Featured Interview

My guest is Chrystal from L.A.. She is just one of many positive diabetics making a huge difference in the diabetes community. She is a chemist, and diabetic activist. After Chrystal's diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in November 2007, she created SexyDiabetic.com; and donates a good portion of her time connecting and sharing experiences, both inside and outside the online diabetic communities.

Chrystal has shared with us her personal experiences living with diabetes; her role in the diabetic community; some of her current diabetic project she's working on during black history month.

We talked about some of the struggles we we face, getting the African American communities and all other people of color educated on the dangers of diabetes; as well as the fears and discrimination that still exist for diabetics today.

Click here to listen with your default media player

Richard A. Vaugn

For 2012 I thought it would be wonderful to start the year off with a positive interview!

My guest is Richard A Vaughn. He has written an awesome book called "Beating The Odds - 64 years of Diabetes Health". In this book, he takes us on a journey through his diabetic life.

From the moment he was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 6, all the way up through completing his masters degree, @ a time when people thought diabetics shouldn't go to college (because diabetes was considered a disability then).

Richard also talks about his wonderful family and grand children, in addition to participating in the Joslin Medalist Study, funded by the JDRF & National Institute of health..

Richard is definitely an inspiration to us all. He has showed us insulin dependent people, how to live healthy emotionally & physically by example, with either no, or the least amount of complications possible; coming from a time when life expectancy for a diabetic was no later than 40 years old.


Click here to listen with your default audio player!


You can purchase Richard's book by clicking on the graphic of his book below.

February 2019
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Diabetic PlayList


What's in your headphones? We all know how important exercise is to any diabetic, however, the music you exercise to is also just as important too! Music can make the difference between a 3 minute workout, and a 30 minute workout. Personally, I am an oldies guy, and my musical tastes are pretty eclectic and diverse. The above playlist consist of music I am listening to on my Anddroid when I exercise or power-walk. As my mood changes, so shall the playlist.


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Yes girl!! I can relate, tell it like it is!! Thanks Ginger for another great video as always. After my viewers watch this video, you’ll quickly realize why the last thing an insulin dependent person needs, is someone’s unsolicited advice. Some diabetics go through a lot more than just eating vegetables to keep our diabetes in check. LOL..

SinceWhat sort of changes have you made since your diagnosis? How long did it take for you to get used to your new regimen? You know, we should know by now there is no such thing as a “diabetic diet”; however, I guess in some ways knowing this can make a newly diagnosed person even more confused, in terms of trying to figure out what to eat once they’ve learned he/she is diabetic.

Right off the bat, without knowing any technicalities about the contents of food & it’s relationship to diabetes, we know that eating less, portion control, in addition to staying active has always been the key. Regardless as to what type of diabetes you have; or what triggered your diabetes. Whether you are Black, White, Jewish, Asian, etc, not one sole on this planet has genetic immunity to diabetes. Which reminds me (before diabetes became an epidemic), I’ve actually met an individual years ago, who actually said to me “We Jewish people don’t get diabetes because we eat kosher”. Well, I just rolled my eyes. LOL. I can assure you, not only do Jewish diabetics exist (both type 1 & 2), but I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a couple of Orthodox Jews who are diabetic. If your not out here socializing in the diabetic communities you’d never see this.

Guys, seriously, I don’t mean to get off track, but, even if your one of those people that still think that only a particular race/ethnicity gets certain illnesses (like blacks only get type 2 diabetes); all I can say to respond is, LOOK AROUND YOU!! I mean seriously look at people around you. Today we have more interracial relationships than we’ve ever had before. Those interracial relationships eventually become interracial parents, who will then eventually have interracial children. You seriously don’t think that at any point in time genetic material will not possibly be passed on? Hello? Is the light on in the neighbor’s house? Hmmm, maybe the biggest change that needs to happen first, is this labeling people love to do when it comes to diabetes?

getty_rf_photo_of_insulin_injectionOnce my diabetes was made official, I wasted no time in learning all there was to learn. Later on realizing I was loosing my sight, it made it even more difficult and scary. Looking back in retrospect, there were so many influences that try to make you  buy exercise equipment (for example) that “works”, equipment that most of us don’t have room for. We’ve so quickly forgotten about all the other healthy exercise we can do without equipment, and free. Like walking! So many under estimate it’s power. I’m not kidding guys, most of you already have smart phones. Learn how to use the GPS feature of your phone. It’s a lot of fun walking to new places. Take a different train route, ride it for a couple of stops, and use your GPS to walk your way home. It’s a lot of fun. This winter really put a damper on my walking exercise. However, as soon as it starts getting warm again, the disco will be pumping in my ear once again, and away I go. LOL.

We all get those nasty sugar cravings every once in a while. It is ok for a diabetic to enjoy a treat once in a while, so long you don’t over do it. People always trying to find that one “magic diet”, sorry but girrrrl there is none! To be perfectly honest, the key is to try NOT to be glutenous. Point blank. If you keep giving yourself several insulin shots 4 hours after your meal, that’s a clue you’ve probably ate to much (or your insulin needs to be adjusted).

What I like to do is, find the smallest package of “naughty treats” possible. For example, if I have a taste for donuts, I try and look for the small tiny pack rather than a box; then you can also share it with your friends, family members, children, etc, so your not tempted to eat more than you should. I also like to eat “naughty treats” with tea. Speaking for myself, if I eat a small amount of a “naughty treat” SLOWLY along with any warm liquid, such as tea, I am much more satisfied and don’t have a need to over indulge on additional portions.

black-family-exercisingAnother major change I’ve made was to cut down on rice and pasta. I had absolutely no idea how those to things effected my blood sugar until I became diabetic. This sometimes can be a pain sometimes, because if you order out, here in NYC they usually pile so much rice on your plate it’s not even funny.

Some of you may cringe when I say this but…. What has helped me also is, learning to throw food away. When I was young, we were taught never to waste food; so as an adult it became difficult changing the way I thought in terms of diabetes. We are always tempted to finish all of our meals even if the portions are too much; largely because we don’t want to waste our money. However, as I diabetic, I found it many times to be  necessary when ordering out. Ok, I’ve written too much already.. LOL What changes have YOU made since your diagnosis?

© 2013 DiabeticRadio.com / Yogi

This video talks about what i’ve been saying for years, “false hope”, or “miracle cures”. You MUST not stop your medication unless a doctor tells you to, or if you have severe side effects from a particular medication. The video also cover “SCAMS” in the media, confusing diabetics around the world. In a nutshell, the three people in this video says to study, read, and be informed. Never assume anything. Don’t jump up and down and get happy, just because a package says “cure” on it. And if you still don’t understand there is no “cure” for diabetes yet, she also says it in spanish too.


Hey guys,

Throughout each month, I receive all kinds of up-to-date diabetic news from various sources; including but not limited to, the diabetic community, health E-zines, health magazines, diabetes magazines, etc, etc. The latest buzz in the diabetes world, is the new and long awaited device called iBGStar. iBGStar is a small new device (now approved for the U.S.) that connects directly to your iTouch or iPhone and tracks your blood sugar history! That’s right folks! Unfortunately, because I don’t own an itouch or iphone I can’t give you a review. However, from what I’ve read, it really looks pretty cool.

The unit is developed by a company called Sanofi Diabetes, who also makes Lantus and Apidra. iBGStar requires absolutely no coding, the test strips are average priced, and asks for only 0.5 microliter sample of blood (about the same size that FreeStyle meter asks for). It stores about 300 blood results on the unit itself, and stores additional glucose data on your iPhone. It works with the iBGStar iphone application that needs to be downloaded and installed on your iPhone. The application cane be found in the itunes store of course. The software also allows you to create and view various charts to see your overall diabetes management. It’s also a great way to show your doctor, or health care team “on the fly” how your blood sugars are doing.

Have you ever had to deal with a doctor that loves to nitpick? You know, those doctors who only focus on the one or two high’s in your blood sugar log? I don’t know about you, but if my doctor ever complained about a really high blood sugar, 9 times out of ten, I’m not gonna remember why it happened. Well, another good feature on their iPhone app (which is slowly becoming standard) is that it allows you to attach “reasons” or default “tags for your blood sugars. These “tags” allow you to put a reason as to why your blood sugar was high AT A PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME. Example, if one moment your blood sugar was high, you can select “forgot insulin”, or “heavy workout”. Or maybe your sugars were high for almost a week? Then you can select “sick” or “health” indicating during that time you were not well, there for you had elevated blood sugar.

Just a personal note concerning this kind of strict diabetes management. If you choose to tightly manage your glucose control using the chart method, I implore you to not only learn, but make a habit of frequently backing-up your glucose data from your iPhone to your computer, by exporting your data files. From experience, even with my ipod I’ve had to restore it a couple of times. It’s just a fact of computer life that when you use a device that requires software in order to function, once in a blue moon, you may be faced with having to restore, or reset that unit, if this happens, all you data will be lost if your not backing up. However, if you just want to use this unit to simply get a reading, you don’t need to back-up, in fact, you don’t even need your iPhone, it will work standalone. I am so exited that there are many products coming out that will make diabetes sooo much easier. For more information about the iBGStar monitor click here

© 2012 DiabeticRadio.com / Yogi

Awesome advice Ginger!! You always give great videos. I wish more of us would come out and talk about diabetes.

The above video illustrates the extreme lack of diabetic awareness in the medical community. Very rare do you hear another doctor address any issues with the medical clinics and hospitals, not only lack of diabetic knowledge, but poor medical procedures for diabetics going in to surgery.

Another great video from Dr. Edelman; he confirms what I’ve been saying throughout my blog, that in essence “moderation is the key”. Don’t take your freedom away to live your life, by listening to people who don’t have diabetes. So long as you test on a regular basis, and you work to have a better understanding of the impact of fats, carbs, sugars, protein, fiber, as well as other nutrients (rather then forbidding yourself to have particular foods), you can successfully live a healthy diabetic life.

Some great real life tips on traveling with type 1 diabetes. This video is a diamond in the ruff; very detailed information.

A very informative video on how to appropriately and safely exercise while on insulin. This is a very important video, because it talks about one of they many thing few people comprehend about diabetes. Also, after watching, you will understand how important it is to test your blood sugar all the time.


Jim Turner asks the question: What People Know & Don’t Know About Diabetes??



1. My non-diabetic friend accepts all of me, including my diabetes.

2. My non-diabetic friends never make blanket assumptions about my diabetes or me.

3. My non-diabetic friends truly listens to me when they ASK about my diabetes.

4. My non-diabetic friends are great to share food with, when controlling sugars!

5. My non-diabetic friends are informed about my diabetes, and know when I need help.

6. My non-diabetic friends know that diabetes is only part of who I am.

7. My non-diabetic friends are mindful of insensitive comments, especially in public.

8. My non-diabetic friends NEVER try and force THEIR way of healthy living.

9. My non-diabetic friends understands that EACH AND EVERY DIABETIC IS DIFFERENT!

10. My non-diabetic friends understand that a syringe does not mean I am a drug addict.

11. My non-diabetic friends laugh with me and not @ me.

12. My non-diabetic friends are interested in learning more about diabetes together.

13. My non-diabetic friends participate in the very things they recommend.

14. My non-diabetic friends…………….. (you fill in the rest)




This is a great video for non-diabetics. What not to say to a diabetic, if you love them or respect them..

Well, I had a loooong overdue eye exam about a week ago. I also really needed a new pair of glasses, so I wanted to kill two birds with one stone. We all should try our best to get our eye exam at least once a year. This time around, I decided to go to a local LensCrafters in my area.  I must say that, I am extremely impressed with the unmatched level of customer service, expertise & professionalism. Each and every single employee @ the location I was in, was  absolutely awesome!! From the sales staff, to the techs/doctor really did a wonderful job. I am really pleased with both my check-up experience, the follow-up, and my new glasses.  I will most definitely do business with them again!

Thanks to my good blood sugar control, my eyes are still healthy 5 years after my surgeries. For the exam, they used very hi-tech equipment I’ve never seen before. One device used, tested my peripheral vision (I think) using tiny lights. Each time I saw a light flash, I had to click a button on a hand-held controller. It seemed more like a fun video game after a while :-) . Their computers are so sophisticated that,  it even -re-calculated my correct vision, despite my implants! In other words, it compensated for the 90-95% of vision I am getting already from the implant automatically.


They also used a machine to scan a 3 dimensional image of the back of my eyes. The scan generated a hi-resolution scan that was detailed enough, to clearly show my blood vessels behind my eyes. The scan showed no sign of broken/bleeding blood vessels, or retina detachment. My eye pressure is in normal range :-) .

When getting eyes checked, diabetics need to see an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.  Even with all the cool technologies I’ve experienced, we still need to have our eyes dilated, so that the doctor can see our eyes up close! It is the best way for the doctor to spot any potential problems in the future.

A few key points:

  • Poor eye pressure (prolonged) is one of the many high risk factors for glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of several diseases that gradually, and irreversibly, cause the loss of sight. Permanently. There is no cure for Glaucoma. It is possible to stop the progression via medication, early detection, and controlling your blood sugars!! There are no symptoms for glaucoma, so it is important to check your eyes yearly. Click on the glaucoma simulator, to see what it looks like.


  •  Retinal detachment often occurs, when you have high levels of blood sugar (for long periods of time), that eventually cause the blood vessels to burst/break, and leak blood, causing the retina to detach from the eye. This causes permanent loss of sight. There is no cure, or correction for retina detachment. However, you can try and prevent the further progression of  detachment via early detection & laser surgery. Talk to your Ophthalmologist for more information. Click on the retinal detachment simulator, to see what it looks like.


  • Cataracts are mostly caused by consistent high levels of fluid & protein in the eyes. These high levels of fluid in the eyes are often caused by frequent high blood sugars. Before I got cataracts, I always assumed that cataracts was ONLY the result, of the natural aging process. I since learned that any one, at any age can develop cataracts; it is even possible for infants to be born with cataracts. In short, If the fluid in our eyes are not controlled (by maintaining good blood sugar), all the fluids along with the protein stains our natural lens. When our natural lens becomes stained with protein, our vision gradually turns white. There is a misconception that cataracts are corrected with a laser procedure, this is false (at least at this moment and time). The only way to correct cataracts, is to surgically remove the cataract/natural lens, and replace it with an implant. There is no “cure” for cataracts. The only time laser is used in terms of cataracts, is when a small membrane sometimes develops a few years after the surgery. This membrane sometimes causes a slight fuzziness in vision. If this happens, the surgeon will make a small a tiny whole near the implant (using laser technology), so that the membrane can drain. Once this procedure is done, you should not have any further problems (so long as your blood sugar is under control). Talk to your doctor for more information. If you would like to see a cataract simulation, click here.. Just a side note, my cataracts was much worse than the actual simulation. I eventually became color blind, and lost my dept perception and peripheral vision. I say this not to scare my readers, but to impress the importance of NOT TO PROCRASTINATE. You absolutely can not pray cataracts away. My cataracts would have NEVER gotten as bad as it did, had I had the right team of doctors, and the right hospitals from the get go. I don’t know how to make it any clearer……. TAKE CARE OF YOUR BLOOD SUGARS!!! If I can do it, I know you guys can do it.

One last point I would like to make, it does make a difference where you go to get your glasses and check up. The last place I’ve gone to, set my bifocals so far down the lenses, that it was a strain to read. I often had to wear two different glasses because of it. However, LensCrafters has done such a great job, my reading feels much more comfortable now. I really do appreciate both their patience & the time they’ve all taken to help me. It’s not often you find employees that would go out of their way to help a customer.

When is YOUR next eye appointment?

© 2011 DiabeticRadio.com

My X-Ray

I thought that maybe it would be a good idea, to once again, go over the importance of all diabetics taking good care of our feet.

Last week I accidentally injured my foot, by stepping on a piece of broken glass (unnoticed), just after getting out the shower. The broken glass came from a picture frame that fell about a week prior. I pulled out the one piece (so I thought) that caused my injury. However, I still felt pain a few minutes after I tried to walk. Obviously, I knew that there was a more than likely chance, that some glass I could not see remained in my foot. Once I realize that their might be still a problem, I found a podiatrist as quickly as  I could.

Long story short, the doctor pulled out about 3 additional, very tiny, and very thin pieces of that same broken glass. The doctor also was kind enough to give me a copy of my X-Rays shown above. He explained to me that today, many manufactures produce glass with only 1 layer, instead of 2. The problem with this is that, because the particular class I injured myself with only had one layer, it did not show up on any of my X-Rays. So, fortunately for me, the tiny pieces of glass was close enough to my foot’s surfice/skin, that he could manually get them all out.

The good part of this whole experience is that, because my sugars are in good control, my foot is healing well (slow, but well). Also, the injection the doctor used to numb my foot, hurt sooooo much like a #@%$#^%$, that I know I don’t have any signs of neuropathy :-) . Taking care of our blood sugars is such a key part to hour diabetic health.  Had I ignored my injury, and ignored my blood sugars, this could have turned in to a very nasty infection.

So what’s the moral of the story? No matter how well we think we are careful, sometimes s**t still happens anyway, and it is always good to have a game plan in place, and not procrastinate, or assume anything. Below are some tips:

  • Have your doctor check your feet at least twice a year or more.
  • If you cannot bend to inspect your foot, ask a friend or family member to help you.
  • Large and uncontrolled callus, as well as excessively long toe nails can also cause yourself possible injury.
  • It’s a good idea to let your foot doctor shave your callus (if any), instead of your pedicurist. Your doctor can often see things your pedicurist will not.
  • Calluses that are thicker and larger than normal, or ofter callus that forms a crater in the middle of itself, could indicate an old injury, and you may still have a foreign object under that callus. You must see a doctor at this point (just to verify).
  • Keeping your feet well moisturized, can help reduce the a mount of callus.
  • Epsom salt is a great and cheap alternative to relaxing your feet muscles. Ask your doctor if Epsom salt is right for you.
  • Always were soft and comfortable shoes and sneakers whenever possible.
  • Purchase footwear that have good arch support.
  • Be extremely careful wearing open-toe slippers out in the street & subways. Your toes are now exposed with  no protection.
  • Keep toe nails to a reasonable length.
  • It is safer to allow a doctor to work with ingrown toe nails. If not treated correctly can result in infection.
  • Keep in mind that, our feet are the one part of our bodies that get the most abused. pamper your feet whenever possible.

As with any doctor, you should always ask your podiatrist any questions you need answered, no matter how embarrassing it may seem. Your feet is one of the most important parts of our bodies, especially to a diabetic.

© 2011 DiabeticRadio.com


"350+ million people have diabetes around the world. Will you be the next to be pre-diagnosed? Why are we still ashamed? Why is there such an imbalance of understanding when ever the subject of diabetes comes up?"

Diabetes invokes many different feelings in some people. There are those that go ballistic @ even the mere thought of having diabetes; some make an automatic assumption that their life is doomed; some make a conscious effort to ignore it, as though “mind-over-matter” will cure them; others really want to learn how to take care of themselves immediately after diagnosis; and the rest of us either don’t know where to get answers, or are just simply not motivated to get them.

I truly believe there exist a Ying & Yang to just about everything in life. While diabetes has the potential to devastate any one’s life, there were many unexpected life lessons I received as a result of having this disease.

  • Having a deeper appreciation for this complex machine called the human body.
  • The consistent need for updated diabetic education.
  • Who are your friends, and who are not.
  • Who is out for your best interest, and who just want to hear themselves talk.
  • Having diabetes is a perfect opportunity for our friends, and loved one’s to feel needed.
  • How much effort it takes to not only live healthier, but think healthier, 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
  • The enormous amount of discipline that is required. The average person would not be able to handle testing their blood 3-4 times daily. Yet there’s an insatiable need for people to give us advice ALL THE TIME…
  • Watching people’s face get contorted, once they’ve witnessed me take out a needle. They often look in disgust, yet they can’t turn their head’s away, cause they’re still intrigued to watch someone inject. 
  • Feeling entitled to a burn out every now and then.
  • Drama exist everywhere, even in the diabetic communities. Who’s got it worse, type 1 or 2? Arrrghh.
  • At times, it seams as though diabetes has become more like politics & religion; too often we can’t always talk about it in a group setting, without having at least one non-diabetic, pissing off an actual diabetic by the end of the discussion :-) . This is usually due to various levels of diabetic understanding & comprehension. So much gets lost in the translation, and personal interpretation.
  • Its amazing how people feel they know your whole life history, simply by saying diabetes!
  • People will learn diabetes when they are ready, but usually it’s after a diabetic complication.
  • And the list goes on, and on, and on….. 

I think in addition to what I’ve mentioned above, the top lesson I’ve learned is, not to be ashamed, and to not allow people to try and make me ashamed because I have diabetes!! Or any other part of me for that matter. There are so many people we come in contact in our daily lives, that for whatever reason, that organ that sits between their ears never clicks; and or the light-bulb in their head simply stays unplugged all the time.

When it comes to insulin, I have made a choice not to hide in any bathroom, closet, hallway, stairwell, alleyway, street corner, boondocks, under a car, phone booth, gate, behind a fire-hydrant, back of a sofa, behind a bush, a forest, or whatever, just so that I don’t “offend”people when I inject. I am not a freak, drug addict, or a hideous mutant!! I am a human being that happens to have diabetes. Insulin is what keeps my body healthier, it keeps my sugars @ safe levels, and will help keep me alive longer with the least amount (if any) of  long-term or short-term complications. I am perfectly capable of handling my own D life myself, in MY OWN WAY!! if I need your opinion, I will ask for it.

You know, now that I look back at my whole ordeal, I have learned a LOT about diabetes, how my body works, etc; and together with new computer technologies, diabetes is so much more easier to manage. I’d think it’s safe to say that, for most diabetics, the biggest challenge is not so much the diabetes itself, but the kinds of support systems he have. In addition to living our daily lives with diabetes in mind, we also have the “diabetes police” (our friends, families, care takers, co-workers, and sometimes even strangers) that consistently police our diabetic activities.

The problem with the diabetic police (also sometimes called type 3, because they experience diabetes indirectly through us), is that they often don’t seek diabetic information, other than the little tidbits they’ve picked up over the years. The diabetic police often try to help us using emotional intelligence, instead of factual intelligence. You can’t really use emotional intelligence, until you know the facts about a disease your trying to help with.

There is such a fine line. Sometimes I still find it very difficult to deal with pushy loved ones, and pushy friends who really care for me, (and at some point) not feel forced to be rude in order to keep my “personal diabetic space”. Diabetes is a personal journey that THAT individual diabetic must walk alone. It is a wonderful feeling to know people care; however, when you impose your non-medically trained opinions, to a person who actually lives their lives with diabetes 24/day, you actually can make it harder for us. If you want to help us, ask what we’d like you to do, instead of preach that which you may not fully understand.

Diabetes is not just a disease, it’s also a lifestyle, a way of life. Diabetes is with us for the rest of our lives. We can curse it, yell at it, ignore it, or deny it; but the fact remains, its with us for life. Don’t see diabetes as a chore, see it as a disease that has helped most of us to become, one of the most discipline group of people ever known; see it as a new way of life that allows you to truly gauge & control the future of your own health, regardless of what people “think”your doing wrong.

© 2011 Diabeticradio.com / Yogi

In the last couple of years, I’ve given the subject of diabetes a lot of thought. I just can’t get past one important question of mine. If we are currently in the age of “super technology” in regards to medicine, the Internet in regards to social networking, & communications in regards to television, news media, & phones), then why is it that so many people know less now about diabetes than ever before? Are organizations such as the ADA (American Diabetes Association), JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), Dlife (Diabetes Life), etc., doing enough to educate the masses outside the World Wide Web? Is it because billions of homes still don’t have Internet access, or even a computer in order to get this valuable information? Or is it that people just don’t wanna know, until they are finally faced with diabetes in their own lives?

About 30 years ago, I remember an organization called RIF (Reading Is Fundamental), which still exist today. As a child in the late 70’s early 80’s, I remember they had huge campaigns to get children to read more, and encourage them to get library cards. They also had special tutoring programs for grown adults who could not read. We don’t hear from them anymore, and i’m sure it’s because of lack of funding (like so many important organizations have to deal with).

The reason why I bring up RIF, is because today in 2011, our society as a whole still does not read as much as we should.  When we are reading, we are more likely to be reading part of a newspaper, or a thick novel from a favorite author; before we would read any book about our own health, or self-improvement. Diabetes is overwhelming, and it is a fact that, it is a lot easier to just listen to false cure remedies on television/radio, or a friend’s grandma’s ancient recipe for curing all disease, rather than pick-up an accredited book on diabetes and actually reading through it.

There are so many additional issues that contributes to the lack of diabetes awareness:

  • Doctors practicing with out dated knowledge of diabetes.
  • Few time available between doctor/patient visit.
  • Professionals that feel they have the basics down packed already, and they don’t need to learn anymore.
  • Patients don’t have a computer or Internet access.
  • Patients fear of learning anything outside of what their doctors tell them.
  • Cultural differences.
  • Conflicts between cultural beliefs and modern medicine.
  • Libraries that have almost no books on diabetes, and if it exist, they are often 1990 and older.
  • Many diabetics not being able to afford books, because what little they have must go to their medication and supplies.
  • Not wanting to deal with the often insane stigma that follows diabetes
  • Straight-up in denial about what diabetes can do.
  • No access to decent health insurance.

It is my personal opinion, that the above are at least part of what causes most of the diabetic deaths in our country. We must do a better job in terms of diabetic education. The subject of diabetes is way too important to keep solely to yourself; you may not realize it but, when you do, we all suffer indirectly. Having said that, we can’t leave everything up to the ADA to teach the world, because the ADA can’t get to everyone. Further, the ADA, JDRF, and so on, cannot represent each and every culture. That means, it’s up to us individuals to share our stories; it is only by sharing our personal stories do people learn. Each diabetic from all walks of life, should share their successes and failures; so that we can not only learn from each other, but still feel like we can control our diabetes, while staying connect to who we are as a people.

For the same reasons that lack of education (not just academically, but emotionally as well) causes all kinds of social conflicts, spiritual wars, hate, homophobia, labels, assumptions, misunderstandings, rudeness, and a plethora of other ridiculous behaviors; not going out of our way to learn about your diabetes, or to share your diabetes, is a disservice to both yourselves and the diabetic community. It is the very reason that stigmas thrive. This is what I feel to be the bulk of the woes that plague many people with diabetes today.

© 2011 DiabeticRadio.com

Ginger root, is another amazing spice that is used for practically everything. There are many kinds of ginger such as, Black Ginger, Thai Ginger, & Wild Ginger are just a few. We use ginger for various candies, lozenges, sauces, curry, gravy, marinades, stir fry, jam, salads, and some meat dishes. Ginger is more popularly used amongst Eastern Asian cooking.

Ginger contains vital nutrients such as Potassium, which is very important for maintaining electrolytes and fluid in our bodies. Potassium is very important and should always be consumed especially after ketones are discovered to be present in your body.

Personally, the most important reason I love ginger, is because of it’s natural ability to neutralize gas in the body. Often times, when someone gets an upset or sour stomach, we head for the Alka-Seltzer. But did you know that ginger works just as good if not better? From personal experience, the minute you drink ginger, your stomach will feel better. Regular ginger bark found in your everyday supermarket is inexpensive, easy to use, and its healthy for you.

It has been my experience that, to remedy an upset stomach, prepackaged ginger tea’s is not enough, as it is often diluted with other ingredients, or just not as potent as it should be. It is best to chop up a couple of pieces from the actual ginger bark, and boil them until a dark color. Ginger has a natural strong taste, that may not be to Everybody’s liking, however it does the trick. I recommend also adding mint leaves to your homemade ginger tea, it may make the strong taste slightly better. Btw, mint is also good for soothing the stomach as well.

Once your ginger tea has been boiled ’till your desired color (the darker the water, the stronger it will be) use a strainer to extract the ginger juice. You will definitely need sugar, and or sugar substitute. I don’t think a lot of people can drink homemade ginger tea without any sugar :-).

Remember to consult your doctor, and or pharmacist to make sure there’s no interaction between your current medication and ginger. Only consume a small amount, if your not sure if your illergic to ginger. And as always check your blood sugar two hours after taking any new herb.

© 2010 DiabeticRadio.com

Everyone and anyone can develop diabetes. Doesn’t matter how old you are, your ethnicity, nor what you do for a living. Although food is a key element in controlling our diabetes, it is NOT the sole cause of our disease. One thing that really frustrates me about the medical community, is that they have taken the use of labels, and has used them in such a manner, that eventually caused the world to see diabetics as a stereotype. What makes us a Type 1, 2, LADA, or gestational diabetic, isn’t how we “look”, but what happens in our individual bodies that make us the type of diabetic we are. There are heavy type 1’s, as well as slim; It is also true that their are skinny type 2’s, as well as there are heavy. Unfortunately, newly diagnosed diabetics are often caught-up in the middle of this, therefore indirectly making learning extremely difficult. To my awareness, never have I heard any other disease were labels are used so frequently.

Millions more are continuously being diagnosed each year around the globe. This was never just an “American Disease”. Yet, our communities know even less now about diabetes than we did before. Why is this? Are doctors up to par with the latest diabetic information? Is it that diabetics are not motivated? Are we scared? Or does there still exist a distrust for doctors in general? I think in this day in age, it is even more imperative that diabetics emotionally support each other. Diabetes is a 24 hour job, most of us can’t live life one day without thinking something diabetic; be it counting carbs, or the financial strain of being able to afford our diabetic supplies.

I realize that it’s important for diabetics to have role models, which is part of the reason why I started this blog. Particularly in the poorer communities, we only hear the bad stuff about diabetes. You almost never hear about people such as myself, who at a young age developed full blown cataracts, and successfully came out of both surgeries with flying colors!! You’d never hear how people like me (at the final stages of cataracts (before my surgeries)) used shapes, sounds, kindness of strangers, and pure determination to find were I needed to go. You don’t hear about diabetics being well informed enough to challenge their doctor’s methods. You don’t hear about people literally reversing their diabetic complications. You don’t hear about people eating what they want (responsibly) and still manage to control their sugars. You do not hear about diabetics successfully controlling their blood pressure. You don’t hear about diabetics who are getting up and walking to literally save their lives. This is why I personally believe that so many of us lost our battles to this disease, in addition to the fact that so many of us can’t break out of our comfort zones. Comfort zones destroy any chances of self motivation.

I’ve gone through great lengths to share pieces of my life to the world, because I want people to know they can do it. Diabetes is not the doom and gloom we all thought once was. I am a living, fresh and blood proof that you can overcome with just a tiny bit of motivation. The goal is not to be a perfect diabetic, but simply make better choices; but you can’t make better choices, if your not informed about YOUR particular, and very individual diabetes. Controlling your diabetes takes a lot of personal soul searching, a lot of reading, a lot of listening, and a lot of discerning. People would ask me all the time “how do you know this”? or “how do you know that”? My answer to this has always been, “diabetic information is not esoteric!” In other words, diabetic knowledge is not sacred text locked away somewhere so that only great scholars can read it. Diabetic information is everywhere!! If you really wanted to know something about diabetes, you can easily find it with a click of the mouse, a phone call, a book, a magazine, a support group, a nurse, a doctor, a CDE, a nutritionist, the list goes on. It’s not anyone’s responsibility to tell you, YOU have to seek it for yourself!!!

© 2010 DiabeticRadio.com

Fiber is extremely important because it helps to create bulk in the lower intestines. Together with a generous daily intake of water, fiber can assist with healthy bowl movements, in order to safely get waste out of your body. In terms of fiber, water is key, because not only does water keep your body hydrated, it can also prevent constipation.  Fiber exist in just about all fruits and vegetables. You can also purchase fiber in the form of capsule or powder/liquid brands such as Benefiber.

How does fiber effect diabetics?? Well, I guess this is one of those things that’s a matter of opinion and personal experience. Speaking for myself, fiber should only be used for the expressed purpose of promoting healthy digestion. However, many dietitians and CDE’s recommend high fiber diets to diabetics because it often prevents sudden spikes in blood sugar. Although this is true, on the other hand, it can be a nightmare for some of us who take insulin.

Though nutrients extracted from fiber are digested more slowly, keep in mind your blood sugars are still rising throughout the day regardless. This means if you are a type 2 diabetic, and control your sugars by way of diet and exercise, you need to test your blood sugar more than once a day. It is the only way you will learn how certain foods effect YOUR particular body. The American Diabetes Association recommends that, your blood sugar should be in the range of 160 180 mg/dl two hours after food consumption. Blood sugar levels that are consistently higher for longer than a two hour period, can not only effect your A1C levels, but risk the start of long term diabetic complications.

In the long run, foods with high fiber, proteins, & fats, can make tight glucose control difficult for anyone that is insulin dependent UNLESS you are on a insulin pump. Newer insulin pumps have the capability of spreading out a bolus insulin dose, to compensate for the still rising blood sugar as a result of high fiber, proteins, and fats consumed. If your on Multiple Daily Injections (MDI) talk to your doctor about adding a few additional dosage of basal insulin; it may help prevent from giving yourself extra bolus shots.

Ultimately, this is clearly an individual decision, and I believe it’s important for all diabetics to have flexibility. Foods effect everyone differently, and understanding how fiber can change your blood sugar levels, is a huge advantage to controlling our diabetes.

© 2010 DiabeticRadio.com

A chronic disease such as diabetes has MANY symptoms, and unfortunately I’ve encountered physicians that have tunnel vision. In other words, a doctor prescribes you a pill based on the specific problem you say you are having, yet so many of these same doctors don’t ask if the patient has any other symptoms, that could give a clue as to one disease. It is also true that, many patients may not mention any other problems they are having, because they may not realize one has to do with the other.

I can’t stress enough, the patient/doctor communication factor. Your ability to effectively express how you feel, give the doctor a clue as to what may be wrong with you. Do not leave any details out, no matter how small you think it is. It is important to remember that in this day and age, doctors can see upwards of 400+ patients in a day, not including paperwork; there is very little time to hold any patient’s hand. Playing an integral role in your own diabetes care is key to a long complication free life.

The best way to manage the small amount of time you have with your doctor, is to purchase a small note pad, and write down any questions that you have for your doctor, along with your blood sugar history. Discuss these questions and concerns with your doctor, and write down his answers if it helps you to remember.

Many of us have more than one doctor or specialist. Do everything in your power to let each and every one of your doctors know all your current medications (even vitamins). Informing your doctors of any herbal substances, vitamins, medications, and sometimes even the kinds of fruits and vegetables you consume, may help avoid drug interactions (even some herbal teas has medicinal effects).

Ask your doctor for any resources he/she may posses, such as dietitians, support groups, Certified Diabetes Educators, and or even mental health. It is a documented fact that a measurable percentage of diabetics are more likely to experience depression. Seeing a therapist does NOT mean there’s something wrong with you mentally, its just another extension of the healing process. Depression and diabetes is a horrible mix, especially for those of us who are emotional eaters. Because of high food intake, stress hormones, and depression meds, can make it nearly impossible for any emotional eater to control their blood sugars. It is my belief that you absolutely cannot truly take care of your diabetes, without addressing emotional and psychological challenges. Otherwise, your life will be like a ping-pong ball.

Explore areas that alter your state of mind. Some examples of these are music, dance, board games, good friends, walking, sight seeing, aromatherapy, yoga, drawing, etc., etc. All of the above mentioned, are great tools that help to facilitate the manifestation of positive energy. Diabetes is a chronic and life long disease. Yet our condition does not inhibit us from doing anything we’d like to do. Let us live life as normal as we possibly can, and learn as much as we possibly can about diabetes. No information is too much information.

© 2010 DiabeticRadio.com

A couple of days ago, I happen to see the front page of my local newspaper, a picture of our NYC’s (legally blind) Governor David Paterson signing vetoes. I couldn’t help but share this picture with my visitors, because it gave me powerful flashbacks (just before my surgery). A reminder as to where I was, (visually speaking), and where I am now.  Like him, or hate him; indirectly, he is my role model in terms of not allowing his disability stop him from accomplishing his goals.  Granted, although both our situations are different, I’ve got a tiny glimpse of what my life may have been like, if I were permanently blind. It’s scary to think that there exist several other more serious and irreversible diabetic eye complications I could have had. Yet those cataracts has caused absolute chaos in my life. I could only stop and think, as to what Governor Paterson may have become, if he’d allowed his disability to be a hindrance, or the kind of health care he would have received if he were not Governor, or even the kinds of discrimination that disabled people often face.Were would I have been, if I did not grab the bull by the balls and get my job?? You’ll never know what you can accomplish, unless your pushed against a brick wall!!

I don’t think the average person understands, the level of emotional strength that is required, once you discover your going blind. Just trying to accomplish basic daily tasks was at times unbearable. I was barely mobile, and the insurance in/out of network crap did not make things any easier for me. I knew that if I did not act fast (before I’ve gone totally blind), my chances of finding someone to be my second eyes were slim.

At the end of the day, and all is said and done; experience has taught me that, you must keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can. So many hospitals are absolutely horrendous, often disorganized, unequipped, understaffed, and uncaring. Unfortunately, as health care cost rise, I predict this will get exponentially worse. This is were building a strong family & friends support group is important.

The time is now to take care of your diabetes!! If you  have a known family history of diabetes, get tested right away. Demand that your doctor give you an Hemoglobin A1C test. Take charge of your diabetes.

© DiabeticRadio.com

A pilot medical study by the University of California, Los Angeles, or UCLA, uses mobile phones to help diabetes patients in South Africa. Our correspondent spoke with the physician behind the study, Neal Kaufman, about the expanding role of technology in personalized health care.

The UCLA project uses texting on mobile phones to encourage patients with type 2 diabetes to adopt more healthful lifestyles.

Dr. Kaufman, a professor of pediatrics and public health at UCLA, says this form of the disease, called adult-onset diabetes, is becoming common, even among children. He says the problem is in our genes.

“Our genetics have programmed us to want to eat sugar, salt and fat, and to be as inactive as possible,” he said. “And that’s what allowed us to survive when there was famine and when there was not enough food, when we didn’t want to burn any calories.”

Today, he says fat, salt and calories are too readily available and that health care practitioners must find ways to urge patients to avoid them. Text-messages provide one way to do that.

The South African study pairs low-income women with type 2 diabetes and links them by cell phone. Each day, a computer program sends an automated message to prompt a conversation between the women. The message might ask whether they ate a healthy breakfast or simply how they are feeling.

“The text message will ask them a question. That question, they answer to their peer as a way to begin a conversation or to encourage a conversation between peers,” said Dr. Kaufman. “And what we find is that a lot of these women who would otherwise be isolated and not have someone they could talk with are texting back and forth to each other, which they’ve never done before, in a way that’s really quite supportive.”

The text messages are supplemented by group meetings to help educate patients and provide face-to-face support.

Dr. Kaufman developed the program through a company he co-founded called DPS Health – one of many initiatives that uses technology in health care.

The South African project fosters peer-to-peer support and Dr. Kaufman says it has the advantage of being inexpensive. If the program proves successful, it can be expanded to a larger population at low cost. Most important, Dr. Kaufman says, it does not require a computer or Internet connection.

Other technologies connect patients to physicians or offer online chat rooms moderated by a trained medical practitioner. Internet sites provide prenatal advice for mothers or allow patients with specific medical conditions to share advice and comments. Some sites are moderated by trained professionals.

Dr. Kaufman says this type of technology will be an increasingly important link between patients and medical providers.

“We basically believe that most outcomes from chronic conditions can be improved if you help patients to help themselves,” said Dr. Kaufman. “Some people call that self-management support – managing their daily lives, helping them take their medicines, helping them to be more active, helping them to adopt health behaviors.”

Dr. Kaufman says the South Africa study will yield important information on how a population of middle-aged diabetes patients responds to text prompts from mobile phones. He says results so far show that patients are interacting and encouraging each other.

The UCLA researcher says the project is part of a trend to connect patients.

“We know that social support is the wonder drug of the 21st century, that connecting people to other people – whether it’s in person, whether it’s online, whether it’s through a cell phone – is really a very, very powerful medicine,” he said.

The World Health Organization says six people die every minute from complications from diabetes and that the prevalence of the disease is rising rapidly. It says the largest number of diabetes patients is in India, followed by China.

Dr. Kaufman says that if the UCLA project is successful, it can be applied to low-income diabetes patients around the world, including in the United States, where the disease is also a major problem.

© 2010

What is Diabetes?

Regardless of what type of diabetes you have, it boils down to the inability to process glucose properly. Either you don’t produce any insulin to assist glucose into your body’s cells; or you are insulin resistant, which basically means your body has become stubborn and will not accept any instruction from insulin. What is insulin? Insulin is one of the many vital hormones, that the pancreas produces to help keep glucose levels safe, and assist in feeding your cells glucose, such as muscle tissue and the brain.

A percentage of fats and proteins are converted in to glucose. However, carbohydrates is what effects our glucose levels the most. Our bodies take longer to break down fats and proteins in to glucose, but carbohydrates are processed rather quickly. I should also explain that their are two different types of carbohydrates, called simple and complex. Simple carbs are normally found in natural foods like fruit (processes quickly). Complex carbs, are normally found in processed foods like rice, pasta, and some vegetables such as potatoes (takes longer to break down).

With the exception of “FREE” foods, such as leafy foods like lettuce, greens, etc., virtually EVERY food has carbohydrates in them. Glucose powers our bodies and give it life, as well as give cells the energy it needs to build, heal, reproduce, fight infection, and all other overall functions. So you see, carbohydrates are not a bad thing, however, consuming it in excess is!!

The Key is quality foods. Since virtually everything has carbohydrates in them, it is important to make better food choices. It’s not enough to only eat low carbs. If what your eating has no nutritional benefits, then eating low carb (in my opinion) is in vain.

Fifty+ years ago, there was only one type of diabetes. Today, as we learn more about the disease, scientist realize that categories needed to be made to understand more about diabetes.



This type of diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. This means that for whatever reason (not yet known), the bodies defense mechanisms, in essence attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, that produces insulin. The beta cells cells continues to be attacked until all beta cells are destroyed. Without these vital beta cells, insulin cannot be produced, therefore, glucose cannot be control, and in essence in a matter of a week can be life threatening.

It’s important to understand that in the case of people with type 1 diabetes, there is no cure, no amount of fruits, vegetables, herbs, vitamins, or minerals will “cure” type 1 diabetes.  Type 1, is NOT caused by poor diet, however, eating healthier and exercise clearly is the key for a longer life as a type 1 person. All type one’s will eventually become insulin dependent, and must inject a minimum of 3x a day, or before every meal to survive.

It was thought at one time that, only extremely young Caucasian children get type 1 diabetes. We now know that type 1 can occur in ANY age, and ANY race. There are many tests one can use to find out if you have type 1, however, the unfortunate reality is, most type 1 people find out when they are in the emergency room, with life threatening DKA. Doctors must do a better job in screening for type 1.


TYPE 1.5:

Also known as LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults), basically in my opinion, it’s the same thing as type 1, the only difference is that it is diagnosed much later in life. Also many LADA patients posses both characteristics of both type 1 ( no insulin production), and type 2 (insulin resistance). Because LADA happens much later in life, doctors often mistaken this as type 2.

Personally, on an emotional level, this effected me a lot because, I first thought it was because I was a bad diabetic, but in reality, it wasn’t my fault. I needed insulin. Sometimes it just takes work trying to understand, and finding a good doctor to overcome many of the challenges of diabetes.



This is the most common type around the world. Statistics show that more people of color (this includes Latino, Asians, Indian, African, etc.,) are effected with type 2 that any other group.  Type 2 are what is called insulin resistant. Insulin resistance is really one of the body’s many “defense mechanisms”. When the body becomes insulin resistant, it is protecting itself from drowning in glucose, or glucose overload. Therefore the receptors no longer respond to insulin.

Without exercise and good diet, this condition becomes worse, ultimately resulting in dangerously high levels of glucose and eventually ketones. Type 2 people who are not injecting insulin must work much harder to control their blood sugars. Exercise is the key! When you walk, run, play, etc., this forces your muscles to become more insulin sensitive, or become more hungry for glucose. This will not only help the body control glucose levels, but prevent cells in your body from becoming starved for glucose.

This type of diabetes can be controlled without daily injections (for most people). However, their are times when diet and exercise is not enough, and you must take meds. This does NOT in anyway mean that you’ve failed, it just mean that you must take a different path, when current regimens are not working.



Gestational diabetes occurs in women during or just after pregnancy. For some women gestational diabetes is only temporary, and goes away after giving birth. This would be understandable, as all kinds of hormones are ranging in a pregnant woman’s body. However, for some other women, it comes back later on in their lives as type 2.



In essence, these are people who care for friends and loved one’s with diabetes. In my opinion, in many cases I called the the diabetes police!! I’m not sure if this needed a category, however, I guess it is necessary to acknowledge the emotional and psychological stress, that many of these people go through in caring and watching  loved ones with diabetes.

Copyright © 2010 DiabeticRadio

Diabetes Forecast

The Diabetes Forecast magazine, has written a wonderful article about understanding the new “Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults” (LADA), also known as Type 1.5 (personally I rather refer to this is LADA, type 1.5 makes me feel like I have a computer software in my body, and 1.5 is the upgrade version). Some people feel that it should be simply called type 1.

Do you get the feeling that we are starting to see too many labels for diabetes? Does these new categories help us, or drive more debate amongst the medical profession, and the general community at large? At present, there is so much lack of awareness about diabetes, from complications to actually learning how to take care of yourself as a diabetic.

I am really concerned that these labels will indirectly cause many more diabetics to hide their condition. As I try to educate myself more and more about diabetes and its complexity, the more I realize how so many of us are still in the dark. The average person has never even heard of LADA before.

This for me brings up an interesting subject. In doing my own personal research about LADA, I’ve found that most people who have LADA were misdiagnosed as type 2.  This is because most often LADA has both characteristics of  type 1 & 2.

Now, it has become general knowledge that type 1 are supposed to make up 10% of  all diabetics. However, with all the combined misdiagnosis of many patients supposed to be type 2, I think in actuality the percentage of type 1’s are significantly higher.

This strikes a personal cord with me. Because, the reality is………. You hear about all the diabetics that have died from complications, however, how many of those actually died from misdiagnosis? How many of those patients that died, should have been on insulin from the beginning? How many diabetics assumed that they were failures because they could not get their sugar down, when they should have been on insulin from the get go? What are doctors using to test for diabetes? Or are they base their diagnosis on the way a patient looks?

Visit the American Diabetes Association website and read their article on LADA, it is extremely interesting.

© 2010 DiabeticRadio

Photo: Image courtesy of El-Khatib et al., Science Translational Medicine, 14 April 2010 Depiction of the bi-hormonal closed-loop control system used in the clinical trial. The controller responded to venous blood glucose measured every five minutes using the FDA-approved GlucoScout (International Biomedical) and commanded insulin-glucagon control doses. The doses were administered using FDA-approved Deltec CoZmoinfusion pumps (Smiths Medical).

Jessica Berman | Washington

Scientists have developed a computerized system for diabetics that takes the guesswork out of controlling their disease. The prototype artificial pancreas monitors and regulates the amount of glucose, or sugar, in the blood of people with type 1 diabetes.

People with type 1, or juvenile, diabetes must keep a watchful eye on their blood glucose levels because their pancreases are not working normally.

The pancreas is an organ that in healthy people secretes insulin to convert glucose into energy. But in people with juvenile diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin and blood sugar levels can get dangerously high. Failure to maintain tight control of glucose levels – by measuring blood sugar with a meter and compensating with doses of insulin – can result in serious health complications, including blindness, kidney failure and heart disease.

Edward Damiano, a biomedical engineer at Boston University in Massachusetts, knows firsthand the challenge of managing juvenile diabetes.

“This is a condition that does not take holidays at all,” he said. “It’s a 24/7 kind of commitment, which is why it’s nice for me at this stage of my life to be able to take care of my son at night. But in seven years, he’s off to college. This has given me tremendous impetus to try and develop this technology and get it out there and make it available to people with type 1 diabetes before my son goes to college.”

Dr. Damiano has partnered with scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital to develop a computer program designed to run a system they call an artificial endocrine pancreas.

The system utilizes existing diabetic technology. The computer program continuously takes in data from a glucose monitor inserted into a patient’s vein and calculates the dose of artificial insulin that needs to be infused through an insulin pump.

The pump developed by researchers is a double pump – in addition to insulin, it automatically secretes glucagon, a hormone that taps glucose reserves in the liver, raising blood sugar levels when they get too low, a condition called hypoglycemia.

Dr. Damiano says the system restores, as nearly as possible, the body’s delicate metabolic balance.

“We’re bringing back to people with Type 1 diabetes not only the proper amount of insulin dosed correctly into the right amount, but also this ability to provide a little bit of glucagon after meals, if the insulin dosing turned out to be a little excessive. And that typically is enough to prevent people from becoming hypoglycemic. So it really prevents you from going low, and that’s its main function.”

Researchers ran trials of the software for the artificial pancreas with 11 diabetics. The system effectively controlled participants’ blood sugar for 27 hours, during which time they ate three high-carbohydrate meals and slept through the night at a hospital.

The artificial pancreas kept glucose levels within the target range for six participants. But the remaining five other patients did not respond as quickly to the insulin infusion and developed low blood sugar because the computer continued to administer medication.

Researchers adjusted their computer algorithm to the slower insulin absorption rate and on a repeat experiment blood glucose was tightly controlled in all of the subjects.

Steven Russell, director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Diabetes Unit and co-author of the study, the next step is for researchers to develop a portable system about the size of a cellular telephone.

“The insulin pumps exist, the continuous glucose monitors exist. What’s really been missing is the right algorithm to connect the two components. Although we run it on a laptop [computer] so that we can monitor its operation, the algorithm itself doesn’t require a lot of computer power and could easily be run from a chip that has the capabilities of one that’s already in insulin pumps or in cell phones.”

With normal regulatory hurdles, Boston University’s Edward Damiano estimates that it could be between five and seven years before an artificial endocrine pancreas is commercially available.

Dr. Damiano says the system is not a cure, but it is the next best thing.

“It’s just something that hopefully will tide us over until hopefully a cure can be found,” he said. “But if it can’t be in the near term, it’s a far better solution than what people are doing right now. With all that decision-making on their own, this is basically coming in lieu of that.”

Researchers describe their artificial pancreas in this week’s issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

© 2010 VOA


At age 19, Ryan Shafer knew there was something wrong with his body. The teenager from Horseheads, N.Y., felt lackadaisical, had vision problems and all of a sudden lost 25 pounds. When he was finally checked out by a doctor, the news confirmed one of his worst suspicions: He had Type 1 diabetes. Instantly, Shafer was forced to change to deal with the disease. He was enrolled in a junior college at the time and planned on attending prestigious Cornell University. But the kid had a passion for bowling and decided to see his dreams through.

His struggles with the disease inspired him to become what he is today, the 19th-ranked bowler on the Professional Bowlers Association tour coming into the Go RVing Match Play Championship beginning today at the Norwich Bowling and Entertainment Center. Shafer, the No. 16 seed, will face 49th-seeded Jason Sterner in the first round. “I had bowled in college and had a lot of success, and, eventually, I was going to go on tour,” Shafer said. “I started going on tour with diabetes, I don’t know any different. The entire time I’ve been on tour I’ve been diabetic.”

Shafer joined the tour after his graduation from junior college at age 20. His success was immediate — he won the PBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1987. With Type 1 diabetes, which typically becomes apparent earlier in life as in Shafer’s case, the person is insulin-dependent.

Big adjustment

At first, this was a hindrance to Shafer in terms of dealing with the constant travel inherent in a tour schedule. From a young age, Shafer was traveling from city to city, often switching time zones, all while trying to keep up with his insulin injections and making sure he didn’t have a sudden attack on the lanes.

Longtime friend and fellow tour member Eugene McCune, who met Shafer when he joined the tour in 1986, has seen the kind of physical demands Shafer has had to deal with firsthand.

“His body breaks down on him every once in a while. He gets cold shoulder, his joints hurt,” McCune said. “But it’s just going through it, some days it’s not anything he does but just all of a sudden he gets cold shoulder and he can barely move his shoulder. He just gets up and doesn’t quit and he just keeps on bowling.” A scheduling change about 18 years into Shafer’s professional career made it easier for him to deal with his disease and play his best on a consistent basis.

A big change

In 2004, the PBA switched to a more condensed schedule in which most of the competition takes place on Thursdays and Fridays instead of Tuesday through Friday. Shafer could abandon his old ways of taking three to four shots a day and sticking to a regimented eating schedule to deal with his condition.

In response, he switched to an insulin pump — made by a company called Animas — that he wears while he bowls. It supplies him with insulin and makes it easier for him to compete.

“What’s good about the Animas pump is, when I exercise, I can put it on a temporary rate that gives me less insulin so I don’t get lulls while I bowl,” Shafer said. “I can eat whatever time of day I want to and I don’t have to be on a stricter routine. It’s easier to manage my blood sugar levels.”

It seems to be working. Shafer is coming off of one his most successful years as a professional with seven top-10 finishes in 2008-09 and earning a payday in all 21 events in which he competed.

He also has four PBA tour wins over his career with two in 2000 and one each in 2002 and 2003, and he won the Stave Nagy Sportsmanship Award in 2009.

Opening up

Now, without worrying when or where he’s going to have to take his next injection, the 43-year-old Shafer has become a lot more open about his disease and, through his relationship with Animas, can educate people, especially youngsters, about diabetes and encourage them to lead an active lifestyle.

“I used to be a very private person when it came to that. I didn’t care whether I was diabetic or not,” Shafer said. “When I realized that there are kids out there who think that just because they’re diagnosed with diabetes that they can’t do anything and they kind of lead a sedentary life … that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. So, I thought it was kind of good for me to get my message out there and to tell people that you can do whatever you want as long as you correctly manage your diabetes.”

Shafer said as far as he knows, no other bowler on the tour is a diabetic. Since the pump is so visible, looking like Shafer “is bowling with a cell phone on his waist,” according to McCune, Shafer’s ailment is more apparent to other bowlers and has given him the chance to help others on the tour who might have a family member diagnosed with the disease.

Offering help

When Chris Barnes, one of the PBA’s biggest earners, realized his son Troy had Type 1 diabetes at age 6, Shafer instantly sought his fellow competitor out and offered advice on how to  move forward.

“He was one of the first to come to us and (offer) his help, his guidance. He was there to lend his support any way he could,” Chris Barnes said. “He’s been great about it from the get-go. He was very helpful, especially in those first couple of months (after the diagnosis).”

Shafer is approached by amateur bowlers and their families and is frequently asked how he deals with the disease. It’s just another example of how the 24-year professional can tell people his story.

“Once in a while, I’ll bowl regional events and another bowler will come up to me and tell me he’s a diabetic,” Shafer said. “Where it mostly comes into play is Pro-Ams. At Pro-Ams, I’ll have adults and even adults with their children come up to me and say their children’s diabetic and ask ‘How do you manage your diabetes?’ with such a schedule of traveling and stuff like that. It kind of makes me feel good that I can help them.”

For most, a diabetes diagnosis puts their dreams on hold. Not Shafer. The disease is the main reason he’s on the tour.

“I’m a professional athlete and I’m doing what I want to do in my life, and (anyone with diabetes) can do the same thing,” Shafer said.

Genetic prediction of type 2 diabetes in the Botnia study

Type 2 diabetes has been loosely defined as “adult onset” diabetes, but as diabetes becomes more common, cases are being diagnosed in younger people and children. In determining the risk of developing diabetes, environmental factors, such as food intake and exercise, are known to have an important role; most people with type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese. Inherited factors are also important, but the genes involved remain poorly defined. In rare forms of diabetes, mutations of one gene can result in disease, whereas in type 2 diabetes, many genes are thought to be involved. One difficulty in understanding the genetic role is that genes associated with diabetes might show only a subtle variation in their sequence, and these variations may be extremely common. Hence, it can be very hard to link such common gene variations, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), with increased risk of developing diabetes.

One method of finding these diabetes genes is by whole-genome linkage studies in which associations between parts of the genome and risk of developing diabetes are looked for. Studies so far have identified several candidate genes associated with type 2 diabetes, although many results have been difficult to replicate. The list of genes for which there is good evidence from meta-analyses includes genes encoding for PPARG, calpain 10, Kir 6.2, and insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS1).

These genes have a variety of effects; PPARG P12A polymorphism is associated with enhanced insulin sensitivity and protects against type 2 diabetes. Two SNPs in the gene encoding for cystein protease calpain 10 (CAPN10) confer increased susceptibility to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Kir 6.2 is involved in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in pancreatic cells. And carriers of a polymorphism in the IRS1 gene have been shown to have reduced islet insulin content in pancreatic islets.

In this issue of PLoS Medicine, Valeriya Lyssenko and colleagues from Lund University sought to consolidate previous work by studying the predictive value of these variants for type 2 diabetes side by side in the largest study of its kind to date. They investigated the effect of these gene variants in 2,293 nondiabetic people aged 18–70 years old in western Finland—the Botnia study—over a median of six, range 2–12, years. In addition, they also studied the uncoupling protein 2 gene (UCP2)—a polymorphism in the promoter of this gene (UCP2 −866G>A) (rs659366) has been associated in some, but not all, studies with increased risk of type 2 diabetes and impaired insulin secretion.

The study took place from 1990 to 2002, and enrolled patients from five health centers in western Finland who were asked to have health checks every two to three years. Six percent (132) of people developed type 2 diabetes. The key finding was that variants in the PPARG and CAPN10 genes increased future risk for type 2 diabetes, particularly in individuals with other risk factors. In individuals with a high risk of developing diabetes—with a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) of 5.6 millimoles per liter and body mass index (BMI) of 30 kilograms per square meter—the hazard ratio increased to 21.2 for the combination of the PPARG PP and CAPN10 SNP43/44 GG/TT genotypes compared with those with low-risk genotypes with normal FPG and BMI less than 30 kilograms per square meter.

The researchers found that replacing the family history with the PPARG and CAPN10 variants in a predictive model (particularly in combination) gave almost the same strong prediction of subsequent type 2 diabetes. These genotypes also influenced the relationship between BMI and FPG, that is, in carriers of risk genotypes, there was a steeper increase in FPG for any given BMI.

The authors argue that the comparison of all the key gene variants side by side in one large study adds substantially to previous papers that have examined the effect of single gene variants on the risk of conversion to type 2 diabetes in interventional trials.

However, it is important to understand the effect of these variants on the risk of disease in a large, prospective observational study before studying additive or synergistic effects with interactions such as lifestyle changes, they said. One of the problems of other studies has been that results have been different between different subgroups.

Although this study has limited power, as the largest of its kind it suggests that genetic variants in candidate genes can predict future type 2 diabetes, particularly in association with conventional risk factors such as obesity and abnormal glucose tolerance. With accumulating data from prospective studies, it should be possible to define whether there will be a future role for genetic prediction of type 2 diabetes or whether these variants will influence response to prevention or treatment.

The World Health Organization estimates there are more than 180 million people with diabetes. The WHO says that number could double in 20 years. Many diabetics must interrupt their activities to monitor their blood sugar levels several times a day and inject insulin when those levels become abnormal, but most diabetics will tell you they would like to find relief from that chore. Fourteen-year-old Sarah Carlow is a diabetic. It is a fact never far from her mind. “I check my blood sugar on average maybe 10 or more times a day. I check it before breakfast, lunch and dinner. You have to check your blood sugars while you’re playing sports. I also have to count carbohydrates,” says Sarah.

By monitoring the carbohydrates in all of the food and drink she consumes, Sarah knows how much insulin to give herself, but recently the teenager was fitted with an artificial pancreas that did the work for her. Sarah explains, “Not having the every day, every minute, every hour hassle of worrying about my blood sugars, if this comes into play, I can live a life like I did before, which is awesome [wonderful].” Sarah was one of 17 teenagers with type one diabetes who were fitted with the artificial pancreas at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.

The device uses a sensor to monitor the glucose and a pump which distributes the correct amount of insulin needed. Dr. Stuart Weinzimer of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital says the artificial pancreas has wide potential for other diabetics. Dr. Weinzimer explains, “It would potentially benefit anyone with diabetes, type one or type two, anybody who requires insulin.” Researchers say as a precaution the insulin was dispensed only with a doctor’s approval.

But the artificial pancreas was found to maintain appropriate blood glucose levels for up to 16 hours. It kept on pumping throughout exercise, meal time, even long after it was time to turn off the light. Scientists plan less controlled studies on patients outside the hospital setting.

© 2009 VOA

By Melissa Westphal
Norwich Bulletin

ROCKFORD, Ill. — Shopping for health insurance plans has become increasingly stressful for small-business leaders and their employees.

Choosing the right insurer — for the right price — is a time-stealer, tearing them from their focus on customers and profits.

“It takes a lot of time to dig through the different plans and meet with people. It’s a part-time job” in itself, says Lucas Derry, executive vice president of Header Die & Tool Inc. in Rockford. “That’s time I (can’t) dedicate to strategic planning, to growth, to face-time with customers.”

For workers, it’s an ever-increasing financial burden.

Family premiums for Illinois workers rose 5.6 times faster than their paychecks from 2000 to 2007. On average, premiums rose by 73.1 percent, although median earnings rose by 13.1 percent, according to the nonpartisan Families USA, a research and advocacy group based in Washington.

Increasingly expensive medical technology and rising prescription-drug costs are the culprits behind the steadily rising costs, says Kim Bailey, a senior health policy analyst for Families USA. Those increased costs force employers into the agonizing annual process of finding affordable health insurance plans, even if it means reducing coverage or increasing premiums for employees. For some of them, dropping health insurance is the only option — which creates different problems as trained and trusted workers find work with employers who offer it. The number of Americans covered by employment-based insurance fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2007, Families USA reported this year. Many Rock River Valley employers provide coverage, but more are asking employees to help foot the bill.

Mike McKinnon, president of Rogers Brothers Galvanizing, says the company covered 100 percent of the premiums for its 75 employees about five years ago. But it fell to about 85 percent in 2007 because of increased costs. Rogers Brothers absorbed the increases for 2008 but asked employees to cover a larger part of their deductibles. “There is a considerable amount of administrative time involved in the insurance process,” McKinnon says. “It’s more of a retention tool because it’s something you want to offer to keep people.” Gary Dietz, a Rogers Brothers employee of 15 years, wasn’t surprised to learn that his health insurance costs through work would increase. But the company did a good job of explaining why, Dietz says. “They had a meeting before they ever raised the premiums. They explained where their money goes as a company and how much insurance costs have shot up.” Dietz, his wife and their four sons — ages 14 to 22 — are covered by his employer insurance plan, and he most notices the increase when it comes to filling prescriptions.

Still, he’s grateful the company offers it: “They shopped around and got their money’s worth.” Gloria Stuhr Pernacciaro, CEO of metal stamping company Reliable Machine, says the company shopped 11 other insurance carriers this year but stayed with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. That meant better coverage but increased costs. The company had not increased employee contributions since 2005, but Reliable couldn’t weather a 24 percent cost increase this year without passing it on. “We will have to find ways to save money in other areas to make up for the increase in health-care costs,” she says.

For instance, Reliable changed its production schedule in February 2006 so crews work four 10-hour days each week, saving the company money and giving employees three-day weekends. Pernacciaro also says employees were involved in investigating alternatives for insurance coverage so they better understood the costs.

Health insurance is the third-largest cost for Header Die & Tool, behind labor and raw materials, Derry says. Derry doesn’t see a point when the company would have to drop health insurance for employees, but deductibles and employees’ out-of-pocket expenses will increase. “We’re doing everything we can internally with employees to work on wellness initiatives and sharing what the costs are and how that affects the company. This does affect the overall bottom line of the company. When you absorb more costs, there is less left at the end of the day.”

About 50.7 million American families will spend more than 10 percent of their pre-tax income on health-care costs in 2008, and more than one-fourth of insured Americans report problems with medical bills or are paying off medical debt. Ella Hushagen, a health policy analyst and state policy coordinator for Families USA, says Illinois lacks protection in the individual insurance market to protect consumers, and some of the same issues can be applied to the small-group market.

The state needs to limit how much insurers can charge people based on their health status, she says, and needs to implement a minimum medical loss ratio to make sure insurers are using premium dollars efficiently. Hushagen also recommends requiring insurers to seek prior approval before increasing premiums. “Those are especially helpful for smaller firms because they see more impact from just one person’s health. In this case, there would be better risk-sharing capacity.”

Melissa Westphal can be reached at (815) 987-1341 or mwestpha@rrstar.com.

The bottom line
A report last month from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy and communications research group, shed some light on why health care is so costly:

Expanding wealth. As nations become wealthier, they spend more money on health care. New treatment options and the development of new technology affect cost, too.

Obesity. People are getting fatter, and the chronic diseases related to obesity, such as hypertension and diabetes, tax the system because more people are seeking medical care and buying prescription drugs. About 45 percent of Americans suffer from one or more chronic illnesses, which account for 70 percent of deaths and 75 percent of all health-care spending.

Comprehensive health benefits. In a predictable irony, when insurance pays a higher percentage of the cost, people use more health care.

Inefficiencies in medical care delivery, such as lack of systems for electronically storing and transmitting health data, is another factor.

Prescription drug spending. It stood at $216.7 billion in 2006, more than five times higher than the $40.3 billion spent in 1990. Three factors driving those increases are increased use, price increases and changes in the types of drugs used.

Reforming the system
The National Federation of Independent Business (fixedforamerica.com) has published its small-business principles for health-care reform.

Included in those efforts is a list of 10 points:

1. Universal. All Americans should have access to quality care and protection against catastrophic costs. A government safety net should enable the neediest to obtain coverage.

2. Private. To the greatest extent possible, Americans should receive their health insurance and health care through the private sector. Care must be taken to minimize the extent to which governmental safety nets crowd out private insurance and care.

3. Affordable. Health-care costs to individuals, providers, governments and businesses must be reasonable, predictable and controllable.

4. Unbiased. Health care and tax laws should not push Americans into employer-provided or government-provided insurance programs and hobble the market for individually purchased policies. Small employers should be treated the same as large employers, who already can pool across state lines. A health-care system built on employer mandates is unacceptable.

5. Competitive. Consumers should have many choices among insurers and providers. Policymakers must alleviate the limitations that state boundaries and treatment mandates place on competitiveness.

6. Portable. Americans should be able to move throughout the United States and change jobs without losing their health insurance.

7. Transparent. Information technology should enable all parties to access accurate, user-friendly information on costs, quality and outcomes. Providers must be able to obtain relatively complete medical histories of patients. At the same time, patients’ privacy must be guarded zealously. The private sector must play a vital role in developing the new technologies.

8. Efficient. Health-care policy should encourage an appropriate level of spending on health care. Laws, regulations and insurance arrangements should direct health-care spending to those goods and services that will maximize health. Adequate risk pools throughout the health-care system are vital to accomplishing these goals.

9. Evidence-based. The health-care system must encourage consumers and providers to accumulate evidence and to use that evidence to improve health. Appropriate treatment choices and better wellness and preventive care should be key outcomes.

10. Realistic. Health-care reform should proceed as rapidly as possible, but not so quickly that firms and individuals cannot adjust prudently. It is important to assure that no one’s quality of care suffers as we move to provide coverage for all Americans.

By Mike DeDoncker


Caroline Trapp wants you to give yourself three weeks — OK, four counting a week to prepare to do it right — to become a vegetarian. Trapp, a nurse practitioner and director of diabetes education and care for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, offered that challenge in a series of talks sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford and Vegetarians in Motion last week. Her main message was that a low-fat, plant-based diet can be just as effective as some medicines in fighting type 2 diabetes. But she didn’t discount other possible benefits such as weight control, more energy and better-looking skin. “You can do anything for three weeks,” said Trapp, referring to a kick-start support program the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine will offer at www.pcrm.org/kickstart beginning Jan. 1. “The important thing before starting kick-start is the week of preparation.” She said that week is when “all the troublemaker foods” such as meats, dairy products, eggs and high-fat processed foods get cleaned out of the house and are replaced by fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.

“I always say to my patients, ‘Don’t walk out the door of this office visit thinking ‘OK, that’s it, I’m going vegan,’ ” said Trapp, who is board certified in adult primary care, diabetes education and advanced diabetes management. “Because when you encounter ‘OK, what am I going to make for dinner,’ and you don’t have the right foods in the house, you throw up your hands and say, ‘Oh, I can’t do this.’ “If you take an academic approach, and you do a little bit of reading, you’re going to get the right foods in the house and you’re going to figure it out. People go on diets and then they get hungry and it all goes out the window. If you’ve got the wrong things around, it’s too tempting, too readily available, too easy to fall back.”

Once the troublemaker foods are out of the house, Trapp said, the idea is to be 100 percent vegan for three weeks and the kick-start program will offer 21 daily menu ideas, videos and other support to help with the motivation. The upside of the program, she said, is that it doesn’t require attention to portion control, calorie restriction or limiting carbohydrates. “Three weeks, that’s not very much time,” Trapp said. “But it’s enough time to find that maybe your blood sugar has come down, or your weight might drop a few pounds, or you might find you have more energy.”

Trapp, who has 25 years experience in nursing, said she has seen several drugs that were touted as having the ability to revolutionize diabetes treatment come and go because of the effects they had on various body organs. “Drugs come with side effects,” she said, “and I’m not saying all drugs are bad and that some can’t control diabetes. But we have an opportunity here with a different way of eating that can help as well as some of those drugs, and I don’t think we’re going to prescribe our way out of this diabetes epidemic.”

Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or mdedoncker@rrstar.com.

On the Web

Diabetes expert Caroline Trapp also recommends these Web sites for information on diabetes and diet:

* NutritionCME.org, for health-care professionals;
* NutritionMD.org, for disease-specific recommendations and a meal-planner tool;
* pcrm.org/diabetes, for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s diabetes resources and message board;
*and FoodForLiveTV .org, for weekly webcasts.


Griswold, Conn. —

Nick Emard, 17, used to bring in the back of the pack on the Griswold High School track team.

He was short, stocky and not very fast. But he liked running, so he kept at it. He met James Strmiska, 16, his sophomore year. In Little League, coaches used to have to stop Strmiska from sprinting past his teammates when running the bases. The two trained together with the cross country team, running nearly every day, until they became Griswold’s top runners.

Emard won the three-mile Windham Invite in September. Strmiska set a personal record in the mile of 4.34 minutes.Both athletes have type 1 diabetes, and are insulin-dependent. “They’re both unbelievable kids,” said Glenn LaBossiere, athletic director at Griswold High School. “They’re good students, the teachers all like them. They represent the school very well. They’re just kids you can count on.” Track and cross country coach Mike Flynn said Emard’s improvement is among the most remarkable he’s ever seen.“He just kept showing up, even in the snow,” he said. “You never know with new runners if they’re going to stick with it … but he just kept coming every day and he kept getting better and better.” He said both students are open to coaching and have excellent work ethics.“James is a kid who came out his freshman year of outdoor track, and the talent was there right off the bat,” Flynn said.

Both teens were diagnosed with diabetes at routine physicals without any symptoms. Type 1 diabetes disease occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin to control blood sugar levels. “They borrow each other’s (glucose) meter,” said Antoinette Strmiska, James’ mother. “When Nick was having a lot of trouble with his glucose level, James would say, ‘Here, borrow my meter,’ or, ‘You need to have a snack.’ They’d look out for each other.” Strmiska, of Canterbury, has an older brother who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 5. James Strmiska used to help his older brother, his mother said. James Strmiska played basketball in middle school and said he started track because of the disease.

“It definitely takes my mind off it, and it helps with the blood sugar,” he said. Strmiska also likes to eat — hamburgers, apples and spaghetti — and exercise helps lower the blood sugar. Emard is the second of three boys. He moved to Griswold about seven years ago from Indiana, ran in middle school, and played a year of high school soccer before trying winter track. “I like the team aspect of cross country, that you compete as the team,” he said. “But it’s also individual, because you run for yourself and your own times. I think it’s kind of relaxing, too. Because you just put your problems behind you and run.” The boys ran together all summer, and ran near the front of the pack during the Windham Invite. Strmiska’s mother was cheering in the crowd when Emard finished first.

“We were so excited, we were screaming at the top of our lungs when he came around the corner,” Antoinette Strmiska said. Both said they’d like to keep running in college. Strmiska said he might become an athletic trainer or a doctor someday. Emard’s thought about physical therapy. “I think Nick will run in college wherever he goes, and I think throughout his college running he will just get better,” Flynn said. “James has all the talent in the world. He can be as good as he wants to be.”

sodaSoda Vending Machine

Sugary soft drinks are coming under fire from health experts and government officials, who blame them for making people fat. While millions of people around the globe continue to purchase and enjoy the sweet, carbonated beverages, others have come to see them as a health hazard. In the United States, experts are careful not to put all of the blame for the nation’s expanding waistlines on the consumption of just one food item. But they say about half of the recent increase in Americans’ caloric intake comes from liquids, and primarily sweetened beverages. Soft drinks, at least the non-diet variety, are loaded with calories. Some brands contain as much as 83 g of sugar in one serving. The U.S. National Soft Drink Association acknowledges that people drink huge amounts of their products. The association says the biggest consumers of soda are young males, who drink, on average, nearly two liters each day.


Diets high in sugary drinks are linked to obesity, which in turn is linked to a number of serious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Some medical experts say nearly two thirds of Americans are already overweight. They predict that more than a quarter of the public could soon be become obese if the trend continues. (Obesity is roughly defined as being 13 kg heavier than one’s expected weight). n the face of such facts, government and school officials, as well as medical associations are becoming more aggressive in their opposition to soft drinks. Already, many schools in the U.S. have banned or restricted the sale of soda. According to researchers hired by The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the campaign resulted in a 65% reduction in shipments of full-calorie soft drinks to schools from 2007 to 2008.

“In August, the American Heart Association issued a recommendation that Americans significantly reduce their intake of sugar. The new recommended maximum sugar intake is 44g daily. That’s less than the amount of sugar found in one can of Coke or Pepsi.”


Government leaders across the country are beginning to propose new taxes on the popular beverages.

California state senator Alex Padilla, who chairs his state’s Select Committee on Obesity and Diabetes, plans to hold hearings in November on the link between soda consumption and obesity. In San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom says he will propose legislation that would impose a fee on stores that sell sugary beverages. Newsom calls soft drinks “the new tobacco,” saying they have joined cigarettes in the pantheon of dangerous health hazards.


The medical establishment in the United States seems to be lining up solidly behind the idea that the consumption of sugary soft drinks should be discouraged through taxation. The American Medical Association (AMA) has called for a tax on the sweeteners used in soft drinks with the money going to pay for a public health education campaign. The New England Journal of Medicine, wants a tax on each purchase of any beverage that has added caloric (non-diet) sweetener. The tax would raise the cost of a bottle of soft drink by 15-20 percent, but reduce by 10% the nation’s caloric intake from sweetened beverages.

Although the Obama administration has not officially come out in favor of a such a tax, Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, openly favors it. Sweetened beverages “play a significant role in the obesity epidemic,” Frieden says.


The New York Times newspaper recently quoted soft drink industry spokesman Kevin W. Keane as denying that soda alone is responsible for the nation’s obesity problem. He calls obesity a complex problem and questions whether taxing the beverages would help.

With all of the bad publicity, the soft drink industry has seen a decline in sales beginning in 2005 and in each following year.

Products popular with the public have come under government fire before. In the last century, scientific studies demonstrated that smoking was harmful to people’s health. The U.S. government restricted the sale of tobacco and put high taxes on cigarettes to discourage people from smoking. Some are wondering if sugary soft drinks are about to get similar treatment.

© 2009 VOA

O'odham people are being encouraged to go back to eating the traditional foods and a cafe on the reservation is making those foods appealing

The second largest Native American tribe, Tohono O’odham, has the highest rate of adult onset diabetes in the world.   Many of the tribe’s 28,000 members live on a reservation in the desert in the U.S. southwest state of Arizona.  Until 1960, no one had diabetes because people ate traditional foods that helped prevent the disease.  But with the introduction of foods high in fat and calories, diabetes became widespread, including in children.  Now the O’odham people are being encouraged to go back to eating the traditional foods and a cafe on the reservation is making those foods appealing.

This is lunch hour at the Desert Rain Cafe on the Tohono O’odham reservation in Arizona.  Each dish contains at least one traditional food from plants that grow on the reservation.   This popular chicken sandwich has a sauce made from Prickly Pear cactus.  Customers are raving about the tasty and healthy food. The cafe also serves calcium rich cholla buds from the Cholla cactus, and fruit smoothies with nutritious chia seeds.  Cafe manager Sam Saunders says another popular meal is meat with high protein tepary beans.   He also says he put seeds from a giant cactus in the region in some dishes. “These are the saguaro seeds that are grown on the Saguaro cactus.  It’s harvested only one time a year,” he explained.

Tristan Reader, Co-Director of the Tohono O’odham Community Action group, started the cafe to encourage people to eat traditional foods. “A mom might be able, if she doesn’t have time to cook, she can come in, get those good, healthy foods, and take them home for dinner,” Reader explained. Tribal health officials say up to 70 percent of the O’odham people have diabetes.  Reader says the traditional foods can prevent diabetes, which affects children as young as six years old. “The same compounds that let the plant survive actually regulate blood sugar levels.  They keep blood sugar levels even and help prevent diabetes and keep diabetics healthier,” he said.

Faith Pablo is with a diabetes prevention program on the reservation and is testing this woman’s blood sugar level. “We want people to eat more traditional foods again, to use more of those foods that weren’t raising sugars, to get people to become more aware of what they’re putting in their bodies,” Pablo said. Traditionally, the Tohono O’dham were farmers who harvested food from native plants and grew crops that could withstand the desert heat.   But today few people farm and the cafe is growing its own crops.

Until 1960, no one had diabetes because people ate traditional foods that helped prevent the disease. But with the introduction of foods high in fat and calories, diabetes became widespread among the Tohono O’odham tribe.

Farm manager Noland Johnson says the tepary bean is one of the world’s most heat resistant. “They’re very drought tolerant.  I’ve seen them go up to 4 or 5 weeks without water,” he explained. The farm also plants corn that sprouts quickly from the dry earth.   The corn is served at the café and is also dried for future use. “It’s pretty much saved for years, that you can keep it and store it, and then eat is when you need it,” Johnson said. The Desert Rain Cafe is introducing traditional foods to young people who may not have eaten them before.  This girl says it would be hard to give up some of the less healthy foods she’s used to eating. Reader says he wants schools on the reservation to serve traditional foods, instead of high calorie and fatty meals. “And if a kid grows up eating traditional foods, one or two meals a day, every day at school, then that’s what they are going to be used to,” he said. He says bringing back traditional foods is also important in preserving the Tohono O’odham culture, because those foods are part of stories and used in ceremonies.

Deborah Block | Tohono O’odham Reservation, Arizona

My Diabetes Central has an interesting article on the swine flu & diabetes. Learn what you can do to protect yourself against the H1N1 virus. Remember that diabetics often take longer to heal from certain illnesses, and or injuries. This is a very serious disease, and all diabetics need to be mindful of what’s going on with this epidemic. It’s also good to remember that any kind of stress; which includes colds, flu, cold medicines, etc., can raise your blood sugar significantly. Check your sugar often especially when your sick. Many times when we are sick, our normal senses that would tell us if we are high or low usually don’t work. Therefore, don’t guess, test!!

by: Ruby Bhayani

Keeping diabetes in check between doctor visits (ARA) – Americans are taking a closer look at their own personal health and assessing changes they can make, as the topic of health care remains front and center. More and more, people are paying attention to the cost of prevention and care for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, as they have a high risk for health complications. Diabetes now affects nearly 24 million people in the United States, an increase of more than 3 million in approximately two years, according to 2007 prevalence data estimates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If not controlled, diabetes in particular can lead to serious health complications including heart disease, blindness and kidney failure. That’s why it is extremely important to manage the disease on a daily basis. To stay healthy and avoid potential consequences, people with diabetes can take steps every day to manage the disease. In addition to eating a balanced diet and exercising, this also involves monitoring blood glucose levels each day and seeing their physician regularly to check in and monitor their A1C levels – a test that provides a two to three month indication of average of blood glucose. Fortunately, medical advances have made it easier for people with chronic illnesses, like diabetes, to closely monitor their health and better manage the disease, along with their healthcare providers. For example, years ago, people with diabetes relied on laboratory obtained tests to get a clinical measure of their A1C levels – a process that required a wait time. Now patients can, for the first time, test their A1C at-home and get results within five minutes with Bayer’s A1CNow(R) SELFCHECK in between regularly scheduled doctor visits. This allows them to take a more active role in their diabetes over the long term, like modifying their diet and exercise, and have an informed discussion with their healthcare provider based on the results. By working with their doctors on appropriate disease management, patients may see a reduction of their A1C level and subsequently reduce their risk for complications associated with diabetes. A 1 percent point reduction in A1C can reduce the risk of serious complications by 40 percent. The A1CNow SELFCHECK allows patients to further participate in their diabetes care by monitoring their A1C levels in between physician visits. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends performing an A1C test at least two times a year in patients who are meeting treatment goals and have stable glycemic control. The ADA recommends quarterly testing (four times a year) for patients whose therapy has changed or are not meeting glycemic goals. Clinical research and advancements in technology are helping people with diabetes manage the chronic condition to achieve long-term success until a cure for the disease is found. People with diabetes are encouraged to visit www.SimpleWins.com for more information on the tools and resources that can help them properly manage the disease and invest in their health. Courtesy of ARAcontent.

About the Author

Rubyna Bhayani , Registered Nurse and Certified Case Manager with extensive clinical experience in the fields of Geriatric Case Management, Long Term Disability Management and Home Health Services.  I am the Proud owner and manager of Senior Care Companion, an in-home Personal Care Assistance Provider.

By Susan C. Conrad, MD, and Stephen E. Gitelman, MD


Melissa, 17, has had diabetes since she was 3 years old. When she was young, her mother took care of her diabetes management, and Melissa’s A1C’s were usually under 8 percent.

When Melissa became a teenager, she began to take more responsibility for her diabetes care. She took glargine once a day and lispro before meals. She based her mealtime doses on how much carbohydrate she planned to eat. She also added a correction factor if needed, adding 1 unit for every 50 mg/dl above 100 mg/dl.

At a recent diabetes clinic visit, Melissa said that she was satisfied with her blood glucose control. When her meter memory was downloaded, it showed at least three or four blood glucose checks a day, and almost all were in the 70-180 mg/dl range. But her A1C was 9.4 percent. That meant that Melissa’s average blood glucose level over the past two to three months had been over 250 mg/dl.

Possible Reasons:

There are many reasons an A1C may not agree with home blood glucose checks.

If you check your blood glucose levels only before meals, you catch only the lowest values of the day. By checking two hours after meals, you may catch some high glucose levels that would otherwise be missed.
Glucose meters need to be calibrated with a code from the test strip. If the wrong code is entered, the results may be wrong.
Test strips need to be protected from light. If they aren’t, they may give incorrect results.
Some medical conditions can affect A1C.
But in teens, a surprisingly common reason that an A1C does not agree with the blood glucose log is that the numbers in the log aren’t true. Some teens simply make up numbers without checking blood glucose. Others report numbers that are “better” than what the meter showed.

After a lengthy discussion, Melissa admitted that she had used the meter’s control solution for most of the checks. She said she was tired of dealing with her diabetes, and she found it “exhausting” to meet the expectations of her family and diabetes team.

Her mother, who always came with Melissa to her clinic visits, was surprised to find out that Melissa had used the control solution. She said she had little involvement now with Melissa’s diabetes care. Melissa seemed to want to be more independent, didn’t want her mother to “nag” her, and seemed to have things under control.

Caution: Teen Years Ahead
The teen years are rough, for teens and their parents. Diabetes adds another area for conflict.

In many children, blood glucose control worsens when they hit their teens. Part of this is biology: Growth hormone, testosterone, and estrogen make their bodies less sensitive to insulin. Part is social and psychological: Teens want to be to be like their peers. They want to be independent. They test limits.

When out-of-range blood glucose numbers start coming up, parents may get upset or angry, and may nag or punish. Or at least, this is how the teen sees it. So the teen may become secretive.

It’s tempting to think that this is “just a phase” and that diabetes control will get better again after high school. But recent research suggests that poor coping habits now may continue into adulthood. It’s important to break this cycle now.

Your teen is not mature enough to handle all his or her diabetes care alone and still needs your help with this complicated, frustrating, never-ending task.

What You Can Do

Get help from your diabetes care team. Extra sessions with the diabetes educator may be needed. It may help to see a social worker or psychologist, who can teach your teen coping skills.
To keep from “nagging,” try having a set time every evening to review your teen’s blood glucose results.

- Keep in mind that the numbers on the meter are neither “bad” nor “good,” they are information.

- Your job could be to simply record the numbers from the meter’s memory. Or you might help your teen look for patterns: highs or lows at certain times of days, or on certain days. Talk to your diabetes educator about how to adjust the insulin plan when you see these patterns. Your teen may need to take a break from diabetes care, and you could do all the tasks that day.

Susan C. Conrad, MD, is a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital and Research Center at Oakland in Oakland, Calif. Stephen E. Gitelman, MD, is a professor of clinical pediatrics in the Department of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco.