New Years: a resolution

With the New Year approaching, I think we should all take a moment to consider how we might resolve to improve our health. There are many steps we can take to lead healthier lifestyles, and it is especially easy to make changes in our lives that will help to prevent or manage diabetes. I’m compiling a list of New Years resolutions. Feel free to help me out by suggesting your own.

1) Get outside! – Go for a walk, hike, play a sport, go swimming, do some gardening, go to a park, take the stairs, just be more active.
2) Eat better! – Stop eating starchy foods, junk food and foods with high fat content. Eat more vegitables, fibre, fish, fruits and whole grains. Make a habit of cooking at home.
3) Exercise! – In addition to being more active, participate in regular physical exercise whether that means going to the gym, running, playing a sport, cycling or beach volleyball.
4) Drink more water! – Put down the soda, drink water.
5) Laugh! – See my previous post about humour and the positive health benefits. Having fun and laughing shouldn’t be something we need to resolve to do… a lot of people simply don’t laugh enough.
6) Sleep better – Notice how I didn’t say ‘sleep more’, that’s because it is more important to have a consistent sleep routine with few nightly interruptions.
7) Quit smoking – Smoking is bad in so many ways but it increases the risk of diabetes and in turn the risk of heart attack and stroke.
8) Relax – Take some time for yourself and enjoy life. Stress raises blood pressure and can have serious negative affects on a person’s health.

These are going to be my resolutions this year. What healthy life changes are you making for your New Year’s resolution?

The serious side of humour

Laughter, they say, is the best medicine… I’m starting to think that there is a lot of truth to this popular statement. Researchers for years have been lauding the benefits of humour and its healing abilities, both physical and psychological. Laughter, studies have shown, lowers your blood pressure and helps your heart beat more smoothly. It relieves pain and reduces inflammation. It helps your immune system fight germs but leave your healthy tissue alone. Not to mention it brightens your mood and the moods of everyone in ear shot.  For people living with diabetes, laughter has a lot of positive benefits.

What’s funny about having diabetes? While diabetes is a serious condition, psychologists will tell you that humour is a great way to put it all into perspective and relieve stress related to the disease. In addition to that, studies show that laughing lowers your levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol increases insulin resistance, while adrenaline tells your liver to pump more glucose into your blood. This is how laughter helps lower blood glucose and keep it down for quite a while.  Theresa Garnero, a healthcare worker and cartoonist described the benefits of humour on www.dlife.com:

  • Enhances communication – A little humor helps to break down awkward moments.
  • Allows for expression of anger – Language was invented in order for people to communicate, whereas humor was invented in order to complain. Dealing with a chronic disease can trigger anger and humor is a wonderful way to help process the emotions.
  • Benefits health –  Laughing increases endorphins, decreases blood pressure, decreases pain, and decreases anxiety.
  • Reduces stress – Having diabetes is stressful and humor can help to relieve this burden.
  • Promotes learning – Turn the “ha, ha” into an “aha” moment. The laugh-learn connection is well documented in the literature.
  • Lowers blood glucose (sugar) – A research study from Japan showed that those who watched a brief comedy show after eating had lower glucose values that those who did not see the program.

Researchers are now saying laughter can bring balance to all the components of the immune system, which helps us fight off diseases. Laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. In doing this, it provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system and raise blood pressure. When we are laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumours and viruses increase, as do disease-fighting proteins and cells that help in immune response.So get laughing!! One great site I found has been LOL Diabetes, a blog where users can post funny stories, pics and comments to help those diagnosed with diabetes cope with the difficulties of living with the disease and to boost the body’s ability to stabilize blood sugars and reduce cardiovascular complications often associated with diabetes. Plus it’s fun!

Makin’ noise: Dubai’s up-and-coming rock stars, ABRI, support IBD

ABRI

If you haven’t heard of them then you live under a rock! ABRI, the Dubai band that is clearing the desert sand from the ears of music lovers across the Middle East are breaking out with their debut album, ‘Sunchild’, released on November 1st, 2007. Recently, the band has garnered plenty of press, a rowing fan base and has played with international music acts such as Shaggy, the Fun Loving Criminals and Arrested Development.

And now they are joining ‘Inspired by Diabetes’!!! ABRI has offered to lend their support to this great initiative by offering their talents as celebrity judges for the competition. Those of you who submit your artwork to the contest will be sure to have the eyes and ears of this one-of-a-kind band look at your work….which is pretty cool!

Hamdan Al Abri, the band’s vocalist has a history of diabetes in his family and he offered good advice to those of you who are finding it hard to find inspiration.

“My cousin also has diabetes,” says Hamdan. “She has to take insulin injections every day. At first I thought it was strange and kind of intense but it seemed to blend right into her life and never slowed her down. She would sometimes pass out at school. Most people would be embarrassed in a situation like that but she just showed up the next day like nothing happened.”Looking back now, the funk/soul singer can recognize how even something like diabetes, which is called ‘the silent killer’, can be inspirational. If you take a step backwards, he says, you can see more clearly the things that are invisible because they are so close to you.

 “That’s why I encourage people to take a moment and think about how diabetes affects them,” He says. “It opens your eyes. Put yourself in their shoes, see their life. How would it be? What would you change? By changing your perspective you can truly be inspired.”Visit www.inspiredbydiabetes-me.com to find the rules and submission forms. Spend some time this holiday season to think about the people around you. Even if they don’t have diabetes, what would it be like if they did? Get Inspired!

Take a listen to ABRI’s music online at www.myspace.com/AbriMusic 

Happy holidays.

Now Wii can all be fit!

The Wii Fit has been released in Japan and will hopefully be released in the Middle East in coming months. Nintendo, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is pretty brilliant when it comes to adapting games for practical purposes. Now with the Wii Fit, gamers can develop core body strength, flexibility and aerobic capacity in their own home and have a good time while doing it. The reason I think this is relevant is because in the Middle East, where gaming is very popular, people are gaining weight and acquiring type 2 diabetes at phenomenal rates. The Wii makes you move, is fun for all ages and can be played in your living room. All we need now is for Ninetendo to invent a game that teaches you to eat healthy…

There is a good review of the device at this blog:

http://hippocratech.org/2007/12/11/wiifit-launches-in-japan-the-uprising-of-console-games-and-health/

Consuming your weight in sugar

Get this! The December issue of Medical Times Middle East reported that the recent FDI Annual World Dental Congress, held in Dubai revealed statistics comparing sugar consumption patterns worldwide. At 50kg per person per year, the UAE consumes more than double the average of developed countries. In developing nations, individuals consume less than 5kg of sugar a year.

50kg!!!! That’s 50 bags of sugar a year. No wonder there is such a problem with type 2 diabetes in the UAE. Made me think about how much sugar is in the things we eat….

These numbers are alarming!

12 oz. Juice Grams of Sugar
Apple 41
Grape 54
Grapefruit 27
Orange 38
Tomato 8
Source: esha Food Processor
Food Serving Size Grams of Sugars
Apple (with peel) 1, large 25.44
apple bran muffin (McDonald’s) 1 21
Applesauce, sweetened 1 cup 47.66
Apricots 1 3.05
Banana 1, medium 21.30
Blueberries 1/2 cup 8.27
Butterfinger candy 2.16 oz. 30
chocolate cake with icing 1 piece 31
chocolate chips 12 cup 43
Chocolate drink (Ensure) 8 oz. 22
chocolate milk 8 oz. 20
Coca-Cola 12 oz. can 39
diet drink (Ultra Slim-Fast) 12 oz. 36
Dried apricots 1/2 cup 33.44
frozen yogurt, soft serve 1 cup 32
fruit leather 1 roll 9
Grapes 1 cup 27.52
gum 1 stick 2
Ice cream 8 oz. (1/2 pint) 45
Ice cream Blizzard 1 88
Instant Breakfast 1 package 28
Jell-O pudding snack 1 23
Jell-O snack 1 18
Kool-Aid 12 oz. 38
M&M’s 15 oz. package 82
maple syrup 3 oz. 30
McD’s chocolate shake 16 oz. 58
Pear 1, medium 17.50
Raisins 1 box (1.5 oz.) 32.29
Raspberries 1/2 cup 5.84
Strawberries 1/2 cup 4.06
white sugar 2 packets 16
Source: esha Food Processor. Impact score by DesMaisons

Diabetes in the Middle East

Prevalence MapPrevalence  

Here are some really interesting figures and a map released this year by the International Diabetes Federation that show the prevelance of diabetes around the world and project what it will be in 2025. Notice how the Middle East and more specifically, Gulf countries are affected. Why do you think diabetes is affecting the region so much?

Diabetes can be inspirational

Blood sugars around the clockShots in a weekDiagnosed last month

One of the comments I keep hearing about in relation to Inspired by Diabetes is that people don’t know how to be inspired by a disease. I would like to turn your attention to a couple examples that will show you it is possible to be inspired by diabetes.

‘A Lifetime of Diabetes’ by Teresa Ollila. At the age of three, her son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and her family was thrust into a “scary and altogether unfamiliar world.” Now she has begun creating a collection of photographs that are inspired by diabetes.

Captain Courage is a Diabetic Superhero created by Bob Kelly after his son was diagnosed with diabetes.  It is fun, entertaining and serves as a great way to get diabetes messages to kids.

This is a poem by Connor Comolli

Diagnosis Day
In the blink of an eye, everything changed….

I was diagnosed with diabetes,
I wasn’t feeling well.
I got shots in my arm,
thank goodness it didn’t swell.

I was at the hospital,
for about a week.
I found something better than shots,
I really had to seek.

The invention is really helpful,
it is called a pump.
It gets stuck to me,
with a tiny little thump.

Till this day,
it is always with me.
I can’t get rid of it,
even with help from thee.

I test my blood sugar,
and watch what I eat.
I plan all my meals,
and even my treats.

I’m allowed to eat anything,
like other kids do.
I’ll try to go overboard,
but than I feel blue.

My life changed that day,
In a blink of an eye,
But I can handle anything,
cause I have Irish eyes.

These are all great examples of how, if you just take the time to think about the impact of the disease, you can come up with so many fabulous images, moving poems, abstract paintings and beautiful songs.