The science behind the Amajoya Sugar Free Collection

Ever wondered how sugar free sweets are made? Read more on the science behind the Amajoya Sugar Free Collection.


The history of Amajoya

To be a surgeon, one needs to possess certain qualities, including a complex understanding of science, extreme precision, natural talent and a whole lot of passion. These same qualities are just as essential for a master confectioner. Fancy that!

It was just over twenty years ago that a Cape Town-based surgeon decided to follow his heart (or was it was his sweet-tooth?) and train as a sweet-maker at one of Germany’s most prestigious confectionery schools. Here, his doctor’s understanding of science and chemistry gave him a distinct edge.

On his return to the Mother City, he could craft and hone his recipes, using the finest ingredients to create distinctly different and delightful candy. And so, the Amajoya artisanal confectionary company was born.

Extraordinary and unique

The Amajoya commitment is to use fewer ingredients, ingredients closer to nature and fewer processed ingredients. We continually reformulate using less processed ingredients where possible on our quest for cleaner, simpler labels with less ingredients.

Our philosophy is that of balance and awareness of how you treat yourself in relation to your total daily food intake and activity.

Amajoya focuses on a unique way of combining and making the delicious collection of sweets. Our process is proprietary. Our founder, a medical doctor who left his career in neurosurgery, and followed his passion for sweet manufacturing, has a talent for technology and truly applies art and science to the process and recipes of the Amajoya Collection. Nothing in our way of making our sweets or our recipes is ordinary. The Amajoya Way is always extraordinary and unique.

We blend quality ingredients to create a taste that is unique in the world of luxurious sumptuous candy. When you pick Amajoya, you can be sure you’re getting a real product made with the best ingredients, care, integrity and a whole lot of love.

Authenticity is important for Amajoya. So, cleaner labelling (GMO free, no hydrogenated fats, real ingredients) and striving to keep our indulgent sweet collection packed with better stuff, is important to us. By the end of the year, all our sweets will only contain natural colourants.

The Amajoya Collection

Amajoya is the leading retail hard candy brand in South Africa. In 2013, we launched our first range of solid sugar free sweets, a classic Butterscotch, Buttermint and a three Fruit flavoured packet.

In 2018, we launched a luxury range of filled sugar free sweets with cocoa crème filling: Butterscotch, Buttermint, Coffee and Vanilla Raspberry.

Understanding the science of sugar free

Now a quick lesson on the science that goes into the sugar free world of products. It is important to understand a few scientific facts.

What is the definition of sugar free confectionery?

In nearly all countries in the world, it means that the total sugar content must be less than 0,5 g per 100 g.

What is a sugar?

A sugar is either a monosaccharide, such as glucose (dextrose) or fructose, or a disaccharide, such as sucrose (normal granulated sugar), maltose or lactose (milk sugar).

A saccharide is the most basic unit of sugar/carbohydrates. It is either a 5-membered ring, such as fructose, or a 6-membered ring, such as glucose.

A disaccharide, for example sucrose, consists of one fructose unit and one glucose unit. These can be split by a process, called hydrolysis, which requires one molecule of water, heat and acidity, or it can be broken down by the enzymes in your small bowel. This is why your blood glucose rises so quickly.

Making sugar free sweets

Sugar free sweets have a very low glycaemic index. Food items, such as bread (75) and sugar (65) have high glycaemic values. Isomalt (the ingredient we use in Amajoua) has a very low glycaemic index of about 5.

To make sugar free sweets, the sugar and glucose syrup must be replaced by something. These are called bulk sweeteners (polyols), such as isomalt, maltitol, erythritol or sorbitol.

Our preferential sweetener is isomalt. We buy our isomalt from Germany. It is made from granulated sugar in a two-step process.

Polyols

Polyols are generally less sweet than sugar, so normally non-nutritive (intense) sweeteners are added. These substances do not provide any nutrition. The common artificial sweeteners are sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K or saccharin .

Sucralose is made from sugar. These substances are generally 400-600 times as sweet as sugar and are used in parts per million. Stevia is an example of a natural non-nutritive sweetener.

Polyols are not well-absorbed in the small bowel and pass to the large bowel (colon). Here they are fermented, giving rise to short-chain fatty acids. The colonic cells first choice of nutrients are these fatty acids. There is also evidence that a healthier type of bacterial growth is encouraged in your colon.

Why are polyols known to cause laxative issues?

When too much polyol passes into the colon, one get excess fermentation which produces gas and osmotic pressure which can cause diarrhoea.

In practice, consumers all over the world get used to this and usually know the number of sweets they can consume per day.

We recommend you start with two per day and gradually increase until your limit is achieved. Within two weeks of regular intake, many people can consume more. Usually the number of sweets ranges from three to 10 sweets spread out over the day.

The laxative tolerance also depends on your diet. Isomalt belongs to a group of carbohydrates called Low Digestible Carbohydrates, such as fibre, beans, onions, grains, etc. Our Western diet is lacking in these. Your individual tolerance will also depend on the mix of foods that you are eating.

Why are sugar free sweets more expensive? 

Isomalt is about four times as expensive as granulated sugar.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a progressive loss of beta cell function in your pancreas, frequently on the background of insulin resistance. Usually there are both genetic (predisposition) and lifestyle factors, such as being overweight or having the metabolic syndrome.

Eating sugar free sweets will give you pleasure. But, will also reduce your insulin demand and prevent continuous blood glucose elevation from frequent snacking. Sugar free sweets are also lower in energy (calories).

Remember that sugar free sweets are no good in an emergency if you experience hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose).

Amajoya Sugar Free Collection

Our new sugar free filled sweets contain isomalt in the casing and maltitol in the cocoa crème filling. Our cocoa is natural, non-alkalised, meaning it is much higher in polyphenols. The vegetable fat in the cocoa crème is non-hydrogenated and comes from sustainable sources. The casing has dairy components i.e. low lactose milk powder and butter.

All the filled sweets contain only natural colourants and natural flavours. We are in the process of changing all our sweets to natural colourants which will be complete by year end.

Production takes place locally in Atlantis, Cape Town, with one of the most high-tech sugar free plants in the world. We are obsessed with quality and this is evident in our processes. We are British Retail Consortium (BRC) accredited which means we have global food safety certification.

All our raw materials pass through 0,2mm or 0,4mm inline wedge wire filters. We also pass all the sugar free sweets through two highly-sensitive metal detectors.

Our collection is available at leading retailers around the country including Checkers, Pick and Pay, Spar, Clicks, Dischem and the Alpha Pharmacy Group.


Visit amajoya.com

Because everyone deserves a little indulgence.

Oral health related to diabetes

Oral hygienist, Sarie Liebenberg, educates us on oral health related to diabetes and whether you should go to a dentist during COVID-19.


There is a direct link between oral health and systemic conditions, like diabetes, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it’s of utmost importance to exercise good oral health in the presence of one or more of these underlying systemic diseases.

Should I go to the dentist during COVID-19?

Currently, with the COVID-19 pandemic, you might wonder if it’s important and necessary to go to the dentist/hygienist. The answer is a definite ‘yes’.

HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis and hepatitis, to only mention a few, have been around for a very long time. COVID-19 is just another addition to the list.

Dental professionals are trained to prevent the transfer of bacteria and viruses. Not only does the dental professional have adequate protective measures to prevent the transfer of bacteria and/or viruses from one person to another, but also have the knowledge and understanding not to cross contaminate their working environment. Ultimately, the environment that you will be treated in. With relation to contracting the COVID-19 virus, it’s probably safer to go to the dentist than to the supermarket.

Gingivitis

Epidemiological data unequivocally confirms diabetes as a major risk factor for periodontitis. (This is also true for children and young adults). Uncontrolled diabetes being an even higher risk factor for periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gums (gingiva), characterised by the destruction of the supporting bone structure around the teeth (periodontium). In most cases, periodontitis starts off as a mild, inflammatory disease, called gingivitis.

Gingivitis is characterised by the gums presenting signs of redness (erythema), swelling (oedema) and bleeding (haemorrhage), especially with brushing or flossing.

At this stage of the disease, the inflammation is limited to the gums and probably asymptomatic, or only with slight discomfort and possibility of bad breath (halitosis).

If treated, the gums can heal with no permanent damage to the bone structure around the teeth. With a good daily oral hygiene routine and regular visits to your dentist/hygienist, the gums can heal and you can prevent the reoccurrence of gingivitis.

If left untreated, gingivitis might develop into a more advanced gum disease, called periodontitis.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is one of the leading causes of bad breath and is responsible for tooth mobility, with the ultimate result of tooth loss.

Unfortunately, lots of patients do not seek treatment while their gum disease is still in the early stages (gingivitis). By the time gingivitis has developed into periodontitis, it’s not possible to reverse the damage of the supporting bone structure around the teeth.

If you manage to get periodontal treatment in time, and if you are lucky enough to save some of your teeth, it will take great effort, discomfort and financial strain, to slow down periodontal disease.

In rare cases, you can arrest periodontal disease permanently. But even after periodontal disease is arrested, the damage to the supporting bone structure around the teeth is irreversible and will always be compromised.

Patients who had periodontal disease will always have a propensity to relapse. Reduced blood supply to the gums in a person living with diabetes, will always compromise present and future healing.

Link between hyperglycaemia and periodontal disease

There is a clear relationship between the degree of hyperglycaemia (high levels of glucose in the blood) and the severity of periodontal disease and even dental decay.

The mechanism that underpins the link between these two conditions are not completely understood. But, involve aspects of immune functioning, neutrophil activity (white blood cells responsible for healing damaged tissue and resolve infection) and cytokine biology (messaging network that regulates the immune system).

There is emerging evidence to support the existence of a two-way relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease. With diabetes increasing the risk of periodontal disease and periodontal disease negatively affecting glycaemic control.

Compared to diabetic individuals without severe periodontal disease, incidences of macroalbuminuria (protein albumin in urine – a risk factor for kidney and cardiovascular disease in diabetic individuals) increases two-fold in diabetic individuals with severe periodontal disease. End-stage renal disease increases three-fold in diabetic individuals with severe periodontal disease.

Furthermore, risk of cardio-renal mortality (ischaemic heart disease and diabetic nephropathy combined) is three times higher in diabetic individuals with severe periodontal disease than in diabetic individuals without severe periodontal disease.

Dry mouth

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common side effect of some chronic medication and often associated with diabetes. There is also a significant correlation between blood glucose levels and salivary glucose levels. Together, they pose a risk for fungal infections and higher incidence of tooth decay.

Oral hygiene treatment plan

If you don’t have an existing professional dental hygiene routine with a dentist/hygienist, book an assessment to discuss a treatment plan for your individual oral health needs.

It’s recommended that everybody has a professional cleaning at least twice a year and a dental examination at least once a year. Unless, it’s recommended otherwise by your dentist/hygienist.

A patient with underlying systemic health conditions will more likely require a professional dental cleaning every three to four months and daily oral hygiene instructions will be explained and monitored.

Your typical home routine will include brushing twice a day and interdental (between the teeth) cleaning by means of flossing, use of a waterpik and/or interdental brushes at least once a day. Oral hygiene instructions will vary, depending on your existing oral health and personal dental needs.

If you have existing inflammation which is characterised by bleeding of the gums when you brush and floss, you will need to have it seen to by a professional.

Chances are good that you have calcified plaque (calculus/tartar) build-up that is responsible for the inflammation and can’t be removed with your toothbrush and needs professionally intervention.

Remember, there is hardly any point in only brushing the teeth and not the gums  and not performing interdental care of some kind.

In addition, the application of fluoride and the use of a therapeutic mouth rinse might be advised by your dentist/hygienist. This needs to happen with caution and not without consultation with your dentist/hygienist as some of these products should only be used for a recommended period of time. Long-term use of some products might have consequences.

Take care of your health

It’s always advisable to take good care of your health. Especially when an underlying systemic condition, like diabetes, is present. Right now, with a much higher risk of contracting COVID-19, keep the following in mind:

  • A healthy and nutritious diet and active lifestyle will help better manage your blood glucose levels, achieve target blood lipid levels and maintain healthy blood pressure and body weight.
  • A multivitamin supplement provides nutrients that your body needs for regular function. Vitamin D is believed to help improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin (the hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose levels). Thus reducing the risk of insulin resistance, which is often a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D also plays a key role in immune function.
  • Bright sunlight exposure is associated with a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease by lowering blood insulin and lipid levels.
  • Sleep plays an important role in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels.
  • Drinking enough water helps maintain the balance of body fluids. The function of these bodily fluids includes digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients and maintenance of body temperature.
  • Fresh air has been shown to help digest food more effectively, improve blood pressure and heart rate, strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of obesity.
  • Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart-,  kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.
  • Stress aggravates diabetes, raises blood glucose levels, activates fat cells, impairs glucose tolerance, increases insulin resistance and impacts blood pressure.
  • Nicotine increases cortisol levels, reducing B cell antibody formation and T cells’ response to antigens. Therefore having a harmful effect on the immune system. It also hardens and narrows the blood vessels, curbing blood flow around the body. Together, making you more susceptible to infection, damage of the lungs and puts you at higher risk for heart disease.

Stay positive and nurture the spirit

Similarly, the mind has great power to influence the body. Knowledge of how to manage your diabetes and prevent complications is an important first step. But, understanding how to stay positive and nurture the spirit can also help in a holistic approach to diabetes care.

Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment and that includes proper dental care. Your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

MEET THE EXPERT


Sarie Liebenberg is an oral hygienist in private practice in Sandton, Gauteng with almost 30 years’ experience in dentistry. She is involved in various aspects of the dental industry, including lecturing, speaking and presenting on oral health. 


Header image by FreePik

LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.



Avocado: packed with goodness

The #AvoExperts (Westfalia Fruit) tell us why avocado is good for you in so many ways.


Avocado is good for you

Many years ago, we were told to enjoy only small portions of avo in salad or on toast and to avoid eating it every day. Luckily, thanks to research, we know the nutritious fats in avo are great for a healthy lifestyle. Although, too much toast may still not be a good idea.

Benefit from nutritious choices

Healthy food choices can make a huge difference in weight management, reducing the risk of heart disease and stabilising blood glucose levels. The high levels of monounsaturated fats in fresh avo, avocado oil and guacamole are important for a healthy and balanced way of eating. This is something people with diabetes should consider daily to help control their blood glucose levels.

Avo in so many ways

Westfalia Fruit, also known as the #AvoExperts make it easy to include avocado in many delicious ways. Their range of avocado oils and guacamoles offers something for everyone.

Research shows that the healthy fats in avo make you feel fuller faster, limiting the temptation to overeat or constantly nibble on unhealthy foods.

Avocado is such a healthy and versatile ingredient that goes with, well, almost anything. Add it to any meal of the day or enjoy a small portion as part of a snack with fresh veggies, like cucumber and green beans, instead of reaching for the cookie jar.

Perfectly pressed

Did you know that avocado oil is naturally cholesterol-free, and you can replace any cooking oil with avocado oil? Yes, you can easily add these healthy fats to your meals, whether you drizzle, cook, roast, fry, bake and even braai. Owing to a high smoke point of 250°C, the health structure of the oil remains intact, even when heated.

Westfalia Avocado Oil is pressed from ripe, hand-selected Hass avos. It’s 100% pure avocado oil and the best pressing techniques are used to preserve the flavour, richness and natural avocado goodness.

There are four options in Westfalia’s range of avocado oil: Plain, Lemon, Garlic, and Butter. The plain oil’s neutral flavour makes it a great all-rounder, as it does not taste like avocado, as many assume.

The range of oils is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, certified Halaal and Kosher, and has approval from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa.

Find this proudly local product in leading supermarkets, available in 250ml bottles, and look out for the plain avocado oil also available in a 500ml bottle.

Cook up a storm with a dollop, slice and glug

Fresh avo or dollops of Westfalia Guacamole can make a meal more filling, without the need for another carbohydrate, like a slice of bread.

Have you tried a fried egg on slices of fresh avo, with tomato and rocket? Fry the egg in Westfalia Lemon Flavoured Avocado Oil for a lemony twist. Or top your favourite bowl of soup with cubes of avo or dollops of guacamole instead of bread or cream. Not only is this a healthier choice but it also adds extra flavour and creaminess to the soup.

Real avocado

Guacamole is so convenient and available all-year round. The Westfalia range of creamy guacamole is produced from the flesh of ripe Hass avocados and perfect to use in several tasty ways.

Each 200g tub contains about two whole avocados which are hand-scooped, resulting in a delicious guacamole with chunks of real avocado.

There are four flavours in the range to choose from: Plain, Spicy, Sweet Chilli Salsa and Biltong Flavoured. Dip meat balls, grilled chicken or steamed veggies into this real avocado goodness.

Be an #avoexpert too and enjoy the benefits of avocado as part of a healthy way of eating. Always remember to eat it in controlled portions to manage the amount of energy you have in one meal or snack.

Follow Westfalia for more #AVOEXPERTS

LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.



Guacamole and cauliflower hummus

Makes 600 – 750ml | 10-12 servings per recipe

Suggested serving: 1/4 cup (62,5ml) | 20g fat | 9g protein | 5g carbohydrate


Hummus is a flavourful and versatile chickpea dip that is packed with goodness. It’s delicious with almost any veggies and perfect to spread on a sandwich with salad ingredients. This is a popular source of protein for vegetarian or vegan meals.

Roasting some cauliflower with the chickpeas, before blending them together adds extra flavour. This is a wholesome Guacamole and cauliflower hummus recipe for those living with diabetes. Stir in some guacamole for extra creaminess and enjoy the added healthy boosts from the avocado, chickpeas and tahini.


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 x 420g tin chickpeas
  • 75ml (5 tbsp) Westfalia Lemon Flavoured Avocado Oil
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) Westfalia Garlic Flavoured Avocado Oil
  • 5ml (1 tsp) cumin seeds
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) paprika
  • 200g cauliflower florets and stems, cut into pieces
  • 80ml (⅓ cup) tahini (sesame seed paste, available from large supermarkets or health stores)
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) fresh lemon juice
  • 5ml (1 tsp) finely grated lemon rind
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) chopped Italian parsley and extra leaves for garnish
  • 1 x 200g tub Westfalia Spicy or Plain Guacamole
  • Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Drain the chickpeas but keep about 80ml of the liquid for blending.
  3. Mix half of each oil with the spices in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Toss chickpeas and cauliflower in the oil mixture. Spoon onto the baking tray.
  5. Roast chickpeas and cauliflower for 15-20 minutes or until cauliflower is just tender and chickpeas are crispy. Spoon 60ml of the roasted chickpeas out and set aside as garnish for later. Allow ingredients to cool before blending.
  6. Place chickpeas and cauliflower with all the seasoned oil from the baking tray in a food processor or large bowl. Add the remaining oils, tahini, lemon juice, rind, retained chickpea liquid and parsley.
  7. Blend in the processor or with a stick blender until well blended.
  8. Gently fold guacamole with a wooden spoon into the hummus until mixed through and season to taste. Add more oil or chickpea liquid if you prefer a softer texture.

Spoon the Guacamole and cauliflower hummus onto a plate, spread evenly and garnish with the retained chickpeas, a drizzle of plain or lemon-flavoured avocado oil, pepper and parsley.

Follow Westfalia for more #AVOEXPERTS

Fabulite™ Cauliflower “Potato” Salad

Cauliflower has, over recent years, become a superhero in low carb diets. Its versatility allows it to replace many refined carbohydrates, such as rice, potato and even pizza bases! This recipe substitutes cauliflower for potato for an equally delicious non-potato potato salad. We have also replaced mayonnaise with Fabulite™ yoghurt, demonstrating how easy it is to make healthy options fabulous and yummy!


Ingredients

  • 500g cauliflower
  • 6 tbsp Fabulite™ plain yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • A pinch of sea salt and black pepper
  • A few slices of smoked turkey, cut into strips
  • 1 handful of chives, chopped
  • 1 red onion, diced

Method

  1. Steam cauliflower using your preferred method until just tender.
  2. Drain and put in a large bowl.
  3. Add Fabulite™ yoghurt to the cauliflower and mix well.
  4. Add smoked turkey and red onion on top of the cauliflower mixture, then add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and mustard.
  5. Top with fresh chives and serve.

For more information please visits www.parmalat.co.za


LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.



Taking the vegetarian route

Noy Pullen shares how she changed her diet from meat eater to vegetarian and the benefits she has experienced. Plus, she shares three vegetarian recipes.


Agents for Change, rather than being a prescriptive programme, is a voyage of discovery where the presenters and participants cultivate the fields of health, sowing new seeds that may appeal to someone who has reached a certain point in life and wants to change something.

It’s a basket of ideas taken from diverse sources and holistic opportunities for change. When my colleague, Buyelwa, presents the nutritional element of Agents for Change, she brings three pictures.

These pictures and a few others are presented below in hopes that one of these seeds falls on fertile ground. Ground that you have cultivated unconsciously perhaps, but now it is the right season for you.

Pictures that make you think

Who is the King of the animals? is the first picture question. Of course, most people call out “The lion!” “But is it?” Buyelwa teases. “Who is the strongest; who is able to uproot trees? The one with the stately walk? Who fears no one? (Certainly, not the lion.) The one with the longest memory? The one who eats only vegetation?” After some time, we agree it’s the elephant.

Second picture question: What kind of teeth do humans have? Our incisors aren’t suitable for tearing meat like the cat family. They are meant to grind and chew herbs and vegetables.

The third picture comes from the book of Daniel in the Bible: the king needed advisers to interpret his dreams. He wanted to cultivate wisdom amongst his finest young men. Daniel, a slave who was respected by the king, asked that he and his three friends be excused from eating the delicacies provided from the king’s table. They chose to eat only vegetables and drink water. The king’s guard was afraid that they would be weakened and unable to help the king. Daniel asked to be given his choice for 10 days. After this time, it was found that these four were fitter and more clear-headed than the youths who had eaten the delicacies from the king’s table and drunk the wine.

At some stage of life, we discover that our body isn’t what it used to be. We tend to rely on the medical profession for the solution. Western medicine focuses on the medicinal approach of pathogenesis (discipline which focuses on the production and development of disease) 1. It can’t by its very discipline be all things for all ailments. We can also take responsibility for our own salutogenesis (the relationship between health, stress, and coping)2. This may entail radically changing one’s habits. The very act of changing a habit can bring new positive energy.

My own journey

Recent health issues made it necessary for me to make changes in my own lifestyle. Even before my surgery and follow-up therapy, there were digestion difficulties especially when travelling. The signs were there – loss of energy, stuffiness in the head in the morning, slightly laboured breathing, general low-grade anxiety and feeling out of sorts.

Chatting to people, I discovered I was not alone in this. After hearing from my doctor that most women ‘my age’ (they know how to hit a nerve, don’t they?) use a mild form of laxative daily (wow!) and being prompted by a nagging friend, I went to see a nutritionist.

The vegetarian route

Deep within myself I have been hearing a still small voice whispering vegetarian for a long time now, thanks to Buyelwa’s picture and the food demonstrations we offer at Agents for Change. Everyone on our courses finds these refreshing, filling and delicious. Many of my close friends and family have taken the plunge into the vegetarian lifestyle. My sisters and their family members look great on this new vegetarian life choice and radiate good positive energy.

Yet somehow it was too much of a mission for me. I would have to change my whole kitchen I mused. I would be anti-social I argued. My partner and I would not enjoy our meals together like we used to. Nola, the nutritionist, changed all that. After she finished her introduction to a healthy liver, the old pun ‘To have a good life depends on the liver!’ became a maxim for my daily life. The mission to correct the acidic imbalance in my system has become a priority for optimal health3.

The vegetarian changes

Most animal protein has been replaced by plant protein. I have said goodbye for the time being to anything sweet – most fruit, baked goods, sugar and even honey. Also anything starchy, except vegetables.

I’m even learning to make delicious cheese from various tree-nuts! I’ve been introduced to Kitchari, a combination of white Basmati rice and Moong Dhal (yellow split Mung bean). Apparently, this combination forms a whole protein if one follows the Ayurvedic way of cooking. It’s the basis for most meals when starting the detoxing process.

Pro-biotics and digestive enzymes have been part of this healing path. Starting each day with something called golden milk, available from health stores or pharmacies, or the homemade equivalent (a tablespoon of sesame seed or olive oil mixed with a few drops of soy sauce (optional), finely fresh grated or powdered ginger, grated lemon rind, turmeric (borrie), with a dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper) can kick-start anyone’s day. Also try a refreshing glass/mug of hot water with a slice of fresh ginger and a slice of lemon (becomes alkaline in the body) instead of tea or coffee.

Spices have become my new palette. You literally paint your dishes with various fragrances. Cayenne pepper and fenugreek – a rich royal red bite; cumin and cinnamon – subtle warm browns; turmeric – magical zingy golden sienna; fennel and ginger – a subtle harmonious hum in any combination. Each choice brings exciting taste experiences. I’m painting my palate with spices. The taste buds wake up and everything seems sweeter, even my morning oatmeal and yoghurt.

The results of being a vegetarian

In the past four weeks, my whole digestion has taken its life back. I stopped the laxative after only one day of my new life. My blood pressure dropped from 188/93 to average 130/65 after two weeks. I’m still taking the same prescribed allopathic dose. My aim is to move to a natural way of lowering the count. I feel more positive, lighter with clearer intentions and the energy to carry them out.

I can now feel the gentle caress of cool air right into the bottom of my lungs, as I have learnt to breathe effectively, when I go for a good brisk daily walk and my new hobby of singing with a voice coach. Thanks to giving up the processed carbohydrates and venturing into being a vegetarian. This is the start of my journey and who knows where it might lead.

Two journaling tools as coping strategies

The discovery of two great tools, which involves keeping a record, has helped me. Each evening to wind down from the day and prepare for the night’s rest, I spend a few minutes reading some lines from an uplifting book. I write out one sentence that jumps out from the page in a special ‘quotes’ book. The following evening I read what I had written and see whether it echoed somewhere through the day. This builds up inner courage for life.

The other tool is to keep a daily diary of my blood pressure which I take b/d. This is important as my long-term goal is to reduce my blood pressure naturally. The only way to do this responsibly is to keep a record. If I had diabetes I would probably record my blood glucose levels in relation to my goals.

Writing it down is a consciousness-building tool rather than relying on electronic memory which doesn’t activate the will. It also reinforces one’s intentions. On the same page you write everything you had to eat that day and in a separate column what you drank and perhaps the insulin dose. In this way, we can perceive the consequences of what we take in. It’s a process of self-knowledge on an inner and outer level.

For someone with diabetes, it would be a great way to monitor the mysteries of the daily blood glucose pattern. You’ll be amazed what an effective self-diagnosing tool this is. It’s a great guide for your health ‘buddy’ whoever that may be.

Have a buddy in your corner

My nutritionist holds my hand every day; she wants a WhatsApp of my blood pressure and any comments, worries or questions. It’s comforting to feel there is someone at the end of the phone following and supporting my process. She is in my corner and is willing and competent.

I invite nutritionists, dietitians and those who work with diabetes patients in the clinics to make this offer. You will have a much better picture of your patient before they hit a bad patch and stray from the desired path you’ve agreed to. It’s an empowering tool and keeps the connection and encouragement which is so important for chronic conditions. You address the danger of ‘burnout’ and can offer a helpful hint, before things snowball into depression.

Welcome to the new you

A commitment towards realistic activities like dietary changes, appealing forms of physical activity, the arts, music, meditation that resonate with your own inner being. All these will energise you, bring peace, joy and renewed life-giving forces. No negative side effects, just good active participation, enhancing your health and celebrating the richness that the birth of each day and night has to offer.

Try these basic vegetarian recipes


Please contact Noy Pullen if you would like more information: linoia@web.co.za or 072 258 7132.


AGENTS FOR CHANGE IS A DIABETES SOUTH AFRICA PROJECT

MANAGED BY NOY PULLEN

LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.




References:

  • Pathogenesis is the discipline which focuses on the production and development of disease. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/pathogenesis
  • Salutogenesis is a term coined by Aaron Antonovsky, a professor of medical sociology. The term describes an approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease. More specifically, the “salutogenic model” is concerned with the relationship between health, stress, and coping. Antonovsky’s theories reject the “traditional medical-model dichotomy separating health and illness”. He described the relationship as a continuous variable, what he called the “health-ease versus dis-ease continuum”.https://www.definitions.net/definition/salutogenesis
  • — pH affects our body’s state of cleanliness (health) or filth (disease) — Closer to pH of 7.35-7.45: best state of health, able to resist disease and onset of symptoms — Below 7.35 = potential danger or disease state — When blood is acidic, acid waste gets pushed into the tissue cells, compromising them — Over time, cells corrode and its activity is interrupted
  • Chronic diseases associated with pHCancer — Heart disease — Arteriosclerosis — High blood pressure — Diabetes — Arthritis and Gout — Kidney disease — Asthma and allergies — Psoriasis and other skin disorders — Indigestion, diarrhea, nausea — Obesity — Tooth and gum diseases —Osteoporosis — Eye diseases https://www.uc.edu/content/dam/uc/ce/docs/OLLI/Page%20Content/Body%20pH%20and%208%20Health%20benefits%20of%20food.pdf

How to avoid the snack trap

Dietitian, Retha Harmse, guides us on how to avoid the snack trap and rather to eat smarter.


In family movies, like Home Alone, we see those sneaky traps, where the child lightly rakes leaves over a hole and then when the bad guys step on the leaves, they fall for the trap and fall into the hole.

The hole which the bad guys fall into is often extremely deep, so it’s hard to get out of. And, sometimes even the good guys fall in this cleverly-disguised trap.

The snackish, nibbly, grazing feeling when you constantly want to eat and feel hungry might often feel like one of those traps: the snack trap. And when you are in that hole, it’s so challenging to get out. Besides the fact that it might be detrimental to your waistline, it can also wreak havoc with your blood glucose control.

What is the snack trap?

Especially during this pandemic and in winter months, we have seen various people falling into the snack trap: the habit of nibbling and snacking the whole day. Whether it is because the food is readily available or if they are just bored or really hungry, people have been eating a lot.

To snack or not to snack, that is the question?

A quick side note: I became a dietitian because I really love food and not despise it. So, I really encourage snacking and don’t discourage it.

Snacking, if done in a correct and healthy manner, can be beneficial and protective for good glycaemic control. Therefore, inform your doctor and dietitian if you enjoy small regular meals and snacks in your daily routine so that they can adjust your insulin-regime accordingly.

Also, if your lifestyle does not welcome snacking so openly and it is something you don’t particularly enjoy, then you don’t have to snack. It all comes down to your preference.

Mindfulness

Where snacking may become a problem is when it’s done mindlessly and out of boredom or habit. Remember that listening to your hunger and satiety cues are extremely important.

Do a hunger-fullness scan before eating and remember that emotional hunger will never be satisfied by eating.

Dr Michelle May states it perfectly, in the book series Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: “When a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it.”

It is worth HALTing if you experience any of the following:

  • Hungry: Do I need something physically or emotionally?
  • Angry: What is causing me to feel this way?
  • Lonely: Am I having difficulty connecting with others?
  • Tired: When was the last time I took a break?

What makes a healthy snack?

Every time you snack, it’s an opportunity to give your body the beneficial nutrients you need to, not just survive but to thrive. Seeing it that way, we often think twice and make every bite count.

Same as with meals, snacks also need to be nutritious and filling. Therefore, it’s important that it contains complex carbohydrates, lean protein and/or healthy fats.

  • Complex carbohydrates: These might be in the form of whole or multigrain, with the low-GI and diabetes stamp of approval, containing sufficient fibre, and so the glucose can be steadily released into the bloodstream.
  • Lean protein: In the form of eggs, low-fat cheese, tuna, chicken (without the skin) or biltong (without the fat). This is also which causes satiation and will help regulate the glucose.
  • Healthy fats: These not only help to lower the GI of a meal but also makes it a nutrient powerhouse. These can be in the form of nuts and seeds, nutbutters or avocado. Beware of fats though, remember too much of a good thing can also be a bad thing so keep your portion sizes in check (e.g. thumb size for fats).

Healthy snack options

  • Cucumber slices topped with fat-free cottage cheese and paprika
  • Mushroom pizza (take big brown mushrooms, top with desired toppings, oregano and cheese. Bake in the oven or microwave)
  • Crudités, like veggies (carrots, cherry tomatoes, mini mealies, cucumber, celery) with hummus
  • Baked whole-wheat pita, veggies and tzatziki
  • Fruit dipped in yoghurt and frozen
  • Fresh fruit
  • Trail mix (nuts, seeds, raisins or dried cranberries) *
  • Avocado and Black pepper*
  • Rice rolls with soy and tahini-based sauce
  • Popcorn
  • Apple slices and peanut butter
  • Veggie chips
  • Game biltong (or normal biltong without the fat)
  • Yoghurt (plain non-sweetened)
  • Rice cakes, corn thins, cracker breads topped with fat-free cottage cheese
  • Boiled egg
  • Overnight oats*
  • Smoothie*
  • Small quiches (chop veggies in muffin pan, cover with beaten egg, bake 10 min).
  • Yoghurt bark (yoghurt on a baking sheet with fruits and seeds, freeze)
  • Chocolate bark (dark chocolate on a baking sheet with fruits and seeds, freeze)
  • Lettuce rolls (fill lettuce with lean protein, veggies, grain)
  • Roasted chickpeas (sweet: cinnamon and honey | savoury: paprika and coriander
  • Taco cups (whole-wheat wraps cut with a round cookie cutter, baked in a muffin pan, filled with chopped tomato, onion, peppers, etc.)
  • Cracker breads with sardines/pilchards/salmon or tuna
  • Veggie fritters (basic recipe is veggie + aromatics and spices + cheese + binding Agent)

*If on a weight loss diet beware of the portion size.

Retha Harmse is a Registered Dietitian and the ADSA Public relations portfolio holder. She has a passion for informing and equipping the in the field of nutrition. She is currently in private practice in Saxonwold, Houghton and believes that everyone deserves happiness and health and to achieve this she gives practical and individual-specific advice, guidelines and diets.

MEET THE EXPERT


Retha Harmse (née Booyens) is a registered dietitian and the ADSA Public relations portfolio holder. She has a passion for informing and equipping the in the field of nutrition. She is currently in private practice in Saxonwold, Houghton and believes that everyone deserves happiness and health and to achieve this she gives practical and individual-specific advice, guidelines and diets.


Header image by FreePik

LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.



What is the cause of dry body skin?

We find out the causes, symptoms and solutions for dry body skin.


The skin is not only the body’s largest organ but plays a vital role in regulating body temperature and acts as a barrier protecting the body against infection.

However, dry body skin that is cracked can lose its ability to perform these functions. A good skin care routine using products formulated specifically for rough and cracked skin, like Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS, can help to restore skin to a healthier state.

Symptoms

  • Extreme tightness
  • Extreme roughness
  • Skin cracks or fissures
  • Intense itching

Causes

The causes of rough and cracked dry skin vary from poor skin care and environmental factors to health-related conditions, such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and diabetes. These skin care and environmental factors include:

  1. Skin care

The use of harsh soaps on the skin strips the skin of its natural lipids and moisture leading to rough and cracked dry skin. A gentle wash fluid that does not wash away skin’s natural protective barrier should be used.

A suitable moisturiser should be frequently applied to the affected area. The best time to moisturise is when the skin is clean and slightly damp. For example, after a bath or shower. Moisturisers that contain compounds that restore the functioning of the deeper skin layers are recommended for very dry, rough and cracked skin.

Frequent washing is also a contributing factor to rough and cracked dry skin. Baths and showers should not be too hot or too long. This causes the skin’s natural lipids and natural moisturising factors to be leached from the skin, reducing its ability to retain moisture.

  1. Weather, seasons and sun exposure

The change of season is a common cause for rough and cracked dry skin. During the harsh winter months, the skin is exposed to the cold weather, and the use of heating indoors dries out the skin. Skin becomes rough and cracked during this time, and if left untreated these cracks can get deeper and become inflamed.

During the hot summer months, skin becomes dry due to too much sun exposure. To prevent the skin from becoming rough and cracked, a sunscreen containing a moisturiser should be applied.

  1. Occupational risks

Certain occupations are at a greater risk of developing dry body skin which can become very rough and cracked. These are jobs that involve exposing the skin to certain conditions, such as very hot or cold conditions (farmers), frequent use of detergents (doctors/nurses/hairdressers).

  1. Dehydration

The skin receives its water via the body, and is therefore dependent on the body’s water balance. When dehydrated, the body reduces the supply of moisture to the skin which slows down the natural flow of water through the skin, which can contribute to dry skin.

  1. Smoking

Cigarettes contain toxins which cause a significant decrease in blood flow. This results in a decreased metabolic rate within the skin, which causes the supportive fibres in connective tissue to lose their elasticity. This means the skin has aged prematurely, and is easily dried out. 

Caring for rough and dry body skin

Dry skin is caused by a breakdown in the skin’s barrier function which leads to the loss of moisture and water-binding capacity due to a deficiency of moisturising factors. Therefore, dry skin needs a skin care routine that does not cause further deterioration of the skin barrier and replaces missing natural moisturising factors.

Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS is an effective range of products that delivers both immediate and long-lasting relief for dry, very dry and rough skin. All Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS products are formulated with a unique combination of ingredients:

  • Urea and other Natural Moisturising Factors (NMFs) to improve skin’s water-binding capacity and increase its moisture content.
  • Ceramide and other lipids to form a lipid envelope to strengthen the skin barrier and protect against moisture loss.

Cleansing dry body skin

Dry skin is most likely dry due to the skin’s surface barrier breaking down. Therefore, it is important that the cleanser is gentle enough not to wash away the skin’s natural protective barrier. Additional natural moisturising factors, such as urea, will also help to restore the skin’s moisture balance. Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS 5% Urea Replenishing Body Wash Fluid is an effective, replenishing cleanser for dry skin that can be used daily.

Moisturising dry body skin

The first requirement for moisturisers for dry skin is to restore the moisture balance in the upper layers of the skin. Natural moisturising factors (NMF) compounds, like urea and lactate, bind moisture into the stratum corneum, or upper layer of the skin.

The minimum recommended concentration of urea, even for mild dry skin, should be 5%. Very dry skin generally requires a higher concentration of urea and other moisturising factors.

The Eucerin Urea range for dry skin contains a range of products which includes lotions, creams and a cleanser as well as hand care treatments. These products are available with different concentrations of the water-binding active urea, and the concentration used should vary according to the severity of dryness.


For more information please visit www.eucerin.co.za


LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.



Welcome to the Superfood lifestyle

Dietitian, Mignon Jordaan, shares ways to incorporate superfood in to your diabetic menu plan. Plus, she shares two Superfood recipes.


Superfood is taking grocery stores by storm and consumers might not even understand the exact role or benefit it has in the body. It almost sounds like food that has superpowers, doesn’t it?

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), diabetes is one of the top three diseases causing early death due to uncontrolled high blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes was shown, by scientific research, to increase the risk for oxidative stress and inflammation and can lead to detrimental conditions, such as heart diseases. So, does this mean as a diabetic patient you need to add Superfood to your grocery list?

What is Superfood?

Many know it as Functional foods, Organic foods or Power foods. Defined by Harvard School of Public Health as: a food that offers high levels of desirable nutrients; are linked to the prevention of a disease, or is believed to offer several simultaneous health benefits beyond its nutritional value.

However, there is currently no official definition of the word approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) according to the American Diabetes Association.

Personally, I recommend Superfoods to both Type 1 and 2 diabetes patients. All due to the natural existing ingredients that contain some diabetic-specific benefits like lowering your risk for macro-or microvascular complications.

How will Superfood benefit me as a diabetes patient?

Many internet sources have an ongoing list of health benefits such as:

  • Possible cancer prevention
  • Might reduce cardiovascular risk
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Possible anti-ageing effect
  • Might improve blood glucose levels

It seems quite impressive, but let’s have a closer look at a few popular Superfoods that we can consider adding to our grocery list and why.

Popular Superfoods to put in my trolley

  1. Super-fruit

Decide which of the following fruits you would enjoy, combine two-three of them together to increase the quality of nutrients per portion.

Super-fruit Benefits Recommended portion Examples
Pomegranates
  • High in vitamin B
  • Might lower risk for heart diseases
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Can improve lipid profile and blood glucose levels
  • High in fibre
1 portion = 125g/½ cup

(15g carbohydrates)

175g Pot from Woolworths added in a salad, smoothie or cereal
Blueberries/ Raspberries
  • Low carbohydrate-containing fruit with high amounts of vitamin C
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Low in GI

 

1 portion= ¾ cup

(15g carbohydrates)

125g Pot blueberries at Woolworths to eat with plain yoghurt
Strawberries
  • High in vitamin C and soluble fibre
  • Low in GI
1 portion= 15 medium size strawberries

(15g carbohydrates)

300g Frozen strawberries to add in a smoothie or to flavour water
Goji berries
  • Boost immune system
  • Might improve blood glucose levels and cardiovascular disease in diabetes
  • Lower risk for cancer, especially colon cancer
  • High in vitamin A, B, C, E, iron, copper, selenium and zinc
  • High in fibre and low in GI
  • Also, high in an antioxidant, named beta carotene
1 portion= 40g/¼ cup

(18g carbohydrates)

Mixed in cereals, smoothies or casseroles

Alternative to raisins

  1. Super-vegetables

These are high in fibre, low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, to add bulk to your meal or snack.

Super-veggies Benefits Recommended portion Examples
Broccoli sprouts
  • High in vitamins, like folate
  • High in minerals, like calcium
  • Might lower risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease
1-2 cups cooked per meal Mix into soups or casseroles

Steamed and added in salads

Added in smoothies, stir-fry’s or soups

Spinach
  • High in vitamin E
  • High in minerals, like potassium and magnesium
  • Rich in carotenoids
1-2 cups cooked per meal
Kale
  • High in vitamin A
  • High in minerals, like calcium
  • Might lower the risk of cancer
  • High in fibre and help to control blood glucose levels
  • Might lower risk of heart disease
1-2 cups cooked per meal
  1. Super-nuts and seeds

Are high in unsaturated fat and are such a yummy snack to have during the day, or added to food for an extra crunch.

Super-nuts Benefits Recommended portion Examples
Flaxseeds
  • Rich in phytochemicals, fibre and protein
  • Rich in omega 3
1 portion= 2-4 tsp Mixed into smoothies, cereal, salads or soups
Walnuts
  • Rich in omega 3, vitamin B and E
1 portion= 3-6 nuts Mixed in salads or smoothies
Chia seeds
  • Rich in omega 3
  • High in fibre
  • High in antioxidants that can prevent cancer and delay ageing
  • Lower risk for heart disease
1 portion= 2-4 tsp Mixed into smoothies or soaked in oats
  1. Super-spices

These are high in antioxidants and other beneficial properties. To be added to dishes for an amazing aroma and flavour.

Super-spices Benefits Examples
Cinnamon
  • May improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels in uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes*
  • Might improve cholesterol levels (especially LDL- ‘bad cholesterol’)**
  • May reduce risk of cancer
  • Might assist in fighting bacterial or fungal infections
Added to teas- e.g. like Chia cinnamon tea

Mixed into porridge like oats

Mixed into smoothies

Use as an ingredient to bake rusks, energy bars or biscuits (be careful as these items are usually high in GI, sugar or fat)

Turmeric (or known as Curcumin)
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • High in minerals, such as iron
  • Can assist to fight or reduce risk of cancer
  • Might improve blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels
  • Might have anti-psychotic effect***
Ideal for a curry dish

Popular ingredient in the Afrikaans dish ‘Boboti’

Mixed into smoothies, stews, stir-fry’s, savoury rice or soups

Can be added to tea for taste

Ginger
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Might assist to lower inflammation and risk for cardiovascular disease****
  • Possible preventative effect on diabetic nephropathy*****
Can be added to tea for taste

Added stewed apple or pear

Mixed into stews, stir-fry’s or soups

Used as a flavour for smoothies, fish or vegetables such as butternut

Used in diabetic friendly baking, such as biscuits, muffins or cakes (be careful as these items are usually high in GI, sugar or fat)

*See B.mang et al, **See Robert Allen et al 2013, ***See Hamidpour et al 2015, **** Mahmoud et al 2013*****Rafieian-Kopaei M et al.2013

Aim for balance

Superfood are sometimes seen as a ‘marketing strategy’. There is still research to be done to prove more significant health benefit, especially human studies.

At the end of the day, the definite fact of these Superfoods containing all these beneficial vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, are not to be doubted, and there is clear evidence to ensure the beneficial effects on your health.

As a person living with diabetes, you need to remember to always make sure you have a balanced diet with enough carbohydrates, lean protein and unsaturated fat to prevent any nutritional deficiencies and improve overall health.  There is no harm in incorporating all these Superfoods in your everyday life with the goal to identify the beneficial effect it has on your own body and to never compare your body’s response to someone else’s. Bring on the Superfoods!


Try Mignon’s delicious superfood recipes.

Superfood smoothie: Green vitamin booster

By Mignon Jordaan RDSA Serves 1 Ingredients 1 cup kale and cucumber 1 cup chopped green

Goji berry pecan oats

By Mignon Jordaan RDSA Serves 1 Ingredients ¼ cup raw oats-soak in yoghurt overnight ¼/40g cup

MEET THE EXPERT


Mignon Jordaan is a registered dietitian. Her hearts desire is to make a difference in people’s lives with her knowledge of nutrition. Being a Type 1 diabetes patient herself, she can walk the journey of “mindful eating” with her clients.


LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.



Why is thrush common in people with diabetes?

Diabetes nurse educator, Christine Manga, explains why thrush is so common in people living with diabetes.


What is thrush?

Thrush is a common fungal infection that affects both men and women. It is also referred to as yeast infection. It is an overgrowth of the naturally occurring fungus Candida albicans.

Any person with a weakened immune system will be more susceptible to thrush. These conditions include but are not limited to diabetes, iron or vitamin B12 deficiency, HIV and autoimmune hypothyroidism. It was even picked up in studies that people with prediabetes had elevated levels of candida.

Where does thrush occur?

Oral and genital thrush are the most common. However, it can also occur in the armpits, between the fingers, in the groin area and under the breasts. Throat and oesophageal thrush are often found in people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Causes of thrush

Thrush occurs when there is a disruption of the natural balance of good bacteria allowing an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. There are numerous causes for these imbalances.

  • People with diabetes, especially poorly controlled, high blood glucose levels lower the pH of the saliva, making it more acidic. Candida thrives in a lower pH environment.
  • In people with diabetes, there is a diminished tissue response to injury allowing for colonisation of Candida. Examples of injuries include a toothbrush slipping and cutting the gum, braces that cause ulcers as well as ill-fitting dentures.
  • Poor oral hygiene has been positively linked to an increased risk of developing thrush.
  • Xerostomia (low levels of saliva/dry mouth) can be caused by certain medications, such as antidepressants, dehydration and high blood glucose levels. Smoking may not necessarily cause a dry mouth, but it does exacerbate it as well as irritating the mucosal lining of the mouth.
  • Medications that are known to cause thrush include cortisone, inhaled corticosteroids, antibiotics. This is because these kill the good bacteria rendering them unable to control the fungal growth. Hormonal birth control methods can increase the risk of developing thrush by disturbing the body’s natural hormonal balance.
  • Diets that are high in refined and sugary foods. Candida loves sugar!
  • Pregnancy, due to the changes in the hormones.
  • Antibacterial soaps wash away the naturally occurring good bacteria, once again allowing for the overgrowth of fungus. This would be pertinent to genital thrush
  • Overuse of antibacterial mouthwashes.

Symptoms

Oral thrush

  • It usually presents as creamy white patches on the inner cheeks, tongue and gums. It can also be found on the palate.
  • Soreness or a burning sensation.
  • A cotton-like sensation in the mouth.
  • A bad taste in the mouth.
  • Loss of taste.
  • Angular stomatitis – cracks in the corners of the mouth.
  • Possible difficulty in eating and swallowing.

Genital thrush

Males

  • A whitish grey clumpy discharge resembling cottage cheese under the foreskin.
  • Redness or red patches on the head of the penis (glans) and under the foreskin.
  • Difficulty pulling back the foreskin (phimosis).
  • Pain during sex.
  • An unpleasant odour may be present but not always.
  • Can cause burning when passing urine.

Females

  • Vaginal itching.
  • Swelling of the vulva (external part of vagina).
  • Soreness and redness.
  • Pain when passing urine.
  • Whitish grey cottage cheese-like discharge.
  • Pain during sex.

Diagnosis

Thrush can be self-diagnosed by looking for the symptoms. You could also visit your doctor who would usually be able to identify it just by having a look. If there is uncertainty, a painless swab of the area can be taken and sent to the laboratory for investigation. If you experience more than four episodes a year, it is advised to visit your doctor.

Treatment

Treatment is simple. Thrush can clear up on its own. With treatment, it can clear up within three days.

  • An antifungal tablet taken orally and/or cream will be prescribed for both men and women for genital thrush. Women also have the option of a pessary, a soft gel capsule inserted into the vagina.
  • Antifungal tablets, lozenges, oral gels or oral suspensions are used for oral thrush.
  • Natural remedies include eating plain yoghurt or using it as a cream on the affected area. Yoghurt contains naturally good bacteria.
  • Salt water or baking powder baths. Salt is an antiseptic and has soothing properties. Baking soda has been found to be antifungal.
  • Gentian violet can be applied to the affected area in the mouth.
  • In complicated cases, thrush may cause severe damage to the mucosal lining, causing a secondary bacterial infection, possibly needing antibiotic treatment.

Prevention

  • Good blood glucose control is paramount.
  • Maintaining good hydration.
  • Proper, regular dental care including flossing and brushing teeth. Be careful about the mouthwash that you use.
  • Maintain good hygiene.
  • Avoid antibacterial soaps. Our bodies need the good bacteria. Do not use a loofah, exfoliator or rough sponge on the genitals, this will cause microscopic tears to the mucosa.
  • Try to follow a diet with a lot of whole foods with a low sugar content.
  • Taking probiotics may reduce the risk of thrush infections.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after taking and inhaled corticosteroid.
  • Women should wipe from front to back after urinating.
  • Wear cotton underwear.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing.

Although many people with diabetes do suffer from thrush, it is also a very common symptom of diabetes. Many people are tested and diagnosed with diabetes due to recurrent thrush episodes.

eating time budget

MEET THE EXPERT


Christine Manga (Post Grad Dip Diabetes and Msc Diabetes) is a professional nurse and a diabetes nurse educator. She has worked with Dr Angela Murphy at CDE Centre, Sunward Park since 2012.


Header image by FreePik

LIKE THIS? ------------------------------------------------

SUBSCRIBE to our FREE Diabetes Focus Newsletter.