Wellness Articles

November 2023

Understanding Diabetes

Statistically, diabetes touches one in every ten people in the U.S alone.  Let’s navigate this intricate world of diabetes together, exploring its types, understanding behavioral risk factors, and providing you with holistic tips to either reduce your risk or manage it effectively.

The Basics: What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition where the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin (a hormone) is impaired, resulting in elevated levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Elevated blood sugar levels over prolonged periods can damage various organs and lead to numerous complications.

Types of Diabetes:

a. Type 1 Diabetes: Often diagnosed in childhood, this autoimmune condition causes the body to attack and destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. People with Type 1 diabetes require insulin injections for survival.

b. Type 2 Diabetes: This form, accounting for 90-95% of diabetes cases, arises when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough. It’s closely linked to obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy diets.

c. Gestational Diabetes: A temporary form that occurs during pregnancy, affecting 2-10% of pregnancies. Women who’ve had gestational diabetes are at higher risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life.

d. Other Types: Rare forms include monogenic diabetes, secondary diabetes, and steroid-induced diabetes, among others.

Behavioral Risk Factors:

a. Physical Inactivity: Sedentary lifestyles significantly elevate the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

b. Unhealthy Eating Habits: Diets rich in sugars, unhealthy fats, and processed foods are strong risk factors.

c. Smoking: It increases the risk of diabetes and poses challenges in diabetes management.

d. Excessive Alcohol: Overconsumption can lead to weight gain and pancreatic diseases.

e. Stress: Chronic stress can lead to weight gain, poor eating habits, and elevated blood sugar levels.

Tips to Reduce Risk of Developing Diabetes:

a. Stay Active: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.

b. Eat Balanced Meals: Focus on whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of vegetables. Minimize processed sugars.

c. Maintain Healthy Weight: Weight loss, especially around the abdomen, can significantly reduce diabetes risk.

d. Limit Alcohol and Quit Smoking: Opt for moderate alcohol consumption and consider quitting smoking.

e. Regular Health Check-ups: Regular screenings can catch prediabetes, allowing for timely interventions.

Tips for Managing Diabetes:

a. Monitor Blood Sugar Levels: Keeping track helps in managing diet, exercise, and medication effectively.

b. Dietary Changes: Consume fiber-rich foods, limit carbs, and avoid sugary beverages.

c. Stay Physically Active: Regular exercise can help increase insulin sensitivity.

d. Take Prescribed Medications: Never skip doses and consult your doctor for any concerns.

e. Manage Stress: Mindful practices like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can be beneficial.

f. Stay Informed: Research, attend workshops, or join diabetes support groups.

Call to Action:

For all our readers, whether you’re at risk, newly diagnosed, or have been managing diabetes for years, this post is a gentle reminder that you’re not alone on this journey. Small, consistent steps can make a world of difference in your well-being.

If diabetes touches your life or that of a loved one, I challenge you to implement just ONE of the tips mentioned above for the next month. Share your experiences, challenges, and triumphs.

Remember, each day is an opportunity to make choices that nourish not only your body but also your soul. Let’s champion our health and be the best versions of ourselves, one step at a time.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is recognized as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the risks and impact of lung cancer and promote prevention, early detection, and treatment.

Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs and can spread to other parts of the body. It is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers combined. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 235,760 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the United States in 2021, and approximately 131,880 people will die from the disease.

There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer and accounts for about 85% of all cases. SCLC is less common but tends to grow more quickly and spread more aggressively.

The most common cause of lung cancer is smoking, which is responsible for about 85% of all cases. However, non-smokers can also develop lung cancer, and other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, radon, asbestos, and other chemicals.

The symptoms of lung cancer can vary depending on the type and stage of the disease. Some common symptoms include:

  • A persistent cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Hoarseness or difficulty speaking
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss

Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing lung cancer and improving outcomes. Screening for lung cancer is recommended for people who are at high risk, such as current or former smokers, and involves a low-dose CT scan of the chest. Early-stage lung cancer may be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, while more advanced cases may require a combination of treatments.

Prevention is also an important part of reducing the risk of lung cancer. Quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your lung health and reduce the risk of lung cancer. If you are a current smoker, quitting smoking can be challenging, but there are many resources available to help you quit, including nicotine replacement therapy, medications, and counseling.

In addition to quitting smoking, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk of lung cancer, such as:

  • Avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Limiting exposure to air pollution and other environmental toxins
  • Testing your home for radon and taking steps to reduce levels if necessary
  • Following workplace safety guidelines if you work with chemicals or other substances that can increase the risk of lung cancer

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is an important opportunity to raise awareness about the risks and impact of lung cancer and promote prevention, early detection, and treatment. By taking steps to protect your lung health and seeking early detection and treatment if you have symptoms of lung cancer, you can improve your chances of survival and maintain your quality of life.

Diabetic Eye Disease Month

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body processes blood sugar (glucose). Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in various parts of the body, including the eyes. Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of eye problems that can occur as a result of diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, cataracts, and glaucoma.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that detects light and sends signals to the brain. In the early stages, diabetic retinopathy may not cause any symptoms, but as the disease progresses, it can lead to vision loss and blindness.

Diabetic macular edema is a complication of diabetic retinopathy and occurs when fluid leaks into the macula, the part of the retina that provides sharp, central vision. This can cause the macula to swell and distort vision.

Cataracts are a common eye problem that can occur in people with diabetes. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that can cause blurred vision and difficulty seeing in low light.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause damage to the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma, and the disease can lead to vision loss and blindness if left untreated.

Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing diabetic eye disease and preventing vision loss. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with diabetes have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. During this exam, the eye doctor will dilate your pupils and examine the retina and other parts of the eye for signs of diabetic eye disease.

If diabetic eye disease is detected, treatment options may include medications, laser therapy, or surgery. Medications may be used to control blood sugar levels or reduce inflammation in the eye. Laser therapy can be used to seal leaking blood vessels or shrink abnormal blood vessels in the retina. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the vitreous gel in the eye or repair a detached retina.

In addition to regular eye exams, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of diabetic eye disease. These include:

  1. Maintaining good blood sugar control: Keeping blood sugar levels within a target range can help reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease.
  2. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels: High blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase the risk of diabetic eye disease, so it’s important to keep these under control.
  3. Quitting smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of diabetic eye disease, so quitting smoking is an essential step in protecting your eye health.
  4. Eating a healthy diet: A healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetic eye disease.
  5. Staying physically active: Regular physical activity can help control blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and promote overall health.

Diabetic Eye Disease Month is an important reminder of the impact of diabetes on eye health and the importance of early detection and treatment. By taking steps to manage diabetes and protect your eye health, you can reduce the risk of complications and maintain your vision for years to come.

National Healthy Skin Month

Hey there, beautiful!

Today, let’s journey through the world of skincare, uncovering the secrets to maintaining its health, safeguarding it against potential threats, and recognizing signs that might indicate an underlying issue.

Skin: More Than Just a Surface Layer

Your skin, the body’s largest organ, is a mirror reflecting your overall health. From acting as a barrier against environmental assaults to regulating body temperature, it performs numerous vital functions. Just as you nurture your mind and soul, your skin deserves love and care too!

Foundations of Healthy Skin:
  • Hydration: Drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily helps maintain skin elasticity and combats dryness.
  • Balanced Diet: Consuming foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins (A, C, E), and minerals supports skin health. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds can nourish the skin from within.
  • Sleep: A good night’s sleep is a beauty booster. It repairs and rejuvenates the skin, preventing premature aging.
  • Stress Management: Chronic stress can lead to breakouts and worsen skin conditions like eczema. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can be your allies.
Guarding Your Skin Against External Threats:
  • Sun Protection: Wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) daily, even during cloudy days or indoors. UV rays can penetrate windows!
  • Avoid Smoking: Smoking narrows blood vessels, decreasing blood flow to the skin and depleting it of oxygen and essential nutrients.
  • Limit Alcohol Intake: Overconsumption can dehydrate the skin, making it look dull and tired.
  • Gentle Skincare: Avoid harsh scrubs. Opt for mild cleansers and moisturize daily.
  • Protective Clothing: Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and long sleeves can protect against harmful environmental elements.
Recognizing Potential Skin Issues:
  • Changes in Moles: Look out for moles that change in size, shape, or color, especially those that become asymmetrical, have irregular borders or varied colors.
  • Persistent Redness: This could be indicative of rosacea or other inflammatory conditions.
  • Dry, Itchy Patches: Persistent dry patches could be a sign of conditions like eczema.
  • Unexplained Bruises or Marks: They might indicate underlying health issues.
  • Sudden Acne Breakouts: It could be related to stress, hormonal imbalance, or dietary triggers.
Skincare Routine Recommendations:
  • Cleansing: Choose a gentle cleanser based on your skin type.
  • Toning: Helps balance the skin’s pH and prepares it for the next step.
  • Serum: Targeted treatment for specific concerns like dark spots or wrinkles.
  • Moisturizing: Locks in hydration.
  • Sunscreen: A must, every day!
  • Night Cream: Nourishes and repairs skin overnight.
Next Steps

Your skin tells a story—a tale of where you’ve been, how you’re feeling, and to some extent, where you’re headed. It’s an organ, protector, and sometimes, a canvas. Every laugh line, every freckle, every unique aspect of your skin is a chapter in your beautiful, intricate story.

I challenge you to embrace a new skincare ritual for the next 30 days. Whether it’s wearing sunscreen daily, staying hydrated, or practicing a full skincare routine, let’s cherish the skin we’re in. Remember, beautiful skin requires commitment, not a miracle. Invest time and love into it, and it will undoubtedly glow with gratitude.

Stay radiant, stay informed, and always choose self-love!

Alzheimer’s Disease: Understanding, Preventing, and Supporting

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and promote education, understanding, and support for those affected by the disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common cause of dementia, a group of disorders that affect cognitive function and behavior. Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition that not only affects the person with the disease but also their family and loved ones.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and the number is expected to rise to nearly 13 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the only cause of death among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that impairs memory and other cognitive functions. It accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. The disease progresses differently for each individual, affecting everyone uniquely.

Stages of Alzheimer’s:

a. Early Stage (Mild):

  • Difficulty in remembering names or recent events.
  • Trouble managing bills or planning.
  • Losing personal belongings.

b. Middle Stage (Moderate):

  • Difficulty performing simple tasks.
  • Forgetting personal history.
  • Mood and behavior changes, like suspicion.
  • Needing help choosing appropriate clothing.

c. Late Stage (Severe):

  • Need full-time, round-the-clock assistance.
  • Lose awareness of recent experiences and surroundings.
  • Difficulty walking, speaking, and swallowing.
Warning Signs to Watch Out For:
  • Memory loss disrupting daily life.
  • Challenges in solving problems or planning.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  • Confusion with time or place.
  • Trouble understanding visual images or spatial relations.
  • Problems with speaking or writing.
  • Misplacing things and inability to retrace steps.
  • Decreased judgment.
  • Withdrawal from social activities.
  • Changes in mood or personality.
Risk Factors:
  • Age: Most common in people over 65.
  • Genetics: Certain genes have been identified that increase risk.
  • Family History: Higher risk if a direct family member has had it.
  • Past head injuries.
  • Heart health: Risk factors for heart disease can increase AD risk.
  • Down Syndrome: People with Down syndrome often develop AD.
Prevention Techniques:

While no guaranteed prevention exists, some habits can help:

  • Mental Fitness: Puzzles, reading, or learning a new skill can stimulate the brain.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise boosts brain health.
  • Heart-Healthy Diet: What’s good for the heart is often good for the brain.
  • Social Engagement: Interacting with loved ones keeps the brain active and emotions in check.
  • Sleep: A good night’s rest helps in cognitive functioning.
  • Regular Health Screenings: Managing conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity can reduce AD risk.
Supporting Caregivers:

Caregivers are the backbone of Alzheimer’s care, and supporting them is crucial:

  • Education: Understanding AD helps in better care and self-preservation.
  • Respite Care: Short-term breaks can prevent burnout.
  • Join Support Groups: Sharing experiences can provide emotional support.
  • Seek Professional Help: Therapists or counselors can be a great resource.
  • Set Personal Health Goals: Caregivers should maintain their well-being too.
Call to Action:

Alzheimer’s Disease affects not only the individual but the entire community surrounding them. We need to build a supportive network, both for those diagnosed and for their caregivers. Here’s the challenge:

Take a moment to educate a friend or family member about Alzheimer’s. Whether it’s sharing this blog post, discussing prevention techniques, or simply recognizing the efforts of a caregiver, every step counts. Remember, knowledge is power. Together, we can face the challenges posed by Alzheimer’s and ensure that our community remains strong, informed, and united.

National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s electrical activity, leading to seizures or convulsions. Seizures can vary in type and severity, and some people may experience auras or warning signs before a seizure occurs. Epilepsy can develop at any age, and it affects approximately 3.4 million people in the United States.

Epilepsy can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain injury, infection, or stroke. In many cases, the cause of epilepsy is unknown. While epilepsy cannot be cured, it can be managed with medications, surgery, or other treatments.

One of the most important aspects of managing epilepsy is understanding the condition and its impact. Here are some common myths and facts about epilepsy:

Myth: Epilepsy is a rare condition that only affects a small number of people.

Fact: Epilepsy is a common condition that affects approximately 1% of the population.

Myth: All seizures involve convulsions or shaking.

Fact: There are many different types of seizures, and not all of them involve convulsions or shaking. Some seizures may cause brief periods of staring or confusion.

Myth: People with epilepsy are unable to live a normal life.

Fact: With proper treatment and management, people with epilepsy can live a normal, fulfilling life. Many people with epilepsy are able to work, drive, and participate in everyday activities.

Myth: Epilepsy is contagious.

Fact: Epilepsy is not contagious and cannot be spread from person to person.

National Epilepsy Awareness Month is an important opportunity to raise awareness about epilepsy and promote education, understanding, and support for those affected by the condition. Here are some ways you can get involved:

  1. Educate yourself about epilepsy: Learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation offers a wealth of information and resources on their website.
  2. Participate in a local Epilepsy Foundation event: The Epilepsy Foundation hosts events throughout the year to raise awareness about epilepsy and support research and care efforts. Check the Epilepsy Foundation website or your local chapter for upcoming events.
  3. Volunteer with an epilepsy organization: Many organizations, including the Epilepsy Foundation and the Danny Did Foundation, rely on volunteers to help support their programs and services. Volunteering can be a rewarding way to make a difference in the lives of those affected by epilepsy.
  4. Support research efforts: Research is crucial in the fight against epilepsy. Consider making a donation to a research organization or participating in a clinical trial.
  5. Provide support to those affected by epilepsy: If you know someone who is affected by epilepsy, offer your support and understanding. People with epilepsy often face stigma and discrimination, and supportive friends and family members can make a big difference in their lives.

National Family Caregivers Month

Family caregivers are individuals who provide unpaid care to family members or friends who have a chronic illness, disability, or other health condition. They may provide assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and eating, or with medical tasks such as administering medications or managing medical equipment.

Family caregivers play a crucial role in the healthcare system and provide a vital safety net for those who need assistance. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, there are an estimated 43.5 million family caregivers in the United States, providing an estimated $470 billion worth of unpaid care each year.

Caring for a loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be challenging and stressful. Family caregivers may face financial, emotional, and physical challenges as they provide care, and many may feel overwhelmed or isolated.

Why Self-Care is Non-Negotiable for Caregivers
  •  Physical Health Preservation: Caregiving can be physically demanding. From lifting to bathing, or even the simple act of ensuring someone else’s well-being can take a toll. By not taking care of oneself, caregivers risk their physical health, making them less effective in their role.
  • Mental and Emotional Well-being: Emotional burnout is real. Witnessing the pain or discomfort of a loved one can be draining. By neglecting self-care, caregivers expose themselves to stress, anxiety, and even depression.
  • Quality of Care: When caregivers are well-rested and mentally fit, the quality of care they provide is significantly better.
  • Role Longevity: To be in it for the long haul, it’s imperative to keep one’s battery charged. Self-care ensures caregivers can provide care over extended periods without crashing.
Golden Tips for Caregivers to Evade Burnout
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Remember the airplane analogy? Always put your oxygen mask on first. Schedule “me-time” and stick to it. This could be anything from a short walk, a spa day, or simply an hour with a good book.
  • Set Healthy Boundaries: It’s okay to say no. Understand your limits and communicate them clearly. This might mean setting visiting hours or taking scheduled breaks.
  • Seek Professional Help: Consider hiring a professional caregiver for occasional respite. Alternatively, therapist sessions can be immensely helpful in navigating emotional complexities.
  • Get Adequate Sleep: Sleep is your body’s way of recharging. Ensure you’re getting 7-9 hours of sleep. If the person you’re caring for has sleep disturbances, consider seeking professional advice on managing their sleep so yours isn’t interrupted either.
  • Eat Nutritious Foods: What you eat directly affects how you feel. Opt for balanced meals with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Hydrate adequately too.
  • Stay Active: Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural stress-relievers. Find an activity you love, be it yoga, dancing, walking, or even gardening.
  • Connect with Others: Joining a support group can offer emotional support and give practical advice. It’s also beneficial to maintain connections outside of the caregiving realm. Social interactions can be therapeutic.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break tasks into doable steps and prioritize. Recognize what you can and cannot do.
  • Laugh More: Laughter is a natural medicine. Find humor in everyday situations, watch a comedy, or attend a laughter yoga class.
  • Meditate and Practice Mindfulness: This can be as simple as deep breathing exercises or more structured practices like guided meditation. It’s an effective way to stay grounded.
  • Delegate: You don’t need to do it all. Enlist the help of other family members, or consider community resources like adult day-care facilities.

Self-care for caregivers is not an act of indulgence; it’s an absolute necessity. If you’ve been sidelining your needs, consider this a sign to make a change. You owe it to yourself and those you care for.