Diabetes Basics Video

Here is a great video on the basics of what diabetes is.

And here is one on Type 2 Diabetes.

The New Science Of “Epigenetics”


Explanations of how diabetes develops and progresses often involves two things: genes and environment. In other words, you may be born with a genetic disposition to diabetes that is then triggered by an environmental event or behavior. As it turns out, though, these factors aren’t always so separate. Scientists are finding that the environment can affect and even permanently modify genes themselves. How and why this happens is the subject of an emerging field of research called epigenetics. And the evidence suggests that diabetes may both cause epigenetic changes and be caused by them. It’s a classic of what came first, the chicken or the egg.

The prefix epi- means “on top of” or “in addition to”; epigenetics is the modification of the surface and message of a gene without altering the underlying DNA sequence. It’s something like making a proofreading mark on a document.

For people with diabetes, high or low blood glucose may trigger epigenetic changes. Some research suggests that these changes to genes may spur the development of diabetic complications, such as kidney damage and heart disease. Even a brief exposure to high blood glucose may cause an epigenetic change that stays in your body. This is called hyperglycemic memory, and it may explain why some people with diabetes get complications in spite of having good blood glucose control on average.

The development of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is known to be influenced by the environment. Researchers are looking into what types of environmental factors, from nutrients and toxins to behavior and lifestyle, can trigger these epigenetic changes that raise or lower diabetes risk.

Scientists suspect that a mother’s nutrition while pregnant or a child’s diet during early life may even cause epigenetic changes that persist into adulthood. For the diabetes population, this is important because the pancreas’s insulin-producing beta cells replicate very early in life and then stop. “So a cell with epigenetic changes [from early life] just stays there.” And if epigenetic changes are transferred between cells through replication, then these changes in early life may have an even greater effect since they will be passed from the mother cell to the daughter cell throughout growth.

Epigenetics is a young field and a challenging one. Just identifying epigenetic changes to genes is difficult, a bit like trying to find a single out-of-place word in a long novel. Even so, researchers may someday discover through the study of epigenetics that the key to diabetes resides at the intersection of where genes and the environment meet.

Are Carbs The Enemy?


When it comes to diabetes, there may be no topic more fraught with controversy than carbohydrates. Sure, everyone agrees that the body uses carbs for energy in the form of glucose. But how much carbohydrate should people with diabetes really eat?
That question has divided researchers, doctors, dietitians—and people with diabetes themselves. Some insulin users in particular find that their blood glucose is far easier to control when they limit the carbs in their diet. Others think people with diabetes deserve to eat (and enjoy) the same healthy diet recommended for all Americans. All are deeply passionate on the subject. And, in a sense, they may all be right.

Today, most people with diabetes are encouraged to eat a balanced diet of lean meats and dairy, whole grains, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables. This concept is backed by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as well as the American Heart Association and American Dietetic Association, and it incorporates recommendations from agencies like the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. While the ADA does not specify exact grams or percentages of calories from carbohydrate, the approach is generally moderate in carbs. According to Marion J. Franz, MS, RD, CDE, a registered dietitian and nutrition/health consultant in Minneapolis, studies have shown that people with diabetes generally get about 40 to 45 percent of their calories from carbs.

The moderate-carb approach stresses that grains should come in the form of whole grains instead of refined grains (like white flour), which have been stripped of important vitamins and minerals. Research has shown that eating a moderate-carb, high-fiber diet (like one that includes whole grains) may improve post-meal glucose levels and lower the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Indeed, a lot of those newly diagnosed with diabetes are happy to find out that they can still have most of their favorite foods, in moderation—as long as they lower their blood glucose with medication and exercise. (People who control their diabetes without medication or who take oral drugs will need to watch how carbs affect their glucose levels and then work with their doctor to determine the right number of carbs and amount of medication needed to stay in good glucose control.) Gone are the days of “diabetic diets” that were meager and confining. Today, the idea is that people with diabetes can eat everything recommended to those without the disease. “If we look at what’s important for all of us,” says Franz, “it’s important to eat healthy foods in the right portion sizes.”

People with diabetes looking for a one-size-fits-all “right” way to eat are going to come up short. There probably is no one way to eat that works for everyone. For some, all but nixing carbs is the ideal way to normalize blood glucose levels. For others, eating a higher-carb diet and covering the carbs with insulin or oral medications wins. This is all part of the reason that the American Diabetes Association stresses that meal plans should be geared to fit each person’s individual lifestyle.

So what should you do if you have diabetes and you’re trying to eat healthfully? First of all, keep in mind that what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you—and vice versa. You may need to experiment a bit to see how different methods affect your blood glucose levels. Consider making an appointment with a registered dietitian, who can review your individual needs and circumstances and help you tailor a nutrition plan that’s right for you. In the end, the best diet is the healthy one you’re able to follow.

Join the Million Challenge

Dear Fellow Diabetics,

As someone with type 2 diabetes, you know far too well the toll diabetes takes on your day-to-day life. Therefore, today is your chance to help loved ones avoid going through something similar by learning their risk for type 2 diabetes.

Are you up for the challenge?

Today is the 23rd annual American Diabetes Association Alert Day. Encourage your friends and family to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Share the Diabetes Risk Test with your friends and family by going to the site at the bottom of this post.

Just by taking the test, they will become a part of the Join the Million Challenge, an effort to have 1 million people join the Stop Diabetes® movement.

There has never been a more urgent time for people to know their risk. New reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show:

One in three Americans is at risk for type 2 diabetes; and
One in four people with diabetes is unaware that he or she has the disease.

Please help us spread the word about the Join the Million Challenge. Chances are someone you love is at risk.

Together we can Stop Diabetes once and for all.

How Dangerous Is That “Beer Belly”?

How Dangerous Is That “Beer Belly”?

    No one wants to be fat, but does it matter where the fat is located?  Apparently it does. Researchers have found visceral or intra-abdominal fat is more dangerous than other fats. This “beer belly” fat is connected to many health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Scientists aren’t quite sure why this type of fat is so dangerous. The theory is that all fat cells secrete hazardous chemicals, and those deep in the abdomen release three times as many of these chemicals as those under the skin. Also, the chemicals made by visceral fat cells are dumped directly into the liver, causing disruption in normal liver operations.
 How can you tell if you have too much of this fat? Nutritionists say that women that have waists of more than 35 inches and men who have waists more than 40 inches are at increased risk of health problems. What should you do to get rid of this fat? Take a walk--literally. Studies have shown that just walking 1 hour a day is better than dieting to lose the same amount of weight and visceral fat. So get your tennis shoes on and take a hike. Your mind and body will appreciate itJ. (Diabetes Self Management Sept/Oct 2009)
Socrates Theme 2010