You COVID tip for the week: Please wear your face covering in public. In a new study from Cambridge, England, the researchers found face mask use could push COVID-19 transmission down to controllable levels for national epidemics. Wash your hands often. Be careful to physically distance. Eat healthy and be physically active.

Q How much sugar is in blueberries? Can a person with diabetes eat fruit? CP, Elizabeth City

A Yes of course a person with diabetes can and should eat fruit. The American Diabetes Association, in 2020, described a healthy eating plan for a person with diabetes in this way, “it should emphasize non-starchy vegetables, minimal added sugars, fruits, whole grains, as well as dairy products.” The ADA also states that carbohydrate intake should emphasize nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources that are high in fiber and minimally processed. Blueberries meet that bill!

There are 4 grams of dietary fiber — to help you feel full and manage blood sugar — in one serving. There is a good amount of vitamin C in blueberries that helps support a healthy immune system. Vitamin K is present to help with bone metabolism, as is manganese that helps convert protein, carbohydrates, and fat into energy.

It’s the right time of year to enjoy blueberries; the season has begun in North Carolina. Blueberries are great sources of antioxidants, so they are great berries to eat. They help protect against heart disease. The MIND diet, which has been shown to slow memory loss, includes at least 2 servings of berries (strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries) every week. A serving of blueberries is ¾ cup (or 1 carbohydrate exchange). If the blueberries are fresh, unsweetened canned or frozen they have 60 calories. The carb content is 16 grams. The naturally occurring sugar is 11 grams or just under 3 teaspoons.

I developed an aversion to eating blueberries when I was a young girl. I got sick after participating in a blueberry pie eating contest at a scouting picnic. But after I realized the health benefits of eating blueberries, I have slowly been increasing the number of berries I can eat. I do get at least two servings of berries a week.

If you are eager for some fresh blueberries (and local sweet corn, tomatoes and local produce) find your local farm markets at There are many you-pick blueberry farms in eastern North Carolina. We stopped for some yummy sweet corn at our favorite market in Newport last weekend. Can Bogue Sound watermelons be far behind?

Q I started taking probiotics a few years ago on the advice of an alternative health provider. I do not know if it has helped my GI conditions or not. I saw a brief news item that there are new guidelines. What do they say? LP, Greenville

A You did not say what probiotics you are taking and for what reason. Just to remind the readers, probiotics are a combination of live beneficial bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body. It is important to remember that not all probiotic strains are the same, and even different strains of the same species can have very different effects.

You can purchase probiotics as dietary supplements in various forms including capsules and drinks. You can buy certain foods that have probiotics added to them. And you can eat selected foods that have naturally occurring probiotics. Unfortunately, because of weak regulations, many unsupported health claims are made about them.

The probiotic strains, doses, viability and additional ingredients might not match what is advertised, and formulations might differ from batch to batch. The effects can be beneficial, not make any difference or as we have learned more recently, have the potential to be harmful.

You are correct, the American Gastroenterological Association has provided guidance for physicians with some very specific recommendations. The experts did a thorough review of the evidence and said specifically that it does not recommend using probiotics for treating Clostridioides difficile infection, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Essentially, they say there is not enough evidence to recommend probiotics in these settings. Ask your doctor about the risks, benefits, and costs of the therapy for you.

If you are healthy and interested in probiotics to help with digestion or to make sure that you get all of the nutrients out of the food you eat you might try the probiotics that are in food rather than the dietary supplements.

Probiotics support the good bacteria in your gut, protect against the bad bacteria that you may encounter. There are several friendly bacteria, including bacillus coagulans, Bifidobacterium infantis, L. acidophilus, and B. lactis.

These can often be found in yogurt, kefir, pickles, tempeh, sauerkraut, kombucha, and apple cider vinegar. If you choose yogurt, read the label to ensure the one you select has “active cultures” in it.

Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Ph.D., is an affiliate professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at