Insulin Producing Cell Pouch Approaching Clinical Trials in Humans

January 7th, 2011

A Canadian health sciences company focusing on innovative medical technology has successfully tested an organ-like device containing insulin producing islet cells in animals, and is pursuing FDA approval to conduct clinical trials in humans in 2011. There were no adverse side effects associated with the device during the study, during which the diabetic pigs receiving the insulin delivery system achieved long-term blood sugar control.

Sernova Corporation's patented Cell Pouch System is implanted under the skin, where it develops into what the company refers to as "a tissue engineered pancreas" when infused with islet cells. The islet cells deliver insulin to the body, much as the islet cells of the pancreas do in people and animals without insulin dependent diabetes.

Current islet cell transplantation involves removing insulin-producing cells from a donor pancreas and transferring them through a needle directly into the liver of a person with diabetes. The technology is still considered experimental, and is hampered by the body's immune system, which sees the insulin producing cells as foreign invaders and attempts to reject them. The Cell Pouch protects the cells from the immune system, eliminating the need for powerful anti-rejection drugs, which often have serious side effects. The Cell Pouch would be less costly, and requires only about 10% of the insulin producing islets used in the existing islet cell transplant technique.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the US. The number of American adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled over the past decade, rising from 9 million to 19 million, largely because of soaring obesity rates. While they are more effective, the newer diabetes medications can cost as much as ten times more than the older generic diabetes drugs. Given the option to both save money and avoid daily insulin injections, most diabetics would welcome the option of the new Cell Pouch.

Sernova Corporation says its Cell Pouch System has the potential to treat a wide range of conditions besides insulin dependent diabetes, including Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, and hemophilia.

About Us

January 19th, 2011

This is an informal online resource for diabetics using long-acting insulin. We scour the internet for the latest news, views and articles of interest on diabetes, so that you don't have to.

No"Diabetes for Dummies" or "Debby Downer" here.We assume most of you already know the basics about your condition and your diabetes medication. We approach diabetes from a positive perspective.We believe that not only can you live with diabetes; you can thrive with it.

We welcome your comments and your ideas. What works for you? How do you deal with common (and not so common) diabetes dilemmas? What's the most unusual challenge you have faced? What is the upside of diabetes? Heard any good diabetes jokes lately?

Disclaimer: This blog is not written by medical professionals, and the information on this site is not meant to be medical advice, or to replace the instructions of your doctor. If you have questions or concerns about your condition, talk to your healthcare professional.


January 19th, 2011

This is an example of a WordPress page, you could edit this to put information about yourself or your site so readers know where you are coming from. You can create as many pages like this one or sub-pages as you like and manage all of your content inside of WordPress.

Long Acting Insulin

January 22nd, 2011

Super Long Acting Insulin Developed in India

Scientists from India's National Immunology Institute (NII) have developed a new long-acting insulin that can control blood sugar in animals for up to 120 days with a single insulin injection. In contrast, the most effective long-acting insulin on the market today is only effective for a maximum of 18 hours.

The new diabetes medication, dubbed supramolecular insulin assembly-II, or SIA-II, is a "prodrug - a drug administered in an inactive form that becomes active after being administered. Prodrugs are generally better absorbed, distributed, and metabolized than active drugs.

Both bovine and human insulin versions of SIA-II are faring well in animal testing, and the researchers have every expectation that they will perform equally well in clinical trials in humans. "Personally speaking, SIA-II can straight away go to human trials," says NII Director Professor Avadhesha Surolia, "It is pretty safe, as we have not modified the insulin, nor is any addictive used."

The insulin's long lasting effects are due to a unique process called protein folding, in which bovine or human insulin is altered or "misfolded" to form a supramolecule which is protected from the body's enzymatic action. This protection allows the molecules to be stored in the body and be slowly released over long periods of time.

The NII team has been working on the patented SIA-II technology for two years, and recently entered into what Surolia calls "one of the biggest licensing deals from any academic institution in India", licensing the technology to Life Science Pharmaceuticals from Connecticut. A subsidiary of Life Science, Extended Delivery Pharmaceuticals, will be continuing trials of the new diabetic medication.

Experts speculate that the superlative long-term blood sugar control achieved with the use of the novel diabetes medication may indicate some level of recovery of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas that normally stop functioning in insulin dependent or type 1 diabetes.

There is some debate as to whether the super long-acting insulin will be of more benefit to type 1 or type 2 diabetics. India, dubbed "the diabetes capital of the world", has over 50 million diabetics, most of them type 2. Some Indians are paying an average one-quarter of their family income for their current diabetes medication. "Our motivation was to reduce the burden of diabetes," says Surolia, "It doesn't matter whether it's type 1 or 2."

Check This Out

January 22nd, 2011

?Hot foods raise blood sugar faster than cold foods, and overcooked foods raise blood sugar faster than undercooked foods:

?Halle Berry fell into a diabetic come on the set of The Living Dolls:

?Boxers Sugar Ray Robinson, "Smokin' Joe" Frazier and James "Buster" Douglas all have diabetes:

?The Australians have developed a low glycemic index potato:

?Breathalyzers don't always distinguish between the ethanol present when someone has been drinking and the acetone that is present when someone is having a diabetic reaction:

?WebMD taste-tested sugar-free chocolate:

?Generic Lantus is coming soon! We'll keep you posted.

Fresh Comments

January 22nd, 2011

content will be soon

Injection-Free Insulin Inhaler Awaiting FDA Approval

January 24th, 2011

A new injection-free insulin inhaler is awaiting FDA approval for the treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Insulin can't be taken orally, as digestive juices break it down before it can be used by the body. Currently, the only means of delivering insulin are subcutaneous insulin injections or intravenously.

AFREZZA is an ultra-rapid acting inhaled insulin developed by MannKind Corporation. It uses patented Technospere technology to deliver powdered insulin from a thumb-sized device into the lungs. The lungs are an effective option for delivering diabetes medication, largely because of their huge surface area (about the size of a single tennis court).

AFREEZA is a short-acting mealtime insulin, meaning type 1 diabetics will need to combine it with long-acting insulin for complete diabetes control. Clinical trial participants using the new insulin inhaler experienced less hypoglycemia and weight gain than did controls using a standard combination of long-acting glargine insulin and twice a day 70 30 insulin injections.

Generex Biotechnology Corporation also has a rapid-acting insulin spray in clinical trials. Oral-lyn is a buccal spray insulin which is absorbed through the buccal mucosa (mucous membranes on the inside of the cheeks), bypassing the lungs and quickly entering the blood stream. The inhaled insulin is sprayed in the mouth just before meals, delivering about one unit of human insulin per spray. If approved, it may be the only medication needed by many type 2 diabetics.

Oral-lyn's patented inhalation device resembles an asthma inhaler. Steven Elkman was an Oral-Lyn study participant who successfully managed his type 2 diabetes with the experimental spray insulin. Elkman loved how discreet the inhaler is. "Nobody really notices because so many people use inhalators for asthmatic medication," he says, "It doesn't really attract any attention."

The FDA actually approved the first inhaled insulin, called Exubera, to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes in 2006. It was a short-acting powdered form of recombinant human insulin, delivered into the lungs through an insulin inhaler. But the new system of insulin delivery never really caught on, and Pfizer dropped the novel diabetes medication from the market a year later. AFREZZA is easier to use, faster acting and boasts better bioavailability than Exubera, enabling diabetics to achieve better insulin levels using smaller amounts.

Patients in clinical trials of the new inhaled insulins have reported enhanced quality of life, overall satisfaction, and greater acceptance of being insulin dependent. Dr. Larry Deeb, a pediatric endrocrinologist from the University of Florida College of Medicine, says that finding an alternative to insulin injections is crucial, especially for children and the needle-phobic. "Insulin administration is a huge issue for people with diabetes," he stresses, "You have to appreciate the fear [of injections]. Insulin omission is one of the major issues in diabetes."

Carb Neutralizer May Help With Diabetes Control

January 24th, 2011

While you're probably better off spending your money on lottery tickets than most over the counter weight loss products, there's one that actually managed to win the approval of both the FDA and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Phase 2 Carb Controller might be worth looking into, especially for those with diabetes mellitus. Phase 2 is an all natural product extracted from white kidney beans that helps reduce your body's absorption of calories from starchy foods. It works by inhibiting the digestive enzyme alpha-amylase enzyme from breaking the starch in food down into sugar. This allows some of the starch to pass through the intestinal tract undigested. One UCLA study found that phase 2 reduced starch absorption by as much as 66%.

Of special interest to those with diabetes mellitus, Phase 2 also reduces the glycemic index of starchy food, helping to avoid elevated blood sugar spikes after a meal. The optimum time to take the carb controller is just before a meal, with 8 ounces of water. It can also be sprinkled over your food. Phase 2 is largely tasteless, but health expert and pharmacist Sherry Torkos, who recommends the starch neutralizer for both weight management and blood glucose control, says it has a "slightly savory" flavor. Torkos recommends carrying convenient packets of Carb Intercept "sprinkles" to shake on top of your mashed potatoes, rice, bread, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates when eating out.

Phase 2 has been on the market since 2001, and is the active ingredient in a number of weight management supplements, including Carb Intercept, Meta Slim, Starch Blocker Plus and Carb Shredder. It's available in tablet, capsule, powder and chewable form. It has even been added to a weight loss supplement for dogs, called K-9 Slim Down. Phase 2 is heat stable, so it can be used in cooking and baking. More and more manufacturers are adding a form of the carb neutralizer known as StarchLite to their products.

Phase 2 is made from non-genetically modified white beans, and numerous clinical studies have concluded it is safe. The product can't be absorbed by the digestive system, and is simply eliminated from the body. Adverse effects are rare and minimal, and include mild nausea, gas, and low blood sugar in type 1 diabetics.

Phase 2 Carb Controller is not a magic pill that will melt away the pounds with no effort on your part, and people using the product for weight management and diabetes blood glucose control are still encouraged to avoid simple carbohydrates like white bread and eat complex carbs only in moderation. But the FDA does allow the manufacturer to say Phase 2 may assist with weight control along with diet and exercise, and to claim it may reduce the enzymatic digestion of dietary starches. As we all know, weight control plays a huge role in diabetes control.

Innovative Insulin Delivery Patch-Pen About to Hit the Market

January 24th, 2011

In a recent Loyola University study out of Maryland, 60% of diabetics admitted to occasionally skipping doses of their diabetes medication, 20% admitted to regularly skipping their medication, and one-third of respondents admitting to dreading their insulin injections.

Most diabetics who give themselves insulin injections use traditional syringes or the newer insulin pens. Although insulin pens can be used more discreetly than insulin syringes, insulin dependent diabetics often find it inconvenient and/or embarrassing to inject their insulin in public.

A California company, Calibra Medical, has developed a new insulin delivery system designed to save diabetics the "occasional social challenges" of daily mealtime injections. The new device, Finesse, is a small plastic patch-pen roughly 2 inches long and an inch wide that is attached to the skin like a bandage. It can be worn under your clothes, and remains attached during routine activities like sleeping, exercising and even showering.

Patients use a syringe to pre-fill the patch-pen with a three-day supply of insulin, and simply push two buttons to dispense a dose of fast-acting insulin when needed. The insulin is delivered in seconds through a miniature, flexible plastic tube inserted painlessly into the skin. The device can be operated through your clothing for discreet dosing. The device would not replace the need for long-acting insulin injections.

"Most patients want to eliminate the social embarrassment, elaborate preparation before each dose and the many daily needle sticks required by syringes and insulin pens," says Calibra Medical's Charman and CEO, Jeffery Purvin. "Like expensive insulin pumps, Finesse provides fast, discreet, needle free dosing. Yet it accomplishes this with the simplicity, safety and affordability of syringes or insulin pens."

Finesse recently received FDA approval, and should be on the market soon. Calibra is also working on a patch-pen that would deliver a .05 unit insulin dose for children.

Children with Diabetes Should be Warned Not To Smoke

January 24th, 2011

Doctors are being urged to ask juvenile diabetes patients about their smoking habits, and to advise them to stop if they are smokers. Diabetes and smoking are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which puts diabetics who smoke at particular risk.

But many young people with diabetes report that their doctors have never asked them whether or not they are smokers. Yet about 17% of diabetics aged 15 to 19 smoke. As 90% of smokers start before the age of 18 (the Journal of Pediatrics reports that 5.5% of children with diabetes aged 10 to 14 in one study were already smokers), the early years are an important time to stress the risk of smoking, especially for diabetes patients.

Teen-aged type 1 diabetics who smoke tend to be less physically active, and to have higher blood pressure and higher LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides than diabetic youth who are non-smokers. All are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. "Smoking is an avoidable risk factor in the development of cardiovascular disease," stresses Kristi Reynolds, PhD from the health care organization Kaiser Permanente, "Youth and children with diabetes, regardless of type, should be targeted for aggressive smoking prevention and cessation programs."

Over 186,000 young people under 20 have diabetes. Most of them have type 1 diabetes, also referred to as juvenile diabetes because it often begins in childhood. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease in which a misguided immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone which controls the amount of glucose (or blood sugar), the basic fuel for the body's cells, in the blood. People with type 1 diabetes make little or no insulin, and must rely on insulin injections to control their blood sugar. Type 1 usually occurs in people under 40.

About 10% of diabetics are type 1 diabetics. The other 90% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body either does not produce enough insulin, or can not properly use the insulin it does produce. Type 2 diabetes is connected to obesity and usually affects adults over 45, but type 2 diabetes in childrenis becoming increasingly common as Americans' weight soars.

Type 1 diabetics must control their condition with diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and a combination of short and long acting insulin. Diabetes type 2 treatment begins with changes in diet and regular exercise, but patients may require the use of diabetes medication as the disease progresses. Thankfully for today's youth with juvenile diabetes, insulin injection has been made easier in recent years with the introduction of the discreet and convenient insulin pen.

Glucose Test Tattoo in Development

January 24th, 2011

Type 1 diabetics may soon be free of the need to prick their fingers up to a dozen times a day to perform blood sugar tests, thanks to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The researchers are testing a continuous glucose monitoring "tattoo" in which florescent nanoparticle ink is injected under the skin. The ink is made from carbon nanotubes that reflect light when an infrared light is shone on them.

"Carbon nanotubes will fluoresce in infrared light, and we can decorate the tubes so they fluoresce in response to glucose," explains senior MIT researcher Michael Strano. "When you shine a light on the nano tubes, they'll shine light back at a different wavelength to a diode that could tell how much glucose is around." The infrared glucose monitor diode is expected to be smaller than a watch.

This is a big improvement on even the latest continuous glucose monitoring technology, which involves small sensors implanted in the skin that must be calibrated several times a day, and replaced every few days to a week to avoid infection. Most existing continuous glucose monitors work by injecting an enzyme which breaks down glucose and then measuring a by-product of the breakdown (hydrogen peroxide) to indirectly determine glucose levels. Because the blood sugar testers are implanted into the skin, the body sees the sensors as foreign objects, and frequently forms scar tissue around them. The non-invasive MIT glucose monitor tattoo simply absorbs and re-emits light, which scientists believe to be safer.

Blood glucose control is vital to successful diabetes management. "The most problematic consequences of diabetes result from relatively short excursions of a person's blood sugar outside of the normal physiological range, following meals for example," says Strano, "If we can detect and prevent these excursions, we can go a long way toward reducing the devastating impact of this disease."

The nanoparticle blood glucose test "tattoos" are expected to be self administered weekly with a device resembling an insulin pen. If tests in animals are successful, the resulting next generation continuous glucose monitor tattoo could revolutionize how we manage glucose testing in insulin dependent diabetes.

Artificial Sweeteners Assist in Diabetes Control

January 24th, 2011

sugar cubes

Historically, diabetics have been warned to avoid eating sugar, an almost impossible challenge for those with a sweet tooth. Nowadays, the emphasis has shifted to eating complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, and limiting total carbohydrate intake - known as an insulin resistance diet. Diabetics can indulge in the odd sugary treat, but do need to limit their sugar intake more than non-diabetics (especially those who are struggling with diabetes control). Artificial sweeteners provide a convenient way of doing that.

Natural sugars like fructose, honey, corn syrup, molasses, brown sugar, and cane sugar, are simple carbohydrates that quickly raise your blood sugar levels. Reduced calorie sweeteners like sorbital, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol and xylitol are sugar alcohols often used in sugar-free candy, gum and baked goods. They are also a type of carbohydrate and may raise your blood sugar, although not as much as natural sugars. Low calorie sweeteners are artificial sweeteners created in a lab. They don't contain calories, are low or no carb, and do not affect blood glucose levels.

Artificial sweeteners have gotten a bad rap for being "non-natural" and unpleasant tasting over the years, but today's new and improved sweeteners can be a godsend for diabetics who crave sweets. The FDA and the American Diabetes Association both recommend the following low calorie artificial sweeteners as safe for use by non-insulin dependent and insulin dependent diabetics:

1) Aspartame -sold as NutraSweet and Equal. Aspartame may lose some sweetness at high temperatures. It's 160 to 220 times sweeter than sugar. People with a genetic condition called phenylketonuria can't metabolize aspartame.

2) Acesulfame potassium (acesulfame-K) - also known as Sweet One and Sunett. It's 200 times sweeter than sugar. Ace-K is often mixed with other sweeteners to mask its slightly bitter taste, especially in soft drinks. Can be used for cooking and baking.

3) Saccharin - an old stand by, marketed as Sweet N Low and Sugar Twin. Has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Can be used in both hot and cold foods. It's 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

4) Sucralose - this increasingly popular sweetener is a relative newcomer to the market, sold as Splenda. It's 600 times sweeter than sugar. It can be used in cooking and baking, and is being added to a growing number of processed foods.

5) Neotame - a high intensity sweetener made by Nutrasweet. Chemically similar to aspartame, it's an incredible 7,000 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. Unlike aspartame, it can be used for baking. Also unlike aspartame, it's safe for use by people with phenylketonuria. Neotame is popular with food manufacturers because the low quantities needed to add sweetness cut production costs.

In addition, Stevia, an all natural sweetener derived from a South American shrub, is being extoled as the sweetener of choice for diabetics. Stevia has no calories, and a zero glycemic index. It's up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, so a little bit goes a long way. Renowned alternative health guru Dr. Andrew Weil writes, "The only non-caloric sweetener I recommend is stevia. It's safe for diabetics and widely used as a sweetener around the world."

Of particular interest to diabetics, stevia has long been considered a therapeutic herb for hyperglycemia, stimulating the release of insulin and enhancing glucose tolerance. It is used as an inexpensive diabetic medication in South America. Interestingly, although it's been shown to lower blood sugar in diabetics, particularly type 2 diabetics, it does not lower blood sugar in people without the condition. Because of it's affect on blood sugar, it is recommended that diabetics test their blood glucose regularly when they first introduce stevia to their diet. They may need to adjust their diabetes medication - some stevia users insist the herb reduced or eliminated their need for insulin therapy. As an added bonus for diabetics with hypertension, stevia is also known to lower high blood pressure.

Kudzu Used as Diabetes Medication in Chinese Medicine

January 24th, 2011

Kudzu is a herb used in Chinese medicine to treat diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, colds, fever, menopausal symptoms and neck or eye pain. It's also referred to as kudsu, pueraria, or Japanese arrowroot. Both the flowers and the root have medicinal properties.

There is evidence that one of several isoflavones in kudzu, puerarin, improves insulin resistance. Kudzu appears to have additive effects when used with diabetes medication, assisting in lowering blood sugar levels. Puerarin's ability to thin the blood and improve blood flow is also believed beneficial in diabetic retinopathy.

According to research published the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2009, researchers from the University of Alabama who addied kudzu root extract to the diets of laboratory rats think the herb could be valuable in treating metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that contribute to heart disease, stroke and diabetes mellitus.

The researchers say that the puerarin in kudzu regulates blood sugar levels by directing it away from fat cells and blood vessels to places in the body where it is beneficial, like muscles. "Our findings show that puerarin helps to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol," reports the study's lead author, Dr. J. Michael Weiss, "But perhaps the greatest effect we found was its ability to regulate [blood sugar]."

"Kudzu root may prove to be a strong complement to existing medications for insulin regulation or blood pressure," adds the study's co-author Dr. Jeevan Prasain, "Physicians may be able to lower dosages of such drugs, making them more tolerable and cheaper."

Kudzu was first brought to the US from Japan in the late 1800s. It can now be found in many parts of the country, most commonly in the south eastern regions, where it has become an unwelcome weed. It's a climbing, trailing vine whose out of control growth makes it quite invasive, earning it the names "the mile a minute plant", and "the vine that ate the South". Southerners claim that they must keep their windows closed at night to keep the kudzu out.

During World War II, American forces seeking a fast-growing plant to camouflage their equipment introduced kudzu to Fiji and nearby Vanuata, where it is now also a major weed. Kudzu remains respected and enjoyed in China and Japan, where it is a common ingredient in medicines and foods.

Because of its impact on blood sugar, it's important that diabetics taking either oral diabetes medication or insulin injections monitor their blood glucose levels carefully if taking the herb. Because kudzu has estrogenic effects, it should not be taken along with tamoxifen or by anyone with hormone sensitive cancer.

"Diabesity" Epidemic Leads to Double Digit Growth in Sales of Diabetes Drugs

January 24th, 2011

Two converging epidemics are striking Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum. Diabetes and obesity are so closely connected that health care professionals have coined the term "diabesity" to describe the connection between the two. "I really believe that it is the obesity epidemic that has driven diabetes", says Dr. Christopher Still, obesity expert from the Geisinger Center for Nutrition and Weight Management, "simply because of the increase in insulin resistance."

Excess weight is linked to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the hormone insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar levels. The resulting high blood sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the body still produces insulin, but can't use it effectively. Ninety to ninety-five percent of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, and about 95% of type 2 diabetics are overweight.

The skyrocketing rate of obesity across the socioeconomic spectrum has been referred to as a "public health time bomb". About one-third of Americans are now considered obese (20% or more above normal weight), including nearly 17% of children and teens. Type 2 diabetes typically strikes in middle age, but as the obesity epidemic spreads to our children, doctors are seeing more diabetes in children and teens. A lot more cases - there has been a ten-fold increase in diabetes in children over the last five years.

As more and more diabetic Americans become insulin dependent, sales of diabetes medication and related products like insulin pumps and insulin pens are soaring. The diabetes products market has been "enjoying" double digit growth for years. Novo Nordisk reported an increase of 24% in sales of insulin products in 2009, and is forecasting continuing increases.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the US. What health care providers find most frustrating is that both obesity and type 2 diabetes are largely preventable with proper diet and regular exercise. The World Health Organization refers to obesity, diabetes and heart disease as "diseases of affluence," and recommends a low glycemic index diet of foods rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. A US study of 90 years of national data found that the rising consumption of high glycemic index corn syrup (widely used to sweeten soft drinks and processed foods) and decreasing intake of dietary fiber parallels the explosion of type 2 diabetes in America. Dr. Still recommends those with insulin resistance cut sugary beverages like soda and juice out of their diet as a first step. "I tell people who are trying to lose weight to eat their calories, not drink them."

Diabesity Epidemic Results in More Insulin Dependent Pets

January 24th, 2011

"Diabesity", the twin and entwined epidemics of obesity and diabetes, is not only striking Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum, it is also impacting our pets. As with humans, the number of domestic cats and dogs diagnosed with diabetes is increasing rapidly. About 1 in 400 domestic dogs and cats are believed to have diabetes, compared to just 1 in 2000 only 40 years ago.

Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes in both people and animals. Obesity contributes to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body no longer responds effectively to insulin. The body overcompensates for the loss in insulin sensitivity by producing more and more insulin, straining and eventually damaging the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Most people and animals have type 2 diabetes, the form in which their bodies become insulin resistant, as opposed to Type 1, in which an immune system disorder destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Common symptoms of diabetes in pets are similar to those in humans, and include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, weight loss, shivering, fatigue and chemical or fruity smelling breath. Diabetes control in pets is also much like that in people - a combination of diet, exercise and the same diabetes medication prescribed to humans. Some diabetic cats can be treated with oral diabetes medications, but most cats and almost all dogs require insulin injections. Diabetic dogs are usually treated with twice daily injections of intermediate-acting insulin, while cats usually require one or two daily injections of long-acting insulin.

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that it's not only people and pampered pets that are becoming increasingly obese. Combing through years of data, they discovered that both wild and domestic animals have been steadily gaining weight for decades. Lab rats and street rats have both gained weight, despite the fact that the lab rats' diet and activity levels remained constant. Monkeys in a primate research centre are actually taking in fewer calories than previous generations, but are gaining weight.

Calculating the odds of so many species randomly gaining weight as only one in 10 million, baffled scientists are proposing a number of causes:

1) Viruses - a common virus that causes colds, adenovirus-36, is known to direct stem cells to turn into fat cells.

2) Global warming - As temperatures rise, living creatures don't have to expend as much energy to keep warm.

3) Chemicals -endocrine disrupters such as the chemical tributyltin, flame retardants and the organic compounds PCBs and BPA have all been linked to obesity.

4) Sleep deprivation - Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain. A related theory is that changes in the amount of time spent in light or dark environments changes eating habits.

5) Nitrates - Nitrates in processed foods and in dog food have been linked to weight gain.

It's most likely that a variety of environmental factors are driving the obesity epidemic and the related diabetes epidemic. The best way to combat "diabesity" for humans and pets alike remains a low carbohydrate and low glycemic index (dubbed insulin resistance) diet, adequate physical activity, and, if needed, insulin therapy.

Ten Superfoods for an Insulin Resistance Diet

January 24th, 2011

salmon steak

The key to diabetes treatment is controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels, and diet plays a vital role in that complicated process. The main dietary goals in diabetes are balancing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight.

Traditionally, theemphasis in a diabetic diet was on avoiding sugar. Modern guidelines place more emphasis on total carbohydrate intake and the type of carbohydrates eaten - sometimes referred to as an insulin resistance diet. Often, type 2 diabetics can control their disease with diet and exercise alone, avoiding the need for diabetes medications.

The American Diabetes Association has released a list of the top ten "diabetes superfoods". All of the foods on the list have a low glycemic index (a scale of how quickly a carbohydrate raises blood sugar), but rank high in essential nutrients like vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. The ten diabetic superfoods on the American Diabetes Association's list are:

1) Beans - Kidney, pinto, navy, black and other beans are nutritional powerhouses that are low fat and very high in fiber. One-half cup provides as much protein as an ounce of meat. Rinse canned beans before you serve them to reduce the amount of sodium.

2) Dark green leafy vegetables - As a general rule, the darker in color a vegetable is, the more nutritional value it has. Spinach, chard, kale, collards and other dark leafy greens are low in both calories and carbohydrates.

3) Citrus fruit - Oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes all offer a dose of vitamin C and a helping of soluble fiber. But remember that grapefruit juice can interferes with the action of some medications, including pain relievers and prescription drugs used to treat high blood pressure, cholesterol and abnormal heart rhythms.

4) Sweet potatoes - Sweet potatoes are lower on the glycemic index than regular potatoes, and full of vitamin A and fiber.

5) Berries - Berries are low calorie, low carb, and high in antioxidants and fiber. And several studies have shown that blueberries lessen insulin resistance.

6) Tomatoes - Tomatoes are a versatile superfood containing vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and other nutrients. Cooked tomatoes are even better for you than raw, as cooking makes tomatoes' healthy antioxidant compounds like lycopenes easier for your body to absorb.

7) Omega-3 rich fish - Omega-3's are essential fatty acids found in fish (especially salmon), some nuts, and some plants. Omega-3 oils are credited with reducing inflammation, lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol, reducing blood clots and playing a crucial role in brain function. Be warned: some type 2 diabetics may have a slight rise in fasting blood sugar when taking fish oils.

8) Whole grains - Avoid processed grains with the fiber-rich bran and germ removed from them. Barley, bran and oats are good grain choices that rate lower on the glycemic index. The fermentation process used for sourdough bread lowers its glycemic index, making it another good choice, especially sourdough rye bread.

9) Nuts - Filling nuts provide protein, magnesium and fiber. Some nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flax seed, are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids. But they're high in fat and calories, so eat them in moderation.

10) Low fat or fat-free milk and yogurt - Dairy products provide much-needed calcium, and many are fortified with vitamin D.

The bottom line is that a healthy diabetes diet is not much different from that recommended for the general public - high fiber, high protein, and low in fat. Diabetics need to limit their sugar and simple carbohydrate intake more than non-diabetics, and should avoid drinking alcohol. Weight control is especially important for diabetics, as insulin resistance is often associated with excess fatty tissue. Diabetes occurs more frequently in people who eat a lot of fat, and it's recommended that diabetics eat both less overall and less saturated fat, restricting fat to under 30% of their daily calories.

If you are insulin dependent and making changes to your diet or eating patterns, remember that it may have an effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels, and you may need to adjust your insulin therapy accordingly.

Super Long Acting Insulin Developed in India

January 25th, 2011

man with syringe
Scientists from India's National Immunology Institute (NII) have developed a new long-acting insulin that can control blood sugar in animals for up to 120 days with a single insulin injection. In contrast, the most effective long-acting insulin on the market today is only effective for a maximum of 18 hours.

The new diabetes medication, dubbed supramolecular insulin assembly-II, or SIA-II, is a "prodrug - a drug administered in an inactive form that becomes active after being administered. Prodrugs are generally better absorbed, distributed, and metabolized than active drugs.

Both bovine and human insulin versions of SIA-II are faring well in animal testing, and the researchers have every expectation that they will perform equally well in clinical trials in humans. "Personally speaking, SIA-II can straight away go to human trials," says NII Director Professor Avadhesha Surolia, "It is pretty safe, as we have not modified the insulin, nor is any addictive used."

The insulin's long lasting effects are due to a unique process called protein folding, in which bovine or human insulin is altered or "misfolded" to form a supramolecule which is protected from the body's enzymatic action. This protection allows the molecules to be stored in the body and be slowly released over long periods of time.

The NII team has been working on the patented SIA-II technology for two years, and recently entered into what Surolia calls "one of the biggest licensing deals from any academic institution in India", licensing the technology to Life Science Pharmaceuticals from Connecticut. A subsidiary of Life Science, Extended Delivery Pharmaceuticals, will be continuing trials of the new diabetic medication.

Experts speculate that the superlative long-term blood glucose control achieved with the use of the novel diabetes medication may indicate some level of recovery of the insulin producing cells in the pancreas that normally stop functioning in insulin dependent or type 1 diabetes.

There is some debate as to whether the super long-acting insulin will be of more benefit to type 1 or type 2 diabetics. India, dubbed "the diabetes capital of the world", has over 50 million diabetics, most of them type 2. Some Indians are paying an average one-quarter of their family income for their current diabetic medication. "Our motivation was to reduce the burden of diabetes," says Surolia, "It doesn't matter whether it's type 1 or 2."

Asthma Inhalers Increase Risk of Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

January 25th, 2011


Use of asthma inhalers containing corticosteroids has been linked to a 34% increase of developing type 2 diabetes, and to accelerated diabetes progression in those already diagnosed with the condition. Higher dose inhalers were linked to even higher risks - a 64% increase in type 2 diabetes diagnoses, and a 34% increase in existing diabetes progressing to the point of requiring insulin therapy.

Theses figures came out of a large Canadian study of the records of more than 380,000 asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients treated with inhaled corticosteroids. "Patients instituting therapy with high doses of inhaled corticosteroids should be assessed for possible hyperglycemia, and treatment with high doses of inhaled corticosteroids limited to situations where the benefit is clear," warn the researchers, from the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal.

More than 30,000 of the asthma/COPD patients included in the study were diagnosed with diabetes over a span of five and a half years -over 14 patients per 1000 inhalers. Nearly 2100 patients who had been previously diagnosed with diabetes experienced a deterioration in their condition, going from controlling blood sugar with oral diabetes medication torelying on insulin injections.

Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist at the New York Medical Center makes the point that the issue may be a common underlying cause of both diabetes and asthma/COPD, rather than corticosteroids. "We know that steroids increase insulin resistance, and that people treated with steroids require more aggressive diabetes management," he says, "What may be at the root of this problem is the fact that those who are most at risk for diabetes are the same people who have the worst asthma and COPD that requires steroid treatment in the first place." Weiss believes that "the overconsumption of processed foods and the lack of consumption of green vegetables" lead to pre-inflammatory conditions that raise the risk of both diabetes and asthma/COPD. He warns that if Americans don't improve their diets "the incidence of both these diseases will continue to go up at a dramatic rate."

DR. Rohit Katial, a professor of medicine at National Jewish Health, is concerned that the study contained no information about obesity, a significant risk factor for both diabetes and respiratory problems. "For the people on higher doses of medications, was their BMI (body mass index) higher? We don't know."

What the medical experts do agree upon is the need for doctors to prescribe the lowest possible dose of corticosteroids to asthma and COPD patients, and to educate patients about the risks of insulin resistance, becoming insulin dependent, and the possible need for more intensive insulin therapy.

Special Infant Formula May Reduce Risk of Diabetes Antibodies

January 25th, 2011

Diabetic parents may want to feed their babies special easily digested infant formula to lessen their risk of developing antibodies associated with type 1 diabetes. Recent research has shown that particular diabetes antibodies (specialized immune system proteins that detect and attack foreign substances in the body) can be a strong predictor of the eventual onset of type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies mistakenly attack and destroy insulin producing islet cells in the pancreas. No longer able to produce their own insulin, which is necessary to control the blood sugar that is vital to feeding the body's cells, type 1 diabetics must rely on lifelong insulin injections.

Five antibodies have been identified as predictors of type 1 diabetes, most significantly glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 antibodies (GADA), islet cell antibodies (ICA), and insulin antibodies. Those who test positive for at least two of these diabetes antibodies have a 50 to 100 percent risk of developing the disease in the next 5 to 10 years. Ninety five percent of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes have high levels of GADA and ICA.

Diabetes antibody research should be special interest to those with a family history of diabetes because of the role genetics plays in the disease. Someone with a first degree family member (such as a parent or sibling) with diabetes is at increased risk of also developing it. It's believed that the tendency to develop diabetes antibodies is at least partially genetically inherited.

A pilot study for a large, ongoing international study called TRIGR (trial to reduce insulin dependent diabetes in those genetically at risk) looked at whether early weaning and exposure to complex proteins in traditional cow's milk formula puts children at increased risk of developing diabetes. The study tracked 230 children with a family history of type 1 diabetes for ten years. The children were divided into two groups. One group was fed regular baby formula from the age of 6 to 8 months, and the other a more easily digestible hydrolyzed formula in which the protein were already broken down. Those fed the hydrolyzed formula developed almost 50% fewer type 1 diabetes antibodies than those fed regular formula. Final results of the large TRIGR study are expected to be released in 2017.

Although great progress has been made in diabetes treatment in recent years, particularly in diabetes medications, parents are still devastated at a diagnosis of juvenile diabetes. Although hydrolyzed formula is more expensive than traditional baby formula, it's a small cost to pay if it can help prevent the development of diabetes in children.

Alcohol and Diabetes Control

January 25th, 2011

people drinking

As a general rule, Type 1 diabetics are cautioned against drinking alcohol, primarily because of alcohol's effect on blood sugar (glucose) levels. The liver gives priority to eliminating what it sees as a toxin from the body, interfering with its ability to produce blood glucose. Moderate amounts of alcohol can cause a rise in blood sugar, but increased consumption can quickly cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and can continue to affect blood sugar levels for 8 to 12 hours after drinking.

Interestingly, the effects of alcohol are so similar to the effects of hypoglycemia that a diabetic suffering an episode of serious hypoglycemia can appear drunk. Symptoms include confusion, lack of coordination, dizziness, sleepiness and loss of consciousness. This is one reason it's recommended that Type 1 diabetics wear medic-alert identification - to make sure that a case of hypoglycemia is not mistaken for a case of "one too many". Severe hypoglycemia can be life threatening, and prompt and proper treatment is essential.

Hypoglycemia is most common in diabetics who take diabetic medications such as insulin or oral diabetes drugs that increase insulin production. Common causes of low blood sugar among diabetics are late, skipped or inadequate meals; exercise, and drinking alcohol. This is why it's necessary to time your insulin injections or oral diabetes medications around your meals and activities. It's also why long-acting insulin is essential in keeping blood sugar levels even through the night, when they can dip perilously low.

Frequent episodes of hypoglycemia can lead to a condition called hypoglycemia unawareness, in which the body stops releasing stress hormones such as epinephrine in response to a dip in blood sugar. As a result, diabetics with hypoglycemia unawareness (most often Type 1 diabetics) do not experience the usual early warning signs of low blood sugar.

The American Diabetes Association has some advice for Type 1 diabetics who decide to drink:

  • Check with your doctor or dietician first to make sure you can drink safely.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor if you drink more than once or twice a week - it may effect his or her decisions around which types of insulin to prescribe you.
  • Diabetics with high blood pressure or triglyceride levels should not drink alcohol. Alcohol adds to hypertension, and even two drinks a week can increase the amount of triglycerides in the blood.
  • Alcohol can worsen diabetic nerve damage and diabetic eye disease.
  • Men should limit themselves to two drinks a day, and women to one.
  • Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. It's best to drink with a meal, or at least a snack.
  • Drinking right after exercising is not recommended, as exercise can also decrease blood sugar.
  • Test your blood glucose before you drink, and never drink when your blood sugar is low. Test it again before you go to bed.
  • Be alert for any signs of low blood sugar.
  • Use low calorie, sugar free mixers with your alcohol.
  • Sip your drink slowly, and alternate with sips of a non-alcoholic beverage.
  • Wear your medic-alert identification when drinking.
  • Be aware that drinking may lessen your resolve sticking to a diabetes-friendly diet, making you more likely to "cheat" or overindulge.

Diabetes and Depression are a "Double Whammy" That Lower Life Expectancy

January 25th, 2011

A ten-year study of almost 80,000 women conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health established a disturbing link between diabetes, depression and the risk of premature death. Women with diabetes had a 35% increased risk of death; women with depression had a 44% increased risk of dying; and those with both diabetes and depression were at almost double the risk of death as women with neither condition.

The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (heart disease) were even more startling, especially for women with diabetes. Diabetics were at a 67% greater risk of dying from heart disease; depressed women were at a 35% increased risk, and women with both conditions faced a 270% greater risk of dying from heart disease than the general population. The study's lead researcher, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Frank Hu, calls the combination of diabetes and depression "double whammies". "People with both conditions are at very high risk of death," he stresses.

Previous studies have shown that diabetics are more than twice as likely as the average population to suffer from depression, especially diabetics who are insulin dependent. Conversely, depression has been discovered to be a risk factor for diabetes. Women with depression are about 17% more likely to develop diabetes than non-depressed women, and those who taking antidepressant medication are at 25% greater risk.

But the link between diabetes and depression remains "chicken and egg". Does having a chronic illness requiring lifestyle restrictions and complicated insulin therapy like diabetes cause depression, or are people with depression more prone to developing diabetes? Do antidepressants have an impact on blood sugar levels? Does diabetes medication set the stage for depression? Do diabetics who are depressed neglect the self care necessary for effective diabetes control? Or do both conditions have an underlying cause or causes in common, such as stress, smoking, poor diet, and a lack of exercise?

"People usually think of these as two isolated conditions, but there is growing evidence that they are linked behaviorally and biologically," says Hu, "This date provides strong evidence that we should not consider these two isolated conditions any longer."

"The combination of diabetes and depression needs to be addressed," agrees Dr. Luigi Meneghini of the University of the Miami Miller School of Medicine Diabetes Research Institute. Meneghini points out that many diabetics with depression go undiagnosed, and stresses the need for more awareness among both doctors and patients.

Whatever the connections between diabetes, depression, and depression and diabetes medication, it's well established that a healthy weight, a healthy diet and regular exercise reduce the risk and treat the symptoms of both conditions.

Warnings about Antipsychotics and Diabetic Hyperglycemia Go Unheeded

January 25th, 2011

In 2003, the FDA warned doctors to screen users of antipsychotic drugs for high blood sugar and cholesterol, and to perform ongoing blood glucose monitoring. The American Diabetes Association and the American Psychiatric Association also issued similar warnings. The warnings were a result of accumulating evidence that some atypical antipsychotics caused impaired glucose regulation and increases in cholesterol and body weight, significantly increasing the risk of developing or worsening diabetes.

But a recent analysis of almost 110,000 Medicaid patients from three different states taking antipsychotics found that the recommended screening and monitoring simply never happened.

"The existing baseline screening and ongoing monitoring of glucose and lipid levels in these patients was already pretty low, and the FDA warning really had no impact in changing that," says Daniel Hartung, an assistant professor in Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy, "The side effects that can be caused by these new types of antipsychotic medications, some of which were approved in the 1990s, are not trivial," warns Hartung, "Increases in blood sugar, cholesterol and body weight can lead to diabetes in some cases, and this patient group already has a problem with diabetes that's almost twice that of the average population."

Canadian researchers who studied the use of antipsychotic drugs in seniors with diabetes are also calling for enhanced glucose monitoring in patients beginning antipsychotic therapy, especially insulin dependent seniors. The researchers found diabetic seniors being treated with antipsychotics were at significantly increased risk of hospitalization for high blood sugar. "The risk of diabetes may be partly related to chronic effects of the weight gain associated with antipsychotic agents," wrote the authors of that study, "However, case reports of acute hyperglycemia [high blood sugar] after the initiation of therapy with these drugs suggest that they may also be associated with acute glycemic changes."

The researchers discovered 11% of their almost 14,000 diabetic study participants taking antipsychotics were hospitalized for acute hyperglycemia. The risk of diabetic hyperglycemia was "strikingly high" among those just starting antipsychotic treatment, while the incidence of hospitalization was lower for those patients who had been off antipsychotic medication for at least six months. "Our study indicates that the initiation of antipsychotic therapy represents a critical period during which seniors with diabetes are particularly vulnerable," wrote the researchers.

The large pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, which markets both antipsychotics and human insulin, has said that the relationship between atypical antipsychotics and diabetic hyperglycemia is not completely understood. The Canadian researchers theorize that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays a role in regulating blood glucose, and that the use of antipsychotics may disrupt it. Other studies suggest that antipsychotics impair glucose regulation by decreasing insulin action, and possibly insulin secretion.

Eli Lilly reports that diabetic hyperglycemia resolves in some patients when they are taken off antipsychotics, but that others need to continue taking diabetes medication. This underlines the importance for doctors to monitor the need to begin or adjust insulin therapy for those patients who have, or are at risk of developing, diabetes who must take antipsychotics.

Researchers Study Vinegar as a Preventative Diabetes Medication

January 25th, 2011

apple cider vinegarVinegar, especially apple cider vinegar, has long been prescribed as a natural treatment for various ailments, including acne, allergies, asthma, arthritis, indigestion, insect stings, night time leg cramps, hypertension, warts, sore throat, cold sores, burns, sunburns, and even hiccups. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used vinegar as an antiseptic and antibiotic 1000's of years ago. Diabetics drank vinegar teas for blood glucose control before the invention of modern day diabetes medications.

Professor Carol Johnston, a nutritionist at the Arizona State University, has been studying the benefits of vinegar as a diabetes medication, researching its effect on blood glucose levels. Johnston and her fellow researchers performed three separate studies over a number of years.

In the first study, they gave people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes (a pre-diabetic state associated with insulin resistance), and healthy controls four teaspoons of apple cider vinegar just before a high carbohydrate breakfast. The vinegar slowed the rise of blood sugar levels in the type 2 diabetics almost 20%. Those with prediabetes experienced an even greater benefit, with their rise in blood sugar slowed almost 35%. Even the healthy study participants experienced lower blood sugar and insulin spikes than the control group that was not given vinegar.

"Both the blood glucose and insulin were better managed after the meal when they consumed vinegar," says Johnston, "It appears that the vinegar mimics the action of both acarbose [generic Precose] and metformin [generic Glucophage], which are two of the commonly prescribed medications for diabetics." Johnston suspects it's the acetic acid in the vinegar that helps with diabetes control. "The acetic acid in vinegar may inhibit enzymes that digest starch, so that carbohydrate molecules aren't available for absorption", she theorizes.

In a follow up study, participants with type 2 diabetes who did not require insulin injections but were taking oral diabetes medications were given either two tablespoons of vinegar or water with an ounce of cheese before going to bed. Those given the vinegar at saw their fasting blood sugar levels reduced an average 4% the next morning. Those with the highest fasting blood sugar levels achieved the most benefit, experiencing a drop of 6%.

In the most recent study, researchers concentrated on the effects of vinegar on healthy participants. They fed both healthy participants and diabetics a standard evening meal, and then a breakfast high in complex carbohydrates with or without vinegar following an overnight fast. The non-diabetics given vinegar with their meals had a 20% reduction in post-meal blood sugar levels compared to those who weren't given vinegar. Two teaspoons of vinegar was determined to be the most effective amount, taken with the meal instead of before eating.

In a welcome but unexpected twist, participants given the vinegar in the longer-term study also lost weight. "The group that got the vinegar lost several pounds on average," said Johnston. Obesity and insulin resistance are closely related to each other, and to diabetes. Unrelated studies have shown that improving insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetics can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. If something as simple as a couple of teaspoons of vinegar before meals could help address both obesity and high blood sugar, vinegar could gain recognition as a cost-effective oral diabetes medication. "Further investigations to determine the efficacy of vinegar as an antidiabetic therapy are warranted, says Johnston." As many who could benefit from vinegar are put off by its strong taste and the quality of existing vinegar supplements such as capsules is inconsistent, Johnston's team is now working on a more palatable medicinal vinegar tablet.

Diabetes Sniffing Dogs Alert Diabetes Patients to Low Blood Sugar

January 25th, 2011

Diabetes alert dogs, also known as hypoglycemia alert dogs, are trained to detect slight changes in breath and body odors associated with high or low blood sugar, and to alert someone when they detect them. Depending on the odor, a dog's sense of smell is said to be 1000 to 100,000 times greater than a human's.

According to researchers and trainers, a sweet, fruity smell is associated with high blood sugar, while an acidic, almost rusty smell is a sign of low blood sugar. "We found that dogs are incredibly accurate," says Claire Guest from Britain's Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs, "They can warn someone immediately when their blood sugar is dropping to a dangerously low level."

It was anecdotal reports from dog owners that first led to research on man's best friend's ability to warn their diabetic owners of an impending dangerous drop in blood sugar. Sixty-five percent of 212 dog owners with type 1 diabetes who took part in one study in Belfast, Ireland reported that their pets would attempt to get their attention just before a hypoglycemic episode. Some would bark or whine, others would lick and nuzzle them repeatedly, some would jump up on them, and others would stare fixedly and intently at their faces. Almost a third of the animals in the study had reacted to at least 11 events before entering the research project, while another third had reacted more than 11 times.

There are potentially severe consequences for diabetics whose blood sugar levels fall sharply, especially during the night. They can suffer a seizure, slip into a coma or even die without waking up. This is particularly worrisome for parents of diabetic children, many of whom are chronically sleep-deprived from getting up to check on their kids throughout the night. Diabetic alert dogs are trained to sleep with the diabetes patients, periodically sniffing their breath. If they notice a fruity odor, they will attempt to wake the patient and/or alert other family members. Some dogs are even trained to bring the diabetic his or her glucose monitoring kit.

Still, trainers warn that the dogs are not always 100 percent effective, and may miss a scent on occasion, or give a false alarm. They are best considered as another tool in the diabetes patient's blood glucose control tool kit. Type 1 diabetes, previously called juvenile diabetes or insulin dependent diabetes, is a form of the disease where the body makes little or no insulin. Without insulin, the body is unable to break down glucose for energy, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to rise.

Lifelong diabetes medication is necessary for type 1 diabetics, and proper nutrition and exercise are important to maintain good health. Insulin injection has been made easier in recent years with the introduction of the more discreet and convenient insulin pen. Insulin pens are the predominant insulin injection system in most of the world, but for some reason the insulin pen is used less commonly in the United States, although their use is increasing

Blueberries Improve Insulin Sensitivity

January 25th, 2011

Sixty-seven percent of overweight and pre-diabetic adults who drank two blueberry smoothies a day experienced a ten percent or greater improvement in their insulin sensitivity in just six weeks. The pre-diabetic adults, who were taking part in a study conducted by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at the Louisiana State University System, had high insulin levels, but not type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly called non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes, is the most common form of the disease, affecting more than 26 million Americans. Diabetes two occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin, or can not properly use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose, the basic fuel for the body's cells, for energy. A lack of or resistance to insulin can result in high blood sugar levels.

The 15 of the 32 members of the study group who drank smoothies containing 22.5 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder grew more responsive to insulin than the members of the group who were given smoothies without the blueberry powder.

A 2006 Canadian study of the effect of wild blueberry juice on middle-aged overweight men also showed improvements in insulin sensitivity. The participants were given just over a cup (250 ml) of blueberry juice a day for just three weeks. The Canadian study, conducted at the University of Prince Edward Island, also suggested blueberries played a role in reducing inflammation. Researchers can't yet say how blueberries are able to improve insulin sensitivity. One theory is that compounds in blueberries called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties, may play a role.

People produce less insulin as they age, increasing their risk of diabetes two. An increased sensitivity to insulin can allow older people and pre-diabetics to use the insulin their body does produce to its best effect, warding off diabetes and the accompanying increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other diseases.

Classic diabetes 2 symptoms are increased urination, thirst, hunger, fatigue and weight loss. Type 2 diabetes is an incurable condition that will progress if left untreated. Diabetes type 2 treatment usually involves changes in diet and regular exercise, but type 2 diabetes patients may require the use of diabetes medication as the disease progresses. The day may come when type 2 diabetics are prescribed the humble diabetes preventing blueberry. The less common type 1 diabetes (once referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes) is characterized by the body's inability to produce enough insulin. Although they can still enjoy blueberries, type 1 diabetes patients will have to rely on insulin injection to manage their disease for the foreseeable future.