Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Link Between Diabetes and Depression

Diabetes and depression is one of those chicken and egg dilemmas: each illness may be both a consequence and a contributor to the other. While scientists haven’t figured out the exact mechanism of how the two diseases are linked, studies show that people with diabetes have a much higher risk of depression than people without diabetes. The good news is that both diseases can be treated together and effectively managing one can positively influence the other.
How Are Diabetes and Depression Related?
More than 10 percent of US adults have diabetes and about 6.7 percent of US adults have depression. More often than not, the two diseases occur together, but it appears the link between diabetes and depression can only partially be explained by increased body weight and lack of exercise. What researchers suspect is that there are two possible scenarios: depression may occur as a result of having diabetes or depression may be a risk factor for the onset of type 2 diabetes. In either case, the common denominator contributing to both diseases may be stress.
People who are depressed have elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol. When cortisol is high, it can lead to problems with glucose metabolism, increase insulin resistance and lead to the accumulation of belly fat; all risk factors for diabetes. People who are depressed also tend to have unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as not exercising, eating a poor diet, smoking, and drinking, all of which can further contribute to the development of diabetes.
On the other hand, people with diabetes must deal with managing a chronic disease and making significant changes to diet and lifestyle as well as adjusting to medications. The long-term strain of diabetes management can be very stressful and lead to symptoms of depression.
Because so much of diabetes management involves self-care, when the two conditions co-exist it can be a recipe for disaster. Depression in a diabetic can affect blood sugar monitoring, dietary choices and the desire to exercise. Neglect of self-care can lead to complications and worsening of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
A feeling of helplessness is a common reason for depression and if you have diabetes it is easy to feel this way. Managing diabetes is complex, demanding, and even frustrating.
It is important to note that people with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms, and the severity and frequency varies depending on the individual. To spot depression it is important to understand the difference between clinical depression and feeling down or sad for a couple of days. A person would be diagnosed with depression if they had a depressed mood or loss of interest or joy in daily activities consistently for at least two weeks. If you have been feeling this way, check to see if you also have two or more of the following symptoms: a change in sleep patterns, a change in appetite, trouble concentrating, loss of energy, feelings of guilt, nervousness, or thoughts of suicide.
All too often depression goes undiagnosed and untreated. If you think you are depressed, don’t keep your symptoms to yourself. Continue to take your medication and speak to your doctor right of way. Your doctor will be able to do additional screening and work with you on a treatment plan.
Important Self-Care Behaviors
Poor control of diabetes can cause symptoms that look like depression so there may be a physical cause. High or low blood sugar can make you tired, anxious, disturb your sleep and cause changes in appetite so it is important to prioritize diabetes self-management.
Two key self-care behaviors that will help you control your diabetes are healthy eating and being active. Eating healthy means that you should build your diet around whole unprocessed foods and limit refined carbohydrates and sugars. You want to include foods that provide all three nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and good fats in reasonable amounts to help you maintain a healthy body weight. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods, but you should work on portion control and eat regular meals that are low in saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
Being active is also a key behavior for managing diabetes. Being active can help control blood glucose levels, improve cardiovascular health, and assist in weight loss or maintenance. Include both aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, swimming as well as strength training and flexibility exercises. And don’t forget stress management. Engaging in yoga or meditation can help you to remain calm and cope more readily with your disease.  
Where Can I Go For Help?

Remember, depression is a treatable condition and it can strike anyone, but people with diabetes are at a higher risk. Seeking professional treatment for depression will help you manage symptoms of both diseases and ultimately improve your quality of life. If you think you are depressed, call your doctor or visit a mental health specialist. A doctor can rule out physical possibilities by doing an exam and tests and make recommendations for treatment.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Diet Soda's Fall From Grace

Diet sodas’ days of deceiving are in swift decline as health-conscious consumers are buying less of it in an effort to cut back on artificial sweeteners. Over the last year, sales of diet soda dropped almost 7 percent while sales of regular soda dropped by 2.2 percent. This trend is driven primarily by concern over the processing that goes into making a diet soda and reports that drinking it could lead to weight gain.

Artificial sweeteners have been used since the late 1800’s for “people who desire to limit their sugar intake.” Today, a number of chemical sweeteners are deemed safe for use in foods by the Food and Drug Administration: Aspartame, acesulfame K, saccharin, neotame (NutraSweet®) and sucralose (Splenda®.) Despite the fact artificial sweeteners are promoted as a safe weight loss tool, people who drink diet soda have an increased risk for being overweight.

Diet Soda and Your Waistline

Diet soda is definitely not a “health food” and the reason drinking diet soda doesn’t help with weight loss may actually be all in your head. When you drink a diet soda, your body and brain are primed and waiting for something sweet. The diet soda provides the sweetness but not the calories, leading you to search for something to satisfy this newly created unfulfilled craving. Or in other words, you end up eating more food. Not only that, but because these artificial sweeteners are hundreds and thousands of times sweeter than real sugar, they may blunt our body’s ability to become satisfied from the natural sugars found in unprocessed foods like fruit. So again, we feel like we need to add more sugar (calories) to our foods to become satisfied.

Studies conducted in 2005 and 2011 found that on average, for each diet drink a person had per day, they were 65 percent more likely to be overweight in the next seven years. Diet soft drink users as a group also had a higher waist circumstance and more abdominal fat (the type of fat that increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer.)

Artificial Versus Natural: Which is Best?

A good way to avoid all of the health risks associated with artificial sweeteners is to go natural with some caveats. Sugar cane, raw sugar, honey, and regular ole’ sugar are all natural and minimally processed, but they each have from 50 to 60 calories per tablespoon.

Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener made from the Stevia rebaudiana plant and has a long history of use in South America. Pure stevia has a bitter, licorice-like aftertaste that many people don’t like and it can be hard to bake with. However, there are a number of great products on the market that have taken care of the bitter after taste like Truvia and others. See what your grocer carries and do some experimenting.

Of course you can always stick with plain water….

I Don’t Like the Taste of Water

What if you really don’t like drinking water, and you don’t want to use any type of sweetener natural or not?

Try a few of these suggestions for low-calorie, nutrient rich beverages:
·      Drink fizzy water, (seltzer club soda) flavored with a dash of unsweetened pomegranate or cranberry juice or a squeeze of lemon or lime.
·      Experiment with using slices of cucumber in your water or pop a fresh strawberry into your glass.
·      Brewed teas are loaded with antioxidants. Try black, green, white, herbal, or rooibos; hot or iced, with or without lemon.

Swapping out your diet soda for a natural alternative is something you can do that doesn’t require a lot of effort yet can dramatically transform your weight and your health. Cheers!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

An Apple a Day Really Can Keep the Doctor Away!

Everyone has heard the old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” But what if I told you that same apple could save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars every year? In the US, poor diet and lifestyle choices have contributed to making cardiovascular disease one of the leading causes of death. High cholesterol, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, is commonly treated with statins drugs costing the US billions of dollars each year. Apples have been widely studied for their health benefits and there is new evidence showing eating one a day may be as effective as taking statin drugs for reducing cardiovascular disease risk.

Sayings We Take for Granted

Dating back to 1866, the original phrase was “eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread,” evolving over the years to its current form. However, eating this humble fruit for health dates back much farther than the saying, with accounts of the health benefits of apples appearing in Roman history and ancient Ayurvedic medicine. A saying that has been around for centuries must have some truth to it, so what makes apples so special?

Apples have a unique balance of phytonutrients found in both the pulp and the skin. Unlike most other fruits, the nutrients in apples aren’t as susceptible to loss during storage making them ideal to add to your diet. Problem is that we all know we should be eating our fruits, but we don’t always do it. What if I told you eating an apple a day could reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease? Do you think you could do it? New research shows that it may be as simple as that.

Scientific Backing

Using mathematical models, researchers at the University of Oxford completed a study to check the validity of this 150 year old proverb. What they wanted to find out is if eating apples is an effective strategy for primary prevention of vascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. To do this they calculated the reduction in vascular deaths if 70 percent of Britons over age 50 either ate an apple a day or took a statin a day. Then they estimated how many deaths or other adverse effects there would be from either treatment, and compared the costs. What they found was that either an apple a day or a statin a day to everyone over age 50 had a similar effect on overall mortality from cardiovascular disease.

This is great news as choosing apples over statins could avoid the side effects resulting from long-term use of medications. Statins are a class of cholesterol lowering drug that act by blocking an enzyme in the liver that produces cholesterol. But for some people the risks of the drugs outweigh the benefits. Long-term use of statins has been associated with muscle and liver damage, digestive problems, neurological problems and increased risk for the development of type two diabetes.

What’s Beneficial About Apples

Apples are loaded with nutrients and have been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, heart disease and to contribute to blood sugar regulation and weight control. A regular size apple ranges from about 70-100 calories and is loaded with vitamin C, phytonutrients and fiber. The type of fiber that apples contain, pectin, is effective in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol by binding with fats in your bloodstream. Quercetin, which is a flavonol in apples, slows the digestion of carbohydrates and reduces glucose absorption. This means you stay full longer and your blood sugar stays more even. Cardiovascular benefits are attributed to their unusual mix of phenolic compounds. These compounds act as antioxidants providing us with protection from oxidation of our fats.

Easy Ways to Get Your Apple a Day

Apples are a great grab-n-go snack since they are perfectly portioned and store and travel well. Keep a bowl on your kitchen counter or on your desk at work. Try some of these tips to get your apple a day:
·      Add chopped apple to your morning oatmeal
·      Spread apple slices with almond butter for a healthy snack
·      Toss chopped apples into a stir fry
·      Use them in a tossed salad

If you are looking for recipes, the US Apple Association and the Washington Apple Commission are two great places to start. Why not have an apple tasting party and give some of those different varieties a try knowing that you are taking your health to heart?