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COVID-19 AND DIABETES

A recently published study in the Journal of Diabetes Technology and Science provides some details about a difficult relationship between people with diabetes/hyperglycemia and the COVID-19 virus.  The study looked at 1,122 people hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus in the United States in March and April.  40% of the study participants had been previously diagnosed with diabetes or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).  The study outlined the death rates for patients with and without diabetes/hyperglycemia.  This is what the study found:

-Death rate for patients with diabetes/hyperglycemia:  29%
-Death rate for patients with neither condition:  6%

There was also a startling relationship between people who had never previously been diagnosed with diabetes/hyperglycemia but did for the first time at this hospital stay.   The death rate for this set of study participants was 42%.  This suggests that the death rate could be higher for people who are not managing these conditions well or at all.  While there is still a lot to learn, and there were some limitations involved with the data, numbers out of China are suggesting a difficult relationship as well.

So what does this mean?  Why is this important?  If you have diabetes/hyperglycemia, you should probably take extra precautions to avoid opportunities to contract the COVID-19 virus.  During these tough shelter-in-place times it is easy to lose sight of the immensity of the virus we’re dealing with.  Many of us have not taken all of the precautions possible to avoid contact with the virus.  Keep in mind that your life could very much be at stake from contact.  I know, this is great advice for everyone, but it is definitely worth the reminder.

Let’s dive a little bit deeper into diabetes.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that as of July 2015 that more than 100 million Americans have diabetes or are prediabetic.  30.3 million, or 9.4% of Americans, have diabetes.  And another 84.1 million have prediabetes.  Prediabetes typically turns into diabetes within 5 years if left untreated.  Roughly one third of Americans are diabetic or have prediabetes.  This is truly a condition that impacts all of us.  These statistics show that we’re either dealing with the condition and/or we know a lot of people that are.

While we know a higher death rate has been observed in COVID-19 patients with diabetes than patients without the chronic condition, the concerns should run much deeper.  Diabetes can lead to premature death (7th leading cause of death in America), vision loss, heart disease, kidney failure, and amputations of body parts.

The good news is that diabetes can be managed by diet, physical activity, and the appropriate use of insulin and other medications used to manage blood sugar levels.  Some specific ways to manage/avoid getting type 2 diabetes are as follows:

1 – Cut or limit sugar and refined carbs from your diet
2 – Work out regularly
3 – Drink water as your primary beverage
4 – Take serious steps to lose weight if you’re overweight
5 – Quit smoking
6 – Limit portion sizes

The bottom line is that diabetes is linked to premature death in both the COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 worlds.  And many of us are either dealing with it directly or are at risk to deal with it at some point in the future.  There is hope to manage the condition.  Take a hard look at the ideas listed above.  These can easily be adapted into any lifestyle!

Food 4 Fuel has a wide selection of foods to help your diabetes management lifestyle.  We make it easy and convenient for you to treat your body with care.  Take a look at our meal options here.  Use the discount code beatdiabetes10 to get 10% off of your next order!

Crowding Out

Our lives as we’ve known them have been turned upside down by the COVID-19 virus.  There has been a lot of instability. We haven’t been able to go out and do the things we like to do.  We haven’t been able to see the people that we enjoy seeing. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to keep our jobs have had to adjust to a life of working at home, which brings a lot of complexity to our already hectic daily routines.

We’ve all been finding ways to cope with this new life.  It has been easy to turn to quick ways to relieve stress.  Many people have turned to comfort food as a method of feeling better.  And this has led to something we’ve been calling the “COVID 15” or the gaining of additional pounds due to our isolation and stress. 

We’re here to remind people of one healthy eating practice that can be used at any time to curb the feelings of hunger and stress that lead to unhealthy eating practices.  The practice is called “crowding out.” “Crowding out” means getting more out of the calories we put into our body and finding ways to feel more full so we don’t overeat.

We’ve come up with 5 ideas to help you implement a “crowding out” strategy into your daily diet.  Here is our list of ideas:

1) Water

-Most Americans don’t drink enough water on a daily basis.  That is one of the main reasons that our bodies end up craving extra food at the end of the day.  Filling your body with water means not filling it with useless calories. And some studies have found that drinking more water on a daily basis can help to boost your metabolism, putting your body in a better place to effectively manage weight.  Increase your water intake on a daily basis to feel more full and help you avoid unnecessary calories.

2) Change Your Breakfast Habits

-The average American breakfast is filled with carbohydrates with little nutritional value.  These breakfasts include cereal, bagels, pop tarts, and other sugary pastries. Replace these breakfasts with eggs or oatmeal.  Both of these foods are nutritionally dense and lead to feelings of greater fullness to help you avoid that mid-morning snack. You can also add vegetables and make an omelette to get an even greater “crowd-out” effect from your breakfast.

3) Add Salmon To Your Diet

-Our last blog post outlined the health benefits that can be gained from adding salmon to your diet.  Salmon is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the most nutritionally dense foods you can eat.  And some studies have found that fish protein has the strongest effect on satiety of any protein. Salmon is essential to feeling full and being healthy.

4) Rethink Your Snacks

-The best advice on this front is to replace cookies and potato chips with popcorn or vegetables.  Popcorn has more fiber and less calories than the potato chip alternative. You can also cut up a cucumber or some bell peppers and eat them with hummus.  Vegetables are more filling because of their water content and hummus will give a filling effect because it’s bean based. Beyond being more filling they will also carry vital nutrients to the body.

5) Avoid Distraction At Dinner

-Avoid the television while eating dinner.  Distraction leads to larger portion sizes. Sit down and eat at the table, even if you’re alone.  You’ll find yourself being more aware of what you’re doing and you’ll feel full more quickly. This will help you avoid useless calories at the end of the evening.

“Crowding out” is the most effective strategy you can use to feel healthy and happy and avoid the weight gain that our isolated lives can create.  Once we elevate our health consciousness we can get to the point that we recognize that everything we eat and drink is either feeding disease or improving health outcomes. Then, and only then, we can make intentional fueling decisions.

5 Foods To Boost Your Mood

It’s no doubt that we’re going through hard times.  The current world crisis has most of us staying in our homes nearly the entire day.  We have to work harder than ever to maintain a positive attitude and a healthy mood. Both for ourselves, the people around us, and for all of the people of the world.

There are many things that have a positive impact on our mood.  Taking time to exercise. Effectively managing our stress. Taking time to be with others that we care about.  All of these things play a big role. But eating the right foods can have a larger impact than you would imagine.  And because our passion is food, we decided to put together a list of some foods that can help you maintain a healthy mood. 

These specific foods were chosen because of their connection with the neurotransmitters in the brain that work to regulate your mood.  Specifically serotonin, which is the anti-depression neurotransmitter (as you’ll remember from our previous posts). Eating the right diet mixed with the other things above can make a big difference for your life, especially right now.  Here is our list of mood boosting foods:

Salmon
-We constantly hear that salmon is one of the most nutritionally-dense foods that a person can eat.  The main reason is because of its concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats are the building blocks of our neurotransmitters, including serotonin.  Salmon can be more expensive than other food options, but most budgets should allow for the ability to add this superfood to the plate once a week.

Walnuts
-The walnut is another food high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Walnuts are great because they are so versatile. They can be added to salads, to your morning oatmeal, or they can be packed in a little baggie for a snack throughout the day.  They can easily be added to any diet.

Broccoli
-This leafy green vegetable breaks down into B vitamins in the body.  And B- vitamins help with the production of serotonin. Broccoli is a great food because it is so widely available in so many forms.  It can be eaten raw and can also be cooked in a variety of ways.

Ground Turkey
-Ground turkey is high in protein.  Protein breaks down into amino acids in the body.  And amino acids help with the replenishment of neurotransmitters.  Ground turkey can be easily made standalone on the stove in a pan, or even better yet, made with vegetables as a part of a stir-fry.  It’s a healthy and inexpensive protein that is easy to add to your diet.

Eggs
-“The incredible, edible egg” as they say.  Another food high in protein that works to replenish your neurotransmitters.  This superfood is inexpensive and can be used so many different ways. Hard boiled eggs can be eaten standalone for a quick burst of protein.  Or even better, can be added to a salad.

These everyday foods can be easily found at all grocery stores.  They can be added to any diet. Many of them are amazing as a combination, giving your body the right environment for a healthy mood.  Finding small opportunities to add more mood boosting foods can help all of us to maintain a healthy emotional life during a tough time.

Food 4 Fuel has a wide selection of foods to help you maintain a healthy mood.  We make it easy and convenient for you to treat your body with care. Take a look at our meal options here.  Use the discount code mood10 to get 10% off of your next order!

The Importance of Gut Health

What does “gut health” mean?  Many people are asking this question because articles on the topic have been making the rounds in nearly every major publication.  Food 4 Fuel conducted some research on the topic, and we believe this is something you should be paying attention to. Maintaining the health of your gut has greater implications than you would imagine.  Beyond the benefits of a highly functioning digestive system, the state of your gut may play a key role in your mental health.

Let’s answer the question we started with:  What does “gut health” mean? “Gut health” refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract.  And follow with another question: why does “gut health” matter? According to Tara Menon, a gastroenterologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center:  “We now know that the GI tract is full of trillions of bacteria that not only help us process food but that also help our bodies maintain homeostasis and overall well-being.”

One thing of particular interest is something called the “Brain-Gut Connection.”  Scientists are starting to discover that we may have a “second brain” and that brain is in our gut.  It’s called the enteric nervous system (ENS). According to Jay Pasricha M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology, “Its main role is controlling digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination.  The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results.”

Research has found that gut health has links to depression and anxiety.  It has also been associated with other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and some cancers.  It is also well documented that certain gut bacteria exist to promote inflammation, while other gut bacteria exist to fight inflammation.  When the contents of the gut maintain a healthy balance, these different types of bacteria work to keep each other in check. And your risk of developing and/or worsening these chronic conditions can be reduced.

In our last post we outlined the specific neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate anxiety (GABA), depression (serotonin), and focus and motivation (dopamine).  And ways to boost these neurotransmitters to lower anxiety and depression and boost your focus and motivation. Research has found that these neurotransmitters are produced by your gut cells.  This is truly where the “Brain-Gut Connection” comes into play. Maintaining proper gut health can mean everything for your mood and motivation.

Johns Hopkins Medicine has dedicated a lot of research to this topic.  They put together a list of ways to give you the best chance to maintain proper gut health:

1) Eat the right foods
2) Get more sleep
3) Move more
4) Manage stress
5) Get help for issues like anxiety and depression

Let’s talk about eating the right foods, because that’s something we’re extremely interested in.   According to John Hopkins Medical Center gastroenterologist Gerard Mullin, M.D., “Americas’ fiber intake is 40 to 50 percent of what it should be.”  A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides the fiber that builds good bacteria and gut health. Other foods have been found to promote a healthy gut, including yogurt, foods containing whole grains, almonds, legumes and beans.

Food 4 Fuel has a wide selection of foods to meet your gut health needs.  We make it easy and convenient for you to treat your body with care. Take a look at our meal options here.  Use the discount code guthealth10 to get 10% off of your next order!