Monthly Archives: April 2017

Should yearly vision exams be in your diabetes routine?

Carbohydrate counting, staying active, and checking your blood glucose levels may remind you of the typical diabetes care routine. However, other aspects of diabetes care must not be forgotten. Foot care, dental care, and high cholesterol are just a few other check-ups that are important to diabetes care.

Those with diabetes are at high risk for foot ulcers due to decreased blood flow to the feet caused by diabetes-related nerve damage. Also, those with diabetes are at greater risk vision, eye exam, eye healththan those without diabetes for gum infections. Furthermore, those with diabetes have been shown to have greater blood vessel damage when they have high cholesterol than those without diabetes.

Diabetes and Eye Health

Another important part of diabetes care is regular vision check-ups. This is because those with diabetes are at higher risk for conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy than those without diabetes.  Diabetes-related nerve damage that occurs as a result of uncontrolled blood glucose levels can greatly impact vision health. According to the National Eye Institute, all forms of diabetic eye disease can lead to severe vision loss and blindness.  However, it is diabetic retinopathy that is the most common cause of vision loss among those with diabetes.

What is Diabetic Retinopathy?

The retina is a light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. The retina detects light and sends a signals through the optic nerve to the brain. Next, the brain converts this electrical signal to an image.  Uncontrolled diabetes damages vessels of the optic nerve, therefore worsening vision.

When someone has diabetic retinopathy, vessels in the retina swell and leak fluid into the retina. In turn, this fluid distorts vision.  Furthermore, in advanced stages of the disease, scarring of the retina can occur, which can eventually pull the retina away from the underlying tissue, which in turn could lead to blindness.

Diabetes and eye exams

A 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine observed the vision health of 1400 people with Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, over 30 years.  Biannual retinal photographs and general diabetes health reviews were used to assess vision health. From this study, it was determined that in place of yearly vision exams those with a Hemoglobin A1C, or average blood glucose level over three months of:

  • six-percent or less, without signs of diabetic retinopathy, would be safe getting a vision exam once every four years
  • six-percent or less with mild retinopathy should have vision exams ar least once every three years
  • eight to ten-percent should be screened more often than yearly for their vision health

In addition to getting regular exams, everyone, no matter their diabetes status should take steps to maintain vision health.  Consuming  vitamin A-rich foods such as brightly-colored veggies like carrots, peppers, and leafy greens is one way to support retinal health. Furthermore, leafy greens, as well as pistachios, contain the eye-healthy antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that can lower your risk of eye disease. Finally, taking supplements with these eye-healthy nutrients can help you maintain your vision health.

Vita SciencesOcutain contains both lutein as well as beta-carotene, which support eye health. Also, be sure to visit Vita Sciences for other supplements such as Glucarex, which can support healthy blood glucose levels.

Also, be sure to visit the American Optometric Association website for further research and information on ways you can maintain vision health.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Optometric Association (accessed April 21, 2017) “Lutein & Zeaxanthin.” https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/lutein?sso=y

Dreher, M.L. (April 2012) “Pistachio nuts: composition and potential health benefits.” Nutrition Reviews, 70(4):234-40.

Mayo Clinic (December 18, 2014) “Diabetes care: 10 ways to avoid diabetes complications” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/in-depth/diabetes-management/art-20045803

Medline Health News (April 19, 2017) “Is Annual Eye Exam a Must for People With Type 1 Diabetes?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164719.html

National Eye Institute (September 2015) “Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease” https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy


  • Could Unemployment Increase Stroke Risk?

    In unstable financial times, losing a job can be a very stressful time in one’s life.  Anxiety and depression could develop as a result of such a big life event. In turn, a person’s health may start to worsen after losing a job if they do not have effective measures in place to help manage their stress.  Emotional eating, loss of sleep, and engaging in unhealthy habits such as drinking and smoking may develop as a result of stress. In fact, a study from Japan has recently found that those who are unemployed have a greater risk of stroke than those who are employed.

    unemployment, health, stroke, heart disease

    Unemployment and Stroke Risk Study

    A recent study of about 42,000 men found that those men who were unemployed had a 60-percent higher risk of stroke than those who were steadily employed. In addition, those unemployed men who suffered a stroke were about 120-percent more likely to die from it than those employed men who had a stroke. For women, those who were unemployed had a 50-percent greater chance of having a stroke. Of those women who had a stroke, those who were unemployed had a 150-percent greater chance of death.

    It is suggested that these alarming rates of stroke and stroke-related death in the unemployed may be due to unhealthy habits such as drinking, smoking, being inactive, and having a poor diet.  In addition, it is suggested that even once re-employed, individuals may feel afraid that they will lose their job again, and therefore may be afraid to take leave when they are sick.  In turn, this could affect their long-term physical health.

    Although this study is based on the Japanese culture, it may not be completely applicable to Americans, so further studies must be done. However, studies like the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System reported by the Centers for Disease Control suggest risk of depression is significantly increased for those Americans out of work.

    How Can I Lower My Risk For Stroke?

    Staying heart healthy involves a holisitic approach of eating balanced meals, staying active, and managing stress. Follow the tips below to help you keep your heart healthy for many years to come.

    • Consume minimally processed foods.  There are many foods that have to go through some processing to create such as yogurt or cottage cheese.  However, these types of products are only minimally processed. When trying to eat heart healthy, just be sure to limit highly processed foods such as neon-colored salty snacks, canned foods, pre-packaged meals, and deli meats like hot dogs or luncheon meat.  Just keep in mind that if it is an unnatural color, or has a confusing list of ingredients, then it is likely to be a highly processed product.
    • Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods. Fruits, veggies, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats, as well as nuts and seeds are all great natural sources of fiber.  Fiber is important for helping stabilize blood glucose levels, slow down digestion to help with absorption of nutrients from foods, and to bulk stool to help with elimination of wastes from the body. Furthermore, fiber is also great for helping you to stay more satisfied after meals, so it can help with weight management.
    • Stay active.  Staying active each day for at least 30 minutes can be a great way to blow off some steam and keep your heart healthy.  This doesn’t mean you have to go to boot camp classes or run a marathon. Simple moderate activity such as walking, riding a bike, or swimming can help keep your heart  healthy.  Exercise not only works to strengthen your heart, but can also act as an outlet for stress.
    • Get plenty of sleep. When you are feeling stressed, it can be hard to sleep. However, lack of sleep can actually make you more prone to anxiety and depression. This is because your body uses sleeping time to regulate hormones, fluids, and blood glucose levels in the body.  If you have trouble sleeping, try natural essential oils such as lavender or frankincense to help relax your mind. Other sleeping aids may include:
      • Relaxation breathing
      • Listening to relaxing music
      • Eliminating screen time before bed
      • Avoiding fluid consumption 2 hours before bed to avoid interrupted sleep
      • Supplements like Somnova from Vitasciences.

    Somnova includes natural ingredients like melatonin and magnesium that work together to help produce restful sleep. Melatonin is also natural, so it is unlikely to have any interactions with other medicines you may be taking. However, be sure to check with your medical provider before starting any supplement regimen.

    • Develop healthy stress management techniques.  Find 15 minutes a day to engage in an activity that you enjoy. Reading a book,  taking a relaxing bath, or going to an acupuncturist or massage therapist, are some ways to relax. Also, visiting a counselor may help you better deal with stress and anxiety. Consistent self-care is essential to overall health and well-being. You can also try supplements like TheraCALM from Vitasciences to help with stress relief and restful sleep.

    Visit Vitasciences for all of your supplement needs to help enhance your healthy lifestyle. Also, be sure to visit the National Stroke Association for more information on stroke facts, prevention, and research.

    written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    American Heart Association (August 2015) “The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WPUehMuQx9A

    Centers for Disease Control (March 19, 2015). “Unemployment and Depression Among Emerging Adults in 12 States, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2010” https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0451.htm

    Medline Plus (2017 April 13). “Another Downside to Unemployment: Stroke Risk?” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164623.html


  • Can Exercise Prevent Stroke Complications?

    stroke, heart disease, health

    Knowing these signs and symptoms of stroke can help save a life; perhaps even your own.

    I’m sure you have heard many times before how exercising is great for keeping your heart strong. Therefore, it may come as no surprise that exercise has been found to prevent complications after someone has a stroke.

     

    What is a stroke?

    A stroke is essentially a brain attack of which there are two major types.

    A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts.  An ischemic stroke is caused by restricted blood flow to the brain as a result of a vessel being blocked.

    According to the National Stroke Association, these brain attacks are the fifth leading cause of death in America and one of the leading causes of adult disabilities in the country.  Unlike what was previously though, it is estimated that 80-percent of strokes can be prevented by such controllable lifestyle factors as:

    • Eating a healthy diet. To consume a heart and brain healthy diet, you can:
      • Limit saturated fats in the diet such as those from fatty meats, whole fat dairy products, and fried foods.
      • Limit sodium in the diet to 2300 milligrams a day.  You can limit sodium by reducing the amount of processed food products you consume each day.  Try to  limit intake of high sodium foods such as canned soups, chips, deli meats, and adding salt to your food.
      • Limit added sugars at meal and snack time.  Try to stick to foods that contain less than 15 grams of sugar per serving and limit intake of sugary drinks such as juice, cola, milkshakes, and dessert coffee drinks.
    • Stay active. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. This doesn’t mean you have to attend boot camp classes. Just walking at a brisk pace is enough to keep your heart strong.
    • Limit alcohol intake. For healthy living, you should consume no more than 1 standard drink a day for women and no more than 2 standard drinks a day for men. Alcohol has been associated with increased blood pressure, which can increase risk of stroke. One standard drink is equal to 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces liquor.
    • Quit smoking or don’t start. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, therefore restricting blood flow to the organs and tissues.
    • Visit your doctor regularly. You and your healthcare provider should work to control any chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes since these conditions can increase your risk of having a stroke.

    Exercise and stroke

    In the journal Neurology, researchers followed individuals with no history of stroke for 12 years.  Over 7-percent of those individuals suffered a stroke and survived during the course of the study.  It was found that three years after this major health event, survivors who had exercised regularly before their stroke were 18 percent more likely to be able to perform basic tasks such as bathing themselves. Furthermore, those individuals who were more fit were 16 percent more likely to be able to perform more complex tasks, such as managing money on their own, compared to those who did not exercise.

    Surprisingly, a person’s body mass index, or estimate of fat mass, was not a predicting factor in their level of disability after having a stroke. Therefore, it is suggested that doctors should stress the importance of leading an active lifestyle for not only prevention of the condition, but also to improve chances of survival if a stroke occurs.

    Another way to help prevent stroke is to take a heart healthy supplement such as Circova by Vita SciencesCircova contains a powerful blend of Hawthorne extract which has been found to assist in the dilation of blood vessels, in turn increasing blood flow to the heart.

    Visit the National Stroke Association website for more information on how you can prevent stroke.

    -Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources:

    National Stroke Association (accessed 2017 April 10) “What is Stroke?” http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke

    Preidt, R. (2017 April 5) “Fitness, Not Fat, Is Key to Post-Stroke Recovery” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164476.html


  • Can Exercise Improve Brain Health?

    Staying active is well-known for helping to maintain heart health.  However, did you know that regular exercise may also benefit brain health?  A recent study has found that exercising 2.5 hours a week, or 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week, may help slow progression of Parkinson’s disease.walking, exercise, Parkinson's, brain health

    Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive movement disorder that may worsen over time. Therefore, medication and surgery have currently been used to treat and manage the symptoms of the condition.  This condition involves the progressive death of brain cells, which leads to a decrease in dopamine levels in the blood. Lower dopamine levels result in a lessened ability to move.  Therefore, since those with Parkinson’s disease lose dopamine over time, they may subsequently experience tremors, stiffness, and trouble with walking.

    Exercise and Parkinson’s Disease 

    A recent study in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease looked at the effects of exercise on the progression of Parkinson’s disease. After observing 3400 patients for over two years, those people with Parkinson’s disease who maintained exercise 150 minutes per week had a smaller decline in quality of life and mobility as compared to those who exercised less. The type of exercise that was of most benefit was not apparent. However, it is suggested that finding a type of exercise an individual enjoys will help them to maintain a regular exercise regimen and in turn will benefit them. Furthermore, by empowering those with Parkinson’s disease to engage in more exercise they enjoy, it may improve overall quality of life for these individuals.

    Joint Pain and Quality of Life

    Even if you do not have Parkinson’s disease, you may experience joint pain that limits your movement.  Limited movement may in turn reduce quality of life by:

    • affecting heart health
    • making an individual more dependent on others for daily activities
    • reducing the amount of serotonin”feel good” hormone produced

    Therefore, it is important to find effective treatments for joint pain that will help make movement more comfortable.  When movement is more comfortable, you will be more likely to engage in more activity, and in turn will gain the most health benefits. Also, the American Psychological Association has reported that regular exercise may help reduce panic in those with anxiety and improve mood in those with depression. Furthermore, regular exercise has been found to normalize sleep patterns, which in turn can make it easier for the body and mind to handle stress.

    Some effective treatments for joint pain include:

    • CDC Self-management programs
    • Acupuncture
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
    • Water-based exercises such as swimming
    • Supplements such as glucosamine or Flexova

    Furthermore, Flexova contains a blend of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A, as well as glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate that helps to reduce joint pain and improve joint mobility.  Therefore, for more information on Flexova and other high quality supplements that can help improve your quality of life, visit Vita Sciences.

    -written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

    Sources :

    Arthritis Foundation (accessed 2017 April 2) “25 Treatments for Hip and Arthritis Pain” http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/tips/25-treatments-for-hip-knee-oa.php

    Centers for Disease Control (2017 March 7) “Living with Severe Joint Pain” https://www.cdc.gov/features/arthritis-quality-life/

    Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (accessed 2017 April 2) “What is Parkinson’s Disease?” http://www.pdf.org/about_pd

    Preidt, R. (2017 March 29) “Exercising 2.5 Hours a Week May Slow Parkinson’s Progress” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_164357.html

    Weir, K. (2011 December) “The Exercise Effect” American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx