Simple Ways to Live Healthier

Simple Ways to Live Healthier

It’s much easier to feel happy and healthy when the sun is shining, the air is warm, and the world around you feels alive and green. But sometimes staying healthy can feel like an uphill battle. Thriving is all about staying positive, spending as much time outside as possible, keeping your body nourished, and getting enough sleep.

Don’t worry, health doesn’t have to be complicated. By incorporating simple healthy habits into your daily routine, you can take your health and happiness to new levels! Let’s explore some simple ways to live healthier.

Use Food as Medicine

Shifting away from processed foods and towards a diet of whole foods like fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to improve your whole-body health and keep you feeling younger. Eating a nutrient-dense diet will boost your immune system, combat depression, fight fatigue, and help you sleep better. Try to eat foods rich in vitamin D if you’re not getting enough sunlight. Also, drinking fruit and vegetable smoothies is a quick and easy way to pack more vitamins and minerals into your diet!

Say No to Stress at Work and Home

Stress gets to all of us. If you’re feeling extra stressed right now, take a good hard look at your stressors. Don’t settle for a job that causes chronic stress. Quitting a stressful job and making a career change might be one of the best things you ever do for your mental and physical health. Take a second look at your home. Decluttering, adding some indoor plants, and diffusing essential oils can also lead to stress reduction.

Find Ways to Exercise Indoors

Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to combat stress and alleviate symptoms of depression. While most of us already know that exercise is important, actually getting up off the couch to work out is much easier said than done, especially when it’s nasty outside. Look for fun exercises you can do in your living room!

The hardest part about working out is committing to a 45-minute exercise session. Here’s some good news—short but intense workouts can bring some serious benefits too! Try cutting back your workout goals to just 10 minutes every day. By committing to short bursts of activity, you’ll have a much easier time keeping up your exercise plan.

Hack Your Sleep Cycle

It’s not uncommon to experience sleep problems. Changing sunlight can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule, creating feelings of lethargy during the day and restlessness at night. To get your sleep schedule back under control, you can use a light therapy lamp to help reset your circadian rhythm during the day. Supplements, such as magnesium and CBD oil, can further decrease symptoms of insomnia and help you feel more rested in the mornings.

Speaking of the morning, consider establishing a morning routine to help jump-start your day. Having a morning routine will help you shake that groggy feeling and get your day off to a positive start!

Health and happiness go hand in hand. You can hardly have one without the other. The problem is that many of us focus on improving our physical health without giving much thought to our mental wellbeing, and vice versa. In order to thrive, take a holistic, whole-body approach to wellness!

5 Challenges You May Face in the Fourth Trimester

5 Challenges You May Face in the Fourth Trimester

A woman’s pregnancy is divided into three trimesters. During each trimester, moms-to-be will encounter various changes in their bodies. However, most people don’t talk about the first few months after having a baby, which is commonly called the fourth trimester. While you won’t experience pregnancy symptoms anymore, there are still unique challenges you could encounter after the baby arrives. Dr. Bose explains five potential changes you may encounter once you bring your baby home.

1. Discomfort

Whether you give birth vaginally or via a C-section, you will experience some discomfort while you recover. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family members to help you keep up with daily chores so you can focus on recovering. Get as much sleep as possible and focus on consuming a nutritious diet so that you can get back on your sleep feet quickly.

2. Larger Breasts

You gain weight during pregnancy, so it makes sense that your breasts become larger. If you are breastfeeding after the baby is born, your bust size may become even larger. Using a comfortable nursing bra is crucial for giving you the support you need and minimizing discomfort. If you already have a larger bust, you may worry that finding something for your pregnancy changes will be difficult. However, buying bras for large bust sizes is easy when you visit online shops that specialize in postpartum bras for larger busts. Rather than put yourself through the inconvenience of shopping in person, check out popular online retailers where you typically purchase diapers and wipes and add a few high-quality nursing bras to your shopping cart.

3. Hormones

It takes a while for your hormone levels to balance out after having a baby. You may find that you are more emotional than usual after your baby is born. This is normal. You can accommodate hormonal shifts by talking with your doctor and striving to practice self-care while adjusting to having a new baby in the house. What’s important to pay attention to is whether you begin to have symptoms of postpartum depression. If you start to notice extended bouts of sadness, lethargy, anxiety or appetite issues, it’s important to speak to your doctor right away.

4. Sleep Deprivation

According to one study, 11% of Americans experience chronic sleep deprivation. For new moms, this problem is much more prevalent because newborn babies wake several times each night to feed. Even if you try to sleep during the day while the baby naps, you will likely be exhausted during the first few months. You can minimize your fatigue by accepting help with other areas of your life and taking measures to improve the quality of your sleep.

5. Work/Life Balance

Your work/life balance will not be the same once your baby arrives. You will have several months off for maternity leave, but once you return to work, you must find a way to balance work responsibilities with raising your child. Communicating transparently with your clients and coworkers is a good way to establish your boundaries and let people know that you will not be quite as available as you once were. If you find that you need help managing administrative tasks, consider working with a virtual assistant.

Becoming a new mother is a wonderful experience, but the translation is not always simple. Even if you do not experience postpartum depression, there are still challenges you will face during the fourth trimester, especially if you plan to breastfeed and intend to start working soon after your baby arrives. Knowing what these difficulties are and how to combat them is important for living your best life for you and the baby.

Growing Pains

Growing Pains in Children: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Are achy legs keeping your child awake at night? They may have growing pains.

Growing pains are cramping, achy muscle pains that some preschoolers and preteens feel in both legs. The pain usually occurs in the late afternoon or evenings. But it may cause your child to wake up in the middle of the night.

Growing pains usually start in early childhood, around age 3 or 4. They tend to strike again in kids aged 8-12.

Causes of Growing Pains

Despite the name “growing pains,” there is no firm evidence that growing pains are linked to growth spurts.

Instead, growing pains may simply be muscle aches due to intense childhood activities that can wear your child’s muscles out. These activities include running, jumping, and climbing. Growing pains seem to be more common after a kid has a particularly full day of sports.

Symptoms of Growing Pains

Growing pains are different for everyone. Some kids have a lot of pain, others do not. Most kids do not have pain every day.

Growing pains can come and go. They may be experienced for months or even years. Most kids outgrow growing pains within a few years.

The pain is usually felt in the late afternoon and evening, right before dinner time, and at bedtime. The leg pains may hurt so much that they may wake your child from sleep.

If your child seems perfectly fine in the morning, don’t be quick to think they were faking. Growing pains disappear in the morning. They usually do not interfere with the child’s ability to play sports or be active.

In general, growing pains are felt in both legs, especially in the front of the thighs, back of legs (calves), or behind the knees.

Studies suggest that children who have growing pains may be more sensitive to pain. Children who have growing pains are also more likely to have headaches and abdominal pain.

How Are Growing Pains Diagnosed?

A doctor can usually diagnose growing pains by examining your child and asking questions about their medical history and symptoms. It is important to rule out any other possible causes of the pain before making the diagnosis of growing pains. This is why it is important to see the doctor if you think your child has growing pains or any limb pain.

If your child has growing pains, the doctor will not see anything abnormal during the physical exam. Blood work and X-rays are usually not needed in this case.

How Are Growing Pains Treated?

Treatment of growing pains depends on how much pain your child has. The following things may ease discomfort and help your child feel better:

  • Massaging the legs.
  • Stretching the leg muscles. This may be difficult for younger kids.
  • Placing a warm cloth or heating pad on the sore leg. Be careful not to burn the skin and do not use during sleep.

If the pain does not get better, ask your health care provider if it’s OK to give your child an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Ask about the appropriate dose for your child. Never give aspirin to a child. Aspirin use in children has been linked to a life-threatening disease called Reye’s syndrome.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

When deciding whether to call the doctor, it’s important to remember that growing pains are almost always felt in both legs. Pain that is only in one leg may be a sign of a more serious condition. Call your health care provider if this happens.

It’s also important to remember that growing pains affect muscles, not joints. And they do not cause limping or fever.

Call your child’s doctor or nurse if leg pain occurs with the following symptoms. They aren’t symptoms of growing pains, but your doctor will need to examine your child and run tests:

  • injury, such as a fall
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • limping or difficulty walking
  • pain in one leg
  • rash
  • red, warm, painful, swollen joints
  • tiredness
  • weakness
  • weight loss

And of course, call your doctor if you have any other concerns.

Kids’ School Lunches: Tips, Meal Ideas, and More


Look What I Got!

Remember being a kid and finding something delicious in your lunch box? Or did you take one look and swap with someone else? Now that you’re a parent, you’re on deck to pack something your child will love. It’s simpler, and takes less time, than you might think.

Cool for School

Freezing is a go-to technique. Fill muffin cups with yogurt and/or pureed fruit (no sugar added) and freeze overnight. This is a good way to make child-sized portions of meatloaf and quiche, too. As they thaw, these treats will help keep the other stuff in your kid’s lunch box cool at school. Many items — meat, fish, eggs, beans, cheese, milk, rice, pasta, mayo, and butter — need to be chilled.

Read more…

Fish Oil Pills: ‘No Net Benefit’ for Depression Prevention?

fish oil capsules

– Fish oil supplements do not help prevent depression or boost mood, new research suggests.

The VITAL-DEP study included more than 18,000 participants. Among adults 50 or older, none of whom were clinically depressed, long-term use of marine omega-3 fatty acid (omega-3) supplements did not reduce risk for depression or symptoms of depression — or make a difference in the quality of mood.

In fact, there was a small increase found in risk for depression or depressive symptoms with omega-3 supplements.

“While a small increase in risk of depression was inside the statistical margin of significance, there was no harmful or beneficial effect of omega-3 on the overall course of mood during the roughly 5 to 7 years of follow-up,” lead author Olivia I. Okereke, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, says.

The findings were published online this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Assessing General Population Risk

For many years, experts have recommended omega-3 supplements for depression in some high-risk patients, Okereke says, but there are no established guidelines for its use.

The study enrolled 18,353 older adults (average age, 67.5 years; 49% women). Of these, 16,657 were at risk for incident depression, defined as having no previous history of depression; and 1,696 were at risk for recurrent depression, defined as having a history of depression but not having undergone treatment for depression within the past 2 years.

Roughly half the participants were randomly assigned to receive omega-3 fatty acids and the other half to a placebo for an average of 5.3 years.

Vitamin D Flops in Moderate-Severe COVID


A close up of a blister pack of vitamin D capsules

Among patients with moderate to severe COVID-19, there was no difference in length of hospital stay in those given a single 200,000-IU dose of vitamin D3 versus those given placebo in a randomized trial in Brazil.

Median length of hospital stay was about 7 days for both groups, with no significant differences in secondary outcomes including in-hospital mortality, admission to ICU, or need for mechanical ventilation, reported Rosa Pereira, MD, PhD, of Universidade de Sao Paulo, and colleagues in an online edition of JAMA.

An accompanying editorial by David Leaf, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, of University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, noted that prior research showed that lower levels of vitamin D were independently associated with worse outcomes in patients with acute illness, but also that vitamin D supplementation as a treatment had no impact on clinical outcomes.

Leaf and Ginde said that COVID-19 has generated renewed interest in vitamin D, adding that this study was “the largest published randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of vitamin D3 administration among hospitalized patients with COVID-19 to date.”

While the findings taken in isolation “may appear ambiguous” and show no evidence of benefit for moderately to severely ill patients, they said, perhaps the door should not be closed altogether.

“It is important to remain open-minded to emerging results from rigorously conducted studies of vitamin D (despite smaller sample sizes and important limitations of some studies),” they wrote, adding that the study did not address outpatients with mild COVID-19 or the use of vitamin D as prophylaxis against the disease.

Pereira and colleagues examined data from hospitalized patients with moderate to severe COVID-19 at two sites in Sao Paulo from June to August 2020, with the final follow-up in October. Participants were eligible if they were adults who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 via PCR or had a CT scan finding “compatible with the disease,” as well as “diagnosis of flu syndrome with criteria for hospitalization.” Primary outcome was length of hospital stay, defined as date of randomization to hospital discharge.

Overall, 240 patients were randomized: 120 to a single oral dose of 200,000 IU of vitamin D and 120 to placebo. Of these, 237 were included in the primary analysis. Participants’ mean age was 56, about 44% were women, and mean baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D level was 20.9. They were given the intervention after a mean of 10.3 days from symptom onset.

The adjusted hazard ratio for hospital discharge was 0.99 (95% CI 0.71-1.37, P=0.94). There were also non-significant differences between the intervention and placebo groups in secondary outcomes, including in-hospital mortality (7.6% vs 5.1%, respectively, P=0.43), admission to the ICU (16.0% vs 21.2%, P=0.30), and need for mechanical ventilation (7.6% vs 14.4%, P=0.09).

In the intervention group, 86.7% achieved 25-hydroxyvitamin D sufficiency versus 10.9% of the placebo group, meaning “the present null findings cannot be attributed to the failure of increasing serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.”

Researchers noted no adverse events, except a single episode of vomiting linked to the intervention. They also noted no significant differences between groups in any health-related laboratory markers following the intervention.

Limitations to the data included that a minimal clinically important difference in hospital length of stay among COVID-19 patients has yet to be determined, as well as the small and heterogeneous sample size, with different patients with co-existing diseases on different medication regimens.

Leaf and Ginde noted that 30 studies on vitamin D interventions in COVID-19 are currently listed on, globally and across the disease spectrum. However, they suggested that many of these studies may be “underpowered or will not achieve target enrollment,” based on experience during the pandemic.

Omicron in the U.S.: What to Know

What to know about the omicron variant

The Omicron coronavirus variant has been found in dozens of states across the country since it was first identified in South Africa in November, and many may be wondering: Will it upstage Delta and cause a winter surge? Is it still safe to gather with others for the holidays? How is this variant affecting children?

Experts addressed those and other questions in a webinar hosted by New York University last week, acknowledging that it will take some time to find out all the crucial facts about Omicron.

But in the meantime, here’s what’s known — and not — about Omicron in the fast-changing COVID landscape.

How widespread is Omicron now?

As of Dec. 15, Omicron transmission had been reported in 80 nations, according to Michael H. Merson, MD, a visiting professor of global health at the New York University School of Global Public Health. In the 35 states with Omicron cases, the numbers vary. Right now, New York and New Jersey are detecting the Omicron variant at about four times the overall rate in the country, he said. But whether or not the variant will remain in ”pockets” is currently unknown, he said.

How can people enjoy the holidays safely?

When it comes to deciding about gatherings and travel, “trust your instincts,” Elodie Ghedin, PhD, chief of the systems genomics section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and affiliate faculty member at NYU, said.

As an example of safe holiday gatherings, the experts cited President Joe Biden’s appearance last Tuesday at a party of 400, which was held on a hotel rooftop due to COVID concerns.

“It’s very important to spend the holidays with family and friends,” Merson said. “But do so wisely. That’s my advice about travel.”

That means getting vaccinated and boosted when eligible, making use of rapid testing when called for, masking, handwashing, avoiding crowded indoor spaces, and keeping your distance from others.

Knowing your risk level and that of family and friends when making plans for the holidays is also important, Merson said.

Is Omicron greatly affecting children?

Experts are waiting on data to find out.

“The jury is still out on how virulent Omicron will be for kids,” said Celine R. Gounder, MD, a member of President Biden’s COVID-19 task force and a clinical assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. “We don’t know.”

The best thing parents can do right now is to vaccinate their children ages 5 years and up who are eligible, she said.

Do monoclonal antibody drugs work well against Omicron?

No, Ghedin said.

“Most of the monoclonal antibodies do not seem to work very well against Omicron,” she said.

What’s known about how infectious Omicron is?

“It appears to be the most infectious variant to date,” said Gounder.

“Relative to Delta, Omicron appears to be 2-3 times more infectious.”

Put another way, she said, you are likely to infect 2 to 3 times more people than if infected with other variants.

People should not count on their natural immunity from a prior COVID infection to protect them from the Omicron variant, Gounder said.

It also does seem that the Omicron variant might be less virulent than other variants, she said. (Virulence refers to how severe a disease an infected person can get.)

If Omicron is less virulent, isn’t that good news?

Yes and no, Gounder said.

“Even if it’s a mild disease, you can still have lots of deaths. Let’s say COVID has a case fatality rate of 1% and you have 100 people who get infected — and one death,” she said.

Then say Omicron’s rate is .25%, but if you have 400 cases, since it is more infectious, that’s still one death.

“We really have to be very careful when we say less deadly and less severe [when talking about Omicron]. On a population level, Omicron could be just as deadly as Delta even if it causes mild disease, if more are infected,” she said.

If a COVID test is positive, will the results specify whether it’s the Delta or the Omicron variant?

“Unfortunately, you will not be able to get that information from a PCR test done in the community,” Ghedin said. “If you are doing it through a research entity, they might provide that information, but I highly doubt it.”

With more people vaccinated now than in the past, can we consider COVID endemic, not a pandemic, now?

No, Gounder said.

“We are nowhere near endemic [status],” she said. “We are still very much pandemic. Saying it is endemic now is like saying, ‘Let’s do nothing.'”

Currently the U.S. is at a level of about 60% of the population vaccinated, she said.

“We really need to be getting to 85, 90 percent” before transitioning into endemic status.

In tropical countries, the flu is endemic, Ghedin said, ”and it’s there year-round. We are not there with SARS-CoV-2.”

Can a dangerous microbe offer a new way to silence pain?

Can a Dangerous Microbe Offer a New Way to Silence Pain? - Neuroscience News

Anthrax has a scary reputation. Widely known to cause serious lung infections in humans and unsightly, albeit painless, skin lesions in livestock and people, the anthrax bacterium has even been used as a weapon of terror.

Now the findings of a new study suggest the dreaded microbe also has unexpected beneficial potential — one of its toxins can silence multiple types of pain in animals.

The research reveals that this specific anthrax toxin works to alter signaling in pain-sensing neurons and, when delivered in a targeted manner into neurons of the central and peripheral nervous system, can offer relief to animals in distress.

The work, led by investigators at Harvard Medical School in collaboration with industry scientists and researchers from other institutions, is published Dec. 20 in Nature Neuroscience.

Furthermore, the team combined parts of the anthrax toxin with different types of molecular cargo and delivered it into pain-sensing neurons. The technique can be used to design novel precision-targeted pain treatments that act on pain receptors but without the widespread systemic effects of current pain-relief drugs, such as opioids.

“This molecular platform of using a bacterial toxin to deliver substances into neurons and modulate their function represents a new way to target pain-mediating neurons,” said study senior investigator Isaac Chiu, associate professor of immunology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School.

The need to expand the current therapeutic arsenal for pain management remains acute, the researchers said. Opioids remain the most effective pain medication, but they have dangerous side effects — most notably their ability to rewire the brain’s reward system, which makes them highly addictive, and their propensity to suppress breathing, which can be fatal.

“There’s still a great clinical need for developing non-opioid pain therapies that are not addictive but that are effective in silencing pain,” said study first author Nicole Yang, HMS research fellow in immunology in the Chiu Lab. “Our experiments show that one strategy, at least experimentally, could be to specifically target pain neurons using this bacterial toxin.”

The researchers caution, however, that for now, this approach remains purely experimental and still needs to be tested and further fine-tuned in more animal studies and, eventually, in humans.

Primed to connect

Researchers in the Chiu lab have long been interested in the interplay between microbes and the nervous and immune systems. Past work led by Chiu has demonstrated that other disease-causing bacteria can also interact with neurons and alter their signaling to amplify pain. Yet only a handful of studies so far have looked at whether certain microbes could minimize or block pain. This is what Chiu and Yang set out to do.

For the current study, they started out by trying to determine how pain-sensing neurons may be different from other neurons in the human body. To do so, they first turned to gene-expression data. One of the things that caught their attention: Pain fibers had receptors for anthrax toxins, whereas other types of neurons did not. In other words, the pain fibers were structurally primed to interact with the anthrax bacterium. They wondered why.

The newly published research sheds light on that very question.

The findings demonstrate that pain silencing occurs when sensory neurons of dorsal root ganglia, nerves that relay pain signals to the spinal cord, connect with two specific proteins made by the anthrax bacterium itself. Experiments revealed that this occurs when one of the bacterial proteins, protective antigen (PA), binds to the nerve cell receptors it forms a pore that serves as a gateway for two others bacterial proteins, edema factor (EF) and lethal factor (LF), to be ferried into the nerve cell. The research further demonstrated PA and EF together, collectively known as edema toxin, alter the signaling inside nerve cells — in effect silencing pain.

Using the quirks of microbial evolution for new therapies

In a series of experiments, the researchers found that the anthrax toxin altered signaling in human nerve cells in dishes, and it also did so in living animals.

Injecting the toxin into the lower spines of mice produced potent pain-blocking effects, preventing the animals from sensing high-temperature and mechanical stimulations. Importantly, the animals’ other vital signs such as heart rate, body temperature, and motor coordination were not affected — an observation that underscored that this technique was highly selective and precise in targeting pain fibers and blocking pain without widespread systemic effects.

Furthermore, injecting mice with the anthrax toxin alleviated symptoms of two other types of pain: pain caused by inflammation and pain caused by nerve cell damage, often seen in the aftermath of traumatic injury and certain viral infections such as herpes zoster, or shingles, or as a complication of diabetes and cancer treatment.

Additionally, the researchers observed that as the pain diminished, the treated nerve cells remained physiologically intact — a finding that indicates the pain-blocking effects were not due to injury of the nerve cells but rather stemmed from the altered signaling inside them.

In a final step, the team designed a carrier vehicle from anthrax proteins and used it to deliver other pain-blocking substances into nerve cells. One of these substances was botulinum toxin, yet another potentially lethal bacterium known for its ability to alter nerve signaling. That approach, too, blocked pain in mice. The experiments demonstrate this could be a novel delivery system for targeting pain.

“We took parts of the anthrax toxin and fused them to the protein cargo that we wanted it to deliver,” Yang said. “In the future, one could think of different kinds of proteins to deliver targeted treatments.”

The scientists caution that as the work progresses, the safety of the toxin treatment must be monitored carefully, especially given that the anthrax protein has been implicated in disrupting the integrity of the blood-brain barrier during infection.

The new findings raise another interesting question: Evolutionarily speaking, why would a microbe silence pain?

Chiu thinks that one explanation — a highly speculative one, he added — may be that microbes have developed ways to interact with their host in order to facilitate their own spread and survival. In the case of anthrax, that adaptive mechanism may be through altered signaling that blocks the host’s ability to sense pain and therefore the microbe’s presence. This hypothesis could help explain why the black skin lesions that the anthrax bacterium sometimes forms are notably painless, Chiu added.

The new findings also point to novel avenues for drug development beyond the traditional small-molecule therapies that are currently being designed across labs.

“Bringing a bacterial therapeutic to treat pain raises the question ‘Can we mine the natural world and the microbial world for analgesics?'” Chiu said. “Doing so can increase the range and diversity of the types of substances we look to in search for solutions.”

Coinvestigators included Jörg Isensee, Dylan Neel, Andreza Quadros, Han-Xiong Bear Zhang, Justas Lauzadis, Sai Man Liu, Stephanie Shiers, Andreea Belu, Shilpa Palan, Sandra Marlin, Jacquie Maignel, Angela Kennedy- Curran, Victoria Tong, Mahtab Moayeri, Pascal Röderer, Anja Nitzsche, Mike Lu, Bradley Pentelute, Oliver Brüstle, Vineeta Tripathi, Keith Foster, Theodore Price, John Collier, Stephen Leppla, Michelino Puopolo, Bruce Bean, Thiago Cunha, and Tim Hucho.

This study was funded by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative; Ipsen Pharmaceuticals; National Institutes of Health (DP2AT009499, R01AI130019, R01NS036855, NIA 5T32AG000222 fellowship, NIH NIGMS T32GM007753 fellowship), and NIH NINDS (NS111929); National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Intramural Program; European Regional Development Fund (NeuRoWeg, EFRE?0800407 and EFRE?0800408); Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (116072-NGN-PET); and São Paulo Research Foundation (2013/08216-2 Center for Research in Inflammatory Diseases); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (271522021 and 413120531), EFRE-0800384, and LeitmarktAgentur.NRW (LS-1-1-020d).

Shop Smart for Groceries for Diabetes


Shop Smart for Groceries for Diabetes – Keep Your Inner Army Strong

The grocery store looks different when you have type 2 diabetes. Aisles of menu ideas and possibilities become well-lit lanes of decisions and pitfalls. Instead of, “What’s for dinner?” you wonder, “What will this do to my blood sugar?”

“Before my diagnosis, I went to the store and bought everything on my list and anything that caught my fancy,” says Linda Leitaker, a retired elected city clerk in Lake Almanor, CA. “What I thought I knew about nutrition was woefully inadequate. I had to read, research, and repeat.”

But if you manage your food, it’s a powerful way to control your type 2 diabetes. You don’t need to follow a special diet. Just eat the way it’s recommended for most people. Studies show that healthy, balanced meals are one of the best ways to control your blood sugar and manage your diabetes.

Picture Your Plate

There’s no magic list of foods you can and can’t eat with diabetes.   

“You can really eat anything,” says Shamera Robinson, MPH, a registered dietitian and associate director of nutrition for the American Diabetes Association. “Your favorite foods can be part of an individualized eating plan. The best way to go about eating is by finding a balance of nutrients that work for you.”

One way to do that is with the Diabetes Plate Method. Imagine a 9-inch plate split evenly in two. Fill one side with non-starchy vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, squash, or tomatoes.

Split the other half into quarters horizontally. Fill one quarter with carbs, like brown rice, tortillas, beans, fruit, milk, or yogurt. Fill the last quarter with protein, such as eggs, tofu, and lean meats like chicken and fish.

“Carbs will always digest the fastest, then protein, then fat. When you eat all three together, you feel full and don’t crave as much between meals,” Says Lori Zanini, an author, nutritionist, and dietitian in Los Angeles.

Make a Meal Plan

One secret to Leitaker’s success is that she keeps her eating simple. She sticks to one or two choices for breakfast. Lunch is always a salad with chicken. For dinner, she has a protein, salad, and vegetables.

Leitaker rarely makes dessert. When she does indulge, it’s often berries or other fruit that’s in season.

You can plot out a week’s worth of meals before you hit the grocery store. You can do that on your own, or use a meal-planning template like the one on the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Food Hub.

Use a Shopping List

Once you know what you want to eat, make a list of ingredients. Check your pantry to make sure you don’t already have them.

There’s no right or wrong way to make a grocery run. You can group the items you need by department, such as produce, meat, and frozen foods. Or you can write your list in the order that your favorite store is laid out to avoid retracing your steps.

It’s natural to focus on breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but don’t forget the snacks.

“A snack can really be anything,” Robinson says. She suggests a handful of unsalted roasted nuts or seeds; hummus and vegetables; berries; baby carrots with guacamole; and a hard-boiled egg.

The key to eating with diabetes is not to give into impulse buys.

“If I see something new at the store, I usually go home and research it first to see if it’s a good fit for me,” says Leitaker, who dropped her A1c below 6 and lost more than 50 pounds by eating carefully and walking. 

Leitaker often adapts recipes so that she and her family enjoy the same protein, like fish or beef, but eat different side dishes.

Shop the Edges of the Store First

The best places to spend your time and money at the market are the fresh produce and refrigerated sections. Shop with caution in the center aisles, where many highly processed and packaged foods are stocked.

“A snack can really be anything,” Robinson says. She suggests a handful of unsalted roasted nuts or seeds; hummus and vegetables; berries; baby carrots with guacamole; and a hard-boiled egg.

The key to eating with diabetes is not to give into impulse buys.

“If I see something new at the store, I usually go home and research it first to see if it’s a good fit for me,” says Leitaker, who dropped her A1c below 6 and lost more than 50 pounds by eating carefully and walking. 

Leitaker often adapts recipes so that she and her family enjoy the same protein, like fish or beef, but eat different side dishes.

Shop the Edges of the Store First

The best places to spend your time and money at the market are the fresh produce and refrigerated sections. Shop with caution in the center aisles, where many highly processed and packaged foods are stocked.

Load your cart with:

Vegetables. Fresh, in-season vegetables are always best. Frozen and canned are great choices as long as the vegetable is the only ingredient. Non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens like spinach, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are better than starchy veggies like green peas, corn, potatoes, and winter squash.

Pro tip: Drain and rinse your canned vegetables. This lowers the sodium content by almost half.

Fruit. Look for fresh, frozen, or canned fruit in their own juice. Avoid those with syrup, which is sugar. Dried fruit and 100% fruit juice are options, too. But watch your portions since fruits are high in carbs and naturally sweet.

Whole grains. Make sure the first ingredient is a whole grain.

Meat, poultry, and fish. Buy according to your serving size, and focus on lean meats and cuts.

Drinks. Water is best.

Desserts. It’s better to plan a dessert than make an impulse buy at the store. Know your portion sizes, stick to them, and enjoy.

Read Every Label

“I always tell people not to look at the front of the package,” Zanini says. “That’s where the marketing happens. Flip it over and look at the food label first.”

Check the serving size, and then read down for the total carbohydrates. That’s a key number when you have diabetes because carbs raise your blood sugar level more quickly than protein or fats. Something sugar-free can still have lots of carbs.

Make It a Habit

Reading labels and making healthy choices at the market will become second nature. Your first few trips to the store may take longer. Plan for the extra time, and eat first so you won’t be making purchases on an empty stomach.

Need some support? Ask your doctor to recommend a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) with experience in type 2 diabetes. They can guide you on what foods to eat based on your tastes, budget, and health goals.

7 Facts About Tea That May Surprise You


hot tea

Judging from our local coffee shop’s drive-thru line, which snakes out onto the street and up the block every morning, coffee dominates the morning caffeine scramble for a lot of people. But tea actually outshines coffee worldwide. Here are some other facts that may surprise you:

It’s the most widely consumed drink in the world. After water, tea is the most popular drink for people around the globe. China, Turkey, and the U.K. have some of the biggest tea drinking populations. On a given day, half of all Americans drink it — though the vast majority is consumed as iced tea.


Truth About Tea

It doesn’t take all the tea in China to reap its health benefits–about three cups a day will do you.ABOUT

It’s a heart-healthy drink. One popular tea brand got approval from the FDA to display a health claim on plain black and green tea that states, “Can Help Support Heart Health.” Tea contains natural plant compounds that are known to be heart-healthy, and studies have found tea drinkers to have lower rates of heart disease.

It’s basically calorie-free. Like coffee, plain tea contains just a couple of calories per cup and no sugar. But what’s added can change that. A medium sweet tea and a large iced matcha latte from fast food restaurants both pack about 7 teaspoons of sugar. (The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6-9 teaspoons for the whole day).

It all comes from the same plant. Varieties may look and taste different, but all real tea originates from the Camellia sinensis plant. The varieties — black, white, oolong, and green — are made by processing the plant differently. For example, black tea comes from leaves that are exposed to the air longer (called oxidation) than green tea. Herbal teas, on the other hand, don’t come from that plant. Instead, they’re infusions of different plants.

It’s just as hydrating as water. You may have heard that beverages that contain caffeine somehow don’t “count” when it comes to hydration. But that’s actually not the case. Tea is more than 99 percent water, so tea’s hydrating qualities offset any diuretic effects.

It contains the same healthy compounds as broccoli. Flavonoids are natural plant compounds that have potential health benefits, and foods like grapes, berries, and broccoli all contain them. Tea is an especially rich source. According to a USDA database, 1 cup of black tea has 170 milligrams of flavonoids, while 1 cup of broccoli has about 3 milligrams.

It’s sometimes topped with cream cheese. Bubble tea is still enjoying popularity. (Is it bad for you? Read about it here.) But look out for the latest fad that’s brewing: cheese tea, which is topped with a frothy, foamy mixture of milk, cream cheese, and whipped cream and a sprinkle of sea salt. (It doesn’t exactly compete with plain tea as a healthy drink, but it might make a unique dessert!)