We baby boomers have gotten to the age where we are finally getting the ailments our grandparents had when we were kids.
Diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are just a few conditions we can name. We can handle these with good cholesterol foods, ways to lower high blood pressure, and moving our diet to a good type 2 diabetes food list.
According to Diabetes.org, approximately 12 million American seniors have diabetes in one form or another, whether diagnosed or not. The AMA defines Type 2 diabetes as an A1C level of 6.5 or more. A1C is a measurement of how much glucose the blood has been required to carry over the previous three-month period. If your A1C level is between 5.5 and 6.5 you’re classed as being prediabetic.
Above 6.5 means medication is required, which will prevent or arrest several serious conditions diabetics are prone to, such as heart disease, kidney malfunction, and vision problems. How does diabetes affect the body, you ask? Basically, in laymen terms, (as we are not doctors), the body not being able to process the glucose causes the blood cells to swell with the unused glucose and become too large to travel through the capillaries.
This causes damage to the internal organs due to not getting the energy or oxygen needed, as well as not being able to shed the waste created by cell action. The cells in the organs starve to death at the smallest level. While many adults have the condition, there is a lack of diagnosis for many reasons, including inadequate access to healthcare, as well as an aversion to getting proper care, sometimes due to a “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” attitude.
If you are fortunate enough to catch the condition in the early stages, medication isn’t always inevitable. During prediabetic, or with full up diabetes, one should stay away from sugary drinks, especially one of the South’s favorites, Sweet Tea. Also, soft drinks are a major culprit as soft drinks usually contain as much as 2 teaspoons of sugar per 12 ounce drink. Multiply that by a soft drink for lunch, maybe one for dinner, times 365 days in a year and suddenly we’ve consumed 17 extra lbs of sugar in that year. Over a 20-30 year period, no wonder we have an epidemic of diabetes and weight problems.
Another item that should be taken off the list of food staples for diabetics are potatoes. Americans love potatoes. Mashed, french fried, baked, stewed, souped, cooked with roasts, thrown on the barbecue. It’s hard to sit down to a meal without them. But they are starch, simple carbohydrates, they quickly turn into extra calories, especially when they are fried in the deep fryer, mashed with butter, salt, and smothered in gravy, or baked and covered in butter and sour cream. My mouth just waters thinking of them.
But, with prediabetic showing up on my chart, I will choose a better alternative when possible, sweet potatoes, sometimes called yams. Also, try pasta in small amounts, as pasta digests slower, delivering energy on a longer scale than pure starch or sugary drinks. Another healthy trick is to eat smaller meals or snacks more often during the day.
Eat a bowl of oatmeal in the morning or a hard boiled egg, then mid-morning have a good protein bar, my favorites are chocolate mint, low sugar, with maybe 10-15 grams of protein, make sure your not getting the candy-bar-disguised-as-a-protein-bar type. Or a handful of trail mix. I take a bag of dried fruit trail mix and a bag of raisin nut trail mix, remove the m&ms; (don’t need the extra sugar) and mix the bags together, that gives you a healthful energy snack with protein and fructose. Then a late light lunch such as a can of tuna (more protein) and crackers, and a piece of fresh fruit. That should get you to dinner, and a sensible meal, and a good A1C value. And of course get a regular A1C blood test every 6 months to keep an eye on it.
According to Best Health Magazine, apples are a great way to start your diet out, plus they have a great glycemic index. Avocados, barley, and beans are great. Bananas have a good glycemic index although some older literature doesn’t recommend them.
That should also help with another ailment we baby boomers find ourselves dealing with as we climb the age ladder. CDC statistics show high blood pressure in 55-64 year old men runs about 54%, while women of the same age run approximately 53%. These statistics climb as we age. 65-74 year old men have high blood pressure at a rate of 64% while women surpass the men to 69.3%.
One of the many causes of HBP, or hypertension as it is called in the medical community, is too much salt in the diet, if you eat a lot of processed foods you’re consuming a lot of extra sodium. Most of us grew up on Campbell’s soups, but checking the label we realize they cram the salt in there so it tastes good, then they tell you there are 2 servings in that can. I can eat a can of Cream Of Chicken (my favorite) in about seven slurps, okay eight if I take my time.
Your college staple of ramen soup… over the top sodium rich. That little flavor packet is literally 99 percent salt. Most of the lunch meats are also loaded with salt as a preservative. Plus all the chicken strips, fish sticks, any of the frozen precooked meat and vegetables are full of salt. Your best bet is to stay with the fresh meat and produce aisles. Another thing that helps high blood pressure is a little exercise, take a walk around the block every day, pick your favorite set of stairs and walk up and down two to three times a day if possible.
If you have a dog, you have a companion on your walk. Alcohol also tends to raise one’s blood pressure, cutting down a bit always helps. The Mayo Clinic suggests if you do have high blood pressure, avoiding alcohol altogether or drinking in moderation. Three drinks at a sitting is enough to raise blood pressure immediately, and binge drinking raises it more long term. Avoiding stress in your life cannot be overemphasized when speaking of blood pressure.
If your job situation is stressful, think of other less stressful outlets for your skills. If the home life is stressful, look for ways to decrease the tension, including reading a book on how to gain coping skills for life’s inevitable stresses. And of course exercise also assists in coping with stress, as well as the physical benefits. Also, make sure you drink enough water.
Finally, the last of the big three health issues for baby boomers is cholesterol. HDL or high density cholesterol is a good thing, LDL, or low density cholesterol is the bad stuff. I like to remember a meme my doctor told me, HDL is the HAPPY cholesterol, LDL is the LOUSY stuff. LDL is the stuff that sticks to your arteries and actually hardens the arterial wall, which in turn raises the blood pressure. HDL can be raised by… you guessed it, EXERCISE!
Exercise has a lot of benefits, which means, use it or lose. The less you exercise the more tendency for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol problems. Cholesterol is also exacerbated by putting the butter on the potatoes, and eating the deep-fried french fries, as well as overeating.
Good cholesterol foods.
According to Prevention.Com, the way to lower cholesterol through diet is to eat the following foods: Oats, eat two servings in the morning, use margarine in your oats instead of real butter. Salmon and fatty fish, supply Omega-3 fats, which can lower the LDL as well as raise the HDL. Red wine in moderation, no more than a glass a day. Nuts are good at lowering the LDL as well as other health benefits, but be careful with portion sizes, they are high in calories.
Tea is good for lowering the LDL cholesterol, but once again, stay away from the sugary stuff. All types of beans are good for lowering overall cholesterol, as well as a great source of protein. Chocolate, because chocolate is good for everything. Okay, it actually raises the HDL, the happy stuff. Use margarine for anything you’d use butter for, on your toast, in your oatmeal, in your baked sweet potato. Garlic helps stop the LDL from sticking to the artery walls. Olive oil lowers LDL as well as having the benefit of reducing belly fat. Avocados have the double effect of lowering LDL and raising HDL.
Our grandparents didn’t have the knowledge or the technology to know what was good for them, they handled health problems as well as they could. We do have the knowledge and the technology to live healthier lives as well as the awareness that our actions now will save a lot of problems later on.
And the best advice to go along with these tips is to stay in touch with your Doctor! This advice is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, this is a guideline for people who are proactive in their healthcare.
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