Carvings  April 1, 2022

In the news

More on COVID-19 and diabetes – and a heads-up on screening

            In the last post I mentioned that in some persons who experienced abnormally high blood sugar after having been infected by the coronavirus, their sugar metabolism returned to normal. That left the rest with persistent elevations, meaning that they had developed type 2 diabetes. This has been confirmed by physicians at the VA health facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

            Among more than 180,000 persons with prior COVID-19 infection many still had a diabetes profile at the end of one year. Nearly all had type 2 diabetes. That surprised me, since some observers noted that this coronavirus damaged insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, a hallmark of type 1 diabetes. But then, these cases didn’t entirely resemble the pattern of type 2 diabetes either. The good news is that we can expect to learn much more about both types of diabetes, an eventual benefit for mankind.

            I have long encouraged annual diabetes screening for persons at greater risk as early as age ten!: those who are overweight, of black, Hispanic or Pacific Islander ancestry, persons with a family history of type 2 diabetes. Everyone over the age of 40 should be screened every year. You can add another group that should be screened: anyone who has experienced COVID-19, even if the symptoms were mild. Remember that prediabetes or the early stages of type 2 diabetes show no symptoms but the diagnosis can be made in many cases with a simple blood test and in nearly everyone with the next level of testing.

Lifestyle

Low-carb diet can include good carbs

Your grocery cart should be full – of fruits and vegetables. That might seem to be a challenge for persons on a low-carb diet that limits even the beneficial carbs in plant foods, especially in the early phases of the diet. However, the South Beach Diet lists 83 (!) legumes and vegetables that can be eaten in Phase One. The key, of course, is to limit the serving size to no more than ½ cup of legumes and two cups of vegetables with any meal. Two cups may sound like a lot for a weight-reduction diet but it is not a lot of calories because vegetables are comprised mostly of water and fiber.

            A two-cup “serving” is about the size of a medium-sized person’s fist. You can confirm the size of your own fist by putting 2 cups of water in a 4-cup measuring cup. Immerse your fist and see where the water level ends up. Your fist then becomes a practical guide to a 2-cup serving size. If you’re a big guy it might be only 2/3 of your fist; if you are small-framed it might be a little more. Don’t get hung up on small differences!!

            Vegetables – and even fruits — have very few calories per ounce; their fiber and water content give you a feeling of fullness that goes a long way to relieving hunger and especially, cravings. And the more colorful they are the higher content of antioxidants. Plants give us more vitamins than any other food and although they lose some of these in storage and shipping, only whole grains even come close. And junk food? Forgeddaboutit!

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