February 18, 2011

Cook to Resolve Your Food Issues

I guess that I was very lucky when my first wife died of cancer. The last several months of her life, she worked on getting me to cook, yes, simple dishes and when I complained about them being tasteless, she told me to get a certain cookbook and do some reading that she selected. I used a post-it to mark the section on using herb and spices and still refer to it.

No, I don't do as much cooking as I am remarried and my wife loves to cook. But I still love being in the kitchen. I am learning other things now, like doing the dishes without a dishwasher. No this I learned on my own after I sold the house. I do help with chores and some food prep, like chopping vegetables in various sizes.

This article in WebMd is very good and should be read by anyone that does need to cook and has not learned to cook. If you have started, this is still good. It has a list of kitchen tools. I have that and a few more, but the best tools are an excellent set of knives for the many uses. I seldom use the food processor and it sits. I do have a very small processor for onions and a few other foods. Yes, I will not do more than cut the onions to fit in the processor and then let it do its magic – mostly on the pulse mode.

Doing your own cooking is very important as it allows you control over the foods and lets you do what is necessary to limit sodium (salt) and the amount of cholesterol that you eat, to say nothing of sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup (now renamed corn sugar) that you can keep out of your foods.

While many people detest cooking from scratch, it is the most healthy and rewarding. I have not made bread for several years, but I am rereading about this and may do this again. I will not be using wheat, rye, or oat flours. This is why I need to do more reading.

Another good source of information is a blog by Amy Campbell.   Select the year to read many excellent blogs on cooking. They may not be specific enough for those of us with diabetes, but there is much information that can be adapted quite easily. She runs many series for four to six or more blogs about the same topic and then starts another topic with a sprinkling of other excellent ideas mixed in for good measure.

February 15, 2011

Lessons Diabetes Teaches Us – Part 2

Hopefully you have read David Spero's blog from my last blog. If not, go back and read the previous blog here. Now for some more lessons from the college of hard knocks about diabetes.

These are some of the problems associated with diabetes and some are considered short-term complications. A brief list includes hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic coma (HHNKC). The last two need immediate medical intervention. Hypoglycemia may require immediate medical intervention of the blood glucose levels gets too low.  Read about the short-term complications here.

Certain oral medications can cause hypoglycemia and is is very common for those on insulin. People that become hypoglycemically unaware need to be especially cautious about letting their blood glucose levels get low. DKA is normally associated with Type 1 diabetes, but a few Type 2's can have this problem. HHNKC is generally for those with Type 2 diabetes who let their blood glucose levels get above 600 mg/dl for extended periods.

A word of caution to all people with diabetes, if you live alone, make sure that you have family or friends available for assistance if needed. If you live in an area and know other people that have diabetes, get to know each other for support and to check on each other.

Other effects that are associated with diabetes are loss of sexual drive – erectile dysfunction in men, urinary track infections (UTIs) in women. Also relevant are heart disease and diabetes, stroke and diabetes, and high blood pressure and diabetes. Most doctors will automatically screen for these and prescribe medications to alleviate the problems, but a few do not. So be prepared to ask for these screenings.

If you are able to manage your blood glucose levels, then there are some sneaky problems that still can make themselves present. Depression can assert itself. Most people with diabetes, about 67 percent, are likely to develop mild depression and then there is about 19 percent that may develop severe depression. Mild depression can be helped with antidepressants and the more severe should be treated under the care of a doctor. Read my blog on depression here. Even excellent management of diabetes is not a guarantee that you will not have depression.

Over 50 percent of people with diabetes, are likely to develop sleep apnea. Most because they are overweight and have apneas up to several hundred times a night which interrupts your sleep and you feel over tired during the day. There are several treatments available depending the the severity of the sleep apnea and the type. See my blogs here for further details: blog 1, blog 2, blog 3, blog 4, and blog 5. There are other blogs, but I have provided those relevant for this discussion.

Another link to diabetes is dementia, in particular, Alzheimer's disease. There is a proven link between the two now so that it cannot be ignored. So for those of us in our golden years, you do need to be concerned.  Read David Mendosa's blog here and my blog here.

There are other problems such as skin problems caused by diabetes. Some skin problems need immediate attention, but others can be treated with various medications and skin conditioners. There are other other minor complications that few people have problems with. The big four were covered by name in the first part.

Some will say I did not cover amputations, but I am. They can result from two of the big four. Neuropathy and atherosclerosis are the cause of poor healing and lead to amputations when not properly and immediately cared for. So make sure that you take excellent care of your feet and legs, inspect them daily and see a doctor if a problem develops.

Many people insist that every little health problem is caused by their diabetes and this is just not so. There are other diseases that people with diabetes can get, but as of yet, there is no firm or related link to diabetes resulting in posing a risk to have the disease.

Most people that manage diabetes and are able to maintain blood glucose levels near normal very seldom develop complications. It is when people do not manage their blood glucose levels that they will develop the complications. Retinopathy seems to happen first, but they may all develop to some level at the same time.

I have had three friends or acquaintances that had diabetes that they did not manage their diabetes and they went on dialysis. All three have passed in the last 18 months because they could not or would not continue the dialysis. Another friend had both her legs amputated above the knees because she did not manage her diabetes. She is now approaching the end of her sight because she has continued to not manage her diabetes.

So life's lessons can be hard for some and others do very well. How are you managing diabetes. Has the college of hard knocks helped? Or have you ignored the lessons of life handed to you?