Benari, an Ashkenazi Jew, doesn’t fall into that category. But Cummings and other bariatric experts I spoke to said that surgery should be a possible option for any person whose diabetes isn’t improving. Cummings himself is currently working on a clinical trial in India of bariatric patients with BMIs as low as 25. And he expects similar trials will come down the pipeline.
For now, I manage my diabetes through a combination of technologies. I use a blood test meter to measure my glucose levels at least five times a day. I use a pump that is attached to my abdomen to deliver frequent doses of insulin throughout the day. And now I also use a continuous monitoring device that measures my subcutaneous blood sugar levels to help the insulin pump work more effectively.
For 15 years, Erez Benari’s struggle with his type 2 diabetes had been a losing one. A software engineer at Microsoft in Seattle, Washington, Benari had stuck to a restrictive diet that kept him off most carbs, along with regular insulin shots. But still, his high blood sugar levels never dropped, while his health continued to decline. In 2013, the then 39-year-old Benari suffered a heart attack.
The reason they need it: Their own insulin-producing islet cells, located in the pancreas, aren’t working. Now, scientists across the US are racing to develop effective ways to transplant new islet cells in people with diabetes—an alternative that could make daily life easier and lower risk for insulin side effects like dangerous low blood sugar episodes.
Pain affects millions of people with diabetes. For most of these people, the pain is chronic, defined as pain persisting for more than six months, experienced almost every day, and of moderate to severe intensity, or that significantly interferes with daily activities. In some cases, a person’s pain is clearly related to complications of diabetes; in other cases, it is not. Regardless of the cause, however, studies show that chronic pain makes diabetes self-management much more difficult and often leads to higher blood glucose levels.
People with glucose levels between normal and diabetic have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or insulin resistance. People with impaired glucose tolerance do not have diabetes, but are at high risk for progressing to diabetes. Each year, 1% to 5% of people whose test results show impaired glucose tolerance actually eventually develop diabetes. Weight loss and exercise may help people with impaired glucose tolerance return their glucose levels to normal. In addition, some physicians advocate the use of medications, such as metformin (Glucophage), to help prevent/delay the onset of overt diabetes.
Anecdotally, Cummings knows at least one person in the US who got their surgery paid for through their partner’s employer insurance, despite only having a BMI of 31. And he notes that many countries with a robust public health care system have already lowered their BMI limits to mirror the DSS-II guidelines, such as the UK and Saudi Arabia. He also believes that Medicare and Medicaid officials are deliberating whether to adopt the DSS-II guidelines, based on discussions he’s had. “I don’t know how long it’ll take, but we’re crossing our fingers and hoping,” he said.
Body blasting was just one of the hundreds of classes, sessions, panels, talks, and silent dance parties at the inaugural Wellspring wellness festival. Last month some 2,000 mannequin-shaped people floated into Palm Springs, California, for what advertisements promised to be “a first-of-its-kind wellness festival, that will feature over 200 transformational workshops, treatments, and fitness across multiple categories.” The goal was to “provide seekers the tools to learn and take action in real time for a healthier mind in a relational platform.” (Relational platform was a new term to me, but people seemed less than pleased when I used the word conference.)
Beware of claims that seem too good to be true. Look for scientific-based sources of information. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse collects resource information for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Reference Collection, a service of the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about alternative therapies for diabetes treatment, contact the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse.
Diabetes: The differences between types 1 and 2 There are fundamental differences between diabetes type 1 and type 2, including when they might occur, their causes, and how they affect someone's life. Find out here what distinguishes the different forms of the disease, the various symptoms, treatment methods, and how blood tests are interpreted. Read now