For a healthy heart eat a rainbow every day!

Fiber, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, high nutrients, low-calorie, no artificial flavors or colors, natural sugars are part of a heart healthy diet and all easily available in a diet rich in colorful vegetables. If it is hard to get your servings of vegetables per day consider smoothies, chopping into small pieces adding small amounts to every meal you make. Ask yourself are you getting 4 1/2 cups a day of vegetables? Most will say no. Try new vegetables, search the internet for recipes.

Exercise is Medicine for your Diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity is essential for controlling your blood glucose and managing your weight. Exercise also improves how well your body responds to insulin, which may reduce the need for medication because your muscle and fat will do a better job of taking glucose out of the blood.

Furthermore, exercise may help protect you against heart disease, which often accompanies type 2
diabetes, by reducing body fat, blood pressure and improving your cholesterol levels. It will help you better understand your diet and exercise if you closely monitor your blood glucose levels to  understand how you respond to different types of activities.

If the benefits of exercise could be put into a pill would you take it?

If so why would you take it? Most likely because you know that pill is extremely helpful.  It would make your muscles stronger, including your heart muscle thus decreasing risk of death from heart disease. It would lower your bad cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar, and increase the good cholesterol. It would improve your memory. It would slow osteoporosis. It would make you less likely to have falls. It would improve your mood and lessen symptoms of depression.

Exercise is Medicine!

Exercise does all this and more, however it is extremely difficult to get people to follow exercise advice or adhere to an exercise program? Why? Because taking a pill is so much easier, and maybe because the cost of medicine is covered by insurance. So many take such care to take medications, vitamins, eat healthier, but still find it difficult to adhere to medical advice to exercise. It could be do to the information out there seems conflicting, or too complicated.

Exercise the Diabetes Drug

You take your diabetes medications every day correct? Most people also have concerns about the side effects and the cost of their medication. Yet exercise is one of the best medications out their with minimal side effects. Just like most diabetes drugs it has to be taken regularly to get the benefits, and there is a specific dosage.

Frequency of use: 6-7 days per week.

  • This regulates the body, you need  a certain amount of energy to do this from your body and its energy sources (food and insulin). The more regular you exercise the less wild blood sugar swings.


  •  To a level that feels fairly light to somewhat hard, but not hard. Bring your heart rate up above your resting heart rate, break a light sweat, breath a little harder – yet be able to carry on a conversation

Time or Duration:

  • 30 minutes or more per day. It can be broken up or done all at once.


  • Aerobic – meaning continuous movement that requires oxygen – walking, biking, hiking, spinning, swimming, rowing, elliptical, recumbent equipment, steppers, tia chi, yoga, karate, pilates, belly dancing, dance classes, circuit training, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, kayaking, rollerblading, ice skating….you get the idea.
  • Resistance training – it doesn’t have to be heavy body building weight training, but working with your body as resistance, dumbbells, resistive bands, weight machines, free weights all help to maintain and build muscle. Try doing some sort of resistive training 2-3 days per week.

Side effects:

While there are many benefits to exercise for people with diabetes, it should be noted that there are several potential risks as well, including a worsening of eye complications in people with conditions such as proliferative retinopathy when doing specific exercises (such as weight lifting- with heavy weights that create a large amount of strain), hypoglycemia (low blood glucose), and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).

Building the Routine

Most people take there medications at a certain time every day, brush their teeth at a certain time, go to appointments because they are scheduled at a certain time. Exercise needs to be scheduled and worked into the daily routine. What works for you? First thing in the morning? Most studies show people who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to stick with the routine for the long haul. Can you develop a routine –  a walk after dinner, hitting the gym on the drive home from work, fifteen minutes at lunch and fifteen after work? Keeping a log helps, and be accountable to someone with the log, make sure you bring it to your doctors appointments and discuss.

Can you stick with if for the long-term?

It takes six months of exercise to establish a habit.

In medicine we talk about the stages of change

Where are you in the stages of change when it comes to exercise?   

Holiday Sweets

The average American consumes 50 pounds of cookies a year and a lot of these will be consumed over the holidays.

How much added sugar is in a cookie? That all depends on the cookie of course but one little Oreo is 7 grams of added sugar. A homemade cookie can contain twice that.

So when you are craving cookies, how about clementines, grapes, pomegranate,  chestnuts, almonds dusted in chocolate powder, a cup of cinnamon tea, flavored coffee. If you do indulge try to keep in mind serving sizes. Follow it up with a walk or using some weights.

Cool facts about blood vessels

Are you raising a family? If so you want them to grow strong and healthy. When you consider their growth, think of their blood vessels.   I know that seems kind of out of the ordinary, but if we can work to keep not only ourselves healthy and consider those who we share our lives with.  Their health is important! Encourage your family to adopt healthy lifestyles  and prevent disease.

Fact: Every pound of fat gained causes your body to make 7 new miles of blood vessels.

Knowing this, it’s easy to see why obesity and heart disease often go together. Most of the new blood vessels are tiny capillaries, but also include small veins and arteries. This means if you are “only” 10 pounds overweight your heart has to pump blood through an extra 70 miles of blood vessels.

 The good news is that this also works in reverse. If you lose a pound of fat, your body will break down and reabsorb the no longer needed blood vessels. This is encouraging to dieters, as one pound does not seem like a lot to lose, but even that little bit of difference will result in a large benefit for your heart!

But nature and nurture rarely operate independently and this week it was published a large study that further contributes to our understanding of how the complex interplay between genes and lifestyle affect the risk of obesity. Over 12,000 American women and men participated in the study which is published in reputable Circulation. In these researchers identified the 32 so-called “obesity genes”, ie genetic variants that are known to predispose to obesity, and the calculated using these overall genetic risk profile for each participant. This was relatively normal genes that most of us carry to a greater or lesser extent, not rare mutations observed in some cases of morbid obesity. Participants were followed up for two years and as expected the weight proportional to how they were genetically predisposed.

When researchers went deeper in the material and examined the effects of physical activity and inactive time on obesity risk was discovered however, the interaction between genes and the activity level was significant. Silent Sitting, measured as the number of hours participants reported watching TV every day compounded effect of genetic predisposition to obesity significantly. The influence of genes alone were 50% higher for those who put four or more hours watching TV daily. The good news, however, was that a relatively moderate level of physical activity significantly reduced the effect of obesity genes.

The researchers estimated that the difference in weight gain between those who were lucky with maximum genes (no genetic predisposition to obesity) and those who were unfortunate maximum (had all known genetic dispositions) was halved for each hour daily walk, or every half hour of jogging. On the other hand, the difference of 25% for every two hours participants spent on the couch.

Thus, it is particularly important, how unfair it may seem, to reduce sedentary activities and increase physical activity for those that are inherited predisposition to obesity. Just how physical activity overcomes the effect of obesity genes is not known in detail, but there are indications that regular physical activity triggers changes in gene expression so that health becomes more active while suppressing those that are related to weight gain. It is also worth noting that the importance of sedentary TV time and physical activity were independent of each other, that was both influential factors.

Thus, we can not change our genes, but it appears that we can greatly influence the impact they have on us. Therefore, the best advice is still, whatever genetic basis, following the authorities’ recommendations for diet and physical activity and reduce time spent watching television.

Written by Bjarne Nes, Fellow CERG.