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Diabetes Diet, Exercise For Diabetes

The New York Times: “Is Sugar Toxic?”

In 1961 I started to read The New York Times when I went to work in Washington. But its magazine always disappointed me.

Until Sunday. This week’s issue focuses on “Health and Wellness 2011.” All four of the magazine’s main articles are essential reading for everyone.

The cover story by Gary Taubes, “Is Sugar Toxic?,” makes the case against sugar. This isn’t his first time to tilt at the medical establishment in this magazine. Nine years ago his article, “What if It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?,” began his crusade to expose the myth that fat was bad and carbohydrates are good.

His 2007 book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, built on that article so well that it convinced me and thousands of others to follow a very low-carb diet. In “Addicted to Carbs” I wrote here three years ago about how that book changed my life. With his book, Why We Get Fat: and What to Do About It, Taubes takes his argument to a wider, non-scientific audience.

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Social Media Summit

Getting together with 35 other people who have diabetes and write about it online is one of the best things about my work. I just returned home from a full day at the second annual Social Media Summit sponsored by Roche Diabetes Care. I still find myself invigorated by having spent hours in the company of so many passionate people.

Four of the 36 bloggers at the summit came from one organization — HealthCentral. Gretchen Becker posts here, Ginger Vieira posts here, Kerri Sparling posts here, and I post here.

Gretchen, Ginger, Kerri, and David

The combined passion for better diabetes care surfaced most intensely when our eight hosts from Roche brought in representatives from the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators to tell us what they were doing. If they had any idea of the number, range, and intensity of the comments that were going hit them, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had declined to com.

On the other hand, we responded positively to our hosts, led by Lisa N. Huse, the director of strategic initiatives for Roche Diabetes Care. This company offers blood glucose meters, including the AccuChek Aviva, which I reviewed for Diabetes Health magazine, as well as insulin pumps. After welcoming us and giving each of us the chance to introduce ourselves Twitter-style in 140 words or fewer, Lisa briefly reviewed her company’s progress in the year since its first annual Social Media Summit, which I also took part in and reviewed here.

Last year Roche began in earnest to reach out to the diabetes community with that first meeting with those of us who write about diabetes. That effort was a good start, although of the 29 of us, only two of us represented the overwhelming number of people with diabetes who have type 2. I couldn’t count how many type 2s took part in this year’s event, although the number increased to include at least five or us. I was also pleased to note a much more representative number of people of color.

In the intervening year Roche started at least two major initiatives, which Lisa mentioned in her introductory remarks. The first is the Diabetes Care Project, which is a coalition of like-minded organizations focusing on improving the care of people with diabetes. Founded by the National Minority Quality Forum and Roche in partnership with the American Association of Diabetes Educators and Healthways Inc., the group’s website is the Diabetes Care Project.

The second big outreach to people with diabetes that Roche made between the two summits is the Genentech/Roche Diabetes Patient Member Research Community. This is a group of 300 people with type 2 diabetes is a private, by-invitation-only group representing Roche’s customer base. They provide the company with feedback about their concerns and what they want. By working with these people, Roche is able to learn about their customers’ lifestyles, mindsets, attitudes, fears, and passions.

In several ways the best part of this year’s event was Roche’s emphasis on the accuracy of blood glucose meters. The low standards of accuracy we have has long been my biggest concern with testing our blood glucose levels, one that I have written about many times. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also become concerned, as I wrote here a year ago.

The “Accuracy Activity” led by leading blogger Amy Tenderich, who writes at Diabetes Mine, and Todd Siesky, the new public relations chief for Roche Diabetes Care, was both fun and informative. We broke up into small groups where we debated what standards of accuracy we wanted at the two given levels — below and above 75 mg/dl. The activity forcefully brought home to me that we had to work with trade-offs and that we couldn’t hope for perfect accuracy.

Last year we met at Roche’s American headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. This year we travelled to Orlando, where we met at the Orlando World Center Marriott in a tropical resort setting. Of course, summer weather in Central Florida is hot and humid, but we never had to leave the hotel except to take the limos that Roche laid on for us to and from the Orlando Airport, which must be one of the most beautiful in the world.

We met just after the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting, also in Orlando, which I had decided to skip this year, mostly because I didn’t want to subject myself to Florida’s summer weather. But I couldn’t resist Roche’s invitation to its second annual Social Media Summit at the same place. Roche brought off the event without a hitch. Of course, I hope they choose a cooler location next year.

The Whole Group of Us Had Fun

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

Diabetes Testing

New Way to Control Glycemic Variability

The A1C is certainly the gold standard to see how well we are controlling our diabetes. But even gold isn’t good enough for us.

The A1C doesn’t show our glycemic variability. For those of us who have our blood glucose levels under reasonably good control, our glycemic excursions are even more important than our average level.

A low A1C level can mask a lot of lows and highs. The experts call these hypos and hypers “glycemic variability” or “glycemic excursions.” Our level can be all over the place, while our A1C looks fine.
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Diabetes Diet

The “Fat Head” Movie

Whatever you believe about the best diet to control diabetes, this new documentary “Fat Head” is bound to shake up those beliefs. I have been studying and trying to practice good nutrition for years, and even so, some parts of it disturbed me. Still, most of it delighted me. This is a funny movie.

About half way through I almost stopped watching. “Fat Head” was beginning to look like a movie in praise of fast food.

A guy named Tom Naughton wrote, directed, and starred in this 104 minute film. Like Morgan Spurlock in his 2004 documentary “Super Size Me,” Naughton lived on fast food for a month. But unlike Spurlock, Naughton lost weight.
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Diabetes Medication

Avoiding Flu Vaccine Toxicity

When I recommended here a month ago that we all get vaccinated against influenza this year, I had no idea how much controversy it would stir up. Some of the concerns are legitimate, but we have alternatives. Other concerns stem from irresponsible rants on the Internet that I’ve traced back to a totally discredited South Carolina doctor.

My article here last month jumped the gun. I knew that the flu authorities at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wanted to talk with me so that I could help get the word out. But since CDC and the Health Central Network weren’t able to work out the arrangement in time, I wrote then because the flu season was already upon us.
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