The Progressive Nurse

Progressive, adj: making progress toward better conditions

Category: Nutrition

Blueberries – The Superfood

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Blueberries are a superfruit known for antioxidant properties that combat heart disease and cancer.  New research suggests that the powerful antioxidant fruit may prevent the effects dementia.  Blueberries contain the flavonoid, anthocyanin which contribute to the helpful antioxidant effects, which studies have found slow down progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Flavonoids are a group of plants thought to provide health benefits through cell communication and antioxidant effects. They are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, cherries and blackberries, radishes and blackcurrant.  According to the literature, flavonoids can be divided into six major subtypes:  chalcones, flavones, isoflavonoids, flavanones, anthoxanthins and anthocyanins.   The anthoxanthins give rise to the yellow color of plants and anthocyanins are responsible for the red and purple-red colors found in fruits and vegetables.

Health Benefits

It is known that flavonoids are important antioxidants.  Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay types of cell damage caused by free radicals, which are highly reactive chemicals that have the potential to harm and kill cells.  Antioxidants interact with and neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing damage. Antioxidants are also known as “free radical scavengers.”

Antioxidants are found in many foods, including fruits and vegetables. They are also available as dietary supplements and promote several health effects. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants and also provide the following health benefits:

  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-cancer
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-allergic

Quercetin, is a known flavonoid that may help to alleviate eczema, sinusitis, asthma, and hay fever.  Studies have shown that flavonoid consumption may also reduce heart disease by inhibiting the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL – harmful cholesterol) and therefore reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).

Flavonoids are also abundant in red wine and theorized that the incidence of heart disease may be lower among the French (who may have high red wine intake), despite a large consumption of foods rich in cholesterol, such as cheese (known as the French paradox). Many studies support that one to two glasses of wine a day can help protect against heart disease.  Moderation of red wine consumption is advised and intake recommendations include that men not drink more than two glasses per day and women limit intake to no more than one glass per day.

Varieties of teas are also rich in flavonoids and thought to lower blood levels of triglycerides (fats in blood) and cholesterol (waxy, fat-like substance).  Soy flavonoids or isoflavones may also lower cholesterol, protect against osteoporosis and reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Recommended daily intake of dietary flavonoids is dependent upon individuals antioxidant activity and ranges between 50 and 500 mg per day.

Food Sources

Most fruits, vegetables and herbs contain flavonoids.  The more colorful the food, the richer it will be in flavonoids.  Oranges are colorful and contain flavonoids, but they are mainly found in the white and pulp interior of the skin.  Flavonoids may be found in other food sources such as dry beans, grains, red wine and green and black teas.  The best way to ensure a healthy intake of flavonoids is to consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on a daily basis.  Experts advise eating five servings of vegetables and four of fruit.

Flavonoids are also available in supplements.  However,  experts have not confirmed an ideal flavonoid intake and excessive intake may be harmful.  Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering “conventional” foods and drug products, and “does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed.”

Read article here: Blueberries May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s

Sources:

“Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention.” National Cancer Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

“Blueberries May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s, New Research Suggests.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

“U.S. Food and Drug Administration.” Dietary Supplements. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

“What Are Flavonoids?” News-Medical.net. N.p., 11 Apr. 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

 

Diabetic Management During Stress or Illness

 

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The Cleveland Clinic offers excellent advice for managing diabetes during times of physical or emotional distress.  Experts offer the following five tips to help maintain blood sugar and  minimize the dangerous complications of uncontrolled diabetes.

1. Stay hydrated

Dehydration occurs quickly when you have fever, vomiting or diarrhea. The main risk from dehydration is hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).  Cold medications, skipping diabetes medications and eating food erratically may also lead to high blood sugar.

According to diabetes specialist Bartolome Burguera, MD, “when you’re ill, it’s very important to check your blood sugar regularly, continue to take medications on a schedule and drink fluids regularly.”  He also suggests that when your blood sugar goes over 250, check your urine for keytones (produced when your body has difficulty processing blood sugar) and call your clinician with the results.

2. Change up your diet

When you are ill or stressed, your diet may change.  If you are unable to eat normally or have a decreased appetite, meal replacement drinks are often helpful.  “Nutritional shakes formulated for people with diabetes have a moderate amount of carbohydrate, which is appropriate” (Burguera).  Homemade meal-replacement shakes are also helpful by using:

  • Frozen fruit
  • A protein source (e.g., protein powder, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, tofu)
  • Milk, soy milk or almond milk

Alternatively, “noodle soups are typically well tolerated and the noodles offer carbohydrates, which may help prevent low blood sugars” (Burguera).

3. Create a sick-day tool kit

Dr. Burguera recommends putting together a “sick-day diabetes tool kit” that includes items to be eaten or drank when feeling unwell.  “Some non-food items to include in your tool kit are extra blood-sugar monitoring supplies and a thermometer to check for a fever”  (Burguera).  Your kit may include:

  • Regular soda pop or juice (to prevent low blood sugars)
  • Broth-based soups
  • Gelatin (regular, not sugar-free)
  • Water
  • Electrolyte-supplemented beverages

4. Make sure you’re monitoring

Monitoring your diabetes is essential during times of stress.  “In general, if you’re taking insulin at meals and long-acting insulin once a day, you should monitor your blood sugar four times per day — before each meal and before bed”  (Burguera).

5. Talk to your clinician

Individualized care is important with diabetic management and your clinician will adjust your diabetes medications as necessary and dependent on:

  • The type of medications you’re taking
  • The extent to which your food intake has decreased

Dietician Dawn Noe states that “if you’re taking long-acting insulin, which is typically given at bedtime, we usually recommend you continue with the same dose, as long-acting insulin is mainly responsible for insulin needs not related to food intake.”

When insulin is taken before meals (also called rapid-acting insulin, fast-acting insulin, or mealtime insulin) your clinician may need to reduce your dose, depending upon your daily meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “If you skip a meal, skip the mealtime insulin” (Noe).

Oral medications may need to be adjusted by your clinician.  Diabetes medications, such as metformin, SGLT-2 inhibitors or DPP4- inhibitors, rarely cause low blood sugars and may not need adjusting.  “These medications usually bring down blood sugar from high to normal, but very rarely drop blood sugar too low” (Burguera).  However, sulfonylureas or acarbose may cause your blood sugars to drop if you are eating less. “These medications should be adjusted based on blood-sugar readings” (Burguera).

Whether during stress or illness, blood sugar management is imperative to control diabetes and maintain a healthy lifestyle and quality of life.

Read the Article Here:   5 Best Tips to Manage Diabetes When You’re Sick