Connection itself can be monetized, of course—in ways that create factions and cliques, or in inclusive ways that bring together people of various socioeconomic strata. That actually may look something like Wanderlust. The market is flooded with things we can consume alone on our couches or at the gym with headphones in. But we are hungry for connection—to hear the same things said but to have a person speaking directly to us (and to a few hundred other people).
Founded in 2014, San Francisco-based startup Virta has raised $82 million after a recent Series B round led by Venrock, a venture capital firm with ties to the Rockefeller fortune. The company is an online medical clinic that applies nutritional biochemistry to reverse type 2 diabetes. The company provides a starter kit, coaching, and physician check-ups online through a subscription fee-model to give patients access to the tools to treat and monitor their diabetes.
In gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sometimes called heartburn, stomach acid and partially undigested food move backward through the esophagus, escaping from the stomach and through the esophageal sphincter that normally prevents such backsliding. This can occur as a symptom of gastroparesis, says Hiroshi Mashimo, MD, PhD, a gastroenterologist at Harvard Medical School. “If the stomach doesn’t empty, it’s likely to reflux up,” he says. GERD may also result from diabetes-related nerve damage affecting the esophageal sphincter, Mashimo adds. One caution: Some diseases, such as a yeast infection in the esophagus, can masquerade as GERD, so don’t brush off symptoms. We can’t treat the gastroparesis or esophageal sphincter problems that contribute to GERD, but antacids and other medications can help to reduce or neutralize stomach acids (see “PPIs the Right Way,” below).
Medications include a long (and boring) list of chemical names such as metformin, sulfonylureas, meglitinides, thiazolidinediones … you get the point. Each of these drugs works by either helping the body secrete more insulin, making tissues more sensitive to the hormone, or preventing the secretion of more sugar into the bloodstream. But, ultimately, the first line of defense against diabetes is direct insulin injection because of its high efficacy. And there are at least six main types of insulin, accompanied by another long list of difficult-to-pronounce suffixes, each with a slightly different effect. Along with treatment, diabetes requires constant monitoring for blood sugar levels, which include at-home blood tests, and routine medical check-ups. An insulin pump that monitors and injects insulin when needed is another option.
Today, 425 million adults live with diabetes, and that number is expected to grow to 629 million by 2045, with the greatest number between the ages of 40 to 59 years old. The global prevalence of diabetes has risen from 4.7 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 2014, with the proportion of type 2 diabetes increasing around the world. On top of those numbers, another whopping 352 million people are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the 2017 Economic Cost of Diabetes survey sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, the total cost of diabetes was estimated to be $327 billion, a 26 percent increase since 2012. About three-quarters of those costs are associated with direct medical expenditures. Patients with diabetes are expected to pay an average of $9,600 in additional medical costs annually. A diabetes cure could cut out a nice chunk of fat out of those costs, potentially worth $245 billion from the 30 million diabetic Americans alone.
Type 2 DM is characterized by insulin resistance, which may be combined with relatively reduced insulin secretion. The defective responsiveness of body tissues to insulin is believed to involve the insulin receptor. However, the specific defects are not known. Diabetes mellitus cases due to a known defect are classified separately. Type 2 DM is the most common type of diabetes mellitus.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) resembles type 2 DM in several respects, involving a combination of relatively inadequate insulin secretion and responsiveness. It occurs in about 2–10% of all pregnancies and may improve or disappear after delivery. However, after pregnancy approximately 5–10% of women with GDM are found to have DM, most commonly type 2. GDM is fully treatable, but requires careful medical supervision throughout the pregnancy. Management may include dietary changes, blood glucose monitoring, and in some cases, insulin may be required.
Although the promises are big, these technologies are still far from the market. First, clinical trials will have to show they do work. Then, the price could be steep, as cell therapy precedents for other applications, such as oncology, come with price tags that reach the six figures and are finding difficulties to get reimbursed. Considering that compared to cancer, diabetes is not an immediately life-threatening disease, health insurers in some countries might be reluctant to cover the treatment.
This seems hard to do, but really it’s not if you know one secret: Replace snacking with something far more satisfying — fat. That’s right, the government is wrong to recommend a low fat diet. Fat is what makes you feel full until your next meal. Take away the fat, take away the full. Don’t go to an extreme, but do lean strongly toward a high-fat low-carb diet.
Findings from the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) and the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) have clearly shown that aggressive and intensive control of elevated levels of blood sugar in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes decreases the complications of nephropathy, neuropathy, retinopathy, and may reduce the occurrence and severity of large blood vessel diseases. Aggressive control with intensive therapy means achieving fasting glucose levels between 70-120 mg/dl; glucose levels of less than 160 mg/dl after meals; and a near normal hemoglobin A1c levels (see below).
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.