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 | 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 | Why Caffeine Has Long-Lasting Effects

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night? If so, caffeine could be keeping you awake even though you never consume it at night. That’s because caffeine has a longer-lasting effect than you may think.

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Negative Health Effects of Insomnia

Caffeine disrupts deep (restorative) sleep and the ability to fall asleep which cuts down on total sleep time resulting in:

  • Overeating and binge eating
  • Weight gain
  • Obesity
  • Increased mortality — According to a study by the American Cancer Society (Mortality Associated with Sleep Duration and Insomnia), insufficient sleep can shorten your life. Causes of death associated with sleep duration include heart disease, stroke, and breast/colon cancer.

Why Caffeine Has a Lasting Effect (Half-Life Explained)

Caffeine has a half life of five to six hours. In other words, it takes five to six hours for the amount of caffeine in your body to be reduced to exactly one-half of its concentration. (Translation: the amount of caffeine remaining in your body after six hours is equal to the amount you excrete.)

How It Breaks Down

The half-life of caffeine in a healthy adult is six hours. This does not take into consideration half-life variables (see below) that can influence how fast/slow a person metabolizes caffeine.

  • Excedrin Extra StrengthDue to the half-life of caffeine, caffeine starts accumulating in your body when you consume it throughout the day. This could be in the form of another drink, food, or even medication.
  • For example, if you drink two cups of coffee every day at 8:00 AM, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM nearly 45 gm of caffeine could still be in your system.
  • Caramel frappuccinoTo compound the caffeinated effect, if you drink another cup of coffee at 2:00 PM as an afternoon pick-me-up, by Day 3 at 2:00 AM, nearly 90 gm of caffeine could still be in your system. That’s nearly the amount of caffeine in a 16-oz Frappuccino® — a clue as to why you may not be able to sleep well.

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Your Personal Buzz (Half-Life Variables)

The half-life of caffeine is not a fixed number and can vary based on the individual. Variables include your:    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Caffeine Has Long-Lasting Effects”

KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease

A 15-year study on “added sugar” and heart disease found that participants were twice as likely to die from heart disease who consumed 25 percent or more of daily calories from added sugar compared to those that consumed 10 percent or less. Weekend anchor Marty Gonzalez on “KRON 4 Morning News Weekend” and I talk about sugar and its link to aging.

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KRON 4 Sugar5    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Sugar Causes Wrinkles and Heart Disease”

KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life

For good health, you’ve probably been told to eat more fiber — but all fibers are not alike. If you have risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke, such as belly fat, diabetes, high cholesterol, or obesity, it’s a good idea to know the difference. Here’s how fiber in general can add years to your life.

Fiber Basics

Dietary fibers are found naturally in plants. They’re types of carbohydrates that don’t break down in your stomach and pass through your system pretty much intact. Fiber refers to carbohydrates, such as:

  • Cellulose
  • Dextrin
  • Inulin
  • Lignin
  • Chitins
  • Pectins
  • Beta-glucans
  • Waxes
  • Oligosaccharides

Fiber is separated into two main types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. They’re different in how they react with water — and because of that, they have a different effect on your body.

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Soluble Fiber – “The Cholesterol Sponge”

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a viscous gel (soft and sticky) in the intestines which:

  • Helps lower LDL cholesterol* (the “bad” cholesterol). Soluble fiber soaks up cholesterol-laden bile in your intestine and eliminates them with other waste. Per a review and analysis of multiple studies, increasing total dietary fiber by just 7 gm a day reduced stroke risk by 7% and heart disease risk by 9%. Example of 7 gm fiber: 1 medium apple + 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal OR 1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans.
  • Slows down digestion which helps control blood sugar and diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Helps control body weight by making you feel full longer. It slows the emptying of food through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Slows visceral fat gain. A study found that eating an additional 10 grams of soluble fiber per day reduced the rate at which visceral fat accumulated (nearly 4% slower over a 5-year period).

*LDL cholesterol is needed to produce hormones and provide structure to cell membranes, but because excesses can accumulate in the blood vessels and promote atherosclerosis, it’s been branded as the “bad” cholesterol.   

Sources High in Soluble Fiber

Many foods have both soluble AND insoluble fibers with some having predominantly more of one than the other.

  • Oats, oat bran
  • Barley
  • Chia seeds, ground flax seeds
  • Legumes (beans, split peas, lentils)
  • Psyllium husk
  • Apples, avocados, pears, citrus fruits (but not fruit juices)
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Example of 10 grams of SOLUBLE fiber and over 20 grams of TOTAL dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble)

Insoluble Fiber – “Nature’s Broom”

Insoluble fiber acts like “nature’s broom”. It sweeps through your gastrointestinal tract and helps prevent constipation and colon cancer. Insoluble fiber does NOT dissolve in water, but absorbs water as it travels through your digestive tract which eases elimination, so it:    Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Fiber Lengthens Your Life”