Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Most people don't understand diabetes. There are plenty of misconceptions out there. Fortunately, I had been researching it for years before I got the disease because my mother has had it for a long time. Of course, there's still plenty for me to learn. I seriously doubt anyone who has it will ever quite fully understand what are the right and wrong ways to deal with it. For example, some things may effect you one day and not the next. Why? Who knows. I am going to try to explain some of the areas that I get questioned on by my friends.

Before I knew I had it, I had been feeling below par for some time. When I realized what I had and was officially diagnosed by a medical professional, it explained why I had mood swings and why I was rather irritable at times. Normally, I've never had much of a temper. One always wants to believe they are healthy and to find out about this can bring you into an emotional quagmire, which I did kind of fall into. It became almost an obsession for the first month and that seemed to be the topic of most of my conversations. Some of my friends started to drift away in fear that, uh-oh, here comes Diabetes Dave again. I noticed it, too, and began to realize I needed to get on with my life. Granted, it can snowball on you. I wasn't feeling well at all and that was compounded by my fear. I believe the blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol medications have helped me tremendously. My blood glucose levels have come down and I don't feel nearly as achy and weak as I used to. Mentally, I have adjusted as well. I no longer think my life will be cut short. Most people can live long lives as long as they maintain a proper regimen of diet, exercise and monitoring sugar and lipid levels regularly.

One fallacy is that we must give up many of the foods we've always enjoyed eating. Everyone thinks we cannot eat sugar. With proper drugs, there is no reason to stop eating all sugar. Certainly, I'm not going to play a game of Russian Roulette with myself by buying candy and other junk none of us should really eat to begin with. Where I used to do that, instead I eat an orange or an apple. This way, I get natural sugar and nutrition, to boot. Carbohydrates are the real culprit. They raise blood glucose levels. That means a big plate of spaghetti is no longer an option. Neither are many breads, particularly those made with bleached flour. Rice, potatoes, corn and other starchy foods should be kept to a minimum. Instead of eating a plate full of mashed potatoes, I eat less than a quarter. We need good carbs at each meal. Some say to curb fruit and bean consumption because of it, but my first doctor told me I could eat all the fruits and vegetables I want. Beans, too. Eating a diet in carbohydrate-rich foods with low glycemic indices like fruits, beans and oatmeal may reduce the odds of someone getting diabetes. This also has the added benefit of increasing your vitamin, mineral and fiber intake. Protein is very important with each meal. Now, every time I go to the grocery store, I carefully examine the nutritional facts for fat, cholesterol, sugar and sodium content. It's a pain, yes, because many of the things I would like to eat are somewhat suspect. Once in a while, I'll treat myself.

Not all diabetics are on insulin. I'm not. I take a pill. Type 2, or adult onset, means that your pancreas isn't producing as much insulin as it should to properly process sugar in your body. That's where energy comes from. It could also mean that your organs aren't doing the job with the insulin, too. It might be a combination of the two. In type 1 diabetics, the pancreas produces no insulin and the only way to get it is through injections. Ironically, type 2 can eventually turn into type 1 as the pancreas stops producing altogether, but never the other way around. That is the fate a lot of diabetics face and it's not because you're not taking care of yourself, it's just the nature of the disease. It is progressive.

Exercise is of the utmost importance. If you remain a couch potato, your heart, kidneys, liver, eyes and nervous system will begin to fail. I try to park far away from a store so I am forced to walk a greater distance. Every little bit helps.

You don't have to be obese to be a diabetic. I'm certainly not and never was. As a matter of fact, I lost a lot of weight because of it. The most I've ever weighed was 205. I settled in at around 185 for many years. The other morning, I weighed myself. 158. All my friends are really noticing it now. I don't want to lose any more!

Diabetes is brought on by many factors. It could be from a poor diet, especially what's in processed foods today. New York City recently passed a law banning trans fats in all restaurants. Now I know why. You want to increase your chances of getting it? Keep eating those Twinkies. If you ever have felt that smooth grease on the roof of your mouth while eating something tasty, that's the trans fats in action. Remember, trans fats have a higher melting temperature than your body. That means every time you eat something containing it, it solidifies in your system and starts to go to work clogging your arteries and doing other nasty deeds. Long ago, the government gave hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils the green light, assuming it was a healthy alternative to the saturated animal fats in other products, like butter. They were wrong. Avoid trans fats at all costs! Studies have shown that vegetarians have a much lower risk of getting diabetes type 2. Lack of exercise will also contribute to greater risks of getting sick. I can attest to that. Remember that genetics play a giant role in acquiring diabetes. If someone in your family has it, there's a good chance you will, too, especially if you don't take care of yourself. Age also increases the risk. People over 45 are more susceptible and the odds go up every year. American Indians, Hispanics and African-Americans are more prone to develope type 2. Everyone should get checked for high blood pressure and blood fats as they age.

Quit smoking! That is something that's weighing heavily on my mind. With every puff, I'm increasing my risks of having heart attacks and strokes. Smokers are more likely to become diabetic than are non-smokers. Alcohol is bad. For healthy people, moderate drinking lowers blood sugar and improves glucose tolerance. There are alcohols diabetics should avoid, like beer and liqueurs. Anything with carbs and sugar. Diabetics who drink are at a much higher risk for eye and nerve damage in the form of neuropathy. No more than 2 drinks a day, if any at all.

Here are some nutritional supplements to take if you have diabetes:

Alpha lipoic acid


Evening primrose oil



Always check with your primary care physician before you take any additional supplements. For one thing, there is a chance that something might interfere with other medications. I will continue to study this disease and report anything I find of interest, that I think is truly of benefit. I will not ever write something that could be questionable. I don't care what some of those quacks out there are spewing, there is no cure. It is a lot more controllable if diabetics take very good care of themselves.


  1. I was just in Cancun where I spent too much time thinking about transfats and the consumption of liquor because I think I ate many foods with and the consompution of alcoholic beverages is very much encouraged

    Proud of you for becoming so informed

  2. Thank you, Pia. I'm trying to become as informed as I can. If it helps even one other person out there, I'd be very happy.

    Boy, Cancun. I envy you. I enjoy Mexican food a lot. Too bad I can't eat much of it any more, but it's not very diabetic friendly. Oh well.