Category Archives: Health

The Diabetes Debate: Brainiac (part 4)

Katie: Welcome back to Pass the Blame. We’re here with special guests Muscle and Brain. Brain? Where’d you go?

Brain: I’m hungry. I’m looking for a snack. I want a donut.

Katie: I’m glad you brought that up, Brain. Your blood glucose level is high right now, so the last thing you need is sugar.

Brain: Perhaps a cookie or two.

Katie: You want sugar because your cells are starving for energy and they’re sending you signals that they need food, but the glucose that gives them energy is there, it’s just stuck in the blood. The insulin keys aren’t working to unlock the cells and let the glucose in.

Brain: I read about this.

Katie: Yes, you probably did. You’ve been handed lots of pamphlets on type two diabetes recently.

Brain: It’s all a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?

Katie: Yes, I suppose, but you are the brain; I’m sure you can handle it.

Brain: Yeah, maybe. *yawn*

Muscle: Brain, I need to move more! Let’s go for a walk.

Brain: I’m sorry, Muscle, I’m too tired. Maybe tomorrow.

Muscle: You always say that.

Katie: Come on, Brain, you’re in charge here and Body needs to make some changes.

Kidney 1: We need you to take action.

Kidney 2: You need to fix this!

Katie: We’ve been, um, joined by the Kidney Twins. Welcome, ladies.

Brain: Me? Fix this? I’m having enough trouble keeping up with my regular duties. If you want me to take on a special project, I need down time. I need sleep.

Muscle: You get sleep!

Brain: Not the good kind. You all keep waking me up! If our blood glucose level goes down, Stomach is hungry. If our blood glucose level goes up, Bladder has to pee. Foot’s going nuts when neuropathy hits her and on top of that, now we have sleep apnea. Every few minutes Lung 1 and Lung 2 wake me up screaming, “We’re dying! We have no air! Oh, wait, we’re okay now.” It’s driving me crazy.

Muscle: I can help if you let me.

Brain: I’m tired.

Muscle: Well, push though it and let me move! Exercise helps you sleep better.

Kidney 1: It’ll help control the blood glucose level too.

Katie: Exercise or sleep?

Kidney 1: Both.

Brain: You know, Kidneys, keeping the blood glucose levels controlled will help me sleep better.

Kidney 2: Guess what, Brain: better sleep will help control the blood glucose level.

Pancreas: It’s a cycle, people. Pick a launching point and jump in already! I can’t keep on like this.

Katie: Oh, okay, now Pancreas has barged her way into the studio as well. Um, welcome Pancreas.

Brain: Why are you all looking at me?

Pancreas: Because all neurons lead to Rome!

Kidney 2: The cerebellum stops here.

Muscle: You give the orders, so you order some changes, dude!

Katie: Okay, ladies, let’s all calm down. Remember your blood pressure. If you all work together, you can manage your diabetes and Body can still have a long healthy life.

Pancreas: What do we do first?

Katie: Well, Muscle is offering to exercise. Exercise will help Brain sleep better and will help regulate your blood glucose level by removing some glucose from the blood without insulin’s help.

Brain: Okay, fine. Muscle, you can walk or something.

Muscle: I want thirty minutes a day.

Brain: What? You’re crazy!

Katie: You’ll get more blood flow and feel more awake.

Brain: Hmm, tempting. What else?

Katie: Well, you can lose weight. Being overweight increases your risk of type two diabetes.

Brain: I refuse to spend my valuable neurons counting the calories in rice cakes and cookie crumbs.

Katie: It doesn’t have to be that extreme. Start by eating smaller portions of what you eat now. Drink water instead of juice or soda so you don’t drink your calories. Make simple changes, one step at a time. You know, there’s a strong link between belly fat and diabetes. Losing even 7% of your—

Brain: Wait a minute. If we get rid of Belly Fat, this diabetes thing could all go away?

Katie: It’s not that simple, but it would really help if—

Brain: Come on, girls! This is Belly Fat’s fault! Let’s get her!

Katie: Ladies! Ladies, come back! We, um, we’ll be right back. I hope. Wait for me!

The Diabetes Debate: Muscle Mania (part 3)

Katie: Today we’re discussing who’s to blame for Body’s recent diabetes type two diagnosis. We’re talking with special guest, Muscle.

Muscle: Wassup, yo.

Katie: Your Body’s blood glucose level, that’s what’s up. Any comments?

Muscle: Yeah, Dude. I have plenty of glycogen. Tell ‘em to put me in the game!

Katie: Glycogen? What’s that?

diabetes-debate-9.jpgMuscle: It’s this stuff that gives me energy. I store it until I need it. I’ve been dying to use it, man, but Brain’s been keeping me on the bench.

Katie: Did she say why?

Muscle: Straight up excuses. She’s busy, she’s tired, blah, blah, blah. I need to move, dude!

Katie: Will you exercising help Body lower her blood glucose level?

Muscle: Yo, man, I don’t know, I leave that brain stuff to Brain. All I know is that I store glycogen, when I move I use it, then I get more.

Katie: Where does glycogen come from? How do you get more?

Muscle: From the blood. It’s called glue…something. After I exercise, I suck in the glue thing, change it to glycogen, and save it so I’m always ready to move. I want to do squats so bad!

Katie: Wait, glue-something…do you mean glucose?

Muscle: Yeah, that sounds right. Can you ask Brain if I can do some squats?

Katie: Do you need insulin to suck in the glucose?

Muscle: The what?

Katie: The glue. Do you need insulin to take the glue-thing out of the blood?

Muscle: Nah, man, after I exercise I’m so hungry for it that I just take it. No insulin needed.

diabetes-debate-10_0001.jpgKatie: So if Body had exercised when she was insulin resistant, then you, Muscle, could have lowered her blood glucose level without insulin?

Muscle: If that’s what I said, then sure.

Katie: That’s amazing.

Muscle: Yes, I am. You should see me when I flex.

Katie: Muscle, my assistant just handed me some research. It says studies have shown that exercise can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. One study showed that even if Body overeats, exercise will help her regulate her blood glucose level.

Muscle: Cool. I work with Heart a lot. She says she feels better when I move too.

Katie: I was just discussing the blood glucose level’s affects on the cardiovascular system with the Kidney Twins! Exercise is extra important for diabetics because diabetes increases Heart’s risk of a heart attack. Look at this study: exercise plus moderate weight loss—as little as ten pounds—lowers Body’s risk of type two diabetes by 58%!

Muscle: Sweet.

Katie: Let’s get Brain in here. We need to ask her about your squats.

Muscle: Cool, but before we talk to Brain, Bladder’s full again.

Katie: Then I suppose we’ll take a break. Stay with us: we’ll be right back.

The Diabetes Debate: blood glucose levels

Katie: Welcome back to Pass the Blame. We’re here with Pancreas discussing her body’s recent diagnosis of type two diabetes. And we have two special guests with us, organs who say they’ve been cleaning up after her for years. Let’s welcome the Kidney Twins!

diabetes 5Kidney 1: Hi, Katie. Hello, Pancreas. You certainly keep us busy.

Pancreas: Hmph, again with the finger pointing. I blame the system. If only the…Katie, why are you laughing?

Katie: Because the body is a series of systems and you blame the sys…never mind. Kidney, what did you mean when you said you clean up after Pancreas?

Kidney 1: Remember how she said that when glucose can’t enter a cell it stays in the blood? Well, after a while, the blood fills up with glucose. It’s not safe and somebody has to remove it.

Katie: That somebody is you?

Kidney 1: That’s correct. We remove glucose the way we remove anything that shouldn’t be in the blood. We turn it into urine so it can be pumped out of body.

Katie: Your twin doesn’t say very much.

Kidney 1: She’s calculating how much urine needs to be produced and it’s more and more these days. We’ve been working overtime.

diabetes-6.jpgPancreas: You’re not the only ones.

Kidney 1: If you did your job and moved the glucose into the cells like you’re supposed to, we wouldn’t be up to our elbows in liquid waste!

Pancreas: Oh, boo hoo! I was working overtime way before you! I’m doing everything I can!

Kidney 1: It’s not enough! I’m not sure if what we do will be enough. The blood glucose levels are all over the place. It’s like a roller coaster in the blood stream and we’re going to lose Foot or Eyes!

Kidney 2: There, there, Kidney, don’t cry. Save the water for the urine. We’re not that far along yet. Brain is pushing the thirsty button almost constantly now, and body is drinking more. We’ll get ahead of it.

diabetes-7.jpgKatie: Ladies, can we agree that you all look exhausted and move on from there? Thank you. Now, what would happen if you all took a day off? What’s so bad about the blood glucose levels being high for a while?

Kidney 2: Glucose messes with the nitric oxide in the blood.

Kidney 1: The more glucose there is, the less nitric oxide there is. Nitric oxide makes the blood vessels relax and open wide.

Katie: So without sufficient nitric oxide, the blood vessels are stressed out?

Kidney 1: They become stressed, yes. They stay tight and hard and constricted which makes it harder for the blood to flow.

Katie: And if the blood can’t flow freely…

Pancreas: Then Body gets high blood pressure and eventually the body parts farthest from the heart don’t get enough blood.

diabetes 8Kidney 2: The nerves become damaged. It’s called neuropathy. Sometimes neuropathy causes pain or tingling and sometimes it causes numbness.

Katie: That’s why you’re worried about Foot; she’s far from the heart. Why are you worried about Eyes?

Kidney 1: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels feeding the retina. When you mess with the retina, you mess with your vision. Eyes can lose focus or even become blind.

Katie: Wow, no wonder you ladies are working so hard.

Pancreas: We can’t give up.

Katie: We’ll be right back with a special guest who says she can help reduce Body’s glucose problem.

The Diabetes Debate: Whose Fault is it? (part 1)

Katie: Welcome to Pass the Blame. I’m your hostess, Katie Robles. With us today is the talk of the body, Pancreas. Thanks for granting us this interview, Pancreas.

Pancreas: Happy to be here. I want to set the record straight.

Katie: Pancreas, your body has been diagnosed with diabetes type 2 and many organs are laying the blame on you.

Pancreas: It’s not my fault and they know it.

Diabetes Debate 1Katie: Isn’t diabetes—in its essence—a lack of insulin? And as the pancreas, isn’t it your job to make insulin?

Pancreas: I’ve been making insulin perfectly for decades, Katie. Decades! I’ve done my job.

Katie: You’re saying this problem is new? Everything was fine when your body was young?

Pancreas: Absolutely.

Katie: Don’t some children have diabetes? Couldn’t your body have been covering for you until now?

Pancreas: No, no, no. Juvenile diabetes is totally different: the pancreas in those cases can’t produce insulin. I can. I did. I do!

Katie: Calm down, please, Pancreas, we’re just trying to get the facts. Maybe it would help if you explain what it is that you do.

Diabetes Debate 2Pancreas: You know what glucose is?

Katie: Glucose…as in sugar?

Pancreas: Yeah, close enough. When you eat, the carbohydrates are broken down into glucose.

Katie: Carbohydrates?

Pancreas: You know: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes—

Katie: French fries?

Pancreas: Yes, and lentils, beans, fruits, milk products, and the list goes on. They all break down into glucose which is fuel for your cells. No glucose, no energy. Blood delivers the glucose to every cell in the body, but cells are paranoid: they don’t let just anything in. You have to have the right key.

Katie: Let me guess: insulin is that key?

Diabetes Debate 3Pancreas: That’s right. Without insulin, the cell doors stay locked tight and glucose stays in the blood.

Katie: And the cells have no energy?

Pancreas: Right.

Katie: And you say you still make insulin?

Pancreas: Yes, I do.

Katie: Then why is your body diabetic?

Pancreas: Body was pumping in extra glucose for years and I produced extra insulin to compensate. It worked for a while, but eventually my keys didn’t fit the locks anymore.

Katie: Why is that?

Pancreas: I don’t know, but it’s the locks that changed, not the keys. I didn’t have a word for it at the time, but Brain has been reading pamphlets and she says it was Insulin Resistance. I worked overtime making insulin and that helped a little.

Katie: Body had no idea something was wrong?

Pancreas: Not consciously, no. Skin says she made a dark circle on the back of body’s neck, but Eyes never saw it, so Body kept doing her thing. Over the years a bunch of Belly Fat moved in, Body stopped exercising, and my insulin keys only worked part of the time. That’s when the finger pointing started.

Diabetes Debate 4Katie: What do you want our audience to know, Pancreas? Set the record straight for us.

Pancreas: I’m a hard working organ; always have been. My product is the key to glucose absorption in cells and if the key isn’t working, maybe they should blame the lock.

Katie: Pancreas, a few organs have noticed that because you produce so much insulin, body has been feeling hungry. Body eats more, more glucose circulates, and you make more insulin. I give no credence to the conspirators who claim you’re trying to wag the dog here, but why don’t you simply slow down insulin production?

Pancreas: Look, orders come in, I fill them. I’m not authorized to do anything else. But my production units are so overworked they’re starting to break down, so those conspirators might just get their wish.

Katie: Thank you, Pancreas. We’re going to take a short bathroom break because Bladder is full, but we’ll be back in a moment.

Healthiest Hearts in the World

tsimane heartsThe Tsimane people of Bolivia have the healthiest hearts in the world. You can read the details for yourself, but here are the highlights applicable to us today:

How much healthier are their hearts? By age 75 only one third of the Tsimane show signs of clogged blood vessels (and therefore the risk of heart attack) compared to 80% of septuagenarians in the United States. That’s a LOT healthier.

Why are their hearts healthier? You’ve probably already guessed the answer: diet and exercise. The Tsimane’s diet is roughly 25% wild game and fish and 75% plants (fruits, nuts, rice, maiz, etc). For exercise, they average over 15,000 steps per day plus the extra exertions of bending, lifting, climbing, hacking, hauling, pulling, carrying and so forth involved with farming and hunting.

tsimane hearts 2Why does this matter? There are many factors preventing us from living like the Tsimane: winter weather, for example, or the fear of giant jungle tarantulas. But it gives us confidence that when we exercise and when we eat plants, our hearts are benefiting. Today we can walk an extra ten minutes, climb the stairs, and turn to fruits and vegetables to fill our plates and be our snacks. We might not have the healthiest hearts in the world, but we can still make our doctors proud.

 

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:15a

Buttocks Reveal All Natural Botox (Part 2)

Last week we learned that exercise helps our buttock skin to look perkier under the microscopes of research scientists. This week we’re talking about why exercise benefits skin. The biggest benefit of exercise is blood flow.

blood flow skin healthWhen you get your heart pumping faster with exercise, your blood flows faster, which allows the blood to take more laps around your body per minute—30% more laps per minute. So instead of delivering blood with its load of oxygen and nutrients 60-100 times in one minute like it usually does, that ventricle visitation increases to 95-150 times in one minute. Tiny arteries in the skin open up and the nutrient-oxygen payload is delivered everywhere.

Why is this important? Your cells need a certain amount of nutrients and oxygen (let’s call it Nutr-O2) to live. When they get extra Nutr-O2, they can use the bounty to do things like repair damage to the skin from the sun and pollutants. They can increase the skin’s collagen production (in this case the collagen production of Les Misérables Wrinkles, a musical about a French collagen student, Jean They’regone, who smooths fine lines and reduces wrinkles). Fibroblasts are the theater geek cells in the skin responsible for collagen production. As they age, these fibroblasts acquire mortgages and dependents which require them to quit the theater and get real jobs. This results in fewer, lazier fibroblasts remaining in the campus theater troupe… I mean skin. The extra Nutr-O2s are a surprise inheritance that funds the fibroblasts and gets them back into production.

Les Misérables Wrinkles

Les Misérables Wrinkles

Don’t forget the veins! Extra Nutr-O2s are delivered, but the blood doesn’t return to the heart empty-membraned: blood carries waste away from the skin. Instead of removing free radicals and pollutants 60 times per minute, it takes out the trash 95 times per minute: that’s a lot of trash. Exercise benefits every organ of the body, including the largest one—the skin— so get your body moving. Your buttock will thank you.

Note: Theater majors are wonderful people. The phrase “collagen production” was simply too good to pass up. If I’ve offended any theater people, I encourage them to respond with a one act play.

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. —Proverbs 19:20 (NIV)

 

Buttocks Reveal All Natural Botox (Part 1)

facialWhen we think about skin care, most of us picture lotions, sunscreen, or someone sporting a goopy green face peel and cucumber eyelids. Turns out we should add exercise to that list of mental pictures. In 2014 researchers at McMasters University in Ontario found that exercise produced remarkable changes in the skin of people over age 40. (If you’re not over 40 yet, you will be before you know it, so pay attention anyway.)

-mice-old-young-experiment-story-topMcMaster University had already studied old mice and found that mice who exercised “maintained healthy brains, hearts, muscles, reproductive organs, and fur far longer than their sedentary labmates”.  Mice who were denied access to running wheels quickly grew frail, ill, gray, and demented. Admit it: not only are you picturing a few humans you know right now, but you’re trying to remember if they exercise.

When we’re young, our body can cover up for many poor health choices. Twenty year olds can eat mostly junk, never leave the couch, and still appear healthy, but as our bodies approach middle age, we start visibly reaping what our habits have sown.

The researchers at McMaster U. turned from mice to human volunteers and biopsied skin from the one area of the body that (hopefully) had never seen the sun: the buttock. The volunteers were habitually sedentary and aged 65 or older at the start of the study, and all had normal skin for their age.

Difference-that-comes-in-skin-layers-with-ageAs normal skin ages, the topmost layer of the epidermis (the part you can see and touch) becomes thicker which makes the skin feel dry, flakey, and dense. The dermis, the layer of skin under the epidermis, becomes thinner, which makes the skin look saggy and translucent. That was the state of the volunteer buttocks: thicker outer layer and thinner inner layer. Mm-mmm, green face peels and dry saggy butt skin. If we continue with these mental images, this is going to be a post about weight loss, not skin!

The volunteers exercised twice a week for three months and had a butt biopsy again. (Lucky researchers.) The post-exercise skin layers looked very different; similar to the skin of 20-40 year olds. Wrinkles were not affected by the exercise, but those wrinkles were now enjoying a thinner epidermis and a nice thick dermis.

funny-sweatWhy does exercise benefit our skin? One reason is sweat, my least favorite aspect of exercise. When our bodies get warmed up, our pores dilate. As the sweat pours forth, it carries dirt and oil with it, like a warm, salty, inside out mini shower. Speaking of showers, if you won’t be bathing soon after you sweat, it’s a good idea to at least wash your face. If you don’t rinse them off, the dirt and oil can be sucked back into your pores as you cool off. Yup, this is definitely a weight loss post.

Exercise also reduces stress and body wide inflammation, two things the medical community in general agrees we’re better off without. When we’re stressed, our glands produce less oil in our skin which causes things like acne and eczema to flare up.

Next week we’ll look at the biggest benefit of exercise for the skin: blood flow.

 

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray. Proverbs 10:17 (NIV)

 

Images courtesy of: www.cnn.com (old and young mice), www.fitandhappy.org (skin layers), http://toppixgallery.com/ (sweat), www.care2.com (facial)