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Amanda's Health Musings: On Diabetes

Amanda's Health Musings: On Diabetes

Hi I'm Amanda.

Things I like (and will likely include in this blog) include:

  • diabetes
  • health research
  • social media
  • weird things
  • writing and poetry
  • fun facts & figures

...so let's talk about things! Laughing

<< March 2010 >>
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 Blog Entries
Overconsumption Leads to Diabetes & Heart Disease - Mar 10
Have you heard the recent news that soft drinks are being linked to diabetes and heart disease? Within the last few days, articles have come out suggesting that drinking ...
Lance Armstrong--the new face of diabetes? - Dec 28
Have you heard that Lance Armstrong is now using his celebrity to raise awareness for diabetes? While Lance is known best for his Tour de France wins and LiveStrong cancer ...
Tweeting 'Bout Healthy Holiday Eating &Diabetes! - Dec 23
Yesterday something interesting happened within the online diabetes community. USA Today Health collaborated with the Mayo Clinic to host a live Twitter chat about diabetes. ...
Overconsumption Leads to Diabetes & Heart Disease
Posted: Mar 10, 2010 11:26:08 1 Comment.
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  • Have you heard the recent news that soft drinks are being linked to diabetes and heart disease? Within the last few days, articles have come out suggesting that drinking soda has led to about 130,000 new cases of diabetes and 14,000 cases of heart disease. Are you surprised? You can read more about it here.

    The problem, according to those who ran the study, is not the occasional enjoyment of sugary drinks but the rise in overall consumption. It seems that people are turning to these drinks more often than ever before and drinking more than ever. The recommended amount of daily consumption is about a can a day for men and a little less for women.

    Now, I’m reasonably young and I remember when drinks first started being sold everywhere in 20oz bottles. As a kid I remember thinking – wow this is way too much to drink! And having one can was perfectly adequate for a meal. Now, I even find myself expecting “more bang for my buck” when I purchase a beverage. I choose large coffees over small ones and feel that my money is going farther. This portion-control problem is something we see everywhere in America wherever food is sold. We are given more than we should ever consume and, in this economy especially, we feel we are getting a good value. Can we ever reverse this mentality of choosing to supersize something for just a few cents more? I’m not sure.

    One thing that really irks me about this information linking soda consumption in particular to diabetes and heart disease – is that Diet Coke is actually a sponsor of women’s heart health! Diet Cokes everywhere are adorned with big red hearts and, last month especially, the American Heart Association’s Heart Month – Diet Coke was mentioned everywhere giving funding to the “Wear Red for Women’s Heart Health” campaign. Does this seem a little backwards to you? It’s a bit like if cigarettes sponsored Lung Cancer awareness or hard liquor companies sponsored sobriety.

    I worry most about the increased consumption of soda and unhealthy food because our bodies actually become physically addicted to the properties. We become reprogrammed to crave these unhealthy items and then have more. In this economy, when people are struggling with more financial stress (and, thus, more stress overall) we are more likely to crave these foods - start eating them, then "need" to have them. And, because they are cheaper and more readily available than healthy produce or better snacks – we grab them again and again. Parents who work two jobs to try to feed their families are so tired/busy from working that they, understandably, don’t have time to prepare healthy home-cooked meals. And, if that weren’t enough – due to advertising, kids want these unhealthy foods and drinks. To be honest, why wouldn't people want these drinks and foods? They are engineered to be irresisitible and delicious.

    We’re caught up in a few vicious cycles. The scariest part is that it doesn’t just end in unhealthy body weight – it ends in diabetes and heart disease. And you’ll hear people say – put down the soda and drink water! Go have an apple instead of chips! – But it’s not that easy. Food companies have gotten very tricky in how they advertise products at the supermarket. Some are marked as “healthy choices” because they are low in fat but are actually extremely high in sugar. The saddest part is that so many parents will think they are purchasing something that’s actually good for their kids, when, in fact, they are still giving them something that’s not healthy. It’s not right.

    One solution I see is expanding the FDA. The FDA is responsible for too many tasks that they can’t do them all well. They are overworked and understaffed. We need to increase their impact and control over what’s being sold to us every day. And, in addition – as consumers we need to get educated! We need to be skeptical consumers and do our research.

    I’m curious – what do you think?

    Lance Armstrong--the new face of diabetes?
    Posted: Dec 28, 2009 16:33:51 1 Comment.
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  • Have you heard that Lance Armstrong is now using his celebrity to raise awareness for diabetes? While Lance is known best for his Tour de France wins and LiveStrong cancer survivor campaign, it seems that he is turning his efforts toward a new cause: diabetes.



    Unlike with LiveStrong, which was inspired by his own battle with testicular cancer, Lance chose to support diabetes without having a personal connection to the cause. He was quoted in this article saying, “Much like with cancer survivors or those who have HIV, people with diabetes have been dealt this hand, a health challenge. Ultimately, we wanted to be there to help them achieve a healthy quality of life, help them live to their fullest."

    So, in a new section of his LiveStrong “My Plate”, a “MyPlateD” has been launched to focus on those with type 2 diabetes. Like the original MyPlate, MyPlateD focuses on eating healthy, counting calories, watching your weight, managing your fitness, and planning meals an diets.

    The MyPlateD offers:

    • Personal glucose tracking •
    • Insulin usage tracking •
    • Personalized charts •
    • Nutritionist Approved diabetic recipes •
    • Glucose level monitoring •
    • Member support
    • Caloric, fat, protein, and carb tracking for over 626k food items

    You can access all of these “features” (including an iPhone app) for free for 45 days, after which you will have to upgrade to a “Gold” Account for $29.95/six months or $45/year.

    Here is where it begins to get strange to me. Why charge for what basically (looks like) an online spreadsheet for tracking how much you eat and exercise? Where exactly does the money go? What service exactly are you paying for, as a consumer? I can’t help but wonder why Lance has decided to rebrand the already established (and popular? I’m not sure) MyPlate for diabetes when they seem like the same thing? And, though I support anyone who uses their celebrity to spread awareness about health causes, there seems something slightly odd about this business venture.

    Why does Lance, who has already basically become the “face” of cancer and cancer survival, want to branch out into diabetes? On one hand, this could be a really altruistic and positive way to lend a hand to a less publicized condition. Because, why not use your fame and business-savvy to aid another condition in receiving necessary attention? On the other hand, what a lucrative idea! The article claims that he’s interested in diabetes because “he just likes the idea of making a difference in one of the USA's fastest-growing health problems." The words "fastest-growing" makes me think of his potential to make money off the masses more than his potential to help the condition of Americans' health. But I could be reading into it. Because, if MyPlateD (which may not even improve the quality of life for diabetics) grows, and as more and more people get type 2 diabetes, who will be there to profit but Lance Armstrong, yellow-banded business extraordinaire, et al?

    I suppose one could argue that Lance sees a connection between his love of healthy-living and diabetes prevention/management. It’s no secret that, for a business to survive, it must continually grow. I don’t mind the idea of that at all, as long as we, the consumers, are treated fairly and, in turn, can benefit. I just hope Lance focuses on the other side of the disease as well. Because reinforcing the diet industry isn’t something we, as consumers, really need right now.

    But - What do you think? Are you happy diabetes may get a piece of Lance’s golden pie? What would you like the general public to know about diabetes (via Lance or other publicity)? Do you mind that he has no personal connection to diabetes?

    Tweeting 'Bout Healthy Holiday Eating &Diabetes!
    Posted: Dec 23, 2009 16:40:14 0 Comments.
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  • Yesterday something interesting happened within the online diabetes community. USA Today Health collaborated with the Mayo Clinic to host a live Twitter chat about diabetes. At 1pm ET Twitter users (tweeps) were encouraged to tweet questions about healthy eating during the holidays. To link all the tweets together to resemble a chat room, all of the participants included the hashtag (#) "MayoUSAToday" in each of their tweets. Questions were seen by anyone who clicked the hashtag and then answered by Jennifer K Nelson (@jknelsonRD), the director of Clinical Dietics/Nutrition at the Mayo Clinic.

    The Twitter-chat was inspired by USA Today Health's recent article "Taste-test 5 diabetic cookbooks." Since eating healthy is such a huge part of  managing diabetes, and holiday food tends to be rather unhealthy (but delicious)--yesterday was the perfect time to hold the chat. Jennifer K Nelson, who is new to Twitter but very comfortable with offering smart, simple nutrition tips (as you can see in her blog on the Mayo Clinic's website) delivered quick, accurate responses to all of the eager chat participants.

    Though it was a relatively small chat, lasting only an hour (with only about 95 mentions of #MayoUSAToday), it was a great way for people to come together and discuss tips that anyone with diabetes could benefit from. In fact, I'm hoping that sometime in the near future, the actual twitter Q&A transcript will be published so those of us who missed the chat can still read what was discussed in an orderly manner. And, if this happens, future Twitter chats (for diabetes or other health conditions) will also be able to borrow ideas and expand upon what was discussed.

    Curious what people asked?
    Well, here are a few of the best questions and answers from the chat (due to Twitter's 140 character limit - there's a bit of abbreviated language):

    AmyTieder: "What's best? 1-2 alcoholic drinks or what do you recommend?"
    jknelsonRD: "@AmyTieder - If drink - with food - not empty stomach. Drink = 12 oz beer, 4 oz wine, 1.5 oz spirit with sugar-free mx"

    chupieandjsmama: "What is the biggest mistake those w/T-1 diabetes make during holidays?"
    jknelsonRD: "@chupieandjsmama - Biggest mistake - not checking bl sugar regularly and adjusting diabetes meds"

    ltlRedX: "I have not been able 2 drink alcohol w/o feeling overheated. Is this a diabetic side effect?"
    jknelsonRD: "@LtlRedX -Not feeling well after drinking alcohol is common - be sure if you drink to eat at same time. Drink only sm amt too"

    tahughes: "What do you think of the new studies that say drinking coffee and tea lowers diabetes risk?"
    jknelsonRD: "@tahughes It's difficult to draw conclusions about a particular food and disease. Both bev's can be part of healthy diet."

    USATODAYhealth: "Here's one: Realistically, how much & what type of dessert is "safe" to eat if you have Type 2 #diabetes?"
    jknelsonRD: "@USATODAYhealth - Most desserts fit. Just important that they are occasional and your bl sugar is in good control... Best desserts: whole grain, fruit, just small amount of fat and sugar - like biscotti, muffin, fruit parfait

    : "Here's another: Should diabetics encourage family to eat same foods as their diet? Will kids get right nutrients?"
    jknelsonRD: "@USATODAYhealth Yes - everyone in family can benefit from great tasting, healthy food that is a part of good diabetes mgmt."

    ~Check out all of Jennifer K Nelson's tweets about diabetes and healthy holiday eating at her Twitter page.
    ~Read the USA Today Health article about the diabetes cookbooks here and see if you've come across any of the books that were taste-tested by USA Today's selected nutritionists, diabetics, and endocrinologists.

    What do you think of the idea of a Twitter chat with a diabetes expert?
    Would you participate in a chat like this in the future?
    What would you have asked Jennifer K Nelson?


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