Hurts So Good…

What does it mean to be in pain? Well, from a strictly medical perspective, pain is when our sensory receptors send a signal through our nerve fibres , all the way up to our brains. Then the brain interprets the signal as pain. The human body uses this signal as an avoidance reflex, meaning it’s telling you that whatever you’re doing is harming your body and should be stopped. (Although not everyone is quick enough to stop hurting themselves, sometimes)

From a Diabetes standpoint, we experience a wide variety of pain. Neuropathy, open wounds that are extremely slow to heal and pain prior to numbness from lack of circulation are simply a few. And certainly not the worst.

It’s not always bad. From a fitness standpoint, pain can be a positive thing. SOME pain is necessary in order to help the body sculpt and grow. The idea here is to know when enough is enough and to stop before serious damage can occur.

But there’s one form of pain that is largely ignored in most circumstances. I’m talking about emotional pain. When something affects us in a negative way, we feel a sort of pain that is often very hard to describe. For some, it’s an increased feeling of fatigue. For others, it can manifest itself in any number of nasty ways including but not limited to, becoming ill, nausea, depression, problems with the digestive tract and even alcoholism or substance abuse. The expression “this breaks my heart” stems from the fact that one usually feels some discomfort in the pit of their abdomen during emotional distress.

The important thing to remember is that what hurts in your heart can also affect your body. Although that sounds a bit cheesy, it’s quite accurate. Sometimes we need to look at the big picture and acknowledge that the pain is going to happen, and take steps to help deal with it as opposed to ignoring it.

Ultimately, pain helps us grow. In any way, shape or form, it allows us to learn an develop. After all, imagine if as an infant you put your hands on a hot stove and it didn’t hurt… You’d likely leave your hand there and keep playing and critically damage your tissues. But by feeling the pain, you learn that “Oops! It hurts to touch the stove. Better stay away!” Most forms of pain will teach you something.

So ask yourself, what is my emotional pain teaching me? Am I doing something wrong, or something I disagree with? Or is it simply a case of doing the right thing? That can also be painful sometimes. Just remember that in grand scheme of things, nothing lasts forever; not even pain. ☯

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Meat My Friends, Veggies…

There’s nothing like a nice, thick, juicy t-bone steak, cooked to perfection on a grill. Nothing marks the beginning of summer quite like it! In fact, we had amazing steaks for my wife’s birthday. And if I do say so myself, they were delicious!

But it’s amazing how in the past couple of decades, an unspoken war against meat has taken place (or maybe it isn’t THAT unspoken if you follow social media). With the advent of all the new fitness and nutritional trends that have hit our societies in recent years, there’s been a push in favour of vegetarians and vegans.

Before I get too far into the fray, we should start by examining what the differences are between vegan and vegetarian.

A Vegetarian is defined as someone who does not eat meat, sometimes for moral or religious reasons, but most often for health reasons.

A Vegan is defined as someone who does not use or consume ANY animal product. This means that things like milk and cheese are off the menu as well. For the sake of this post, I’ll mostly stick to the term vegetarian.

So what are humans MEANT to eat? The reality is that most medical professionals agree that the human body is designed to be omnivorous. This means that we are designed to consume meat AND vegetables. Sorry to break it to you, vegetarians… Humans can and should eat meat.

According to an article published in Medical News Today, part of what allowed humans to gain an evolutionary advantage in prehistoric times may have been their consumption of meat. The increased amount of protein and energy may have been what contributed to the evolution of our complex brains and our overall evolution. And it is important to note that evolution takes place over hundreds of thousands of years. So we can’t turn back the clock on our bodies simply by cutting out meat.

A vegetarian diet can lend a certain number of health benefits. There have been studies linking a vegetarian diet to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. A vegetarian diet also contains higher levels of fibre and less fat.

Vegans are a bit more on the controversial side, as some studies have shown that being a vegan can actually be LESS healthy than a diet including meat. Although a vegan diet can also involve reducing certain cardiovascular risks and may contribute to a certain level of weight loss, a vegan diet lacks certain vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12, which is usually found in eggs, fish and meat and is required for proper cell health.

According to an article posted by Independent, “A study conducted by the Medical University in Graz in Austria found that the vegetarian diet, as characterized by a low consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol, due to a higher intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products, appeared to carry elevated risks of cancer, allergies and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.” Definite food for thought (see what I did there?) Here’s that article: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vegetarians-are-less-healthy-and-have-a-lower-quality-of-life-than-meateaters-scientists-say-9236340.html

Before I close up, let’s examine this from a Diabetes perspective. Some studies have shown that a vegetarian diet can help better manage Type 1 Diabetes and in some cases, can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes. Since being vegetarian can help control weight and blood sugar levels as well as increase the body’s insulin response, it can certainly be helpful (as much as it breaks my heart to says so).

Any change in diet should definitely be done in consultation with your health practitioner and a qualified dietitian. As cute and trendy as being vegetarian or vegan sounds, there are a number of supplements and lifestyle changes you’ll have to make to allow this diet to work for you.

Bottom line is that the average person should be consuming small amounts of meat in combination with plenty of healthy vegetables and some carbohydrates. Also, meats such as poultry or fish are much better for you than red meat.

And last but not least, all of this is a lifestyle choice. Although some people are forced to be vegetarian due to health concerns, the vast majority CHOOSE to do so. And respecting someone’s choice is important. There are demonstrated benefits to both diets, so do everyone a solid and follow the simple idiom, You do you, and let me do me… Meaning that no one needs to hear that they’re murderers simply for consuming meat. ☯

Cleaning? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That…

There’s been a long standing debate over the past two decades about hand cleanliness. At the forefront of this debate is the use of hand sanitizer and its effectiveness.

For Type 1 Diabetics, hand cleanliness is very important. It’s important in order to obtain proper blood sugar results when testing (having residual glucose on your fingers WILL affect your readings) and it also helps to prevent infection and other issues from constantly pricking your fingers.

In recent years, you’d be hard pressed to walk into a public access building or government building without seeing bottles of hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE! So, does using hand sanitizer as an alternative work? Yes and No. And here’s why.

According to Kelly Reynolds, Associate Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Arizona, “you’ll want a hand sanitizer that’s at least 62-70% ethyl alcohol.” Reynolds goes on to explain that you want a hand sanitizer that reduces about 99.99% of the germs on your hands as this is the level required to prevent illness.

You’ll notice I keep saying hand “sanitizer” as opposed to hand “gel”. There are a lot of different formats: gel, foams and otherwise. And the takeaway is that hand sanitizer doesn’t kill everything. Some bacteria and viruses don’t get broken down by hand sanitizer.

Ultimately, washing your hands with hot, soapy water is still the best option. Especially since hand sanitizer won’t help if your hands are physically dirty. All you’re doing is caking sanitizer on top of the grime; the hand sanitizer won’t eliminate the grime.

But even when washing your hands, there are steps to follow. Make sure to get your hands all wet and lather up properly. The temperature of the water really doesn’t matter, as the soap is what removes dirt. Once you’ve scrubbed all over the hands for at least 20 seconds, rinse them under clean water then dry them properly.

People often forget that drying the hands is an important part of cleanliness. If your hands stay wet, you’ll likely pick up plenty of bacteria. And if you air dry, for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t use a hot-air dryer in a public restroom. Studies have shown that those devices tend to blow more bacteria on your hands than anything else. After all, if you can smell “odours” in a public restroom, it means there are particles floating around and that air dryer will blow all over your hands.

Hand sanitizer is an excellent alternative IF you don’t have soap and water available. If you have the choice between the two, take the time to wash your hands. There’s this thing about hand sanitizer killing the good bacteria on your hands. Although studies have shown that this is true, there is no evidence to support that this affects your overall health. But actual hand washing is the better alternative.

Maintaining proper hand cleanliness is quite important, as persons with Type 1 Diabetes are more susceptible to a weakened immune system defences. Wash your hands often, and not only when testing your blood glucose. Not only will it help to maintain your own health, but it will help to prevent the propagation of germs to others as well. ☯