I thought it would be a great time to share some recent interesting questions asked by patients in my diabetes practice. I enjoy the fact that they continue to think outside the box during their educational sessions; any question concerning your diabetes is considered appropriate and important.

Remember to keep searching until you get a reliable answer from a responsible source.

  1. Can people who have diabetes donate blood?

    According to the American Red Cross the answer is yes, but with some guidelines. You can have diabetes and be treated with insulin or oral medications but you must have your blood sugars controlled. Other included criteria are: good overall general heath, no anemia (low red blood cells) with a minimum hemoglobin of 12.5 g/dl, controlled blood pressure even if on blood pressure medications, not having taken beef or bovine insulin since 1980 (made from cows in the United Kingdom which could cause Mad Cow disease), as well as weighing at least 110 pounds. The minimum blood pressure is 80/50 and the maximum in the Red Cross guidelines is 180/100; I hope none of you are experiencing those numbers without getting intervention (this is hardly considered controlled blood pressure when you have diabetes). You should not have an active cold, flu, fever or any acute infections. Do not drink caffeinated beverages prior to giving blood since this may increase the risk of dehydration; drink plenty of plain water to be extra hydrated. Eat your allotted portions of carbohydrates since many people get weak after giving blood. Eat foods that replace iron such as kale, spinach, lean red meats and foods rich in Vitamin C. Whole blood can be donated every 2 months. You can also donate different blood components such as platelets, plasma or double red cells; check with the American Red Cross for specific guidelines.

  2. I just want one of those tear sheet diabetes diets after the holidays so I can eat the same thing over and over and not mess up by cheating.

    There is no diabetic tear sheet diet. Your eating plan is just a healthy eating plan that EVERYONE should be using. Include foods that are lean protein, fruits in moderation, vegetables, sprouted or whole grains, non-fat dairy, no skipping meals, portion control, lots of water and treats in moderation factored in. Eat on a schedule around the same time for each meal. Do not go for long periods of time without eating and load up on the next meal. Look for foods high in fiber and with a low glycemic index. Eat fruits with a handful of nuts or non-fat yogurt which will help you blunt the glucose response. Consider a healthy bedtime snack. Check with a diabetes educator or dietitian if you are still unclear about proper eating when you have diabetes.

  3. I am skinny so there is no way I can get type 2 diabetes – right?

    Wrong! Being overweight is most definitely a risk factor, but up to 20% of people who have type 2 diabetes are thin. Genetics plays a huge factor as does ethnicity and a sedentary lifestyle. You can be thin with a good BMI (body mass index) and still have a large amount of visceral fat (belly fat). Visceral fat gathers around the middle and has an effect on the internal organs which increases insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Most Asian populations who are generally thin are experiencing diabetes type 2 at alarming rates due to increased visceral fat. African-American women who have a high BMI and a heavy weight tend to have less visceral fat and a lower incidence of diabetes; many are shaped more like a pear than an apple (genetics wins again!). The best way to reduce visceral fat is to increase exercise and reduce total amount of food intake – especially high fat foods and empty calories in alcohol. There is no way to spot reduce or target one area of fat.

  4. I often get headaches and I know that low blood sugar or hypoglycemia can cause headaches. I constantly check my blood sugars and even when I have a headache my blood sugar is within target range. What is the problem?

    There are many other reasons for headaches but ruling out low blood sugar first is an excellent idea. If it is low blood sugar, treat with 15 grams of glucose (3-4 glucose tablets, or 6-8 life savers, 4 oz. of low fat milk, 4 oz. of juice). Follow with a protein and carbohydrate snack if you are not ready for a regular meal. The two main types of headaches are tension or migraines. Headaches can be caused by multiple things including stress, anxiety, too little sleep, too much sleep, too much alcohol, sinus problems, dehydration and even a change in the weather and humidity. Certain foods have been known to trigger headaches as well. Foods that are dried, aged or fermented can cause headaches in prone people. Soy products, pickles, sauerkraut, olives, blue or Brie cheese as well as salami, or pepperoni can be triggers. Nitrites in hot dogs, MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) used in condiments, sauces and Chinese food can cause headaches and sulfites in red wine may cause headaches. People with high blood pressure generally do not have symptoms of headaches but this can still be the cause in certain people; make sure your blood pressure is well controlled. Always check with your physician if you have reoccurring headaches for no explained reason.

This should give you answers to some different questions that are not commonly asked. Feel free to E mail your questions to our website and I am happy to help you get the answers. Stay learning and stay well!

NOTE: Consult your Doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.