Diabetes – What’s your risk?

As many of you know, diabetes prevention and treatment is my passion. I believe life isn’t about strict, regimented diets. True health comes from what we incorporate into our daily lives like nutritious foods and regular exercise  as well as from soul-nourishing activities like occasionally appreciating a scrumptious dessert or meditating on that first sip of coffee in the morning!

I have family members with prediabetes. It’s my mission to prevent diabetes and educate everyone on foods, exercise and daily practices so that we can also appreciate experiences that make us feel grateful to be alive.

Here’s an article I just recently wrote for our clinic patients. Feel free to pass on to anyone you think can benefit from the info.

Diabetes in your family? High blood pressure?  Waist circumference greater than 31.5 inches? East or South Asian ethnicity?

An estimated 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes. Of these, 1 million Canadians live with diabetes without knowing it. The difficulty is we can have prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes without obvious signs and symptoms so often diagnosis (and care) is delayed.

The key, however, is to be able to identify our risk of diabetes so we can make effective changes right away. Why right away? Insulin production is 35% of normal by the time of diagnosis! That’s less than half the production of this critical hormone by the time many of us are made aware of a problem.

Using information such as age, body mass index, waist circumference and family history, the simple Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire (CANRISK) calculates a risk score to let you know if you’re at low, moderate or high risk of developing diabetes. It takes only 3 minutes to do and you may be surprised by some of the risk factors!

CANRISK questionnaire

High risk (scores greater than 33): have a 2 in 5 chance of already having or developing type 2 diabetes

Moderate risk (scores between 21 and 33): have a 1 in 7 chance of having or developing type 2 diabetes.

For the above groups, Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) testing may be indicated. This blood test can diagnose or rule out diabetes while also giving us an idea of your blood glucose control over the past 3 months.

Concerned about you or your friends and family’s risk of diabetes? Book an initial consultation today for diagnostic testing and risk assessment. Whether you want to reduce the risk of developing diabetes or you are already taking medication for diabetes, we can provide effective therapies to improve blood sugar control at every stage.

We provide thorough but targeted multisystem physical exams, in-office HbA1c testing (results in 5 minutes!), clinically researched nutrients and specific, individualized nutritional and physical activity recommendations based on your risk factors and overall health.

For the month of December, Dr. Carin is providing complimentary HbA1c testing with an initial naturopathic consultation – only while tests are available!

Photo courtesy of A. Graber

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Are Food Sensitivities Behind Your Symptoms?

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The other day I had another reminder about the significant effect food has on our health. A patient who had been medicated for years for daily acid reflux and nasal congestion, tried an elimination diet for only 3 weeks. Essentially all her symptoms of reflux and sinus inflammation resolved! Inadvertently, even her rosacea improved! Her hsCRP blood test had for years been showing whole-body inflammation  (associated with high risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease). But after 3 weeks of the protocol, she went from a high risk level to a very low risk level!

So what’s an elimination diet?

The elimination diet is a protocol used to identify foods in our diet that may be causing or aggravating headaches, sinus inflammation, abdominal pain, gas and bloating, fatigue, mood changes, skin rashes and hives, eczema, acid reflux, constipation or diarrhea, joint pain, brain fog, wheezing, palpitations and many other symptoms.

Sometimes the adverse reactions to foods are obvious to us (such as when it changes our breathing or causes a skin rash). However, food reactions can occur up to 3 days after eating the food triggers so often symptoms are hard to track and difficult to correlate to foods. Generally the protocol involves eliminating common food allergens for a short period of time and watching to see if any symptoms improve. This is followed by systematically reintroducing the foods and observing responses to each food group to identify which foods are associated with which symptom(s). As you can imagine, this program involves careful planning, guidance and monitoring so make sure to do this under the supervision of a physician. Also, this protocol is NOT for suspected anaphylactic reactions (closing up of the throat and difficulty breathing) caused by foods.

I have heard some people say “I would rather not know if certain foods are bothering me because that means I can’t eat it!” That’s not necessarily the case. Often times, once we identify foods that exacerbate symptoms, we avoid them for a period of time to allow the gut lining to heal. After this break period, sometimes those foods we were previously sensitive to are well tolerated. Either way, knowing our body’s responses, we can choose to manage our food sensitivities to our comfort level.

What a great reminder: before jumping to therapies to suppress symptoms, in non-urgent cases, let’s always investigate our basic daily practices, such as diet, to improve symptoms from the inside out.

Diabetes Event – Don’t Miss This!

Is my current lifestyle leading to diabetes? or preventing diabetes?

What’s the best way to manage my blood sugar?

Come and visit me with the Bastyr Center for Natural Health’s Diabetes and Cardiovascular Wellness Team at this year’s Diabetes Expo in Seattle!! It’s a free event with health screenings, cooking demonstrations, fun fitness demonstrations, expert talks by researchers, medical doctors and naturopathic doctors and LOTS of exhibits! Learn about the latest research on prevention and management of diabetes.

Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 9am to 3pm at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center North Halls 4E/F

American Diabetes Association – Diabetes Expo in Seattle

Looking forward to seeing you there!