due to diabetes is women who suffer heart attacks. The risk of this complication among women is more serious than among men. In fact, women with diabetes between the ages of 25-44 are three times more likely to die of a heart attack those women without diabetes.

A staggering 10% of Hispanic Americans have diabetes. That clearly puts them in a higher risk group as well. Native American is more than twice as likely to develop diabetes, too. About 14% of the Native American population has diabetes.

Once again, diabetes can and does affect people regardless of race, sex, or age. As everyone ages; the risk of type 2 diabetes increases. Also, anyone with a family history of diabetes is also at higher risk. Yet, no matter what group you are in, there are lifestyle choices that can be made which may reduce the chances of getting this disease. Not smoking, managing your cholesterol and blood pressure, and getting plenty of exercise while maintaining a healthy weight are important. Anyone who is overweight, sedentary, and has a relative with diabetes should be screened for diabetes.

If you have just been diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes, your GP may prescribe certain oral diabetes medications such as generic Actos to regular your blood sugar levels, although the lifestyle changes are essential.

Living with Diabetes: Maintaining a Healthy Circulation

October 22nd, 2012

People living with diabetes need to pay special attention to the health of their circulatory systems, taking conscious efforts to reduce the risks of circulation problems or, in worst case scenarios, cardiovascular disease or stroke. Poor circulation affects the whole body from the feet to the nervous system, and is the reason why over 50 per cent of amputations performed in North America are due to diabetes complications. Maintaining a healthy circulation is the most important preventative measure a patient of diabetes can take to keep their condition stable. Keep reading below to learn more about the effect diabetes has on the circulatory system, and the steps you can take to keep it in shape.

How Does Diabetes Cause Poor Circulation?

Diabetes is often associated with other health problems such as high blood pressure and high levels of glucose and cholesterol. All of these maladies create a massive strain on the heart and arteries which in turn slows down the function of a healthy circulatory system. Once the arteries become damaged they are unable to properly circulate blood away from the heart to where it needs to be. This is the reason why so many diabetics face leg amputations or blindness; the delicate arteries have been damaged to a point where they are starting to affect major blood vessels that serve to carry blood flow from the heart to the periphery of the body.

Steps You Can Take to Prevent Circulation Problems

Quit smoking - smoking has hardens the arteries over time and is a proven cause of poor circulation in diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Diabetics who smoke should quit immediate for the sake of their health and quality of life: not only will circulation improve, so will respiratory health and general mobility. You'll also save money, which you can spend on a circulation-improving massage.

Exercise - Exercise is the most effective way to get the blood flowing and improve circulation. Aerobic exercises such as jogging, walking and cycling will immediately improve blood flow to the legs and feet. The Canadian Diabetic Association recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, and to never let more than two days go by without any physical activity.

Watch Cholesterol, Glucose Levels - Talk to your doctor about keeping your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels at healthy levels. Eat a diet low in salt, fat and sugar and high in whole grains and vegetables.

Improving blood circulation for those people can sometimes be accomplished by always taking medications on time. People with diabetes mellitus also take certain medications such as generic Glucophage to keep the blood sugar levels under control.

Diabetes Diet Plan: What to Eat and Not to Eat

October 25th, 2012

Protein vs. carbs
When someone is diagnosed with diabetes or told that he is at risk, the first thought that is bound to run through his mind is "I will no longer be able to eat normally." The common notion is that sugars must be avoided at all costs and desserts must be given up completely. Your previous diet gets replaced by a strict, merciless regimen and your whole life is spent keeping a sharp eye on what you put into your body.

While it is true that diet modification is required to prevent or control diabetes, the notion that this medical condition will cripple your entire life is nothing more than a misconception. And, this article aims at busting some of the more common myths surrounding this topic. So, let's get started, shall we?

Carbohydrates are An Absolute No-no!

The average diabetic believes that carbohydrates should be stricken completely off the list. However, few people know that carbohydrates, or "carbs" as they are popularly referred to, are integral to a healthy diet for diabetic patients.

Apart from being the primary source of energy, carbs contain essential nutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber. For this reason, instead of abstaining from them altogether, a better thing to do would be to choose healthier carbs, such as the ones you find in whole foods and high fiber fruit and vegetables.

Diet for Diabetics should be High in Proteins

Since most diabetic patients cut down on carbohydrates, they turn to proteins as a source of energy. However, this can be counter-productive for them. Studies show that having a protein-rich diet can cause insulin resistance, a factor that could aggravate the condition further. For this reason, a healthy diet, especially for people with diabetes, should derive only 15-20% of its calories from proteins, and no more.

Your Favorite Foods are Completely off the List

Abstinence seems to be the defining characteristic of a diet for people with diabetes. The general idea is that anything you may have loved eating becomes the forbidden fruit and gets crossed off your diet chart. This isn't necessarily so.

While you are not allowed to give in to your indulgences, there is no reason really why you should give up having what you like as long as it is in moderation. For instance, you could reduce the portion of your favorite dessert or use it as a reward for following your meal plan regularly.

Life for people with diabetes is not easy. Constant vigilance is required to keep their sugar levels in check. That said, it's important to investigate the scientific validity of dietary ideas that one comes across these days. And the best way to do that is to consult a trusted medical practitioner or a qualified nutritionist.