29 Apr

Medical News Today: Are peanuts good for diabetes? Effect on disease risk

Peanuts are common in the average American diet in the form of peanut butter, candy bars, and roasted and salted peanuts. But how may eating peanuts affect people with diabetes?

People with diabetes have to carefully consider their diet. As a result, many of those with the disease wonder if peanuts are fine to eat.

This article explores a few things that people with diabetes should be aware of before making the decision to eat peanuts.


Are nuts good for people with diabetes?

[Unsalted peanuts for diabetes]
Unsalted peanuts can be a great snack food for people with diabetes.

There is a lot of evidence that suggests nuts, on the whole, are good for the health. According to a study posted in Nutrients, nuts and peanuts are full of nutrients. They are often also rich in healthful substances such as:

Studies have linked eating nuts to a lower risk of certain heart diseases and gallstones. They may even help with high blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation.

While nuts are high in fat and calories, the research suggests that they may even help with weight loss. From this point of view, they are a much healthier option than other snacks, such as a bag of chips. There are some other factors to consider as well, with peanuts specifically.


Glycemic index of peanuts

The glycemic index (GI) is used to rate foods based on how slow or fast they cause an increase in blood sugar. Foods lower on the GI scale tend to be converted to sugar slowly and steadily. High GI foods release glucose quickly into the bloodstream.

People with diabetes are usually more aware of these numbers. They can inform the person if and when they need to take insulin, and what and when they can eat.

The GI scale goes from 0-100. Something with a score of 0 would be anything which has no effect on blood sugar, such as water. A score of 100 is pure glucose.

The other common measurement is the glycemic load, which signals the food’s impact on the blood sugar after it has been completely digested. Foods with a glycemic load of 10 or less are considered low-impact foods.

According to Harvard Medical School, peanuts have a GI number of 13. This number is very low and means that peanuts can cause less of a spike in blood sugar than many other foods.

Peanuts also have a glycemic load of 1, meaning that after they are digested completely, they do not add much sugar to the blood. This means peanuts would be considered a good snack for people with diabetes.


Are peanuts healthful for people with diabetes?

It is interesting to know that peanuts are not actually nuts. They are legumes that have properties surprisingly similar to nuts. Unlike nuts, peanuts have a completely different taste raw and must be roasted to be truly edible.

In a review in Food and Nutrition Sciences, researchers noted that peanuts were indeed a nutrient-rich food. They had a high fat and protein content, and were a good source of B-vitamins, phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin C.

As peanuts have little effect on the blood sugar, it would seem people with diabetes could eat them in moderation.

Peanuts do have a higher concentration of omega-6 fatty acids than other nuts. This may be cause for concern, as some people believe omega-6 oils can contribute to inflammation in the body. Over time, this pro-inflammatory response may make diabetes symptoms worse.

[Diabetes patients monitor glucose]
People with diabetes have to closely monitor glucose levels. Peanuts contain very little glucose.

Other research indicates that omega-6 fats may actually reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. A recent study found that people with higher concentrations of omega-6 fats in their blood had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This study was carried out on men who did not already have diabetes, and more tests are needed to find out the exact role omega-6 fats play in diabetes.

It does appear that omega-6 fats need to be properly balanced with healthy omega-3 fats to avoid inflammation. If peanuts are eaten regularly, they should also be balanced with foods high in omega-3 fats.

Salt content is something else to be aware of, as people with diabetes are at risk for high blood pressure. Store-bought roasted and salted peanuts are typically loaded with sodium, and may contain other flavor enhancers, such as sugar.

A study posted in Nutrition Journal, found that people with diabetes who had peanuts added to their diet plans improved the number of nutrients they were getting. They also helped manage weight and certain fats in the blood.

After looking at the evidence, peanuts seem to be a much better option than many other store-bought or highly processed snacks.

Peanuts and the heart

According to the American Heart Association, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing heart diseases.

Diabetes is often associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, obesity, and lack of physical activity. These are all direct risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Because of this, foods that protect the heart may be helpful for anyone with diabetes.

[Diabetes peanut heart benefit]
People with diabetes need a diet that protects the heart. Research has shown peanuts to provide cardiological benefits.

Recent research from JAMA Internal Medicine found that of the more than 200,000 people studied, anyone who regularly ate peanuts and other nuts was much less likely to have died of any cause, but in particular, of heart disease. This suggests that even though peanuts are not actually nuts, they are similar in nutrition and health benefits.

Importantly, the study looked at people from different races, incomes, and backgrounds. This makes the research even more useful, as these are all factors that may influence health.

The study was merely an observation study, however. People cannot assume that the peanuts were the only thing that was protecting the heart. But there could be a link.


Peanut butter and diabetes

Peanuts may have some benefit for diabetes, but this is not the same as saying peanut butter has benefits.

Many commercial peanut butters have additional fats, sugars, and oils added to get the taste and texture most people love. The added fats are generally trans fats or saturated fats, which are more inflammatory and less healthful for the heart. The added sugar is not good for people with diabetes either.

If a person with diabetes wants to eat peanut butter, it should be a completely natural peanut butter that contains only peanuts and just a little salt, if any.

Other precautions for peanuts and diabetes

While peanuts can be a great addition to the diet of many with diabetes, it is important to understand a few precautions before adding them to the diet regularly.

Peanuts can cause allergies, and life-threatening allergic reactions can occur. It is important for people to be certain that they are not allergic to nuts before adding peanuts to their diet.

[Salted peanuts]
Raw peanuts require roasting to be truly edible. They may then be salted or seasoned to taste. It is more healthful to buy raw and self-prepare rather than buying ready-salted peanuts.

The increased sodium from store-bought peanuts is also cause for concern. The best option is to buy unsalted peanuts or unroasted peanuts and roast them at home, adding just a little seasoning to taste.

Eating a lot of peanuts can also add many calories to the diet, which is why portion control is very important.

Another concern is that the mold that is often present on peanuts produces a toxin called aflatoxin, which is acceptable in the United States, at varying levels. Any people with diabetes who have liver disease dysfunction or cancer should limit their exposure to aflatoxins.

Some products on the market, such as PB2, are produced after all the oils and fats have been removed from the peanuts to make a dry powder, and sugar has been added. These highly processed products are unlikely to provide the same health benefits as whole peanuts.

All things considered, many people find that adding a small handful of peanuts to the diet each day can be a great way to control the appetite while keeping the blood sugar stable between meals.

Current research supports the idea that peanuts are good and safe for people with diabetes. However, other proper nuts are even more advantageous. Almonds contain twice the fiber, more calcium, more iron, and one-and-a-half times more vitamin E than peanuts. Eating a variety of nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, along with peanuts, is likely to give the best variety of nutrients, omega-3 fats, fiber, and health benefits.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Cannabis and schizophrenia: New evidence unveiled

The nature of the relationship between cannabis and psychiatric disorders has been hotly debated for decades. A new study, using genetically modified mice, adds more fuel to an already blistering blaze.
[Man smoking from above]
A new study uses a mouse model to probe the links between cannabis and schizophrenia.

Cannabis is, by far, the most commonly used illicit drug both across the United States and globally.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 22.2 million people had used the drug in the previous month.

Furthermore, according to the Monitoring the Future Study of 2016, almost half of 12th graders have tried marijuana at least once in their life.

Because of its prevalence and the new legislation affecting its legality in the U.S., research into its pros and cons is at an all-time high.

Over the years, the question of whether cannabis is linked to psychiatric conditions has been investigated many times. Research has produced mixed results.

What seems clear is that, if there is a relationship, it is a complex one. A range of factors appears to play a part, such as the age at which marijuana is first used, how much and how often it is consumed, and genetic vulnerabilities.

The psychosis-cannabis question

To date, the consensus is that cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis but, across the population, the effect is relatively small. However, the effect seems to be stronger in individuals who are already at risk, such as people with a family history of psychotic disorders or those who have experienced childhood abuse.

The latest researchers to throw their hat into the ring of fire hail from Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel. Their results are published this week in the journal Human Molecular Genetics. A mouse model was used in this particular study – more specifically, a strain of mice with a mutant DISC-1 gene. These mice have a genetic susceptibility to developing schizophrenia and were split into four experimental groups:

  • susceptible mice exposed to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis
  • susceptible mice not exposed to THC
  • normal mice exposed to THC
  • normal mice not exposed to THC

The exposure to THC came at a point in their life equivalent to human adolescence.

Neurological biochemical analysis and behavioral tests carried out on the animals showed that only the genetically susceptible mice developed schizophrenia-related changes after being exposed to cannabis.

Dr. Ran Barzilay, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine, explains that: “The study was conducted on mice, but it mimics a clinical picture of ‘first episode’ schizophrenia, which presents during adolescence in proximity to robust cannabis use.”

The study confirms the conclusions of earlier research: that cannabis is most likely to produce long-term psychiatric effects in individuals who are most susceptible.

“Our research demonstrates that cannabis has a differential risk on susceptible versus non-susceptible individuals. In other words, young people with a genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia – those who have psychiatric disorders in their families – should bear in mind that they’re playing with fire if they smoke pot during adolescence.”

Dr. Barzilay

The role of BDNF and the hippocampus

Alongside the original study, the scientists investigated potential pathways that might explain the increased schizophrenia risk with cannabis use. One of the lead researchers, Prof. Dani Offen, explains their theory: “A protective mechanism was observed in the non-susceptible mice. This mechanism involves the upregulation of a protective neurotrophic factor, BDNF [brain-derived neurotrophic factor], in the hippocampus.”

The hippocampus is a region of the brain heavily involved in emotion and memory. Scientists have found a range of anatomical and functional differences in the hippocampus of individuals with schizophrenia.

To test their theory, the researchers gave BDNF to the schizophrenia-susceptible mice. They found that THC exposure no longer produced psychiatric symptoms. The introduction of BDNF prevented the development of schizophrenia. Normally, BDNF supports existing neurons and encourages the growth of new synapses and neurons.

Overall, the study’s findings have clear implications for public health. The authors warn that young people who have a family history of psychiatric conditions or have responded strongly to drugs previously should be particularly cautious around marijuana during their adolescence.

Additionally, the relationship between cannabis, schizophrenia, and BDNF can now be explored to help design drugs that could reduce the negative consequences of cannabis on psychiatric health.

Because this study was conducted on mice, it will not finalize the debate around cannabis and psychiatric conditions, and more work will need to be done. However, it adds further weight to the theory that cannabis increases the risk of developing schizophrenia in individuals who are particularly susceptible.

Learn how schizophrenia and cannabis may be linked.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Tonic water compounds prevent allergic asthma in mice

Asthma affects around 1 in 12 people in the United States, and this number is on the rise. A new study, however, finds that two compounds added to tonic water may be an effective treatment for the disease.
[Tonic water]
Chloroquine and quinine – which are both used to flavor tonic water – prevented airway inflammation and other characteristics of allergic asthma in mice.

Researchers from the U.S. and Australia reveal how chloroquine and quinine prevented the development of allergic asthma in mice by activating the rodents’ bitter taste receptors.

Chloroquine and quinine are compounds that are used to treat malaria, and they are also added to tonic water in order to give the beverage its distinctive, bitter taste.

Dr. Pawan Sharma, of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research and School of Life Sciences at the University of Technology in Australia, and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

Asthma is estimated to affect around 26 million children and adults in the U.S. The most common form of asthma is allergic asthma, which is triggered by exposure to dust mites, pollen, pet dander, mold, and other substances.

Inhaling such substances can lead to inflammation of the airways, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest pain.

While there are medications that can help patients to manage their asthma symptoms – such as corticosteroids and beta2 agonists – Dr. Sharma notes that there are currently no asthma medications that target disease progression.

“Our current research on taste receptors is crucial in identifying new classes of drugs that can be an effective asthma treatment option in future,” he adds.

Chloroquine and quinine prevented airway inflammation in mice

According to Dr. Sharma and colleagues, previous research found that activating bitter taste receptors on the tongue, called TAS2Rs, led to the relaxation of smooth muscle in the airways of asthma mouse models.

The new study aimed to build on those findings by assessing whether TAS2R agonists – that is, compounds that stimulate the bitter taste receptors – have the potential to reduce some of the key features of asthma.

To reach their findings, the researchers gave mouse models of allergic asthma intranasal doses of either chloroquine or quinine.

Twenty-four hours after administration, the lung function, airway inflammation, and airway structure of the mice were assessed upon exposure to two allergens.

Not only did chloroquine and quinine prevent airway inflammation in the mice, but the bitter compounds also prevented other key characteristics of allergic asthma, including mucus accumulation and structural changes to the airway.

The researchers also tested chloroquine and quinine on human airway cells. They found that the compounds block the chemotaxis, or movement, of immune cells in the airway in response to allergens, which helps to prevent airway inflammation.

Dr. Sharma and team note that further studies are needed in order to identify TAS2R agonists with higher efficacy for the treatment of asthma. “Alternately, existing drugs could be repurposed for asthma therapy,” say the researchers, adding that:

“Advances in medicinal chemistry and computational modeling should catalyze the drug discovery process in exploiting TAS2Rs as novel anti-asthma therapeutic target.”

Learn how a novel protein could lead to better asthma treatment.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Prediabetes: Symptoms, causes, and risk factors

When someone has prediabetes, their blood glucose levels are high but not yet high enough to be a sign of type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes is very common, affecting 1 in 3 American adults.

Getting enough exercise, eating a wholesome diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can reverse symptoms of prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes from developing.


What is prediabetes?

[healthy man testing for prediabetes]
Being aware of prediabetes can help individuals prevent diabetes type 2.

Insulin is a hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream to the cells to use for energy.

When a person has prediabetes, their body cannot use insulin effectively.

Sometimes this results in the cells not getting enough sugar, which leaves too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream.

High blood sugar levels can cause serious health complications, especially damage to the blood vessels, heart, and kidney.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 86 million Americans have prediabetes, but many do not know they have the condition.

Most people who have prediabetes don’t experience any symptoms. By the time they do, it’s usually a sign that the condition has progressed to type 2 diabetes.


Diagnosis

The American Diabetes Association suggests that people should consider blood-screening tests when they are about 45 years old.

However, glucose testing should begin earlier for those with risk factors for diabetes, such as being overweight or having a family history of diabetes.

Several blood sugar tests can confirm a prediabetes diagnosis. Doctors will repeat tests two or three times before making an official diagnosis.

Here are the most common diagnostic tests.

Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test

This test checks the average levels of sugar in a person’s blood over the past 3 months. An A1C blood test score of between 5.7 and 6.4 percent means an individual is likely to have prediabetes.

Some conditions, such as pregnancy, affect blood sugar levels. This may interfere with A1C results.

In addition, results for some people from certain ethnicities, or those with certain blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia, may show inaccuracies in a1c testing. This can lead to a misdiagnosis or poor management of the disease.

Fasting blood glucose test (FBGT)

The fasting blood glucose test measures sugar levels at one particular point. A result of between 100 and 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered a sign of prediabetes.

Those undergoing an FBGT cannot eat or drink for at least 8 hours before giving a blood sample. Many schedule the test for early morning, a time when most have already been fasting overnight.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

The OGTT also requires 8 hours of fasting. Typically, blood sugar levels will then be checked before and 2 hours after drinking a glucose drink.

Other protocols include testing blood sugar levels every 30 to 60 minutes after consuming the glucose drink.

A 2-hour value between 140 and 199 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered impaired glucose tolerance. It is a sign of prediabetes.

The OGTT is often used to help diagnose those who are not good candidates for the A1C test. These people include women suspected of having gestational or pregnancy-related diabetes and those with blood conditions.

Prediabetes testing on children

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the number of children with type 2 diabetes in America is increasing.

The ADA recommend annual diabetes screening for children who are overweight or have a combination of risk factors for prediabetes. Test results for children should be interpreted the same way as those for adults.

Diabetes risk factors for children include:

[child diabetes]
The number of children in the U.S. with prediabetes is rising.
  • Being overweight: Children who are obese or have high levels of belly fat.
  • Sex: Type 2 diabetes impacts more girls than boys.
  • Age: Most type 2 diabetes diagnoses on children are made by the time they are age 10.
  • Family: Children who have family members with type 2 diabetes, or a mother who had gestational diabetes.
  • Race or ethnicity: Children of African-American, Native American, and Hispanic descent are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Once prediabetes has been diagnosed, people must continue to get tested regularly. This gives doctors a better understanding of the person’s situation and the progression of the condition.

Keeping an eye on blood sugar levels over a period of time also helps to track the impact that any lifestyle changes have made.

People with prediabetes should have blood glucose tests at least once a year. Many doctors will require people to have tests more often depending on their individual risk factors.


Risk factors

Many factors can contribute to the development of prediabetes.

Increasingly a link between genetics, family history, and prediabetes has been identified. However, inactivity and excess belly fat are considered to be the most common and influential causes of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Risk factors for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes include:

  • Being overweight or obese: The more fatty tissue that is present, the less sensitive to glucose the cells become.
  • Excess fat around the abdominal region: For women, a waist size over 35 inches is linked to a higher prevalence of prediabetes. For men, a waist size over 40 inches is considered a risk.
  • Age: Prediabetes can develop in anyone of any age, but the risk of prediabetes is thought to rise after the age of 45 years. This may be due to inactivity, poor diet, and a loss of muscle mass, which typically declines with age.
  • Diet: Excess carbohydrate, especially sweetened foods or beverages, can impair insulin sensitivity over time. Diets high in red or processed meats are also linked to the development of prediabetes.
  • Sleep patterns: People with obstructive sleep apnea have an increased risk of developing prediabetes.
  • Family history: Having an immediate relative with type 2 diabetes significantly increases the risk of developing the condition.
  • Stress: During periods of stress the body releases the hormone cortisol into the blood stream, raising blood glucose levels. People who experience long-term stress may have Cushing’s syndrome, which can cause diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes: Women who give birth to babies weighing 9 pounds or more may be at a higher risk for prediabetes. Women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and their children, are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS are more susceptible to insulin resistance, which can lead to prediabetes, or diabetes type 2. Women with diabetes type 1 have a higher risk of PCOS.
  • Ethnicity: The risk of developing prediabetes tends to be higher for African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and Asian Americans. The reason remains unclear.
  • Metabolic syndrome: When the impact of obesity, high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides (“bad” fats) and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” fats) combine, insulin resistance can occur. Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of three or more conditions that influence metabolism.


Treatment and alternative therapies

Prediabetes can be reversed through exercise and diet. But according to the CDC, 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes if they do not make these lifestyle changes.

[healthy diet and exercise prevents prediabetes]
A healthful diet and exercise can prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes type 2.

Not every recommendation works for everyone, but consistently eating a healthful diet, and exercising regularly are the main ways to prevent prediabetes progressing to type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes that can reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Weight loss: Losing roughly 7 percent of total body weight, particularly reducing belly fat, may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
  • Moderate, consistent activity: People with diabetes should attempt 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week.
  • Increasing muscle mass: Muscle burns calories at a higher rate than fat, which can contribute to reaching a healthy weight. This, in turn, helps to stabilize blood glucose levels.
  • Increasing flexibility: Stretching is a form of exercise. Being flexible can also help reduce the impact of injuries and improve recovery.
  • Reducing stress: Stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol into the blood stream, which raises blood glucose levels.
  • Healthful diet: Diets, which are high in fiber, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates but low in simple sugars, help keep blood glucose levels stable.
  • Keeping a strict meal schedule: Eating smaller meals regularly throughout the day helps prevent spikes and dips in blood glucose levels. Most people need to eat every 3 to 5 hours to best manage blood sugar levels.
  • Stopping smoking: Nicotine is a stimulant, which raises blood glucose levels. Smoking can cause insulin resistance and is a risk factor for the development of diabetes.
  • Avoiding excess sugars: Foods and drinks with added sugars cause spikes and dips in blood glucose and contribute to being overweight.
  • Coffee intake in moderation: Caffeine is a stimulant that increases blood glucose levels. However, some studies have shown that coffee has been linked to increasing insulin sensitivity.
  • Getting enough sleep: Being tired or sick can increase stress levels, which can increase blood sugar.
  • Monitoring blood glucose: People with prediabetes risk factors or high blood glucose levels may need to monitor their levels at home.
  • Taking medications as prescribed: Some people with prediabetes may be prescribed medications such as metformin to manage their symptoms.

Treating conditions that impact blood glucose levels

There are a number of ways to treat conditions that impact a person’s blood sugar levels. These include:

  • Getting others involved: The more people who know you are trying to make lifestyle changes the better. Telling loved ones about your goals or forming a group with others managing prediabetes is a good way to make and maintain the necessary changes.
  • Setting realistic goals and making changes slowly: Focus on what you can do day to day. Setting unrealistic goals means people are less likely to meet them and this may cause them to feel discouraged. The American Diabetes Association offers advice to help people get started.
  • Online tests: These exist to assess symptoms. Online tests may be helpful, but if anyone experiences any symptoms of prediabetes, they should see their doctor.

Progression to type 2 diabetes

Signs that prediabetes has progressed to type 2 diabetes include:

  • increased or unrelenting thirst
  • fatigue or feeling weak
  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • blurred vision

Anyone who experiences these symptoms should see a doctor.

Alternative therapies

While there is still little evidence to prove that alternative therapies can treat prediabetes, they may help in the management of the condition.

[aromatherapy reduces stress and therefore also prediabetes]
Aromatherapy and relaxation techniques can reduce stress, one of the risk factors for diabetes type 2.

A range of herbs, vitamins, and minerals may help.

These include:

  • fenugreek
  • magnesium
  • cassia cinnamon
  • aloe vera
  • garlic
  • alpha-lipoic acid, which is an antioxidant found in foods, such as spinach, broccoli, and potatoes
  • chromium
  • omega-3 fatty acids can help stabilize blood glucose levels

Alternative therapies that can reduce the risk by decreasing stress include relaxation therapy, aromatherapy, massage therapy, and reflexology.

However, alternative therapies should not be used in place of a healthful diet, regular exercise, and medical attention for people who have symptoms.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Cinnamon and diabetes: Effect on blood sugar and overall health

People with diabetes often face dietary restrictions to control their blood sugar and prevent complications.

Although research is in a preliminary stage, cinnamon may help fight some symptoms of diabetes. It is also unlikely to cause blood pressure spikes, or disrupt blood sugar. So, people with diabetes who miss a sweet pop of flavor may find that cinnamon is a good replacement for sugar.


Can cinnamon affect blood sugar?

cinnamon
Studies suggest that as a treatment tool for diabetes, cinnamon may be useful. It may also be used as a healthful alternative to sugar and salt.

Cinnamon has shown promise in the treatment of blood sugar, as well as some other diabetes symptoms.

Research on the effects of cinnamon on blood sugar in diabetes is mixed and in the early stages. Most studies have been very small, so more research is necessary.

People with diabetes who are interested in herbal remedies, however, may be surprised to learn that doctors are serious about the potential for cinnamon to address some diabetes symptoms.

A 2003 study published in Diabetes Care, compared the effects of a daily intake of 1, 3, and 6 grams (g) of cinnamon with a group that received a placebo for 40 days.

All three levels of cinnamon intake reduced blood sugar levels and cholesterol. The effects were seen even 20 days after participants were no longer taking cinnamon.

A small 2016 study of 25 people, published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology, found that cinnamon may be beneficial for people with poorly controlled diabetes. Participants consumed 1 g of cinnamon for 12 weeks. The result was a reduction in fasting blood sugar levels.

However, a 2013 study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine had a different result. The study, which used a more reliable method, had slightly more participants, at 70. The researchers found that 1 g of cinnamon per day for 30 days and 60 days offered no improvements in blood sugar levels.

A 2016 analysis published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, attempted to bring together existing research on the role of cinnamon in blood sugar reductions.

The authors looked at 11 studies of cinnamon in the treatment of diabetes. All 11 produced some reductions in fasting blood sugar levels. Studies that measured HbA1C levels also achieved modest reductions.

However, only four of the studies achieved reductions in line with the American Diabetes Association’s treatment goals. This suggests that cinnamon may be a useful treatment tool, but is not a replacement for traditional diabetes treatments.

An earlier analysis published in 2011 in the Journal of Medicinal Food, also points to the potential for cinnamon to lower blood sugars. Researchers comparing the results of eight previous studies, found an average blood sugar level reduction of 3-5 percent.

There is no research that suggests cinnamon negatively affects blood sugar. That means that it is a safe bet for people with diabetes who want a more healthful alternative to sugar, salt, and other diabetes-unfriendly flavoring agents.

Other health benefits of cinnamon for diabetes


Cinnamon has also shown promise in addressing other diabetes symptoms. The 2003 Diabetes Care study also found a reduction in blood fat levels and so-called “bad” cholesterol. The levels remained lower even 20 days after participants had stopped consuming cinnamon.

A 2016 study published in Blood Pressure, compared the effects of various intake levels of cinnamon to cardamon, ginger, and saffron. Cinnamon and the other herbs did not affect blood pressure, body measurements, or body mass index.


Tips for using cinnamon

doctor consults with her patient
Before trying new diabetes remedies people should speak to their doctor.


The studies done so far on cinnamon’s effects on diabetes have used small quantities of cinnamon – usually a teaspoon or less.

People interested in trying cinnamon as a supplement to traditional diabetes medication should start small, with about 1 g per day (about ¼ to ½ teaspoon).

Just as different diabetes medications produce varying results and side effects in different patients, cinnamon won’t work for everyone. Some people may even experience side effects.

Some strategies to improve the chances of success while lowering risk include:

  • Keeping a food log.
  • Sticking with normal diabetes care plans. Cinnamon is not a substitute for blood sugar monitoring, a healthful diet, or diabetes drugs.
  • Speaking to a doctor before trying any new diabetes remedies, including cinnamon and other herbal remedies.
  • Using cinnamon as a flavoring agent for healthful foods, such as oatmeal and muesli. People should avoid eating cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, or other sugary foods that are rich in cinnamon.
  • It’s also possible for people who dislike the taste of cinnamon to purchase cinnamon herbal supplements.

Who should avoid cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a safe flavoring for most people with diabetes. However, people with liver disease or who believe they are at risk from liver disease may need to avoid cinnamon, particularly in large amounts.

Cinnamon comes in two forms: Ceylon and cassia. Cassia is commonly used in the United States and contains small amounts of a substance called coumarin. Some people are sensitive to this chemical and, if they take it in large doses, they can develop liver disease. People who already have liver disease are especially at risk.

Most research on the role of coumarin in liver failure looks at significantly larger quantities of cinnamon than are recommended for diabetes management. This highlights the importance of starting with very small quantities of cinnamon.

People should consider also using a Ceylon cinnamon supplement rather than the more readily available cassia cinnamon.


Interactions with other drugs and herbs

Cinnamon is safe to take with most drugs and herbal remedies. People taking another remedy should always consult their doctor first. Even natural remedies such as cinnamon can trigger negative interactions.

People with diabetes who take a drug that can harm the liver should consult their doctor before using cinnamon. They should also consider Ceylon instead of cassia cinnamon.

Cinnamon may also interact with anti-blood clotting drugs, such as warfarin, and some blood pressure medications.

To reduce the risk of negative interactions and other side effects, people with diabetes should keep a log of any new or unusual symptoms. People with diabetes should also report any side effects to a doctor as soon as they appear. This helps people with diabetes to make good medication decisions and avoid potentially serious side effects.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Standard test may miss urinary infection in symptomatic women

New research from Belgium suggests that the standard culture test for bacteria may return a negative result even though the patient tested actually has a urinary tract infection. The study compared women with symptoms of urinary infection – such as pain during urination and feeling an urgent or frequent need to urinate – with non-symptomatic women. With the help of a more sensitive test, it found that nearly all the symptomatic women with a negative standard test result actually did have an infection.
[women with UTI]
Research has shown that the standard test for diagnosing UTI may mistakenly return negative results.

The study – by researchers from Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital in Belgium – is published in the journal Clinical Microbiology and Infection.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common infections that people experience. It arises when bacteria – most likely from the skin or rectum – enter the urethra and travel up to the bladder.

Lead author Dr. Stefan Heytens, a researcher at Ghent University and a practicing GP, says that their findings support the idea that, for women with symptoms of an uncomplicated UTI, there is no need to carry out a standard culture test.

“A substantial percentage of women visiting their GP with symptoms of a UTI, who test negative for a bacterial infection, are told they have no infection and sent home without treatment,” Dr. Heytens comments.

“On the other hand,” he adds, “women with a positive test might be given a short course of antibiotics to treat their infection.”

Standard test is negative for many symptomatic women

UTIs affect several parts of the urinary tract, which includes the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. However, the most common type of UTI is a bladder infection, also known as cystitis.

Fast facts about UTI

  • Research suggests that between 40 and 60 percent of women have a UTI during their lifetime.
  • Bladder infection is the most common type of UTI.
  • In a few cases, the UTI can spread to one or both kidneys.

Learn more about UTI

The symptoms of UTI include experiencing a burning feeling during urination, or having frequent and intense urges to urinate, even when there is not much urine to pass.

Females are more likely to be affected by UTIs than males because they have a shorter urethra that is closer to the anus, making it easier for bacteria to get into the urinary tract and cause infection.

In the United States, UTIs account for more than 8.1 million visits to healthcare professionals every year.

Dr. Heytens and colleagues note that around 20 to 30 percent of women with symptoms of UTI who have the standard culture test have a negative result.

The standard culture test involves sending a urine sample to a laboratory, where it is cultured and tested to determine the types of bacteria present, if any.

Negative standard test ‘assumed to mean no UTI’

If the result of the standard test is positive, then the patient may be offered a course of antibiotics. These can include fosfomycin, nitrofurantoin, or trimethoprim.

However, the researchers say that many doctors assume that if the test result is negative, then the patient does not have a UTI.

They note that there has also been a tendency, in the past, to consider women who fall into this category as having unexplained ‘urethral syndrome’, and that the cause is likely to be psychosomatic.

For their study, Dr. Heytens and colleagues compared urine samples from 220 women who went to see their doctor because they had symptoms of UTI, with those of 86 healthy women with no such symptoms.

The urine samples underwent the standard culture test and were also tested with a more sensitive method called quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), which can detect minute amounts of bacterial DNA known to cause UTIs, including Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus saprophyticus.

‘If a woman has symptoms, she probably has a UTI’

The researchers found that the standard test detected bacteria in 80.9 percent of urine samples from the symptomatic women.

However, the qPCR test detected E. coli in 95.9 percent of those samples, and S. saphrophyticus in 8.6 percent.

When the two qPCR test results were combined, they showed that 98.2 percent of the symptomatic women had an infection.

In the symptom-free, healthy volunteers, the standard test found evidence of E. coli in 10.5 percent of them, and the qPCR test found E. coli in 11.6 percent.

Dr. Heytens says that the more sensitive qPCR test found evidence of E. coli in the urine samples of nearly all the women presenting with UTI symptoms, even when their standard test returned a negative result.

“This suggests that if a woman has these symptoms, she probably does have a UTI,” he suggests, and concludes:

“Our findings support previous research which indicates that traditional testing may not be helpful in uncomplicated UTIs. However, traditional urine culture tests may still have a role to play if treatment fails or if there are signs and symptoms of a more complicated UTI.”

However, he also points out that they still do not know if antibiotics are of benefit to all women who present with UTI symptoms.

Also, he and his colleagues caution that their results should now be replicated by further studies. In the meantime, they wish to explore the potential for qPCR as a test for other types of bacteria that can cause UTI.

Learn about causes and treatment of frequent urination in women.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Diet tips for a healthy gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that collects and stores bile from the liver. This is a very important job because bile is what helps the body to digest fat.

Keeping the gallbladder healthy is important for proper digestion and preventing conditions such as gallstones and cancer.

There are a few important diet tips to consider for a healthy gallbladder, as well as some things to avoid.


What is a gallbladder diet?

A gallbladder diet is not one type of diet in particular. It is simply a set of dietary guidelines used to help people keep their gallbladder healthy and fully functioning.

The guidelines are also commonly followed by people who have had their gallbladders removed as a result of gallstones or other such complications.

How does diet affect the health of the gallbladder?

high cholesterol burger
A diet of high cholesterol foods may lead to gallstones forming.

The diet can directly affect the health of the gallbladder due to the key role that the gallbladder plays in digesting foods. Its job is to collect and store bile, and then add that bile to food as it enters the small intestine. The bile helps to break down fats.

Gallstones form when the bile that comes into the gallbladder is too high in cholesterol or bilirubin, or is too low in bile salts. Most gallstones themselves are made from hardened cholesterol.

When gallstones start to form, they can block the connection from the gallbladder to the small intestine. This can make it difficult or even impossible for bile to get through.

If the gallstones cannot be removed, the gallbladder may need to be removed from the body. Even without the gallbladder, the liver still makes enough bile for most normal digestion to be possible, though a low fat diet is recommended. However, it is best to care for the gallbladder before complications occur in order to avoid them altogether.


Gallbladder supporting foods

The gallbladder diet aims to help reduce the stress that diet has on the gallbladder. The foods will be easier to digest, may help the digestion process, or support the gallbladder itself.


High plant intake

One of the most important aspects of any balanced diet is to provide the body with a variety of foods in order to get as many different nutrients as possible.

The easy way to do this is to increase the number of different fruits and vegetables eaten regularly. Eating a wide variety of plant foods can help to provide a broad range of nutrients to the body and keep it healthy.


Lean protein

Fats can add stress to the gallbladder and so it is important that proteins in the diet be as lean as possible.

White-meat foods, fish, and vegetable proteins are more lean proteins, which may help to relieve excess stress on the gallbladder.


Fiber

Fiber plays an important role in a healthy digestive system. Fiber in its various forms can help to keep a person feeling full for a longer period of time, feed healthy bacteria in the gut, and add bulk to the stool.

Fiber can also assist the body in toxin removal.


Healthful fats

Polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 seem to help keep the gallbladder healthy and reduce the risk of gallbladder problems.

These fats are commonly found in cold-water fish, nuts such as walnuts, seeds such as flaxseed, and oils from fish or flaxseed.


Coffee

Healthful coffee consumption also appears to play an important role in keeping the gallbladder working correctly.


Calcium

calcium rich foods
A healthy gallbladder is supported by a diet of calcium rich foods such as leafy greens, broccoli, and sardines.

Increasing the levels of calcium in the diet can also support a healthy gallbladder. Calcium is found in dark, leafy greens including kale, sardines, and broccoli.

Dairy products have a lot of calcium as well, but they can also have a very high fat content, mainly from saturated fats. Alternative plants milks that are fortified with calcium, such as almond or flax milk, are higher in healthful fats and lower in saturated fats and may still provide ample calcium.


Alcohol

While heavily drinking can cause problems for the liver, it appears that moderate drinking (that is, around one drink per day) can help to protect the gallbladder from gallstones and other complications.


Vitamin C

People who have higher levels of vitamin C in their blood appear to experience fewer gallbladder problems.

Vitamin C is easily obtained by eating a varied diet containing many fruits and vegetables. It can also be found easily as a supplement in most markets, but supplements do not offer the same health benefits as getting the nutrient from food.


Foods to avoid

There are also foods that seem to increase the chances of developing gallbladder disorders such as gallstones. If gallbladder health is a concern, it may help to avoid or limit these foods:


Refined carbohydrates

While carbohydrates make up much of the food that humans eat, refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of gallbladder disorders. Refined carbs include sugars and sweeteners, flour, refined grains, and starches.

They are most often found in baked goods including cookies and cakes, as well as in candy, chocolate, soft drinks, and battered and fried foods.


Excessive fats

The bile produced from the gallbladder is important in digesting fats, so eating a fat-heavy diet may force it to work overtime.

Processed foods high in trans fats, hydrogenated oils, fried foods, and excessive saturated animal fats can overwork the gallbladder. A study from 2008 revealed that men with the highest long-chain saturated fat intake, primarily from red meat, were the most at risk for gallstones. Medium-chain fats, found in plant foods such as coconut, did not increase gallstone risk.


Diet after gallbladder surgery or with gallbladder problems

blended green smoothie
For mild gallbladder issues, symptoms may be eased with an easy-to-digest diet including juiced vegetables.

After a gallbladder surgery, the hospital will often give a patient liquid food for 1-2 days and then switch them back to solid foods. The liver produces enough bile for normal digestion under most circumstances, but it does take time for the body to adjust.

A low-fat diet is recommended indefinitely after surgery. Some people may experience diarrhea and other digestive symptoms if they eat fatty or greasy foods after surgery, if they are unable to digest fat optimally, or both. Report to your doctor if you notice greasy, frothy, or foamy stools.

For those with mild gallbladder issues, a liquid and easy-to-digest diet can be done at home to try to ease symptoms. This usually starts with liquids including chicken broth, vegetable broth, and fresh, juiced vegetables. Watery soups can then be added, as well as low-fat, low-cholesterol, high-fiber foods.

Gallbladder cleanses


A gallbladder cleanse, or gallbladder flush, has recently become a trend. It is designed to reset the gallbladder, flush out gallstones, and improve digestive health and function of the gallbladder.

A sample process involves eating a strict diet including apple juice for 2 weeks. The person then follows a plan of drinking Epsom salts and a mixture of olive oil and citrus juice.

There are many claims made about this gallbladder flush, but little research has been done on the topic. As research in the World Journal of Gastroenterology points out, the gallbladder flush may be misleading, and the “stones” that people see in their stools have been found to simply be the oil and citrus juice mixed together.

Cleansing the gallbladder may not be as simple as drinking a solution, but there are definite steps that can be taken to help keep the gallbladder healthy.

When to see a doctor

The symptoms of gallstones are not felt by everyone, but they can include:

If these symptoms are noticed, it is best to see a doctor to be properly diagnosed.


Other lifestyle tips for gallbladder health

There are several steps that people can take to improve gallbladder health. These lifestyle measures include the following:

  • Controlling obesity: Because obesity is a risk factor for gallbladder problems, it may be helpful to stay physically active and in shape.
  • Avoiding rapid weight loss: Rapid weight loss demands the liver and gallbladder to work overtime, which can sometimes mean more gallstones. Slow and steady weight loss is best and is also able to be maintained for longer.
  • Avoiding allergens: There may also be a link to food allergies and gallstone health. Taking an allergy test, following an elimination diet, and avoiding specific allergens may be helpful for people with gallbladder issues.
  • Quitting smoking: Tobacco smoke can contribute to gallbladder dysfunction, up to and including gallbladder cancers.
  • Trying a vegetarian diet: Eating a high-fiber, vegetarian diet rich in plant foods may be a step in the right direction for gallbladder health. Many of the foods to avoid, such as excessive saturated fat, are found in animal products.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: How does diabetes affect your sex life?

Having diabetes affects much more than a person’s diet – it can impact every aspect of their life, including their sexual health.

Similarly, it is not just the physical side effects of diabetes that cause problems. Diabetes can have an impact on a person’s mental health, their sex drive, and their self-esteem.


How does diabetes impact the sexual organs?

Diabetes can affect the sexual health of both men and women in the following ways:

Impact on women

lady sits on the edge of her bed looking troubled
Diabetes may impact a woman’s sexual health by damaging the nerves that can sense sexual stimulation.

Damage caused by diabetes to the nerves can affect a woman’s ability to sense sexual stimulation and arousal. This can affect the release of vaginal lubricant, which may result in painful sex and reduced ability to experience an orgasm.

When a woman who has diabetes goes through the menopause, she may experience sudden drops in her blood sugar levels. This may affect a woman’s sexual health because she may have to check her blood sugar before having sex.

She might also experience symptoms of low blood sugar during sex. This may make sex seem more of an inconvenience than a pleasure.

Women with diabetes are also more likely to experience infections, such as thrush, cystitis, and urinary tract infections. These can all impact the ability to have sexual intercourse.

Impact on men

Men with diabetes often have reduced testosterone levels, which can affect their sex drive. However, the main sexual health problem affecting men who have diabetes is an inability to achieve and, or, maintain an erection. According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, an estimated 50 percent of men who have had diabetes for 10 years experience erectile dysfunction (ED).

In order for a man to achieve an erection, significant blood flow to the penis is required. However, diabetes damages the blood vessels, which can affect blood flow to the penis. Diabetes can also lead to nerve damage that affects communication between a man’s penis and his brain. This may make it more difficult for him to maintain an erection.

Impact on both sexes

People with diabetes can often feel very tired. They often invest a significant amount of time in managing their health, which may decrease their overall sex drive.

Sometimes people with diabetes wear an insulin pump. This is a device that allows a person to inject small amounts of insulin into their blood when they need it. This helps them maintain their sugar levels and may enable them to enjoy sex more spontaneously.

People with diabetes may also experience a number of psychological effects, which may make sex more difficult for them. Examples include:

  • affected self-image
  • anxiety
  • concerns over weight gain
  • depression
  • isolation
  • loneliness
  • loss of self-esteem

Drugs are available to treat people who are struggling with mental health issues as a result of diabetes. Known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), examples include Prozac and Zoloft. Although these medications can help reduce the incidence of depression, they may also result in reduced libido.


Treatments to improve sexual function in those with diabetes

Maintaining blood sugar levels is vital in preventing the nerve damage that can cause problems, including for a person’s sexual health. Techniques to control blood sugar levels include using insulin, taking medications, and checking blood glucose levels regularly.

Treatment options for men

viagra pills spilling out of a medicine pot
Although not suitable for every man, a doctor may prescribe medication to enhance blood flow and improve a man’s ability to maintain an erection.

There are several medications a doctor can prescribe to enhance blood flow and improve a man’s ability to achieve an erection. Examples of these are sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis).

However, these medications may not be suitable for every man, particularly those with high blood pressure or heart conditions.

Some men may find that mechanical methods to improve blood flow, such as vacuum pumps and injections into the penis, are effective. Some men undergo surgery, such as a penile implant, which can also increase the ability to get an erection.

Treatment options for women

Women may wish to use a vaginal lubricant before engaging in sex to reduce pain during intercourse. The lubricant should be water-based and can be purchased at most drugstores.

Hormone replacement therapies

Hormone replacement therapies can improve sexual desire for both men and women. However, these therapies can have side effects, so it is important that people discuss these fully with a doctor before starting to take any medications.


Lifestyle changes to improve sexual function

Living a healthful lifestyle is an important way for men and women with diabetes to achieve good sexual health. This can include eating a healthful diet and exercising regularly. These practices are excellent for overall good health, and can promote self-esteem.

If a person is overweight, losing weight will often help to improve their feelings of well-being, which can then improve their sex life.

Pelvic floor exercises

According to the Cleveland Clinic, exercises for the pelvic floor muscles known as Kegel exercises may improve a woman’s sexual response.

Follow these simple instructions to Isolate and exercise the muscles:

  • Identify the pelvic floor muscles by sitting on the toilet and trying to stop a stream of urine. Or insert a finger into the vagina and squeeze the vaginal muscles around the finger. These are the target muscles.
  • Tighten and hold the muscles. Start by holding the muscles for about 3 seconds and then releasing for 3 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 times in a row, if possible.
  • Repeat the exercises at least twice per day, increasing the length of time the muscles are contracted from 3 seconds to 5 seconds.

Men can also do Kegel exercises and may find the exercises improve their control over ejaculation and reduce incidences of incontinence.

People with diabetes may find that engaging in stress-reducing practices can help. Examples of these practices include meditation, reading a favorite book, exercising, or listening to music.

Taking even a small amount of time during the day to do something enjoyable can help reduce stress for people with diabetes.


Considerations and questions to ask

According to a study published in the September 2010 issue of the journal Diabetes Care, only 19 percent of women and 47 percent of men with diabetes had discussed their sexual health with their doctors.

However, the study did find that a significant number of men and women, aged 57-85, who had diabetes engaged in sexual activity between 2-3 times a week.

Doctor in discussion with patient
If people with diabetes have any questions about sexual health then they should consult a healthcare professional.

People with diabetes who have questions about their sexual health should contact their endocrinologist or doctor. Examples of questions to potentially ask include:

  • What do I need to know to better control my diabetes?
  • What other health problems do I have that may be affecting my sexual health?
  • What medications am I taking that could be affecting my sex life?

A doctor may also recommend that a person with diabetes who is experiencing sexual health issues should see a counselor or therapist to help improve their self-esteem and overall self-perception. Counseling for couples can also be beneficial.

Whatever the treatment decisions, a person should never feel ashamed or embarrassed if their sexual function is affected by diabetes. Reaching out to their doctor and having an open, honest discussion with a partner can be the first steps to living a healthier life overall, with a better sex life.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Psoriasis on the face: Symptoms, causes, and treatments

Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes cells to develop rapidly on the skin. This growth can create thick, scaly patches that may be itchy and uncomfortable.

There are several different types of psoriasis that can vary based on the appearance of the scales, as well as where on the body the psoriasis is located.

Psoriasis on the face can cause a variety of symptoms and complications. In addition to physical effects, psoriasis on the face can also cause embarrassment and self-consciousness.

However, there are many treatments available to help reduce these symptoms.


Symptoms and complications

Facial psoriasis is often the result of scalp psoriasis. Lesions will extend from the scalp, and may appear as red, itchy areas. Sometimes, silvery-white scales will form.

[psoriasis scalp]
Psoriasis on the scalp may initially be mistaken for dandruff, but can extend and form silvery-white patches.

Often, a person with facial psoriasis will have dead skin cells in their hair as well. In the first instance, this may be mistaken for dandruff from dry skin or skin sensitivity.

Psoriasis on the face will most commonly affect the following areas:

  • eyebrows
  • hairline
  • skin between the nose and upper lip
  • upper forehead

Facial psoriasis can sometimes affect the eyelids, extending even to the eyelashes. This can cause redness, swelling, and crusting of the eyelids.

As a result, a person may experience eyelashes that turn upward or downward. Eyelash rims that turn down may place further stress on the eye, and cause inflammation on the eyes.

People can experience psoriasis of the eyes themselves. However, this condition is very rare.

Psoriasis can also appear on the lips, inside the cheek, on the gums, or inside the nose. This is often very uncomfortable and may affect a person’s ability to chew and swallow their food.


Causes of psoriasis on the face

Psoriasis occurs due to the overactivity of immune system cells known as T cells in the body. Usually, T cells protect the body from bacteria and other infectious agents.

When a person has psoriasis, the body triggers T cells in the absence of infection. As a result, the T cells cause other inflammatory responses that lead skin cells to develop rapidly.

Psoriasis lesions rarely appear just on the face alone. As well as scalp psoriasis, a person may also have psoriasis on other areas of the body that affects the face as well.

The causes associated with facial psoriasis are the same as those for the other types of psoriasis.

While doctors don’t know the exact cause of psoriasis, they theorize that psoriasis is the result of inflammation in the body, which results in the overproduction of skin cells.

Risk factors associated with facial psoriasis include:

  • family history of psoriasis
  • history of infections of the skin
  • injuries to the skin, such as from surgery
  • stress

A person with facial psoriasis may notice that their symptoms get worse after exposure to ultraviolet radiation, including that from the sun or a tanning bed. Smoking can also worsen facial psoriasis.


Treatments

Psoriasis on the face can be difficult to treat because the skin is very thin and sensitive.

It is important that a doctor evaluates the skin and makes recommendations to ensure the treatments will not be too harsh for the face.

Sometimes, a person can apply over-the-counter topical corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone, to the face to reduce the incidence of face psoriasis.

[steroid cream for skin conditions]
Topical corticosteroid creams may be used sparingly to treat psoriasis on the face.

However, a person should be prepared that application of hydrocortisone may cause a variety of potential side effects, such as:

  • thin, transparent skin
  • easy bruising
  • skin that is more easily torn

A doctor will sometimes recommend using topical steroids as sparingly as possible. They will suggest a dose that makes sure that a person will get results while minimizing side effects.

In addition to steroids, rinsing with a saline solution can also help to reduce discomfort and pain.

Treatments available over the counter include:

  • calcipotriene cream or ointment
  • scale-removing products
  • tazarotene cream or gel
  • ultraviolet light

If the skin around the eyes is affected by psoriasis, doctors will advise taking great care when applying medications. Many over-the-counter psoriasis treatments can cause damage to the eyes that can lead to glaucoma or cataracts.

However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved two drugs for the treatment of psoriasis that may work especially well on the face

These prescription drugs are tacrolimus ointment and pimecrolimus cream. Both creams should be applied very carefully, avoiding the eyes.

Although tacrolimus or pimecrolimus should not cause glaucoma, they can cause uncomfortable side effects, including facial stinging.

In addition to these topical medications, there are several practices a person can do at home to reduce irritation as much as possible. These include:

  • using gentle, non-soap cleansers to keep the skin clean
  • applying moisturizers regularly
  • applying sunscreen on a regular basis to reduce the effects of ultraviolet radiation

Practicing good self-care will help a person control their psoriasis as much as possible.

Tips for living with face psoriasis


Psoriasis on the face can affect more than just a person’s skin. The obvious scars and lesions on a person’s face may cause psychological concerns, such as anxiety or depression. However, stress and anxiety can often trigger a psoriasis flare-up.

People with facial psoriasis may find the condition particularly challenging. Their face is what the world sees. However, psoriasis is only a small part of a person and should not define them.

Some people find that sharing their feelings with friends and family is helpful, as it can help them understand the daily struggles involved in living with facial psoriasis.

However, if a person does not feel comfortable sharing these emotions with loved ones, they could talk to a counselor, their doctor, or a support group.

An example of an online support group is the TalkPsoriasis group from the National Psoriasis Foundation.

A person with psoriasis can learn about it and teach others about it. Although some people may be be anxious about someone else seeing their skin up close, it is important that people understand psoriasis. People need to understand that anyone can develop it, and that it is not contagious.

When to see a doctor

If someone is uncertain whether their symptoms are from psoriasis or some other cause, they should see their doctor. A dermatologist will most commonly treat psoriasis. If someone does not have a dermatologist, their primary care physician can often make a referral.

[woman looking at a face rash in the mirror]
A person should see a doctor if the lesions are extending towards the eyes.

People should see their doctor when:

  • areas on the face are painful or causing discomfort
  • areas on the face are making it difficult for someone to get through their daily activities
  • lesions are extending to or near the eyes
  • someone is concerned about their skin’s appearance
  • someone is experiencing joint problems as well as facial lesions related to psoriasis

People should see their doctor whenever their psoriasis is causing them problems, or to discuss treatment options.


Outlook

Psoriasis is a chronic medical condition. A person may experience outbreaks of psoriasis, followed by remission of symptoms.

People will often find that certain things make their psoriasis worse. These include stress and seasonal changes that can make the skin drier.

Facial psoriasis is usually associated with more severe symptoms of psoriasis.

Researchers are conducting many clinical trials to identify causes, risk factors, and treatments of psoriasis. As they continue to learn more about the disease, they will, hopefully, develop new ways to treat facial psoriasis.

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28 Apr

Medical News Today: Obesity exacerbates type 2 diabetes-related brain abnormalities

People with type 2 diabetes who are overweight or obese are more likely to have exacerbated and progressive abnormalities in the structure of their brains and cognition, find researchers.
[Puzzle head silhouette]
Type 2 diabetes, when coupled with obesity, has a significant adverse effect on the temporal lobe of the brain.

The new research was the result of a collaboration between Dr. Sunjung Yoon and Dr. In Kyoon Lyoo, both of the Ewha Brain Institute at the Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea, and Hanbyul Cho, of The Brain Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Their findings were published in Diabetologia.

Evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes and obesity independently have adverse effects on many organs, including the brain.

For example, type 2 diabetes is known to be associated with the progression of cognitive dysfunction and may amplify the risk of developing dementia. Scientists suggest that metabolic dysfunctions such as insulin resistance, inflammation, and poor sugar level control may all play a role in the brain alterations linked with type 2 diabetes, although exactly how this happens is not yet fully understood.

Obesity can potentially pave the way for the development of further conditions, and it is connected with a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Moreover, obesity has a relationship with metabolic dysfunction and may worsen the metabolic abnormalities that are associated with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the metabolic dysfunction that is linked to obesity may be responsible for brain alterations and cognitive impairment, regardless of the presence of type 2 diabetes.

Previous studies have found independent links between obesity and type 2 diabetes and changes in the brain. However, little is known about how obesity and type 2 diabetes jointly affect the brain.

Yoon, Lyoo, Cho, and colleagues set out to explore the combined effects of obesity and type 2 diabetes on brain structure and cognitive function; they say that the rising prevalence of obesity may contribute to the global epidemic of type 2 diabetes.

The team focused on people who were in the early stages of type 2 diabetes and had received a diagnosis within the last 5 years. The recruited participants had not received stable insulin treatment.

Study participants included 150 people aged between 30 and 60 years. The participants were divided into three subgroups that were matched for age and sex. People with type 2 diabetes were matched for the duration of their condition. The three groups comprised 50 overweight or obese people with type 2 diabetes, 50 individuals of a healthy weight with type 2 diabetes, and 50 people of healthy weight without type 2 diabetes.

Temporal lobe particularly vulnerable to type 2 diabetes, obesity

Participants’ brains were analyzed using MRI to evaluate the thickness of the cerebral cortex. Cognitive assessments to test memory, executive function, and psychomotor speed were also conducted, given the fact that these abilities are often affected by type 2 diabetes.

The researchers revealed that when compared with people of a healthy weight, individuals with type 2 diabetes exhibited significant thinning of gray matter in the temporal, prefrontoparietal, motor, and occipital cortices of the brain.

Gray matter of the temporal and motor cortices was thinner still in the obese diabetic group than in the group comprising healthy-weight diabetics. The temporal lobe, in particular, was found to be vulnerable in people with a combination of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Wasting of the temporal lobe has previously been shown to be an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. The region-specific changes that the researchers observed in the study may partly explain the mechanism linking obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the development of dementia.

“These findings suggest that weight status may play additive roles in type 2 diabetes-related brain and cognitive alterations,” note the researchers.

“Our findings also highlight the need for early intervention aimed to reduce risk factors for overweight or obesity in type 2 diabetic individuals to preserve their brain structure and cognitive function.”

While the specific factors that contribute to the brain alterations are not clear, managing insulin resistance during the early stages of type 2 diabetes could potentially make a difference.

The researchers point out that the study did not include people who were overweight or obese without diabetes. “Therefore, we could not determine the potential effects of overweight/obesity that are completely independent of type 2 diabetes on metabolic, brain, and cognitive measures,” the authors conclude.

Learn how eating a diet rich in plant protein may prevent type 2 diabetes.

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