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Sick Day Management for Diabetes: How to Plan Ahead

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If you have diabetes, it’s especially important to take care of yourself when you’re sick — even if the condition is as common as the flu or a urinary tract infection.

To avoid complications, it’s a good idea to plan ahead how you’ll deal with sick days, illnesses, and infections.

This article provides some expert guidance on:

  • how to prepare for sick days
  • how to make a sick day checklist
  • when to see your doctor if you have complications of the disease

If you have diabetes, an illness or infection can deal a powerful double whammy to your body. Here’s how.

Illness can make it harder to control blood sugar

One reason to plan ahead is that illness or infection can make diabetes symptoms worse.

Your body responds to it the same way it responds to stressful events. It produces a surge in hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone.

When your body becomes flooded with cortisol, your blood sugar can spike for several reasons:

  • Cortisol causes your body to make glucose, a type of sugar that your body uses for fuel.
  • Cortisol sends a message to your pancreas to lower your insulin levels.
  • Cortisol causes insulin resistance. As a result, the cells in your muscle and fat don’t respond to insulin and don’t take or use as much glucose.

Both can cause your blood sugar levels to spike when your body is struggling with an illness or infection.

Diabetes can complicate an illness

If you have diabetes you may be at higher risk of certain types of infections or diseases.

Research from 2021 shows that people with diabetes are more likely to develop certain types of infections, including pneumonia and cystitis (urinary tract infections).

If you get sick, you may be at a higher risk of hospitalization. For example, 2021 research linked diabetes to longer hospital stays, more complications and a higher risk of death with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

That’s why it’s so important that you work with your diabetes care team to plan ahead so you know how to manage an illness, injury, or infection should it arise. Your plan can give you some peace of mind now and protect your health later.

Advocates from the American Diabetes Association and the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommend that your sick day schedule address the following key questions.

Let’s tackle these questions one by one.

Manage blood sugar when you are sick

To prepare for the sick days you’ll face sooner or later, talk to your diabetes care team about tests, medications, and warning signs.

When you are sick, your blood sugar can rise for a number of reasons:

  • Hormones released by your immune system can increase blood sugar.
  • Being sick can change your eating and drinking habits.
  • Other medications can affect your blood sugar levels.

What to eat and drink

To keep your blood sugar within your target range, eat and drink as close to your usual routine as possible. That might be easier said than done, especially if you’re experiencing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If you have trouble eating and drinking, aim for the following:

  • 4 to 6 ounces of water or sugar-free beverages every 30 minutes
  • 50 grams of carbohydrate every 4 hours, either from food or, if you cannot eat solid food, from a sugary drink

If your blood sugar is too low, you may need to follow the 15-15 rule. That means you have to eat 15 grams of carbohydrates and test your blood sugar 15 minutes later.

Talk to your medical team about whether candy or glucose pills would work if you are unable to keep food or drink down.

When and what to test

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend testing your blood sugar levels every 4 hours if you are feeling unwell.

Keep a notepad nearby so you have an accurate record to share with your doctor. You don’t want to rely on your memory of readings at a time when your memory might be clouded by lack of sleep or worsening symptoms.

You may also need to test your urine for ketones. Ketones are a sign that your insulin levels are low and your body is using fat for fuel.

Testing for ketones in your urine can tell you if you’re developing a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. This condition is life-threatening, so it’s important to know ahead of time how to identify these chemicals in your body.

The NIDDK recommends testing ketones every 4 to 6 hours during illness.

It’s also important to track your weight, body temperature, and blood pressure. These metrics are important clues that can tell you if:

  • You become dehydrated.
  • Your blood sugar reaches an unhealthy level.
  • Her condition worsens.
  • An infection develops.

It is especially important for people with type 1 diabetes to measure their blood sugar more frequently when they are sick. Insulin levels can drop sharply as the body fights a disease or infection.

What medications to take

An illness can change your insulin needs. Talk to your diabetes care team about when and how much to adjust your insulin dose and other medications you take.

It’s important to continue taking insulin, especially long-acting insulin, on the schedule recommended by your doctor. It’s also important to keep taking long-acting insulin, even if you’re not eating.

Some over-the-counter (OTC) medications — especially those that treat cough, cold, and flu symptoms — contain sugar. Other types of medicines can affect how your diabetes medicines work.

Your diabetes care team may be able to give you a list of medications to avoid if you are unwell from a common condition.

Put together a sick leave kit

It’s a good idea to stock up on easy-to-prepare foods, sick-day drinks, medications, and diabetes-care items so you have these items on hand for those days when you’re not feeling well. Here are some items to include in your medical journal:

to eat and drink

Have a stock of:

  • soups and broths
  • Popsicles or sorbet
  • cracker
  • jello
  • milk or yogurt
  • fruit juice

Medical information

Your medical journal should also include the following:

  • Contact information for your doctor
  • insurance information
  • a current list of your medications

medicines and supplies

Make sure your kit comes with the following:

  • Batteries for your surveillance devices
  • Consumables for your blood glucose meter or monitor and insulin pump
  • Ketone test strips
  • glucose tablets or gels
  • a 7-day supply of your glucose management medication
  • OTC cold and flu medications that don’t affect your blood sugar

If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor or someone on your diabetes care team immediately:

  • Fever greater than 38.3°C (101°F) for more than 1 day
  • Diarrhea lasting more than 6 hours
  • Vomit more than 3 times in 24 hours
  • Blood glucose above 240 mg/dl, even after taking supplemental insulin if recommended in your sick day schedule
  • moderate to large amounts of ketones in your urine

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency: it can result in coma or death. Get medical help right away if you have symptoms such as:

If your employer or insurer offers telemedicine services, consider downloading the app or saving contact information to your phone so you can easily get advice if you’re not feeling well.

According to a 2020 study, diabetes can damage your immune system. Because of this, it’s important to take good care of your health year-round, not just during cold and flu season.

You can do this by:

  • Eat foods that boost your immune system and keep your blood sugar in a healthy range
  • Drink plenty of water, as dehydration can increase your risk of some types of infections, according to a 2019 study
  • Rest, as sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, which sometimes overlap with diabetes, can increase your risk for health concerns
  • Get the recommended vaccinations to protect yourself

The CDC recommends that people with diabetes get the flu shot every year. This is especially important for children, who may have more severe flu symptoms over a longer period than children without diabetes.

Diabetes can make a common illness more challenging – and feeling unwell can make managing your diabetes more difficult.

If you have diabetes, talk to your medical team to plan how to respond to an illness or infection. Together you can decide in advance how to control your blood sugar when you feel sick.

You can also stock up on any food, drink, test supplies, and medication you may need.

A good sick day schedule includes information about which medications are safe to take, which to avoid, the best way to test your blood sugar, and steps to follow so diabetes or other health issues don’t leave you sidelined longer than necessary.

Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Expert’s nutrition tips for runners

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Running is a very popular sport, thanks to its simplicity and many health and fitness benefits. It’s versatile and inexpensive, requires very little equipment, and it’s an excellent way to strengthen your cardiovascular health.

Nutrition plays an important part in optimum running performance. pexels

With the competitive nature of the sport, runners continuously challenge themselves and each other to improve. In addition to training, proper fuel for the body is vital for peak sports performance.

Noted medical and nutrition specialist Dr. Korakod Panich provided the five best nutrients for optimal running performance.

Nutrition is important for runners because it plays a vital role in overall health and can also support performance. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these five key nutrients:

1. Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates—which can be found in food such as fruits, dairy products, and starches such as rice, bread, and pasta—are the most important source of energy for the body.

For runners, a small meal, taken an hour before running, consisting of carbohydrates and a bit of protein can provide the energy needed to run effectively. A smoothie made with milk and fruit, or some yogurt topped with berries, provides the nutrients needed and is easily digested before a workout.

Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates before exercising can help you maximize your workout.

2. Protein
Protein—found in meat, milk, eggs, and soy—helps repair and rebuild tissues and muscles that could be affected during physical activities. With the proper amount of protein and adequate sleep, muscles repair, rebuild, and become stronger.

Soy is a good protein source as it is one of the few complete plant-based proteins containing all of the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Runners should consume a combination of carbs and protein 30 to 45 minutes after exercising.

Carb to protein ratio should be 2-3:1, with 20 grams of high-quality protein after a workout and between 40 and 60 grams of carbohydrate. A sandwich on whole-grain bread with a piece of fruit or a high-protein recovery shake would fill the bill.

3.Fat
Fat serves as an essential energy source. It is often used as fuel, particularly during moderate-intensity exercise that lasts for an extended period, such as a moderate jog lasting at least 30 minutes or so. The body will utilize more fat than carbohydrate for fuel in an attempt to conserve carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscles.

Choose beneficial fats—such as those found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts—and avoid saturated fats¬¬that can raise the risk of heart disease. This means staying away from fatty red meats, and ultra-processed foods, such as fast food or bakery items.

4. Vitamins and minerals
There are different kinds of vitamins and minerals that help maintain the balance in body system functions; fruits and vegetables are the best sources to obtain them. During exercise, the body excretes waste in the form of sweat, which also removes important minerals from the body. If you opt to exercise for more than one hour, energy and mineral drinks are highly recommended to replace lost fluids and minerals.

5.Water
The human body is made up of 70 percent water, which is why staying hydrated is crucial. Water helps deliver nutrients to the cells and plays a significant role in eliminating waste. Runners need to maintain body water balance before, during, and after workouts because water provides nourishment that the body needs for almost every single function. It also helps limit changes in body temperature.

Make sure not to lose more than two percent of your body weight in fluids during exercise, as it can reduce your strength and affect performance. If you exercise regularly, check your weight before and after a workout to keep track of water loss and be sure to replace those losses. For every pound of weight lost during exercise, replace with 2-3 cups of fluid (or 1 liter of fluid for every kilogram lost during exercise).

Nutrition and running style

Aside from understanding the importance of nutrients, it is also essential for new runners to learn the proper way to run. Running not just makes our bodies stronger; it also helps burn calories and fat, depending on the goal.

If you have little time and would like to burn calories and fat, you can do interval training, which alternates short work intervals (80-90 percent of maximum heart rate for 30-60 seconds) with rest periods (50 percent of maximum heart rate for 1-2 minutes). This helps improve circulation and enable the heart to pump blood and make it healthier while strengthening the muscles.

If your main aim is to burn fat, and you have some time, you can run slowly to raise your heart rate to 40-60 percent of your maximum, for at least 45-60 minutes.

Korakod Panich is a member of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board.

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Weekly Spotlight: Make the Perfect Spring Vegan Pasta Salad!

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Pasta salad is a wonderful spring meal, plus it’s a wonderful plant-based meal that can easily be veganized! It’s a meal that you can add any veggie that you want to, making it super versatile for this time of year. When spring produces like arugula, garlic and some herbs are hitting their peak season, you might have extra veggies on hand or are looking for a way to clear out some veggies from your fridge. Pasta salad is also easy to whip up, and you can either do a simple dressing or a more involved creamy dressing to top it.

Depending on your time and how you want to enjoy your pasta salad, this guide splits pasta salad recipes depending on their sauce base. The simple oil and garlic type dressings are lighter in flavor, allowing whatever you hand (veggies or herbs) to stand out in your final pasta salad. However, if you’re looking for a creamier and more hands-on homemade dressing, we’ve got you covered too! These are topped with a dressing that uses a base of tahini, tofu, or even hemp seeds to create a delicious creamy dressing. The last group focuses on taking a traditional pasta salad adding a twist, like a clever flavor or mixing up the base grain!

We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster app — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Weekly Meal Plan Archives!

Are you ready to have a week full of delicious, high-protein, whole-food vegan food that leaves you nourished and content? Let’s get started!

This week, we’re bringing delicious pasta salad recipes that are fully vegan and plant-based!

Pasta Salads that Use a Mayo, Sour Cream, or Simple Oil Dressing:

Vegan Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

Source: Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

These quick pasta salads are great to throw together for the week! Their light dressing makes it excellent to eat on its own to get a variety of simple flavors and enjoy the fresher crunch of the veggies in these dishes.

Pasta Salads that Use a Tofu, Tahini, Homemade, or Cashew Based Dressing

Vegan Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

Source: Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

These creamy pasta salads are excellent to enjoy on their own, or if you’re looking to add even more veggies, you could enjoy these over a base of greens for an extra crunch of texture! There are so many ways to make a creamy pasta salad with vegan ingredients; you could use cashews, tofu, tahini, or even hemp hearts to get a creamy sauce.

Pasta Salads that Are a Twist on a Classic Dish:

Vegan Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Source: Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Cacio e Pepe as a pasta salad? Using orzo instead of pasta? There are so many ways to change up the flavors and inspiration you use for your pasta salads. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy a new way of eating pasta salad, this is your list right here!

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Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental well-being, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, good health other more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects.

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster app which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental other health benefits of a plant based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Food Therapist Debunks Myths About Veganism

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Veganism is a lifestyle that is based on the ideology that humans should not exploit animals or the environment for their needs. Vegans refrain from utilizing any kind of animal products for food, clothing, or work, among other things, and they do not differentiate between any species as they consider all animals equal. Simply put, veganism is the practice of avoiding the use of any animal products—particularly in our diet—including meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Myths about veganism

Additionally, there are countless myths, misconceptions, and assumptions about being vegan from all corners. We got Nidhi Nahata—Founder, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bangalore, and food therapist—to debunk a few common floating speculations.

1. Milk has a lot of calcium

Credit: iStock

There is an existing misconception that only cow milk contains calcium. So, what is the optimal source of calcium? Like plenty of other nutrients, calcium is readily available in a variety of plant-based foods that are better absorbed by the body than dairy. Think broccoli, cabbage, kale, almonds, chia, beans, pulses, leafy vegetables, and more. Therefore, even if you are not vegan, having a wide range of calcium sources in your diet can be a healthier option.

2. Animal protein is more important than plant protein

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Incidentally, the animals that are consumed for so-called protein are fed on a plant based diet, which basically means that we are consuming the same and/or processed protein through dead tissues or extracted produce from an animal. For those on the lookout for plant-based protein sources, there are plenty of options like soya, lentils, pulses, broccoli, seaweed, peas, spinach, beans, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, peanuts, cashews, almonds , pistachios, walnuts, oats, and seitan tofu.

3. Vegans have B12 deficiency

Vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians—all could have deficiency because of vitamin B12, which is a bacteria found in nature. The sources of vitamin B12 are commonly questioned in reference to being vegan, since the most common source is assumed to be animals and animal products. But the reality is that vegans can achieve the intake needed through reliable sources, such as supplements or fortified foods.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Vitamin B12 is produced by certain microorganisms and is processed while consuming cobalt from a plant base. However, our modern day agriculture prevents these nutrients to be transferred into our bodies through either sources-–animals or plants. Therefore, vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians need to normally be given cobalt or B12 supplements to attain suitable levels regardless of their dietary preference.

4. Vegan lifestyle is very expensive

food item
Credit: iStock

The limited accessibility to vegan food and alternatives is one of the biggest restrictive misconnects prevalent in our society. The reality is that, similar to any diet, plant-based eating is only expensive if there are a lot of quick-to-eat processed foods, readymade meal preps, and products from vegan-specific brands. There are plenty of vegan foods and ingredients that are affordable in India, especially if the diet is centered around cheaper foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, beans, and several others. Good planning can make vegan diet more affordable than the ones that include animal products.

5. Pregnant women need milk and dairy

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

“You cannot be vegan when pregnant” is a common misconception for soon-to-be vegan parents. The basic fact is that pregnancy is a challenge for the body, no matter what diet you are on and usually requires additional nutrients. It is advised to be closer to iron and vitamin B12, which can be attained on a vegan diet as well. The tradition of milk being one of the most integral components of our diet has been prevalent for decades. We need to be mindful and bring logical reasoning in choosing food for soon-to-be parents as well as children.

6. Soy increases the chances of breast cancer

  7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

There is no convincing evidence that eating soy-based food increases the risk of breast cancer in humans. This misunderstanding, however, might arise from earlier studies conducted on rodents. Scientists of this study showed that when these animals received large amounts of soy-compounds called flavones, they showed likelihood to develop breast cancer.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

A study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, in February 2020, searched associations between soy intake and breast cancer risk by following 52,795 cancer-free women in the US for an average of 7.9 years. In the results, they found no substantial association between soy intake and breast cancer, but they did identify a link between dairy (milk) and breast cancer.

Soy as an ingredient is loaded with fiber and is a good source of protein, omega 3, and antioxidants. Research also suggests that soy has a good amount of protein which is well absorbed by the body, and the best way to consume it is in bean form, tofu, tempeh, and other such forms.

7. Veganism is a cult

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Being compassionate and conscious can never be a cult. Veganism is a lifestyle that utilizes an ideology to bring people closer to their instincts. This means bringing us closer to eating what nature has designed and grown for us, rather than exploiting animals and other sentient beings.

Lead Image Credit: Alia Bhatt and Yami Gautam Dhar, Instagram

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