To treat diabetic retinopathy, a laser is used to destroy and prevent the recurrence of the development of these small aneurysms and brittle blood vessels. Approximately 50% of patients with diabetes will develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy after 10 years of diabetes, and 80% retinopathy after 15 years of the disease. Poor control of blood sugar and blood pressure further aggravates eye disease in diabetes.
The centerpiece of the weekend was a keynote by Russell Brand. I got in early as a member of the media and grabbed a seat in the front row of the enormous multipurpose convention space. I was sitting watching stagehands and audiovisual technicians bustling around when, about 10 minutes before the crowd was to be let in, Brand came onstage and appeared horrified at the layout of the audience seating. There was a 12-foot aisle in the center, directly in front of where Brand was to stand at his microphone. “This is death,” he scolded, pointing at the space. “I’m supposed to perform into this?”
In addition to the problems with an increase in insulin resistance, the release of insulin by the pancreas may also be defective and suboptimal. In fact, there is a known steady decline in beta cell production of insulin in type 2 diabetes that contributes to worsening glucose control. (This is a major factor for many patients with type 2 diabetes who ultimately require insulin therapy.) Finally, the liver in these patients continues to produce glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis despite elevated glucose levels. The control of gluconeogenesis becomes compromised.
In the US, 84.1 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know they have it. Prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. But through the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program, you can learn practical, real-life changes that can cut your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58% (71% if you’re 60 or older).
People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, which means the body cannot use insulin properly to help glucose get into the cells. In people with type 2 diabetes, insulin doesn’t work well in muscle, fat, and other tissues, so your pancreas (the organ that makes insulin) starts to put out a lot more of it to try and compensate. "This results in high insulin levels in the body,” says Fernando Ovalle, MD, director of the multidisciplinary diabetes clinic at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. This insulin level sends signals to the brain that your body is hungry.
For over a decade, Cummings and others have tried to reframe the very concept of bariatric surgery (they prefer “metabolic surgery”). Their work has shown these procedures just don’t change how much food the stomach can fit; they trigger a cascade of metabolic and bodily changes, many of which help people with type 2 diabetes naturally get their blood sugar under control. Some changes even start happening before a patient loses weight, such as higher levels of peptide production in the gut that seem to restore a patient’s sensitivity to insulin.
In this diabetes-related complication, an uncooperative stomach is slow to move food into the intestine, and does so unpredictably. The symptoms of gastroparesis include upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, bloating, lack of appetite, and reflux, the flowing backward of stomach contents into the esophagus. Wild, unexplained swings in blood glucose are another clue that you may have gastroparesis. For example, blood glucose may go low if food isn’t absorbed until after mealtime insulin takes effect; later, blood glucose levels may spike, when the stomach finally ushers food into the intestine and there’s not enough remaining insulin on board.
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.)
I am very excited by the closed-loop artificial pancreas trial which is now in its final stages. Professor Roman Hovorka at the University of Cambridge is currently perfecting an algorithm that enables a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump to talk to each other, and take over the delivery of insulin throughout the day and night, to keep glucose levels in range.
In 2003, ephedrine -- also known as ma huang -- became the first herbal stimulant ever banned by the FDA. It was a popular component of over-the-counter weight loss drugs. Ephedrine had some benefits, but it could cause far more harm, especially in high doses: insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep), high blood pressure, glaucoma, and urinary retention. This herbal supplement has also been associated with numerous cases of stroke.
A 2017 article in the journal Diabetes Care explains that the goals for dietary change should be “healthful eating patterns emphasizing a variety of nutrient-dense foods in appropriate portion sizes.” Additional goals include achieving a healthy weight; attaining healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipid levels; and reducing complications. The authors emphasize developing an individualized plan based on “personal and cultural preferences, health literacy and numeracy, access to healthful foods, willingness and ability to make behavioral changes, and barriers to change.”
After breaking this down, Brand took questions from the audience. The first was from a person in the third row who said her brother is an addict who keeps coming to her for money. What should she do? Brand moved to the very front of the stage and looked into the back of her eyes and told her she knows what she has to do—which is cut him off, let him hit rock bottom. She said, yes, she knows, and she cried.
^ Kyu HH, Bachman VF, Alexander LT, Mumford JE, Afshin A, Estep K, Veerman JL, Delwiche K, Iannarone ML, Moyer ML, Cercy K, Vos T, Murray CJ, Forouzanfar MH (August 2016). "Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke events: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013". BMJ. 354: i3857. doi:10.1136/bmj.i3857. PMC 4979358. PMID 27510511.
Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy.