I’ve Started Insulin and I’m Gaining Weight! Help!

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Ok, so you’ve begun an insulin regimen and now you are gaining weight, what is happening?

So let start from the beginning. Likely, you were placed on insulin because your blood glucose was consistently high, maybe 200, 300 or greater. When your blood glucose is very high, that means glucose is remaining in your bloodstream where it cannot be properly used. Sometimes it’s even high enough that it will start spilling into your urine. So, in the bloodstream, that damaging sugar is being carried all over your body, causing inflammation and damaging everything in its path. Bad news. You should NOT be living with high blood sugars.

So, with insulin, your blood glucose is coming down because now the glucose is going from the bloodstream, into the cells to be properly utilized. So why does this make you gain weight? We always hear “insulin is a fat storing hormone.” It’s true, but just how is this happening?

So now that your body can utilize the glucose, it has two options.

  • Use glucose, or
  • Store glucose

Now, most people don’t get active right after a meal, so very little glucose will actually be used around the time we consume a meal. The majority will be stored. There are three main places your body will store glucose.

  • Muscles
  • Liver
  • Fat

Your body stores glucose (in its stored form) in the muscles. This is glucose that can be quickly used for exercise or activity. There is a limited space in the muscles to store glucose. Also, if you have less muscle, you store less glucose. And if you are not active, these stores can stay full, not allowing more glucose in.

Your body stores glucose (in its stored form) in the liver. This glucose is used in between meals and during sleep to keep blood glucose stable when you’re not eating. There is a very limited space in the liver to store glucose. If you stay in the fed state too long or too often, and don’t allow sufficient fasting periods, these stores can stay full, not allowing more glucose in. What is “fed state” and “fasting state?” We are in the fed state when we eat a meal and for about 4 hours thereafter. In a fed state, your body relies on glucose from the food you have recently consumed. Then you enter the fasting state, where your body relies on stored glucose from the liver. So if you eat often, such as if you eat 3 meals per day, plus snacks in between, you are in a constant fed state for the majority of your day. This keeps your liver stores full. And if you have a bedtime snack, you are even interrupting your night time fast. This is not good.

So, when muscle and liver stores are full, what happens to all of the glucose?  It stores as fat! What’s worse, it stores as visceral fat, or fat around our organs, in other words, belly fat. This is dangerous. And guess what? Fat storage is unlimited. There is no end to how fat we can get.

So, is this whole picture insulin’s fault? No. Insulin’s job is to bring down blood glucose SO HIGH BLOOD SUGAR WON’T KILL YOU. The problem likely is, you are giving your body TOO MUCH GLUCOSE TO STORE. That is why it is imperative that if you have to use insulin, to take in as little glucose as possible. Remember that injected insulin is not quite as effective as insulin made by the body. This means that when we inject insulin, we typically end up using more than our body would have made with its own insulin. So how much glucose do we NEED to take in? Very little. The blood needs to maintain a circulating level of glucose of about 1 teaspoon (4g). We DO NOT need a bunch of carbohydrates to supply that glucose, as a great deal of the protein we eat also is converted to glucose.

So, pairing insulin with a low carbohydrate diet that focuses on nutrient dense carbohydrates (vegetables) versus nutrient devoid carbohydrates (sugar, grains) will help to insure the least possible amount of insulin used, and the least amount of weight gain, possibly no gain, possibly even weight loss.

What else can we do to take even less insulin? Get active. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity. In other words, your insulin will work better and you’ll need less. And don’t just focus on cardio (walking, jogging, etc). Build some muscle. The more muscle we have, the more our body can both burn glucose and store it. We have to use and deplete stored glucose regularly. This will allow us to replenish those stores from our meals. Daily exercise is a key to using this stored glucose.

What else helps? Spend less time in the fed state and more time in the fasted state. Go more than 4 hours between meals, avoid snacking, have a long daily fast at night by not eating within 2 hours of bedtime, all the way until you wake up the next morning. Even better, try intermittent fasting. This allows us to access and burn stored glucose in the liver. Once again, we have to use and deplete stored glucose regularly. This will allow us to replenish those stores from our meals. Daily adequate fast periods are a key to using this stored glucose.

If you mix injected insulin with a high carb diet, frequent snacking and a sedentary lifestyle, you are playing with fire. Expect to gain a lot of weight. Expect increased insulin doses regularly, and a rapid decline in your health. Expect your heart, kidneys and brain to suffer significant damage. Expect fatigue, depression, sleep disturbances and memory problems. Expect chronic aches and pains. Expect vision problems. Expect pain in your legs and feet. Expect urinary tract infections and yeast infections. I could really just go on and on…

How do you know if you are taking in too much glucose? Well, how much weight are you gaining? If you are gaining weight, your stores of glucose are likely full. So you have to eat less glucose, by adopting a low carb way of eating, and burn more glucose, by exercise and allowing greater fasting periods in your daily routine.. By doing this, your chances of eliminating injected insulin is very likely. At the very least, you can expect a significant decrease in insulin usage.

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Wishing you all health and happiness.

Insulin – Friend or Foe?

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Less than 100 years ago, the discovery of using insulin to treat diabetes was a miracle. But today, insulin is being demonized in the low carb culture (predominantly among those with Type 2 diabetes.) I’m here to say…insulin is NOT the enemy!!! Ask this little boy…yes, he obviously is a Type 1…but thank God for insulin!! This is him before, and then 2 months after insulin therapy.  Let’s not forget from where we have come…

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As those with Type 2, we aren’t overweight and/or have diabetes just from INSULIN itself.  Insulin is a necessary hormone that our bodies need to function.  We are overweight and/or have diabetes (Type 2) from TOO MUCH INSULIN contributing to INSULIN RESISTANCE.  This is caused partially from our genetics and partially from living lifestyles that raise blood glucose farther than it was ever designed to go, causing our body to make FAR more insulin than it was ever designed to make. So is it the insulin’s fault?

For a while, I too began to believe that using insulin was a bad idea for those with Type 2. This is mostly because I work with patients with very uncontrolled diabetes. I have seen patients actually get worse with more insulin. I have had patients on more than 500 units of insulin per day who still do not have control of their diabetes.  In cases like this, you start to feel like insulin is part of the problem, not the solution. And it CAN be. But then you have to step back and realize, is there anything wrong with the insulin itself? Once again, what is the problem, insulin ITSELF, or TOO MUCH insulin?

Just like any other hormone in the body, insulin has a job. Insulin is doing EXACTLY what it was made to do, lower blood glucose. So the problem is NOT the insulin in ITSELF, but the OVER production of insulin.

Since the time we as humans originated, we have made insulin with rarely a snag. Why is it only the last 100 years or so that this has become a problem? Because we FORCE our bodies to make too much and resistance develops. What causes us to produce too much insulin?

  • Eating to much or too often
  • Eating the wrong type of foods (processed/refined carbs)
  • Not exercising enough to burn the energy we are consuming
  • Not sleeping enough
  • Not managing stress
  • Taking medications that elevate blood glucose
  • (And, unfortunately, inheriting bad genes ☹️)
  • And so many more!!!

Notice what MOST of these things have in common? They are our lifestyle choices*. If insulin didn’t do its job, you would start seeing wildly elevated blood glucose very early in life, the first time you ate your first cookie, or drank your first cup of juice or soda. Our bodies weren’t designed to eat these highly processed, sugary foods. Insulin is just doing its job by trying to compensate YEAR after YEAR after YEAR, until we, typically, develop insulin resistance.

In fact, one of the reasons insulin resistance develops to begin with is because of excessive intake of glucose.  Normally, it is insulin’s job to allow glucose into the cells to be used for energy.  But our bodies actually need a very minimal amount of glucose.  When we take in more glucose than our bodies need, the insulin is trying to FORCE the glucose into the cells.  And the CELLS DON’T NEED OR WANT ANYMORE GLUCOSE!  Their way to reject the glucose is to become resistant to insulin.

STOP putting insulin to the test!!! 😉

Insulin is not evil. Without insulin, we would all die. Let’s remember that. If ANY other hormone in our body was consistently raised, it would cause a problem. What if you had too much estrogen, testosterone, etc? There would be problems. It’s no different with insulin.

So we need to do what we can to keep our insulin levels in check. Whether our body is making its own insulin, or whether we are injecting insulin, forcing our bodies to MAKE or TAKE a LOT of it will lead to insulin resistance and problems.

Let’s take two scenarios:

  1. Person without diabetes – eats lots of the foods that force the body to make a lot of insulin. Results? Weight gain and insulin resistance.
  2. Person with insulin-dependent diabetes – eats lots of the foods that cause the need to inject a lot of insulin. Results? Weight gain and insulin resistance.

So whether we make our own insulin, or whether we have to take insulin, they key is avoiding resistance.  If insulin ALONE was the cause of insulin resistance, then EVERY person with Type 1 diabetes who injects insulin would be insulin resistant.  Is that the case?  No, in fact, the majority of those with Type 1 are very insulin sensitive.   It is only when they live a lifestyle that forces them to have to inject a LOT of insulin that they become resistant as well.

So, should people with Type 2 take insulin?? The answer is not as simple as yes or no. I have recently stumbled across a brilliant physician and his assessment and treatment of Type 2 should be the standard on diabetes care. His name is Dr. Theodore Naiman, his website is HERE. For his Type 2 patients, Dr. Naiman assesses how much insulin they are currently making. This can be determined from a simple blood test.  (Why is this simple measure of common sense NOT being utilized by every physician treating diabetes?  Because MOST physicians only consider Type 2 diabetes as an insulin deficient disease, not a disease of insulin excess.)

So, if the person is making a sufficient amount of insulin, then more insulin is NOT the best answer to tackle high blood sugars. This COULD worsen insulin resistance. The focus here will be to immediately use diet to reduce blood glucose and eliminate excess weight, and exercise to improve insulin sensitivity. If insulin was being taken, it can be tapered down as needed, maybe even eliminated if safe to do so.  Now, even if a person has a mild insulin deficiency, they may still be able to overcome this with the right diet, that does not provoke the need for a lot of insulin, and exercise to improve sensitivity. Intermittent fasting can also be used to reduce insulin needs, promote weight loss, and improve sensitivity. If you have a mild deficiency of insulin, you may need to be even more diligent in these areas. This is BY FAR the most effective treatment of Type 2. This will help the MAJORITY of those with Type 2 get control of their diabetes.

But what about Type 2’s with a more severe insulin deficiency? Particularly those that have had diabetes for a very long time? What if all of these methods are employed? Right diet, vigorous exercise, maybe even some intermittent fasting…and blood glucose is still NOT controlled?? Then you are down to two choices…control blood glucose…or not. I vote for controlled blood glucose. Yes, even if that means taking insulin. Insulin resistance does NOT come about by using SMALL amounts of insulin to compensate for a deficiency. Insulin resistance comes about from using LARGE amounts of insulin to “cover” or support poor lifestyle choices.

Some of us are more genetically predisposed to being overweight and have Type 2. I happen to be one of those people who are “gifted” in this way, ;). So I choose not to “poke the bear.” Lol! I try to live a lifestyle that causes my body not to have to over-produce insulin. We cannot change what we have inherited. However, we can fight it to the best of our ability for as long as we can. If there comes a day where we can no longer control our blood glucose despite doing everything we can with lifestyle, then further management is warranted. Bottom line, don’t live with high blood glucose.

So if we are still BLESSED, yes, blessed with a pancreas that still makes enough insulin. Cherish it! Protect it! Preserve it! You do this by being as kind to your pancreas as possible. Stop over-taxing it. Quit raising blood glucose to levels it was never designed to reach.

If you find yourself in a position of having an insulin deficiency and have to TAKE insulin, remember, it is NOT the enemy. Simply live a lifestyle that causes as little need for insulin as possible.

Whether we make OR take insulin, they key is to use as little as we can. This helps us avoid insulin resistance.

Good health to you!!

*There are some conditions of hyper-insulin not directly related to lifestyle. (These are not the focus of this article.)  However the majority of hyperinsulinism is caused by modifiable lifestyle factors.

Should I Eat Fruit?

Should I Eat Fruit?

What About Grains, Starches and Legumes?

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What I am about to write may be shocking to some. However, there are those that really NEED this information. So, I’m putting it out there. If you are overweight or have diabetes (including pre-diabetes), FRUIT IS NOT YOUR FRIEND! Yes, I know that fruit has vitamins, minerals, and is a nutritious, natural food.  But if you are overweight or have diabetes, then the price you would have to pay (weight gain, elevated blood glucose) to get those nutrients, IS TOO HIGH.   It is NOT worth it.  Now, if you are of normal weight, active, and insulin sensitive (the big key here), fruit may be ok for you.

There are many out there who think that there should be no restriction on plant foods of any kind. All plant foods have the health “halo”.  So to those folks I say, if a banana causes a blood glucose of 300, should it be restricted? How about 200? For those that are blessed being insulin sensitive or have normal weight, which is in fact a VERY small part of the population, they often cannot remotely fathom what fruit does to those with excess weight, insulin resistance and any form of blood sugar dysrehulation.

What if your diet includes lots of fruit and you say “I feel great! I am a healthy weight. This must be healthy for me.” I say, test your blood glucose, even if you are not diagnosed with diabetes.   I have many clients with diabetes who say they feel their best when their blood glucose is in the 200’s range. High blood glucose is insidious. Your body adapts to it. It can be going on for years with no knowledge to the sufferer. So we cannot go by just how we feel on our diet, but we need to determine what our diet is actually doing to us. If you are not diagnosed with diabetes and you want to see if fruit is ok for you, first, eat the fruit, Then test your blood glucose about an hour later. If it stays normal, rejoice and eat fruit!!  But for those that are overweight or with diabetes, fruit is just not a good choice. Don’t get me wrong, it makes me sad too. I once loved fruit. But I love my heart, brain, kidneys, liver, feet and eyes more.

Enjoy this video from Dr. Sarah Hallberg who explains this concept nicely… HERE.

How About Grains?

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What are grains? Predominantly, it is foods made with wheat, oats (and other grains), rice and corn. So this includes ALL products made with flour (including wheat and white), such as bread and pasta, oatmeal and grits, plus corn and corn products, as well as rice (brown or white).

For the same reasons above, if you are overweight or have pre-diabetes or diabetes, GRAINS ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND! PARTICULARLY gluten containing grains. Gluten is a HIGHLY inflammatory substance and contributes to worsening a host of inflammatory diseases, including autoimmune diseases. Most grains are higher on the glycemic index than table sugar itself, meaning, most grain products will raise your blood sugar higher than SUGAR.

Corn is the largest genetically modified food crop. Genetically modified foods have also been linked to a host of inflammatory responses.

For your health, please consider total grain elimination.

This book can help you see the importance of taking this important step for your health  HERE

The follow up book about healing after grain removal is  HERE

How About Starches?

What are starches? Starches are typically vegetables that grow below ground, like potatoes and root vegetables. While there are excellent nutrients in starches, for the same reasons as above, if you are overweight or have pre-diabetes or diabetes, starches are NOT your friend (with the exception of resistant starches, which I will discuss in another article.)

Use extreme caution with starches.

How About Legumes?

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What are legumes? Legumes include foods like beans, peas, and lentils. While there are excellent nutrients in legumes, as well as some protein (and some resistant starches), for the same reasons as above, if you are overweight or have pre-diabetes or diabetes, legumes are NOT your friend. Legumes are very hard on the digestive system. Some of these digestive issues can be alleviated with proper preparation. However, the high carbohydrate content in these foods make legumes a less than ideal food choice.

Use extreme caution with legumes.*

*Peanuts are technically not a nut, but a legume.  Digestive issues are not typically seen with eating peanuts, nor are peanuts high in carbohydrates as other legumes are.  Some find peanuts to be an appropriate part of their whole food diet.

Remember, one of the KEYs to long term health and avoidance of chronic disease, is control of blood glucose. There is an abundance of nutritious, delicious food choices that can allow you to minimize blood sugar. Your nutritional needs can be completely met by eliminating any or all of these foods from your diet.

Good health to you!

The Top Worst Dietary Advice

Here is a great article about some of the worst dietary advice ever HERE

Among these five pieces of bad advice is another piece of dietary advice that I have to “unteach” in almost every one of my patients with diabetes and that is “eat 6 small meals a day” or “eat every 2 hours.” UGH!!!! This is the worst advice ever! Here is WHY the advice was given to those with diabetes…

When the nutrition industry starting telling those with diabetes to eat less fat and tons of carbs, they were crashing all of the time. Carbs produce rapid fluctuations in blood glucose, ESPECIALLY in the absence of adequate fat and protein.  Carbs don’t provide long term satiation. Therefore, people with diabetes were told to eat frequently to “keep their blood sugar up.” We don’t want our “blood sugar UP”, we want it normal and stable.

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When we eat, blood glucose and insulin levels raise.  This triggers our body to stop burning stored fat and start addressing the incoming load.  At mealtimes, our bodies burn what they need for fuel at the time, and store the rest of the energy for future use.   In between meals, our blood glucose and insulin levels are SUPPOSED to return to normal, allowing us to burn stored energy. If we eat frequently, or snack often, we NEVER normalize blood glucose and insulin levels, and we NEVER burn stored fat, hence higher glucose/insulin levels, hence more insulin resistance, hence weight gain, hence worsening diabetes.

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Having plenty of blood-sugar-stabilizing-healthy-fat and adequate protein in the diet allows us to eat less often, allows blood glucose and insulin levels to return to normal and burn stored fat in between meals, hence lower glucose/insulin levels, hence lowering insulin resistance, hence weight loss, hence diabetes (type 2) reversal is possible. (This benefits people with type 1 also.)

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The ideal eating pattern is one that keeps blood glucose and insulin levels normal and stable, and then has adequate periods between meals to allow for burning of stored energy.  This means slow acting carbohydrates (such as non-starchy vegetables) with adequate protein and healthy fats at mealtimes, preferably no less than 4-5 hours apart, 2 or 3 times a day without snacking.  If you find a snack absolutely necessary, reach for a boiled egg, some raw veggies, a handful of nuts and/or olives, or a few chunks of cheese.  Focus on food that will not significantly raise blood glucose between meals.

Wishing you great health and blood glucose control 😉

 

An Important Tool For Weight Loss and Diabetes

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Want a great way to powerfully improve your weight and diabetes that has nothing to do with your diet? It is something that all people over the age of 12 LOVE to do! Yep, you got it, good old fashioned sleep! In our hustle and bustle, “get ahead” world, sleep is often relegated to the back burner. Deep down, we all know it plays a role in good health, but we tend to minimize it as a less important factor. It time to change that perception. It’s time to put sleep right up to the top of the list of healthy habits, like diet, exercise, and stress reduction.

This is so important that I am going to say up front that if you have a healthy diet and exercise, but you neglect sleep….as far as weight loss is concerned, you might as well just hang it up.  You’re not going to get the results you want.  You must make this aspect of your health a top priority.

Just how does lack of sleep affect weight and diabetes?

First of all, lack of sleep has been shown to increase insulin resistance. In other words, it decreases your body’s ability to properly respond to insulin.  This causes the body to produce more insulin, which can lead to weight gain and worsen diabetes.  (For more information, please read my page “Cause of Obesity” HERE and “Insulin Resistance” HERE.)

 

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Let’s talk about what other things are going on when you are sleep deprived and how it leads to weight gain.  Image credit: www.mariamindbodyhealth.com.

What does sleep deprivation have to do with other important, weigh-related hormones, leptin and ghrelin.

Leptin is our long term hunger signaling. It is released by the fat cells.  When we have enough leptin, it tells our body we have enough stored fat, so we won’t have the desire to eat as much. Therefore, leptin DECREASES hunger.  If you notice from this chart, sleep deprivation lowers leptin levels, causing us to be hungrier.

Ghrelin is our shorter term hunger signaling. It is released in the stomach.  When our stomach is empty, ghrelin increases to tell us to eat.  So ghrelin INCREASES hunger.  If you notice from this chart, sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels, causing us to be hungrier.

Catecholamines are hormones produced by the adrenal glands (ie dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine) typically in response to stress.   Cortisol is also a stress hormone.  These hormones raise blood glucose levels.  We all know what happens when blood glucose levels are raised…weight gain.  Frequent, long term release of these stress hormones can over-tax the adrenal glands, causing a condition called “adrenal fatigue.”

Sleep deprivation affects thermoregulation, causing fatigue and reducing energy expenditure.  Not mentioned here but sleep deprivation causing fatigue can affect mood, causing cravings for food that activate our brain’s “reward” center, ie. foods high in sugar or foods that quickly convert to sugar.  Increased awake time leads to increased opportunity to eat.  Staying awake very much later can make our body feel like it is time for another full meal.

The end result is overeating combined with your body being less efficient at burning food for fuel.  Hence obesity.

Some sleep experts suggest no less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Some suggest 8-10 hours.  There is some evidence that over 10 hours for adults could then become counter productive.  If we aim for MORE than 8 hours, then any last minute mishaps…or as I call it…shenanigans…(when the kids need one more glass of water or one more trip to the bathroom…stalling), won’t prevent you from getting to bed on time and getting a good night’s sleep.

There are many who claim that they simply don’t need 7-8 hours of sleep. Most often though, this is only because they have become accustomed to less sleep. It does not mean that just because they are used to it, that they are not suffering “silent” damage.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. HOW do we get a good night’s sleep? Many have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or just turning their brain off to even consider sleep. There are several things one can do to improve sleep habits. As a nurse who worked nights for many years, I know the pains of sleep deprivation all to well. As a result, I’ve honed in on many methods to improve quality and length of sleep.

  • First and foremost, keep a sleep routine by awakening and going to sleep at about the same time each day. If you stay up until 2 a.m. on Friday night and sleep until noon on Saturday, this might interfere with your next night’s sleep. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule. Staying up a little later on your days off, or sleeping a little later might be o.k., but try not to stray from your routine too much if you have difficulty sleeping. In addition, try to avoid daytime napping, as this interferes with evening sleep (kids and senior citizens excluded.
  • Try to avoid stimulating activities before bedtime, like exercise, but PARTICULARLY electronic devices. Electronic devices contain “blue light” which triggers your brain to think it is still daytime. This decreases your body’s own production of a sleep hormone (melatonin) that begins to be produced as it gets dark in preparation for sleep. Keep lights in the house to a minimum and no electronic devices within 2 hours of bedtime. This includes TV watching in the bedroom before bed, not a good idea… Reading a paper book is acceptable
  • Avoid bedtime snacking. Important biological processes are taking place within the first few hours after sleep which are hampered if your body is digesting and if blood sugar and insulin levels are increased. Avoid snacking within 2 hours of bedtime
  • Get enough physical activity throughout the day. Often when we are physically inactive throughout the day, our bodies are just not tired enough at bedtime. If you have a sedentary job, get up and move several times a day. Even 2-5 minutes of strenuous movement a few times a day can be extremely beneficial. I have found that my healthy LCHF lifestyle provides me with about 16 hours of high energy each day so that at bedtime, I am sufficiently tired from my very active day. Keep moving
  • Unwind. If you have trouble unwinding, a nice Epsom salts bath may be just what you need. Epsom salts contain magnesium, which relaxes muscles and can help reduce stress. Many also enjoy some aromatherapy with essential oils to further relax them. Adding soft music or nature sounds may help
  • “White noise.” For some, it helps to have a source of constant noise to fall asleep to. This actually can help calm the mind. When we sleep in an extremely quiet environment, a small amount of noise may awaken us. But a source of constant noise, such as a fan, can help drown this out and keep the brain from being hyper-vigilant. There are several “apps” that offer many sources of constant noise, such as rainfall or ocean waves. I have used these in the past and found them extremely helpful
  • Temperature and darkness. A cool dark place is more conducive to sleep. Try to avoid night lights. If you HAVE to get up in the middle of the night, keep a small flashlight on your bedside table and use that rather than turning on the lights in your room. Do not check your electronic device in the middle of the night
  • Spiritual routine. If you are so inclined, spiritual activities before bed can be relaxing and help reduce stress.  Activities such as deep reflection, humming spiritual songs, reading or prayer are very beneficial for many
  • Get sleep disorders addressed. If you have excessive daytime drowsiness and snore a lot, or sleep propped up on pillows, this may be a sign of sleep apnea. This can be diagnosed with a sleep study (which can be done at home) and treatment with a nighttime breathing assistance device (CPAP). If you have put this off because you have seen the CPAPs of the past, you will be happy to know that much improvement has been made in their design to make them comfortable and quiet. Weight loss can also help improve or eliminate sleep apnea for many
  • Avoid sleep aids. The answer to sleep is not cough syrup, antihistamines, or Ambien. If every single one of these above methods fails, I would suggest a complete investigation into your health status before considering sleep aids. A word about melatonin…melatonin is not the answer for the majority of people. Melatonin supplementation may be needed by those who have a decreased production of natural melatonin, such as night workers and the elderly. But taking melatonin will typically only help those with a melatonin deficiency. If that is not the case for you, melatonin generally won’t help. Also, with melatonin, more is not better. It is not a drug, so if it is ineffective, the answer is not to take more. If it doesn’t work, it may be because a melatonin is not your problem.

A special note to night workers. I have a lot of sympathy for night workers. This dedicated bunch of folks are shortening their life spans and increasing their risks of many deadly chronic disease states because, well, someone has got to do it. I think young night workers can compensate better, but as you age, night work becomes more detrimental to the body. If you have a choice, try to stop nighttime work, even if you love doing it. For the sake of your health, switch to daytime work. Even if you don’t FEEL the effects of nighttime work too badly, doesn’t mean you are not experiencing them. If you cannot switch from nighttime work, there are a few things you can do. First, a sleep routine is even more important. DON’T skimp on sleep. Night workers have a tendency to forgo sleep to tend to personal matters during the day. Stop it! Get 7-8 hours of sleep like everyone else. Next, try to have your work nights grouped together so you are not constantly bouncing back and forth between day and night sleeping. Then, after a few days of night work, use one whole day and night to recover. Finally, try all of the methods above to improve quantity and quality of sleep before resorting to sleep aids. If you are having to resort to sleep aids, it really is time to stop the night work if there is any way possible.

Make 7-8 hours sleep a priority in your life. For your health, weight and diabetes management, good sleep habits are a must!  Wishing good health to all of you!

here is an amazing infographic from www.sleepjunkies.com.  Click the image to be directed to the full article.

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Do Medications Heal Chronic Disease?

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In the early 20th century, an amazing, a life saving class of medications first came to be used, anti-biotics. Since then, antibiotics have saved millions of lives. However, sometime between this amazing discovery and today, less than 100 years later, we, as a society have come to believe that medications are a cure all. Don’t get me wrong, medications in an acute setting, or for an acute problem, like an infection, ARE life saving. But what about chronic disease? Particularly, what about diseases that are lifestyle related or even lifestyle induced? Why are we taking a lifestyle problem and addressing it with a medical answer? Doing so is like putting a band-aid on a bleeding head wound. The first rule of treating a bleeding patient is to find the source of the bleed, and stop it, not to cover it with a bandage. The bandage would only mask the problem, and it would continue to worsen. Why are we not diving into the roots of chronic diseases and trying to treat the underlying causes? We have GOT to stop seeking a pill for every ailment and look deeper, if we really want good health.

Let’s take the biggest health epidemic plaguing our society, metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of diseases/conditions which center around high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, insulin resistance/pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes and obesity. If we tackle this syndrome with medications, we will take one, two or even three medications to treat each component of this condition. But the reason these diseases have been clustered together, is because they have a common cause. If we treat the cause, we need only treat it with ONE approach…healthy lifestyle. Medications do NOT reverse chronic lifestyle-induced illness. In fact, most of these medications CREATE other conditions that then need to be treated.

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Medications should be used as aids to assist us while we are using lifestyle modification to heal from chronic disease. Depending on how long we have had a particular health condition, and how much damage it has done, we may not be able to stop all medications used to treat chronic disease. But if we are using medication ONLY, with no change to lifestyle, and we think that medications will make us well, we are very much mistaken. Deep down, I think we all know this. We know it because all of these medications make us feel terrible!

To return to my previous analogy, let’s stop ignoring the bleeding. Let’s stitch the wound, and let’s use a smaller bandage to catch any remaining bleeding until we are healed. Then rip off the bandage and throw it in the garbage when it is finished doing its job.