Why Diabetics Should Check Their Vitamin B12 Levels Regularly

B12 is a weird vitamin with a unique chemical structure. Your body manufactures very little itself and your only major source is eating animal protein, ie meat and fish.

Yet vitamin B12 is essential for healthy cells and a healthy nervous system.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) in 2009 indicates that approximately 6% of all persons aged 60 or more in Europe and North America are deficient in vitamin B12. The study also shows that this deficiency increases as we get older.

By contrast another study published in the same year in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM) found that the rate of vitamin B12 deficiency among diabetics in Europe and North America averages 22% … more than three-and-a -half-times the overall average rate.

This study in the JABFM also showed that the deficiency was highest among diabetics who used Metformin to control their blood glucose levels.

In developing countries, according to the study in the AJCN, a deficiency in vitamin B12 is much more common and starts earlier in life. It gets worse as the patient ages.

Low consumption of animal flesh (meat and fist) is considered the main cause. Indeed in countries where a vegetarian diet is the norm, more than two-thirds of the population are deficient in B12.

In addition, in older persons, poor absorption during digestion is considered the predominant cause of the deficiency.

So, if you are diabetic, a vegetarian or older, it is essential to get your vitamin B12 levels checked regularly.

A simple blood test does the trick. Your levels should be between 191 and 663 pg / mL (picogram per millilitre … a picogram is one trillionth of a litre).

This measures the amount of vitamin B12 in your bloodstream, ie the amount that has been absorbed into your body after digestion.

Why vitamin B12 is vital

There are two reasons why vitamin B12 is vital:

[1] It is essential because it is needed to assist folate in making DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid), which carry and transmit the genetic information of every living cell.

Genetic information tells cell how to function. This information must be passed along to the new cell each time a cell divides.

[2] Vitamin B12 also has a function in the production of myelin, which covers and protects nerve fibers. Without enough B12, the myelin sheath does not form properly or remain healthy.

As a result, nerve transmission suffers. Sometimes the nerve damage becomes irreversible.

How your body gets and uses vitamin B12

B12 … aka cyanocobalamin or cobalamin … is unique among vitamins.

This vitamin is water soluble and has a more complex chemical structure than all other vitamins, including those of the B complex. And it is the only vitamin to contain an inorganic element (cobalt) as an integral part of its makeup.

Only bacteria and microorganisms can make vitamin B12.

Bacteria in the intestines make some vitamin B12 but far, far less than the amount you need every day. So the only way to get enough B12 is to eat the foods that contain it or to take supplements.

Bacteria are also at work in animals creating vitamin B12. Here is found in a wide variety of foods made from animals.

Plant foods do not contain any vitamin B12 unless they have been fortified. However, vitamin B12 is added to some processed foodstuffs.

Here are the main food sources of vitamin B12:

  • Beef liver and clams … the most abundant sources of B12
  • Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products … good sources of B12
  • Fermented bean products, such as tempeh … lesser sources of B12
  • Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast etc that have been fortified with B12.

But ingesting enough vitamin B12 is not enough to keep you healthy. Your body also needs to be able to use it.

The absorption of vitamin B12 from the food you eat is a two-step process.

Firstly, your stomach acid has to separate the B12 from the protein to which it is attached in the food you swallow.

Then the B12 has to combine with intrinsic factor , another protein made by the stomach, so that it can be absorbed into your body.

If you body is unable to produce intrinsic factor, you will be unable to absorb vitamin B12 and will end up with pernicious anemia (a lack of healthy red blood cells). Should this happen, your only solution will be to have regular injections of B12.

How much vitamin B12 do you need?

The recommended amount of vitamin B12 you should get is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) a day for adults, 2.6mcg a day for pregnant women, and 2.8mcg for women who are breast-feeding.

The usual American and European diet provides anywhere from 7 to 30mcg of B12, well in excess of your daily requirements.

In addition, the average well-fed person can store a supply of B12 in the liver (unlike other vitamins) that can last for five years or more.

But if you are a vegan (strict vegetarian who does not eat eggs or drink milk) or are a diabetic who is following the Beating-Diabetes Diet … which excludes eggs and dairy products and minimizes your consumption of meat … you will need a daily supplement to ensure that your intake is sufficient.

Certain medications can interfere with your body's ability to absorb or use vitamin B12:

  • Chloramphenicol ( Chloromycetin® ), an antibiotic used to treat certain infections
  • Proton pump inhibitors, such as omeprazole ( Prilosec® ) and lansoprazole ( Prevacid® ), used to treat acid reflux and peptic ulcers
  • Histamine H2 receptor antagonists, such as cimetidine ( Tagamet® ), famotidine ( Pepcid® ), and ranitidine ( Zantac® ), used to treat peptic ulcers
  • Metformin, used to treat type 2 diabetes

Effects of a vitamin B12 deficiency

When the supply of vitamin B12 in the body is low, the production of red blood cells slows down as DNA and RNA becomes less available. This causes anemia. The production of the cells that line the intestine is also slowed.

A lack of vitamin B12 can also seriously damage your nervous system. If the lack lasts for a long time, the damages to the nerves can become irreversible.

The symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency

If you are only slightly low on B12, you may not have any symptoms at all.

The symptoms of a mild deficiency in vitamin B12 include … tiredness … weakness … loss of appetite … weight loss … constipation. These symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions and the underlying problem is not always easy to discern.

Very low levels of B12 can result in serious complications, such as:

  • pernicious anemia
  • paresthesia
  • neuropathy

Pernicious anemia means you do not have enough healthy red blood cells. This deprives your cells of oxygen.

According to a study in the Journal of Oral Pathology Medicine less than 20% of persons with a B12 deficiency experience pernicious anemia.

The symptoms of anemia include … fatigue … pale skin … chest pain … dizziness … headache … loss of sense of taste … loss of sense of smell … fast or irregular heartbeat … shortness of breath.

Paresthesia is a burning or itchy sensation of the skin, usually on the arms, hands, legs, and feet. Some people experience numbness, tingling, or a prickly feeling.

Neuropathy or nerve damage can be caused by prolonged deficiency in B12. The symptoms are the same as diabetic neuropathy (caused by high blood glucose over a long period) and include pain, numbness and weakness in the feet and hands (called peripheral neuropathy ).

Severe, long-term B12 deficiency can cause loss of mobility, difficulty walking, memory loss, delusions, and depression. It may even lead to dementia.

Treatment of B12 deficiency

Treatment for deficiency involve ingesting supplement B12 vitamin in the form of:

  • tablets that are swallowed … either as part of multi-vitamin or stand-alone B12 tablets
  • sublingual tablets that are dissected under the tongue
  • nasal gels
  • injections

A lack of vitamin B12 usually results from your body's inability to absorb it … not from a lack of B12 in your diet.

This means that people who are deficient in B12 must take large doses of supplements. In order to ensure absorption they need to take far more than they would actually need.

This is not a problem as there are no reports that vitamin B12 causes toxicity or adverse effects even in extremely large amounts. In fact, it is often used as a place because it is non-toxic.

Indeed 1,000 mcg of B12 a day is a common recommendation, sometimes starting with 2,000 mcg a day for the first month. These huge amounts, several hundred times the recommended daily amount, ensure that at least some of it gets absorbed, even without intrinsic factor.

This is borne out by medical studies that show that large amounts of active vitamin B12 can be absorbed, even if your body can not create intrinsic factor.

For example, methylcobalamin, one form of vitamin B12, can be absorbed when given in very large doses.

Received opinion is that sublingual administration of B12 is thought to bypass the absorption problems related to intrinsic factor as it allows the vitamin to be absorbed directly into the venous plexus … the complex of blood vessels located in the floor of the mouth.

But there is no evidence that the B12 from letting a tablet dissolve under the tongue is absorbed better than swallowing.

The efficiency of nasal gels is also unproven.

Pernicious anemia is usually treated with injections of 50 or 100 mcg of vitamin B12 three times a week. As these go straight into your blood, they bypass the need for intrinsic factor. These injections may need to continue through life.

The take-away

You need to ensure that you that ingest adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and that your body can use it effectively:

  • Vitamin B12 is vital for healthy cells and a healthy nervous system.
  • Compared to non-diabetics, diabetics are three to four times more likely to be deficient in B12.
  • Diabetics and vegans should have their B12 levels checked regularly.
  • B12 is vital because it is needed to make: DNA and RNA for new cells each time a cell divides … myelin to protect nerve fibers.
  • Your body makes very little B12 itself … your main sources are foods made from animals.
  • To be absorbed, B12 must combine with intrinsic factor, a protein made in your stomach.
  • If you body is unable to produce intrinsic factor, you will not be able to use the B12 you ingest.
  • If you are European or American you are probably getting plenty of B12, unless you are: a vegan … diabetic and are taking Metformin … following the Beating-Diabetes diet … taking medicines that interfere with your body's ability to absorb or use B12
  • Very low levels of B12 can result in … pernicious anemia (not enough healthy red blood cells) … paresthesia (burning or itchy skin) … neuropathy (nerve damage that is similar to diabetic neuropathy) … loss of mobility, loss of memory, dementia etc
  • Treatments consist of taking B12 as a supplement in very high doses to ensure that some of it is absorbed … you can have … tablets that are swallowed … sublingual tablets that are dissected under the skin … nasal gels. .. injections
  • B12 is not toxic and you can not overdose

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Type 2 Diabetes – The Best Action You Could Take Is To Educate Yourself

Having Type 2 diabetes is stressful: there is a high level of anxiety in coping with an invisible, ever-present disease. It takes time and energy to understand the disease and learn the best way for you to handle your blood sugar levels and body weight. When it comes to learning and knowledge, there has never been a better time to be alive. Anything you could want to learn about weight loss and blood sugar control is within your reach. All it takes are a handful of online searches to get you started. As for the best method of learning, it is a matter of opinion. You can not go wrong with the self-education route: in regards to health and well-being, it is the primary method. Even if you had taken a general health and well-being or nutrition course at some point in your student career, it was not enough. Beside, we know a lot more today than we did just a few years ago.

Since us living in an age where there is more accessible knowledge at our fingertips than before, we also happened to be the unhealthiest we have ever been as a population. Obesity is ubiquitous, Type 2 diabetes is highly prevalent, and heart disease is a leading cause of death.

It is not like we lack the information to shed light on the workings of these diseases. Perhaps not enough people are aware of the consequences of common health problems. Many people take their health for granted because they are currently healthy. If more people knew their odds and circumstances could suddenly change, we might see more prudence in our society.

Depending on where you live, you might see people exercising outside on warm evenings. It is good to see people living healthy lifestyles because it reminds you of the behavior you should emulate and the habits you should build or strengthen. Unfortunately, it is almost a guarantee there should be more people out exercising, even if you live in an active community. Go to your local mall's food court, and see how many families are there eating fast food. It would be beneficial to their health if they were eating home-cooked meals instead.

While many factors are contributing to the health problems in modern society, the main one arguably is a lack of proper education. But you can not blame the system. And even if the general community is not setting a good example, it should not matter to you anyway. Worry about yourself and those who are closest to you.

The best action you could take is to educate yourself. Teach yourself about how to live a healthy life. Learn about the diseases you are most vulnerable to depending on your family history Take preventive measures and learn about what happens when you do. More importantly, what could potentially happen if you do not.

Educate yourself so you can know what action to take and in turn, live a healthier life.

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Type 2 Diabetes – Can Low Levels of Antibodies Contribute to the Development of Diabetes?

Scientists at Guandong Medical University and several other research institutions in China and Scotland found low levels of certain types of antibodies in people who had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. These antibodies stop infection, which has a known link to insulin resistance, the cause of Type 2 diabetes.

In November of 2017, the Journal of Inflammation (London), reported on a study that looked at antibodies to inflammatory molecules in people with Type 2 diabetes. Women had decreed levels of the antibodies called anti-IL6 IgG and anti-IL8 IgG. Both molecules are inflammatory, as is anti-TNF-ALPHA IgG, which was seen in low levels in men. The participants were then given blood sugar lowering drugs for 6 months. HbA1c levels were found to be …

  • lowest in those diabetics with the highest levels of anti-ILALPHA IgG and
  • highest in those with low levels of the antibodies,

although the differences were not statistically significant.

From this information the researchers concluded misconceptions of antibodies to inflammatory monsters probably raising the risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Antibodies are proteins that attach themselves to molecules known as antigens. We usually think of antibodies as connecting themselves to alien organisms, such as bacteria and viruses to enable white blood cells to engulf and kill the invaders.

Inflammation is part of the immune response, but it must fade away after the invaders have been vanquished. The role of antibodies to inflammatory molecules is to stop inflammation.

Antibodies are also known as immunoglobulins, and they are composed of three protein chains held together in a Y shape. Five types of antibody are classified according to their species of chains. The chains include …

  • IgG,
  • IgM,
  • IgA,
  • IgE, and
  • IgD.

Inflammation is defined by the five conditions it causes …

  • heat,
  • redness,
  • pain,
  • loss of function, and
  • swelling.

Inflammation in the body is named for the inflamed organ plus the ending “itis.” For instance, inflammation of the skin is called dermatitis, “derma” for skin, and “itis” for inflammation.

Two main classes of drugs are used for fighting inflammation …

  • cortisone which resembles a body hormone, and
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include medications such as aspirin, Tylenol, and Motrin.

Cortisone is a steroid, which works against inflammatory reactions by blocking white blood cells from going to the site where the inflammation takes place. (Not to be confused with steroids used illegally to boost athletic performance).

NSAIDs work against body molecules called prostaglandins, which are also pro-inflammatory.

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Type 2 Diabetes – The Right Reason For Making Lifestyle Changes

There are many reasons to make changes to your lifestyle. It could have to do with a variety of conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or hypertension. Or it could be for something simple, such as improving your general health.

Your perspective is unique in that you have established it over time based on your opinions and observations. Finding someone else with the same outlook is difficult: the best you could do is compare. No doubt you have some ideas about making lifestyle changes. Or you may still be in the early stages and not yet committed to change. Believe it or not, the yes or no decision itself is a significant part of the process that often has its progress. Many people are stuck here, weighing their reasons for a change, trying to cultivate the motivation to not only get started but also make significant progress.

Whatever your reason for making lifestyle changes, you bought to make sure it is a good one. If you would like some help in coming up with the right ideas, consider the following …

  • your primary reason for making changes should not be for the benefits but rather to avoid the consequences.

Let us consider physical activity for a moment. Regular exercise promises a more functional and attractive body. It promotes higher energy levels and better moods. Provided your diet is decent, regular exercise is also likely to improve your physique. These are attractive benefits but, unfortunately, there are activities not in the exercise category. Binge eating while watching TV for instance. So if you are then to stand a chance of winning any benefits, you would have to work out for an extended period to work off the effects of binge eating, and that would mean a lot of work.

On the other hand, consider some of the consequences of not exercising …

  • becoming overweight or obese,
  • becoming a Type 2 diabetic and having to follow a restricted diet to help control your blood sugar,
  • feeling weak and fatigued due to blood sugar problems.
  • having to go to the doctor's regularly, or potentially the hospital in the wake of alarming symptoms of hyperglycemia,
  • developing heart disease, or even
  • a stroke.

Some complications are extreme and less likely. But they are still a consequence of living a physically inactive lifestyle, eating poorly, and allowing your health to decline when you could be intervening.

If you are struggling with motivation to make changes, do not do it primarily for the benefits. First and foremost, do it to avoid personal catastrophe. We seem to be more willing to move away from pain than we are to move towards pleasure or reward. Since in this case, it is a matter of perspective, use this fact to your advantage in making your decisions.

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Tpe 2 Diabetes – Eat Like You Have Diabetes to Prevent Developing the Disease

Sometimes the most basic and simple piece of advice you are given will save you from a lot of trouble. It is not like you need long involved answers to complex problems. The basics are often staples, so you should take care not to overlook them.

Let us talk about diabetes prevention. It is an essential subject because you are either a Type 2 diabetic or not. If you are part of the latter group, you are by definition at risk of developing the disease, even if only by a small chance. Also, the techniques for Type 2 diabetes prevention are the same as for the treatment process, so this discussion should be insightful for all.

In short, you should eat like you have Type 2 diabetes to prevent raising your blood sugar levels and your body weight. You would make adjustments to your eating habits if you were to have the disease, but the principal remains. It is a matter of prudence, which not only can save you from a multitude of inconveniences and pain, but also potentially your life as well.

Never forget Type 2 diabetes is a disease with lethal ramifications. If not an earlier death, it promises complications to …

  • your heart,
  • kidneys,
  • eyes,

and even your feet. While your heart is given more importance than your extremities, consider the catastrophe it could be to require an amputation because of an infection.

It can be difficult to understand how high blood sugar can cause such a variety and severity of problems but you do not have to fully understand it. Simply realizing this fact and knowing the risks are enough.

It is in your best interest to prevent rising blood sugar levels before they start: there is much to be earned from a healthier lifestyle. Odds are you will minimize the risk of developing other diseases in the process of eating like you have diabetes since diet is such a critical factor for general health and well-being.

Informed Type 2 diabetics know they should mind their carbohydrates intake: this does not necessarily mean few carbs should be consumed as much as healthier carbs. Build your eating plan around whole-grain sources, and save the trips for special occasions. Once you get used to eating brown rice and whole-grain pasta, you will see there is no reason to go back. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are just a matter of habit and adjustment.

It is not just about food choices but also eating habits. Diabetics are advised to eat slowly, snack less and control their portion sizes. Focus on these to start.

Remember: if you eat like you have Type 2 diabetes, you will not only likely avoid it but also gain several health benefits that will make a positive difference in your quality of life.

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Type 2 Diabetes and Exercise – Three Reasons Why You Are Sedentary

Are you sedentary? If you are unsure of what it means to be sedentary by definition, you bought to ask yourself about physical activity. Are you physically inactive? If so, you are likely sedentary. Unless you have an unconventional physically active job, you are probably not involved in enough activity.

It is probably just another reminder to you but remaining sedentary over the long-term poses serious consequences. You leave yourself vulnerable to some of the worst health complications just because of a lack of exercise. It is purely a fact physical activity is an essential ingredient for not only preventing health problems but also living a good life.

If you are sedentary, do you know the reasons why? Perhaps you know you bought to make time for exercise, even though it feels you do not have much time available as it is. Lack of spare time is only one reason, as there are others that may be relevant to you …

1. You work a typical job. There is nothing wrong with working a regular job. Most typical jobs, however, do not involve enough activity. Which means you are most likely sitting for many hours each day. We have evolved as physically active beings who like to be involved in physical work. In fact, in the past, it was atypical to not be reasonably active for most of the day.

Recognize working at a regular job predisposes you to continue your inactive tendencies, even after your workday is done. If you work in an office or sit for many hours during the week, it means you bought to make time to move. Go for a walk in the evening. Hit the gym for a workout, even if it is for as little as 20 minutes. Going to the gym for 20 minutes on four nights a week would help turn your health around, help with lower both your blood sugar readings and your weight.

2. Too much screen time. The primary predictor of sedentary behavior during downtime is screen time. If you spend more than an hour on average during your weekdays watching TV or surfing the web, it is pretty much a guarantee you are sedentary. For reference, the average North American spends hours in front of a screen during weekdays alone.

There is no harm done by decreasing your screen time to make time for exercise. Only good can come of this.

3. It is harder to be disciplined, and easier to be relaxed. Discipline takes work; being passive is much more comfortable as it takes less effort. You do not have to convince yourself to relax at home when the alternative tends to require motivation.

But neglect has a price. Physical inactivity …

  • leads to weight gain,
  • decrees your energy levels, and it
  • can hurt your mood.

And it invites health problems like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

You do not have to exercise all of the time. But you do need to be reasonably active if you are to avoid the health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

Even if all of the above applies to you, you can still make changes. Better to become active sooner rather than later.

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Type 2 Diabetes – Is Luck a Factor in the Development of Diabetes?

Do you believe in luck? Some people believe most outcomes are the product of particular actions. Otherwise, it is a coincidence. Whereas others believe there is such a thing as luck – regardless of our doings, we may have good and bad things happened to us. Taken to a greater extent, some will believe we tend to be lucky or unlucky as a result.

When it comes to health wherever luck is involved or not, is often a hot topic for many people. Since it is an area vital for many of us, it will naturally raise the question of just how much influence we have on our well-being. Let us focus on this idea in regards to Type 2 diabetes since it is currently one of the most prevalent problems for middle-aged adults. Not to mention many people in this group are statistically vulnerable to the disease.

If you believe in luck, do you also think it is a factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes? Let us come up with an answer to this query …

Many people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes attribute the development of their disease to misfortune. If this were true, then it would be because, despite their efforts to prevent the disease, this form of diabetes would have developed nonetheless.

Since we know some individuals are more prone to Type 2 diabetes than others, given uncontrollable factors like family history and ethnicity, we see the odds are different between people. Therefore, since vulnerability will vary between individuals, it is potentially impossible to rule out luck is not a factor. But the amount to which luck plays a role in the development of this form of diabetes requires clarification. As we have learned, Type 2 diabetes is very much a preventable disease. With a healthy lifestyle, the odds of being overweight and having high blood sugar levels can be minimized. Even with populations considered to be high risk; those ethnicities with Type 2 diabetes in their family can drastically lower their risk.

This means even if luck is a factor, it is likely a minimal one. Especially in comparison to more significant factors like …

  • nutrition,
  • physical activity habits,
  • lifestyle, and
  • overall health.

Whether you believe in luck or not, it would be best to disregard the influence of this factor as there are more salient factors requiring your attention. Attributing it all to luck or fate would be poor judgment. It is cliché, but the best course of action is making your luck, by leveraging your opportunities.

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Type 2 Diabetes – High Blood Fats and Obesity Increases Your Risk for Chronic Kidney Disease

Hypertriglyceridemic waist (HW) is defined as a waist size over 90 centimeters in men or over 85 centimeters in women, along with high blood fats. In October of 2017, the journal Cardiorenal Medicine reported on a study in which hypertriglyceridemic waist was linked with a high risk for developing kidney disease in people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Investigators at the First Hospital of Qinhuangdao, Qinhuangdao, China, looked at 538 people with Type 2 diabetes. A total of 34.9 percent had hypertriglyceridemic waist. Early kidney disease was found in …

  • 10.6 percent of the participants with a regular waist measurement and blood fats, compared with
  • 24.5 percent of those participants with hypertriglyceridemic waist.

After taking other factors into account, the researchers found the participants with hypertriglyceridemic waist were 2.81 times more likely to have kidney disease than those with a standard waist measurement and blood fat levels. The scientists concluded the difference was significant.

Blood vessels run through the kidneys so they can eliminate waste. When sugar levels are too high in the blood, the kidneys will spill the sugar out into the urine. Like other blood vessels throughout the body, blood vessels in the kidneys are damaged by high levels of blood sugar. When they became damaged, water and salt are not removed well enough, and swelling of the ankles and face occurs. A protein called aluminum (like egg white) begins to spill into the urine rather than staying in the blood. This is a significant sign of diabetic nephropathy or kidney disease. Other signs and symptoms include …

  • trouble sleeping or concentrating,
  • poor appetite,
  • nausea,
  • weakness,
  • itching (end-stage kidney disease) and dehydrated skin, and
  • drowsiness (end-stage kidney disease).

Treatment for early diabetic nephropathy includes ACE inhibitors, a blood pressure-lowering medication that helps the kidneys to retain protein …

  • captopril (Capoten)
  • enalapril (Vasotec)
  • lisinopril (Zestril, Prinivil, Qbrelis), and
  • ramipril (Altace).

If the disease continues to progress artificial kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation may be necessary.

To prevent diabetic kidney disease keep your blood sugar down into the normal range …

  • work with your doctor or dietitian on healthy meal plans and regular physical activity,
  • stop or do not start smoking,
  • maintain a healthy lean weight., and
  • get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.

Individuals with a pear-shaped body, with small waist sizes, generally live longer than those with an apple-shaped body or a more substantial waist size. See your doctor and dietitian for a plan to whittle down your waist if necessary.

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How Diabetes Can Damage Your Kidneys (and What You Can Do About It)

To keep your body functioning properly, waste products and excess fluid must be removed on a regular basis. To do this, you have two bean-shaped kidneys … each about the size of your fist … located on either side of your spine just below your rib cage.

Your kidneys filter and return to the bloodstream about 190 liters of blood every day. In doing so they produce up to 2 liters of urine that contain the waste products your body needs to get rid of.

The urine flows from your kidneys to your bladder. Once your bladder is full, you get an urge to pee and the urine and the wastes it contains leave your body.

Why are your kidneys vital?

But your kids do much more than simply remove waste products from you bloodstream … they stabilize the make-up of your blood. This is critical to keep your body functioning properly.

Specifically, your kidneys:

  • prevent the accumulation of wastes and extra fluids in your body
  • remove drugs from your body
  • stabilize the levels of the electrolytes that balance your body's fluids
  • make hormones that help: (a) regulate your blood pressure, (b) make red blood cells, (c) produce an active form of vitamin D that keeps your bones strong and healthy

How do your kids filter your blood?

The heart pumps about five liters of blood a minute under resting conditions. Approximately one liter (20%) enters the kidneys for filtering.

Each kidney contains about a million functioning units called nephrons. Each nephron filters a tiny amount of blood.

A nephron contains a glomerulus (which is the actual filter) and a tubule (a tiny tube). The nephron works in a two-step process.

Blood from your bloodstream enters the glomerulus. The glomerulus allows fluid and waste products to pass through but it advances blood cells and large molecules, such as proteins, from getting through.

The filtered fluid then enters the tubule which contains a long series of ducts. In the tubule, various chemicals and water are added or removed from the filtered fluid according to your body's needs. The fluid, containing wastes, then exits the tubule as urine and flows to the bladder.

The main substances excreted in urine are:

  • metabolic waste products • eg urea and creatinine • from the chemical processes (such as digestion) that keep your body functioning
  • electrolytes • inorganic compounds (including sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride and bicarbonate) that your body uses to control its fluid content
  • water

Kidney disease

The functioning of your kidneys can deteriorate for a variety of reasons:

  • Diabetes … the leading cause of kidney disease
  • Hypertension … also a leading cause of kidney disease, as well as heart attacks and strokes
  • Glomerulonephritis … inflammation of the kidney's tiny filtering units
  • Polycystic kidney disease … the most common inherited kidney disease
  • Kidney stones … very common and very painful
  • Urinary tract infections … most often affect the bladder but can spread to the kidneys
  • Congenital diseases … that involve some problem in the urinary tract
  • Pain relievers … long-term use of over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Recreational drugs … such as crack and heroin
  • Toxins … such as from pesticides

Uncontrolled high blood glucose and high blood pressure are, by far, the most common reasons for deterioration in kidney function. There are plenty of things you can do to prevent the destruction of your kidneys.

How diabetes causes kidney failure

In the first step of the filtering process, the glomerulus advances blood cells and large molecules (eg, proteins) from passing through to the second step.

Uncontrolled diabetes can damage this system. High levels of blood glucose make the kidneys filter too much blood. The extra work is hard on the kidneys and after years they start to leak and protein gets through into the urine.

Sometimes the stress of overworking causes the kidneys to lose their filtering ability. As a result waste products start to build up in the blood. Sometimes the kidneys fail and you reach end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Uncontrolled hypertension causes chronic kidney disease in a similar manner.

How can kidney disease be detected?

Kidney disease presents few symptoms until almost all kidney functions are gone. This is because the kidneys work hard to cover for the filters that are failing.

Some of the symptoms of kidney disease are:

  • loss of sleep
  • poor appetite
  • upset stomach
  • weakness and difficulty concentrating
  • more frequent urination, especially at night
  • puffiness around the eyes, and
  • swelling of hands and feet

These symptoms, however, are not specific to kidney disease and could relate to several other diseases.

So, if you are older, have diabetes or high blood pressure, or a member of your family has chronic kidney disease, you should be examined by a doctor regularly who can perform some simple tests to detect the disease early:

(1) A test for protein in the urine … too much protein in your urine suggesting that your filtering units have been damaged.

(2) Calculating your glomerular filtration rate (GFR), a measure of kidney function … you are tested for creatinine (a substance that helps your muscles produce energy and which builds up as a waste in your blood when your kidney function is reduced ) … the results, combined with other factors, are used to calculate your GFR, ie how well your kidneys are functioning.

(3) A blood urea nitrogen (BUN) blood test … BUN is another waste that builds-up in your bloodstream when your kidney function is reduced.

How to treat kidney disease?

The secret is to have your blood glucose levels and blood pressure under control. Doing so can help to prevent kidney disease or keep it from getting worse.

Self-care

The most important treatments for kidney disease are to keep tight control of your blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

The best way to keep your blood glucose levels under control is to follow the Beating Diabetes Diet:

A plant focused diet consisting of natural (non-processed) foods that are … low in sugar … low in fat … low in salt … high in fiber … have a low GI … contain only a little meat … washed down with lots of water … excluding eggs and all dairy products (milk, cheese etc)

The same diet will help you control your blood pressure.

Blood pressure can have a dramatic effect on the rate at which the disease progresses. Even a mild rise in blood pressure can quickly make kidney disease worsen. Four ways to lower your blood pressure are to:

  • lose weight
  • eat less salt
  • avoid alcohol and tobacco, and
  • get regular exercise

If you manage to give control over your diabetes and hypertension, you will slow the deterioration in your kidney functions and even even stop it from getting worse.

Drugs to lower blood pressure

If, after changing your diet and lifestyle, you are still having problems with your blood pressure, you can get a prescription from your doctor for medicines that will control your blood pressure.

Several kinds of blood pressure drugs are available. However, not all are equally good for people with diabetes. Some raise blood glucose levels or mask some of the symptoms of low blood glucose. Doctors usually prefer people with diabetes to take blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors.

Indeed, ACE inhibitors are recommended for most people with diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Recent studies suggest that ACE inhibitors, which include captopril and enalapril, slow kidney disease in addition to lower blood pressure. And these drugs are helpful even for people who do not have high blood pressure.

Low protein diet

Protein increases how hard the kidneys work. Thus, another treatment some doctors use with patients who have large amounts of protein in their urine is a low-protein diet.

A low-protein diet can reduce the amount of protein that gets through the filtering process to the urine. But you should never start a low-protein diet without talking to your health care team.

Another trick is to concentrate on the protein you get from vegetables and avoid the protein in animal products (meat, fish and dairy) which is harder on the kidneys.

End-stage renal disease

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is the complete and irreversible failure of your kidneys.

When your kidneys stop working completely, your body fills with extra water and waste products, a condition known as uraemia. You will feel tired and weak because your body needs clean blood to function properly. Your hands and feet may swell up.

Untreated uraemia may lead to seizures or coma and will ultimately lead to death, in just a few months at the most. To avoid this, you will need to undergo dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Dialysis

Dialysis artificially removes waste products and extra fluid from your blood when your kidneys can no longer do this. The two major forms of dialysis are haemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis.

In haemodialysis, your blood is sent through a filter that removes waste products. The clean blood is returned to your body. Hemodialysis is usually performed at a dialysis center three times per week for 3 to 4 hours each session.

In peritoneal dialysis, a fluid is put into your abdomen. This fluid captures the waste products from your blood. After a few hours, the fluid containing your body's wastes is drained away. Then, a fresh bag of fluid is dripped into the abdomen.

Patients can perform peritoneal dialysis themselves. Patients using continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) change fluid four times a day.

Another form of peritoneal dialysis, called continuous cycling peritoneal dialysis (CCPD), can be performed at night with a machine that drains and refills the abdomen automatically.

Kidney transplant

A kidney transplant involves surgery in which your diseased kidneys are removed and a healthy kidney from a donor is put in its place.

The donated kid may come from an anonymous donor who has recently died or from a living person, usually a relative. The kidney that you receive must be a good match for your body. The more the new kidney is “like” you then the less likely your immune system is to reject it.

Your immune system protects you from disease by attacking anything that is not recognized as a normal part of your body. Your immune system will reject a kidney that appears too “foreign.”

You will need to take special drugs for the rest of your life to help trick your immune system and keep it from rejecting the transplanted kidney.

Potential future treatments for kidney disease

Regenerative medicine holds the potential to fully cured damaged tissues and organs, offering solutions for people who have conditions that today are beyond repair.

The techniques of regenerative medicine include:

  • Boosting the body's natural ability to heal itself
  • Using healthy cells, tissues or organs from a living or deceored donor to replace damaged ones
  • Delivering specific types of cells or cell products to diseased tissues or organs to restore tissue and organ function

For people with chronic kidney disease, new techniques that regenerate tissues and organs may be developed in the future to help slow the progress of the disease.

The takeaway

  • Your kidneys are vital organs that keep your blood clean and chemically balanced.
  • Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two leading causes of kidney failure.
  • Chronic kidney disease increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Kidney disease builds up silently and is often not detected until it is well advanced
  • A doctor can test for kidney disease by testing for protein in your urine, calculating your GFR, a measure of kidney function, and by testing your blood for BUN
  • The progress of kidney disease can be slowed • by keeping your blood glucose and blood pressure under control • but it can not always be reversed.
  • Dialysis and transplantation can extend the lives of people with end-stage renal disease, ie the total loss of kidney function.
  • If you are in the early stages of kidney disease, you may be able to save your residual renal function for many years by: (a) controlling your blood glucose, (b) controlling your blood pressure, (c) following a low-protein diet, (d) maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol in your blood, (e) taking an ACE inhibitor, and (f) quitting smoking

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Type 2 Diabetes and Weight Loss – Focus on “Good” Calories to Control Your Blood Sugar and Weight

There is such a thing as “good” calories versus “bad” calories. Calories are not created equal – even if a calorie is a calorie, the source they come from provokes different effects. No one can argu calories from a can of soda have the same net effect as calories from a natural fruit juice. It just would not make sense.

From a weight loss perspective, it is essential to consider your caloric intake. In this sense, it is vital to manage your input whether it is “good” or “bad” calories. But even then, youought to focus on the right kind, because it makes a difference.

When you have the option, opt for the healthiest alternative. French fries are a common side to accompany the main meal at a restaurant. They are not ideal because they are deep-fried which makes them denser in calories since fat provides a significantly higher amount of calories per gram than carbohydrates or proteins. You can go for mashed potatoes instead, as it is a better option. Sweet potatoes, however, would be the best alternative as long as it is not sweet potato French fries you are opting for.

Sweet potatoes contain …

  • fewer calories,
  • more fiber, and
  • less total carbs

than regular potatoes and have a lower glycemic index making them a superior choice as far as blood sugar levels are concerned. A boiled 150-gram sweet potato cooked with its skin on has a GI of 46. That number raises to 94 if the same potato is baked for 45 minutes. In this case, eating a sweet potato is an example of consuming “good” calories.

When cooking, the worst oils you could use are processed vegetable oils. They have damaging effects on the body, especially when your lifestyle is not the healthiest. Cooking with olive oil, however, ensures you are choosing the better option even though the caloric content is similar. Remember to moderate your intake if you are looking to lose weight.

These are just a couple of examples. There are numerous areas of your diet where you could focus on “good” calories. It takes an active commitment to making better calorie choices, but it is one of the best habits you could develop for your health.

As for the result? Beside making it easier for weight loss you will be much healthier in the long run. You may have heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” If you are eating poorly, it will be reflected in your health. The inverse is also true.

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Type 2 Diabetes and Healthy Eating – Do Your Eating Habits Change With the Seasons?

Changing seasons bring about apple change. Sometimes it is quick, other times it is gradual, but it never fails to be noticeable. If you live in an area that goes through all four traditional seasons, the effect is even more pronounced. If you do not have a typical winter, odds are you live in an environment that ranges from warm to cool, at the very least at different times of the year.

What you may not notice, however, is how your eating habits change according to the season – this is harder to recognize. The move might be subtle, and you could be reasonably unaware of the differences in your appetite.

Most people are guilty of some change in their food choices when the season changes – mainly as the weather goes from higher to lower temperatures. There are several reasons why this could be the case …

1. Darker days. If you live in the northern hemisphere, you know all too well how days can feel short in the fall, and especially the winter. Darker days tend to make us eat more. It could be because we end up spending more time at home and inevitably have more downtime. Downtime leads to more snacking. Also, maybe it is instinctual – our body feels the colder weather is coming, so our appetites increases to compensate. It suits our body's best interests to add a bit of weight as opposed to losing it to deal with the cold weather.

2. Less activity in the colder seasons. We are more active in the summer or during the warmer weather – more daily plans and action means we are busier and inevitably finding less time to eat. We do not think about eating as much when we have more to do. As mentioned earlier, when there is less downtime, we are more likely to eat only our main meals.

3. Less exercise, more eating. General activity aside, we are also less likely to exercise when the days get shorter, and the temperature decreases. In turn, we tend to substitute the time we would spend working out with more sedentary behaviors, like watching TV and surfing the web. These habits make it easy to snack, not to mention general boredom provokes our appetite further.

As you can see, these reasons are intertwined. For the majority of people, there is no doubt eating habits do change with the seasons. You need to be mindful of this to ensure the changing seasons do not affect your health goals. Even if it is still possible, it can be tougher to lose weight in the winter, especially if you live in an area experiencing negative temperatures.

Ultimately, you should be in control of your eating, your food choices, regardless of the season.

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Type 2 Diabetes – November Is Diabetes Month

In the United States and Canada November is diabetes month when healthcare professionals bring attention to and raise awareness about the disease and how it impacts on millions of people. The 14th is World Diabetes Day, declared by the United Nations in 2006. The International Diabetes Federation leads the campaign, and the date commemorates the birthday of Frederick Banting, who, alongside Charles Best, discovered insulin in 1922. The symbol for diabetes is a blue circle, like the pink ribbon for breast cancer, the dark blue ribbon for colon cancer, and the turquoise ribbon for ovarian cancer. Blue was taken from the color of the sky, and the circle stands for unity.

This year the International Diabetes Federation focuses on women as the family members who make the most decisions on nutrition and lifestyle. By staying diabetes-free through pregnancy and providing healthy foods for her family, a woman can prevent medical problems such as overweight or obese, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and all the complications associated with diabetes. The International Diabetes Federation estimates …

  • 70 percent of premature deaths in adults, and
  • 70 percent of cases of Type 2 diabetes

could be preceded by better nutrition and a more active lifestyle. The Federation urges more education on nutrition and a healthy lifestyle in girls and women and more opportunities for physical activity in adolescent girls. Many of the adult Type 2 diabetes cases and other health problems are due to bad habits acquired during adolescence.

The International Diabetes Federation or IDF is made up of 230 organizations in 170 nations. Regions include …

  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Middle East
  • North America
  • Caribbean
  • Central and South America
  • Southeast Asia
  • Western Pacific

See your local IDF office for more information on preventing Type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has a low-fat, low-sugar recipe for pumpkin pie so people with diabetes can celebrate Thanksgiving and autumn with the rest of the family. The ingredients are as follows …

  • pastry for a single-crust 9-inch pie,
  • 1 can (16 ounces) pumpkin,
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated non-fat milk,
  • 3 eggs (substitute)
  • 18 packets Equal sweetener *
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract,
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger,
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg,
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt,
  • lite whipped topping, (optional), and
  • fresh mint, (optional).

You could try a healthy, hearty lunch of vegetable chili, recipe courtesy of the ADA. It calls for …

  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil,
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder,
  • 1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained,
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce, and
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans no-salt-added dipped tomatoes in juice.

Remember to look good, feel good and be healthy. Having diabetes does not mean you can not live a long and rewarding life.

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Type 2 Diabetes – The Importance of Maintaining A Healthy Weight for Brain Blood Flow

People diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are frequently told to follow a weight loss plan and increase their physical activity to help lower body fat and maintain a healthy weight to help keep their blood sugar level in an ideal range. Now, according to the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, an efficient blood flow to the brain is another reason for reducing abdominal fat. Scientists at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem and various other cities in the United States found long-term weight loss in obese or overweight people with Type 2 diabetes, resolved in a more significant blood flow to the brain.

Researchers compared 310 overweight or obese Type 2 diabetics from 45 to 76 years of age …

  • one group received training in weight loss and physical activity for 8 to 11 years, while the
  • second group received just the usual care.

The participants in …

  • the training and exercise group lowered their weight an average of 6.2 percent, while those
  • in the usual care group lost an average of 2.8 percent of their body weight.

Blood flow to the brain increased 6 percent for the training and physical activity group. Among the same team, the participants who lost the most weight and performed a high level of physical activity had the most significant blood flow.

The parts of the brain with the highest gain in blood delivery were the limbic and occipital regions. The limbic system consists of several structures and is responsible for a few functions such as …

  • the sense of smell,
  • emotions,
  • long-term memory,
  • some behavior, and
  • arousal, or reaction to events.

The limbic system is located benefit the cerebral cortex or thinking part of the brain, and above the brainstem which leads to the spinal cord. It is similar to the brain of other animals and prehistoric mammals who lived before the evolution of the cerebral cortex. Damage to the limbic system can result in difficulty recalling past events. It can also cause hyperarousal, anxiety or hypo-arousal – the lack of ability to respond to events. Some anti-anxiety drugs target a part of the limbic system known as the amygdala.

The occipital region of the brain is located in the rear of the cerebral cortex. It is connected to your eyes by way of the optic nerves and interpretations their impulses to form a picture. Damage to the occipital lobe can result in …

  • loss of vision,
  • color-blindness, and
  • hallucinations.

There is no valid treatment available at present.

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Type 2 Diabetes – Protecting the Liver From Arsenic

Arsenic alone is toxic, and it becomes more so if it is combined with other molecules. Arsenic trioxide is used for cancer chemotherapy in small doses, but it can damage the liver. Scientists at Zhejiang University School of Medicine and various other research facilities have found how metformin, the first drug of choice for treating Type 2 diabetes, also helps to protect the liver from arsenic trioxide.

One of the ways arsenic trioxide works efficiently in treating leukemia is by interfering with the mitochondria of cancerous white blood cells. The mitochondria are known as the powerhouse of the cell, producing energy. Interfering with the powerhouse of the white blood cells working for getting rid of “sick” white cells, but when the same process occurs in liver cells, it can cause some severe illness.

Scientists at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine and several other research facilities have found a way metformin protects the liver from the effects of arsenic trioxide. In their study, reported on in the journal Cell Death and Disease in November of 2017, the researchers found metformin works directly on the liver cell's mitochondria, regulating their normal functions to make them resistant to arsenic trioxide.

The most recent studies show a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes does not put a person at risk of developing leukemia but is not it comforting to know metformin can protect your liver if you ever need it to?

Metformin works in three ways …

  • it lowers the amount of sugar produced by the liver,
  • it decreases how much sugar is taken up by the small intestine, and
  • lowers the resistance to insulin, the cause of Type 2 diabetes.

When resistance is lowered, the cells begin to take up more sugar from the bloodstream and use it for producing energy.

Metformin can also cause a disorder known as lactic acidosis , in which case Type 2 diabetics need to stop taking the oral medication and see their doctor. Metformin-associated lactic acidosis is a rare condition though, with an estimatedvalence of between one to five in 100 000.

Signs and symptoms of lactic acidosis include …

  • tiredness,
  • dizziness,
  • drowsiness,
  • chills,
  • cold skin that can be blue,
  • muscle pain,
  • difficult or fast breathing,
  • a slow or irregular heartbeat,
  • abdominal pain,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting, or
  • diarrhea.

At some point in your diabetes treatment, your doctor may suggest you try one of the oral medicines available to keep your blood sugar at acceptable levels.

In addition to the lifestyle changes discussed with you by your doctor in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, Metformin is often prescribed at 500 mg twice a day or 850 mg once a day at the beginning of treatment. If healthy levels of blood sugar are not achieved then higher doses may be prescribed. Ask your doctor to tell you both the risks and benefits of any diabetes medications he or she prescribes.

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Type 2 Diabetes – Digestion Time And Diabetes

Essentially everything you eat goes through a similar digestive process. Many people believe digestion begins in the stomach, where there is a physical breakdown of food and gastric acids are added. But it starts from the moment food enters your mouth when you command chewing, and saliva mixes with your food. Amylase is present in the saliva where it begins the chemical process of digestion – contrary to popular belief digestion does not start lower in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). Amylase has the responsibility of helping your body process carbohydrates into simple sugars.

This brings us to a very important topic, particularly for people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or those with sensitive blood sugar: digestion time. When we are young, we could not care less about something seemingly so trivial. But it affects us even then. As adults, we are much more vulnerable to problems and diseases, and the effects of harmful habits are much more pronounced. However, even something that can seem so unimportant like digestion time proves significant.

The reason why we see young type 2 diabetics more than ever is partly due to poor eating decisions. It is not only the poor choices but also the way the foods are consumed.

Let us consider the most obvious example of harmful foods for our youth: sweets. Candies, chocolates, and other similar trees are not an issue just because of their high sugar and calorie content. It is also because they are quickly digested. Foods processed immediately by the body will spike blood sugar levels. Regular blood sugar spikes have a detrimental effect on the body's insulin function over time, impairing its effectiveness – this is how consistently high blood sugar begins.

In contrast, eating foods with a moderate rate of digestion leads to a more stable blood sugar response.

There is a reason why sodas are often the number one recommendation for what should be avoided on a diet. Since it is a liquid and complied chiefly of sugar, there is somewhere no food or fluid digested more quickly. Its effect on the body's blood sugar is catastrophic.

Type 2 diabetics, no matter their age should consider digestion time when planning their meals. A slow digestion time is one of the leading reason why whole-grain carbohydrates recommended. Eating brown rice will always be superior to white because of its slower digestion. When rice is a staple in your diet, the difference between choosing white and brown is fundamental.As an aside, complex carbohydrates sources also tend to be sources of fiber, which also helps moderate the rate of digestion.

Whether you are looking to treat or prevent developing Type 2 diabetes, it will serve you well always to keep digestion time in mind.

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