KRON 4 | Sugar and Diabetes; Now Potassium Too?

One out of three adults has pre-diabetes, that’s, over 84 million people — and nine out of ten don’t even know they have it. Diabetes increases your risk of death by fifty percent. Many are familiar with the link between diabetes and eating too much refined sugar, but did you know there’s a diabetes link to potassium too?

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The Battle with Blood Sugar

Your body processes the food you eat and turns it into a sugar called glucose. Diabetes is marked by high levels of glucose in your blood (hyperglycemia). This happens because glucose is ‘locked out’ from getting into your cells and starts to build up in your blood.

Blood sugar is a precious fuel for your body, but when it’s persistently high, glucose can damage nerves and vessels. Since glucose circulates throughout your entire body, high levels can cause damage anywhere.

Diabetes-related complications include:

  • Blood vessel damage that increases your risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Nerve and vessel damage to your eyes (retinopathy), feet, and kidneys

What is Insulin?

Insulin (produced by the pancreas) is the hormone that’s needed for the glucose in your blood to enter your cells. Think of insulin as the ‘key’ that unlocks the cell door and lets glucose in. Without the ‘key’, your organs are starved of essential energy and can lead to cell death.

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Insulin is the “key” that unlocks the cell door and lets glucose in. 

Types of Diabetes

The two most common forms of diabetes, known as Type 1 and Type 2, are distinctly different:

1. Type 1 diabetes mellitus: You DO NOT PRODUCE INSULIN and are unable to control the sugar in your blood. This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells of your pancreas.

2. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): With this type, you DO NOT USE INSULIN efficiently and are unable to control the sugar in your blood. 

  • 90% of diabetes cases are type 2.
  • In T2DM, your cells become resistant to insulin. Your pancreas goes into overdrive producing more and more insulin in a futile attempt to get the glucose into your cells. As a result, your pancreas can eventually wear out (become permanently damaged) and can no longer produce enough insulin. 
  • High blood sugar levels can erode your cells’ ability to make insulin. T2DM is preventable whereas Type 1 is not.

Waist Size and Diabetes

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A waist size that is over 40″ increases risk for type 2 diabetes 12X.

People who are overweight or obese, particularly with visceral fat (i.e., belly fat), are more likely to develop T2DM, but even normal weight individuals can develop diabetes.

  • If you’re a man and your waistline is over 40 inches, your risk for diabetes is 12 times higher than someone with a normal healthy size waist. 
  • Normal waist size is half your height in inches. Therefore, weight loss is the primary goal in treating this form of type 2 diabetes.

What is Potassium?

Potassium is an electrolyte and mineral that helps keep your bodily fluids at the proper level. If your fluids are at normal levels, you can:

  • Contract your muscles without pain
  • Keep your heart beating correctly
  • Keep your brain functioning at its highest capability

Muscle cramps to more serious conditions, such as seizures, are symptoms of potassium deficiency which also means fluid imbalance.  

Low Potassium Linked to Diabetes

  • One 2011 study found that people taking thiazides (diuretic, a.k.a. “water pill”) to treat high blood pressure experienced a loss of electrolytes, such as potassium. 
  • Researchers noted that potassium loss might increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes.
  • Researchers have also linked low potassium levels to high blood pressure.

NOTE: Even though low potassium may increase your risk of developing diabetes, taking potassium won’t cure your diabetes.

How Much Potassium Do You Need?

An adult needs 4,700 milligrams per day. Even if you’re getting the right amount potassium each day, levels may still be deficient or excessive due to fluctuating potassium levels.

Causes of Fluctuating Potassium Levels   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Sugar and Diabetes; Now Potassium Too?”

KRON 4 | 10 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick

If you pledged to get healthier this year with yet another New Year’s resolution (or maybe even two or three resolutions), know that typically 80% of them fail by February. If you want to increase your odds of success this year though, here are some tricks to help make your new habits stick!

1. Commit to Thirty Days

Monatsende 30

Consider the first 30 days as the foundation for creating a new habit. It takes time to make a new behavior stick, but you’ll increase the chances of achieving your new pledge if you commit to making it through these 30 days.

To get inspired, watch this lighthearted TED talk, “Try Something New for 30 Days” as a new way to think about setting and achieving goals.

2. Do It Daily

Whatever your goal — whether it’s to go to the gym or eat three fruits a day — then do it DAILY for the first 30 days. It’s easier to nail down the habit if you do it everyday versus once every few days. The goal is consistency.

NOTE: If you pledged to go to the gym, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work out vigorously every day. Just get yourself to the gym for 30 consecutive days — even if it means walking in and taking just a few spins on the bike. The key is to get in the habit of getting up and going.

3. Mingle with Role Models 

Make a point of seeking out people whose habits you want to imitate because when it comes to becoming fatter, obesity spreads through social relationshipsA 32-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that you’re more likely to become obese if you spend time with close friends that are obese. That is, according to researchers, obesity can literally spread from person to person, much like a virus.

Therefore, if your close friend is obese, eats junk food, and doesn’t exercise, then it will be more difficult (but not impossible) to stick with your pledge to create new healthy habits. Although you cannot change your friend’s habits, YOU can still change yours. Seek out and spend time with your role models.

4. Negate Negatives with “But”

But“But” is a very powerful word. When you use it, it negates everything you said preceding the word “but” in that sentence. (Did anyone ever say to you, “Say, I love your new hair color, but….” Stop the negative self-talk. It can lead to overeating to relieve those negative emotions.

When you catch yourself saying, “I can never stick with my New Year’s resolutions,” follow it with, “but I have the skills to help me this time.” Use “but” to stop negativity in its tracks.

5. Own It

Resolutions fail because they’re created based on what someone else (such as your spouse, doctor, or parent) is telling you to change. Be sure your New Year’s resolution is something YOU want to achieve. That is, be sure your resolution is NOT based on what you “should” do.

A part of owning your goal is watching your language. The words “should”, “need to”, and “have to” are negative words, and you surrender control when you say them. Negative thinking and negative self-talk lead to negative emotions, such as feelings of defeat and depression, and thus, emotional eating.

The words “should”, “need to”, and “have to” imply something is wrong with you. That is, something is ‘broken’ and needs to be fixed. For example, notice the difference in how you feel when you say, “I have to exercise” or “I need to lose weight” versus, “I want to exercise because I love walking vacations” or “I choose to lose weight, so I won’t have knee pain” which puts the control, motivation, and power to change back on you.

Healthy Living

6. Relish the Reward   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | 10 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick”

KRON 4 | Tricks to Beat Halloween Treating

Halloween parties, potlucks, and trick-or-treating can break even the most disciplined of dieters. Here are my top 10 tips to survive this annual sugar fest that I shared with KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez.

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The Top 10 Tricks

1. Buy trick-or-treat candy you don’t like. Buy a candy that won’t tempt you.

2. Buy candy the DAY OF Halloween. There will ALWAYS be candy left in the stores — unless of course, you’ll looking for your favorite candy! You may also save some money (thanks to clearance sales) as well as save on calories.

3. Eat dark chocolate — 85% or more of cacao. 

  • Milk chocolate contains more added sugar and fat. Due to their antioxidant content, deep dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by nearly 40 percent, and reduce the risk of dementia. 
  • Per a 2004 study published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition, dark chocolate improved blood flow in arteries.
  • Eat in moderation as it still packs plenty of calories. Limit to 1/2 to 1 ounce.

Note: White chocolate is highly processed which means it’s lost most or all of its antioxidants.

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4. Keep the wrappers. Keep evidence of what you eat in front of you. It’s easy to forget how many times you’ve dipped into the candy bowl.

  • Two studies showed that people tend to rely on visual cues, such as the number of chicken bones on their plates, to decide whether they’re full or still hungry.
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One handful is equivalent to 1,400 jumping jacks!

5. Avoid the candy dish. The candy dish encourages eating mindlessly — i.e., “grab-and-go syndrome”. 

  • Scientists believe you make hundreds of unconscious food decisions daily, but seeing food pushes you to consciously decide whether to eat it. Seeing it more often increases the likelihood you’ll choose to eat the food.
  • A handful (1.5 oz; about 1/4 cup or 1 shot glass) of M & M’s can pack on 210 calories. To burn off just one handful, the average size person would need to do 1,400 jumping jacks which would take about 24 minutes (1 jumping jack per second)!

6. Stay on track and meet your fitness goals on the 31st. Don’t let the occasion be an excuse to give up on your goals.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Tricks to Beat Halloween Treating”

KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More

Lifestyle diseases characterize diseases that occur primarily as a result of a person’s daily habits. Some of the main contributing factors include bad food habits, physical inactivity, stress, and an aging biological clock — all of which contribute to visceral (intra-abdominal) fat.

When it comes to your health, where you store your fat makes a difference. Are you shaped like an apple or more like a pear? KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, and I talk about the difference between the fat that has settled on your hips and thighs versus what you’re carrying upfront.

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All Fat is Not Equal

Fat accumulated in the lower body, such as the hips, thighs, and buttocks (the “pear shape”) is subcutaneous fat. Subcutaneous fat lies under your skin and above your muscles — it’s the “pinchable stuff”. Subcutaneous fat is measured by pinching your skin in a several different locations.

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Your “love handles” are pinchable subcutaneous fat.

Visceral fat, a.k.a. intra-abdominal, belly, or deep fat, (the “pear shape”) lies out of reach and is tucked deep within your abdominal cavity where it pads the spaces between and around your VISCERA — your internal organs like your heart, lungs, liver, and other organs. Related image

It’s also stored in the “omentum” — an apron-like flap of tissue that sits underneath the abdominal muscles and blankets the intestines. As the omentum fills with fat, it gets harder and thicker.

Lifestyle Diseases Linked to Visceral Fat

Research shows that people with “apple-shaped” bodies face more health risks than those with “pear-shaped” bodies. You need some visceral fat to cushion your organs, but too much of it has been correlated with the following health conditions:

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  • Kaiser Permanente of Northern California studied of 6,500 members for an average of 36 years, from they were in their 40’s to 70’s. The study concluded subjects with higher visceral fat had a higher risk of dementia than those with less visceral fat. Possible speculation of the trial is that substances such as leptin, a hormone released by the belly fat, may have some adverse effects on the brain. Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory.
  • Researchers are not clear why visceral fat plays a larger role in insulin resistance — which raises risk for diabetes — than other fat.

Why Visceral Fat is a Health Risk

Visceral fat is most dangerous because it is biologically active — that is, it acts like an organ producing hormones and other substances that have harmful effects.

Cholesterol plaque in artery (atherosclerosis) illustrationExcess visceral fat is near the portal vein which carries blood from your intestines to your liver. Substances (e.g., free fatty acids) released by visceral fat enter the portal vein and travel to your liver where they can affect the production of fats in the blood. Visceral fat is directly linked to:

  • Higher total cholesterol
  • Higher LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Lower HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes

How Much Belly Fat is Too Much   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Lifestyle Linked to Dementia, Cancer and More”

KRON 4 | How to Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

You eat all the right foods — big leafy salads, bean soups, salmon, oatmeal and other whole grains — but you still can’t lose weight and worse yet, you may have even tacked on some extra pounds. Here’s why HOW you eat is just as critical as WHAT you eat to shed those stubborn pounds.

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Eat instinctively, that is, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.

‘Reach and Eat’ Behavior

Reach and eat behavior is mindless eating. It’s automatic. You eat without asking yourself, “Am I hungry?” or “Am I full?”.

‘Reach and Eat’ triggers: 

  • Walking past a vendor on the street
  • Driving by a burger drive-through
  • Passing a bowl of candies or food samples
  • Walking into the office snack room
  • Stopping at a gas station convenience store

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Use “The Hunger Scale” to Lose Weight (a.k.a. How to Stop Dieting)

Losing weight requires two key fundamental habits:

  1. Recognizing your own levels of hunger and fullness (satiety)
  2. Acting on your body’s hunger and satiety signs

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The Plus Side to Using The Hunger Scale

You decide what and how much to eat and cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Instead of focusing on external cues (i.e., being told what you should eat), you get to focus on your own internal cues (i.e., your level of hunger/fullness, cravings).

As a baby or toddler, you likely ate naturally when you were hungry, and stopped when you were comfortably full. Use “The Hunger Scale” as an easy tool to help re-learn how to eat. Master it, and you can lose weight without “dieting”.

The Hunger Scale

Tune out those external cues, such as what to eat and when to eat. Instead, listen to your own feelings by practicing ‘The Hunger Scale’ habit.

Don’t wait this long to eat…

1 Ravenous — “I’m starving!” Dizzy, weak, nauseous, shaky. You’re so hungry you’ll eat anything.

2 Uncomfortably Hungry — Lots of stomach growling. You are over-hungry and pre-occupied with hunger. You’re irritable, have low energy and a headache. Feel like ordering everything on the menu.

Eat now, then stop…

3 Very Hungry Stomach is beginning to growl. You have hunger pangs. The urge to eat is strong.

4 A Little Hungry — Beginning to feel hungry. It’s time to think about what to eat, but you can wait to eat.

5 Neutral (Neither Full Nor Hungry) — “My mind is on things other than food.”

6 Satisfied and Light — “I could eat more but…”. You are pleasantly full.

Stop eating before this point…

7 Full — Feel slightly uncomfortable. You won’t be hungry for 3 to 4 hours.

8 Very Full — Feel stuffed. Need to unbutton your pants. You don’t want anything else. “I ate more than I needed to.”

9 Very Uncomfortably Full Feel heavy. Thanksgiving full. Your stomach aches.

10 Painfully Full Feel so full you may be sick (binge fullness).

Stay in the range of No. 3 (Very Hungry) to No. 6 (Satisfied and Light). When you do, you’ll lose weight AND feel more energetic.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Fit Tip: Become an “intuitive” eater by becoming reacquainted with your hunger and satiety signals. Eating mindfully also means eating slowly. Changing an eating behavior is not easy, so give yourself lots of time to practice “The Hunger Scale” habit.

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