As someone living with diabetes it’s easy to feel alone and, often, more like you are an exhibit than a person. This is largely because what most people know about diabetes comes from what they learned as kids in the late 20th century: no sugar ever, diabetics have to poke themselves all day with needles and that following a diabetic diet is complicated and involves lots of advance planning.
Wow are those things not true anymore. The problem isn’t that your friends and family are callous. It’s more that—even though there have been massive strides in understanding and better treating the disease, getting the word out and raising awareness about these developments hasn’t exactly been the ADA’s forte. We talked about diabetes a little bit last year, but a lot has happened since then!
To help put your friends and family at ease (and to curb those “should you be eating that?” questions), try sharing the following developments with them.
Blood Sugar Monitoring is Easier Than Ever
As a diabetic, an important step in living with the disease is making sure your blood sugar levels are within safe levels. Luckily for you and the millions of others living with the disease, this isn’t nearly the chore it used to be just 10 years ago. These days you can get a blood glucose monitor that isn’t nearly as invasive as the old needle. Digital blood glucose monitors allow you to see your sugar levels quickly and easily and take away any uncertainty as to whether or not you are in the safe zone.
Exercise Can Affect Blood Sugar
So many people believe that people with diabetes, especially people with Type 2 diabetes, need to get as much exercise as possible. And while, yes, getting regular exercise can help diabetics manage their disease, there are specific conditions that need to exist for that workout to be beneficial and not detrimental. The Mayo Clinic urges diabetics to check their blood sugar levels before working out. You want to aim for blood glucose levels of 100-250 mg/dLs. Too low and a workout could drop your levels too far. If the numbers are too high, it’s time for a ketone test because you could send yourself into ketoacidosis—a very dangerous condition that needs immediate treatment.
There are Medications to Help Control Type 2 Diabetes
Most people think of type 2 diabetes as the one that’s controllable (aka the one obese people get). The truth is that sometimes people with type 2 diabetes need help controlling their blood sugar levels. In April the FDA approved the use of a drug called Tanzeum to help regulate hormones and better control the symptoms and effects of type 2 diabetes. It, and other medications like it are readily available now (whereas, not so long ago type 2 diabetics had to be hyper vigilant about their food intake and exercise amounts).
A Cure Might Be Closer Than We Thought!
Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center have managed to successfully create insulin producing cells. This is amazing for Type I diabetics (aka insulin dependent diabetics). The researchers took human intestinal cells and deactivated their FOXO1 gene which, after a week, started automatically producing insulin when exposed to glucose. This means that, while there is no cure, a treatment that will reduce Type 1 diabetics’ insulin dependency might only be a few years out. Exciting!