What Is Diabetic Retinopathy

There are plenty of complications that can arise from diabetes, but one you may not have considered is diabetic retinopathy. Without regular screening, diabetic retinopathycan lead to blindness.

“Diabetic retinopathy is an eye disease that affects the tissues in the back of the eye – called the retina – which process light and vision for the brain,” says Dr. Nancy Kunjukunju, a retina specialist at Krieger Eye Institute at LifeBridge Health in Baltimore. “High blood sugar levels can cause the retinal blood vessels to leak, swell, grow abnormally or be blocked. If that happens, the lack of normal blood and oxygen flow can cause a loss of tissue function that seriously affects vision.”

Among people who have had Type 1 diabetes for five years, 25 percent will develop diabetic retinopathy, Kunjukunju says. That number shoots up to 60 percent after 10 years. The numbers vary a bit more when you have Type 2 diabetes, but 53 percent of people who have had Type 2 diabetes for more than 10 years develop the disease. Many people with diabetic retinopathy are not aware

Providing Social Support To Overcome Depression

Humans are social animals by nature. But modern life has disrupted many of the traditional social norms that people have relied on for millennia, to the detriment of our overall health. The American Psychological Association reports that loneliness has been linked to health problems including “high blood pressure, diminished immunity, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline” and that “low levels of social support have even been linked to increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases and cancer.” Social support plays a big role in depression, as well.

Individuals with poor social support have a higher probability of developing depression, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing. And many Americans today don’t feel like they have a social network they can count on. The APA reports that 55 percent of survey respondents said they could use “at least a little more emotional support” when talking about problems or making difficult decisions. Strong social support can help people cope with problems and improve self-esteem and a sense of autonomy, the APA says. But not everyone has the skills to be socially connected, while many

Sleep Better With Ways Diabetes

Sad but true: If you have diabetes, quality sleep may be hard to get.

However, you should work with your doctor to try and pinpoint just what’s causing your sleep problems.

“While a good night’s sleep and maintenance of a healthy weight are good for everyone, those good habits promise special health benefits for people with diabetes,” says Dr. Paris Roach, an endocrinologist with Indiana University Health in Indianapolis.

There are a few reasons why you may not get the restful sleep you need when you have diabetes.

First, major swings in your blood sugar at night can disrupt your sleep. “Very high blood glucose levels can lead to excessive urination, and sleep may be interrupted by frequent visits to the bathroom if blood sugar is poorly controlled,” Roach says. If your blood sugar gets too low at night, symptoms like restless sleep, excessive sweating and a pounding heart can occur.

A common condition called sleep apnea is more common when you have diabetes. “Apnea literally means ‘not breathing,’ and sleep apnea refers to brief periods of a minute or two when breathing is extremely

Food That You Should Not Eat

Imagine the following scenario. You’re engaged in conversation at a dinner party with friends that you feel comfortable enough to discuss “hot button” topics with. Politics, religion, and parenting techniques probably come up and most likely, the views vary by person. When I attend dinner parties, however, the issue of food is often the hot topic of the night, and even hotter, the opinions surrounding the right and wrong way to eat. It’s not enough these days that we are eating more kale (thank you trendy farmers markets and Hollywood celebrities!), we have to now dissect the right and wrong way to eat it as well. It was discussions like these that motivated me to write this blog. After all, my career surrounds helping people to simply eat better — to get, what I call, the most bang for their nutritional buck. There are many factors that impact the amount of nutrients that you will derive from a food. Things such as cooking and ripening method, food pairing and even your own gut flora may impact how much benefit you get from plant-based foods. Different varieties of foods affect this as well. Not all nuts, apples or as you’ll read

Healthy Foods for Your Eyes

Eggs

The yolk is a prime source of lutein and zeaxanthin—plus zinc, which also helps reduce your macular degeneration risk, according to Paul Dougherty, MD, medical director of Dougherty Laser Vision in Los Angeles.

Almonds

They’re filled with vitamin E, which slows macular degeneration, research shows. One handful (an
ounce) provides about half of your daily dose of E.

Beyond carrots

You’ve probably heard that carrots and other orange-colored fruits and vegetables promote eye health and protect vision, and it’s true: Beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives these foods their orange hue, helps the retina and other parts of the eye to function smoothly.

But eating your way to good eyesight isn’t only about beta-carotene. Though their connection to vision isn’t as well-known, several other vitamins and minerals are essential for healthy eyes. Make these five foods a staple of your diet to keep your peepers in tip-top shape.

Leafy greens

They’re packed with lutein and zeaxanthin—antioxidants that, studies show, lower the risk of
developing macular degeneration and cataracts.

Citrus and berries

These fruits are powerhouses of vitamin C, which has been shown to reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.

Fatty fish

Tuna, salmon, mackerel, anchovies

How to Heal Pain

The bright sun, longer days and warm heat of summer seem to effortlessly pluck people outside for an activity-packed couple of months. It’s no surprise that this time of year offers the best weather for outdoor activities, pool parties, traveling and spending as much time out and about as we can. “Summer break” seems to not only apply to our school-aged children, but us as adults, as well. Though these summer months are most definitely an invitation to stay active, the extra physical demands can be tough on the back, especially if you’ve previously dealt with spine issues. In the spirit of staying back pain-free, while still enjoying this sunny time of year, here are some helpful ways to take care of your spine this summer.

For those people with back pain that’s worsened by cold weather, the warm summer months can signal relief, but for others, the change in temperature can be a factor that causes more pain. Increasing heat, humidity and barometric pressure over the summer months can be responsible for back pain “flare-ups,” even in the absence of activity. The easiest way to combat this weather-related pain is to stay indoors in an

Users of Cannabis Highly at risk for Psychosis

Psychotic illness occurs significantly earlier among marijuana users, results of a meta-analysis suggest.

Data on more than 22,000 patients with psychosis showed an onset of symptoms almost three years earlier among users of cannabis compared with patients who had no history of substance use.

The age of onset also was earlier in cannabis users compared with patients in the more broadly characterized category of substance use, investigators reported online in Archives of General Psychiatry.

“The results of this study provide strong evidence that reducing cannabis use could delay or even prevent some cases of psychosis,” Dr. Matthew Large, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and co-authors wrote in conclusion.

“Reducing the use of cannabis could be one of the few ways of altering the outcome of the illness because earlier onset of schizophrenia is associated with a worse prognosis and because other factors associated with age at onset, such as family history and sex, cannot be changed.”

Psychosis has a strong association with substance use. Patients of mental health facilities have a high prevalence of substance use, which also is more common in patients with schizophrenia compared with the general population, the

Alcohol Is Not The Main Killer of Drink

Older people who drink heavily don’t necessarily have to fear dying of liver disease, a researcher said.

In a population-based Dutch study, only a handful of heavy drinkers in an older cohort died of liver-related causes, according to Jeoffrey Schouten, MD, of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The major causes of death were cardiovascular disease and cancer, but not hepatocellular carcinoma, Schouten reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

On the other hand, the study confirmed previous studies that suggest light and moderate drinking is protective, Schouten said.

He and colleagues followed 3,884 residents of Rotterdam — all 55 or older at the start of the study in 1990 — for a median of 15.2 years, until they died or until Dec. 31, 2008.

The participants were stratified by their drinking level, with the aim of understanding the causes of death for those who drank heavily, as well as the links between all-cause mortality and alcohol consumption.

Every four or five years, participants went through cycle of examinations, including clinical studies and questionnaires on various aspects of their lives, such as alcohol consumption. The

Make Your Brain Younger

As our life expectancy continues to increase, one of the biggest fears for our senior citizens is that they may physically live longer than their brain functions.

This thought is being fueled by numerous press reports about the  increase in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Dementia is generally relates to loss of cognitive function.  Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia, but there are many others like senile (aging) dementia and dementias associated with other neurologic disea

The good news is that the evolving neuroscience shows that there are things we can do to preserve and even enhance our cognitive ability through the life span.

The concept of neuroplasticity shows that our brains can recover after injuries and strokes as well as, in some cases, improve brain function in the face of chronic neurologic disease.

In my book, “30 Days to a Better Brain,” I outline the mind, body and spirit approach to preserving and enhancing cognitive function as practiced at Canyon Ranch.

As we age, we have learned the value of healthy eating and remaining physically active through the life span. Each of these factors is an essential variable in

Helping Kids Cope With Anxiety

From starting school to fearing rejection by friends, anxiety and worry are expected components of child development. We all worry from time to time, and kids are no different.

Teaching children coping skills to deal with their stressors and worries is like teaching other skills. How do we teach dental hygiene or how to read? We can start by creating a plan, modeling the steps by showing them and practicing the task together, and gradually children will practice the technique independently.

How do we teach children to cope? We do so with intention and on purpose. Here are some suggestions for helping kids cope with anxiety:

Do validate. While a parent’s instinct may be to jump in and solve the problem, first take a moment to validate that certain situations or experiences are indeed scary. Helping kids make sense of their emotions includes helping them feel them. Anxiety is normal – it’s even good for you. It may help to start out by saying things like: “I can see why that situation makes you nervous. Sometimes I get nervous when I have to… (e.g., meet a new person, speak in front of an audience, try something new).”

The Importance of Mental Health Days

Earlier this month, Madalyn Parker, a Michigan-based web developer shared an email interaction with her boss in which he supported her need to take off work to focus on her mental health. While mental health issues are not new, only recently has acceptance of these issues grown. It’s because of the stigma that still surrounds mental illness that this tweet was so widely discussed.

Adults, like Parker, may use their sick days to focus on mental health. However, young people aren’t generally able or encouraged do so, even when they need a day off.

Childhood and adolescence are more challenging than adults may acknowledge. In addition to navigating everyday growing pains, young people are juggling friendships, schoolwork and extracurricular activities. It seems that today’s youth have more to manage than kids did in years past and face even more pressure to succeed.

Many children and teens struggle with mental health conditions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 kids ages 13 to 18 have a mental healthdisorder. Often, mental health issues are minimized and young people are essentially told to “get over it” or that their struggles are just a part of life, and

Is Your Child Drinking and Smoking in the Summer

There are many reasons I love the summer. One, in particular, is having the opportunity to work with my high school and college patients during a time of year when they’re less stressed, more relaxed and often open to making needed emotional shifts that they’re too anxious and overwhelmed to focus on during the school year.

But while this more relaxed time has its benefits, there’s a downside as well: Research has consistently found that kids are much more likely to try alcohol and drugs for the first time during the summer months. For those teens and young adults already interested in alcohol, marijuana, other illegal substances or prescription drugs, the summer is an invitation to party. They have no academic obligations, and for many, the summer is spent with very little structure or adult supervision. Even for kids that hold a job or who have some form of structure, there is plenty of downtime after work and on the weekends to relax, which for a great many includes drinking alcohol or doing drugs.

I am learning more and more about drinking on the beach, partying at the park and smoking or vaping during sleepovers.

Why the Risk for Amputations Jumps If You’re Poor and Have Diabetes

When you have diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for an amputation, particularly an amputation of a lower limb or a toe.

In fact, the American Diabetes Association reports that about 60 percent of lower-limb amputations in adults that are not caused by trauma occur in people with diabetes. The risk is present for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

And the five-year death rate for those who have had an amputation caused by a diabetic foot ulcer ranges from 35 percent to 80 percent. That percentage is even worse than some cancers, says Dr. Katherine A. Gallagher, associate professor of surgery at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

This higher risk comes from a cycle of uncontrolled blood sugar over time and unnoticed and untreated infections. Someone with poorly controlled diabetes may not even know they have an infection because they’ve also developed a complication called peripheral neuropathy, which can take away feeling in the feet. These infections, if not detected or treated, can lead to the need for an amputation.

People who are economically disadvantaged and who have diabetes are at a higher risk for amputations. In fact, there’s

The Real Facts About Eating Disorders

I am a psychologist specializing in children and teens who have an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, or ARFID. When I tell people what I do for a living, I’m often bombarded by harsh, judgmental comments such as “they could stop if they wanted to” or “there must be something wrong with that mother.” When I tell them I work in the Bronx, the comments are often along the lines of: “You must not be that busy – only rich, white kids have eating disorders!” In discussing this with other psychologists and mental health professionals, I am frequently met with “I could never treat them – they are so difficult.” The most difficult part of hearing these statements, especially by fellow mental health practitioners, is that they perpetuate the stigma associated with eating disorders that lead many to self-blame and delay or avoid treatment. My mission is to promote the actual facts about eating disorders to mental health professionals, parents, teachers, kids, pediatricians and the public. So here some of the things everyone should know:

Eating disorders can be fatal.

Anorexia nervosa is the most

How Big the Risk of Alcoholic Drinkers to Be Exposed to Breast Cancer

For years, a seemingly endless march of studies has pronounced that moderate consumption of alcohol could be beneficial for heart health. If you like a glass of wine with dinner, you’ve probably welcomed this news. But if you have other risk factors for breast cancer, you might want to scale back on your alcohol consumption.

Alcohol and the Heart

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the studies suggesting that alcohol has heart-protective properties have focused on the potential health benefits of compounds in red wine called flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have been linked with reduced inflammation in the body and other health benefits that can reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Other studies have noted that a substance called resveratrol could be at work, and that moderate intake of alcohol can lead to a small increase in HDL cholesterol – that’s the good kind – and anti-clotting properties that can also be beneficial to heart health.

Therefore, some researchers and doctors have offered that drinking in moderation could be good for you. The American Heart Association defines drinking in moderation as one to two drinks per day for men

7 Things Not to Say to Someone With Diabetes

For the more than 29 million Americans who have diabetes, living with the disease is challenge enough. However, awkward, ill-informed or insensitive remarks can add to the difficulties faced.

Well-meaning friends, family members, co-workers or strangers can inadvertently make comments that can be judgmental or are based on stereotypes or myths about diabetes. To address misconceptions, it’s important to know what not to say to someone with diabetes. Based on my experiences as a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian, here are some of the most common diabetes faux pas, paired with the facts and advice on how best to show your support:

1. “Why do you have diabetes – did you eat too much sugar?” Diabetes is not caused by eating too much sugar. Diabetes and its risk factors are complicated. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune response in your body (the body’s immune system attacks itself), genetics and still-to-be discovered factors that trigger its onset. Right now, we have no way to stop the onset of Type 1 diabetes. The onset of Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of genetics, lifestyle and many unknown factors. While research has shown that, for some, we can prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes, there is no single

How To Increase Cholesterol Level That Is Good For You

Cholesterol gets a bad rap. But the truth is, you need it to live, let alone lead a long, healthy life. Without this waxy, fat-like substance, you couldn’t make sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, adrenal hormones that help regulate blood pressure and metabolism, or essential nutrients such as vitamin D.

Floating through your bloodstream, two different fat- and protein-containing carriers, called lipoproteins, carry cholesterol to and from your cells. At healthy levels – ideally less than 100 milligrams per deciliter – low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, delivers the cholesterol you need into your tissues for cell stability and healthy function. Meanwhile,high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, scavenges the excess cholesterol and carries it to your liver, which breaks down the cholesterol and removes it from the body, says Dr. Nauman Mushtaq, medical director of cardiology at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Illinois. Hence the name “good cholesterol.”

However, when HDL levels are low – typically defined as less than 40 mg/DL – LDL can build up in the blood vessels, earning it the reputation of “bad cholesterol.” This buildup can cause plaque to form in the arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack

Easy Tips to Test Your Blood Sugar at Home

When you have diabetes, it’s important to keep a constant check on your blood sugar numbers. Your numbers help determine what causes your blood sugar to spike. Testing your blood sugar – also called blood glucose – once or a few times a day can help show if your diabetes medications and insulin are working the way they should.

The way you keep track of your blood sugar is with at-home testing kits – also called point-of-care glucose monitoring devices. You can find the devices at pharmacies and larger supermarkets. You’ll want to share your blood sugar readings with your doctor to look for trends. Yet ultimately, blood sugar testing has another purpose. “The testing is really for you,” says Susan M. De Abate, a nurse and certified diabetes educator and team coordinator of the diabetes education program at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital in Virginia Beach, Virginia. By tracking blood sugar trends, you get a better handle on how to manage your numbers.

Here are some tips and tricks to maximize blood sugar tests for better health when you live with diabetes.

Use a branded meter instead of a generic one. “The branded meters have

A1C Hemoglobin Test at Home can help you monitor Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes, you probably already use a glucometer, which allows you to check your blood sugar at home. Just like there are at-home blood sugar testing devices, there are also at-home devices to check your hemoglobin A1C. Your hemoglobin A1C gives you and your health provider a better idea of your average blood sugar level over a two- to three- month period.

Usually, you go to a lab to check your hemoglobin A1C. So why would you want to check it at home?

There are two kinds of patients who tend to use the hemoglobin A1C at-home testing kits, says Grace Derocha, a certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “It’s usually patients who are really compliant and want to know every 90 days, ‘Am I still there?’” she says. These same patients may have such good diabetes numbers that they are only required to get their A1C checked every six months, so they use the monitors at the three-month mark.

On the other end of the spectrum, Derocha has recommended that some patients use the A1C

The Truth about Vitamins and Herbal Supplements

Alice arrived in Wonderland and promptly downed a vial that said “drink me,” and we can probably all agree she was being a bit of an idiot. Magical land or not, she’s a child, she has no idea where that conveniently placed tube came from, and come on—“drink me”? That’s in the textbook definition of “gullible.”

But if we’re being honest, is taking a supplement you bought at the drug store any smarter?

The bottles don’t say “swallow me,” but they might as well. Instead they’re emblazoned with promises. The yellow ones will make you stronger. Red will increase your energy levels. Purple will heal your scars. It’s a veritable rainbow of cures. They offer quick and easy solutions in a way that medicine can’t—because medicine is bound by evidence. Supplements aren’t.

Which is why every 24 minutes the U.S. Poison Control Centers get a call about bad reactions to supplements. That’s 274,998 exposures from 2000-2012. Those numbers come from a recent study in the Journal of Medical Toxicology, but the idea isn’t new: Supplements aren’t likely to kill you, but they’ve never been particularly safe either. And the companies producing them have shockingly little