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

Does Caffeine Cause Blood Sugar Changes?

May 17th, 2011 · 7 Comments

The first thing I did after reading the new study that caffeine can increase our blood glucose level was to switch to drinking green tea. The second thing I did was to switch again — this time to decaffeinated green tea.

I overreacted. Several years ago I had switched from coffee to Darjeeling tea, which has about half the caffeine per cup. While green tea has even less, I don’t like it much and only drink it rarely. I disliked the decaffeinated green tea so much that I threw out the package after taking the first sip.

Now, I’m almost entirely back to Darjeeling tea. People call it a black tea, although it is light-colored and is technically more oolong than black and is therefore lower in caffeine than true black teas.

While I control my blood glucose level, I’m not a purist. I have to enjoy everything that I eat or drink. While my diet includes no starch, sugar (no sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup), salt, or alcohol, except occassionally when I eat out, I don’t miss any part of this standard American, or SAD, diet. My recent A1C result was 5.3 percent.

Caffeine may well raise my blood glucose level. But after carefully reading the new study, I doubt it.

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Study: Healthy Fasting Reduces Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes

May 11th, 2011 · 5 Comments

Regular readers may remember that I reported here on earlier studies about some benefits from intermittent fasting. But a study reported yesterday shows that fasting also lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes and increases the good HDL cholesterol and reduces triglycerides, weight, and blood glucose levels. It also increases the bad LDL cholesterol.

Research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah, reported these finds at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans. Tomorrow’s issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology will print the results of this study led by Dr. Benjamin D. Horne, Intermountain’s director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology.

LDL went up by 14 percent and HDL by 6 percent. But the increase in cholesterol from fasting is probably not a bad thing, as Dr. Horne explains.

“Fasting causes hunger or stress,” he pointed out. “In response, the body releases more cholesterol, allowing it to utilize fat as a source of fuel, instead of glucose. This decreases the number of fat cells in the body. This is important because the fewer fat cells a body has, the less likely it will experience insulin resistance or diabetes.”

Dr. Horne’s team conducted two fasting studies. One included more than 200 people. Another included 30 people who only had water for 24 hours and then studied for another day. During this additional 24-hour period the researchers subjected the subjects to blood tests and other physical measurements.

Now I have the incentive to get back to intermittent fasting. Just as soon as I finish the fish in my fridge.

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

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications, Diabetes Diet

Embrace Diabetes Support Groups for a Healthy Lifestyle

May 11th, 2011 · 2 Comments

If you have ever participated in a diabetes support group, you probably know that it helps you to stay in control of your diabetes. While I don’t know of any research that will prove this, a new study shows that group support meetings offer remarkable benefits for people who have pre-diabetes. If group support helps people who have pre-diabetes, it is probably much more likely to help those of us who are already burdened with this condition. For most people I know who have pre-diabetes this is just one more thing to deal with. Sometime.

Those of us who have diabetes know that we have to deal with it. Every day. But some people who have diabetes still don’t take advantage of the support that other people can give them. For some of us diabetes is something to keep quiet about, either out of shame or concern that our employers might cause them problems. Or because their health insurance rates might go up.

Some of these concerns are certainly legitimate. But when we ignore the social advantages of sharing, we ignore the support we can get from friends in similar situations.

More and more of us are choosing a third alternative, online support. Groups like MyDiaBlog can help anyone with diabetes, even those among us who can’t or won’t share with local groups.

The study of people with pre-diabetes who have benefited from support groups that prompted these thoughts comes to us from Australia. Between 2005 and 2009 the Victorian Department of Health recruited 300 people from both the big city of Melbourne and the rural community of Shepparton to see if community meetings are as good for health as they are for making friends.

They are. The bottom line is that people who attended regular meetings had a 43 percent success rate in reversing their pre-diabetes within six months of learning that they had it. By comparison, only one quarter of the people who had learned that they have pre-diabetes in that time but only had the support of their doctor succeeded.

Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne evaluated the study and reported it in the March 2011 issue of Swinburne Magazine. This article says that the Victorian Department of Health is taking these positive findings a step further by rolling out a state-wide program.

The question is whether people here who already have diabetes will take the further step to get valuable support from others.

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

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Posted in: Psychosocial

Why We Check Our Blood

April 18th, 2011 · 2 Comments

With all the emphasis on how we check our blood glucose levels using all the new meters that we can choose from, many of us who have type 2 diabetes forget or never learned why we check our levels. Anyone who has type 1 diabetes has to know why he or she checks as do those type 2s who uses insulin. Those of us who inject insulin check their levels so they can take more if their levels are too high or take a glucose tab or something similar if they are too low.But three-fourths of all type 2s don’t take insulin. Some of them still use the first oral medication, one of the sulfonylureas that can cause hypos, a level below about 70 mg/dl. Then they too will need to take something like a glucose tab to bring their level back to normal.

The overwhelming majority of all people who have diabetes rarely if ever get hypos. So why should they go through the trouble of checking their blood glucose? What can they do with that information?

If our doctors and nurses ever told us why, most of us have forgotten by now. As a result, a lot of people with diabetes don’t bother at all any more with blood glucose checks.

That’s a shame, because even people who don’t use insulin or one of the sulfonylureas, can benefit from checking if they do it at the right time.

The most right time is after eating a big meal, especially one that has a substantial amount of starch in it. Nothing raises our blood glucose level as much and as fast as starch — the stuff in potatoes and grains and grain products, like bread, bagels, pizza, or anything made from wheat flour.

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

Which Blood for Checking Glucose

April 5th, 2011 · 2 Comments

The blood that we need to use to check our blood glucose levels may seem obvious. After all, it’s a check, not a test to pass or fail. We need to use our own blood, not blood borrowed from a friend or foe.

But until now some basic questions about blood glucose testing haven’t had a tested answer. They do now with the publication of a study in this month’s issue of Diabetes Care, a professional journal of the American Diabetes Association.

The abstract of the study, “Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose: The Use of the First or the Second Drop of Blood” is free online. My friend Dr. Bill Quick, who also writes about diabetes for HealthCentral, sent me the full text of the study.

The seven Dutch diabetes professionals who researched basic questions about blood glucose testing recruited 123 people with diabetes. They checked the variability of their blood glucose testing results in four different situations:

1. When they did or did not wash their hands

2. After they handled fruit (specifically apples or bananas)

3. After washing their fingers that had touched the fruit

4. And two different amounts of pressure applied to their fingers — squeezing

Their conclusions were simple and straightforward. But now for the first time we have them based on the actual experience of real people who have diabetes:

1. We don’t have to waste a drop of blood to use a second drop — but only if we wash our hands first.

2. But when we aren’t in a position to wash our hands and they aren’t particularly dirty or exposed to something that has sugar in it, testing with a second drop of blood will work.

3. Which finger we use doesn’t matter.

4. When we apply heavy pressure — meaning squeezing a lot — we can get unreliable results.

“The first choice is to wash the hands with soap and water, dry them, and use the first drop of blood,” the authors wrote. “Firm squeezing of the finger should be avoided.” The authors admitted that they had a hard time defining the difference between firm and light squeezing.

Strangely, the study did not look at the old recommendation that we should use alcohol to clean our fingers. Maybe they read my review of the Clever Chek meter, which I wrote here in November 2007. I hope that I disposed of the myth that it’s better not to use alcohol.

“The [Clever Chek] packaging includes a box of ‘Alcohol Prep Pads,’” I wrote then. But, “Any alcohol on the skin may interfere with your test result, so the experts don’t recommend that you use alcohol prep pads routinely. Only where you don’t have warm water is it a good idea to use alcohol to clean the test area. And be sure to air dry it well before testing.”

Now, let’s all go and test our blood glucose with confidence that we know what we are doing.

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

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Posted in: Diabetes Testing

My Goals

March 20th, 2011 · No Comments

Until now, I haven’t shared much of my goals. What I have shared is information — some of the things that I have learned about diabetes in the years since I was diagnosed with type 2 in 1994.

I also once shared my ideas on how to write, because that’s what I do. You can read my article, “My Style” here. And since photography is a passionate hobby of my I share my photo essays on my “Fitness and Photography for Fun” blog. I’m writing today from Florida where I visited our Dry Tortugas and Biscayne National Parks and today am photographing birds, alligators, and other wildlife in the Everglades National Park. I share my photo essays because I want to inspire everyone who has diabetes to get the activity we all need by doing what we love to do.

A Purple Gallinule This Morning

But until now, I haven’t really told you where I am coming from. A couple of people from Chicago named Jenny and Jannick dragged it out of me when they interviewed me last week. They posted the interview on their website, “Julio’s Sol, Our Dream is to Make Yours a Reality.” Their interview with me is on this web page.

Jenny and Jannick told me from the first that they wanted to interview people who had a passion driving their life. I told them when they interviewed me that my passion is helping people with diabetes. I hope that I am helping you.

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

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Posted in: 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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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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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

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