Diabetes

Low-calorie sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, can allow people with diabetes to enjoy sweet foods and drinks that do not affect their blood sugar levels. A range of sweeteners is available, each of which has different pros and cons.

In this article, we look at seven of the best low-calorie sweeteners for people with diabetes.

1. Stevia

Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. To make stevia, manufacturers extract chemical compounds called steviol glycosides from the leaves of the plant.

This highly-processed and purified product is around 300 times sweeter than sucrose, or table sugar, and it is available under different brand names, including Truvia, SweetLeaf, and Sun Crystals.

Stevia has several pros and cons that people with diabetes will need to weigh up. This sweetener is calorie-free and does not raise blood sugar levels. However, it is often more expensive than other sugar substitutes on the market.

Stevia also has a bitter aftertaste that many people may find unpleasant. Some people report nausea, bloating, and stomach upset after consuming stevia.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classify sweeteners made from high-purity steviol glycosides to be “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. However, they do not consider stevia leaf or crude stevia extracts to be safe, and it is illegal to sell them or import them into the U.S.

According to the FDA, the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of stevia is 4 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of a person’s body weight. Accordingly, a person who weighs 60 kg, or 132 pounds (lb), can safely consume 9 packets of the tabletop sweetener version of stevia.

Various stevia products are available to purchase online.

2. Tagatose

Tagatose is a form of fructose that is around 90 percent sweeter than sucrose. Although rare, tagatose does occur naturally in some fruits, such as apples, oranges, and pineapples. Manufacturers use tagatose in foods as a low-calorie sweetener, texturizer, and stabilizer.

Not only do the FDA class tagatose as GRAS, but scientists are interested in its potential to help manage type 2 diabetes. Some studies indicate that tagatose has a low glycemic index (GI) and may be beneficial in the treatment of obesity. GI is a measure of a food’s potential to affect a person’s blood sugar levels.

Tagatose may be of particular benefit to people with diabetes who are following a low-GI diet. However, this sugar substitute is more expensive than other low-calorie sweeteners and may be harder to find in stores.

Tagatose products are available to purchase online.

3. Sucralose

Sucralose, available under the brand name Splenda, is an artificial sweetener made from sucrose. Sucralose is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar but contains very few calories.

Sucralose is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners, and it is widely available. Manufacturers add it to a range of products from chewing gum to baked goods.

Sucralose is heat-stable, whereas many other artificial sweeteners lose their flavor at high temperatures. This makes sucralose a popular choice for sugar-free baking and sweetening hot drinks.

The FDA have approved sucralose as a general-purpose sweetener and set an ADI of 5 mg/kg of body weight. A person weighing 60 kg, or 132 lb, can safely consume 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of sucralose.

However, recent studies have raised some health concerns. A 2016 study found that male mice that consumed sucralose were more likely to develop malignant tumors. The researchers note that more studies are necessary to confirm the safety of sucralose.

A range of sucralose products is available to purchase online.

4. Aspartame

Aspartame is a very common artificial sweetener that has been available in the U.S. since the 1980s. It is around 200 times sweeter than sugar, and manufacturers add it to a wide variety of food products, including diet soda. Aspartame is available in grocery stores under the brand names Nutrasweet and Equal.

Unlike sucralose, aspartame is not a good sugar substitute for baking. Aspartame breaks down at high temperatures, so people generally only use it as a tabletop sweetener.

Aspartame is also not safe for people with a rare genetic disorder known as phenylketonuria.

The FDA consider aspartame to be safe at an ADI of 50 mg/kg of body weight. Therefore, someone with a body weight of 60 kg, or 132 lb, could consume 75 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of aspartame.

Many different aspartame products are available to purchase online.

5. Acesulfame potassium

Acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K and Ace-K, is an artificial sweetener that is around 200 times sweeter than sugar. Manufacturers often combine acesulfame potassium with other sweeteners to combat its bitter aftertaste. It is available under the brand names Sunett and Sweet One.

The FDA have approved acesulfame potassium as a low-calorie sweetener and state that the results of more than 90 studies support its safety. A 2017 study in mice has suggested a possible association between acesulfame potassium and weight gain, but further research is necessary to confirm this.

The FDA have set an ADI for acesulfame potassium of 15 mg/kg of body weight. This is equivalent to a 60 kg, or 132 lb, person consuming 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of acesulfame potassium.

6. Saccharin

Saccharin is another widely available artificial sweetener. There are several different brands of saccharin, including Sweet Twin, Sweet’N Low, and Necta Sweet. Saccharin is a zero-calorie sweetener that is 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar.

According to the FDA, there were safety concerns in the 1970s after research found a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in laboratory rats. However, more than 30 human studies now support the safety of saccharin, and the National Institutes of Health no longer consider this sweetener to have the potential to cause cancer.

The FDA have determined the ADI of saccharin to be 15 mg/kg of body weight, which means that a 60 kg, or 132 lb, person can consume 45 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of it.

People can purchase a range of saccharin products online.

7. Neotame

Neotame is a low-calorie artificial sweetener that is about 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than table sugar. Neotame can tolerate high temperatures, which means that it is suitable for baking. It is available under the brand name Newtame.

The FDA approved neotame in 2002 as a general-purpose sweetener and flavour enhancer for all foods except for meat and poultry. They state that more than 113 animal and human studies support the safety of neotame.

The FDA have set an ADI for neotame of 0.3 mg/kg of body weight. This is equivalent to a 60 kg, or 132 lb, person consuming 23 packets of a tabletop sweetener version of neotame.

Considerations when choosing a sweetener

When choosing a low-calorie sweetener, some general considerations include:

  • Intended use. Many sugar substitutes do not withstand high temperatures so they would make poor choices for baking.
  • Cost. Some sugar substitutes are very expensive, whereas others have a cost more comparable to that of table sugar.
  • Availability. Some sugar substitutes are more widely available in stores than others.
  • Taste. Some sugar substitutes, such as stevia, have a bitter aftertaste that many people may find unpleasant.
  • Natural versus artificial. Some people prefer using natural sweeteners, such as stevia, rather than artificial sugar substitutes.

Summary

Many people with diabetes need to avoid or limit sugary foods. Low-calorie sweeteners can allow them to enjoy a sweet treat without it affecting their blood sugar levels.

There is a range of sweeteners to choose from, each with different pros and cons. Although the FDA generally consider these sugar substitutes to be safe, it is still best to consume them in moderation.

Stroke prevention can start today. Protect yourself and avoid stroke, regardless of your age or family history.

What can you do to prevent stroke? Age makes us more susceptible to having a stroke, as does having a mother, father, or other close relative who has had a stroke.

You can’t reverse the years or change your family history, but there are many other stroke risk factors that you can control—provided that you’re aware of them. “Knowledge is power,” says Dr. Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and associate director of the Acute Stroke Service at Massachusetts General Hospital. “If you know that a particular risk factor is sabotaging your health and predisposing you to a higher risk of stroke, you can take steps to alleviate the effects of that risk.”

How to prevent stroke
Here are seven ways to start reining in your risks today to avoid stroke, before a stroke has the chance to strike.
1. Lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is a huge factor, doubling or even quadrupling your stroke risk if it is not controlled. “High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke in both men and women,” Dr. Rost says. “Monitoring blood pressure and, if it is elevated, treating it, is probably the biggest difference people can make to their vascular health.”

Your ideal goal: Maintain a blood pressure of less than 135/85. But for some, a less aggressive goal (such as 140/90) may be more appropriate.

How to achieve it:
*Reduce the salt in your diet to no more than 1,500 milligrams a day (about a half teaspoon).
*Avoid high-cholesterol foods, such as burgers, cheese, and ice cream.
*Eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day, one serving of fish two to three times a week, and several daily servings of whole grains and low-fat dairy.
*Get more exercise — at least 30 minutes of activity a day, and more, if possible.
*Quit smoking, if you smoke.
*If needed, take blood pressure medicines.

2. Lose weight
Obesity, as well as the complications linked to it (including high blood pressure and diabetes), raises your odds of having a stroke. If you’re overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can have a real impact on your stroke risk.

Your goal: While an ideal body mass index (BMI) is 25 or less, that may not be realistic for you. Work with your doctor to create a personal weight loss strategy.

How to achieve it:
*Try to eat no more than 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day (depending on your activity level and your current BMI).
*Increase the amount of exercise you do with activities like walking, golfing, or playing tennis, and by making activity part of every single day.

3. Exercise more
Exercise contributes to losing weight and lowering blood pressure, but it also stands on its own as an independent stroke reducer.

Your goal: Exercise at a moderate intensity at least five days a week.

How to achieve it:
Take a walk around your neighborhood every morning after breakfast.
Start a fitness club with friends.
When you exercise, reach the level at which you’re breathing hard, but you can still talk.
Take the stairs instead of an elevator when you can.
If you don’t have 30 consecutive minutes to exercise, break it up into 10- to 15-minute sessions a few times each day.

4. If you drink — do it in moderation
Drinking a little alcohol may decrease your risk of stroke. “Studies show that if you have about one drink per day, your risk may be lower,” says to Dr. Rost. “Once you start drinking more than two drinks per day, your risk goes up very sharply.”

Your goal: Don’t drink alcohol or do it in moderation.

How to achieve it:
*Have no more than one glass of alcohol a day.
*Make red wine your first choice, because it contains resveratrol, which is thought to protect the heart and brain.
*Watch your portion sizes. A standard-sized drink is a 5-ounce glass of wine, 12-ounce beer, or 1.5-ounce glass of hard liquor.

5. Treat atrial fibrillation
Atrial fibrillation is a form of irregular heartbeat that causes clots to form in the heart. Those clots can then travel to the brain, producing a stroke. “Atrial fibrillation carries almost a fivefold risk of stroke, and should be taken seriously,” Dr. Rost says.

Your goal: If you have atrial fibrillation, get it treated.

How to achieve it:
*If you have symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath, see your doctor for an exam.
*You may need to take an anticoagulant drug (blood thinner) such as warfarin (Coumadin) or one of the newer direct-acting anticoagulant drugs to reduce your stroke risk from atrial fibrillation. Your doctors can guide you through this treatment.

6. Treat diabetes
Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels over time, making clots more likely to form inside them.
Your goal: Keep your blood sugar under control.

How to achieve it:
*Monitor your blood sugar as directed by your doctor.
*Use diet, exercise, and medicines to keep your blood sugar within the recommended range.

7. Quit smoking
Smoking accelerates clot formation in a couple of different ways. It thickens your blood, and it increases the amount of plaque buildup in the arteries. “Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, smoking cessation is one of the most powerful lifestyle changes that will help you reduce your stroke risk significantly,” Dr. Rost says.

Your goal: Quit smoking.

How to achieve it:
*Ask your doctor for advice on the most appropriate way for you to quit.
*Use quit-smoking aids, such as nicotine pills or patches, counseling, or medicine.
*Don’t give up. Most smokers need several tries to quit. See each attempt as bringing you one step closer to successfully beating the habit.

Identify a stroke F-A-S-T
Too many people ignore the signs of stroke because they question whether their symptoms are real. “My recommendation is, don’t wait if you have any unusual symptoms,” Dr. Rost advises. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. If something is off, get professional help right away.”

The National Stroke Association has created an easy acronym to help you remember, and act on, the signs of a stroke. Cut out this image and post it on your refrigerator for easy reference.
FAST – Identify a stroke FAST chart
Signs of a stroke include: weakness on one side of the body; numbness of the face; unusual and severe headache; vision loss; numbness and tingling; and unsteady walk.

*Culled from Harvard Special Health Report Stroke: Diagnosing, treating, and recovering from a “brain attack.”

There are many reasons why drinking papaya juice has become more popular in recent years, although it has been a cultural staple in many areas of the world for centuries.

What is Papaya Juice?

Papaya juice is made from the fruit of the papaya tree, which is native to the tropical areas of the Americas, particularly Mesoamerica and the Caribbean. The fruit is actually a large berry and is roughly the same size as a large potato. The outside of the ripe fruit is an amber or orange color and you can tell when the fruit is ripe when the outer skin is slightly soft to the touch. The inside of the fruit has a cavity filled with dozens of black seeds in a clear pulp, but the orange flesh is the part of the fruit that is eaten, and also turned into juice.

Papaya juice benefits from a rich supply of vitamin and nutrients including vitamin C and folate in large quantities, followed by vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin K, various B-family vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, and a number of phytochemicals, carotenoids and other antioxidant compounds. While many people choose to eat papaya fruit raw, you can get an even more concentrated boost of these nutrients if you choose to drink papaya juice. It is not the most widely available juice on the market, but it is also quite easy to make at home so you can enjoy its many health benefits.

Benefits of Papaya Juice

Some of the best benefits papaya juice offers are its ability to clear up skin inflammation, lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, prevent chronic disease and cancer, improve nerve function, build strong bones, boost cardiovascular health, aid vision, and reduce inflammation.

Prevents Cancer

This exotic fruit has a wealth of beta-carotene, lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin and isothiocyanates, all of which seek out and neutralize free radicals in the body that can cause mutation and cancer. Some of these active ingredients also promote the production of tumor-suppressing proteins, making this juice both a preventative measure and a supplementary treatment.

Strengthens Nervous System

High levels of copper are required for our nervous system to effectively communicate with other parts of the body. Although copper is often overlooked, it is found in significant levels in papaya juice.

Promotes Strong Bones

Papaya juice contains nearly a dozen different minerals, and while some of them are in trace amounts, many of them contribute to the strength and durability of your bones. By increasing bone mineral density with a glass of this juice each morning, you can prevent or delay osteoporosis as you age.

Soothes Inflammation

Papain is a critical digestive enzyme found in this tropical fruit but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can affect the rest of the body. Combined with vitamin C and other antioxidants in this fruit, it can soothe symptoms of arthritis, headache, gout, irritable bowel syndrome and high blood pressure, among others.

Reduces Blood Pressure

A more specific blood pressure-lowering compound in papaya juice is potassium. This legendary vasodilator will relieve stress and strain on your cardiovascular system by easing the tension in blood vessels and promoting better circulation.

Improves Heart Health

Not only is papaya juice rich in antioxidants, which can lower the oxidative stress in blood vessels and arteries, but it is also a rich source of folate, which can suppress homocysteine levels and keep your cholesterol levels down. In addition to vitamin C and other key minerals, this can protect the integrity of your arteries and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Boosts Immunity

A single papaya has more than 300% of the daily required vitamin C intake for an adult male, and while some of that vitamin C will be lost in the blending process, it still gives you an incredible immune system boost, particularly when supported by arange of antioxidants that prevent mutation and chronic disease. 

Improves Vision

Boasting high levels of beta-carotene, papaya is well known as a vision booster, capable of preventing the oxidative stress in the retina that causes macular degeneration, while also slowing down the development of cataracts.

How to Make Papaya Juice?

Papaya juice can be purchased at some grocery stores but papaya nectar is also a popular product, which offers more added sugar and less overall nutrients. So be careful about what variety you are purchasing. Making your own juice at home also guarantees that you know precisely what is being added to this healthy drink. Papaya has a very strong sweet flavor, so most recipes include other fruits or spices to make the drink more palatable.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh papaya, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of fresh pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 cup of water, filtered

Step 1 – Remove the skin from the papaya, cut it in half, and scoop out the seeds.

Step 2 – Chop the papaya into chunks that can fit in your blender.

Step 3 – Add the papaya, pineapple, honey and water to the blender.

Step 4 – Blend thoroughly for 2-3 minutes until the beverage has a smooth consistency.

Step 5 – You can add more water or pineapple juice if the mixture is still too thick.

Step 6 – Add more honey for sweetness, if desired and blend for another 5-10 seconds.

Step 7 – Serve chilled and enjoy!

Note: Unlike many other fruit juices, papaya is not high in fibrous material when blended, so there is no need to use a sieve or filter to remove the pulp.

How Long Can You Store Papaya Juice?

Preparing this juice should always be done with ripe fruit, and the juice should be consumed relatively soon after preparing. Most experts recommend drinking any prepared juice or smoothie within 24-36 hours. Once fruit becomes exposed to oxygen, many varieties will begin to oxidize, causing a change in the color and the quality of the nutrients. A great way to slow down the oxidation of the juice is to add a few drops of lemon juice.

Papaya juice has a number of powerful enzymes that will actually begin to break down the components of other juice, if you blend them, so it is best not to store this juice for very long. Refrigerating your papaya juice for 12-24 hours in an airtight container should help it retain most of its nutrients and flavor.

Side Effects of Papaya Juice

While many people praise the benefits of papaya juice, there are some potential side effects that should be taken into consideration, such as skin discoloration, stomach problems, an increased risk of kidney stones and possible allergic reactions. In most cases, these side effects can be avoided by consuming this juice in moderation but for those with sensitive stomachs or allergies, consume this juice with caution.

  • Stomach Upset – One of the active ingredients in papaya, called papain, is excellent for gastrointestinal issues when consumed in normal amounts. However, if too much of this enzyme enters the system, it can cause bloating, cramping, diarrhea and other stomach problems.
  • Skin Discoloration – Papayas are packed with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that helps the body in many different ways, but if you go overboard with drinking papaya juice, it can turn your skin into an orange hue. This is harmless, and will normally go away within a day or so.
  • Kidney Problems – This tropical fruit is overflowing with vitamin C, which is excellent news for your immune system, but having too much vitamin C in your system can cause a rise in oxalate levels in the body, which can contribute to the development of kidney stones. If you already suffer from kidney issues, speak with a doctor before adding this juice to your daily diet.
  • Allergic Reactions – The digestive enzyme in papayas can also act as an allergen for certain people, causing shortness of breath, runny nose or itchy eyes but generally, the symptoms are mild. 1-2 glasses of papaya juice per day is more than enough to enjoy the benefits without suffering from the side effects.

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avocado-oil
avocado-oil
While avocado oil is best known for its uses in cooking, it can also contribute to skin care. The oil is an ingredient in many types of creams, moisturizers, and sunscreens.

In this article, we explore the benefits of avocado oil for the skin and describe the best ways to apply it.

Eight benefits for the skin

Avocado oil is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, D, and E. Below are some of the ways it can benefit the skin:

1. Moisturizes and nourishes

In addition to vitamin E, avocado oil contains potassium, lecithin, and many other nutrients that can nourish and moisturize the skin.

The outermost layer of skin, known as the epidermis, easily absorbs these nutrients, which also help to form new skin.

2. Relieves inflammation from psoriasis and eczema

The antioxidants and vitamins in avocado oil may help to heal the dry, irritated, and flaky skin associated with eczema and psoriasis.

A person with a skin condition may wish to test a patch of skin first, to ensure that the oil does not trigger or aggravate their symptoms.

3. Prevents and treats acne

When left on for short periods of time and rinsed off with warm water, avocado oil can keep skin hydrated without leaving an oily residue. This may reduce the risk of acne.

Avocado oil also has anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to reduce the redness and inflammation associated with acne.

4. Accelerates wound healing

Avocado oil may help wounds to heal more quickly. One 2013 study found that the essential fatty acids and oleic acid in avocado oil can promote collagen synthesis, which is the process of creating new connective tissue.

The essential fatty acids in avocado oil were also found to help reduce inflammation during the healing process.

More studies are needed in humans, however, to determine whether avocado oil can be used to treat wounds.

5. Treats sunburned skin

The antioxidants in avocado oil may help to ease the symptoms of a sunburn. According to a 2011 review, the vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin D, protein, lecithin, and essential fatty acids in the oil can support healing and soothe the skin.

Other small studies have shown that consuming avocados may help to protect the skin from harmful UV radiation.

6. Reduces signs of ageing

The first signs of ageing usually appear on the skin. Some studies have shown that consuming healthful fats, such as those found in avocados, can help the skin to retain its elasticity.

However, researchers have yet to address whether applying avocado oil to the skin has the same effect.

7. Improves nail health

While some people use avocado oil to heal dry, brittle nails, little scientific evidence confirms this benefit.

However, using natural oils to keep the nails and surrounding skin soft may help to reduce breakage.

8. Improves scalp health

Applying avocado oil to the scalp as a hot oil mask can help to reduce dandruff and other problems caused by a dry, flaky scalp.

How to use

Avocado oil can be massaged into the skin, used in a face mask, or added to lotions, creams, shower gels, or bath oils. It can be used on skin daily without adverse effects.

As a facial moisturizer

To use avocado as a facial moisturizer, a person can take the inside of an avocado peel and massage it onto their face. Leave the residue on for about 15 minutes, then rinse the face with warm water.

Bottled avocado oil can also be used to moisture the face at night. Wash it off the following morning.

In the bath

Adding a few tablespoons of avocado oil to a bath can leave the whole body feeling soft and help to prevent hot water from drying out the skin.

It can also be mixed with a person’s favourite bath oil, such as lavender or aloe vera.

As a moisturizer

Combine avocado oil with other essential oils and massage the mixture into the skin after a bath. Pat the skin dry with a towel before using the oil.

Avocado oil is also effective on its own and can be applied all over the body to keep skin soft.

For scalp care

A person with a dry scalp may benefit from using avocado oil in a hot oil treatment. To heat the oil, pour 3–5 tablespoons into a small glass jar, and place the jar in a saucepan of recently boiled water.

Test the temperature of the oil frequently, to prevent it from getting too hot. When the oil is warm, remove the jar from the water and gently massage the oil into the scalp.

The oil can be left overnight and shampooed out in the morning. This may help to reduce dandruff and dry, flaky skin on the scalp.

Treating dry, inflamed skin

To heal and soften rough, dry skin, mix equal amounts of avocado and olive oils, and apply the mixture to the skin once or twice a day.

To give the mixture a scent, try one or two drops of an essential oil, such as lavender.

Other health benefits of avocado oil

Research suggests that avocado oil can help to prevent several health issues, including diabetes and high cholesterol. A study from 2014 found avocado oil to have as many healthful benefits as olive oil.

A 2017 study concluded that avocado oil could reduce the oxidative damage that causes kidney damage in people with type 2 diabetes. The result stems from oleic acid, a “healthy” fat, which is the primary component of the oil. More research is needed in humans, however, before this claim can be fully supported.

In addition to fighting kidney damage, oleic acid is known for its ability to lower the risk of developing some cancers, preventing flare-ups of some autoimmune diseases, speeding up cell regeneration to promote healing, aiding in eliminating microbial infections, and reducing inflammation throughout the body.

Another study reported that oleic acid may help to reduce inflammation and pain associated with arthritis.

Risks

The best way to rule out an allergy is to do a patch test. Apply a small amount of avocado oil to a 1-inch patch of skin on the inside of the arm. If no irritation occurs over a 24-hour period, the oil can be safely used on other parts of the skin.

Anyone allergic to avocados should avoid contact with avocado oil.

Takeaway

Organic avocado oil is easy to incorporate into a skincare regimen. It can be purchased online or at many health food stores.

There are few risks to using avocado oil, but anyone with a preexisting skin condition may wish to speak with a doctor before trying a new home remedy.

Alcohol
Alcohol
This feature is part of CNN Parallels, an interactive series exploring ways you can improve your health by making small changes to your daily habits.
A lot of us drink. Too many of us drink a lot. Worldwide, each person 15 years and older consumes 13.5 grams of pure alcohol per day, according to the World Health Organization. Considering that nearly half of the world doesn’t drink at all, that leaves the other half drinking up their share.
While the majority of the world drinks liquor, Americans prefer beer. The Beverage Marketing Corp. tracks these things: In 2017, Americans guzzled about 27 gallons of beer (or 216 pints), 2.6 gallons of wine and 2.2 gallons of spirits per drinking-age adult. But Americans are lightweights in any worldwide drinking game, based on numbers from the World Health Organization. The Eastern European countries of Lithuania, Belarus, Czechia (the Czech Republic), Croatia and Bulgaria drink us under the table.
In fact, measuring liters drunk by anyone over 15, the US ranks 36th in the category of most sloshed nation; Austria comes in sixth; France is ninth (more wine) and Ireland 15th (yes, they drink more beer), while the UK ranks 18th.
Who drinks the least in the world? The Arab nations of the Middle East.
With all this boozing going on, just what damage does alcohol do to your health? Let’s explore what science says are the downsides of having a tipple or two.
Counting calories
Even if you aren’t watching your waistline, you might be shocked at the number of empty calories you can easily consume during happy hour.
Calories are typically defined by a “standard” drink. In the US, that’s about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol, which differs depending on the type of adult beverage you consume.
For example, a standard drink of beer is one 12-ounce can (355 milliliters). For malt liquor, it’s 8 to 9 fluid ounces (251 milliliters). A standard drink of red or white wine is about 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters).
What’s considered a standard drink continues to go down as the alcohol content goes up. But what if that changes? Let’s use beer as an example.
It used to be that light beer came in around 100 calories while regular beer averaged 153 calories per 12-fluid ounce can or bottle — that’s the same as two or three Oreo cookies.
But beer calories depend on both alcohol content and carbohydrate level. So if you’re a fan of today’s popular craft beers, which often have extra carbs and higher alcohol content, you could easily face a calorie land mine in every can. Let’s say you chose a highly ranked IPA, such as Sierra Nevada Bigfoot (9.6% alcohol) or Narwhal (10.2% alcohol), and you’ve downed a whopping 318 to 344 calories, about as much as a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Did you drink just one?
If you pour correctly, white wine is about 120 calories per 5 fluid ounces, and red is 125. If you fill your glass to the brim, that might easily double.
Liquor? Gin, rum, vodka, tequila and whiskey cost you 97 calories per 1.5 fluid ounces, but that’s without mixers. An average margarita will cost you 168 calories while a pina colada weighs in at a whopping 490 calories, about the same as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder.
A 2013 study in the US found that calorie intake went up on drinking days compared with non-drinking days, mostly due to alcohol: Men took in 433 extra calories, while women added 299 calories.
But alcohol can also affect our self-control, which can lead to overeating. A 1999 study found that people ate more when they had an aperitif before dinner than if they abstained.
Take heart. If you’re a light to moderate drinker, meaning you stick to US guidelines of one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men, studies have shown that you aren’t guaranteed to gain weight over time — especially if you live an overall healthy lifestyle.
For example, a 2002 study of almost 25,000 Finnish men and women over five-year intervals found that moderate alcohol consumption, combined with a physically active lifestyle, no smoking and healthy food choices, “maximizes the chances of having a normal weight.”
However, it appears that heavy drinking and binge drinking could be linked to obesity. And that’s a problem. The numbers of binge drinkers — defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within a couple of hours at least once a month — has been rising in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one in six adults binge about four times a month, downing about eight drinks in each binge.
In the UK, where binge drinking is defined as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk,” a 2016 national survey found 2.5 million people admitted to binge drinking in the last week.
Alcohol, of course, has no nutritional value and contains 7 calories per gram — more than protein and even carbs, which both have 4 calories. Fat has 9 calories per gram.
All those empty alcohol calories have to end up somewhere.
Heart disease and cancer
The prevailing wisdom for years has been that drinking in moderation — again, that’s one “standard” drink a day for women and two for men — is linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. But recent studies are casting doubt on that long-held lore. Science now says it depends on your age and drinking habits.
A 2017 study of nearly 2 million Brits with no cardiovascular risk found that there was still a modest benefit in moderate drinking, especially for women over 55 who drank five drinks a week. Why that age? Alcohol can alter cholesterol and clotting in the blood in positive ways, experts say, and that’s about the age when heart problems begin to occur.
For everyone else, the small protective effect on the heart was evident only if the drinks were spaced out during the week. Consuming heavily in one session, or binge drinking, has been linked to heart attacks — or what the English call “holiday heart.”
Also, a 2018 study found that drinking more than 100 grams of alcohol per week — equal to roughly seven standard drinks in the United States or five to six glasses of wine in the UK — increases your risk of death from all causes and in turn lowers your life expectancy. Links were found with different forms of cardiovascular disease, with people who drank more than 100 grams per week having a higher risk of stroke, heart failure, fatal hypertensive disease and fatal aortic aneurysm, where an artery or vein swells up and could burst.
In contrast, the 2018 study found that higher levels of alcohol were also linked to a lower risk of heart attack, or myocardial infarction.
Overall, however, the latest thinking is that any heart benefit may be outweighed by other health risks, such as high blood pressure, pancreatitis, certain cancers and liver damage.
Women who drink are at a higher risk for breast cancer; alcohol contributes about 6% of the overall risk, possibly because it raises certain dangerous hormones in the blood. Drinking can also increase the chance you might develop bowel, liver, mouth and oral cancers.
One potential reason: Alcohol weakens our immune systems, making us more susceptible to inflammation, a driving force behind cancer, as well as infections and the integrity of the microbiome in our digestive tract. That’s true not only for chronic drinkers but for those who binge, as well.
Diabetes
The connection between alcohol and diabetes is complicated. Studies show that drinking moderately over three or four days a week may actually lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, drinking heavily increases the risk. Too much alcohol inflames the pancreas, which is responsible for secreting insulin to regulate your body’s blood sugars.
If you have diabetes, alcohol may interact with various medications. If you take insulin or any pills that stimulate the release of insulin, alcohol can lead to hypoglycemia, a dangerously low blood sugar level, because alcohol stimulates the release of insulin as well. That’s why experts recommend never drinking on an empty stomach. Instead, drink with a meal or at least some carbs.
And, of course, because alcohol is made by fermenting sugar and starch, it’s full of empty calories, which contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Mood and memory
Because alcohol is a depressant, drinking can drown your mood. It may not seem that way while you “party” your inhibitions away, but that’s just the drink depressing the part of the brain we use to control our actions. The more you drink, say experts, the more your negative emotions, such as anxiety, anger and depression, can take over.
That’s why binge drinking or drinking a lot in one sitting is associated with higher levels of depression, self-harm, suicide and violent offending.
Binge drinking is also associated with severe “blackouts”: the inability to remember what happened while drunk. Blackouts can range from small memory blips, such as forgetting a name, to more serious incidents, such as forgetting an entire evening.
Alcohol does this by decreasing the electrical activity of the neurons in your hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for the formation of short-term memories. Keep up that binge drinking, and you can permanently damage the hippocampus and develop sustained memory or cognitive problems.
Adolescents are most susceptible to alcohol’s memory disruption but less sensitive to the intoxicating effects. That means they can easily drink more to feel as “drunk” as an adult would, causing even more damage to their brains.
How you look
Last but certainly not least, alcohol can have a significant effect on your good looks. First, it dehydrates you. That can leave your skin looking parched and wrinkled. It’s also linked to rosacea, a skin condition causing redness, pimples and swelling on your face.
Do you know you can stink while you’re drinking? During the time your liver is processing a single drink, which is on average an hour but varies for everyone, some of it leaves your body via your breath, urine and sweat.
Another reason drinking can affect your looks has to do with sleep. Although even a little bit of alcohol can help you fall asleep quickly, as the alcohol is metabolized and leaves the body you may suffer the “rebound effect.” Instead of staying asleep, the body enters lighter sleep and wakefulness, which appears to get worse the more one drinks.
A lack of sleep leads to dark circles, puffy eyes and stress. Keep it up, studies say, and you’re likely to see more signs of aging and a much lower satisfaction with your appearance.
So the next time you head to the pub for tipple or two, remember: You could be paying a price for all that fun.
By Sandee LaMotte | CNN
CNN’s Mark Lieber contributed to this report.

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diabetes

You may know what Type 2 diabetes is and are aware of some of its complications. What you may not know, or have a limited understanding of, is who develops this form of diabetes or who is more likely to become afflicted.

First, let us start by eliminating the most obvious option, which is not everyone develops Type 2 diabetes. Coincidences aside, this means some people are more likely to become afflicted than others. Which leads us to…

Some racial, ethnic, and age groups have higher rates of diabetes than others. We ought, to begin with, look at the factors already predetermined. Unfortunately, some people are by nature more at risk than others because of their background and family history. Statistics show…

  • anyone over the age of 55,
  • anyone over 45 with a weight problem
  • any woman who had high blood sugar levels during pregnancy,
  • African-Americans,
  • Latinos,
  • Native Americans,
  • any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander,
  • anyone from the Pacific Islands, Indian sub-continent, or of
  • Chinese and Middle Eastern cultural background,

are more at risk. Family history is also correlated with a higher risk.Fortunately, these uncontrollable factors play a small role in the development of the disease. Let us talk about the major ones…

Unhealthy eating habits. Anyone who eats unhealthy food is more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. If the carbohydrate intake is excessive and is combined with poor food choices, it is a sure recipe for blood sugar problems in the future. Those who do have high blood sugar levels always have a food issue – Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease and does not afflict anyone who has a healthy lifestyle, barring rare exceptions.

Physical inactivity. Those who are physically inactive are more at risk. It is not that physical inactivity alone causes Type 2 diabetes, but it facilitates its development, especially when you consider most people who are sedentary are also likely to have poor diets. Combine the two, and you have the recipe for blood sugar complications.

Harmful eating habits and being inactive often mean the development of another health problem, which is…

Obesity. Many adults are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and the majority are overweight or obese. The relationship between these issues is clear.

Who gets diabetes? Technically, those with poor eating habits tend to develop the disease, but that is the broader cause. The symptom of this is usually obesity, which can be easily identified, so it might be easier to respond by starting with those who are overweight or obese develop Type 2 diabetes.

By extension, anyone who leads an unhealthy lifestyle will be vulnerable to the disease as well. However, this can be seen as the culmination of all we have talked about. One thing is for sure: those who lead a healthy lifestyle which includes nutrition and activity habits, are the least likely to develop problems with their blood sugar levels.

So, are you at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or have your recently been diagnosed? In any case, you know what you must do for prevention or treatment.

Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.

Nowadays, Nigerians who lead sedentary lifestyles and who have adopted irregular food habits, appear to be more prone to liver diseases than others. Fatty liver disease is the result of a build-up of fat in the liver. If the liver is healthy, there should be little or no fat in it. However, sometimes, fat molecules begin to collect in the liver cells. Small amounts of fat in the liver usually cause no problems. However, when too much fat builds in this organ, it can pose a lot of health hazards.

With the exception of the brain, the liver is the most complex organ and second largest organ in the body. Its function is to process everything we eat or drink and filter harmful substances from the blood. This process is however interrupted when the liver contains too much fat. When fat accounts for more than five percent of the liver’s weight, the condition is described as fatty liver.

It is becoming one of the most common types of liver disease and it’s also one of the causes of liver cancer and cirrhosis. The disease may also occur due to metabolic problems such as diabetes, obesity or Hepatitis B and C infection.

A diagnosis of fatty liver could raise the alarm for an impending Type 2 diabetes. Fatty liver disease can lead to an inflamed liver and scarring. This is called alcoholic hepatitis if it’s caused by drinking too much alcohol and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis if it’s not related to alcohol.

Risk factors

From what I have explained so far, it should be obvious that fatty liver disease is a lifestyle disease. Most people living with this disease are fat, obese and they take alcohol.

It is more common in men and persons above the age of 50. Hypertensive and diabetic patients are most likely to be diagnosed with fatty liver as they are already battling with high blood sugar, glucose and cholesterol.

However, chemicals like methotrexate and tamoxifen can, but rarely cause non-alcoholic fatty liver.

Symptoms

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease usually causes no signs and symptoms. When it does, they may include fatigue, poor appetite, pain in the upper right abdomen and weight loss.

Its complications include a swollen abdomen, itchy skin, vomiting of blood,  confusion or poor memory, weakness and muscle wasting and jaundice.

Diagnosis

Fatty liver disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because one may not have any symptoms. There is no single test that can be used to diagnose fatty liver disease, but one may carry out some blood tests, liver biopsy,  ultrasound, CT or MRI scan which help to create images of the liver. These images will show if there are any forms of fat in the liver.

Prevention

You may be able to prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by maintaining a healthy weight for your height. Being active try to do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week or 30 minutes of exercise for days.

Those who are obese or overweight, a gradual weight loss and regular exercise is advised. This not only helps with fatty liver but also it will help to reduce other risks of developing cardiovascular problems.

Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages because alcohol even in modest amounts may make fatty liver worse.

Eating healthy foods that are low in saturated fat and reduce your sugar intake to control your blood sugar. Manage your cholesterol levels and use liver supplements.

Conclusion

Alcoholic fatty liver disease is reversible. The liver should return to normal if one stops drinking alcohol. Even if one has been a heavy drinker for many years, reducing or stopping alcohol intake will have important short and long-term benefits on the liver and one’s overall health.

Most people don’t give blood circulation much thought. Even when they have common symptoms of poor blood circulation like numbness in the legs and hands, cold hands and feet, fatigue and swollen feet or fingers.

Ignoring these symptoms can lead to more serious problems like cardiovascular disease and stroke. Luckily, there are things you can start doing today to improve circulation. But making these changes may not help much if you don’t avoid habits that cause poor blood circulation. These habits include Heavy alcohol drinking, tobacco smoking, poor diet, inactivity, high caffeine intake.

Get a good massage

Massage creates pressure which forces blood in congested areas to flow. This pressure also allows easy flow of new blood to different body parts. Get a good massage several times a week if you experience the symptoms of poor blood circulation I mentioned above.

Add herbs into your diet

Some herbs are good for blood circulation. They strengthen the blood vessels and help unclog the arteries.

Research shows that gingko biloba and cayenne pepper improve circulation. Cayenne pepper strengthens the blood vessels and stimulates the heart while gingko Biloba improves blood flow which consequently improves memory.

Other helpful herbs include garlic, ginger, bilberry and parsley.

Keep your legs elevated

It’s hard for blood to flow from the feet to the heart since it has to flow uphill. In fact, this is the main reason poor blood circulation largely affects the legs. Elevating your legs will make it easier for blood to flow. Lift the legs above heart level and keep them elevated for 20 minutes.

Exercise every day

There’s a lot of research showing that exercise improves blood circulation. Even simple exercises like walking, climbing stairs can help. You may want to start with low intensity exercises if you’re out of shape and then increase intensity as you get fitter.

Reduce salt intake

Research shows that high salt intake can cause poor blood circulation. This is alarming because most people consume an average of 3.4 grammes of salt a day. That’s higher than the recommended 2.3 grammes per day.

Avoiding canned food and reading food labels can help reduce sodium in your diet.

Don’t wear tight clothes for long

Those skinny jeans can cut off blood circulation to the legs, research shows. In fact, one woman had to be hospitalised for four days because of squatting while wearing skinny jeans. On the other hand, clothes like the compression socks are said to improve blood circulation in the legs.

Drink more water

I don’t think you need any convincing that water is good for your health. Aim for two litres of water a day.

Here are tips that can help you drink more water.

Add nuts into your diet

Nuts contain vitamins and minerals that can improve blood circulation. According to this study, raw almonds and walnuts boost blood circulation. Nuts are also a great source of healthy fats. But eat them in moderation if you want to lose weight.

An Abuja based herbal doctor, Dr Bamidele Joshua, said the consumption of mango leaves helps in the treatment of kidney and gallstones among others.

He told the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja that consumption of mango leaves also helps in the treatment of many health conditions.

According to him, Mango leaves contain vitamins C, A and B as well as vital minerals such as Copper, Potassium and Magnesium.

He explained that the leaves could be boiled to be taken as water or dried into powder form to be used in any food or drink.

Joshua added that for medicinal purposes, the use of young and tender leaves was best for optimal benefits.

The expert noted that the consumption of the leaves helps prevent and regulate diabetes, lowers blood pressure, fights restlessness and stops hiccups.

Mango leaves are very useful for managing diabetes. The tender leaves of the mango tree contain tannins called anthocyanidins that may help in treating early diabetes.

Soak the leaves in a cup of water overnight, strain and drink this water to help relieve the symptoms of diabetes. It also helps in treating hyperglycemia.

Mango leaves also help to lower blood pressure as they have hypotensive properties that help in strengthening the blood vessels and treat the problem of varicose veins.

People suffering from restlessness due to anxiety should add few mango leaves to their bathing water. This helps in relaxing and refreshing the body.

Daily intake of a finely grounded powder of mango leaves with water kept in a tumbler overnight helps in breaking kidney and gallbladder stones as well flush them out.

Put some mango leaves in warm water, close the container with a lid, and leave it overnight. Next morning filter the water and drink this concoction on an empty stomach.

Regular intake of this infusion flushes out toxins from the body and keeps the stomach clean,” he said.

He however enjoined patients with serious health challenge to seek medical advice before consumption.

Healthy food means to eat clean and organic while keeping you away from the chemical and sugar rich foods. However, without even realizing their presence, our diet includes a major portion of artificial food content and high calories that claims to be significantly low. Such foods forms acids in the body and they are required to be eliminated as soon as possible. The foods creating inflammation disturb the hormonal balance in the body, congest the liver, and higher the blood sugar levels, as result, it nullify the efforts of restoring the good health.

Foods You Should Avoid While Losing Weight:-

Low Fat Ice Creams

Even when your ice creams are low on calories and loaded with the fruits, there are still lots of sugar content and harmful trans fat hidden inside the cup that makes you gain weight. Moreover, the artificial colours and flavours are nothing to do with your than worsening the situations. Instead, make your own ice cream at home with the natural fruit flavours less of harsh chemicals.

Thin Crust Veggies Loaded Pizza

People used to think that not all pizzas are bad for your health, however, even the thin crust slices are loaded with cheese that contains saturated fats and processed so heavily to make you gain those extra pounds easily. Go for homemade whole wheat crust, healthy sauce, superfoods pizza along with the right cheeses.

Zero Calories Drinks

All that fizz drinks claiming zero calories in the cans are the way to distract you from eating healthy. It is extremely acidic, hence; it takes more than 30 cups of water to neutralize the acidity of a single can. Such residues are hard on the body and make an evil impact on your kidneys.

French Fries

The trans fat and acrylamide present in the food cause inflammation in your body. It is also a greater cause of many other serious problems in the body including heart diseases, weight gain, cancer, etc. Try out finding how to cook them to maximize the nutrients and eliminate the formation of acrylamide.

Potato Chips

When the white potatoes are deeply fried it produces the highest level of toxic acrylamide which is the main reason of accumulation of the fat. As they are loaded with the healthy herbs, it doesn’t mean it will save some calories for you. Instead, try indulging in the crispy sweet potato chips and you will not miss the original chips for sure.