Sunday, July 5, 2015

How the FDA Protects the Consumers' Interests

Do you ever wonder how to interpret food labels?  Did you know that ingredients are listed with the largest content ingredient first?  If you have any questions about food labeling, Angela Gomez contacted me to offer a free e-book entitled FDA food labels:  Requirements in a Nutshell.

The FDA website informs us that “The Food and Drug Administration is the oldest comprehensive consumer protection agency in the U.S. federal government.” It has been regulating food production and delivery practices and enforcing food laws for over a century. The agency’s requirements for proper food labeling have been giving food producers a headache because of their complexity, but the consumers definitely benefit from their rigorous standards.

The FDA provides strict guidelines on how to label a food product, so that it includes important information about its contents: the percentage of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, calories, the list of all ingredients, including and clearly identifying any potential allergens, the origin of food or the address of the manufacturer/distributor, etc. Conscientious food producers often include non-mandatory but useful information such as “best before” date, information about whether it’s “washed” or “ready-to-eat”, health claims, recipes, defrosting instructions and other helpful tips.

The FDA is constantly improving their website with news and tips about food safety. Looking after the consumers’ best interests, it is now proposing changes to current food labeling regulations to include more accurate information about the serving size, added sugar, etc. Before that happens, everyone concerned about healthy nutrition and food safety should become better informed about what they are eating, and the best way to start is to find out how to read food labels and read this simple guide to food labeling requirements.

Thank you, Angela  Gomez, for bringing this ebook to my attention and writing this blog post (all except the first paragraph).  Readers can access and download this free ebook at

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ways to De-stress your Summer

A couple weeks ago I read this blog post from the Positivity Blog (Henrik Edberg), I recognized the value of his list. Henrik has over 59,000 (yes 59,000) followers and here’s the reason I look forward to his tips and strategies:  they work.  So if you have five minutes, check out Henrik’s post on 10 ways to decrease your stress this summer.  I think you will find at least a couple suggestions that you can use to make this a great summer for you and your family.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

4 Ways to Handle Stress

The American Heart Association gives us great advice on healthy ways to handle stress:

1.     Self-talk which is positive instead of negative will help us deal with stress.  What do you say to yourself when you are stressed?  Have you ever considered whether you are making yourself feel worse by talking negatively?  For example, instead of saying a negative such as “I hate it when this happens.”  Say something positive to yourself, like, “I’ve dealt with this before.  I can do this today also.“

2.     Emergency practices which decrease your stress such as: “Count to 10 before you speak.  Take three to five deep breaths.  Walk away from the stressful situation, and say you’ll handle it later.  Go for a walk.  Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” if you made a mistake.  Set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late, Break down big problems into smaller parts.  For example, answer one letter or phone call per day, instead of dealing with everything at once.  Drive in the slow lane or avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving. Smell a rose, hug a loved one or smile at your neighbor.”

3.     Find pleasure.  Add things to your life that give you joy.  Try to add one activity which gives you pleasure every day. 

4.     Relax.  Learn how to meditate, pray, practice yoga and any other activity that you enjoy which gives you time to quiet your mind and relax. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Do you wish for a good night's sleep?

Do you find yourself tossing and turning, frustrated because you are still wide awake?  Many people struggle with sleep issues.  Medical experts recognize that lack of sleep contributes to obesity, diabetes and poor immune system function.
What can a person do to get more sleep?  

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) gives 10 tips to promote healthy sleep
1.     Schedule bedtime, even on weekends to keep your body on a schedule.
2.     Form a bedtime routine which helps you wind down for sleep.  (We personally find watching a favorite TV comedy helps us wind down.)
      3.     Nap early in the day, because afternoon naps may interfere with a good night’s sleep.
4.     Add exercise into your day.
5.     Make your bedroom comfortable.  This NSF recommendation includes a cool (60 to 67 degree temperature) quiet environment.
6.     Consider your mattress and pillows.  Are they comfortable? If they are older than 9-10 years (lifespan of many quality mattresses), you may want to replace them.
7.     Turn down the lights in the evening so your body’s circadian rhythms can wind down to sleep.
8.     Skip the alcohol, cigarettes and heavy meals at night.  Allow yourself 3 hours after a meal before bedtime. 
9.     Slow down the last hour of the evening so your body can relax and prepare for sleep.
10.  When you can’t sleep and your mind is spinning, leave your bedroom and relax until you become sleepy.  Sometimes it’s best to write down/type the thoughts and ideas in your head so you can relax.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Tick check

Last spring, hubby and I were working in our flower beds.  After wards we went into the house for showers and a quiet evening. We did our tick check and found a tiny tick on the back side of my right ear lobe.  He wasn’t attached yet but unfortunately he bit me.  It took months for that sore place to heal.  I really hate ticks and now I think of that experience every time I look at my flowers.  The good news is I did not catch any of the 10 diseases (viruses,germs and parasites) that ticks carry.

How can we protect ourselves and loved ones from tick bites?

Ticks live in moist, humid places so grassy places and woods are their habitat.  However, remember that deer and animals can carry ticks into your yard.  Since we treat our yard routinely, I think the deer who often walk through our yard at night left that hungry tick behind to chew on me.   

According to the CDC website, we can protect ourselves by using DEET repellent on our skin and permethrin products which kill ticks on our boots, clothing and camping gear.  (Don’t use permethrin on skin).  For details on how to properly use these products, check out 

Tick Check

After last year’s experience of finding the tick, we will continue this habit.  As you come in, check your clothing for ticks.  Shower as soon as you can.  A shower within 2 hours is recommended as one way to find and wash away any unattached ticks.  Physically look and check for ticks.  If you are doing this tick check on yourself, use a mirror to examine hard-to-see areas.  Body areas that you should check include:  under the arms, between legs, in and around your hair, inside belly button, at the waist, backs of knees –and don’t forget your ears.   

What if you find a tick? 

If you find a tick attached, the CDC recommends, “grasping with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it straight out.” 

Other preventive actions

Treat your yard to create “tick-safe zones”. More information about this topic can be found at 

Discourage deer (My personal opinion is good luck on this one.  When our subdivision was built on original farm land that deer wandered through, that’s probably not going to change.) The suggested actions involve removing plants that deer like to feed on and constructing physical barriers to keep deer out.   

Protect your family pets (which also protects your family) 

If you do get tick bit, watch the wound carefully and seek medical help if a fever or rash develops.  More information can be found at





Sunday, May 24, 2015

Happy Memorial Day (tomorrow)

We recognize that Memorial Day is the day to honor our veterans and active service personnel for their work and sacrifice.  So thank you for your service.  I (We) appreciate what you do.
What’s the history of Memorial Day?  Memorial Day was called Decoration Day when it was first celebrated in 1868.  On that day General John Logan ordered that flowers and decorations be placed on Civil War graves as a remembrance of their sacrifice.  The celebration and remembrance spread across the land.  Eventually the name was changed to Memorial Day.  In 1971 the National Holiday Act placed the day as the last Monday in May and gave us a three day weekend for Memorial Day.

I took this picture of the Statue of Liberty when we visited New York City a few years ago.  Happy Memorial Day. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

In the News--Women play dangerous waiting game with heart symptoms

Researchers at the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada have found that women “deny” and delay seeking medical care for heart symptoms.  Because women deny and delay, they are more likely to suffer more severe heart damage than men.  Why do women deny and delay?  The researchers suggest women allow their focus on their caregiving role in the family.  Women may discount their symptoms thinking heart disease is more a “man’s disease”

·        What are symptoms of a heart attack?  Angina (chest pressure or discomfort, squeezing, tightness in the chest),

·        Angina pain may spread to shoulders, arms, back, neck, teeth or jaw.

·        Angina pain may feel like bad heart burn. 

·        Feeling short of breath

·        Feeling anxious, feeling dizzy or lightheaded

·        Sweating

·        Feeling sick at your stomach or vomiting
Women may experience any of the above symptoms and also unusual fatigue.
Anyone who experiences these heart symptoms should call 911 and get emergency help.  Ambulance staff have equipment to monitor and support your condition. 
Science Daily, Women Play Dangerous Waiting Game with Heart Symptoms,

Mayo Clinic, Heart Attack Symptoms: Know what’s a medical emergency.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dealing with Denial

When bad news hits us in the face, our first reaction is to deny.  “No way can that lump be cancer.”  Denial is our normal coping mechanism.  It’s a protective response that gives our brains time to adjust to bad news, In fact, you may remember that denial is the first step of grieving. 

We can grieve over many losses in life.  Of course, we grieve over the loss of loved ones, including beloved pets.  But we can also grieve over loss of other aspects of life, such as our health or a job that we enjoy.  Many people who have heard a diagnosis of serious life-threatening illness such as cancer or Alzheimer’s will recognize they went through the stages of grief. 

How do we constructively deal with denial?  According to, these strategies can help us deal with denial.

       ·       Face what you are afraid of.  Allow yourself to honestly examine the situation you are in denial about.  Is it wise to keep ignoring a problem?  If it’s about a lump, stop denying it’s a problem.

·       Talk to someone you trust; Vent about your fears and concerns.  You will find the weight of the situation lightens as you share your thoughts and fears.

·       Get help.  Go to your family doctor and get his opinion.  If he recommends a referral to a specialist, do that.

·       Write it down.  Journaling helps a person cope constructively.

·       A support group can provide a helping hand as people cope with tough times of life. 

·       A strategy I personally have used over the years: ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen and can I live with that “worst?  I have found these questions decrease my anxiety over the situation. 
Five Stages of Loss and Grieving can be found at
Mayo Clinic, Denial: When it helps, when it hurts,

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Check out my new website

This blog post counts as #880 that I’ve written and posted on my blogger site since I began in 2011.  My newest venture has been building a website.  Please check out my new website at  I am certain it will be a work-in-progress but I am proud of my accomplishment.  (Not bad for a non-technie person like me).



Sunday, April 19, 2015

In the News--what causes high blood pressure--salt or sugar?

"Too much salt will give you high blood pressure".  We’ve heard this from researchers and doctors all the past 50 years.  Millions of us have tried to be mindful of how much salt we eat and lower our salt intake.  Will too much salt give you high blood pressure?  Is this a true statement?  Some researchers are questioning this statement.  They are suggesting maybe it’s processed sugar, not salt, that causes hypertension. 

This revolutionary research published in American Journal of Cardiology reports that lowering salt intake has had very poor results (lowering a person’s systolic –top number—by 5 mm Hg and the diastolic –bottom number by 2.5mm Hg.  The researchers are recognizing that insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes) and obesity occur in the same people who have hypertension (high blood pressure).  Doctors know that the high sugar levels in a person’s blood causes the body to shift fluid into blood vessels and reach a dilution level the body needs.  Could this increased volume inside blood vessels be causing the high blood pressure?   Could it be the processed sugars we are eating?   The researchers are concluding that processed sugar is bad for us and we eat too much of it. 

If this is true, we can improve our health by cutting back on processed foods, especially sweet foods.  We can eat more fresh fruits and decrease our cake intake.  Watch this topic; I bet we will hear more about this. 


Sunday, April 12, 2015

In the News--Can we avoid Alzheimer's disease?

This headline refers to research that is piling up.  Researchers are recognizing that diabetes and Alzheimer’s are connected.  People with out of control diabetes are being recognized as increasingly risky for developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, some researchers are calling Alzheimer’s disease, “type 3 diabetes.” 

As I have pointed out the last few weeks, out of control diabetes does harm quietly to our blood vessels, hearts, kidneys, and other parts of our bodies.  Why not consider that it can damage our brains?  While we need some sugar for our brain cells to function properly and to think well, a high level of sugar in our brain circulation may be causing damage there also. 

So what researchers suggest we do?  If we do not have diabetes, focus our efforts on healthy lifestyle to prevent developing diabetes.  If we have been diagnosed with diabetes, work with our doctor to keep the diabetes under control.  A normal blood sugar level will help prevent complications and damage.  Here’s some things we can do:

·       Eat more healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat meats and cheeses.  Eat less processed, sugar-laden foods.

·       Work to lose weight if you are overweight.  (Not an easy thing to master for many of us.)

·       Add exercise to our days.  The Mayo clinic suggests 30 minutes most days.  While this sounds like a lot, start slow and work on it.  Also increase slowly and in small amounts to avoid hurting yourself.

·       Brush and floss daily.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

We hide Easter eggs, let our kids hunt them and enjoy too much candy.  We gather together with family and loved ones to enjoy a big meal.  (Ham is the traditional Easter meal for my family). 
But the most important reason for Easter Sunday happened centuries ago. Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning.  He had been crucified on a cross on Friday (three days earlier). We Christians believe this sinless Jesus took our sins and faults on himself and died to give us the gift of forgiveness.  We celebrate our risen King Jesus. I am sharing a link to a video.
Join me in listening to Casting Crowns sing O Glorious Day at



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Watch Your Feet

A person with diabetes (especially uncontrolled diabetes) needs to inspect his feet frequently (daily).  As the high blood sugar does damage to blood vessels and nerves, the decreased blood flow and nerve damage can cause feet to lose feeling.  That person may step on something and not realize there is an injury until the foot becomes swollen, reddened and infected. 

 WebMD “Diabetes and Foot Problems” webpage says this: 
·       Work with your doctor to control your blood sugar/diabetes and protect your feet. 

·       Wash (not soak) your feet DAILY in warm water (check the water temperature with your elbow to avoid a burn.  Your hands may have decreased feeling also.

·       Dry your feet well, including between toes

·       Inspect your feet daily for sores, blisters, redness, calluses. 

·       Weekly check your toenails.  Trim straight across with a nail clipper.  Don’t round corners or cut down besides the nails.  Smooth freshly cut toenails with a file. 

·       Wear well-fitting shoes that protect your feet.  Closed-toe shoes will protect your feet much more than sandals or going barefoot. Going barefoot isn’t a good idea for people who want to protect their feet from injuries.  Check your shoes before you put them on to make sure Fido or the kids did not leave something inside which could injure your foot. 

·       Wear socks or stockings that fit well and have soft elastic.

·       See your doctor for any foot problems that get worse, including sores which do not heal

·       They give additional suggestions on how to care for your feet at  Do you know whether your insurance/Medicare will pay for podiatrist care of your feet?   Check as they might include that as a covered service. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Diabetes ABC

Did you know you have a diabetes ABC? 
·       A:  A1C (a blood glucose test which shows your blood sugar average for the last 2-3 months. 
·       B:  blood pressure  Your blood pressure shows the pressure inside your blood vessels when your heart is pumping (the systolic or top number) and when your heart is resting (diastolic or bottom number).  When your blood pressure is high, your heart is having to work too hard and damage can occur.  What is your blood pressure?  The ADA recommends below 140/90.  Your doctor may have a lower number as the American Heart Association has lowered their recommended blood pressure goal to 120/80.
·       C:  Cholesterol levels affect your blood supply to all parts of your body.  A recommended total cholesterol level is below 200, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) should be under 100 mg/dL. HDL (healthy or good) cholesterol should be above 40 mg/dL for men (50 mg/dL for women) and triglycerides should be below 150 mg/dL.  High triglycerides mean you are eating more than your body can process. 

Other recommendations for caring for your type 2 diabetes involve healthy eating, losing weight if needed, and physical activity.  Do you know that many hospitals/medical centers/clinics provide diabetes teaching classes?  If you are newly diagnosed, ask if diabetes classes are available and whether your insurance/Medicare will pay for these classes.  If you get some new recipes which fit your new diabetic lifestyle, you may find it easier to eat healthy and keep your blood sugar under control.  Also regular physical activity helps lower blood sugar as well as blood pressure and cholesterol. 

I have seen people who upon learning they were diabetic, worked with their doctors and controlled their blood sugar by losing weight and eating healthy.  If diet and losing weight aren’t enough to control the blood sugar level, medications may be needed to control a person’s blood sugar.  Diabetes pills and insulin medications are available by prescription to help keep blood sugar within normal range.  People dealing with diabetes must work with their doctor to get the best management of this condition. 
Next week --Watch your Feet


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Type 2 diabetes

Normal metabolism means our bodies break down foods (especially carbohydrates) into sugars which are carried throughout our body to the cells which need the sugar to operate properly. These sugars provide important energy to most cells in our bodies.  For example, without simple sugars, our brains don’t think well.  We would become confused and unable to focus. When our blood sugar levels rise, our pancreas releases insulin.  Insulin helps sugars enter the body cells and keeps our blood sugar level under control. 

In type 2 diabetes, also called insulin resistance, this balance of sugar and insulin regulation is impaired or lost.  Blood sugar levels can become low early as the pancreas makes extra insulin, but as the pancreas fails to make enough insulin, the blood sugar levels become high and stay high, bathing the body in sugary blood.  The body quietly begins to suffer damage. 

But notice I said quietly.  Many people do not know they have diabetes.  
In 2012, 29.1 million Americans have diabetes, but 8.1 million do not know they have diabetes.
Do you wonder if you have developed type 2 diabetes?  The American Diabetes Association gives a risk test which tells you if you are at risk.  Check it out at

What puts us at risk for developing type 2 diabetes?
When doctors talk about risk factors, these are health and lifestyle issues which can affect whether we develop a certain disease.  Usually there are two categories of risk factors:  those we cannot change and those we can change. 

Risk factors we cannot change include our genetics (our inherited genes which may be good or bad).  If your blood relatives (parents, siblings) suffer from diabetes, you face an increased risk.  Age and gender (which we cannot change) may increase our risk of developing diabetes. 

Risk factors we can change involve being overweight, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, having unhealthy eating patterns, high blood sugar results on blood tests, and being physically inactive.  These behaviors may be contributing to type 2 diabetes and they can be changed with lifestyle changes. 

What are symptoms? The classic symptoms of diabetes are poly dipsia (abnormal thirst), poly phagia (hungry even when you have eaten) and polyuria (have to urinate more than normal).  Other symptoms are extreme fatigue, slow healing cuts/bruises/injuries, and tingling/numbness in hands and feet.  With the gradual onset of these symptoms, many people do not recognize they have developed type 2 diabetes. 

The high sugar content in our blood causes damage to our blood vessels .  That means every blood vessel from our coronary (heart) circulation to our tiny blood vessels which bring circulation to our eyes and nerve endings.  That explains why type 2 diabetes can cause heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, nerve damage, and vision problems.  But there is much we can do to keep our blood sugar levels under control and prevent/delay the damage type 2 diabetes can cause. 

The American Diabetes Association gives this good news:  “keeping blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol on target can help prevent or delay problems.”  American Diabetes Association, Taking Care of Type 2 Diabetes.  Find this patient education booklet under Facts About Type 2 diabetes at  
Next week I will talk about what we can do to protect our health after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.