Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Liver Awareness Month - Let's Get the Word Out

October is Liver Awareness Month and in recognition of this the American Liver Foundation (ALF) has posted some statistics about the prevalence of liver disease on its website. The numbers are surprising:

* More than 30 million people in the U.S. have liver disease (1 in 10 Americans).

* Liver diseases such as hepatitis C, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and liver cancer are on the rise.

* Up to 25 percent of Americans may have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

* Four million Americans are infected with hepatitis C and more than 1 million Americans are infected with hepatitis B.

* Approximately 15,000 children are hospitalized every year with pediatric liver disease or disorders

I believe most people don't give liver disease much thought: As ALF also noted on its site, "The liver is a vital organ – no one can survive without it - but it is a silent organ because it can be damaged without sending any signals or symptoms." I'm proof of this. I was diagnosed with hep C in the late 1980s but didn't experience any health problems until 2006, and by then it was too late - a transplant was my only option.

Take time this month to talk about liver disease with your friends and family. Help make sure they don't become a statistic.

Photo - Gray's Anatomy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Diabetes + Steroids = A Huge Challenge

In my last post about prednisone and its side effects, I mentioned how it wreaks havoc on my blood sugar. Controlling my glucose levels is critical, not just for the obvious reason that diabetes is very damaging to the body but also because I'm still battling metabolic syndrome.

I've discovered a great tool to help me track what I eat and blood sugar levels/insulin use: The nutritionist at my endocrinologist's office gave me daily goals for calories, fat, carbs, fiber and protein, and when I record my food consumption on "My Plate" on the site, it provides a detailed breakdown of these components and more. Using the basic "My Plate" tool is free and for an affordable annual fee, you can get even more services. The website offers much more information related to health, diet, exercise, you name it.

One of the biggest eye-openers for me in this process has been discovering the benefit of fiber in my diet. Before I began taking steroids, I had noticed a significant correlation between fiber consumption and blood sugar levels. Fiber helps control blood sugar levels and much more: An aritcle in the August 2010 National Institutes of Health newsletter offers detailed information about the advantages of eating more fiber.

Photo by Rob Owen-Wahl