Do Sugar and Carbs Cause Diabetes?

Diabetes is considered the fastest growing chronic condition in the world, with someone diagnosed every five minutes. Can we prevent it by cutting out sugar and carbohydrates?

The logic seems simple enough. Because diabetes is a disease of high blood glucose levels, and because carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the body, many people think eating sugar and other carbohydrates can cause diabetes.

But there’s a problem with focusing on one particular nutrient like this.

Plant foods are carbohydrates foods, explains Dr David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre, and co-author of How to Eat.

“But carbohydrates come to us not only in the form of plants in nature, but in many forms made in factories. They can be anything from lentils to lollipops, pinto beans to jelly beans,” he says. “Some carbs are the staff of life; some are the stuff of disease.”

Carbohydrates become a problem when they are highly refined. A product like white flour, for instance, has had all the good stuff stripped out of it, leaving you with a flour that’s low in fibre and nutrients. In your body, it acts much more like refined sugar than a wholegrain, which means it’s rapidly digested and quickly raises your blood sugar.


How wholegrains are different

A grain with its fibre intact acts very differently. When you eat wholegrain bread or rolled oats, the fibre slows down digestion, preventing the dangerous insulin and glucose spikes we see after eating refined carbs.

“Large-scale studies consistently find a relation between routine wholegrain consumption and lower risk of all chronic disease and cardiovascular disease… and improved glycemic control (the fluctuations in blood sugar levels),” explains Dr Katz.

Fibre is the reason we shouldn’t worry about the sugar in fruit but should be far more concerned about the amount of refined sugar we consume, particularly when we drink it. Studies have found that people who regularly drink sugar-sweetened drinks (whether that’s soft drinks, sport drinks or cordial) have a roughly 25 per cent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A diabetes diagnosis is serious. Reduce your risk by choosing healthy foods, watching your weight and exercising regularly.

Do You See Exercise as Punishment for Enjoying Life?

What makes you put on your running shoes or active wear? Is it wanting to stay healthy? The satisfaction of seeing your step count increase? A desire to drop some kilos or build more muscles?

Perhaps for you exercise is more of an obligation, something you know you should do but don’t particularly love. As Kelly McGonigal, research psychologist and author of The Joy of Movement puts it, you see exercise as “punishment for enjoying life.”

Mindset reset

McGonigal believes many of us have developed the wrong attitude to exercise and movement. “Movement is a fundamental part of being human,” she says, so “don’t exercise from a place of shame or fear.”

She argues that rather than a chore, exercise is integral to enjoying your life. People who are physically active report being more satisfied with their lives and experience more gratitude, love and hope and less loneliness and depression.

The powerful effect of exercise on the brain leads to a wide range of psychological benefits. Here are three of them:

  • You connect more to others.

Exercising with others is one way to increase a feeling of connection – and not only because you are spending time with each other.

It’s all down to brain chemistry. Research shows that the ‘exercise high’ is linked to a class of brain chemicals called endocannabinoids (the chemicals mimicked by cannabis), which can reduce anxiety and increase feelings of optimism. They also increase the pleasure we get from being around other people, helping to strengthen relationships.

  • You become more sensitive to joy.

“When you exercise, you provide a low-dose jolt to the brain’s reward centres – the system of the brain that helps you anticipate pleasure, feel motivated, and maintain hope,” says McGonigal. Over time, regular exercise leads to higher circulating levels of the brain chemical dopamine, which relieves depression, helps you become more resilient to stress and expands your capacity for joy.

  • You can transform your self-image.

If you have a voice in your head telling you that you’re too old, too unfit, or too weak to exercise, the sensations you feel when you move can provide a powerful counterargument. Moving with power, grace or strength can change how you feel about yourself and what you are capable of, a feeling that can transfer to your daily life.

Your roadmap to becoming more active

1. Look for ways to allow physical activity to play a bigger role in your life.

Don’t think about durations or intensities. Instead, find an activity that suits you by thinking about what you already love. If you enjoy spending time with friends or family, go to gym class together or arrange a weekly walk. If you love dancing, go to a dance-based class or try out ballroom dancing.

2. Make your first goal achievable.

If you’re new to exercise, start small – even 10 minutes of exercise is beneficial, but the more you do, the greater the physical and mental benefits.

3. Move outdoors.

Many people report an immediate boost from exercising outdoors. Any green space will do, it doesn’t have to be a long bushwalk.

“Every decade, adults lose up to 13 per cent of the dopamine receptors in the reward system. This leads to less enjoyment of everyday pleasures, but physical activity can prevent the decline.”

Kelly McGonigal

Is Your First Aid Up to Date?

If you have a First Aid certificate, or are thinking of getting one, you need to commit to doing a regular refresher. Here’s why:

1. Guidelines and procedures can change

A significant example is the change to CPR protocols. Many of us were taught to do 15 compressions and then two breaths. The new rule is to do 30 compressions followed by two breaths.

The difference could be the difference between life and death.

2. It’s easy to forget details

If you’re not using your first aid skills regularly (especially if your workplace has a good safety record), you’re likely to forget some parts. Research shows that healthcare providers’ skill retention declines as soon as three months after training.

It’s vital that your knowledge and skills are front of mind in an emergency, so you don’t need to doubt – or Google – anything.

Regular refreshers help you remember the important details and keep your skills sharp.

3. It boosts your confidence

Your confidence in first aid matters almost as much as the information. When you know your skills are fresh and up to date, you’ll have more confidence in making quick decisions. Your confidence will be felt by any bystanders or colleagues who need to follow your instructions – and of course, by your patient.


What are the regulations for renewal?

Workplace first aid is covered by government regulations.

Although your First Aid Certificate doesn’t expire as such, your workplace needs to follow the regulations.

It is recommended that:

  • CPR training should be refreshed every year.
  • First Aid Qualifications should be renewed every three years.


What are the overall regulations for first aid in the workplace?

All workplaces must provide first aid equipment, facilities and in some circumstances, trained first aiders.

Further, a workplace must ensure:

  • first aid equipment is provided for the workplace
  • each worker at the workplace has access to the first aid equipment
  • access to facilities for the administration of first aid are provided
  • an adequate number of workers are trained to provide first aid at the workplace, or
  • workers have access to other persons who have been trained to provide first aid treatment.

Dreams and Your Wellbeing: What Does It Mean?

Dreaming about honey means you’re about to be more productive or prosperous. If you dream about your teeth falling out it means you’re worried about money. But does it? Really?

And if not, do our dreams have any meaning? Or are they just a random firing or neurons? And most of all, what do our dreams mean for our mental wellbeing?

Here’s what we know:

1. You won’t have decent dreams unless you get enough sleep. We dream during the “rapid eye movement” or REM stage in sleep, which is the last stage of the sleep cycle. On a typical night, most of us go through four to six cycles of each of these stages of sleep. It usually takes around 90 minutes of sleep before we reach REM sleep and start dreaming.

2. Research shows that dreams are good for our mental health. REM sleep helps with emotional regulation and helps us process our experiences. Studies have found that people whose REM sleep was disturbed had more problems dealing with emotional distress.

REM sleep is essential for our mental function, especially for memory, learning, and creativity. During REM sleep, our neurotransmitters are replenished and our brains are almost as active as when we’re awake.


3. Your dreams can be a useful problem-solving tool. Dr Deirdre Barrett, a psychologist and dream scholar at Harvard Medical School, says dreaming is “our brain thinking in a different biochemical state.”

Dr Barrett says our dreams can indicate our emotional state. Many of us have had a dream about finding ourselves naked or underdressed in a public situation, which can indicate we’re feeling a sense of shame or social disapproval. Or then there’s that “test” dream, where we dream of a big upcoming exam or audition, but something is stopping us from getting there or doing it well.

According to Dr Barrett, this indicates we’re worried about measuring up in some way.


4. Dreaming about scary stuff can be a good thing. A 2019 study found that fear-ridden dreams helped us deal with fear in real life. Participants wrote down their feelings when they woke up, including whether they were afraid. They were then shown emotionally-jarring images. Those who had scary dreams were more likely to respond to emotionally stress in a healthier way.

However, if you’re having ongoing nightmares about something that really happened to you, this could be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and you should talk to your GP or seek support.

35 billion dreams

On average, we each have five dream episodes each night (or, for shift workers, each time we sleep deeply).

Each episode generally goes for 15-40 minutes, which means we each dream for around two hours each night.

With a global population of seven billion, that means we, as humankind, are producing 35 billion dreams every 24 hours.

Interestingly, many of these dreams share common characteristics.

These are the 10 most common dreams. How many have you had?

1.       1. Being chased

2.       2. Exams, tests or auditions (including not being ready, not being able to get there)

3.       3. Flying

4.       4. Driving (including going too fast or out of control)

5.       5. Teeth falling out

6.       6. Can’t find the toilet

7.       7. Being naked in public (particularly at school or work)

8.       8. Falling

9.       9. Seeing someone famous

10.   10. Death.