woman holding picture of a smile

Help Beat Tooth Issues with Diet!

You can help beat tooth decay and prevent other dental issues with the foods you include and exclude from your diet. The foods we eat impact our health, including our our dental health.

Common dental issues

Gum disease, also known as gingivitis and periodontal disease is an infection of our gums, having several causes. Two causes of gum disease are smoking and high blood sugar levels. Aim to have blood sugar levels in the 70-180 mg/dL range 70% of the time, as noted on a continuous glucose monitoring system. If using fingersticks, then aim for 70-180mg/dL most of the time.

Dental erosion is the wearing away of the outside surface of your teeth (the enamel) caused by acid from foods and beverages. Dental decay is cavities or dental caries, that can come from bacteria in plaque buildup on your teeth. Both conditions eat away at the enamel.

Seeing a dentist for regular checkups can help prevent these issues and treat them to help prevent further issues.

Foods to eat to help beat tooth issues

Eating healthy foods helps you beat tooth issues and fight off other diseases. Nutrients from the foods we eat enter our bloodstreams and are carried to all parts of our bodies, including the gums which supply the teeth with nutrition.

Of particular importance for the mouth, are vitamin C and calcium. Some foods rich in vitamin C are fruits and veggies. Examples are melons, broccoli, potatoes, citrus fruit, and peppers. Foods rich in calcium are dark green veggies, cheese, dairy milk, almonds, and calcium-fortified foods. 

Other foods important for overall health are legumes, veggies, fruits, whole grains, seafood, seeds, and nuts, and dairy for calcium. For those who avoid dairy, include foods rich in calcium.

What about sugar?

Cut down or stop using beverages with sugar, including energy and sports drinks. Eating excessive sugar causes more harmful bacteria that can lead to decay. Sugarcoating our teeth can couple with bacteria and begin to decay our teeth. In the current 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a decrease in sugary foods and beverages was recommended because of the result of eating excessive sugary foods on dental caries. The 2020 Guidelines are to surface by the end of this year and are being reviewed this August. The recommendation to decrease sugar will continue, and the amount is expected to be lower.

For persons with diabetes, excessive sugar can result in high blood sugar levels, making diabetes challenging to manage. The excess sugar from food is coating the tooth exterior and simultaneously leading to high blood sugar levels, which fuel the gums that are feeding our teeth.

Other tips to beat tooth issues including sensitivity

Drink water after a meal to clear your mouth of food and drinks

To help neutralize some acidic foods such as coffee, wine, and citrus fruits, eat cheese or drink milk.

Cheese may also help with remineralization of dental enamel.

Use a straw when drinking acidic drinks, including fruit juice. Aim the straw so that the liquid does not bathe your teeth.

Avoid sticky sugary foods

Our diets are important for our overall health, and making regular visits to your dentist can help you to keep a healthy mouth.

glass of melting ice with lemon slice garnish

Water and Wellness: Eight Glasses a Day Does Not Apply

Water and wellness go together, but how much water we need is a frequent question. If you have long heard that we should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, you are not alone. Even though many have listened to this, there is not any documentation that supports the statement. If this were correct, this would mean that the same amount is recommended for everyone, regardless of gender, age, or body weight.

Our bodies are more than 50% water for adult men and women. Our organs contain 70-85% water, while our brains have 80-85% and our muscles, 70-75%.

Our needs increase if we exercise, have a fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, and if we are in hot temperatures. We lose water through urine, feces, sweat and breathing, daily.

Adequate Intake for water and wellness

The Adequate Intake level from the Institute of Medicine for water is 2.7 liters for women and 3.7 liters for men. Going from liters to ounces, this translates to roughly 91 ounces or 11 eight-ounce glasses for women and 125 ounces or 16 eight-ounce glasses for men.

Sources of water

We can get water into our diets from the foods we eat and all beverages, whether caffeinated or not. It does not have to be plain water. The water content in foods varies. Fruits and veggies range from 79-96% (dried fruit 31%), with protein sources ranging from 60-73% (beef jerky is lower at 23%).

Ways to include beverages with water  

Make flavored water with unsweetened liquid drops or unsweetened powdered drink mixes

Soda stream machines will carbonate your water for you

Ready to drink carbonated beverages (non-caloric recommended for weight management)

Water infused with fruit or veggies

Coffee or tea (plain, unsweetened recommended for weight management).

What does water do for us?

Other than being soothing as we drink it and quenching our thirst, water can:

Cushion or joints

Regulate our body temperature

Help with digestion

Keep our mouth, ears, nose, and throat moist.

Signs and symptoms of not drinking enough water

You may feel a dry, thirsty feel in the back of your throat, which is a symptom of about 2% dehydration. In one study, the lack of adequate water showed signs of cognitive impairment. Even as little as 2% dehydration can decrease the performance level of someone who is exercising.

Always have water on hand. Signs and symptoms of dehydration vary with the degree. Some symptoms can be thirst, tiredness, lightheadedness, muscle cramping, headaches, and an increase in heart rate.

As the degree of dehydration becomes more severe, there could be a small amount, or a lack of urine or urine could be extremely dark yellow.

Tips to help you drink more water

Always have drinking water on hand, especially in hot climates, whether indoors or out. Reusable containers can be helpful for you as you stay hydrated and help protect our environment.

couple walking in park by huge tree

Walking Works to Improve Your Health!

Walking works to improve your health in many ways. If you are currently inactive, get a doctor’s approval before beginning an exercise program. Walking is a low impact aerobic exercise that can be done by just about anyone.

What are the benefits of walking for exercise?

When we walk for exercise, our entire body benefits from all the actions that occur. Walking works to improve our mood, and stress can be decreased. Exercise walking can help alleviate depression. Bone and muscles are strengthened, and blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol can be lowered. And we burn calories from walking while keeping our bodies healthy to prevent and manage disease.

Walking works by using many muscles

More than leg muscles participate when we are in a walking motion. The mind can relax as our eyes take in the surroundings, whether on a treadmill or outside. As your feet and legs are moving you along, the arms swing, and the trunk is involved. Your lungs are filling with an abundance of air and exhaling carbon dioxide, and your heart rate is increasing.

What you should eat before walking

Eat a light snack and be well hydrated depending on the distance you are planning to walk and if it has been several hours since you have eaten. Notice the temperature and the humidity. We can become dehydrated under any conditions if we don’t consume enough water. The hotter, the more likely you are to sweat, but in the cold air, we lose water vapor, so be sure you are well prepared before going out.

Walking tips for beginners

Just starting? On day one, step out for 5 minutes and return to the starting point for a total of ten minutes. Add a total of five minutes each day until you reach thirty minutes. If you do not reach 30 minutes on day five, that is ok; notice where you are, and consider adding a minute or two at a time and continue from there as you desire.

Equipment needed

The gear needed for walking is minimal. Shoes that fit well and provide support are a priority. Socks that wick sweat can keep you more comfortable and keep your feet from feeling yucky as you walk. Clothing should be loose-fitting and a lightweight fabric that wicks sweat, since this can help you feel cooler and the sweat off your skin. Waistbands should fit comfortably, not tight. If you sweat a lot, a headband or wristband can come in handy.

One more especially important note: apply sunscreen!

Walking recommendations

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, Second Addition, 2018 recommend less sitting and moving more for adults. A range of 150-300 minutes a week is advised for optimal health benefits. You can reach this by walking 30-60 minutes a day for five days a week. Strength exercises will provide additional benefits.

If you do not have 30 minutes at one time, walk 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

Endorphins

As we exercise, endorphins, which are hormones in our brains and nervous systems, are released, giving us a feeling of well-being. They make us feel good! Exercising produces endorphins, and when we exercise in a group, this may be even more beneficial. If you do not have a group, then walk and take in the scenery. Have fun!

It is time to move

When you might feel like all these thoughts are rolling around in your head, and you want a little tranquility, walking works to help you calm those thoughts.

When I am feeling stressed, I have heard myself say (out loud), “I have to go get some endorphins!” Walking works to help clear my thinking and takes the edge off the stress. Then, I can make decisions. I invite you to explore the pleasant act of walking.

Mediterranean fish meal

The Mediterranean Diet: Why Change and How

The Mediterranean Diet rates the as the best diet of 2020 in U.S. News & World Report magazine.

To make it to the top, it had to have many redeeming features.  It offers flavor and variety, can be easy to follow and provides many health benefits.

What is a Mediterranean diet?

An easy to follow way of eating that includes a wide variety of foods that are a part of life for countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.

The core of the Mediterranean diet revolves around fruits, veggies, beans, legumes, seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices, and, of course, olive oil.  Seafood and fish are also included, along with eggs, poultry, cheese and yogurt. Wine is in moderation and red meats and sweets are limited. 

The variety of foods supply a multitude of nutrients that provide sustenance and satisfaction. And for the carbohydrate deprived keto followers, you can have whole grains without feeling guilty.  You can even have bread, fruit and legumes! Yum!

Following a diet always has foods to stay away from, which can leave the person who strayed, with feelings of guilt because it was too hard to stay away from the restricted foods.  Since the Mediterranean diet offers plenty to choose from, adherence is more likely.

Some of the benefits to be gained

Many health benefits surround those who follow this diet and lifestyle. 

Overall cancer rates are lower. Colorectal and breast are two of several that are impacted by the Mediterranean diet.

Some of the other benefits are related to diabetes and cardiovascular disease such as a lowering of insulin resistance, improvement of blood sugar levels, a decrease in blood pressure and incidence of stroke.  The LDL (lousy) levels can decrease while the HDL (healthy) can increase.  Triglyceride levels can also decrease.

How to change to a Mediterranean diet

For someone already eating a plant-based diet, adding a few ingredients to the current food intake can be quite simple. In some cases, broadening one food group and decreasing another will move you towards the Mediterranean diet.

Ways to accomplish this:

Add veggies or beans to whole-grain pasta

Substitute olive oil in place of the oil in use

 Use herbs and spices, such as garlic or oregano and decrease salt

Add nuts to a meal or snack for a little crunch

Legumes, such as beans and lentils are an easy addition 

Potatoes can be an easy addition and a great way to add anthoxanthins

Try some Mediterranean cheese, such as ricotta salata or a goat’s milk cheese. Cheese is a lesser part of the Mediterranean diet that provides protein and some additional fat, but it is included. 

The variety of filling foods leaves little room for sugary foods and by branching out and using additional types of spices and herbs to flavor foods, you can relish in the flavor of ethnic cuisine at home.

Steps to take now

Small frequent changes can help you as you work towards changing to a Mediterranean diet.  Remember to s-l-o-w down, savor your food and reap the benefits.

The foods in the Mediterranean diet are everyday foods that can be seasoned to your preference. Fruits and veggies of some sort are always in style no matter the season of the year. Along with these, add your favorite bean variety, whole grain, and a small serving of poultry or fish and you will be on your way.

The word "diabetes" all caps

CGM Systems: Is Continuous Glucose Monitoring for You?

A continuous glucose monitoring system can help a person with diabetes (PWD) and the health care provider identify the causes of varying glucose levels that fingersticks alone are unable to accomplish. A fingerstick alone is unable to capture all of the factors that can interfere  with blood glucose levels. The monitoring system serves as a tool to help reach a solution for healthier ranges of glucose levels.

What is a continuous glucose monitor?

A continuous monitor is a small device that can be worn to constantly capture glucose levels without having to perform a fingerstick. CGM systems can read glucose levels every one to five minutes.

Benefits of a continuous monitor

Wearing a monitor can help decrease hypoglycemia episodes. It can alert the PWD of rising or decreasing glucose levels and show the effects of food, activity, stress, illness, and medications, as well as help the provider in making medication adjustments and help solve an unmatched A1c with non-corresponding glucose levels.

Different types of monitors

There are two major differences in monitors, one is the professional that is owned by a licensed healthcare provider and the other is a personal monitor that is owned by the patient.

Professional and personal monitors

There are three professional continuous glucose monitors:

DexCom G4

FreeStyle Libre Pro

Medtronic IPro2.

These are owned by a healthcare provider for a patient to wear for monitoring glucose patterns for a 3-14-day time frame. While the patient is wearing these, they may or may not be aware of the results depending on the monitor used; this is considered blinded and unblinded. To receive the most benefit the patient is asked to keep food and blood sugar records and to continue with their normal routine. In some of the CGM systems an alarm can be set. To interpret the data with the patient an appointment is made for a return visit. It is possible to have a virtual visit, depending on the device and insurance coverage.

A personal continuous glucose monitor is chosen by the patient from among four brands:

DexCom G6 can be integrated with Tandem T:slim X2 insulin pump.

FreeStyle Libre Flash 14-Day

Medtronic Guardian Connect and the Guardian 3 that can be integrated with the insulin pump

Eversense implantable CGM.

The monitors can be worn for 7 to 14-days except for the Eversense which can be worn for up to a 3-month timeframe. Personal CGM’s can be used long term. The personal monitors may or may not have an alarm depending on the brand. Insulin dosing is approved for some CGM systems that are read in real-time. Also, some have data sharing capability with a mobile app for a friend or family member.

How do CGM systems work?

CGM systems have three main components for most brands:

  • Sensor
  • Transmitter
  • Receiver

Once attached, the sensor is almost unnoticed by the user. The data from the sensor is read from the receiver which in some cases can be a smart phone that is using the brand’s app. Once the sensor is in place and calibrated, it can begin to monitor glucose levels. When viewing, the user can see if the glucose is stable or if the level is trending up or down slowly or quickly; therefore, the user has time to respond to prevent a hypo or hyperglycemic event. They can also learn what may have lead to possible fluctuations to help make diabetes self-management decisions.

Where is a CGM worn?

Depending on the brand, the CGM sensor can be worn on the abdomen or the back of the arm. Some brands have an auto-injector for easy insertion.

Insurance coverage

Checking with your insurance company is recommended for professional and personal monitors. Commercial insurance companies and Medicare cover for the service by the professional and for the personal device depending on the individual plan. Type 1 and 2 are covered depending on guidelines for number of finger sticks and multiple daily injections. In some cases, if a personal CGM isn’t covered, the service for professional monitor usage, may be.

Eating For Diabetes Made Simple

Eating for Diabetes Made Simple

Living with diabetes can be a pain sometimes but eating for diabetes can be made simple by following a few steps. The quality and quantity of the foods being eaten are important and food intake that is colorful, and fiber filled, is high quality and can help with the management of blood sugars and overall health.   Focusing on eating these foods is better than dwelling on what not to eat. Including beans and healthy fats along with whole grains, fruits and veggies, in controlled amounts, allows for an optimal intake of powerful antioxidants which helps to keep a strong immune system. Here are a few tips to help:

Include legumes
Include beans, peas or lentils. These are high in fiber and provide protein, magnesium and potassium to name a few. Beans may also help improve gut health.

Add a healthy fat
For a healthier heart, add avocado slices, nuts, or olives.

Decrease saturated fats
If meat or poultry is covering half of the plate, consider making that a quarter of the plate and increase the veggies to help fill your tummy.

Include whole grains
Bulgur or farro are both whole grains which help when eating for diabetes.  Both are wheat products, and if you need gluten free, amaranth, quinoa, sorghum or brown rice can help you add whole grains to your food intake.

Know your portions
If you don’t know the amount that a portion of a food should be, consider a smaller plate for the meal.  Also, look at the size of the utensil you are eating with because these are larger than they used to be, which means each fork or spoonful will hold more food with each bite you take, resulting in a faster intake and possibly a larger intake.  Taking longer to eat a meal can help with digestion and smaller bites can help with weight control.

Make sure to add color
Add a fruit or veggie so that you have color on your plate. These foods can help provide a stronger immune system.

To be successful in making changes with eating for diabetes, work on one of these at a time, such as including beans in a meal 3-4 times a week, until a new habit is formed.  You will soon see how eating for diabetes can be simple.


Eat an Avocado for National Heart Month

You know avocados taste good, but did you know there are many ways to eat them other than guacamole?  This nutritious, always available fruit, does not contain sugar and provides healthy fat, almost 20 vitamins and minerals including potassium, folate and fiber, which all help to keep a strong immune system.  This is National Heart Month and, as always, a good time to eat a tasty, smooth and creamy avocado. 

Avocado University invited me to learn about Avocados from Mexico recently.  This was an all day event that I was not paid for. A registered dietitian is on staff to provide valued and trusted evidence based nutriton information. Because of this, I am excited to share the benefits of eating an avocado.

Ways to eat an avocado:

Spread a serving of ripe avocado on toasted whole grain bread and, if you like, add your choice of topping such as sunflower seeds. Scrumptious! A serving is 1/3 of a medium or 2.5 Tablespoons of an avocado.

Added to a side dish, such as with a grain or veggie.   There was a nice spread for lunch, but the dish that I remember the most was the farro with brussels sprouts and diced avocado.  Dreamy. That was a definite go back for seconds.

Eat a serving of yummy avocado in place of butter, mayo or margarine. A simple shift to help keep a healthy heart.

How about take your favorite guacamole recipe and add it to a veggie burger? 

Consider adding avocado to the filling for a deviled egg.  For more ideas and flavorful recipes go to https://avocadosfrommexico.com/

Heart disease is a number one killer of men and women and being kind to yourself nutritiously is an excellent step to take to fight back.  Avocados offer an abundance of flavor along with heart protecting benefits.  Treat yourself to good health, eat an avocado during National Heart Month and throughout the year.

Feasting on Holiday Goodies without Weight Gain!

Knowing how to handle the holiday goodies will help you bring in your new year feeling ahead, and not feeling you have further to go.  These goodies will be appearing in many places such as the office, school parties, church gatherings, family gatherings, and checkout counters to name a few.  

Feasting on holiday goodies can go on all season and get out of control, if you let it. Thanksgiving and Christmas may each only be for one day each year, but it is the time between these two holidays when it becomes easy to get off track with all the seasonal goodies around. This is a whole month of foods to navigate.  Doing things to enhance our health can really be put on the back burner.

As you bite into a holiday goodie, notice the size.  No matter the size, make it more than one bite.  If putting a food on your plate, consider if it could be cut into smaller sizes. This would be such as a brownie. An inch by one inch can be plenty as you indulge in all the holiday goodies this season.

Savor it. It’s not a race to finish.  Having a second or third serving will not make the first one taste any better than it already does, so slow down. A lot.  While indulging in holiday goodies, remember that you are in control of the foods you put into your mouth. This can help you get through the moment. 

Without guilt, you can enjoy holiday goodies.   A small bite will satisfy you and you can enjoy other goodies as well and not feel any guilt afterwards.

Holiday goodies can be enticing, delightful and relished.  Come January, instead of working to lose any additional weight gained and feeling guilty, savor the holiday goodies and you can continue on your journey of enhancing your health.

Succeed with Diabetes During the Holidays

Here are a few tips to succeed with diabetes during the holidays. Yes, it is possible! The diagnosis of diabetes can leave you feeling like enjoyments in life, such as the holiday table, have been taken away, but knowing a few tips can help. So how does someone go about handling this situation?

1. Remember that YOU are in charge! By making decisions and knowing your portion sizes, you can control what and how much you eat. The issue of portions can be handled well and you can relax and enjoy food during the holidays.

2. Notice how many bites you take while eating “a bite sized serving” of a food. Whether dressing, turkey or a brownie, two to three bites may be in that one size you put into your mouth in one bite. Try smaller bites and you will be surprised how much longer it takes to eat.

3. Contribute to the spread of foods by providing your own dish. More than likely you will find that you are not alone during the holidays when it comes to trying to manage blood sugar.

4. Ask yourself if you must have a serving of every dish on the table. If yes, do you have to eat it all at once? There is ample time so that you can go back for more, later in the day.

5. High fiber, immune system protecting, non-starchy veggies can help you feel satisfied. In Texas, radishes, bell pepper, mushrooms, and tomatoes are available, to name of few.

6. As you eat during the holidays, remember to savor your foods. That means slowing down and tasting and feeling the crunch or the smoothness of food as it rests on your palate and relish in the flavor.

The holiday table is a time of enjoyment and you can do that, without guilt, and succeed with diabetes.

 

Ways You Can Spice Up a Dish to Improve Flavor

Blog Ways to Spice Up a Dish

Flavor can be added to foods using herbs and spices, but many times we forget this.  Do you find yourself using the same seasonings all the time? Adding different seasonings to foods can be easy and tasty! Using more herbs and spices allows for a way to enhance the flavor of food while using less salt and can be very helpful for someone trying to decrease their sodium intake.
These are just a few herbs and spices to consider for flavoring your food.
Continue reading Ways You Can Spice Up a Dish to Improve Flavor