Type 2 diabetes: Consume this green powder daily to significantly lower blood sugar

A type 2 diabetes diagnosis sends a very clear signal that your blood sugar levels are too high. Blood sugar is a type of sugar that enters your bloodstream through eating food. Type 2 diabetes doesn’t usually produce symptoms in the initial stages but consistently high blood sugar levels, a feature of diabetes, causes the body to undergo adverse changes in the long-run.

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Unstable blood sugar levels may seem benign but it can damage the vessels that supply blood to vital organs.

Eventually, this can increase the risk of deadly complications such as heart disease and stroke.

Luckily, you can bring blood sugar levels under control by making healthy lifestyle changes.

One of the most important adjustments you can make is eating a healthy, balanced diet.

While there is no single miracle worker, evidence shows that specific ingredients have a particularly potent effect on blood sugar levels so it would be wise to include them in your diet.

One ingredient that has yielded promising results is holy basil, a herb that is native to India.

According to medical site LiveStrong, holy basil, taken in powder form, has been shown to lower fasting and post-meal blood glucose levels.

Fasting blood glucose is a test to determine how much glucose (sugar) is in a blood sample after an overnight fast.

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In one study, 40 type 2 diabetics were asked to stop all of their diabetes medications.

Half of the patients were given 2.5g of holy basil leaf powder daily, and the other half were given a placebo for four weeks.

The groups were closely monitored and at the end of the study, holy basil was found to reduce fasting blood glucose levels by approximately 17.6 percent, and post-meal blood glucose levels by 7.3 percent.

Animal studies also support these claims.

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In one study, rats that received holy basil extract saw a 24 percent decrease in blood sugar after 30 days.

Blood sugar in rats that were fed holy basil leaf powder also decreased after a month.

General dietary tips

There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.

According to the NHS, you should:

  • Eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta
  • Keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum
  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals

Despite the NHS’s advice, it is important to restrict your intake of starchy items because they are often high in carb.

Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose relatively quickly and therefore has a more pronounced effect on blood sugar levels than either fat or protein.

Type 2 diabetes – how to spot it

“Many people have type 2 diabetes without realising. This is because symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell,” says the NHS.

If you do experience symptoms, these can include:

  • Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision

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Preventing ‘cytokine storm’ may ease severe COVID-19 symptoms

For some COVID-19 patients, the body’s immune response may be as destructive as the virus that causes the disease. The persistent high fevers, severe respiratory distress, and lung damage seen in some critically ill patients are all signs of an immune system in overdrive.

Now, a new clinical trial will test a treatment that targets this overactive immune response, says Howard Hughes Medical Investigator Bert Vogelstein. He and his team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine are currently recruiting individuals for the trial, which includes patients ages 45 to 85 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital who have COVID-19 but who aren’t on a ventilator or in the ICU.

Their treatment, a common type of prescription drug called an alpha blocker, might break a cycle of hyperinflammation before it ramps up, their findings from mouse studies and a recent analysis of medical claims data suggest.

“The approach we’re advocating involves treating people who are at high risk early in the course of the disease, when you know they’re infected but before they have severe symptoms,” says Vogelstein. If the trial’s results suggest the drug is safe and effective against COVID-19, it could potentially help many people recover safely at home and lessen the strain on hospital resources, he says.

Runaway reaction

A hyperactive immune response isn’t unique to COVID-19. People with autoimmune diseases and cancer patients receiving immunotherapy can experience similar symptoms. These responses are referred to as macrophage activation syndrome, cytokine release syndrome—or simply “cytokine storms.”

When macrophages (and some other kinds of immune cells) detect virus particles, they send out alert messages by releasing various proteins known as cytokines. Those cytokines recruit other immune cells to the scene—an inflammatory response that, in moderation, helps the body fight off a virus. But macrophages can also release other signaling molecules, called catecholamines, that amplify this response further, triggering the release of more cytokines. The result is a runaway feedback loop, like a snowball getting bigger as it barrels down a hill.

“It seems that once this process starts, there’s this inability to properly switch it off,” says Maximilian Konig, a rheumatologist at Hopkins who is helping to coordinate the trial.

Before COVID-19 hit, Vogelstein’s team was already exploring ways to ease the hyperinflammatory immune response in cancer patients treated with immunotherapy. The researchers were interested in drugs called alpha blockers, which are widely prescribed for prostate conditions and high blood pressure—and also interfere with the cell signaling that triggers cytokine storms. In theory, alpha blockers might stop a cytokine storm before it starts.

Giving mice with bacterial infections an alpha blocker lessened cytokine storms and decreased deaths, Vogelstein’s team reported in the journal Nature in 2018. And, the researchers found, the treatment didn’t seem to harm other aspects of the immune response.

Staving off the storm

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated in the United States over the past few months and severely ill patients presented with cytokine storm symptoms, the idea of testing alpha blockers in humans has become more urgent, Vogelstein’s team recently argued in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

To obtain approval for an alpha blocker clinical trial, Vogelstein’s team first surveyed medical claims data. They combed through records from people hospitalized for pneumonia and acute respiratory distress and analyzed whether patients’ outcomes were better if they had been taking alpha blockers for unrelated conditions. The team’s tentative conclusion: taking alpha blocker drugs correlated to a lower risk of death from respiratory distress.

On its own, that’s not strong enough evidence to prescribe the drug for a wholly new disease like COVID-19, says Susan Athey, an economist at Stanford University who collaborated with Vogelstein’s team on the claims analysis. But it helps bolster the case for the team’s clinical trial.

In the trial, COVID-19 patients will take gradually increasing doses of an alpha blocker called prazosin, sold under the brand name Minipress, over six days, says Chetan Bettegowda, a neurosurgeon at Hopkins who is helping to design and run the trials. Then, the team will evaluate whether people who received this treatment had a lower ICU admission rate or ventilator use than patients who received the standard treatment. They’ll follow each patient for 60 days, but preliminary data from the first patients could be available within weeks to months, Bettegowda says.

If the trial’s results suggest alpha blockers are safe and effective, the team hopes to run a second trial with patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 but are not yet hospitalized. They’re also encouraging colleagues at other hospitals to join their clinical trial efforts, to gather patient data more quickly.

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Dementia symptoms: Three warning signs in your sleep to watch out for

Dementia is a terrifying prospect because there is no known way to prevent it and it becomes increasingly destabilising for the person affected and their loved ones. Dementia is not a disease in itself but a collection of symptoms associated with brain damage. Spotting these symptoms can be tricky at first because they can be easily confused with general defects of ageing.

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It is imperative to stay alert to the warning signs of dementia because the sooner you receive a diagnosis, the sooner you can take steps to slow the onset.

There are a number of symptoms associated with sleep that may help you spot dementia.

In fact, according to Dementia UK, sleep disturbance is very common in dementia, with a significant percentage of people with dementia experiencing disturbed sleep at some point in their condition.

“This may involve people waking up during the night confused, sleeping during the day and being awake at night, waking too early as well as an increase in restlessness in the early evening or night making it difficult to get to sleep,” explains the health body.

Sleep can be particularly worrying for people with Lewy body dementia.

Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s.

As Dementia UK explains, many people with Lewy body dementia experience REM sleep behaviour disorder, which can cause vivid nightmares and violent movements during the night, insomnia, excessive daytime sleeping and restless leg syndrome.

Understanding the link between dementia and sleep disturbances

According to Dementia UK, these problems arise as dementia can affect the part of the brain that controls our circadian rhythms, otherwise known as our body clock.

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“This leads to a disruption in the sleep/wake cycle and can be extremely difficult to manage both for the person but also their family carers,” explains the health body.

In addition, people with dementia may be experiencing other problems which can disrupt sleep, such as anxiety, depression or untreated pain.

“They may have decreased activity during the day or may struggle to relax if they are in an environment that feels unfamiliar,” says Dementia UK.

As the health site points out, this may be even more difficult during the coronavirus outbreak, as many usual routines and levels of activities have been reduced causing increased levels of distress for families.

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Why sleep is critical for someone with dementia and tips to aid the sleep-cycle

“Good sleep hygiene for the person with dementia and the carer can help to reduce difficulties such as avoiding caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals prior to bedtime,” explains Dementia UK.

What does the health site recommend?

Trying to maintain a regular routine and including some exercise and/or activity during the day is important as is reducing the frequency and length of any daytime napping if possible.

“A good environment for sleep is essential which includes making sure the temperature is not too hot or too cold and reducing noise or bright lights,” says the health body.

Other key tips

If the person with dementia needs to get up during the night to use the toilet, try using a low level light and keeping the light on in the bathroom so they are less likely to disturb others, says Dementia UK.

“Having a night light and a clock which indicates day and night may help orientate someone with dementia and reduce distress,” it adds.

Sleep and dementia risk

Certain sleep routines may raise your risk of developing dementia too, research has found.

According to a study conducted by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, sleeping more than nine hours per night was linked to a decrease in memory and episodic learning, both risk factors of dementia.

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Parkinson’s disease: The lesser-known symptom which lies in your bowel movements

Parkinson’s disease gets progressively worse over time but picking up  the condition early on can help those affected to manage their symptoms and maintain  quality of life for as long as possible. Finding little clues help one to identify the condition in the early stages and constipation has been described as one of the lesser-known signs.

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Constipation is a common complication of Parkinson’s disease.

Many people who have Parkinson’s disease notice difficulties with constipation before they notice motor symptoms such as tremor or stiffness.

Constipation may appear years before other symptoms of Parkinson’s, and often appears before a diagnosis is made.

Signs and symptoms of constipation include having fewer than three bowel movements per week, passing hard, dry or lumpy stools, having to push or strain to have a bowel movement, painful bowel movements, feeling as though the rectum is blocked or a feeling as though the rectum is full, even after having a bowel movement.

Parkinson’s disease has a wide-ranging effect on the brain and the body, many of which researchers have yet to fully understand.

There are several factors attributing as to why constipation is prevalent with Parkinson’s.

People with Parkinson’s have a lack of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter involved in controlling muscle movement. 

The dopamine sends signals that helps the muscles to move.

People with Parkinson’s have a lack of this and therefore this makes it more difficult for the bowel muscles to push matter through the GI tract, leading to constipation.

Research suggests that Parkinson’s disease impacts the physiology and functioning of both the anus and rectum.

Researchers found that people who’d been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s were more likely to have reduced anal sphincter pressure.

This causes anorectal changes which causes constipation for Parkinson’s sufferers.

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Poor muscle coordination is another cause of constipation.

Parkinson’s disease weakens the muscles of the bowels and pelvic floor.

That means that those muscles may be unable to contract, or they might relax instead of contracting.

Either of those malfunctions can make it difficult for a bowel movement to occur.

The NHS said: “It’s thought around one in 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease.

“Most people with Parkinson’s start to develop symptoms when they’re over 50, although around one in 20 people with the condition first experience symptoms when they’re under 40.

“Men are slightly more likely to get Parkinson’s disease than women.

“Although there’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, treatments are available to help reduce the main symptoms and maintain quality of life for as long as possible.”

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Type 2 diabetes: The 60p vegetable shown to reduce blood sugar levels

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that can be brought under control if you commit to a healthy lifestyle. That’s because the primary threat posed by type 2 diabetes – high blood sugar levels, is kept at bay by healthy living. Diet holds the key to regulating blood sugar levels and certain rules must be followed.

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As the NHS explains, there’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.

The main culprits to cut down on are starchy items, such as bread, pasta, rice, couscous, potatoes, breakfast cereals.

The reason for this is that starchy foods have a high carbohydrate content.

Carbohydrate is broken down into glucose relatively quickly and therefore has a more pronounced effect on blood sugar levels than either fat or protein.

This also means that some foods present hidden health risks for people with type 2 diabetes.

It is important to get your five a day fruit and veg, for example, but you should opt for non-starchy vegetables to minimise the risk of high blood sugar levels.

Non-starchy vegetables are those which contain smaller amounts of carbohydrate.

In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends dedicating half your plate to non-starchy vegetables.

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One particular non-starchy vegetable that has been shown to lower blood sugar levels is broccoli.

According to a study published in Science Translational Medicine, broccoli contains an ingredient that can help those with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar level.

A chemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and sprouts called sulforaphane is thought to be responsible for the blood sugar-lowering effect.

To identify the suitable compound, researchers used computer models to identify gene expression changes linked with type 2 diabetes, and then sift through thousands of chemicals that might reverse these changes.

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The study found participants who took the equivalent of around five kilograms (11 pounds) of broccoli daily saw a reduction in their blood sugar levels of about 10 percent.

According to the study researchers, that reduction is sufficient to reduce complications in the eyes, kidneys and blood.

The finding is not surprising.

According to Diabetes.co.uk: “Vegetables are one of the most powerful defences against complications and a plentiful intake of non-starchy vegetables is highly recommended for all people with diabetes.”

How do I know if I have type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes can be tricky to spot because the symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.

If symptoms do appear, you experience:

  • Urinating more than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Feeling very tired
  • Losing weight without trying to
  • Itching around your penis or vagina, or repeatedly getting thrush
  • Cuts or wounds taking longer to heal
  • Blurred vision

You should contact your GP immediately if you recognise these symptoms, advised the NHS.

“Early treatment reduces your risk of other health problems,” warns the health site.

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Dementia care: The early warning sign which is related to COVID-19

Dementia broadly relates to a number of conditions which are associated with a declining brain. The type of symptoms a person with dementia may experience depends largely on the region of the brain that it is affected. As with COVID-19, a loss of smell could also be an early warning sign of the degenerative disease.

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The most suitable of all indicators of early signs of dementia, and commonly unnoticeable, is the failing olfactory function, or sense of smell.

Research has shown that patients could show a distinct inability to identify scent, recall the experience and associate or distinguish between various smells, as an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.

Since the disease is degenerative in impact, the human faculties including the basic sense of smell could be impaired.

The Alzheimer’s Society said: “A study of nearly 3,000 people in the US found that older adults with a poor sense of smell were more likely to develop dementia later in life.

“Although the link between smell and dementia risk is an important finding, there are some key questions we need to answer.

“First, if someone fails the test, how likely are they to develop dementia.

“Second, if someone passes the test how likely are they to develop dementia?”

Many elderly might not be able to identify an odour or be able to differentiate one odour from another.

This is a sad reality for getting older, however, it could also often signal a potential warning of early dementia.

For some, the inability to detect an odour at all may be present.

Odour identification difficulties are common in people with neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

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Older people who have difficulty identifying common odours have been estimated to be twice as likely to develop dementia in five years as those with no significant smell loss.

In the absence of a known medical cause, an impaired sense of smell can be a predictor of cognitive decline.

Experiencing an olfactory dysfunction is often present before other cognitive symptoms appear, although this loss can go undetected.

The NHS added: “Many people with frontotemporal dementia develop a number of unusual behaviours they’re not aware of.

“Repetitive behaviours, such as humming, hand-rubbing and foot-tapping may signal frontotemporal dementia.”

Other symptoms of early dementia to be aware of include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, problems with language, disorientation to time and place, poor or decreased judgement, problems with keeping track of things, misplacing things or changes in mood or behaviour.

Alzheimer’s Disease International added: “Every person is unique and dementia affects people differently – no two people will have symptoms that develop in exactly the same way.

“An individual’s personality, general health and social situation are all important factors in determining the impact of dementia on him or her.”

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Beverley Callard health: Coronation Street star reveals she will be ‘medicated forever’

Beverly Callard is instantly recognisable as the face of Liz McDonald, the hapless heroine in Coronation Street. Liz has fought her fair share of battles over the years, with a string of failed marriages and long standing feuds. Unfortunately, Beverly’s life has not exactly provided a peaceful retreat from her character’s drama. 

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Beverly lives with bipolar disorder, a mental health condition characterised by volatile mood swings.

Beverly’s longstanding battle with bipolar drove her to attempt suicide at one point. 

Last year, Beverly provided an update on her mental health condition.

Speaking to the Daily Star Sunday, she revealed how medication helps to keep her symptoms at bay.

She said: “I’ll have to be medicated forever. I know I will have to take medication for the rest of my life. I am grateful it’s there.”

The Corrie star also gave an insight into how her mental health condition dictated her life: “It’s really weird, but when you’re in the depths of it you can’t talk about it. You can only talk about it when you’ve got better.

“So I wouldn’t be able to discuss anything if I wasn’t well. But once I’ve recovered I can try to champion the cause then to help people going through it.”

Bipolar symptoms – what to look for

According to the NHS, people with bipolar disorder have episodes of:

  • Depression – feeling very low and lethargic
  • Mania – feeling very high and overactive 

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“Episodes of mania and depression often last for several weeks or months,”  explains the health body.

As the health site points out, if you have bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of depression more regularly than episodes of mania, or vice versa.

Between episodes of depression and mania, you may sometimes have periods where you have a “normal” mood, it notes.

The patterns are not always the same and some people may experience:

  • Rapid cycling – where a person with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a high to a low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between
  • Mixed state – where a person with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of depression and mania together; for example, overactivity with a depressed mood

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How to treat it

Treatment for bipolar disorder aims to reduce the severity and number of episodes of depression and mania to allow as normal a life as possible.

If a person is not treated, episodes of bipolar-related mania can last for between three and six months, warns the NHS.

As Beverly will attest to, medication is usually the most effective means of stabilising moods right away, says Mayo Clinic. 

“Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment with medications, even during periods when you feel better,” says the health body.

Other treatments include:

Learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or maniaPsychological treatment – such as talking therapies, which help you deal with depression and provide advice on how to improve relationshipsLifestyle advice – such as doing regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, and advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep

“Most people with bipolar disorder can receive most of their treatment without having to stay in hospital,” according to the NHS.

The health site continues: “But hospital treatment may be needed if your symptoms are severe or you’re being treated under the Mental Health Act, as there’s a danger you may self-harm or hurt others.

“In some circumstances, you could have treatment in a day hospital and return home at night.”

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