Avocados – A Superfood For Diabetes

avocadosAs a diabetic, I love AVOCADOS!  So why do I love avocados, and why are they so good for those with diabetes?  Well first, it’s all fat, and it’s all good for you.  It’s yummy like butter, except instead of killing you, it’s saving you.  I know, I know.  Big claims, but why?

First, let me just say that Weight Watchers is STUPID for putting avocados on their avoid list with their new Simple Start plan.  Anyway, here are the basic nutrient wonders of an avocado.  An average medium California avocado has about 320 cal, 17g carbs, 13g fiber, 30g fat, 4g saturated fat, 20g monounsaturated fat, 4g polyunsaturated fat,  and numerous vitamins and minerals, including the ever so important electrolytes potassium and magnesium.  In fact, an avocado usually has 3 times more potassium than a banana does.

Now lets break that down.  320 calories.  That’s pretty high, right?  So what!  With everything you get in this wonder fruit, it’s worth it.  Yes, it’s a fruit, not a vegetable.  It’s sometimes called an “alligator pear”.  17c carbs and 13g fiber.  As T1D’s, you know that’s a really odd ratio, and it seems that you may not even need to take any insulin when you eat one of these things, because we always substract the fiber from the carbs to calculate our insulin needs.  I know I don’t take any when I eat one.  That’s part of why I love them.  30g fat.  That’s high too, right?  So what!  Fat doesn’t make you fat, carbs do, and with no insulin, you can’t store fat anyway.  You get 20g of monounsaturated fat with these little green wonders, which is a roto rooter for your arteries.  That’s a massive dose!  Monounsaturated fat raises HDL cholesterol (the good kind), which collects bad fats from all over the body and takes them to the liver.  When your HDL reaches a certain level, compared to your overall cholesterol number, you’re considered “protected” from heart disease.  We as diabetics must worry about our cholesterol because diabetes can lead to heart disease.  As a diabetic who’s already died of heart disease once (for about 60 seconds, and was then rushed into emergency quad bypass), I can say that my last cholesterol test was near this heart protective range with no medication.  That range is below 3.5:1.  Doctors get worried when you go above 5:1.  Now lets finish up, and talk about those electrolytes.  You ever get a headache, get cranky, have muscle pain, and then realize your blood sugar’s off the roof?  You’re getting those symptoms because of electrolyte imbalance, caused by your high blood sugar.  If you’ve ever been treated for DKA, you already know about this.  Blood sugar goes up, body tries to level it out by evacuating water from kidneys, which reduces electrolyte levels.  The body cannot function without electrolytes.  So avocados help us diabetics keep electrolytes levels up.

So the benefits of avocados for diabetics are:  Low insulin needs, increases good cholesterol, and keeps electrolyte levels up.  Oh, and with that much fiber, it’ll make ya poop the way you’re suppose to.  ;P

So how do you eat an avocado?  Well, I’m to lazy to do anything fancy with an avocado.  I just cut the thing in half with a big sharp knife (Carefully, click here to learn how:  http://youtu.be/eI-IVnwnbyg ), take out the huge seed, and scoop it out with a spoon.  So yummy in my tummy.  The first time I bought an avocado, I had no one to teach me how to know if they were ripe.  Mine was not, and I could not eat it.  A ripe avocado will be a very dark green, almost black.  It’s not ripe if it’s bright green, and it’s over ripe if it’s black or brown.  Ripe will be barely soft if you gently press your thumb into the skin when you pick it up.  If it’s ripe like this when you take it home, you can’t let it sit there for a few days.  You have eat it quickly, or it’ll go bad.  To make them last longer, I buy a whole bag when they’re not yet ripe, then stick them in the fridge until I need one.  Set it out a couple days, and it ripens.  I enjoy avocados on sushi, salads, sandwiches, or wherever I want.  I just let other people prepare it that way for me.

Now I’d like to provide you with some helpful links to more information about what I’ve talked about today.  As someone taking control of your own health, you have the responsibility to do your own research, and not take what I’ve said for granted.  Google things, click these links, have fun with the research, and then go eat an avocado.

Avocados:  http://www.avocado.org/about-california-avocados/

Dietary Fats:  http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/

Electrolytes:  http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/lifestyle/weather/stoppler_07_19_06

 

What Causes Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA)

300Diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetics everywhere know this term, . . . I hope.  What is diabetic ketoacidosis?  How is it different than ketosis?

I’ll start by explaining ketosis, and try to keep the sciencey (Yes it’s a word.  It’s MY word.) stuff to a minimum.  Ketosis is a natural body process that occurs when your muscles require fuel, but there’s none in your system.  That fuel starts out as carbs.  If you don’t get enough carbs, your body will naturally enter ketosis when your body starts to break down your fat, thus producing ketone bodies which it can use as fuel.  Your brain and your heart actually run more efficiently on ketones, than they do on glucose.  Our bodies were built to do this, to survive when there was no game to hunt, no plants to forage, no food nearby.  This is NOT dangerous, . . . it’s natural, unless you’re diabetic.  Why is it only dangerous for diabetics?

Because ketone bodies are acidic, and when they reach a certain level, a non-diabetic will secrete insulin, which reduces the ketones just like it does blood glucose.  We of course don’t have this mechanism.  When a diabetic gets ketones, and their blood glucose is above 250, this is the formula for diabetic ketoacidosis.  I know what you’re thinking.  I still haven’t told you what causes it.  Well, here we go.

What causes it is simply a lack of insulin or fuel.  A lack of insulin caused by a faulty infusion set, simply not taking your insulin, being sick and dehydrated, or not eating enough carbs.  The reason your body would enter ketosis is that it doesn’t have enough fuel in the form of carbs, OR . . . it has plenty of fuel, but not enough insulin to get it into the muscle cells.  If the body cannot process or does not have fuel, it will create it by breaking down fat.  This is ketosis.  NOW, your body can’t use the carbs you’ve eaten due to lack of insulin, AND ketones are rising because of lack of insulin.  Rising ketones turn your blood acidic.  This is what can kill you.  If you’re sick and you’re vomiting or have diarrhea, it’s even worse because that creates dehydration which causes insulin resistance!  Ever had ketones while you’re sick, and wonder why in the heck you have to take 3 times the insulin to bring down your blood sugar and ketones?  You need insulin for the blood sugar, for the ketones, and to compensate for the insulin resistance.  Now I can see the wheels turning in your head.

When you go to the hospital, they’re going to treat you with a saline IV, an insulin drip, and electrolytes.  These treat all of the symptoms of DKA all at once, and bring you back to normal.  Your dehydration, your high blood sugar, your high ketones, and your low electrolytes.  So . . . clear as mud now?  Well, I hope it’s clearer than mud for you.

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

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Hypoglycemia Symptoms With Normal Blood Sugars

photoCANM2EOXHave you ever had hypoglycemia symptoms, but when you check your blood sugar, you’re completely normal?  So then you wait 20 minutes, check again, and you’re blood sugar hasn’t changed.  Yet you still feel hypoglycemic?  It’s kind of a phantom hypo.  Yeah, I have too.  Annoying right?

Recently I’ve seen a lot of tweets that people were experiencing this syndrome, and could not explain it.  Then suddenly it happened to me a few times in a few days.  It’s happened to me before, if only rarely, but all of this chatter about it made me want to know what the heck is going on.  When we ARE hypoglycemic, we know what to do to correct it, but what are we suppose to do when we have symptoms, and we ARE NOT hypoglycemic?  I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather deal with high blood sugar than low blood sugar.  High blood sugar affects my body, which I can deal with, but low blood sugar affects my mind, and I can’t handle losing my mind.  So I needed to know how to fix this.

Well, I think I’ve found the answer.  Everybody’s symptoms of a hypo are different, and mine even change every so often.  So I went looking for my symptoms on the web, and kept finding the same thing over and over.  A combination of dehydration, and low electrolytes.  My last post was specifically about the spiraling hole that dehydration can cause for a diabetic, and the importance of correcting it.  What are the symptoms of dehydration and electrolyte imbalance?  They’re almost the same, and include but are not limited to:

  • Irritability
  • Light Headedness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Weakness or Fatigue
  • Irregular Heartbeat

Do those symptoms look familiar?  Looks like hypo symptoms for most people right?  So what if our phantom hypo is really dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance?  Well, I tested this theory.  Last week, when I had my last phantom hypo, and I started researching all this stuff, I reached for my carb free protein powder, which has a good dose of electrolytes in it.  I mixed up a shake, gulped it down, and 15 minutes later my symptoms were gone!  Now, I’m not saying this is definitive by any means, but I’d recommend you go ask your educator or endocrynologist about this.

Some of my favorite foods that are high in electrolytes are bananas, avocados, leafy greens,  some fish, some seeds, and more.   There are many sports electrolyte drinks out there, but I don’t recommend them because they are have carbs.  There are also things like Emergen C Electrolytes, and Pedialyte, but I think they have carbs too?

So the next time you have phantom hypo symptoms with a normal blood sugar, you might be low on electrolytes?  Again, please ask your endocrinologist or diabetes educator about this before taking action.

 

********** Now ya know, and knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!!! **********

If you found this article helpful, please give it a LIKE and share it with others who might benefit from it.  Thanks for paying it forward!  If you’d like to connect with me, you’ll find my social networking profiles to the right:  ————————>

 

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