What Causes Type 2 Diabetes, and How Can it be Prevented?

In the comments of the last post, we’ve been discussing the relationship between body fatness and diabetes risk.  I think this is really worth understanding, because type 2 diabetes is one of the few lifestyle disorders where 1) the basic causes are fairly well understood, and 2) we have effective diet/lifestyle prevention strategies that have been clearly supported by multiple controlled trials.

Insulin resistance is an inability of tissues to “hear” the insulin signal properly, leading to poor blood glucose handling and other metabolic problems in processes that depend on insulin.  In my interview with Aitor Calero, I made the statement that the main cause of insulin resistance is excess body fat.  To be more precise, body fatness is the main modifiable cause*– genetic makeup is another major factor that you’re stuck with regardless of lifestyle.  Diabetes is caused by insulin resistance plus the eventual failure of the insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells.  Some people become obese and insulin resistant, but their beta cells never fail, and therefore they do not become diabetic.  This has a strong genetic component, as Gretchen mentioned in the comments.  If you look at genetic loci associated with type 2 diabetes risk, most of them are in genes that regulate the pancreas, although the strongest obesity locus FTO is also a diabetes risk factor (0).

Regardless, there can be no question that body fatness is tightly associated with diabetes risk.  For example, in the Health Professionals Follow-up study, among 52,000 men, body mass index (a rough estimate of fatness) predicted the risk of developing diabetes over five years (1).  A BMI of 25 or more suggests overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more suggests obesity.  The data are striking:
A person with a BMI over 35 in this study (solidly obese) had a 42 times higher risk of developing diabetes than someone with a BMI of less than 23 (lean but not skinny).  People who straddled the line of obesity had a 6.7 times higher risk.  Furthermore, this relationship was not restricted to the obese.  Let’s blow up the first four points and take a closer look:
Having a BMI of 24-24.9, which isn’t even considered overweight, was associated with a 50 percent higher risk of diabetes, and going just over the cusp of overweight yielded a 120 percent increase in risk.  Therefore at nearly all levels of BMI, higher BMI strongly predicted the risk of developing diabetes.  This has been repeatedly confirmed.

As I’ve explained in the past, multiple lines of evidence suggest that this is because excess body fat causes insulin resistance, which in turn increases the risk of developing diabetes* (1A, 1B).

I understand that this is frustrating to people who carry excess fat and have a hard time losing it.  For many people, fat loss is a real challenge, and achieving true leanness is unlikely.  If that’s you, I have some good news.  First of all, you can reduce your diabetes risk without losing a pound, by exercising regularly, eating a whole food diet, and managing sleep and stress effectively.  Second, you can greatly reduce your diabetes risk by losing as little as 11 pounds (5 kg).

This was demonstrated by the striking results of the Diabetes Prevention Program study, involving 3,234 pre-diabetic volunteers (2).  In this study, a combination of weight loss (via calorie-restricted low-fat diet) and exercise reduced the risk of developing diabetes by a full 58 percent over 2.8 years.  A similar trial in Finland a year earlier produced a virtually identical result (3), and similar results have come from trials in India, Japan, and China (4, 5, 6).  This kind of risk reduction is virtually unheard of in lifestyle modification trials, particularly considering the typical half-hearted adherence– this shows that the intervention was striking directly at the heart of the problem.  It’s possible that weight loss via a different diet (e.g. Paleo) would have been even more effective, but we won’t know for sure until it’s tested.

A follow-up study tried to determine which aspect of the DPP intervention was most important for diabetes risk reduction (7).  Here’s what they found:

Weight loss was the dominant predictor of reduced diabetes incidence (hazard ratio per 5-kg weight loss 0.42 [95% CI 0.35-0.51]; P less than 0.0001). For every kilogram of weight loss, there was a 16% reduction in risk, adjusted for changes in diet and activity. Lower percent of calories from fat and increased physical activity predicted weight loss. Increased physical activity was important to help sustain weight loss. Among 495 participants not meeting the weight loss goal at year 1, those who achieved the physical activity goal had 44% lower diabetes incidence.

There you have it, folks.  We know how to prevent type 2 diabetes, and it’s not magic.  These simple steps will reduce your risk:

If you’re overweight, lose fat if you can, even as little as a few pounds
Exercise regularly
Eat a healthy diet
* I simplify for a general audience, but it’s probably more complicated than this.  Cellular energy overload causes insulin resistance, and this occurs when fat tissue expands to the point where it no longer efficiently traps fatty acids, exposing tissues throughout the body to excess energy.  In addition, enlarged fat depots tend to become inflamed, and inflammation contributes to insulin resistance.  So the causality is probably something like this: excess energy intake leads to excess fat mass, which leads to poor fatty acid trapping and inflammation in fat cells, which leads to cellular energy excess and inflammation in lean tissues, which leads to insulin resistance.  Although the full story is more nuanced, it is nevertheless fair and accurate to distill this down to the statement that excess body fat causes insulin resistance and diabetes.  This is true even though there is not a 1:1 correspondence between obesity and insulin resistance.

Fitness Workouts while Pregnant: Who knows your body better than you?

Today, at the gym, I talked to a girl about working out while pregnant. She said that when she was pregnant, she became borderline diabetic and her doctor had recommended that she stopped working out after the first trimester. She followed his advice and went through her pregnancy gaining excess weight and having difficulty during her delivery because she had lost her endurance and strength since cutting back on exercise. She said that she was generally fit pre-pregnancy and really wanted to continue her workouts at the gym throughout, but followed her doctor’s recommendation and merely walked for exercise throughout pregnancy. She is thinking about having another child and she would like to approach fitness and pregnancy differently this time around!Wow! Ok, I am not a doctor, but I was saddened to hear that she’d received this recommendation from hers! Doctors are great (my dad is one), but sometimes I think we need to listen respectfully to what they offer in certain situations and then listen to your body, do your own research and then make a decision on what is right for you. Everything that I have read about exercising while pregnant does start with consulting your doctor, which is important, especially if you had health issues prior to becoming pregnant. But my motto in life is balance and moderation. If you can find a good balance between maintaining a good fitness level through pregnancy while also monitoring your body to ensure you are doing all that you can to protect and grow the little one inside you, then why not?

Here are a few ways that I modify my fitness workouts while I am pregnant to ensure that I am still remaining active and maintaining my strength and cardiovascular capacity, so that 1. I can keep growing a strong and healthy Little Tuna, but also 2. so that I can be strong throughout my labor and delivery!!

First Trimester – The first trimester is when I did cut back on my exercise level and frequency, however I did not stop!

Strength training 2-3 times per week – I am a fitness instructor so this was actually less than I had been, but even if you’re not an instructor, 2-3 weeks is great and you can modify your intensity as needed; I already decreased the weight amount I lifted in this trimester
Running 2-3 times a week – I had just started training for the Army Ten Miler when I learned I was pregnant and had not been running consistently in over a year, so I only ran very easily during the first two months and walked whenever I felt winded or pulling in my belly – read more on that here
Yoga a few times a month (I could have increased this, but I was really tired, so sleep was more important to me)

The only race I’d done in the year prior to pregnancy,
while I was recovering from plantar fasciitis.

Considerations:
In the first trimester, you’re dealing with increased fatigue and probably some form of morning sickness. I was just nauseous all day and really the only times I felt well were while working out or the 30-45 minutes after I had eaten (So I ate small snacks very frequently). But definitely work with your fatigue and don’t overexert yourself any time during your pregnancy.
Your body is already making tremendous changes during this trimester, so always listen to your body! For example, my chest was growingfast and hurt, so running did not always feel awesome, hence the slow pace and walking.
As for yoga, this is the one trimester when you can still do most of the poses, so, if you are new to yoga and want to incorporate it into your prenatal program, this is when to start it up, learn the poses and then you can build strength, flexibility, and consistency. In the following trimesters, you can then edit poses as needed.

Yoga with my two faves, during the first trimester!
Knight really has Side-Lying Savasana down.

These are a few ideas on how to continue on (or even begin) your fitness journey during pregnancy. Tomorrow, I’ll cover the second trimester (which I’m currently enjoying!).

Just remember, YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BEST!

How have you modified your fitness workouts during a pregnancy? Are you newly pregnant and looking for ideas on where to start? If so, let me know!

Mexican Lasagne

How do mexican ingredients piled into tall layers in between soft flour tortillas sound?  Oh, yes…that is the deliciousness that is Mexican Lasagne!
A yummy sauce packed with onion, red bell pepper and tomatoes is used, along with a filling of black beans, sweet corn, and cheddar cheese to make the lasagne-like layers.  And what to use instead of pasta…?  Well, soft flour tortillas are just perfect.  They dissolve just enough to almost taste like soft cheese in between the layers.  Who knew??
Nigella tops hers off with a fresh Avocado Salsa that sounds divine.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the needed ingredients for the salsa, so I couldn’t make it.  However, I served mine with a fresh salad of chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream…just like they do at my favorite Mexican restaurant.  It was perfection on a plate!
And leftovers?  Yep…this lasagne is even better the next day, after all those flavors have had time to meld together.
One addition I did make was ground turkey.  I simply added it as part of the sauce and cooked it along with the onions and red bell pepper in step 1.  I also had to drain a little of the water out of the sauce, to avoid it being too runny.
Bon Appetit, my friends!  :)
I tore the tortillas into pieces so that there were no gaps.
A layer of filling…
Then a layer of sauce…
Top it all off with shredded cheddar cheese…
And voila!
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Mexican Lasagne
Source:  Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson
Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic flavoured oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green chiles, chopped, with seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stalks
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, plus 1   2/3 cups water to rinse out empty cans
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • I added 1 lb. of cooked, ground turkey

Filling:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 1/4 cups drained canned corn, from about 1   1/2 (15-ounce cans)
  • 2 1/2 cups grated mature goats Cheddar, or cheese of your choice
  • 8 soft flour tortillas (approximately 10-inch diameter)
  • 1 round ovenproof dish, approximately 10 inches diameter and 2   1/4 inches deep
  • Avocado Salsa, for serving, recipe follows
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, slipping in a cookie sheet at the same time.
For the sauce: Heat the oil in a saucepan on the stove and fry the onion, bell pepper and chiles (along with ground beef or turkey like I did…until meat is cooked through). Add the salt and cook gently for 15 minutes, and once soft, add the chopped cilantro stalks.
Add the canned tomatoes then rinse the cans out with water and add this too. Spoon in the ketchup and let things come to a simmer, leaving the sauce (or salsa in keeping with the Mexican mojo) to cook while you get on with preparing the filling- about 10 minutes.
For the filling:
Mix the drained beans and canned corn in a bowl. Add most of the grated cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on the top at the end, and mix together.
Start to assemble the lasagne by spooning about a third of the salsa into the bottom of your ovenproof dish and smear it about, then layer on 2 tortillas so that they cover the sauce overlapping slightly, like a Venn diagram.
Add a third of the beans and cheese mixture covering the tortillas, and then about a quarter of the remaining salsa and another 2 tortillas.
Repeat with another third of beans and cheese, and more salsa before layering on another 2 tortillas.
Finally, add the last layer of beans and cheese, nearly all of the remaining salsa and cover with the last 2 tortillas. Spread the very last bit of salsa over the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Place on top of the cookie sheet in the oven (to catch any over-flow from the lasagne) and bake for 30 minutes, and let it rest for a good 10 to 15 minutes before slicing like a pizza, and eat with the avocado salsa.
Make Ahead Note: The lasagne can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cool the tomato salsa before assembling. Cover dish tightly with plastic and refrigerate until needed. Bake as directed in recipe, allowing an extra 5 to 10 minutes baking time and checking the lasagne is piping hot in centre before removing from oven.
Freeze Note: The assembled but uncooked lasagne can be frozen for up to 3 months. Wrap dish tightly in double layer of plastic and a layer of aluminium foil. Thaw overnight in fridge and cook as above.
Further Note: Leftovers should be covered and refrigerated as soon as possible. To reheat, put individual slices in ovenproof dish, cover with foil and reheat in oven preheated to 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes. Check the lasagne is piping hot before serving. Wedges of leftover lasagne can be frozen for up to 2 months, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then either in foil or in resealable bag. Thaw overnight in refrigerator and reheat as above.
Avocado Salsa
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green jalepenos from a jar or can
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Halve the avocados, remove the pits, and then, using the tip of a sharp knife, cut lines down the flesh of each half, about a 1/4-inch apart and then the same across. Turn the avocado halves inside out, or otherwise release the pale green cubes into a bowl, then tumble in the scallion, chopped jalepenos, salt to taste, lime juice and most of the cilantro and toss gently to mix. Taste to see if any more salt is needed before scattering with the remaining cilantro and taking to the table.

Traditional Chinese View Of A Healthy Lifestyle

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What is the Culture of a Healthy Lifestyle?

The culture of a healthy lifestyle has been an inseparable aspect of Chinese life for thousands of years. This culture finds it roots in the experience and profound levels of understanding that exist in Chinese philosophy and Chinese medical ideals surrounding the human body.

The basis of Chinese Health is seen as a systematic approach to the study of the relationship between humanity and nature, stressing the different systems that exist in the body and the balance necessary to maintain healthy bodily functions.

In Chinese thought there is also the important aspect of recognizing disease or discomfort through the balance or imbalance of “Qi” (pr. Chee), which can be understood as “Life Energy”. There are two kinds of Qi, healthy Qi or Zheng (pr. jung) Qi, and harmful Qi or Xie (pr. she-ay) Qi; Zheng Qi can be related to a healthy immune system and is something that exists within; Xie Qi can be related to the causes of illness and discomfort and exists without. With this, comes the important idea of preventive medicine or “stopping illness before its onset”.

In Chinese Health Culture one important aspect to preserving health is through the balance and connectivity of the mind, spirit, and body. This idea, when taken one step further, opens us up to recognize the rich relationship between the universe and humankind.

The Holistic

Thousands of years ago, in ancient China, people had already begun to notice the effects and reactions brought about on the human body from outside influences; this was the beginning of a holistic viewpoint to health. At this time, the ancients of China had commenced on the long road of gathering the secrets to a healthy life whereby developing the basis of the Culture of a Healthy Lifestyle. The Chinese had already begun moving toward a structured holistic view of the relationship between human life and the universe.

The Yellow Emperor, or “Huang Di”, is the one man in Ancient China who is renowned as a man of many inventions and the father of health culture. He was a humble and studious man and invented many useful tools which were very advanced for his day and age. Legend has it that Huang Di invented a compass driven cart which played a large role in the unity of two indigenous tribes, which were to later become the ancestors of the Chinese people. After many years and with the help of numerous scholars, Huang Di completed the first work in Chinese health culture.

This work is based on the ideals of the relationship between humankind and the universe as a whole. It is presented from the point-of-view of “Yin Yang” (pr. Yeen Yahng), the all encompassing Chinese theory of universal balance, and Wu Xing (pr. Woo Shing), the interaction between five natural elements to create balance, these two ideals constitute the tools used in the achievement of good health in Chinese thought. By mapping out the different organs in the human body and drawing up the channels of Qi, Huang Di created a work of health concepts that has been used and improved on for thousands of years.

In order to best understand the notions behind Chinese health culture we must first begin by understanding the effects of nature on human health. The best place to start is by understanding the concepts of Yin Yang and Wu Xing.

The World According to Yin Yang

Yin Yang describes how the Ancient Chinese viewed the world as containing a perfect balance of opposing forces. They believed that the unification of opposites was the law of change in all things. Chinese traditional health culture sees Yin Yang as a basic aspect of life energy movement, when Yin Yang is in balance the body is healthy.

It is worthy to point out here the idea of balance in Chinese thought. Balance, in this context, should not be confused with the idea of balance in the West. The balance that is expressed here is sometimes achieved through contradiction and not through harmony. This achievement of balance in nature, and even in human health, is through opposing forces, which may be in a state of repose.

In today’s world, and because of the onslaught of poor habits and environmental hazards, we are being bombarded with the causes of illness and discomfort, our health is being incessantly challenged. The Chinese Culture of a Healthy Lifestyle can lead us to a resource of knowledge that can teach us how to maintain health of spirit, mind, and body.

The Idea of Yin Yang

The earliest concept of Yin Yang held a balance between abstract and concrete, take for example the sun; areas that receive sunlight would be considered as “Yang”; areas which received no sunlight, or shady areas, would be considered as “Yin”. Later, over time, other phenomena were recognized such as; Summer versus winter, up versus down, left versus right, inside versus outside, and action versus rest.

When the classic philosophers contemplated natural phenomenon they would explain it from the concept of Yin Yang. They perceived all aspects of nature as existing within opposing forces, positive and negative, life and death.

The Divisions of Yin Yang

Scholars of Yin Yang believed that the world is a material whole resulting from the unification of the opposing forces of Yin Yang. Yin Yang represents the interaction and unification of opposing properties. At the same time, the properties of Yin Yang in physical phenomena are also divisible, for instance; daytime as Yang, and nighttime as Yin. When speaking of the divisions of day and night, morning is considered to be ‘Yang within Yang’, afternoon is ‘Yin within Yang’, from midnight to three in the morning is ‘Yin within Yin’, and from three to six in the morning is ‘Yang within Yin’.

It is important to realize that there are divisions of Yin and Yang within Yin Yang that go on endlessly. Thus, we can see that all phenomena, physical and non-physical, within the universe can be categorized within Yin Yang. In addition, just as we saw the divisions of time, all things within one category of Yin or Yang can be sub-categorized into finer divisions of Yin and Yang. This occurrence is widely visible in all of nature.

The Properties of Yin Yang

In most instances, outward or upward motion or action, warmth and heat, light and illumination are all features of Yang, whereas inward or downward motion or action, chill or cold, and darkness are all features of Yin.

When speaking from the point of view of a healthy lifestyle, if the human body exhibits the properties of action or motion, warmth, excitement, or anything similar, it is considered to belong to the category of Yang. However, if the properties of restriction, moisture, or restraint are present they belong to the category of Yin. (Note: these properties should be understood abstractly.)

It is important to note that the ideals of Yin Yang can only be applied to things with common properties, things that have a common connection, or one object which has two aspects. If the things in consideration do not have a common connection or cannot be viewed as a pair then the ideals of Yin Yang cannot apply.

Applications of Yin Yang

The physical functions of the human body

In the realm of Yin Yang, it is considered that the result of balance, or harmony, between the two opposing forces is achieved through normal daily life activity. When speaking of physical versus energy forces, physical would be categorized as Yin and energy as Yang, in the aspect of Yin Yang these two are considered as opposing forces.

Normal human life activity is considered to be the foundation of physical matter, without physical activity there would be no resulting energy, therefore no resulting physical material which promotes a continuous metabolic process. If there is a division of Yin Yang or if Yin Yang cannot maintain unification, it must result in the termination of life.

In the Chinese classic “Su Wen” it is written, “If a human being is able to achieve balance in Yin Yang, the body will be strong and healthy, the mind will be calm and peaceful, however if there is a separation of Yin Yang the person will die.”

The Body and Illness

Within the human body and its surroundings, physical and physical, energy and energy, and physical and energy must all maintain balance; they must all maintain a Yin Yang balance. This is the basis of health and the way to maintaining healthy physical activity.

The forces of Yin Yang are interdependent; they sustain and restrict, increase and decrease. Consequently, when Yin Yang is out of balance illness is present.

The occurrence of illness is related to the aspects of healthy and harmful Qi. Healthy Qi refers to the whole structure and functions of the body, including the defenses that the body has against illness; the immune system. Harmful Qi, or Xie Qi, refers to any factor which causes illness. The properties of healthy Qi and harmful Qi can also be categorized by Yin Yang. Healthy Qi is divided into Yin Qi and Yang Qi; harmful Qi is divided into Yin Xie and Yang Xie.

The process of illness is the struggle between Zheng Qi and Xie Qi, or healthy and harmful Qi. The result is an imbalance of Yin Yang where either Yin or Yang may be in excess or deficient. No matter how complex the illness, the complexity does not go beyond the excess or deficiency of Yin or Yang. Therefore, if one desires to avoid illness and remain in good health, they must use all possible ways to maintain balance of Yin Yang, whereby reaching the highest level of a Healthy Lifestyle.

What is Yin Yang Balance?

All phenomena in nature are a result of the unity and balance of Yin Yang. The human body not only needs to maintain a balance of Yin Yang within, it must also adapt to the Yin Yang of the environment it finds its self in. The physical realm, just like the human body, is in constant motion and change. The physical body is constantly adjusting and adapting to its surroundings. The vital movements within the body must sense the supporting and restraining effects of its surroundings; weather, altitude, and seasonal changes, which will have direct influence on the bodily organ movements and functions. If the body is able to make the correct adjustments to its surroundings and adapt correctly, it will remain in good health. However, if the changes in the surroundings overpower the body’s ability to adapt, or if the body is too feeble or weak, the ability to adjust correctly is lost and there will exist an imbalance in Yin Yang which will lead to illness. It is important to gain a good grasp of the laws of natural change to achieve the needed overall unity and balance that will lead to overall health.

The Law of Balance between Heaven and Man

“Heaven” refers to the natural environment; “Man” refers to the human body. The idea behind the Balance between Heaven and Man expresses the strong connection that exists between nature and humanity. All changes and movements of nature will have some effect, direct or indirect, on the human body.

If, during the movements of the seasons, there occurs uncommon weather phenomenon; cold during spring, warmth during winter, a long drought, or heavy rains, they will all have some effect on the human body. The only way for the body to maintain good health is by adapting to the changes in its natural surroundings.

Thus, the ancients used the supportive and restrictive, or positive and negative, principles of Yin Yang to represent and explain natural surroundings and climate changes. Whereby, pointing out the changes of Yin Yang and the changes of the seasons as being the basic principle in the adaptation process; if a person desires health and longevity it is important to adhere to these principles of nature.

The World According to Wu Xing

The Wu Xing, or Five Elements, are; metal, wood, water, fire, and soil.

The ideals embodied in Wu Xing, or the Five Elements, explain the structure of the world. In China, Wu Xing, much like its counterpart Yin Yang, has made a large contribution in the study of a Healthy Lifestyle.

The main idea behind Wu Xing is not so simple as to say that all things can be divided into five separate categories. Rather, the Five Elements exist within the laws of mutual support, and restraint, and are used to explain the relations between complex systems and material objects. It is on this basis that the idea of completeness and a unified self adjustment is expressed. Through the adjustment of Wu Xing the functions of the body are strengthened, allowing individual functions to maintain or recover normal conditions, the result is the healthy lifestyle goal of well-being and longevity.

The Idea of Wu Xing

Wu Xing is a concept of the motion of five specific basic elements and seen as an extension of Yin Yang. The ancients conceptualized the Wu Xing of life motion as “metal, wood, water, fire, and soil”, five basic elements. Within the natural world, these five elements have different kinds of unions, which after close observation they discovered the mutual associations of “support and restriction”, which they continued to develop and expand on. They noticed how the elements were interrelated through continual support and restriction causing them to achieve and maintain balance.

The Properties of the Five Elements

Wood: The ancients saw the growth pattern of trees as upward and outward with branches growing curved and straight. They recognized them as displaying the usage and properties of growth and upward expansion.

Fire: The ancients saw fire as having the characteristics of heat and rising motion. They recognized this as the usage and properties of heat and ascension.

Soil: The ancients saw soil as having the usages of sowing, cultivating and harvesting. Therefore they recognized it as being an element of growth, able to bear weight, and able to receive. As in the sayings; “All things return to the earth”, and “the earth is the mother of all things”.

Metal: The ancients recognized metal as having the properties and usages of purity, and restraint.

Water: The ancients recognized water as having the properties and usages of moisture, cold, and downward motion.

Life Experience and personal study

What is important to you in this life?

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What is important to you in this life? Is it your kids? Is it your spouse? Is it money? Really think about what is important and then I want you to rethink the question. Why can’t YOU be important enough to put yourself first, then you will be able to take care of the other people or things in your life better?
Recently there’s been people who I am in contact with that have had siblings that are chronically ill from Diabetes because they didn’t keep it under control. Why do you think they waited so long to put themselves first? Did they not have the love for themselves like they should or do you think they lied to themselves and said they can’t do anything about it?
My friend that I spoke of in my past post, her brother lost both legs to diabetes. The other day a co-worker lost his brother to it. He was only a few years older than me. He had been struggling for a long time in hospice care losing his kidneys and then liver. This made me feel so sad that these two individuals laid down to this disease. We have to fight it every day of our lives! I know I have too and to be honest I’ve been rather slack the last month. No more! I love myself to much and the people around me that are closest to me to put them through that horrible, horrible worry and pain. I will not allow my obsession with sugar (cookies, chocolate, chips, pretzels) take me out that way!
You’ve got to smarten up on this disease!  Start researching diabetes and what it can do to you if you don’t already know and if you have it don’t just sit there and wish you didn’t have it. Do something about it!
I started out at 255 pounds, with chronic Neuropathy pain in my feet. I didn’t know I had it until it was too late. I got myself in control once I found out, but I never lost my weight and exercised because I played the “woe is me” card. Yes, I was in excruciating pain, yes I was depressed, yes I didn’t feel good ever and yes I was so tired from eating so poorly.  However, I could have done something about it I just didn’t know how, nor did I have belief in myself since I failed so many other diets in my life time.
Also, I didn’t want to put the effort that it takes to lose weight nor did I want to stop eating my Fritos long enough. I didn’t want to sweat and exercise that takes effort! That changed once I was diagnosed with Autonomic Neuropathy in my digestive tract,the start of my system shutting down.
This was an eye opener to me, I became desperate to lose weight and to get healthy. I wanted to enjoy the rest of my life with my husband and my family. I wanted to run, I wanted to be fit, I wanted to do what I wanted!  Life is to short folks. If you are sitting there with diabetes and you are eating whatever you want, don’t fool yourselves into thinking this won’t happen to you, its a matter of time.
Diabetes is running rampant today in this country and its because we don’t care enough about ourselves to do anything about it. Yes, Type 1 diabetics can’t help it, but theycan prevent their symptoms from getting worse. I am Type 1 and I am fighting!
If you know a diabetic and they aren’t taking care of themselves, send them this post. Let them know they aren’t alone and they can change their lives around before its to late. If you do not know anyone with Diabetes, share it anyways because you do not know who might read it and it might help change their life seeing it can be done.
I hope this video below comes through to those of you that get email subscriptions.  If it doesn’t, please come to my website to view it.

Pound Cake with Gingerbread Swiss Meringue Buttercream Rosettes

I took a cake decorating class at our local community college. Nineteen people started the class and ten finished it. People gave differing reasons for being there; some wanted to earn money making cakes. The instructor is a professional baker who specializes in wedding cakes. Myself, I was looking for a social outlet, creativity, and fun.

Some of my former coworkers would probably find the concept of me, Rocquie, taking a cake decorating class confounding. You see, I have always shunned those supermarket birthday cakes everyone at the office loves. You know the ones, the garish, brightly colored concoctions made completely of sugar, and artificial flavorings and colors that taste horrible. And let me not get started on the grease factor. (I have cleaned the break room after those birthday parties–it takes much soap and hot water to clean that grease frosting off the cake knife).

I have always wanted to say that.

Now I have the tools and skills to pipe. I can pipe out those beautiful deviled eggs, that basket weave of mashed potatoes on the shepherd’s pie, the twice baked potatoes, and most importantly and what I really wanted to learn, is decorating beautiful Christmas cookies.

For my final project, I made an old fashioned pound cake (posted here) and piped rosettes with gingerbread flavored Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. No artificial anything.

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Gingerbread Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
4 ounces liquid pasteurized egg whites
10 ounces dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. molasses
12 ounces soft unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Add pinch of salt.

Heat, whisking constantly, with mixing bowl over simmering water until mixture reaches 160 degrees or until all of the brown sugar has dissolved.

Place the mixing bowl on mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat on high for 10 minutes.

Switch to paddle attachment, add the butter, and mix on low speed until thick.

Add vanilla and spices; continue to beat on low speed until combined.

Increase Your Human Growth Hormones With Healthy Life Habits

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Human Growth hormone is a water-soluble hormone comprised of a amino acids that introduce a series of chemical reactions to change the cell’s metabolism also known as a peptide hormone. It primarily promotes tissue growth and repair. Human Growth Hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and is active in most people when they are children up to young adults. During this period it is responsible for natural and rapid growth. Human Growth Hormone acts on the liver, producing IGF-1( insulin like growth factor -I). Together IGF-1 and GH helps regulate metabolism and maintain normal brain and cardiac function.

Human Growth Hormone secrets in short burst naturally. However, as we age, the amount of secretion decreases. This reduction in Growth Hormone secretion directly corresponds to the increase in age related issues such as reduced muscle mass, reduced bone density, mental acuity, sleep disorders, fatty weight gain.

Studies have shown however that there are ways to increase the secretion of HGH by making certain lifestyle changes.

Fat

Fat stored in the abdominal area impairs the secretion of HGH. If you lose body fat and keep it off, this will improve your bodies secretion of HGH.

Insulin

Insulin is a major direct HGH blocker. Certain foods when eaten cause insulin spikes that cause the blockage of HGH. If you avoid these foods your HGH secretion can be increased. Foods such as white bread and sugar, white rice, potato chips, cookies, soda, and processed fruit juices Replace those foods with nutrient and fiber-rich beans, whole fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and realize less insulin spikes, higher HGH secretions, weight reduction and more regular bowl movement.

Sleep

The vast majority of HGH secretion occurs at night during deep sleep. Poor quality sleep can substantially reduce HGH secretion. Improve the quality of your sleep by keeping regular bedtime and wake up time, keep light and noise away from your sleep area, and avoid alcohol and caffeine 4 hours before bedtime.

Meal Planning

Amino acids found in protein help HGH secretions. A high protein but low carbohydrate snack before bedtime will minimize insulin release and supply the amino acids to your body to help HGH secretion at night while you sleep.

Exercise

Exercise is good for increasing your HGH secretions. So just being active, can help your HGH secretions, but the type of exercise and the duration and intensity can optimize the benefit you get.

The effect of a healthy lifestyle is twofold, first it will improve your natural secretion of HGH, and secondly affect you physically and mentally from an anti aging perspective.

Am I Really Hungry?

I get newsletters from the Shrink Yourself blog weekly and I enjoy reading their take on why they think I am fat. Okay, I’m not fat anymore, but I will always have the fat mentality and a desire to eat.

Today the second paragraph stood out to me and jolted me to write in my blog. Due to copyright laws I cannot post without their consent, so here’s the link if your interested. Emotional Hunger
When he said “you need to stop focusing on what you should eat” freaked me out because that is all I do. That is the only way I know how to make this weight loss stay a loss. I focus on what I should eat every time I put something in my mouth. Why do you think he’d say this?
Is he saying that it really doesn’t matter what I eat as long as I am “truly” hungry and not a made up hunger? I have those a lot! I could have just ate dinner and be “hungry” an hour later. We all know that isn’t true hunger. Its our made up hunger, like Dr. Roger Gould states in his article this week.
This is very hard for me to digest because I truly believe it does matter what we eat even if I eat when I am truly hungry. I mean if I ate a big sloppy McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese that is 510 calories! That is approximately 1/4 of my daily calories in a hamburger. I could have had a nice healthy salad with 3 oz of chicken, fat free ranch dressing, 2 servings of Melba Rounds and a desert my Dark Chocolate Vitatop for lunch and it would be less calories than that hamburger.
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So, yes, it does matter what you eat. You want to eat quality foods, healthy foods and I guarantee you that lunch I would have ate would keep me full a lot longer than 1 hamburger.
Make sure you eat right, focus on eating quality foods its so good for you and the benefits outweigh the hamburger at McDonald’s! Remember when you eat something to eat things that will help you stay fuller longer, keep your blood sugar down and have quality calories to it. Makes all the difference in the world when you start Maintenance.
What are your thoughts on focusing on what you eat? Do you feel Dr. Gould is right as long as you eat when your truly hungry it doesn’t matter what you eat?

Savory and Sweet Pineapple Cheese Ball

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CHEESEBALL. HAVE YOU EVER CALLED SOMEONE THAT or gasp, been called a cheeseball yourself? Silly, corny, cheesy, goofy.

I think of the Cheese Ball itself to be rather cheesy–middle brow, 1960’s suburbia cocktail party,

Be that as it may, I love cheese balls. There are so many varieties and they beckon fun and creativity. Shapes can be altered, cheeses varied, decoration ideas are endless. Try forming one into a cone and roll in chopped parsley to make a Christmas tree, which can be decorated with roasted red pepper and green olives. How about one with smoked salmon, formed into a fish shape with sliced almonds for scales. Or make one with blue cheese, roll in walnuts and serve with pear slices. Try rolling your ball in smoked paprika or coarsely ground black pepper.

This is my favorite cheese ball. I adore the flavor combination of sharp cheddar cheese and pineapple. The red bell pepper and scallions add dimension and the crunch of the toasted sliced almonds gives the perfect bite.

With crackers and crudites, I could happily eat this as a meal.

Savory and Sweet Pineapple Cheese Ball
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated, room temperature
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 – 3 scallions, sliced
1 cup chopped, fresh pineapple (or canned, unsweetened)
1/4 tsp. (or more to taste) cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups toasted, sliced almonds

Beat the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bell pepper, scallions, pineapple, and cayenne until blended. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Shape into a ball; roll in sliced almonds. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve with crackers and crudites.

 

A Food That Might Help Neuropathy

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See if you can guess which food I am talking about.

  1. What lowers your blood pressure?
  2. What can lower the “bad” cholesterol over time?
  3. What can improve your mood and outlook?
  4. What can possibly help cancer, stroke, heart disease and neurological disorders?

….I will tell you what I have heard “dark chocolate”!

Yes, that is right I said dark chocolate.  I have been eating dark chocolate every day since giving up the simple starch foods, white flour and aspartame products from my diet on December 10th, 2011.  The first thing I noticed was my feet were quieter.  Do you know what it feels like to have a neuropathy foot??  Its horrible!

There’s vibrations, shocks, skin scraping feelings, extreme temperature changes, cramps, pins and needles every single day and gets worse in the evenings closer to bed time.

Since I have been eating dark chocolate (65% cocoa and higher), they have been some what quieter.  I am still suffering from it, but I will take whatever reprieve I can get!

I started researching dark chocolate and have found many articles backing up my thoughts.  One really stands out to me and I wanted to share it with you.

Chocolate As A Health Food
For many of us, life without chocolate would be drab and desolate. Good news: recent research has shown that chocolate is good for you and can actually extend your life! That means that I will probably live to be 120.

A little more information is needed to maximize the health effects of chocolate. As in all things, all chocolate is not alike. The primary contributor to the positive impact of chocolate is an obscure thing called flavonoids. Flavonoids are found in many berries, red wine and green tea. So I may live to be 130, between the chocolate and the red wine.

Flavonoids are antioxidants. That means that they inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. That is a good thing, because oxidation releases free radicals that cause damage to our cells. This damage is associated with aging (boo!) and in more extreme cases, cancer, stroke, heart disease and neurological disorders.

To get the most out of your daily chocolate, choose chocolate that is rich in flavonoids. That means dark chocolate. Milk chocolate only has about 25% of the flavonoids of dark chocolate, and white chocolate has no flavonoids at all.

The best yard stick for flavonoid content is the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate. Shoot for 70% cocoa, at least. You get a nice taste and plenty of wonderful flavonoids in every bite. Be aware that very high levels of cocoa can taste bitter or dusty to some people, so sample before you make a large purchase. Sample anyway, it’s just a sensible thing to do!

A German research study found that people with high blood pressure saw an appreciable drop in their blood pressure if they had a daily serving of chocolate. A follow-on study in the H.S. found that the drop in blood pressure was accompanied by a 10% drop in low density lipoprotein, the “bad” cholesterol. Several studies have also tied chocolate consumption with improved mood and mental outlook. Really sorry I missed out on that study!

Chocolate is a wonder drug. It improves your blood pressure and cholesterol readings. It improves your mood and feeling of well being. It slows aging and fights many diseases.