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Diabetes Developments - A blog on latest developments in diabetes by David Mendosa

Low-carb Chili

March 4th, 2011 · 1 Comment

Beef chili is the new comfort food. This simple and familiar meal gives many Americans a sense of well-being.

The combination of beef, beans, and spices is as American as apple pie and much healthier. Particularly out here in the West where I live, beef chili is as informal as the people, something that goes better with blue jeans than with a coat and tie or a string of pearls.

When I travel the small towns of the West, I can usually count on beef chili to be on the lunch or dinner menu. If I find it, you can count on me to order it.

I’ll do that even though I know that the typical beef chili will be too high in carbs and salt. I also generally avoid beans now that I follow the paleo diet. But beef chili deserves to be the exception that makes eating a comfort.

Now even when we travel, we no longer need to settle for second-rate chili that is loaded with carbs that are sure to raise the blood glucose level of anyone who has diabetes. We can take first-rate chili with us.

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Doing Tai Chi for Balance

March 3rd, 2011 · 1 Comment

When you have diabetes, you know that falls come with the territory. If you are a senior citizen, this is doubly true.

Even worse is when you hike a lot on mountain trails, as I do. In the past few years I took several tumbles, fortunately not falling off a cliff or breaking a hip.

That never worried me much, but I was concerned that a fall could bring back an old knee injury that not long ago had made climbing difficult. When you are 75 years old with a history of 16 years of diabetes and a hiker, you’ve got to be careful.

And just being careful isn’t enough. All of us who have diabetes, who have more than a few years of life experience, or who hike need good balance.

So when a friend told me last year that the Tai Chi Chuan she was learning improved her balance, I listened. I remembered that Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that millions of people around the world practice for its defensive training or its health benefits. Tai Chi enhances our balance and body awareness through slow, graceful, and precise body movements.

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Posted in: Exercise For Diabetes

Hypothyroidism and Diabetes

March 3rd, 2011 · 3 Comments

My feet were cold most of the time. Even when I wore thick woollen socks to bed my feet were often so uncomfortable that they interfered with my sleep.
Since I have diabetes, I assumed that my problem was that I had one of the most common complications of our condition, peripheral neuropathy. So I focused all the more on controlling my blood glucose level in hopes of reversing my problem some day.Good strategy in general. But worse than useless when the assumption is faulty. My problem is hypothyroidism. This means that my thyroid gland isn’t active enough in producing certain important hormones. One of the early symptoms is increased sensitivity to cold.

I also had a couple more of the early symptoms — I had a slow heart rate and my skin was dry and itchy. This is because the hypothyroidism gives me a slow metabolism, which can explain why I have such a hard time maintaining my weight loss. I can hardly eat anything without gaining weight!

But different people have different symptoms, and some people don’t have any of them. “Hypothyroidism is more common than you would believe, and millions of people are currently hypothyroid and don’t know it,” says James Norman, M.D., on EndocrineWeb.

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications

Walking Meditation

March 3rd, 2011 · No Comments

As I hiked out of the wilderness all I could think about was how much my feet hurt. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.

Wearing a brand new pair of boots on a long backpacking trip into West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness about 35 years ago could have been a big mistake. The new boots gave my feet terrible blisters, and I had forgotten to take any moleskin. Returning to the trailhead after four or five days, I knew I had just one other way to control the pain. Deliberate walking meditation put my entire consciousness into my feet.

I don’t punish my feet any more to get the high that walking meditation brings. But I still hike or walk and meditate at the same time.

A leading exponent of walking meditation is Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who is one of the important influences in the development of Western Buddhism. His book with Nguyen Anh-Huong, Walking Meditation (Sounds True: Boulder, Colorado, 2006), says that when we practice walking meditation, “We walk for the sake of walking…We walk slowly, in a relaxed way, keeping a light smile on our lips.”

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Posted in: Exercise For Diabetes, Psychosocial

Integrated Testing

February 12th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The experts on the blood glucose meters that we rely on tell me not to hold my breath while waiting for painless, or non-invasive, devices. The GlucoWatch, sold as the first and only non-invasive meter, came and went several years ago. Nothing similar is coming in the foreseeable future.But new and better meters appear all the time. And a whole new concept is on the immediate horizon.

This concept is a completely integrated testing device. That means the device contains not only the blood glucose meter but also test strips and a lancet.

I think that this big step forward to easier and more discreet testing is right around the corner. In fact, if you live in Europe, you can get it right now.

Mendor is a small Finnish company headquartered in Helsinki. It calls its integrated system the Mendor Discreet. It has CE status for sale in the EU, but U.S. approval is awaiting FDA action on the company’s 501(k) clearance request.

Meanwhile, Mendor CEO and co-founder Kristian Ranta was kind enough to send me a Mendor Discreet in advance of its release here. I have one in my hands as I write — which isn’t easy since I generally type with all 10 of my fingers.

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

Phil’s Paleo Diet

February 4th, 2011 · 14 Comments

My friend Phil is a member of the diabetes support group that has been meeting every month in my apartment for the past couple of years. We are a group of people dedicated to tight control of our diabetes. Most of us follow a very low-carb diet and that way have found much better health.

For the past half year or so I have been following a type of low-carb diet that I learned from Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University, which is about an hour north of where we live in Boulder. Dr. Cordain’s book, the Paleo Diet, overlaps considerably with the standard low-carb diet for people with diabetes, Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. Dr. Cordain graciously waived his usual speaking fee when I asked him to speak to our diabetes support group and other local groups at the local hospital.

Besides myself since then several members of our diabetes support group, including my primary care physician, have begun to follow both then low-carb and paleo way of eating. Another member of the group asked each of us to write about what we eat. Phil’s response was so good that I’m forwarding it here with his permission.

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Medical Marijuana for Diabetes

February 2nd, 2011 · 4 Comments

Here is a copy of a letter — with the author’s name and other identifying information redacted out — about anecdotal evidence that medical marijuana might help some complications of diabetes.

The person who wrote me has a better memory than I do. I don’t remember corresponding with him before, but he remembers that when I used marijuana I was addicted to it. It got to where I had to be high all my waking hours. My correspondent is also quite correct in writing that I would not be a good candidate for medical marijuana, except as a last resort.

The jist of what he wrote follows:

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Medication, Psychosocial

Meters for Christmas

January 26th, 2011 · No Comments

If Santa gave you a new blood glucose meter for Christmas, my guess is that you didn’t get what you wanted. But I’m sure that you got what you needed.

In all the history of diabetes only two developments stand out for giving us control. The first was the discovery of insulin in the early 1920s, and the second was the invention of the blood glucose meter in the late 1960s.

An endocrinologist once told me that we need to get a new blood glucose meter every year. His thinking was that they can wear out or get damaged out of alignment when they fall on the floor. Perhaps an even better argument is that every year new and better meters come our way.

A case is point is the Fora V12 blood glucose monitoring system. Made by Fora Care Inc. of Newbury Park, California, and sold by MedPoint Advantage in Birmingham, Alabama, this reasonably priced little meter has the latest bells and whistles.

Requiring no coding — not having to match a number on a vial of test strips to a number on the meter — the Fora V12 makes testing easy. And easier yet is that you don’t even have to look at the meter because it will talk to you in either English or Spanish, at your choice. It also gives you a quick result in seven seconds and takes a tiny blood sample of only 0.7 microliters.

One thoughtful little touch that I appreciate is that the Fora V12 takes two AAA batteries rather than the usual lithium ones. While bigger, AAA batteries are easier to find in our stores when you need replacements.

MedPoint Advantage is the exclusive national distributor for the Fora V12, says Chief Operating Officer Lee Stallings. Their phone number in Birmingham is (866) 563-3764.

The Fora V12 sells for $29.99. A box of 50 blood glucose test strips sells for $28.99. Or you can save by getting a box of 100 for $53.98, a box of 150 for $80.97, or a box of 200 for $107.96.

We all need to think about getting a new meter each year. Christmas is a good time for such presents. Now, tell me please, did you get a new blood glucose meter from a loved one? I hope that you had such good luck.

This is a mirror of one of my articles that was originally published on Health Central.

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

Indigenous Diabetes

January 16th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Diabetes is the scourge of civilization. A disproportionate number of people living in the most advanced societies suffer from it.

But the people who suffer the most are the original inhabitants of the lands that the Western societies occupied. Whether they are the Native Americans, people of Canada’s First Nations, Australia’s Indigenous population, or other conquered peoples, the result everywhere has been the same — lots of diabetes.

The reason why is no mystery. The conquerors destroyed the indigenous cultures, often intentionally but with what they thought were good intentions. By punishing students in native schools for using their own language, by attacking native religion, and by extolling the wonders of Western food, the victors hoped to integrate the defeated into mainstream culture. Instead, they marginalized the defeated from both their own culture and from that of the West.

Decrying their food choices of the defeated misses the point, as Sousan Abadian elucidates in her Harvard University Ph.D. dissertation. The point is that they suffer what she calls “collective trauma.”

Craig Lambert interviewed her for his brilliant article, “Trails of Tears, and Hopes,” for the March-April 2008 issue of Harvard Magazine. You can read the PDF of the full article online.

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Posted in: Psychosocial

A Good Day to Die

January 14th, 2011 · No Comments

My brother-in-law, George Klotz, died today after a long illness. He and my little sister, Liz, had been married for 55 years.

George died from prostate cancer, and he had been legally blind for years. Liz had to take ever greater responsibility for him. Until today, when everything changed for her.

George fought hard for his life. But on adequate pain medication he died peacefully today. George lived in Chino, California, and as a veteran will be buried in Riverside National Cemetery. I will fly there for the funeral.

The family knew this was coming. And so, all day today I have been thinking about that famous statement, “This is a good day to die.”

Used in numerous books, movies, albums, and song tracks, this statement still raised questions in my mind. Who said it and why? What does it mean?

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Posted in: Psychosocial

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