Tag Archives: diabetes



Christina Shay, PhD of the University of Oklahoma, and her team of researchers studied the data on 4,166 adults, ages 45 to 84, who were initially free of cardiovascular disease.

Over a period of five years, women who drank two or more sugary drinks daily were more likely to increase waist size and gain weight.  They were also more likely to develop high triglyceride levels and impaired fasting glucose than women who consumed less than one sugary drink per day.

Unhealthy changes in heart-disease risk factors were observed, regardless of changes in weight.  Not all women whose waist size increased were gaining weight.

Shay said, “Most people assume that individuals who consume a lot of sugar-sweetened drinks have an increase in obesity, which in turn, increases their risk for heart disease and diabetes.  While this does occur, this study showed that risk factors for heart disease and stroke developed even when we accounted for whether or not the women gained weight.”

The same results weren’t seen in men drinking sweetened beverages.  “Women exhibit lower energy requirements overall and they may be at elevated risk for . . . cardiovascular risk factors when a greater proportion of calories is consumed in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages,” Shay explained.

Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, reports, “This study adds to the data we already have that people should displace sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric beverages, preferably water.”

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, July 8, 2013         Study presented at meeting of the American Heart Association       




144970287Southern fried comfort food, gateway to stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Researchers are narrowing in on the reason why US residents in the southeast have a significantly higher probability of stroke than persons in the rest of the contiguous 48 states.  In fact, those states–Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee–are grimly referred to as the Stroke Belt rather than the Sun Belt.

Over a four-year-period, Suzanne Judd, PhD, of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and her colleagues examined dietary data on 20,480 people age 45 and older in the Lower 48.  Judd presented the results of the study at a recent International Stroke Conference:

Persons who ate the most Southern-style food—averaging 6 meals per week– were 41% more likely to suffer a stroke over a 5-year period than those who ate the least—averaging 1 such meal per month.

After adjusting for factors such as smoking and physical activity, those who were in the top quartile for consuming the Southern diet had a 30% greater risk of stroke.

Researchers divided the self-reported diets of study participants into 5 eating styles:

Southern–Fried chicken and vegetables, processed or salty meats such as lunchmeat and jerky, red meat, eggs, sweet drinks such as sugared ice tea, whole milk.

Convenience—Mexican and Chinese food, pizza, pasta.

Plant-based—Fruits, vegetables, juice, cereal, whole-grain bread and fish, poultry and yogurt.

Sweets—Chocolate, desserts, sweet breakfast foods, breads plus added fats.

Alcohol—Beer wine, liquor, green leafy vegetables, salad dressings, nuts and seeds, coffee.

Only the Southern and Plant-based dietary patterns were associated with definite patterns of stroke risk; those in the Plant-based group experienced the least number of strokes.

In conclusion, Judd observed that the Southern diet combines 3 factors known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease:

Foods high in saturated fats contribute to high cholesterol levels.

Salty foods contribute to high blood pressure.

Sugary drinks increase the risk of diabetes—just ask Paula Dean.

Sources: Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, May 2013   Paper read at International Stroke Conference, May 2013



In 1999 the American Heart Association (AHA) published a set of guidelines for heart disease prevention in women and revised them in 2011.  What follows are the newer guidelines are based on clinical trials that examined the protective efficacy of lifestyle measures and drugs:

1.  Quit smoking; avoid second-hand smoke.   The worst thing you can do to your heart and your other organs, and those of persons around you is to smoke.  Smoking causes about two-thirds of heart attacks among young and middle-aged women, and if you smoke while taking birth control pills, your risk is even higher.

No level of smoking is safe. The bad news:  The risk of heart attack rises with every cigarette smoked daily.

The good news:  Your risk of heart attack is reduced the minute you quit smoking.

2.  Know your blood pressure; keep it under control.  A blood pressure (hypertension) test may well be the cheapest, simplest and most valuable medical test of all.  More black women have hypertension than white women and tend to develop it about 10 years sooner than white women.

Early awareness of prehypertension coupled with attention to exercise, diet, weight control and drugs, if needed, can help you keep it from developing into full-blown hypertension.

3.  Know your blood cholesterol levels; keep them in a healthy range.  Optimal LDL (“bad”) levels are less than 100 mg/dL, and acceptable levels are less than 130.

Optimal levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol for women should be at least 50, compared to 40 for men.

Total cholesterol levels should be less than 200.

Diet and exercise can improve your levels.

4.  Have your blood sugar level checked; control it if it’s high.  Women with diabetes or with prediabetes are at greater risk for heart attack and stroke than are men with those conditions.  You can control your blood sugar through diet, weight loss, exercise and, if needed, medication.

5.  Eat a heart-healthy diet.  Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, (dried) beans, whole grains and low-calorie dairy products.  Eat oily fish two or three times a week for their omega-3 fats.  Keep portions of lean meats, such as skinless poultry breast and well-trimmed cuts of other meats, small.

Avoid trans fats and saturated fats, but eat moderate amounts of unsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds, avocado and vegetable oils.

Eat sparingly of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates, such as white potatoes, bread and pasta.

6.  Cut back on sodium to reduce risk of hypertension and stroke.  For people over 50, for all blacks and those with hypertension, diabetes or kidney disease, the recommendation is a daily limit of just 1,500 milligrams.

Others should aim for less than 2,300 milligrams.

All this translates into your having to cut way back on processed foods, restaurant meals and fast foods.

7.  Stay active.  For heart benefits, walk briskly or do some other aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.  Current recommendations are for a total of 150 minutes per week.

You may want to assess your 10-year risk of having a heart attack based on your age, gender, cholesterol levels and blood pressure at the government’s National Cholesterol Education Program at  http://www.tinyurl.com/risktool

SOURCE:  University of CA, Berkeley Wellness Letter, Special Winter Issue, 2012    American Heart Association

Coming up:  7 More Heart-healthy Tips for Women 



Check with your doctor before you begin, particularly if you are overweight or have a history of heart disease, diabetic neuropathy or peripheral vascular disease.

Current recommendations include a complete physical and, for people over 35 or who’ve had diabetes for more than 10 years, an exercise stress test.  The results will determine the safest way for you to increase physical activity.

Spread your activity over the week.  The US Dept of Health and Human Services urges adults to aim for a weekly total of at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a mix of the two.

Choose your exercise time wisely.  The best time to exercise is one to three hours after eating, when blood sugar levels are likely to be higher.

If you use insulin, you must test your blood sugar before exercising.  If it is below 100mg/dL, have a piece of fruit, or have a small snack to boost it so you avoid hypoglycemia.

Test again 30 minutes later to see of blood sugar levels are stable.

Check your blood sugar after a particularly vigorous workout.

If you use insulin, your risk of developing hypoglycemia may be highest 6 to 12 hours after working out.

Experts caution against exercising if your blood sugar is too high—over 250.

Be prepared for a medical problem.  If you experience a medical problem while exercising—or at any time—it’s important that people who care for you know that you have diabetes.

An easy way to do that is to wear a bracelet, watch or other jewelry item or accessory that indicates you have diabetes and whether or not you take insulin.

Also keep glucose tablets or hard candy with you while exercising in case your blood sugar suddenly drops.

Source:  Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, November 17, 2012



I took an informal poll of some of the  health-conscious men and women in the Senior Center exercise room to find out why they exercised.  Here are their answers, in no particular order:

I exercise because . . . I’m a heart patient, I’ve had heart bypass surgery, I’m recovering from an injury, diabetes and heart disease runs in my family, I want to keep up with my grandchildren, I like to, it’s good thinking time, it relaxes me, it peps me up, I want to stay alive, I need to strengthen my muscles, I want to maintain my health, I want to live longer, it boosts my metabolism and I can enjoy more food without gaining weight, it relieves joint pain, it keeps me limber and flexible, I’m older and I gotta, I think better afterwards,

I exercise to avoid . . . lupus, diabetes, becoming obese, having a heart attack, having a stroke

Of all the choices in Lake County, I prefer to work out at the Mentor Senior Center because . . . the location is convenient, I like working out with people in my age group, it has a laid-back atmosphere, there’s no loud music, it’s clean, the equipment’s well-maintained, people are friendly, people work out instead of socializing, everything at the Mentor Senior Center’s the best in the area, the equipment’s good, the staff is responsive to suggestions to improve the Fitness Room, the staff is caring, I feel comfortable here, it’s never crowded or noisy, people are considerate and polite,

Almost everyone mentioned cost as a factor.  The cost of using the room is part of the $5 annual fee Mentorites pay and the $7 others pay.

If that doesn’t bespeak a senior center, a city administration and a city council willing to subsidize the health and well being of its community, I don’t know what does.

There are 20 pieces of equipment in the Fitness Room, 7 of which are multipurpose.

My Take on the Fitness Room:  I’ve been working out for 40 years, but for only the last 2 months at the Senior Center.  What took me so long to get here????  (Besides coming of age, of course.)

Tomorrow:  5 Myths about Fitness Workouts

Mentor Senior Center    8484 Munson Rd     440 974-5725          Fitness Room available 7 AM to 9 PM, Monday-Thursday, 7 AM to 4:30 PM, Friday, Main Entrance and Center Street doors open.       (Only Main Entrance doors open at 7 AM, Monday-Friday, for access to Fitness Room) 

 Office hours  Monday-Thursday, 8 AM-7:30 PM,   Friday 8 AM-4:30 PM 


NB–This report was published in 2009.  Please adjust references to “this year,” “next year,” etc., accordingly.

Almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested by Consumer Reports contained measurable amounts of bisphenol A (BPA), even some products labeled “BPA Free” or “Organic.”

Dr Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy at Consumers Union, (CU) the non-profit company publishing Consumer Reports, said, “The findings are noteworthy because they indicate the extent of potential exposure.  Children eating multiple servings per day of canned foods with BPA levels comparable to the ones we found in some tested products could get a dose of BPA near levels that have caused adverse effects in several animal studies.  The lack of any safety margin between the levels that cause harm in animals and those that people could potentially ingest from canned foods has been inadequately addressed by the FDA to date.”

BPA is linked to a wide array of health effects, including reproductive abnormalities, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease.

Consumers Union previously urged manufacturers and government agencies to eliminate the use of BPA in all materials that come in contact with food and beverages.  Given CR’s latest findings, CU sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg reiterating its request that the agency act this year to ban the use of BPA when it comes in contact with foods.

Results from Consumers Report’s testing for BPA:

Canned Del Monte Fresh Cut Green Beans Blue Lake had the highest amount of BPA for a single sample in Consumers Report’s tests, with levels ranging from 35.9 parts per billion (ppb) to 191 ppb.

Progresso Vegetable Soup BPA levels ranged from 67-134ppb. (When Harvard tested the blood of persons having eaten Progresso soups, their BPA levels spiked.)

Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup had BPA levels ranging from 54.5-102 ppb.

Average amounts in tested products varied a great deal.  In most items, such as canned corn, chili, tomato sauce and corned beef, BPA levels varied from trace amounts to about 32 ppb.

Surprisingly, Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli in Tomato and Meat Sauce packaged in a plastic container with a metal peel-off lid measured BPA levels 1.5 times higher than the same brand of food in metal cans.

Similac Advance Infant Formula (liquid concentrate) BPA averaged 9.7 ppb.; the same product in powder form had no measurable value of BPA.

Nestle Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Apple Juice tested at 9.7 ppb; the same product in juice boxes had no measurable value of BPA.

From the report:  “An FDA special scientific advisory panel reported in late 2008 that the agency’s basis for setting safety standards to protect consumers was inadequate and should be reevaluated.  A congressional subcommittee determined in 2009 that the agency relied too heavily on studies sponsored by the American Plastics Council. . . . . Bills are currently pending in Congress that would ban the use of BPA in all food and beverage containers.  Industry has been waging a fight against new regulations.”

My Take on the report:  Campbell soups recently decided to discontinue using packaging containing BPA.  Yay!!

Sadly, the US FDA ruled in May, 2012 that it had “insufficient scientific evidence” to warrant restricting the present levels of BPA in canned goods, though the chemical was developed as a synthetic estrogen and has hormone-mimicking properties.

What part of widely accessible synthetic estrogen don’t they get?    Boo!!

At any rate, we’re on our own.

One thing we can do is to sign a petition circulated by Change.org demanding that Progresso remove BPA from the cans it uses for its foods.

Please consider helping to protect us, the consumers, by going to


from Consumer Reports  November 02, 2009       Full results are reported in the December 2009 issue and are available free online at www.ConsumerReports.org



This generic person’s no dumbbell.

As we age, we lose muscle tissue, bone density and strength.  Consequently, we become more vulnerable to accidents that can put an end to our ability to lead the active and independent life we’d become accustomed to.

Strength training can slow down, may even reverse, our physical decline.  It can help manage, may even avert, conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis.

Strong muscles are good for a healthy heart.  They more easily extract oxygen and nutrients from the blood than do flabby muscles, thus putting less strain on the heart.

Strong muscles help regulate blood sugar levels.  They’re better at removing sugar from the blood and keeping the body sensitive to insulin than are flabby muscles, thereby controlling or preventing type 2 diabetes.

Without the tug and pull of muscles on our bones, we don’t efficiently absorb calcium.  Our early astronauts came back from missions with osteopenia—no gravity, no resistance for muscles to overcome.  The men were given elastic resistance bands to work out with on subsequent flights.   If we aren’t working our muscles against resistance, we’re inviting osteopenia and/or osteoporosis into our bones and lives.

Strong muscles help us to balance and avoid falling.  If we do trip, the muscles help us right ourselves before we fall.

Strong muscles are good for our vanity.  We look better in bathing gear, shorts and sleeveless tops if we’re well-muscled.

My Take on building muscles:  When I’m sleeping, my fat is inert.  It just lays there, looking flabby.  But my muscles, because they’re living matter, are busily working at burning calories, even while the rest of me is doing nothing.

And that’s the reason why muscles are the key to weight management.  It’s not so much because of the calories burned working out as it is because of muscles’ ability to burn calories 24/7.  Pretty sweet!

If you aren’t ready yet to tackle free weights or weight machines, stay tuned for BUILDING STRONG MUSCLES in which I’ll describe some of Harvard’s excellent starter exercises to build strength.

from Harvard Medical School Healthbeat, May 29, 2012      Also other sources