Though close to 85% use the internet even if from the low socioeconomic population, digital technology and web based application usage has been very slow to catch on when compared to the boom experienced in the retail shopping and banking sectors worldwide. The vast majority of online communities, mobile applications ( Apps, as they are commonly known) and web sites have been very sluggish in integrating with the mainstream health care stream.
Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and many others I am unsure of, have helped transform social life in a big way to a point where people avoid face to face contact. But these sites have also helped create a platform to support sharing of knowledge, communication and understanding, lever positive behavioral changes and also help in using the audiovisual mode of communication which lingers longer in memory.
More frequent consultations will be costly and not affordable to many even this day. This way of e- health will help tide over this if used well. This will help in increasing treatment adherence, health related behaviors as well as give a feeling of being looked and cared for.
But, there are some barriers to accepting the digital technology such as :
- in those with physical or visual impairment
- those who are illiterate
- those who do not read or speak english
- those residing in geographically remote areas
- those with social phobias
- those concerned about their privacy
Telephones have become more than just a gadget to either receive or make a call. With the new generation smartphones, one can record conversations, take excellent photographs, transfer them instantly through internet, chat with friends on the social media, create presentations for meetings, store data in excel format, fax documents, scan documents, use the phone as an organizer, store songs and movies which can be played when alone or bored. Now – a days, these smartphones have also taken the role of a health assistant which can track the progress in exercise schedule, diet, weight loss, and store personal data such as sugar readings over the past 3 months with a graphical representation included. These can be uploaded where you are on this planet and can be linked to the doctors phone for an instant viewing. The list is endless. Maybe there is an app which can remind one to take the medicines on time in case one has forgotten.
There were days when people used log books to record their sugar readings and might even forget to get them when coming for the consultation. Now – a – days with advancements in technology, there have been significant developments in the way a person with diabetes can record their progress or even hide their frustrations by making excuses such as worn out batteries and even having forgotten them at home.
Things have become so technological these days with the data being uploaded to a remote system or a good mobile devise or even the doctors chambers. This comes particularly handy among the young children who sometimes tell lies to escape the wrath of their parents. The data is instantly shared with the parents phone devise helping them keep a track of the events.
There are numerous applications ( Apps) which can be downloaded either for free or for a price which can help in various functions and even take over as a personal health secretary. The list is so vast and all have not been mentioned here. Some are free to download , some have to be paid for.
Some apps for nutrition include : Fooducate, Carbs and Cals, Carbmaster free, calorie counter, calorie tracker, daily burn, lose it, Go meals, weight watchers mobile
Some apps for exercise include: my fitness pal, run tracker,workout trainer
Some for glucose monitoring include: Bant, dLife, Glucose buddy, GluCoMo, Wave sense, Glooko, DBees.com, Glucatrend diabetes, VRee, On track, Handylogs sugar
Ihealth wireless smart glucomonitoring system and TelCare wireless glucose meter can help synchronize ( or sync ) the data with an App, website or even an i cloud.
This is a devise connected to a glucometer which can transfer data to a remote system or website.
This is a cable connecting a phone to a glucometer. This can be uploaded to the cloud .
Some of the Apps can even show long term trends and graphically represent them making the visualization much better ( if all is going well) . The only problem is one will have to enter the data and allow the App to take care of the rest. This data can be shared with the health care provider almost immediately which helps taking health care to another level.
Diabetes Pal- this helps even recording and advising on level of physical activity and can record the glucose readings as well.
This app lets you record blood glucose levels and note the time of day—such as “before breakfast” or “during activity.” You can view trend graphs, interact in the Glucose Buddy forums, and record insulin injections, exercise, and food eaten. You can also sync your phone to an online account to manage your data on Glucose Buddy’s website. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Manufacturer AgaMatrix’s app lets you log blood glucose levels and type in personal notes. You can record the amount of insulin injected and the number of carbohydrates eaten, and view one-, three-, seven-, 14-, 30-, and 90-day trends in graph or chart form. High, in-range, and low readings are color coded in the logbook. And you can e-mail your stats to family or your doctor. The app comes loaded with about 50 diabetes-related videos. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
With this app one can log and store the blood glucose level as well as food intake, blood pressure, weight, exercise, pulse, A1C results, body fat percentage, and medications taken. For each entry, personal notes can be added. Results can be exported via e-mail to your medical team. Devices: Android phones
Track weight loss, daily food intake, and exercise with this comprehensive app. Meals taken can be added instantly (from a list of common foods, brand-name foods, and restaurant meals, or own recipes) and watch the sliding scale climb toward the recommended daily calorie limit. One can record exercise (choose from a long list of activities), graph the weight loss, get reminders, and share the progress on Facebook and Twitter. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Calorie Counter by MyNetDiary
With this app, eon can record meals (choose from an expansive food library that includes restaurant picks), exercise, water intake, medications, weight and measurements. Food selections include nutrition facts
This app gives an idea of food and how it affects the sugar, recipes and even short videos. The diabetes website dLife makes a diabetes application that you can use to log glucose levels, find recipes and nutrition information, watch dLife videos, and connect with the dLife community and experts to get answers to your diabetes-related questions. Aside from logging the sugar levels, you can graph daily, weekly, or monthly levels and track trends—all of which can be e-mailed to yourself or your health care provider. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
This app could be your shopping companion on the next trip to the grocery store. You can scan barcodes, search for products, and browse categories to find foods you’re shopping for. By selecting a food, you’ll get a list of health pros (100 percent whole grain!) and cons (loaded with high-fructose corn syrup!) and can compare it to similar products. Keep track of products you eat regularly by “liking” a food. Then, next time you hit the store, you can pull up a “my likes” list of foods you might want to buy again. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
7 MINUTE WORKOUT
This is an app which can fit into any routine, has 12 simple exercises which are scientifically formulated.
This has exercises for strength training, yoga, cardio and stretching. All one has to do is to select a workout category, and how long the exercise plan should be for. Accompanying videos will help show how to perform the exercises properly with minimum injury and maximum effect.
This is an app which is ideal for those interested in cycling, running, swimming and biking. This has an in built Goal Coach which sets a realistic goal to follow.
ManageBGL is an app that offers a simulated insulin pump. This is of use among those who are having Type 1 diabetes or those having type 2 diabetes with multiple doses of insulin.This needs some input such as current and previous blood sugar levels, carbohydrate intake, insulin dose and this will predict the future glucose readings and aid in auto calculation of bolus insulin dose.
To help those who are handicapped with poor eyesight, some glucometers have come with a voice readout.
Sharing the data through social media such as WhatsApp, TalkRay , Viber, Instagram and Facebook have made the modes of sending across data almost instantaneously. If you ever noticed, a once upon a time luxury called email, has now almost become mandatory. There have been instances when patients have even used the above to send me snaps of the medicines they wish to have refilled or even to send me snaps of some ulcers on their foot to help monitor the progress and even to help with their appointments. Scanning and sending their test results from the far corners of the world can be sent across through one of these portals.
Normally during the cold winter months, the levels of HbA1C, the 3 month average of sugar, can be higher due to higher food quantity consumed to combat the cold, the frequent outdoor barbeques and probably excess liquor consumption with the co incident Christmas and New Year festivities. People spend more time indoors in places where the weather is extreme. Lack of adequate physical activity and excess sleeping hours cuddled up under the warm blankets add more insult. It is quite natural to gain 5-6 kilos during the winter.
Blood Sugar Testing
The finger tips may be cold and so warm them by rubbing them together or wrapping them around a hot mug before pricking the finger for testing. In places where it snows, the glucometer kit has to be kept warm in covered bags so that errors do not come in the readings
It is difficult to work up a sweat while exercising during this time and one may feel cold after the exercise due to the evaporation. Remember to dress adequately while going for outdoor exercises. Hydration with adequate amounts of fluids is still important even in the colder months. Dehydration can increase the sugar levels.
Exercise such as skipping rope, doing the Hula Hoop, aerobics, dancing, yoga, swimming in thermal controlled swimming pools or working out in an indoor gymnasium do wonders. The benefits of exercise are the same whether done during winter or summer!!
Some blame the cold for exercising outdoors, but then they also blame the summer heat and humidity when that sets in.
Care of Skin
It is important to take good care of the skin as it can dry quite fast. Adequate and generous application of moisturising creams, and sunscreen if going to winter sports such as skiing or snow surfing or those just trekking in the snow laden mountains are very important. Adequate hydration keeps the skin shining and hydrated.
Those with neuropathy ( where the nerves of the feet are not working properly) may have difficulty in gauging the heat of water used for bathing.
Take care of the feet. Do not use hot water bags to keep yourself warm. Use multiple layers of clothing or socks at night to the feet. In some countries warm fireplaces keep the rooms warm, but beware the carbon monoxide accumulation.
Food & Beverages
Alcohol may cause a sense of warmth caused by dilatation of blood vessels, but the same may be lost after some time. Manage the consumption of alcohol wisely. Try to take hot beverages and easily digestible food such as soups, oats, porridge, steamed food and some fruits. Black tea with crushed ginger and black pepper is a good drink to even soothe the throat. Remember that excess red meat consumption can lead to high cholesterol levels in some races. The temperature can get quite low at night and it is natural people may eat more to raise their body temperature. Remember you do not need that much food at dinner whether it is summer or winter. It is healthier to sleep on a lighter stomach.
Frequent respiratory infections , mostly viral, are quite common. It is wise to have a Flu vaccine taken once a year rather than have to take multiple courses of antibiotics and medications to combat the infection. The elder adults should have a shot of pneumococcal vaccine once in their life.
It is also quite common to get infections due to food poisoning from eating out .
Use tissues, frequent washing of hands using soap and water or sanitizers especially before shaking hands with others help to prevent transmission.
Gargling of the throat with warm saline helps. So also does steam inhalation.
Fizzy cool sugary drinks do not help whether it is summer or winter.
Enjoy the winter because you will wish it was like this when summer blasts in.
Though essential, there are many bad effects with salt when taken in large amounts over a long period of time. The kidneys cannot get rid of this in time which leads to water retention, hypertension ( raised blood pressure) and studies have shown this is also important in development of osteoporosis among women even with normal calcium levels.
Processed or canned food contain salt in plenty. These may not taste salty.
Fat free or low fat food usually have high sodium content.
Tricks to give a salty taste without really adding salt are to use vinegar or to squeeze lemon on to the dish.
Rock salt gives the taste of salt but is very low on sodium content.
Sodium content in some commonly used foodstuff:
- A teaspoon of light soya sauce has 365 mg salt.
- Dark soya sauce has 200 mg in a teaspoon
- Reduced salt soya sauce has 185 mg in a teaspoon.
- A small cup of French fries has between 200 to 400 mg salt.
- Chicken rice has a whooping 1290 mg salt !!
- A glass of milk (250 ml) has 80-120 mg salt.
Did you know?
One level teaspoon of salt is the equivalent of 2300 mg of sodium
Reducing the salt by 3000 mg a day can reduce the risk of developing a heart event , stroke and death by any cause by phenomenal percentages.
Salt is seen in these forms. Look for these on the nutrition labels.:
• Monosodium glutamate
• Disodium phosphate
• Sodium citrate
• Sodium nitrite
• Sodium nitrate
• Sodium benzoate
• Sodium ascorbate
• Baking powder
• Baking soda
These are salty…….
- Salt and seasoned salt (or salt seasonings)
- Boxed mixes of potatoes, rice, or pasta
- Canned meats
- Canned soups and vegetables (with salt)
- Cured or processed foods
- Ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, other spreads and canned sauces
- Packaged soups, gravies, or sauces
- Pickled foods
- Processed meats: lunch meat, sausage, bacon, and ham
- Salty snack foods
- Monosodium glutamate or MSG
- Soy and steak sauces
Glycemic index ( GI )of a food is the increase in blood glucose ( above fasting glucose) 2 hours after ingestion of a constant amount of food divided by a reference food( usually glucose).
To make this easy to understand, if the GI of a particular food is 72, this means that 72% of the ingested food is converted to glucose within the body after 2 hours of consumption.
GI reflects the rate at which carbohydrate is absorbed and digested by the body. Try to aim for low GI food combined with medium or high GI food rather than have more of high GI food. Whatever be the diet chosen, the dietary management has to be combined with physical activity for maximum benefit. A diet which suits one person may not suit all. It is advisable to see which food increases the sugar levels by checking the sugar levels after each food ( this is painful, but this can help to decide which food suits a person).
Low GI food stuff with the GI levels
Yoghurt low fat 14 Milk chocolate 24 Multi grain bread 48 Broccoli 15 Spaghetti 27 Parboiled rice 48 Celery 15 Skimmed milk 32 Carrot juice 45 Bell peppers 15 Fat free milk 32 Jams and marmalade 49 Spinach 15 Apple 38 Low fat ice cream 50 Tomato 15 Plum 38 Orange juice 52 Soya beans boiled 16 Pears 38 Kiwi 53 Artichoke 15 Apricots dried 31 Banana 54 Asparagus 15
Black beans 41 Sweet potato 54 Cauliflower 15 Boiled lentils 29 Egg plant 15 Boiled kidney beans 29 Lettuce 15 Green beans 15 Peanuts 15 Cucumber 15
Medium GI food with their GI levels
Oat bran 55 Rye-flour bread 64 Rice, brown 55 Apricots (tinned in syrup) 64 Fruit cocktail 55 Raisins 64 Spaghetti, durum wheat 55 Macaroni cheese 64 Popcorn 55 Beetroot 64 Muesli 56 Mars bar 64 Mangoes 56 Black bean soup, tinned 64 Potato, boiled 56
Cake , tart 65 Mini Wheats (wholemeal) 57 Potato, steamed 65 * Table sugar (sucrose) 65 Apricots 57
Barley, flakes 66 Potato, new 57 Pineapple 66 Digestives 58 Rice, white 58 Croissant 67 Pizza, cheese 60 Ryvita 67 Hamburger bun 61 *Ice-cream 61 Whole meal bread 69 Shredded Wheat 69 Muffin (unsweetened) 62 Potato, mashed 70
High GI food with their GI levels
White bread 71 Broad beans 79 Golden Grahams 71 Jelly beans 80 Millet 71 Pretzels 81 ** Watermelon 72 Rice Krispies 82 White rolls 73 Potato, micro waved 82 Puffed wheat 7 Cornflakes 83 Corn chips 74 Potato, instant 83 Chips75
**Potato, baked 85 Rice pasta, brown 92 Doughnut 76 Wafer biscuits 77 ** Rice cakes 77
** low in calories and highly nutritious
* empty calories
In todays world,one needs to relax in between to recharge ones mental and physical faculties. Just being a diabetic should not ruin your chances for a pleasurable trip.
See Your Doctor Before You Go
Before a long trip, have a medical exam to make sure your diabetes is in good control. Schedule the exam with enough time to work on your control before you depart. Get immunization shots — if you need them — at least one month before you leave. If the shots make you sick, you’ll have time to recover before your trip. Some countries do insist on some vaccinations which are mandatory. Most of the vaccines are available at the Tertiary care centers here in the Sultanate. They will issue a vaccination card as well which you may have to produce at the port of entry.
You might be needing a letter stating you are carrying the insulin shots, the glucometer kits, syringes and the pump in your carry bag. The site www.OneBag.com will help. The site diabetesaliciousness.blogspot.com also helps in knowing rules at airports around the world.
Before any trip, get two papers from your doctor: a letter and a prescription. The letter should explain what you need to do for your diabetes, such as take diabetes pills or insulin shots. It should list insulin, syringes, and any other medications or devices you use. The letter should also list any allergies you have or any foods or medications to which you are sensitive.
The prescription should be for insulin or diabetes pills. You should have more than enough insulin and syringes or pills to last through the trip. But the prescription may help in case of emergency. It may be useful to have a prescription in the language of the country you are visiting as English is not widely spoken or understood in some parts of the world. The sites https://translate.google.com as well as packitup.com give an idea how to do this translation.
It is safer to have enough stock of the medicines with you. It will be cumbersome to hunt for a doctor and schedule an appointment in the middle of enjoyment. This can even ruin your vacation. Carry enough stock of batteries for the glucometer or pump.
Prepare for an Emergency Abroad
No matter where you go, wear a medical ID bracelet or necklace that shows you have diabetes. If you’re leaving the country, also learn how to say “I have diabetes” and “sugar or orange juice, please” in the language or languages of the countries you’ll visit.
Insure yourself if need be. InsureMy Trip.com can help.
Many people with diabetes, particularly those who use insulin, should have a medical ID with them at all times.
In the event of a severe hypoglycemic episode, a car accident, or other emergency, the medical ID can provide critical information about the person’s health status, such as the fact that they have diabetes, whether or not they use insulin, whether they have any allergies, etc. Emergency medical personnel are trained to look for a medical ID when they are caring for someone who can’t speak for themselves.
The second rule of travel for a person with diabetes: pack at least twice as much medication and blood-testing supplies as you think you need. Pack all of them in your carry-on bag so that your medication is always with you (checked luggage can get lost). Keep a photograph of the medicines you are on in your smartphone. This will help in case the prescription is lost.
Whether you travel by car, plane, boat, bike, or foot, you’ll want to keep this “carry-on” bag with you at all times. Pack this bag with:
• all the insulin and syringes you will need for the trip
• blood testing supplies (include extra batteries for your glucose meter)
• all oral medications (an extra supply is a good idea)
• other medications or medical supplies, such as glucagon, antidiarrhoeal medication, antibiotic ointment, drugs for motion sickness.
• your ID and diabetes identity card
• a well-wrapped, air-tight snack pack of crackers or cheese, peanut butter, fruit, a juice box, and some form of sugar (hard candy or glucose tablets) to treat low blood glucose.
Eating in the Air
When you fly, you can request a special meal low in sugar, fat, or cholesterol. Make your request at least two days before the flight.
If you take insulin, wait until you see your food coming down the aisle before you take your shot. Otherwise, a delay in the meal could lead to low blood glucose. To be safe, always carry some food with you. If your meal is delayed or an order is mixed up, you won’t be stuck with an empty stomach.
I am on insulin
- When you travel with insulin, give some thought to where you’ll be storing your supplies. Insulin does not need to be refrigerated, but insulin stored in very hot or very cold temperatures may lose strength.
- Do not store your insulin in the glove compartment or trunk of your car. Backpacks and cycle bags can get quite hot in the direct sunlight. If you plan to travel by car or bike or to be out in the elements, take steps to protect your insulin. Many travel packs are available to keep your insulin cool.
- In general, you should stick with the exact brand and formulation of insulin that you have been prescribed by your doctor.
- However, if you run out while you are on the road, and your regular brand is unavailable, you may substitute another brand’s equivalent formulation (for example, NovoLog for Humalog, Humulin R for Novolin R). Changes in formulation (for example, from rapid-acting Humalog to to short-acting Humulin R) require medical supervision.
Insulin can come as U-40, U-80 U-100 and U-500. This means one ml of that insulin could have either 40 units or 80 units or 100 units or 500 units.
If you need to use these insulin preparations, you must buy new syringes to match the new insulin to avoid a mistake in your insulin dose. If you use U-100 syringes for U-40 or U-80 insulin, you will take much less insulin than your correct dose. If you use U-100 insulin in a U-40 or U-80 syringe, you will take too much insulin. However, the pen devices do not have these problems.
Crossing Time Zones
If you take insulin shots and will be crossing time zones, talk to your doctor or diabetes educator before your trip. Bring your flight schedule and information on time zone changes. Your doctor or educator can help you plan the timing of your injections while you travel.
Remember: eastward travel means a shorter day. If you inject insulin, less may be needed. Westward travel means a longer day, so more insulin may be needed.Visit www.voyagemd.com for insulin dose calculation while going on long hours. One may also need to adjust the insulin dosages when going on trekking or climbing mountains when abroad.
- To keep track of shots and meals through changing time zones, keep a watch on the home time zone until the morning after arrival.
- Keep the home time in the watch for half a day after arriving so that you take the shots of insulin at the normal time as back home. The time can be set after 8 hours.
- If on an insulin pump, change the time to new country before take off and program the pumpaccor
- If one injects insulin while in flight, those traveling frequently suggest you be careful not to inject air into the insulin bottle. In the pressurized cabin, pressure differences can cause the plunger to “fight you.” This can make it hard to measure insulin accurately.
- Checking the blood glucose while traveling is as important as when at home. Also, check the blood glucose level as soon as possible after landing.
- Jet lag can make it hard to tell if one have very low or very high blood glucose.
Welcome to a new place
After a long flight, take it easy for a few days. Check your blood glucose often. If you take insulin, plan your activities so you can work in your insulin and meals.
- If you are more active than usual, your blood glucose could go too low. Take along snacks when hiking or sightseeing. Don’t assume you will be able to find food wherever you are.
- No matter what kind of diabetes you have, it’s smart to watch what you eat and drink when traveling. Avoid tap water overseas. This includes ice cubes made from tap water.
- Ask for a list of ingredients for unfamiliar foods. Some foods may upset your stomach and hurt your diabetes control. But you will also find foods that give you a healthy taste of culture.
- Wear comfortable shoes and never go barefoot. Check your feet every day. You should look for blisters, cuts, redness, swelling, and scratches. Get medical care at the first sign of infection or inflammation.
- Go wherever your heart leads you. Just remember that you take your diabetes with you. Take your self-care along, too.
- It is always refreshing to have soda, slushies or coffee when traveling. Remember that these can have a lot of calories and carbohydrates.Try to have plain coffee with low fat milk rather than the fancy Cuppa Mocha, Starbucks or Latte which can pack quite a lot of calories. You must enjoy the vacation and so even if you wish to have all these, go for a stroll after the meals or these beverages.
- Those planning on visiting a beach, must remember to carry some cool fluids and keep the medicines cool. Those who wish to have their blood sugar checked by pricking must remember to wash their hands well before doing so. Some have alcohol while in the pool or on a beach.
- The effects of alcohol can be blunted while in water and so many may consume more to get the “kick”. Alcohol can increase the sugar levels. Cocktails can be pretty dangerous in terms of calories and sugar levels.
- Please do not walk barefoot however beautiful the beach may be.
- For those on an insulin pump, have the pump disconnected while taking off or landing as the pressure changes can sometimes deliver more insulin than needed. During the reconnection, remember that small air bubbles must be removed or else less insulin will be delivered. The extreme heat can sometimes damage the insulin in the infusion tubing which can work less effectively.
Carry the following with you to avoid problems at the airport
• Some document from the doctor mentioning you are diabetic
• A document to explain why carrying an insulin pump, glucometer, lancets for pricking blood, test strips, insulin pens and the needles, insulin storage cans or packs.
• Carry enough stock of insulin
• Quick acting carbohydrates such as glucose powder.( remember that chocolates, juices may get damaged with travel and the glucose tablet may harden)
• Slow acting carbohydrates such as biscuits or cereal bars.
• Let the flight attendant know of your diabetes as low sugar can mimic drunken behavior!
• Inform the flight attendant or airlines of your diabetes status, so they know what to do if traveling long distances. They may give you extra leg room seats.
• You can also request for a special menu which comes with some of the leading airlines.
• While flying, never aim for perfect glucose control ( keep the levels between 8 – 13 mmol/L or 144 – 203 mg/dL)
• Check the sugar levels in between if long haul flights( more than 4 hours)
Sometimes despite the intense effort and hard work put in, the weight loss is not as expected . One also tends to notice that a plateau has been hit after a period of time when the weight remains stationary. This is the dangerous time when one may give up out of frustration and all the weight lost will be regained in no time.
Given below are some of the labels on food items and what they actually mean:
|No fat or fat-free
||Contains less than 0.5 g of fat for each 100 g/ml
|Lower or reduced fat
||Contains at least 25% less fat for each 100 g than original
||Contains less than 3 g fat for each 100 g or 1.5 g for each 100 ml
|Low in saturated fat
||Contains no more than 1.5g for each 100g or 0.75g for each 100ml
|Lite or light
||Contains 25% less kilojoules than the original or comparative product
||Contains less than ½ g sugar for each 100g
||At least 25% less sugar for each serving than the original product
|No added sugar
||Sugar in any form has not been added as an ingredient
||No sugar or sweetener has been added
|No preservatives added
||Contains no added chemicals but may contain natural preservatives
||Contains less than 120 mg sodium for each 100g
|No salt or salt-free
||Contains 5 mg or less of sodium for each 100g
||Contains between 4.8 g– 6g or more fiber for each 100g
||Equal to or less than 10% of total fat
||Equal to or less than 5% of total fat
||20 mg for each 100g or 10 mg for each 100 ml
Some of the diets available are mentioned hereunder
Diet type 1 2 3 4 5
Flexibility Yes No No No No
Limitation no food is off limits single food type fat and proteins limited fat replacement meals
Physical activity Yes No Optional Yes Optional
Sustainability Yes No No No Costly, No
Diet type 1 : DASH, LEARN, TLC, Mayo Clinic, Mediterranean, Weight watchers
Diet type 2 : Fad
Diet type 3: Glycemic index diet, Nutrisystem, Sugar busters
Diet type 4: Low Fat
Diet type 5 : Meal replacement ( HMR, Jenny Craig, MEDIFAST)
DASH = Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension; HMR = Health Management Resources; LEARN = Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, Nutrition; TLC = Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes.
While selecting a weight loss program, it should be
• Should suit ones budget
There are many medicines and programs which claim to reduce weight. Remember that there is no short cut to weight reduction. It needs patience, support of friends and family and tremendous will power. Usually those with weight issues refrain from socializing, swimming and partying for fear of being ridiculed in public. This leads them to become introverts and they take to eating for comfort which further worsens their predicament. These people have to be coaxed and motivated into moving into a program slowly. Most of these people are fed up of being told about diet and exercise and look for short cuts. The market exploits this weakness. Remember that there is no perfect diet to reduce weight. There is must be more of expenditure of energy than the intake of food. Generally, fried food, less of salt, less of junk food, less of starch are the necessary steps. A rapid weight loss will increase the uric acid levels in many.
What causes a weight-loss plateau?
The progression from initial weight loss to a weight-loss plateau follows a typical pattern. During the first few weeks of losing weight, a rapid drop is normal. In part this is because when calories from food are reduced, the body gets needed energy by releasing its stores of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and liver. Glycogen holds on to water, so when glycogen is burned for energy, it also releases water, resulting in substantial weight loss that’s mostly water.
A plateau occurs because the metabolism — the process of burning calories for energy — slows as you lose muscle. The weight-loss efforts result in a new equilibrium with a now slower metabolism.
At this new equilibrium, calories eaten equals calories expended. This means that to lose more weight, one has to either increase the level of physical activity or decrease the intake of food. Using the same approach that worked initially may maintain your weight loss, but it won’t lead to more weight loss. Some people feel they should eat more due the workout.
How can you overcome a weight-loss plateau?
If at a weight loss plateau, you may have lost all of the weight you will, given the number of calories you’re eating each day and the time you spend exercising.
• Reassess your habits. Look at the food habits and work out regimes.
• Cut more calories. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 200 calories — provided this doesn’t put you below 1,200 calories. Fewer than 1,200 calories a day may not be enough to keep you from feeling hungry all of the time, which increases your risk of overeating. In addition, this reduced calorie intake should be sustainable. If not, you’ll regain the weight you’ve lost and more.
• Step up your workout. Increase the amount of time you exercise by an additional 15 to 30 minutes. You might also try increasing the intensity of your exercise, if you feel that’s possible. Additional exercise will cause you to burn more calories. Consider adding resistance or muscle-building exercises. Increasing your muscle mass will help you burn more calories.
• Pack more activity into your day. Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more and using your car less.
Maybe the weight you’re striving for is unrealistic for you. If you’ve improved your diet and increased your exercise, you’ve already improved your health even without further weight loss. For those who are overweight or obese, even modest weight loss improves chronic health conditions related to being overweight.
Whatever you do, don’t revert back to your old eating and poor exercise habits. That may cause you to regain the weight that you’ve already lost.
Remember any physical activity will go a long way to good health and lift up your mood as well. It always is good for toning up your muscles and joints rather than having to surrender to medicines.
Check weight, waist circumference of the fit of your clothes to analyze the progress. Please also remember that the weight loss may be quick initially and then it will plateau out before dropping again. The amount of weight loss per week varies from person to person and so it is obvious that the results of a certain program in which Mr or Ms A lost weight may not be enough or may be too much for Mr or Ms B. Some get bored of the monotonous diet and it is okay to cut lose once in a while. But, if it is done quite frequently, it can be enough to jolt once the sugar levels go alarmingly high which motivate the person to do better.
Exercise in any form is welcome in the quest for weight reduction. One can split the sessions to three sessions of ten minutes each rather than half an hour at one time. The post meal stroll does work well.
Summer is here again. Here, in the Middle east, there are just 2 seasons, summer and a cool season ( not exactly winter). The months from October to March are the months when the mercury drops to pleasant levels. The remaining part of the year is generally quite hot and dry. There are areas in the Middle East where the winter months can be at sub zero temperatures. Many people flock to such places to enjoy the temperature during those times. There are a lot of people from around the globe who constantly live in very cold climates and they look forward to the summer here to get a good tan or just bask in the sun. Vitamin D levels are linked to the exposure to effective sunlight. Though there is plenty of sunshine in some parts of the world , people do not go out in the sun or even if they do, they are covered in their traditional dress so that the exposed areas are minimised. Liberal usage of sunscreen lotions also plays an important role in the development of Vitamin D deficiency.
Sun screen lotions have been marketed by many companies. It is useful to know all these lotions come with a Sun Protection factor (SPF). This number measures how well that lotion will protect from harmful UVB sun rays. These do not protect from harmful UVA rays of the sun. If your skin will burn in 10 minutes of exposure to bright sunlight, a lotion of SPF 15 will protect from sunburns for 150 minutes approximately( 10 x 15). This will of course, depend on the skin type and also the activity being done in the outdoors. Please also note that a lotion of SPF 50 will not mean it will protect 2/3 times more than a lotion with SPF 30. All these lotions may be allergic for those with sensitive skin. Try out a small sample on your wrist and see if okay before purchasing. For effective sunscreen, douse on the lotion at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Rub in a good measure till the white color of the lotion disappears. Coconut butter (available from the germinating coconut) is a good natural sunscreen. One can periodically apply the sunscreen depending on how long one will be outdoors and also depending on skin type. Cold yoghurt can help in removing the itching and irritation after getting sunburns. The skin becomes red soon after it is burnt and may start peeling off the next day. Many remain in the swimming pool to be away from the heat. But, if in an outdoor swimming pool, the part of the skin exposed may get burnt without ones knowledge until he or she gets out of water. Use wide hats, remain in the shade from time to time and hydrate well also help.
Tips handling the summer:
Hydration with fluids:
• Be well hydrated with non sugary drinks
• Stay off alcohol, caffeinated drinks, fizzy drinks and sports drinks
• Plain water is a good source of fluids- which has no calories
• Tender coconut water is good for hydration
• Pocari sweat can increase the sugar levels for many
• Watermelon juice will increase the sugar levels
• Take small frequent sips from time to time rather than a large quantity at one time.
• There are excellent mocktails made with seasonal fruits such as Pappaya, pomegranate, banana, berries with some milk and sugar if needed. People add a squeeze of lemon with mint leaves to enhance the flavor and cool the body. It need not be chilled to give a cool feeling. The throat may get inflammed by taking too cool drinks while climate is hot.
• Buttermilk is a healthy drink. Adding ginger or chillies will enhance the flavor.
• Dark sago seeds is cooling. These can be soaked for an hour or so and they swell to form light black small jelly soft globules. These can be added to the juices made at home.
This happens when one does vigorous exercise or heavy work outdoors in the sun. Muscle cramps, feeling nauseated, dizzy, having rapid heart rates and feeling very feverish can be markers pointing towards exhaustion. Some collapse due to the heat (called Heat stroke). This can be avoided by exercising in a cool place or indoors or before the temperature climbs up. Have sips of water to cool down, some even wrap a wet towel on their head or face to cool down. Have a bath in normal temperature water. Exercise at times when the sun is not hot- maybe early in the day or late in the evening.
Wear cotton based clothes which are airy and help evaporate the sweat. Dress in loose sized dress and not using skin tight clothes.
• Carry on yourself plenty of water and snacks. Carry a glucometer as well. Do check the sugar if feeling dizzy.
• Store the glucometer, test strips and insulin in cool places. Never leave them in the car in the summer. There are even times when the medicines stored in blisters do get damaged when left in the car in the heat.
• One can use an umbrella or a wide hat to shade away the heat while walking.
• The eyes and skin can become very dry due to the excess use of air conditioners especially when the draft is aimed towards the face. Use a soothening eye drops which can be prescribed by the eye doctor and moisturizing creams to make the skin moist. One may have to use these quite frequently during the day.
• Remember to keep the windows of the car down a little especially when parked in the sun and also use screens to ward off the direct sunlight.
• Normally the water coming from the water taps or that stored in the overhead tanks will be quite hot. Some even get burnt due the extreme heat of the water. This can be a problem especially among those who are diabetic and who have nerve problems which prevent them from realising the water is hot. Scalds of the private areas are even seen when washing after toilet. It is best to store water overnight in large containers to prevent this from happening.
Dietary Cholesterol is seen in all animal products such as meats, dairy products and eggs, deep fried items, processed food and some of the bakery products containing trans fats and saturated fats. Cholesterol is made in the liver and is essential to build up cell membranes, formation of sex hormones and form bile acid which help in digestion of fats.
Diabetes has long been considered a risk factor for developing a heart disease. The risk is approximately 2 to 4 times more than those without diabetes getting a heart disease. 65% of the deaths among those with diabetes are related to heart diseases. However, even among those with diabetes, the risk varies among individuals and is influenced by gender, duration of diabetes , presence of raised blood pressure, poor cholesterol control and smoking history. The elder the patient, the higher is the risk for developing a heart disease. Among the fairer sex, the protective effect of estrogen can prevent a heart disease till they stop menstruating. Having a higher body mass and high uric acid levels are also known to trigger heart diseases.
Though maintaining normal or near normal sugar levels can improve the outcome of diabetes in general, good control prevents the progression of or delays the onset of microvascular complications such as the eye, kidney and nerve damage ( retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy). However, tight control of the blood pressure and cholesterol levels are important in preventing the progression to or delay the onset of developing macrovascular complications such as stroke, blood vessel diseases of the legs and heart attacks.
The cholesterol panel ( Lipid profile) is generally done after a 12 hour fasting. The blood is collected and the total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, ratio of cholesterol to HDL and LDL to HDL cholesterol is measured. The HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol. The ratios mentioned above indicate the tendency to develop a block in the blood vessel. Cholesterol can get deposited in the inner linings of the blood vessels causing varying degrees of blocks. The blood vessel involvement is diffuse among those with diabetes and it has also been shown that numbers of collateral blood vessels are reduced among those with diabetes. The plaque which consists of the cholesterol deposit, can get dislodged and travel in the blood causing blocks elsewhere from its origin. Having pre diabetes, especially the increased glucose levels after meals only ( called IGT) is also a risk for developing a heart disease.
Better investigative modalities and better awareness among the people have helped improve the outcome, but because of sedentary lifestyle and enhanced use of junk food, high cholesterol levels and even heart attacks are quite common among the young.
But, when levels of cholesterol are high, it can get deposited in walls of arteries( blood vessels carrying blood from heart) . Normal levels < 5.2 mmol/L
HDL C ( High density lipoprotein cholesterol) is called the good cholesterol. This transports cholesterol from the blood and artery walls to the liver where it gets converted to bile which help in digestion of fats. Risk of coronary heart disease increases by 2-3% for every 1.0 mmol/L fall in levels of HDL C. Normal level > 1.0 mmol/L.
LDL C ( Low density Lipoprotein cholesterol) is called the bad cholesterol. This helps to transport cholesterol to various body cells and deposit the excess in walls of the arteries. Normal levels < 1.7 mmol/L if diabetic or < 2.3 mmol/L if not diabetic.
The cholesterol can get deposited on the inner linings of the blood vessels causing blocks in the eyes, heart supplying blood vessels, brain and kidneys causing blindness, heart attacks, strokes or paralysis, erectile dysfunction among males and kidney failure.
According to the data available with the various governing bodies around the globe, for every 10 mg/dL or 0.25 mmol/L increase of HDL, the good cholesterol, the risk for developing a heart attack is reduced by 2-3%. Similarly for every 1 mmol/L or 88.7 mg/dL increase of triglyceride level, the risk of developing a heart disease increases by 30% among men and 75% among women.
The main cholesterol level to be kept under control is the LDL cholesterol. The lower the level of LDL, less is the risk to develop a heart attack. Similarly, higher the HDL, the protective cholesterol, better is the outcome.
Non pharmacological ways to improve the HDL levels and reduce the LDL levels:
• Reduce smoking
• Increased consumption of avocados, a handful of non roasted non salted dry nuts( walnuts, almonds, pistachios).
• Olive oil or canola oil to be taken
• Reduction or avoiding red meat ( mutton, beef, pork, organ meat such as liver, gizzard)
• Reduction of deep fried food items
• Reduced intake of prawns, crabs and lobster.
• Reduced intake of full cream dairy products
When to treat with medicines?
When lifestyle modification and diet control alone do not help in lowering the levels, one will have to reconsider options of pharmacotherapy.
Guidelines from around the world have stressed the need for treatment with medicines in the following groups of people:
• If aged between 40-75 years with >7.5% risk of developing a heart attack in the next ten years
• If aged < 40 years with LDL cholesterol levels >190 mg/dL
• If person has suffered from any of the following:
• Heart attack
• Stroke or paralysis
• Transient ischemic attack ( features of stroke which reversed due to incomplete block to blood flow to brain)
• Those with peripheral artery disease of the extremities
• Those who have undergone revascularization procedures to improve blood flow in either heart or extremities
The risk for developing a heart attack is estimated by the health care professionals by using calculators incorporating ones race, gender, age, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, use of medicines for controlling blood pressure, smoking and diabetes mellitus.
Normally the lipid profile ,which tests the various cholesterol types, is done after a 12 hour fasting. There are tests also which are available to assess how much of cholesterol has already lined the vessels. ( coronary angiogram, coronary calcium scoring and carotid doppler) Check the lipid levels once in 3 months if the levels are high or else once in 6 months. The doctor will advise when to start the medicines and if needed, when to stop the medicines. Some of the tests done to check heart functioning will also indirectly determine the lining of the vessels supplying the heart.( ECHO cardiogram and Stress Treadmill testing)
Statins, fibrates and drugs which reduce absorption of cholesterol from the intestines,ezetimibe, are used in treatment of high lipid levels. The former group is generally used around the world. Niacin is still being used in some parts of the world
A note on statins
Statins are generally found to have some side effects such as muscle pain and altered liver enzyme levels. It has also been associated with a 0.5% increase in chance in developing diabetes which led to a scare among the patients and health care providers.
However, statins have benefits besides lowering cholesterol levels, statins also help in stabilizing the plaque formation , reducing the inflammation of the blood vessels and regression of blocks to an extent. The plaque which is a mixture of calcium, lipids,fats and blood elements can get “fractured” and can shower small blocks through the blood vessels which can cause block at distant sites.
The benefits of taking a medicine to lower cholesterol far outweigh the risks associated with the medicine.
The benefits of taking medicines to control cholesterol go along way beyond just control of high levels. Cholesterol deposition almost always occurs in the inner lining of the blood vessels. People of some races are more prone for developing heart attacks when compared to people of other races. Some people inquire if they can stop the medicines for cholesterol once the levels are normal. Being a diabetic, the chances of getting a heart attack are high and so taking this tablet will go a long way to prevent the onset of developing a serious heart disorder. If intolerant to statins, there are other classes of medicines which can be used to control the cholesterol levels.
Some of the commonly used statins are Simvastatin, Fluvastatin, Atorvatstain and Rosuvastatin.
The dose needed depends on the treating health care professional and the need for starting the treatment as to whether it was for prevention or for treatment. If high doses are needed, the side effects can be minimized by addition of ezetimibe ( drug to impair absorption of cholesterol from intestines) or fibrates.
The liver enzyme levels and muscle enzyme level are checked frequently after starting therapy. A baseline level of the above enzymes are taken in some centers before commencing therapy.
The triglyceride levels are high among the Asians and South Indians due to their dietary habits and genetic make up. However among those in the rest of the world, LDL levels are high and targeted for control.
Exercise and impact on cholesterol
Link between coronary heart disease and cholesterol levels are well established through various studies.
Sedentary lifestyle adds to the risk for development of heart problems.
It has been shown by various studies that men who exercised more 75% of the maximum heart rate ( 220-age in years) at least 3 times a week for 12 weeks have reduced risk for developing heart disease. However, such studies have not been done on women.
In post menopausal women benefits of exercise were seen among those who exercise for 70% maximum heart rate for 24 weeks and who were on hormone replacement therapy. It was shown low to moderately intense exercise among post menopausal women improved outcomes.
The intensity, duration and frequency of exercise, the initial HDL C levels and length of the training period determine the benefits of exercise on cholesterol levels.
Exercising regularly for 8 months or jogging for 6 months or 3 weeks of diet control or brisk walking for three months can help reduce the LDL cholesterol. 5-10% body weight reduction can reduce the cholesterol levels. Recommendation is 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 1000 Kcals to be burned per week.
Omega 3 capsules taken once daily( containing fish oil) help to reduce a triglyceride levels to an extent. For the vegetarians, flaxseeds can be taken in place of Omega 3 capsules. There are no studies establishing the benefits of taking this to prevent heart attacks or strokes.
The diet should contain- 50-60% of total calories as carbohydrates, < 30% as fats, 15% as proteins, < 10% as polyunsaturated, < 20% as monounsaturated and 20-30 g of dietary fiber.
A note on oils.
Replacing saturated and transfats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can help improve the cholesterol levels.
If monounsaturated acids are used, there is a 12% reduction in total cholesterol and 15% reduction in LDL cholesterol. If polyunsaturated acids are used, cholesterol reduction by 19% and LDL by 22% is observed in studies.
Monounsaturated fatty acids are always better than polyunsaturated oils.
Remember that any oil when it is boiled loses its good properties. Hence, even olive oil or canola oil will not do any good if they are boiled.
Olive oil comes as extra virgin type and Pomace type. The extra virgin is used for raw consumption and the pomace type for cooking. Olive oil is actually the juice of olives unlike most of the oils made from the seeds.
Generally women remain subdued as far as society is concerned and they are not even allowed out in public in some of the parts of the world. They are thus forced to swallow their own problems and if there are any, they are not helped out by their male counterparts. There are many symptoms which are attributed to the monthly cycles and some even to the stoppage of the cycles. This newsletter will help address some of the major issues that concern women and also the implications of having diabetes among women. Some of the women do not even speak to the health care providers or even their husbands, about their problems.
Poor diabetic control can impair normal reproductive function. Thus the women with diabetes may have problems conceiving.
Glucose levels may increase in the weeks preceding menstruation
Polycystic ovary: (PCOS)
PCOS is a condition characterized by reduced periods, obesity, acne, increased hair on face, chin. Values of testosterone and another hormone called DHEA will be raised. The condition is called a form of insulin resistance ( a major cause of type 2 diabetes) PCOS can thus be associated with development of type 2 diabetes in the long term. It is usually treated by the obstetrician and gynecologist who may run some tests including an ultrasonogram of the abdomen to look for the ovaries which may be riddled with small fluid containing cysts. This is treated with either metformin or pioglitazone ( both are medicines used in management of diabetes, but can cure the insulin resistance , which in turn will regularize the periods and correct the menstrual irregularities). Usually seen among the adolescent or young women and they would not get pregnant due to the irregularity of periods. In some societies, women after marriage are viewed with suspicion if they do not carry within a year or two.
Fractures among women
Hip fractures are common among those with type 2 diabetes ( almost 2 fold increase than when compared with those without diabetes). Generally fractures are more common among the elderly.
Fractures can be affected by the number and type of falls, the padding of the bony prominences, the strength of the bones and the geometry of the bone. Remember that falls may be due to retinopathy ( when poor eye sight is the cause), poor balance or fall in blood pressure with change in posture, in co-ordination, hypoglycemia(low blood sugar) and muscle weakness.
How to prevent bone loss?
- Regular exercise and a healthy diet.
- Good glycemic control
- Maintaining an adequate intake of vitamin D and calcium
- By avoiding smoking and alcohol.
If above the age of 45 years, have the following done:
Blood tests such as 25( OH) vitamin D3, calcium, blood tests for thyroid and parathyroid and a bone mineral densitometry. This is besides the usual check for eye, heart, blood for lipids, sugar, kidney, hemoglobin, and liver. One must also have a routine mammogram, blood cancer markers, a pap smear of the cervix and a regular check by the gynecologist.
If the bone mineral densitometry( BMD) for short, shows a value of 1.0 – 2.5 SD below normal you will be called osteopenic and if the value is >2.5 SD below normal, you will be labeled as osteoporotic. BMD is a type of scan for the bones where the bone densities are measured at the hip or upper part of thigh bones or the wrist.
How to prevent falls?
- Use of walkers
- Night lamps
- Muscle strengthening exercises.
You can make exercising a joy by doing something out of the way, say for example, you may dance to music within the confines of one`s own room, or use the Hula Loop, climb stairs or walk to the grocery store for a change. Generally women after menopause have chances of developing a heart attack unlike when they had their regular cycles.
Who are prone for fractures?
Those with low BMD( bone mineral density), old age, females, those having light body weight, those with previous fractures or those who smoke cigarette.
Men and women respond differently to sexual dysfunction. Men focus on physiologic function and women on the psychological factors including the quality of relationship. Vaginal dryness and impaired arousal are common among women after menopause. There is little evidence to show benefits of using medicines such as sildenafil ( popularly called as viagra) and tadalafil ( called cialis or snafi)
Pregnancy and diabetes
Most of the patients have a condition called gestational diabetes ( which is diabetes occuring during diabetes and disappear after delivery, but can again come for the next delivery) or people who are already type 1 or type 2 diabetics who become pregnant.
Who is at risk?
• If the BMI >30
• Previous big babies at delivery
• Previous GDM ( Gestational Diabetes Mellitus)
• Family history of DM ( Diabetes Mellitus)
• If belonging to Asian, African or Middle east population
• Diabetes in pregnancy is associated with risks to the baby and mother
• Pre term delivery ( delivery before the expected date)
• Big babies cause problems at delivery
• Associated congenital malformations
• Associated raise in blood pressure in the mother
• Chances of low sugar in the baby after delivery, chances of developing respiratory problems and jaundice ( yellow color)
Before planning pregnancy:
• Reduce weight so that BMI is close to 25
• Maintain good glycemic control.
• Avoid pregnancy if the HbA1c is > 10%
• Avoid unplanned pregnancy
• Assess eye for retinopathy and kidney for nephropathy
Remember that good control only reduces the risk for problems for the baby and the mother, it does not eliminate the risks.
Remember that the sugar levels normalize after delivery, but the risks for developing diabetes type 2 are there if not controlling lifestyle, after delivery.
Also remember that the baby delivered is at risk for developing obesity and type 2 diabetes later on .
Fetal malformation may occur with diabetes, some may have large for age babies, some may have larger tummies either due to more than one baby or large babies or extra water.
Control sugar before planning pregnancy.
Oral contraceptive pills taken for regularizing periods may be associated with poor glycemic control. If on these pills, monitor the sugar and blood pressure from time to time.
Once you become pregnant:
• Make timely appointments with your obstetrician
• Maintain sugar levels at 3.9-5.5mmol/L in fasting and <7.8 mmol/L after meals.
• HbA1c, the 3 month average of sugar, is recommended to be between 6-7%
• Have an eye check if not done in the last 6 months preceding pregnancy
• Diet should be having 30% less calories than before pregnancy
• Diet should contain 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein ( fish, white meat, dairy products, beans, egg) and 35% fat ( polyunsaturated fat)
• Avoid low sugars
• You can exercise- walking is still the best form of exercise. But, consult with your healthcare provider.
• Hydrate yourself well
• REMEMBER that you are caring for another life as well. Hence no rigorous diet.
• It is normal to gain weight during pregnancy.
• The Obstetrician will be checking your weight, blood pressure, feet for swelling and do periodic tests for the growing baby to make sure the baby is growing well and has no problems. Some centers even have facilities for correcting some problems while the baby is still in the uterus without compromising the life of baby and course of pregnancy. ( however it does carry a risk, though).
• Normally a test called GTT ( glucose tolerance test) will be done at 24 weeks You will be given 75 g of glucose to drink and a 2 hours sugar reading will be done. Depending on the levels, diagnosis of diabetes will be made.
• Urine sugar levels are not reliable during pregnancy as there will be sugar in urine even if not pregnant as the glucose spills in urine even at low blood levels.
• Oral medicines for control of diabetes will be stopped once you become pregnant
( however, metformin is safe and so also is glibenclamide during pregnancy and breast feeding).
• However, it is safe to use rapid insulin in suitable doses to prevent sugar fluctuations.
• Periodic sugar measurement and liaise with the Health care providers to correct the dose
• Check sugar before bedtime. If below 7 mmol/L, do have some carbohydrates before bed to avoid low sugars in the early hours of the morning
• Most medicines for blood pressure and for control of cholesterol will be stopped. However there are medicines for control of blood pressure which can be safely used.
• It is safe to continue the thyroid medicine given for low thyroid function.
• Please consult the Health care providers for advice on your regular medications.
• During delivery you will be given a drip which will contain glucose to keep the sugars at level.
• The delivery will be either a normal or cesarean section
• Early breast feeding to prevent low sugars in the baby. This also helps in early bonding between mother and the new baby and also helps the uterus to contract.
• Some women are even started on an insulin pump which will deliver insulin at regular intervals.
Menopause is the phase of life after your periods have stopped. Diabetes and menopause may team up for varied effects on your body, including:
• Changes in blood sugar level. The hormones estrogen and progesterone affect how the cells respond to insulin. After menopause, changes in the hormone levels can trigger fluctuations in the blood sugar level. One may notice that the blood sugar level is more variable or less predictable than before. If the blood sugar gets out of control, one might have a higher risk of diabetes complications.
• Weight gain. Some women gain weight during the menopausal transition and after menopause. This can increase the need for insulin or oral diabetes medication.
• Infections. Even before menopause, high blood sugar levels can contribute to recurrent urinary and vaginal infections. After menopause — when a drop in estrogen makes it easier for bacteria and yeast to thrive in the urinary tract and vagina — the risk is even higher.
• Sleep problems. After menopause, hot flashes and night sweats may keep one up at night. In turn, the sleep deprivation can make it tougher to manage the blood sugar level.
• Sexual problems. Diabetes can damage the nerves of the cells that line the vagina. This can interfere with arousal and orgasm. Vaginal dryness, a common symptom of menopause, may compound the issue by causing pain during sex.
Menopause can wreak havoc on the diabetes control. But there’s plenty one can do to better manage diabetes and menopause.
How to overcome Diabetes during menopause
• Make healthy lifestyle choices. Healthy lifestyle choices — such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly — are the cornerstone of your diabetes treatment plan.
• Measure your blood sugar frequently. You may need to check your blood sugar level more often than usual during the day, and occasionally during the night. Keep a log of the blood sugar readings and symptoms. Your doctor may use the details to adjust the diabetes treatment plan as needed. Your doctor may also recommend regular hemoglobin A1C testing to reflect your average blood sugar level for the two- to three- month period .
• Ask your doctor about adjusting your diabetes medications. If the average blood sugar level increases, one may either need to increase the dosage of the diabetes medications or begin taking a new medication — especially if one gains weight. Likewise, if the average blood sugar level decreases, one may need to reduce the dosage of your diabetes medications.
• Ask your doctor about cholesterol-lowering medication. If you have diabetes, you’re at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk increases even more when you reach menopause. To reduce the risk, eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Your doctor may recommend cholesterol-lowering medication as well.
• Seek help for menopausal symptoms. If one is struggling with hot flashes, vaginal dryness, decreased sexual response or other menopausal symptoms, remember that treatment is available. For example, your doctor may recommend a vaginal lubricant to restore vaginal moisture or vaginal estrogen therapy to correct thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls (vaginal atrophy). If weight gain is a problem, a registered dietitian can help you revise your meal plans. For some women, hormone therapy is an option.
Diabetes and menopause is a twin challenge. Work closely with your doctor to ease the transition.
Hypoglycemia or low sugar is one of the nightmares of the patients and the doctors alike. High and low sugars may both present with sweating , confusion and sometimes even unconsciousness.
The commonest causes being taking too much of insulin or some medicines or forgetting to take food, too intense an exercise, consuming alcohol and some tumors of the pancreas.
Generally sweating, shaking of the hands, irritation, craving for food, beating fast of the heart, headache, stomach pain (gastritis) and clouding of consciousness. The body tries to correct the levels itself by an in built mechanism.
For the elderly adults low sugar manifests as confusion, delirium and drowsiness. Tremors and sweating are rare for the elderly with low sugar levels.These can mimic those with a fit or stroke and is, for that strange reason, often misdiagnosed.
For some people the body fails to recognize the features of low sugar. This is dangerous as very low levels are needed for the body to recognize it thereafter. This is called unawareness.
What can be done?
If low sugar happens, drink a can of orange juice or chew on some dry raisins or put some sugar into your mouth. If glucose tablets are available, that is a good option. Chocolates are not a good solution for low sugars as the fat content in chocolates delay the fast rise in sugar. Check your sugar level after 15 minutes and if still low, repeat the above. Get to nearest hospital and get this corrected if needed.
Categories of hypoglycemia:
• Documented hypoglycemia: typical symptoms of hypoglycemia and when the plasma glucose is ≤70 mg%.
• Severe hypoglycemia : An event which requires active assistance of a person to administer glucagon or carbohydrate or adopt any other resuscitative measure.
• Asymptomatic hypoglycemia: An event that is not accompanied by typical symptoms but the plasma glucose ≤70 mg%.
• Probable symptomatic: An event during which hypoglycemic symptoms are not documented with a plasma glucose determination, but presumed to be ≤70 mg%.
• Relative hypoglycemia: An event during which the diabetic patient reports typical symptoms of hypoglycemia, and interprets those as indicative of hypoglycemia, but the plasma glucose is ≥ 70mg%.
While driving if low sugar is encountered, drive off the road, put on distress signals, turn off the car, pull down the windows, remove the key from the ignition, take some sugar or orange juice immediately.( you must have a stock of this in the car always) . The brain takes some time to recover from the low sugar and impulsive driving may be initiated leading to accidents. Always check sugar levels before a long drive, break the journey in between long drives and carry an ID mentioning your diabetic status and contact numbers.
Sometimes hospitalization is also needed in serious cases.
The impact low sugars can have on life is very dramatic. For example, developing this while attending an interview or while at the exams or at an important meeting or while driving, can change the course of ones` life. People may then become introverts avoiding social functions for fear of low sugar. They are often mistaken for drunken behavior as well.