The diabetes-COVID-19 tangle, untangled
In March, Tom Hanks disclosed he had COVID-19. He was especially lucky to make a full recovery, since he has Type 2 diabetes. That precondition makes folks more likely to develop serious complications from the virus.
A study of 200 COVID-19 patients with existing diabetes suggests that diabetes presents a “fertile ground for the virus’ inflammatory surge.” That then knocks diabetes out of control and results in “severe insulin resistance and severe hyperglycemia.” That in turn makes COVID’s complications, such as renal failure and low blood pressure, more likely to lead to persistent problems or even death.
Another study of COVID patients that included 952 with diabetes found those folks had higher rates of in-hospital death (1.1 percent without diabetes versus 11 percent with), acute respiratory distress syndrome (7.1 percent versus 21.4 percent) and heart injury (1.4 percent vs. 9.9 percent). Those with poorly controlled glucose levels also had higher rates of septic shock, kidney dysfunction and stroke.
That’s why it’s important to get your diabetes under control, to protect yourself from infection and, if infected, to be aggressive about managing your glucose level. We urge you to make and keep appointments (telemedicine and/or in person) with your diabetes doctor; monitor your blood sugar regularly, take your medication as prescribed and push to get your A1C below 6.4 percent. In addition, aim for 60 minutes of exercise five days a week and avoid highly processed foods and red meats. Also, stockpile two months’ worth of diabetes medications, insulin and supplies. If you get sick, you’ll need them.
Miscarriage and alcohol
The list of court cases that can legitimately be called miscarriages of justice is long and upsetting. For an early example, you can go as far back as 399 B.C. in Greece, when Socrates was made to drink poison hemlock as punishment for “corrupting the youth of Athens and impiety.” Scholars today say it was more likely punishment for the mistaken idea that he was in cahoots with enemies of Athens.
Miscarriages during pregnancy are, unfortunately, even more common. One metastudy in 2018 found that over half of all conceptions are spontaneously terminated by the body. Many are undetected. That’s because most miscarriages happen in the first 12 weeks after conception, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology shines a light on one possible cause: Researchers tracked the drinking habits of 5,353 pregnant women. They discovered that each week during the first five to 10 weeks of pregnancy that a woman consumes any amount or type of alcohol, there’s a cumulative 8 percent increase in the risk of miscarriage. Drink for three weeks in a row, your risk goes up 24 percent.
The study also showed most women don’t stop drinking until the fetus’s median gestational age is 29 days and only 41 percent stop within three days of finding out they’re pregnant.
Clearly, if you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to stop drinking before you want to become pregnant and to use home pregnancy tests to detect conception as early as possible.
Beware the snack attack
There are four, short animated films on YouTube titled “Snack Attack.” Clearly, being overwhelmed by the urge to gobble down whatever is handy is a common impulse — and one that can inspire humorous tales of frustration and desire. But snack foods are no joke when it comes to your health or your wallet.
A recent survey estimates the average American spends $30,000 over a lifetime on snack foods — favorites are potato chips and chocolate, especially milk chocolate or chocolate with caramel (not healthy-in-moderation, 70 percent cacao, dark chocolate). On average, Americans get 25 percent of their daily calories from nutrition-light, calorie-dense snack foods, and 16 percent of you get over 40 percent of your calories that way.
A new study from the University of Sussex explains one reason why indiscriminate snacking is so common. It seems if you’re watching an engaging TV show or working at your computer while a bag of chips is within your reach, you’ll keep eating them long after you’re full. You can’t hear your body’s message telling you “ENOUGH.”
In the study, folks who were engaged in an engrossing activity took in 45 percent more snacking calories than those who were minimally distracted.
To protect yourself from a snack attack, don’t snack while doing attention-grabbing activities. Equally important, upgrade your snacks. Try Artichoke Cream; Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Hummus with Whole Grain Rye & Spelt Crackers; and celery sticks with Minted Tahini Sauce. All those recipes are in Dr. Mike’s “What to Eat When Cookbook.”
How breastfeeding improves mom’s health — down the road
In 2018, Sophie Power, 36, took a break at mile 50 in the 105-mile-long Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc to breastfeed her 3-month-old son. They both enjoyed the break. And we know it was good for her son’s health, who gains great benefits from being fed only breast milk for the first six months of life and enjoying solid foods and breast milk until at least a year old. But now a new study in JAMA Obstetrics and Gynecology reveals that Mom gets a boost in her well-being too, years (if not miles) down the road.
The researchers looked at data on over 200,000 women and found breastfeeding a baby for more than 12 months is associated with reducing mom’s risk for diabetes later in life by 30 percent and for high blood pressure by 13 percent when compared with breastfeeding for less than 12 months.
The researchers say the benefits may come from a combination of factors: Breastfeeding burns up around 500 calories a day and it mobilizes fat stores, decreases the risk of obesity and increases good HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, the bonding hormone oxytocin plays a big role in breastfeeding and is known to reduce a woman’s stress response and lower blood pressure.
Although it can be tough to juggle work, other kids and breastfeeding, the rewards are tangible for baby and Mom. So, if needed, seek help from your doctor and a lactation consultant (online is possible). Find one at https://tinyurl.com/yxn3ja6j.
What’s up, doc?
In the 1940s, Bugs Bunny declared, “Carrots are divine … You get a dozen for a dime. It’s maaaa-gic!” The magic, it turns out, is mostly from the beta carotene they contain. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and is an essential building block of vitamin A.
According to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition, eating carrots is a great way to lower your lousy LDL by 10 mg/dL in 10 days. Another study from Canada’s University of Otago lists raw carrots as the No. 1 vegetable for improved mental health. The researchers, writing in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, hypothesize it’s because raw carrots deliver more brain- and cardiovascular-friendly nutrients. The National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements says 1/2 cup of raw carrots contains half of your daily value for vitamin A.
So, grate some carrots onto your salad tonight and try this Carrot Crema recipe from Dr. Mike’s “What to Eat When Cookbook.” Ingredients: 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 4 medium-large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds;
1/2 cup water; 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.
Instructions: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Spread out the carrots in a single layer. Cook without stirring, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water. Reduce to medium-low heat; simmer until the carrots are tender, but not too soft, 4-5 minutes. Scrape carrots and juices into a high-speed blender. Blend for a few 30-second intervals, scraping down the sides after each time. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and puree until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt. Magnifique!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.