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

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

Diabetes Social Networking

March 27th, 2011 · No Comments

The social network space for people with diabetes lags well behind the Internet’s superb ability to provide information. Websites like HealthCentral far exceed the older sources of information that we have — including our health care teams, our books, and our magazines — in the quantity and often even the quality of information that we seek about diabetes.

But the Internet hasn’t been doing a good job in connecting the real people who have diabetes with other real people. Those of us who have diabetes often feel isolated from our communities because of the special need we have to control our condition. Many of us, particularly those who live in small towns or rural areas, don’t have anyone with whom to discuss our dietary, activity, and medication requirements.

Local support groups often fail to provide positive reinforcement when they exist at all. Many of us in fact lack that option within a reasonable driving distance.

Support and communication are functions that the Internet can provide to people with diabetes on a much larger scale than even the best local support groups. But even the so-called social networking sites are instead top heavy on information.

[Read more →]

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Posted in: Psychosocial

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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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?

[Read more →]

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Hot Plates for Slow Eating

January 14th, 2011 · No Comments

When I eat too fast, I eat too much. I knew that, but until now I haven’t been able to help it.

Now Juan Ramirez has come to my help. In March I wrote here about “Eating Too Fast” and some of the strategies I use. After that article, Juan wrote me about his invention to help us slow down at the table.

When we eat slowly, we can avoid overeating and therefore can control our diabetes better. But some of us eat fast because we like our meals to be hot rather than lukewarm. I know that’s my excuse.

Now, however, the great food cool off is no longer inevitable. I know this because I bought one of the “HotSmart Gourmet Plates” that Juan Ramirez invented and wrote me about.

“I am pre-diabetic myself and I am convinced that eating slowly works to avoid overeating, preventing obesity and type 2 diabetes,” Juan emailed me. “My heat-retentive plates keep food warm, need only one minute preheating, and stay hot for more than 30 minutes. The rim stays always cool for safe easy handling with your bare hands.”

This message grabbed my attention. I had to have one, but when Juan wrote me, he had one little problem. He was sold out of them at that time.

Recently he wrote to tell me that he was caught up with demand, and Amazon.com now has them in stock. “All you have to do is type HotSmart in the main page for all departments.” Or you can go to Amazon’s direct link for HotSmart Gourmet Plates.

Two of Juan’s websites explain the HotSmart plate in more detail. They are HotSmart Gourmet Plates and Lose Weight By Eating Slowly.

As soon as I got Juan’s message that Amazon had his plates back in stock I ordered one. Amazon sells them for $18.85 each.

Since then I have made a point of using my HotSmart plate for every hot meal that I eat now. It really works for keeping my food hot and keeping me from gobbling it down.

My guess is that like me you may have the secret little vice of eating too fast. If you do, eating off a HotSmart plate can help. While it won’t force you to slow down, it will take away any excuse you made to yourself to bolt your food down the hatch.

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

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Diabetes Support in Korea

November 30th, 2010 · 3 Comments

When Jeongkwan (Brian) Lee of the i-SENS planning division introduced me to Cheol Jean, Brian called him “the Korean David Mendosa.” Brian was being too generous to me.

Both of us have written about diabetes for years and have organized diabetes support groups. But Cheol Jean, whose business cards reads as Charlie Jean to make it easier for Westerners, has written four books about diabetes — twice as many as I have — and founded and leads a much larger diabetes support group.

Charlie Jean and I Meet

Brian and I arrived in Busan, Korea, on Sunday evening on the bullet train from Seoul. We are here to participate in the Eighth International Congress of the International Diabetes Federation’s Western Pacific Region at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO).

I will be covering the IDF meeting for HealthCentral from Monday through Wednesday. About 3,000 people are here for the meeting in Busan, mainly from Korea, Japan, Canada, and Australia.

I am old enough to have remembered this now vibrant city from the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter. In August and September 1950 North Korean forces drove back the UN Command, which included thousands of American troops, and South Korean forces — together with millions of refugees — to the extreme southeast corner of the country around the port of Pusan. [Read more →]

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Promises to Myself

November 4th, 2010 · 1 Comment

I’m getting desperate. I’m stuck. To completely control my diabetes I know that I have to control my weight.

Like Robert Frost, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

Today I make these promises to myself:

I promise to take or accept no snacks at supermarkets or my barbershop — not even meat or cheese.

I promise not to buy any food that doesn’t fit my eating plan.

I promise not to buy any food, no matter how good for me, that I can’t resist eating too much of, like macadamia nuts.

I promise to eat no more than I usually eat at home when I eat a meal out.

I promise to drink one liter of water before every meal.

I promise to eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime.

I promise not to eat anything after dinner.

I promise not to eat any dairy (except for the one container of Greek yogurt now in my refrigerator).

I promise not to eat any grain or potatoes.

I promise not to eat any sucrose or fructose — not even spicy chai sweetened with honey (except the fructose that occurs naturally in up to one serving of fruit per day).

I promise not to use any oil with an unfavorable omega 3:6 ratio (except extra virgin olive oil).

Each of these public promises is binding on myself, David Mendosa, at least until I have lost the six more pounds that I want to lose so that I can get back down to a BMI of 19.5.

I promise to report back here when I have reached my ideal weight and that I kept these promises to do so.

Do you want to make any promises — either public or private — to help promote your weight loss and better health?

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

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Posted in: Diabetes Diet

Visualize Yourself

November 4th, 2010 · No Comments

My friend Jay has type 2 diabetes and is a member of the diabetes support group that meets every month in my apartment. But he is also a primary care physician, and almost half his patients have diabetes.

Jay is therefore uniquely qualified to help us. At the most recent meeting of our support group we were already  running overtime. But it was Jay’s turn to speak, and he wanted to share with us the “shock treatment” that he uses with his new patients who have diabetes. I’m glad that he did and that I can share this treatment with you.

Jay starts by explaining that diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease are the three main silent killers. Because they usually don’t offer us any advance warning of the hidden damage that they do to our bodies, these diseases are truly insidious.

Then, he suddenly turns off the lights in the windowless office. “Visualize yourself 15 years from now,” he says. “This is what you might be seeing then, if you don’t control your diabetes.”

This is Jay’s shock treatment. But any technique that will get us to open our eyes to the consequences of uncontrolled diabetes is better than none, he says.

Jay asked each of the members of our support group to look in the mirror each morning and visualize ourselves 15 years later. For me this gave me one more piece of encouragement to eat right, stay slim, and exercise so I will still be able to see my face in the mirror 15 years from now when I will be 90. If I’m still around then, I hope to continue seeing a computer monitor so I that I will still be able to write you.

As Jay left my apartment that day, I took him aside and told him that I already could visualize his shock treatment. My ophthalmologist had just told me after my semiannual checkup that I have two small micro-aneurysms in my left eye that he hadn’t seen before.

Jay’s shock treatment worked especially well because I was already shocked. Micro-aneurysms can lead to diabetic retinopathy, which can, of course, lead to blindness, the complication of diabetes that I have always dreaded the most.

Now I have even more incentive to keep my A1C level in the low 5 range, if not down to 4.5, which is my goal. I hope that you don’t need any more incentives to control your own diabetes.

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

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications

Standing Up for Your Heart

August 30th, 2010 · 4 Comments

You don’t have to exercise to help your heart. Sure, exercise will probably make your heart last longer, but it’s not the only thing you can do to avoid the biggest complication of diabetes.

Just standing up — otherwise known as giving your butt a rest — now seems to work independently of physical activity to reduce your chance of dying from heart disease. A new study that the American Journal of Epidemiology published online in advance of print on July 22 indicates that the less leisure time we spend sitting the better it is for our hearts.

You can read the abstract of the study, “Leisure Time Spent Sitting in Relation to Total Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of US Adults,” online. The lead author, Alpa Patel, Ph.D., of the American Cancer Society’s epidemiology research program, sent my the full-text of the study when I requested it.

Dr. Patel and seven of her associates explored the connection between sitting and mortality by analyzing the survey responses of 123,216 people who had no history of cancer, heart attack, stroke, or emphysema or other lung diseases. These were people who enrolled in the American Cancer Society’s 1992 Cancer Prevention II study.

The researchers examined how much time those people sat down after work as well as how much exercise they got between 1993 and 2006. The results were clear.
How much time they spent sitting was associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease for both men and women. Women — but not men — who sat less had a smaller risk of dying from cancer.

Women who reported that they sat for more than six hours a day during their leisure time versus those who sat for fewer than three hours a day had a 37 percent higher death rate from all causes. For men it was about 18 percent higher.  After adjusting for the amount of physical activity these people got, the researchers found that the association remained virtually unchanged.

But when people sat more and exercised less, the difference was even greater. Women had a 94 percent highr death rate from all causes. For men it was 48 percent higher.

“Several factors could explain the positive association between time spent sitting and higher all-cause death rates,” Dr. Patel says. “Prolonged time spent sitting, independent of physical activity, has been shown to have important metabolic consequences, and may influence things like triglycerides, high density lipoprotein, cholesterol, fasting plasma glucose, resting blood pressure, and leptin, which are biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.” [Read more →]

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Posted in: Diabetes Complications

Natural Vitality

July 13th, 2010 · No Comments

“Often when we feel depleted, we reach for a cup of coffee,” says Dr. Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, “but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.”

He is the lead author of a series of studies that the Journal of Environmental Psychology just published in this June 2010 issue. I asked him to send me a PDF of the full-text of his research report, “Vitalizing effects of being outdoors and in nature,” and he did. You can find the abstract online.

Instead of coffee, I restore my energy by going out for a hike. In fact, one of the most popular parts of my website is my blog of photo essays, “Fitness and Photography for Fun.”

Certainly, physical activity makes us feel better. Staying fit is indeed one of the four legs that those of us with diabetes have to keep our blood glucose levels down in the normal range (the other three legs are diet, reducing stress and inflammation, and usually taking oral medication or insulin).

Over the years I have written many articles extolling the benefits of exercise. Some of those articles say how much better I feel after going out for a hike.


Nature This Morning

That’s all true. But these new studies for the first time have teased out the effects of being out in nature alone from the feel-good effects that we get from physical activity and from the socializing that we often get at the same time.

Dr. Ryan and his co-authors were able to separate out the effects of nature alone. To do so they conducted five separate experiments with 537 of the usual suspects — college students.

What they found was so clear, Dr. Ryan says, that “being outside in nature for just 20 minutes in a day was enough to significantly boost vitality levels.” The Journal of Environmental Psychology article defines vitality as having physical and mental energy giving us a sense of enthusiasm, aliveness, and energy.

When we have a greater sense of vitality we not only have more energy to do the things that we want to do but were are also more resilient to physical illnesses. “One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings,” he says.

I’m not knocking physical activity. Most of us who have diabetes need to get up and out a lot more. If you aren’t getting out yet, this beautiful late spring weather is a great time to start. I’m saying that getting our physical activity outdoors in nature gives us two for the price of one.

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

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Posted in: Psychosocial

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