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?

kron4_potassium6

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.

kron4_potassium9
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

fat business man use scale to measure his waistline
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.

KRON4_Belly Fat7

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.

Belly Fat_AdobeStock_101366682
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:

KRON4_Belly Fat1

  • 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”

Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule

Grain and cereal food selection in heart shaped porcelain bowls over lokta paper background. Green freekeh wheat in large dish with ears.

Ever since your doctor told you to start eating more fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes (beans, split peas, chick peas, and lentils), you switched to eating whole wheat bread. You congratulated yourself on trading in (reluctantly) your soft white “wonder” for a 21-grain brick, but your new kind of loaf may not be as healthy and whole as you might think.

Why You Need More Dietary Fiber

There is accumulating evidence that eating more dietary fiber reduces your risk for:

• Type 2 diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease
• Certain cancers
• Weight gain
• Obesity
• Diverticular disease
• Functional constipation

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, as your fiber intake goes up, your risk of metabolic syndrome goes down resulting in less inflammation and a drop in obesity risk. It was concluded that greater dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of both cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease. (See ‘”Inflammation / Foods that Heal and Harm“)

It’s no surprise that another study concluded that for every additional 7 grams of fiber consumed, heart disease risk decreased by 9%. Seven grams of fiber really doesn’t equate to that much food. You can get 7 grams through a serving of whole grains plus beans or lentils (e.g., rice and beans), or a few servings of fruits and vegetables.

How Dietary Fiber Benefits Your Heart

The cardiovascular benefits of dietary fiber include:

  • Helps get rid of excess bile (reduces LDL “bad” cholesterol)
  • Reduces cholesterol production
  • Feeds our “good” bacteria
  • Changes our gut hormones
  • Promotes eating low-calorie-density foods
  • Increases satiety
  • Delays gastric emptying

These effects collectively help control your cholesterol, body weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure which all reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Also, per a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dietary fiber has been shown to reduce inflammation, specifically, C-reactive protein, a sensitive inflammatory marker that can predict chronic disease.

Eat More Whole Plant Foods

Consuming more dietary fiber means eating lots of whole plant foods, such as:

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

Soluble fiber acts like a “cholesterol sponge”. Sources include:

  • Oats
  • Nuts
  • Seeds (especially flaxseeds)
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

Sources of insoluble fiber, a.k.a. “Nature’s Broom”, help prevent constipation and include:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Brown rice
  • Other whole grains
  • Most vegetables

When shopping for “packaged” grain products, such as bread, crackers and ready-to-eat cereals, the first word in the ingredients list should be “whole”. However, the remaining ingredients might look like a bunch of chemicals, so how do you choose?

The “Five to One Fiber Rule”   

A more reliable strategy to identify a healthy whole grain food product is to   Continue reading “Whole Grains for Your Heart? Use the 5 to 1 Fiber Rule”

Lower Your Blood Pressure with Food

Did you know a sweet potato has ___ much more potassium as banana?
Did you know that a sweet potato has 65% more potassium than a banana?

“Low Sodium”, “Salt-Free”, “Reduced Sodium”, “Unsalted”. Living a healthy life today means you don’t shake or utter that four-letter word… SALT. You’ve banished it from your favorite recipes, family table and your heart-healthy pantry. But the dietary approach to managing your blood pressure involves another key mineral — not just salt.

Low levels of potassium in your diet may be just as much of a risk factor for high blood pressure as high levels of sodium. Aim for a balance of less salt and more potassium in your daily eating plan. Here’s why…

Potassium helps to:

  • Relax your blood vessel walls¹ (contributing to more flexible arteries)
  • Lower your blood pressure (by helping you excrete excess sodium through your urine)
  • Reduce damage to your arteries (from the decrease in pressure)

Not only do studies suggest a link between low potassium levels and high blood pressure² but to higher glucose/insulin levels as well. See VIDEO: Potassium and Type 2 Diabetes   

Products containing potassium

Not Just Bananas

Eat more potassium-rich foods, such as a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes — not just bananas. Many people think of bananas when they think of foods high in potassium, but they are actually near the bottom of the list of high potassium foods (over 400 mg. potassium per serving):    Continue reading “Lower Your Blood Pressure with Food”

Inflammation | Foods that Heal and Harm

Hello I have High Cholesterol Word CloudChronic, low-level inflammation might be the SILENT culprit behind your aging process. There is growing evidence that there’s a correlation between chronic systemic inflammation and chronic disease, such as:

  • Coronary atherosclerosis (plaque buildup)
  • Stroke
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Macular degeneration (a common form of age-related blindness)
  • Asthma
  • Dementia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Some cancers
  • Depression

The Silent Killer   

Chronic, low-level inflammation is quite different from acute inflammation, the body’s healthy response to injury and infection. When you get a bug bite or sprained ankle and the area becomes swollen, warm, painful, and red, your body is trying to defend itself by sending immune cells and key nutrients to the area — this is an acute inflammatory response.    Continue reading “Inflammation | Foods that Heal and Harm”