Showing posts with label Diabetes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Diabetes. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Drugs & Diabetes: Six Cost-Saving Strategies

According to the CDC, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 600,000 deaths annually. It also creates high health costs for many families, with sources estimating the national cost of diabetes at over $132 billion a year. If you suffer from diabetes, these six tips can help you ease those costs and stay healthy.
Tip #1: Use mail-order services for prescription discounts
Under Obamacare, Medicare now has a National Mail-Order Program, which can save you quite a bit on lancets, test strips, batteries, and other common diabetes supplies. Plus, it’s all delivered straight to your door, which can save you time and gas.
Tip #2: Use Obamacare’s free preventative care options
Most of the plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are required to provide free preventive care services, which would include screening for diabetes if you’re an adult with high blood pressure or if you’re pregnant. Though the coverage rules vary by state, ACA’s free preventive care also includes medical nutrition therapy for those with diabetes.
Tip #3: Use your FSA
If your employer offers benefit plans with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can save substantially – up to 30% – on your out-of-pocket medical expenses.

The way a Flexible Spending Account works is by letting you set aside pre-tax money from your salary to put towards expected medical expenses. By doing this, you effectively reduce your taxable income. You can then use the money you set aside to cover many medical expenses not covered by your health plan, such as copays and over-the-counter medications.
Tip #4: Use a free discount prescription card
You can save an average of 42% on your prescriptions by using the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card or the FamilyWize smartphone app.  To download the app, follow these links to the Apple App StoreGoogle Play, or the Windows Store. Last year, the FamilyWize card saved over $175 million on prescriptions!
Tip #5: Take advantage of other discounts via coupons and rebates
There are many things you can do as part of your regular shopping routine to save money. For example:
  • Watch the weekly ad flyers or coupon books coming to you in the mail from your drug store.
  • Keep an eye on your area drugstores’ websites for digital coupons you can print or save on your phone.
  • Ask if your pharmacy has a loyalty program. A higher volume customer, such as a person with diabetes, can often get frequent discounts on general merchandise or even prescription medications.
Tip #6: Go generic
Buying generic (unbranded) versions of drugs can reduce your cost of diabetes care, sometimes significantly.  Read more on the cost advantages of buying generic drugs at WebMD.

The most important thing: Do not let limited funds keep you from your necessary diabetes drugs.  According to a 2004 University of Michigan study, 11 percent of diabetes patients skip diabetes medication doses because of the high cost. Inevitably (as confirmed by other studies), this worsens blood sugar control. By using the tips provided here, you can help ensure you're leading a savings-smart, healthy life.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Health Benefits of Mango Seed

The mango is a favorite summertime fruit, but are you missing out on health benefits if you stop at the mango’s flesh? A recent spate of weight loss products espouse mango seeds as an effective weight loss tool. Do they work? Are there other health benefits? What about risks? Let’s investigate!

And yes, we are talking about something that big “pit” or seed in the middle of a mango, which you would normally gnaw around and then throw away. In recent years, extracts from the African mango seed have been used in diet supplements or made available as a liquid extract or powder, which you can use as an additive in drinks, smoothies, or other dishes.

Before you dig down to the pit, you’ll be happy to know
that the fleshy part of the fruit that you are used to consuming is already full of nutrients. It’s rich in flavonoids (specifically, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin), essential minerals like copper and potassium, and vitamins A, C, B6, and E. It is also a fiber-rich fruit, which can potentially help manage your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar level.

The seed is often used as an ingredient in weight management products. In other cultures, the seed or seed extract is used to treat a myriad of ailments, including tooth pain and diarrhea.

What the mango seed research shows

There is not enough independent scientific research on the health benefits of African mango seeds to give them a definitive thumbs up. But here are some of the more interesting study results:
  • Mango seeds in diabetes support: A 1986 study testing mango seed supplementation in diabetic patients successfully reduced blood glucose levels.  A 1990 study showed that it is effective in treating type II diabetes, decreasing bad cholesterol and increasing good HDL cholesterol.
  • Mango seeds in weight loss: A 2005 study showed that African mango oil lowered abdominal fat and HDLs in rats. And a 2008 study showed that mango seed extract inhibited the conversion of sugars into fat. In a 2009 study, mango seed extract reduced weight and improved metabolism in overweight humans in 10 weeks. Another human study showed similar results.
  • Other mango seed studies showed it or its extract to be effective as an antioxidant.

How to eat mango seed

If you are interested in enjoying the benefits of the mango seed in its most natural form, rather than in a powder form or tablet, have at it. Believe it or, that big seed in the middle of the mango fruit is edible, with one caveat: go green. If you’ve eaten a ripe mango, you know that the seed seems impenetrably hard and fibrous. They are often also bitter. But try the mango seed of a green mango, not yet ripened, and you'll find that it is downright soft and easily sliced with a sharp knife.

Mango seed recipes

Looking for a way to add mango seeds to your diet? Try these recipes:

African mango seed health risks

Unless you have a known allergy to mangoes, there is little evidence of health risks in consuming African mango seeds or extracted forms of it, and no known adverse side effects. That said, you should consult with your doctor before consuming African mango seed or any other supplements.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

American Diabetes Month

gestational diabetes
People with diabetes can still
enjoy the holiday while
cutting down.

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother has had to watch what she eats every day. The Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder of how diabetics can’t overindulge. My grandmother has wonderful discipline, indulging in a very small amount of sweets, and always ensuring that she eats on schedule to keep her blood sugar in check. I know my grandma is just one of many people with diabetes – and each person’s story is different.

I had a colleague whose daughter has diabetes. I remember times where the young girl forgot to bring her insulin to school, so my coworker would have to drive the medicine over to the school. This additional health responsibility can add stress to an already busy lifestyle. American Diabetes Month is a great time to recognize those American diabetes patients and their caregivers and bring greater awareness to the disease.

What Is Diabetes?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines diabetes as “the condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy.” To make a long story short, the body counts on the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin so that the glucose created by the food we eat can get into our cells to be used as energy. When someone has diabetes, the body struggles to make enough insulin or to use it properly. The blood then becomes overloaded with the sugar that is produced whenever we eat.

The three major types of diabetes include:
  • Type 1 diabetes (juvenile-onset diabetes)
  • Type 2 diabetes (late-onset diabetes) 
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus (carbohydrate intolerance).
Having diabetes is no small matter. Diabetes complications can include a number of very serious health conditions, including blindness, heart disease, stroke, and even amputations of the lower extremities. Those with diabetes need to have regular checkups to monitor various health conditions, paying close attention to their feet. Early detection and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers can help to reduce the chances of amputation due to diabetes.

Some other complications of diabetes include high blood pressure, kidney failure, and nervous system disease. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of many of these health issues. According to the American Diabetes Association, “diabetes was listed as the underlying cause on 71,382 death certificates and was listed as a contributing factor on an additional 160,022 death certificates” in the year 2007 alone.

Diabetes Risk Factors

diabetes diagnosis
This photo from MCT News Service
shows people exercising even in the
colder months.
A diabetes diagnosis becomes more likely if certain risk factors are present. The American Diabetes Association reports that the most common risk factors for diabetes include being overweight, exercising fewer than three times per week, and being over 45 years of age. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history (parent, brother or sister with diabetes) are also risk factors for diabetes.

People of African American, Latino, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian American, or Pacific Islander background may also have an elevated risk of getting a diagnosis of diabetes during their lifetime. If you have additional questions about your own risk for diabetes, be sure to speak with your primary care physician the next time you are at the doctor’s office.

You might be able to avoid, or at least delay, diabetes by eating a healthy and balanced diet that is not too high in sugars and sweets and by getting adequate exercise. Watching your weight, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol, and staying active can do wonders for your health in general, but they have been shown to reduce the chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Our Family Wize articles Feeding Type 2 Diabetes and Type 1 Diabetes - Snack Helps have great tips on controlling diet.

Educational Resources Online for Diabetes

If you are an American with diabetes, or know someone who is, you can find a lot of helpful resources online to help you learn all about diabetes. You can stay up to date on diabetes news by checking out the following key diabetes organizations:
The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) brings together health care professionals with the goal of helping people with diabetes to learn about and manage diabetes. According to the AADE, Medicare and some private insurance plans cover diabetes education.

To keep your diet fresh and delicious, or to help you make a special meal or treat for someone with diabetes, you might want to browse through some diabetic recipes online. Find the best ingredients to enjoy and those to avoid with tips from the American Diabetes Association. Then you can browse many diabetes-friendly recipes at Allrecipes.comMayo Clinic, and Diabetic Living.

November is American Diabetes Month, and it's a great time to raise awareness of programs and other resources that can help put a stop to diabetes. Diabetes is a lifestyle change, not just for the patient, but for the entire family as well. Be sure to do some research to make the transition easier, and meet with your doctor about any outstanding questions you may have.

Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Type 1 Diabetes - Snack Helps

When you think of healthy snacks for your kids you probably think of fruit, baby carrots, granola bars, and maybe popcorn without the butter.  But what if your child has Type 1 Diabetes, would it be the same kind of snacks?  In most cases yes, but in small amounts.  When your child has Type 1 Diabetes it is a whole new ball game on what is considered “Healthy.”  When you hear about diabetes and food to avoid it can get a little overwhelming and you shouldn't feel that way.  The simple rule of thumb is to stay natural and eat healthy.  It really isn't that difficult.  Selecting the right food for diabetics is actually learning how to eat healthy and developing a healthy lifestyle that everyone should be doing anyway.  Good food for diabetics is also great food for people that don't have diabetes.

The easiest way to figure out a healthy snack for a child with Type 1 Diabetes or even a good diet for Type 2 Diabetes is to know how much carbohydrates and fat grams are in the snack and the amount that is being taken in.  Diabetics can’t take in high carbohydrates or fat mainly because it causes their blood sugars to spike.  If you stick with low carb and low fat snacks and stay away from sugary and high fat snacks (fruit snacks, cookies, chips, crackers, ice cream, candy, canned or dried fruit etc...) you will be fine and so will your child.  You won’t have to always be worrying and it makes everyone’s life a lot easier and less stressful.

Since I work with children all day long at my preschool and see what they like and don’t like; I came up with the top 10 snacks of what I consider would be good food for a child with diabetes that will satisfy their craving/snack attack and make Moms happy, too. 
snack time helps type 1 diabetes
Leaning tower of bananas & peanut butter
  1. Trail mix (over the age of two)
  2. Low fat string cheese
  3. Melon balls (make people out of them with toothpicks)
  4. Carrots or cucumbers with a tablespoon of ranch (little added zing)
  5. Grapes (frozen grapes are great in the summer)
  6. Apple wedges
  7. Rice cakes with all natural fruit spread or peanut butter
  8. Banana slices with peanut butter (make the Leaning Tower of Pisa by alternating banana slices & peanut butter
  9. Low fat popcorn
  10. Best for last -- low fat frozen yogurt (I just tell them its ice cream and they don't know the difference.)
Make sure the peanut butter you use doesn't have any added sugars and also that your child is over two, just in case of any nut allergies.  If they do have allergies you can easily substitute peanut butter with low fat cream cheese.

You know your child best and it just depends on what your child likes to eat.  My top ten above are the foods that almost all my preschoolers like and will eat without complaining.  When they are happy; we are all happy!  Your child may also like these suggestions if you want to mix it up so they don't get bored with the same food. 
  • Rolled up turkey meat in lettuce or just plain
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Pears 
  • Celery with low fat cream cheese or peanut butter
  • Yogurt covered raisins (not the best for their teeth, but the kids love them)
  • Peaches 
  • Strawberries
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • Snap Peas (another popular veggie, but either they love them or they turn their nose at them)

food for diabetics
Snack time bowl idea is a win win for everyone!
Snack Time Bowl Ideas
If you need some snack time help I would recommend putting a bowl in the fridge or on the counter with your child’s favorite snacks already prepared and ready to go.  A lot of kids will grab a snack that is convenient rather than healthy.  What we do in our home is keep a big bowl full of fruits and vegetables that are individually wrapped in baggies.  All my girls have to do is grab the snack and go.  Not only is it convenient, it also gives them the right portion amount.  You can do the same on the counter for dried snacks.  Divide the low carb and low fat snacks into individual baggies and  place them in a bowl and then they can grab a bag at snack time.  This will also help you know how many carbohydrates they are taking in and it will be easier to keep track of their blood sugar levels.  If you have very small children only bring the bowl out during snack time so they aren’t trying to grab a snack every 10 minutes.  The bowl gives them options and they will feel like they have some kind of say on what they are eating.  It’s a “Win Win” situation for everyone!

Enjoy all these snacks ideas that promote good food for diabetics and children that have Juvenile Diabetes.

Contributing Writer

Monday, July 30, 2012

Feeding Type 2 Diabetes

Food - our society loves food, however, too much of a good thing can be bad for a person and lead to serious health issues like diabetes.  In fact, Type 2 diabetes statistics reveals that 90-95 percent of diagnosed cases of diabetes are connected with overweight and obesity. And the number of children being diagnosed with type two is climbing.

Diabetes and diet obesity
Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health issues.
We hear all about diabetes on commercials and in the news, but what exactly is it?  According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) type 2 diabetes means that your body does not make enough insulin nor does it use insulin effectively to regulate your blood sugar.  This can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, eye and kidney problems.

After a blood test last year, my doctor sent me a note in the mail telling me that I am pre-diabetic, meaning that my fasting sugar level was higher than it should be, but not high enough to diagnose type 2 diabetes.  I asked what I should do. The answer was lose weight, eat healthier. Watch carbohydrate intake. But the question lingered, "What if I develop full-blown type two diabetes anyway?"

I learned there is a connecting factor between weight and diabetes; and type two diabetes is linked to obesity.  The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) states that 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese.  People managing type 2 diabetes should continue their prescribed treatment and work with their doctor and/or diabetic counselor, however, organizations studying diabetes say that losing weight and maintaining healthy nutrition can lower blood sugar, making the challenge of this serious disease much easier to manage.

Weight Control Helps Control Diabetes

Web MD states that losing 5% to 10% of your body weight significantly reduces blood sugar levels.  Some diabetics, with the advice of their doctors, have been able to stop using insulin altogether.  The American Diabetic Association (ADA) recommends cutting about five hundred calories per day by cutting down all food groups:  proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.  So what is the recommended daily percentage for each food group?
  • Proteins: 10% to 15%
  • Fats: 30%
  • Carbohydrates: 50% to 55%
American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Christine Gerbstadt, M.D. recently told Web MD that carbohydrates have the biggest effect on blood sugar levels because they are broken into sugars faster than fats or proteins.  Two concerns for diabetics are high blood sugar level and low blood sugar level.  Since insulin is used by the body to control blood sugar, a spike might not be handled well due to too much insulin or not enough. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and vegetables, are absorbed more slowly. They lower the risk of spikes in blood sugar when eaten. The more slowly our body can digest a food, the more slowly the food is turned into sugar.
diabetic diet
Fruits and vegetables are healthy foods for type 2 diabetics.
Luigi Meneghini, M.D., director of the Kosnow Diabetes Treatment Center at University of Miami School of Medicine, advises undertaking a weight loss plan while working with a doctor and a diabetic nutritionist because it is important to monitor insulin levels in order to avoid high or low blood sugar levels.

Is there a diabetic diet and are there many recommended foods for type 2 diabetics?

What can a diabetic eat?

A diet that incorporates superfoods and whole foods like fruits, veggies, proteins and complex carbohydrates.  Another food that is recommended by the ADA are  superfoods.  These are foods that are low in calories, fat and starch, but rich in nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber.  They keep you fuller longer, help to maintain a healthy weight, and lower blood sugar.  Of course, the ADA also warns that even too much of good foods will add unwanted calories, so portion control is necessary.  The portion size plate on Web M.D. can help with understanding correct portions in each food group.  You can also refer to two previous blogs that may provide insight on portion sizes:  Healthy Eating Serve It Up and The Blue Plate Special: Food Serving Size.

What are these super foods and what is so super about them?
  • Beans - high in fiber and protein, low in fat
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables - low in calories and carbohydrates
  • Whole grains - high in nutrients, folate and are digested more slowly than other starchy carbohydrates
  • Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids - salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Citrus fruits - contain soluble fiber and vitamin C
  • Nuts - an ounce of nuts is a source of healthy fats, fiber and are a good snack for controlling hunger
  • Berries - high in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins
  • Tomatoes - contain vitamins C and E plus iron. (Grape tomatoes make a great in-between meal snack instead of candy or chips.)
  • Fat free milk and yogurt - high in calcium and fortified with vitamin D
  • Sweet potatoes - great source of fiber and vitamin A
Balance is key, however contrary to what I previously believed carbohydrates are an important part of a type two diabetes diet.  We should have 50% to 55% of them per day.  That's half our calorie intake!

How do we do that without risking diabetes, or worsening it?  The ADA recommends eating whole grain carbohydrates instead of refined grains:  brown rice and whole wheat pastas versus white rice and pastas.

The benefits of  whole grain:
  • Provides needed fiber and nutrients
  • Longer digestion, which means:
    • Longer fuller feeling
    • Higher utilization of calories for energy
    • Lesser breakdown of carbohydrates into sugars
  • No spiking of sugar unlike chips, candy, and cake and other foods a diabetic should avoid.
Other tips for healthy eating as indicated by Web M.D. that help lower blood sugar and help us get the right amount of healthier carbohydrates are oatmeal, broccoli, spinach, green beans, strawberries, salmon and lean meats, cinnamon, and plenty of water!

Even with proper food some people may need medications.  If you use prescription medications for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, the FamilyWize discount prescription drug card can help you manage the cost of your prescription drugs and medical devices like: anti-diabetic (non-insulin), diagnostic and dietary products, and insulin.

You can get your free card on the FamilyWize website.  You can also use the drug look-up tool to see if your medication or device is covered.

After studying this information, I realized that although dieting is a challenge and losing weight can be difficult; it can be made easier by becoming knowledgeable about diabetes and diet.  The more I study about weight loss for diabetics, the more I realize that it's more about what we CAN eat and include and less about what we shouldn't eat or cannot have.  Basically we don't have to diet harder, we need to eat smarter.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer