The Nation’s Capital

I’m a little late on the ball with providing a post today. This is because I’ve been travelling across the country. Specifically, I travelled to the City of Ottawa.

For any of my friendly readers from abroad, Ottawa is Canada’s National Capital. The population sits at just over 1 million people and boasts a number of tourist attractions, as well as being all around beautiful.

At Regina Internal Airport, waiting to leave for Ottawa.

I’d like to say that this was a pleasure trip, but I came in order to deal with some work-related matters.

Riding the public bus to the downtown area in Ottawa.

In fact, with the exception of these few quick photos, I didn’t have time for much of anything. I arrived yesterday afternoon, spent the night and attended meetings all day today. At the conclusion of my meetings, I was ushered back to the airport where I started the trip back home.

The lovely Ottawa International Airport. It’s quite spacious!

I wish I would have had time to see a bit more while I was here, but what are you gonna do, right?

Hustling through Toronto Pearson Airport, looking for something to eat between flights.

As I write this, I’m waiting for the next leg of my flight to board. It’s been delayed by over an hour and I feel like I’ll never get home. At least not tonight. By the time I reach Regina, it will likely be past midnight and a new day will have begun.

Found a small deli that serves delicious Reuben sandwiches. Expensive, but good!

So there you have it, folks. It’s short and sweet and I’m aware that it doesn’t carry the usual content, but they can’t all be winners, right? Sometimes it’s worth it just to share in the journey. Hopefully after a day’s rest, I can get back on track tomorrow. ☯

Respect, It’s Not Just A Seven Letter Word…

Yesterday, I had an unfortunate discussion with a total stranger. What made it unfortunate is the fact that it started out as a simple comment on one of my posts and quickly escalated into a heated back and forth. Something that, given my beliefs, I do not enjoy. Although I can admit to my contribution to the situation, I feel that the words used on me fell within the realm of disrespectful, especially when one considers that I am a total stranger to this person.

I have only been blogging for seven months. In the grand scope of things, that is an extremely small window of time. But in that small window of time, I have published 137 posts (including this one). I post daily and I try to post information that is useful within the realm of Buddhism, Martial Arts and Diabetes.

I’ve made it clear that I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist nor am I a specialist (at least in anything other than the martial arts). What I am, however, is a philosopher, Buddhist, martial artist and an eternal student. I dedicate countless hours to reading and research, and use this time to contribute that same information to my posts. So the information that I provide is normally from peer reviewed sources (that I often link) and I often include my opinion because, well… it’s my blog! Although I have no piece of paper to the contrary on my wall, it does not make me uneducated (as I have studied in a number of fields and subjects), nor does it make me unable to discuss and share a wide variety of information.

From the very beginning, I have made it clear that I am always open for good discussion. I enjoy a good conversation and I enjoy sharing differing points of view even more. But we need to be cognizant of the fine line between difference of opinion and just flat out rudeness and disrespect. To have a person, who is not even a follower of my blog by the way, tell me that my posts “make no sense”, that I am “flat out wrong” and “uneducated”, that I am “incredibly ignorant” and should “really do your research” as well as “spreading misinformation encouraging people to contribute to their own poor health and to immoral practices”… Seriously, folks? Is this what we’ve become?

It breaks my heart because I pride myself on treating others with respect and it makes it all the harder when someone goes over the line like this. If I post something that differs from your opinion, please feel free to speak to me about it. but it can be done in a respectful manner. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. After all, this is the first time I’ve had an encounter like this on my own blog.

I believe we are all entitled to our opinion. We are entitled to our chosen way of life. Why has it become necessary in today’s world to belittle and put down another person you don’t even know, simply because their views don’t match your own? Especially when it would be so easy to simply keep on scrolling rather than comment.

Negativity breeds negativity, dear readers. We only get out of this world the kind of energy we put into it. So if you are willing to spill negativity against another person, eventually that energy will come back on you. Be good to each other. Respect each other. Be open to others’ opinions without belittling BECAUSE of them. The only way the world can keep on turning is if we turn the crank together. ☯

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. ☯

Save It For A Rainy Day…

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and do something for yourself. Especially on days like today… This afternoon, we had heavy rains and thunder for the better part of two hours. In fact, there’s still a touch of raining falling as we speak!

One of the best things to do on such a rainy day is brew a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, and curl up somewhere comfortable with a good book. Reading for leisure is something I don’t get to do a great deal of, these days. Between work, exercise and dealing with the whirlwind that is my child, finding a quiet hour to myself has become almost impossible.

I usually always have a few books on the go. As much as I adore reading, I tend to get bored before I manage to complete one, so I leap frog from one book to another. At the moment, I’m reading Robert Jordan’s “The Path of Daggers”, which is Book 8 of a 14 book series called The Wheel of Time. This will be my third time reading through the series. It’s an amazing series, with a rich storyline and characters. I definitely recommend it, if you have several years to contribute to reading a series. I started reading it for the first time in the mid-90’s.

I’m also reading Sean Williams’ “Star Wars: Fatal Alliance”. For my fellow Star Wars fans, this is a novel of the Old Republic. It’s an interest read, although I’ll admit to having a difficult time getting through it.

It’s important to have a variety when reading, but the main focus of my attention right now is a book by Yamamoto Tsunetomo entitled “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai”.

What makes this book so interesting is that it was written by an actual Buddhist monk. Well, to clarify… It was written by a scribe named Tashiro Tsuramoto in the early 1700’s, and contains the conversations between Tsuramoto and Tsunetomo.

It wouldn’t be published until quite some time later, but the book contains thoughts on the issues surrounding Japan after the battle of Seki Ga Hara, when Japan’s society began to change and the samurai faced difficulties maintaining a warrior class during an evolving period of peace.

Tsunetomo spent three decades as a samurai warrior. When his master died, he was forbidden from following his master into death by law of the current shogunate. Instead, he chose to renounce the world and become a monk.

It was during those years as a Buddhist monk that Tsunemoto shared the thoughts and sayings that Tsuramoto would scribe into the manuscript that would become Hagakure. It actually covers a number of subjects and makes for quite an interesting read.

I started writing this post almost two hours ago and it’s still pouring out there! I think it’s time to put this puppy to bed and get back to reading. So pick up a book and let that imagination run wild. As I like to say:When you aren’t exercising the body, you should be exercising the mind!

There’s Light At The End, Even When The Tunnel Is Dark…

A very wise (and fictional) person once said: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” I’ve always prided myself on being a good person; helping and protecting others and always trying to do the right thing.

In recent days, I’ve come to question what it takes to win a hopeless fight. True battles seem to linger on forever, and one can feel as though it will never end. Sometimes you can feel as though you’ve been fighting forever and you just don’t have any strength left…

I think it was Thomas Fuller who said: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” This is quite accurate. No matter what obstacles you may be facing, it’s important to keep on fighting. Don’t let the battle force your eyes away from the finale. Keep going. You’ll be surprised how those who matter will surface to offer support right when it’s needed the most. ☯

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. ☯

What Makes You Stronger Can Also Hurt You…

One of the obvious treatments for Type 1 Diabetes is insulin therapy. For those who may not have read my previous posts, (I’m being silly, of course you have!) insulin is a hormone produced by the body’s beta cells in the pancreas. Type 1 Diabetes occurs when your body’s immune system attacks and destroys these beta cells, leading to the pancreas no longer producing insulin.

Dr. Frederick Banting blessed us all with the gift that is insulin in the Spring of 1921 with the help of his trusty lab assistant, Charles Best. And since then, insulin has remained the top dog in the proper treatment and control of insulin-dependant Diabetes.

Although there are several different brand names and sub-types, insulin can be described within five main categories:

Rapid-Acting: This insulin hits the system quickly and is usually taken in conjunction with a meal or to prevent spikes in blood sugar. That being said, I currently use a rapid-acting insulin (Humalog) in my insulin pump to control basal and bosul rates (Examples: Humalog and NovoLog);

Short-Acting: This insulin is similar to the rapid-acting, but it takes a little more time to kick in and peaks a little bit later. (Examples: Humilin R, Novolin R);

Intermediate-Acting: These insulins start kicking in within about an hour, but will provide basal coverage for about 12 hours in total. They are generally used for overall control, need to be taken twice a day and are used in conjunction with a rapid or short-acting insulin (Examples: Humilin N and Novolin N);

Long-Acting: This type of insulin is generally taken at bedtime and kicks in within an hour. The advantage is that it will last anywhere between 20 to 26 hours, with no peak. So it is normally used to maintain proper blood sugar levels throughout the day. This one would also need to be used in combination with a fast or short-acting insulin as it will not compensate for the carbs you take in at mealtimes (Examples: Lantus and Levemir);

Pre-mixed Insulin: This one is a bit of an issue. Each of these insulins are a combination of short and intermediate-acting insulins and can problematically take effect anywhere within 5 minutes to an hour. This is a significant problem since no two people are alike and no two insulin requirements are alike. This insulin is usually taken twice a day in conjunction with a meal (Examples: Humilin 70/30, Novolin 70/30, Humilin and Humalog 50/50).

There’s another type that is sometimes referred to as Ultra-Long Acting, but it’s basically the same thing as Long-Acting with a 36 hour window instead of 20 to 26 hours. As I look back on this list, I realize that at one point or another I have used every type of insulin on this list with the exception of Levemir and the pre-mixes. Crazy.

The American Diabetes Association webpage has a great article that explains all of these in greater detail: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/medication/insulin/insulin-basics.html

Humalog is what I currently use in my pump. It’s used for its rapid-acting properties at mealtimes, and intermittent basal rate to maintain levels throughout the day.

Although life saving, insulin comes with a range of possible side effects. Much like any other medication, these side effects can range from mild to severe, depending on the person and the type of insulin therapy used.

Some of the most common side effects include, but are not limited to weight fluctuations, erratic blood sugar levels, skin issues from repeated injection sites, heart attack, stroke, eye and kidney complications and in some cases, anxiety or depression.

All of these symptoms can be discussed and dealt with through your family practitioner. The reality is that at the present time, there is no cure for Type-1 Diabetes (contrary to what many conspiracy theorists and naturopaths may believe).

Insulin is not a cure, but simply a treatment that allows those with Diabetes to extend their life expectancy and live full, active lives. As usual, my go-to is to suggest maintaining a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and proper diet. Monitor your blood sugars regularly and keep fighting the good fight! ☯