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Causes of Hypoglycaemia

hypoglycaemia

Hypoglycaemia means that the glucose in the blood has dropped to a level that may cause harm if prolonged. This level is around 2.5mmols/litre in most people.

The most frequent reason for this is seen in diabetics due to the failure to adequately match insulin dose (or diabetic tablets) with food intake and energy expenditure – in effect, an insulin overdose. However it can occur in non-diabetics for a variety of reasons. As the effects of low blood glucose can be serious, rapid attention to the problem is paramount.

Control of Blood Glucose Level

Blood glucose is a prime source of energy for the muscles and organs of the body. Whereas many tissues can also utilise fat for their energy needs the brain can only use glucose, a fact that has considerable bearing on the consequences of hypoglycaemia.

The hormone insulin removes glucose from the blood and transports it into the muscles and the liver where it is stored. Glucagon, also a hormone, has the opposite effect and removes glucose from storage to enter the circulation.

Clearly fine control of these two hormones, and incidentally many other factors, is needed to maintain blood glucose at appropriate levels.

Causes of Hypoglycaemia

  • Reactive hypoglycaemia: probably caused by an overproduction of insulin following a high carbohydrate meal. The left over insulin mops up too much glucose from the blood.
  • Tumour: pancreatic tumours, which are usually benign, can secrete large amounts of insulin
  • Addison’s disease; a disease of the adrenal glands. Some of the hormones secreted by the adrenal have a marked effect on glucose metabolism
  • Reduced liver function; dysfunction of the liver can disturb the control of glucose storage.
  • Poor functioning pituitary gland.
  • Partial gastrectomy: when the stomach is made smaller food enters the small intestine quicker than it should. This stimulates overproduction of insulin leading to a reactive hypoglycaemia.
  • Cancer: many cancers can have a marked effect on the body’s energy metabolism.
  • Fasting or malnutrition
  • Excess alcohol

Signs and Symptoms of Hypoglycaemia

Depending on the individual and degree of hypoglycaemia, some or all of those listed below may be experienced.
  • Pallor, trembling, perspiration
  • Hunger, agitation rapid heart beat
  • Feeling weak, irritability, fatigue
  • Poor concentration, blurred vision
  • Convulsions, loss of consciousness.

The last two – convulsions and loss of consciousness suggest that the brain is becoming impaired through lack of glucose. As indicated earlier the brain has no other energy supply to fall back on so permanent damage can occur unless action is taken rapidly.

Treatment

The important first step is to make sure your signs and symptoms really are due to low blood sugar. The only way to do this is to get it measured by your physician. If hypoglycaemia is occurring the cause needs be found and treated.

Reactive hypoglycaemia is treated by diet. The trick is to avoid large surges of insulin. This is best done by avoiding refined sugars and eating more complex carbohydrates. Essentially these are carbohydrates that require effort by the body to digest and assimilate ensuring slower entry of glucose into the blood stream. Wholemeal breads, particularly with grains in, whole fruits rather than smoothies are best. It’s also important to eat plenty of fresh vegetables as the presence of these in the gut will help ensure slower absorption of glucose.

This article is intended for information only. If you think you might be experiencing low blood glucose you should visit a health professional.

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Frozen Shoulder

frozen shoulder

Frozen shoulder affects only about two percent of the population but can greatly impact day to day life events such as brushing hair, opening doors or reaching up to retrieve something from a top shelf. It is most common in people between the ages of 40 and 60, and, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, can also strike people with diabetes, thyroid problems, Parkinson's disease or cardiac disease.

Dr. Jennifer Solomon, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, which is well-known for its treatment of frozen shoulder, says, "It is also extremely common in perimenopausal women."

This suggests hormonal changes may cause joint stiffness associated with frozen shoulder.

The disorder often develops slowly, and in three stages.

Stage One: Pain increases with movement and is often worse at night. There is a progressive loss of motion with increasing pain. This stage lasts approximately 2 to 9 months.

Stage Two: Pain begins to diminish, and moving the arm is more comfortable. However, the range of motion is now much more limited, as much as 50 percent less than in the other arm. This stage may last 4 to 12 months.

Stage Three: The condition begins to resolve. Most patients experience a gradual restoration of motion over the next 12 to 42 months; surgery may be required to restore motion for some patients.

No one has yet to pinpoint the exact cause of frozen shoulder. However, it likely involves an underlying inflammatory process and can develop after leaving the shoulder immobile for any period of time, such as after surgery or an injury.

A medical history and physical exam, including X-rays can usually diagnose frozen shoulder. Treatment options include ibuprofen and cortisone injections. Steroids can significantly reduce inflammation and pain and increase range of motion.

Physical therapy is also often recommended, and consists of stretching or range-of-motion exercises. Therapy can be conducted by a trained and licensed therapist or in the comfort of home without supervision. Surgery is seen as a last resort should conventional methods be unsuccessful.

The recently held 75th Annual Meeting Podium Presentations by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons concluded that frozen shoulder is often misdiagnosed when the real culprit to pain and loss of motion is a tumor localized inside the bone or in the scapular region. These surgeons cautioned that a misdiagnosis can cause a significant delay in treatment. Patients should ask their physicians to consider all options.

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Super Immunity Foods to Improve Glandular Conditions

super immunity foods

The role of the glandular or lymphatic system of the body is primarily to help get rid of toxins and cleanse the body of debris, while lymph nodes carry cells used to fight infection. Other organs identified as being part of the lymphatic system, include the tonsils, spleen and thymus.

Understanding Glandular (Lymphatic) Conditions

There are a range of different health conditions which are associated as linked with problems in the glandular centre or lymphatic system, such as some forms of cancer. In Super Immunity Foods, Goulart (2009) highlights glandular conditions, to include the following:
  • hypothyroid disorder
  • hyperthyroid disorder
  • adrenal disorders
  • obesity
  • breast cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • osteoporosis
  • infertility
  • diabetes
  • bacterial infections
  • viral infection
Health conditions relating to the glandular or lymphatic system, which are particularly relevant today, include obesity and diabetes. Both diabetes type 2 and obesity are recognised as being linked, with many obese patients recognised as suffering from the former. Osteoporosis and infertility may also go hand in hand, in chronic, enduring cases of the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa.

Super Immunity Foods to Improve Glandular Conditions

In addition to mainstream approaches to treating various forms of glandular-related health conditions, there are a range of "super immunity foods" available. Goulart (2009) recommends super immunity foods which may be used to help improve those affected by glandular conditions, as follows:
  • carrots – liver-cleansing, detoxifying
  • citrus fruits – contain cancer-fighting lycopene
  • green foods – cleanse the body
  • sea vegetables – detoxify body and fight cancer
  • nuts and seeds – help fight cancer, boost immunity
  • apples – helps rejuvenate intestinal tract, fight cancer
Further ways to help improve glandular conditions, such as thyroid problems, identified by Brewer (2010) in The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals and Herbal Supplements, include:
  • valerian (calming herb)
  • Siberian/Korean ginseng
  • kelp
  • zinc
  • selenium
  • vitamin B12
  • multivitamin and mineral supplement
However, it is important to always seek medical advice when suffering from symptoms associated with glandular or lymphatic system disorders. The family doctor will also be able to provide a referral to a specialised nutritionist who can offer advice on super immunity foods and benefits (as well as side-effects) of taking nutritional or herbal supplements.

As highlighted above, common health conditions affecting the glandular or lymphatic system, include osteoporosis, obesity, thyroid problems, diabetes and infertility. Super immunity foods helpful in terms of treating and/or preventing these conditions, involve eating plenty of carrots, citrus fruits, green foods, nuts and seeds, while health supplements, include vitamin B12, valerian, ginseng and multivitamins.

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Are Chilli Peppers Good For You?

chilli peppers
The humble chilli pepper has quite a reputation: from the humble jalapeño to the ferocity of the scotch bonnet there is a variety for all capsaicin hot heads. Chillis and chilli sauces have been popular for some time, many people claiming for the “endorphin rush” that eating them is thought to produce, and several varieties of different strengths and flavours have been grown. The Dorset Naga is reportedly the hottest of them all, measuring up to and over one million Scoville Heat Units, the scale used to measure pepper heat. To get an idea of scale a pimento pepper measures a paltry 100-500 units, so if you find these too hot to eat it's a safe bet that the Naga would be inedible.

Chillis Affect Appetite and Metabolism

The chemical in chillis that give them their heat is capsaicin, a waxy compound that has very little taste or odour in its own right but interacts with a family of ion channels known as the vanilloid receptors. The major channel, known as TRPV1, is located on many sensory nerve endings and plays an important role in sensing noxious stimuli such as heat, and once activated the receptor causes the release of several neurotransmitters which signal a pain response. Interestingly the same neurotransmitters have been found to increase metabolic rate and reduce appetite, according to a study by Motter and Aherne in FEBS letters (2008). Interestingly, mice given capsaicin or other chemically similar compounds (including vanillin, a substance found in vanilla pods) eat less food and gain less weight than controls when given a high fat diet.

Paradoxically however knock-out mice that have the TRPV1 receptor deleted from their DNA also have reduced food intake and body weight according to the same paper, and the authors admit that the exact mechanism of action of the receptor is unclear. One thing they are sure of though is that chronic treatment with capsaicin and other similar compounds prevent dietary weight gain, confirmed in another recent study by Reinbach et al. in Clinical Nutrition (2009). This experiment took healthy human volunteers and found that their appetites were reduced and metabolic rates increased when given capsaicin.

A Potential Treatment for Obesity and Diabetes

Among the proposed mechanisms of action one of the most interesting appears to be the control of a substance called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a neurotransmitter released from sensory nerves. Motter and Aherne's study showed that precursor fat cells, preadipocytes, were sensitive to CGRP and could transform into mature fat cells when exposed to this substance, a process that appears to be inhibited by treatment of capsaicin. The authors postulated that capsaicin could help prevent age-onset obesity and insulin resistance (a pre-diabetic state), two of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, through this mechanism.

Judging by the amount of interest being generated around capsaicin and the TRPV1 receptor it would appear that drug companies are paying close attention to this field of study. Certainly the limited evidence gathered so far would suggest that capsaicin and other compounds from the vanilloid family may have a role to play in obesity and diabetes. A capsaicin-like compound that could reduce body weight without the heat of a chilli pepper would possibly be an excellent aid for people trying to lose weight. However, for those that like their food spicy, there is all the more reason to put a little extra chilli in your dinner. If you're brave enough, you could always risk the Dorset Naga.

Author's Note: There is no direct evidence of weight loss caused by a high chilli intake. Diet and exercise are still the best way to lose weight, but the ingestion of chilli must be exercised with caution, with no expectancy of weight loss. Chillis and high concentrations of capsaicin are certainly an irritant and excess consumption may even be harmful.
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Avoiding Burnout

Having a very active lifestyle can make it hard to incorporate certain things in your life. Most people struggle with sticking to an exercise regime. It can be extremely hard trying to commit to an exercise regime when life is so hectic. A new and demanding job, a baby on the way, moving into a new home or just adjusting to all the financial, social and familial responsibilities that we have as adults can run you ragged and leave little time for much else. Usually exercise is on the back burner until all these things are dealt with. It can be hard. You can take advice from people, watch different infomercials to try to inspire you but ultimately that “blah” feeling will set in. Getting rid of the “blahs” can be difficult but always beneficial. Leading an active life can be good but if your body isn’t used to regular exercise focused on stretching the muscles and raising the heartrate. You could go from “blah” to burnout.
burnout

There are ways to get rid of the blahs without much fuss. If you have a fairly busy job and don’t spend a lot of leisure time at home you can bring your running shoes and walk on your lunch break. A brisk 20-minute walk five times a week can make a staggering difference in your stamina throughout the week. Little things like purposely parking farther when walking to your car. I often stretch when I’m alone in my office. If the door is locked your good to go. A lot of people have a problem with tardiness in the morning. Of course, rushing eventually follows. Instead of rushing off to work purposely wake up 10 minutes early. You could take a brisk walk into work to concentrate on breathing fully and spend a little time contemplating your day. You’ll be more relaxed and energized. And it’s much better than doing a full on sprint that just leaves you winded and frazzled by the time you get to your office.

Stay at home moms, sometimes, find it hard to exercise. It may sound a little nutty for those who don’t stay at home. But, coming from someone who has done both the working mom and the stay at home mom thing both can be equally tough to deal with when trying to maintain an exercise routine. A very corny way I found myself burning calories while at home with my baby was with the “15 minute quick clean up”. I would start in the center of the room moving throughout the house very swiftly and try to clean up as much as I could in 15 minutes. Nothing like washing the dishes because you are stationary, you can save that fun for later. Grab the broom and see how many rooms you can sweep. Then grab a basket or bucket and move from room to room picking up all the little trinkets on the floors. Dusting tables and cleaning the windows can work up a good heartrate. After the buzzer rings you can walk around for a little bit to cool down and you’re done. It may not sound like much. However, targeted exercise is better than just running around all day behind the kids. Also, you can get a semi-clean house in just 15 minutes.

Many people have active lifestyles where they are constantly on the go. However, if some of that movement isn’t targeted towards active exercise activity geared towards circulating the blood and getting your heartrate going you’re just moving in perpetual motion. Lauren Cooper from Cyclemedia.org is a professional cyclist. She defines active exercise as “ vigorous, sustained, repetitive use of the major leg muscles.” It is important to exercise the entire body. She described the act as involving the heart, lungs and legs. Running from place to place is actively moving but if your body is participating in an active exercise activity you can create more stamina throughout the day. Most people feel if they work hard that that is enough. Lauren explains that hard work throughout the day stresses the body out for brief moments and usually without a warm-up. This can lead to stress on the body as well as the heart. Exercise should be stress relieving not inducing.

Targeted physical activity has so many benefits. Citihealth.com reports that research shows that aerobic exercise can reduce stiffening of the arteries. Reducing your risk of stroke. Exercise can increase the body’s ability to control its glucose level thereby reducing the risk of adult onset diabetes. Strength training can help your bones grow stronger, increase flexibility, improve strength and balance. The body needs its exercise to function properly. You need that 30, 20 or even 5 minutes to relax the body, stretch the muscles, raise the body temperature and don’t forget to breathe. It’s better to burn calories rather than burn yourself out.

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Diabetes Food Pyramid

diabetes food pyramid
This diabetic food pyramid functions in a similar way to the regular food pyramid. One of the main differences is that the diabetic food pyramid focuses on limiting sugar intake.

Diabetes is a disease that prohibits people from eating sugar at the same levels that they used to. This does not mean that all diabetics have to avoid sugar like vampires avoid the sun! Some people have mild cases that enable them to eat sugar once in a while. Others have to avoid it at all costs.

The diabetic food pyramid is a lifesaver to many people. Just by looking at the pyramid they can tell which foods to eat and which ones not to. It also suggests serving sizes and suggestions for planning whole meals.

The diabetic food pyramid has six categories of food groups. At the bottom the main group is grains, starchy vegetables, and beans. The second grouping on the diabetic food pyramid includes vegetables and fruits. The third includes diary products, meats and other sources of protein. At the top the list of fats, oils, and sweets should be consumed least of all.

The latest version of the diabetic food pyramid was rolled out by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2005. Not only does it describe what to eat, but it also makes recommendations on calorie intake!

If you want to find out more about the diabetic food pyramid you should begin your search with the diabetic organizations that serve people with diabetes. There is so much information floating around about diabetes and nutrition that in only a short time you should become somewhat of an expert on the subject. Remember, the pyramid might not be as exciting as the one at Giza in Egypt, but it’s still something to marvel at. Good luck and happy eating!
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Obesity Lowers Testosterone

Obesity
Most women dislike fat men, and excess adipose tissue interferes with metabolic health that is responsible for erections and testosterone levels. Researchers from Australia concluded that overweight men often have lower levels of testosterone and the biologically-active free testosterone. To make matters worse, age-linked declines in testosterone take place faster in overweight and obese men.
Obesity increases risk factors linked to low testosterone levels, such as obstructive sleep apnea, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Excess body fat, predominantly in the abdomen, interferes with hormones that manage the reproductive system and decreases sperm quality. Weight loss increases testosterone and free testosterone and improves sexual health. The general conclusion is that obesity is bad for your sex life.
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