Are you physically active and do you have diabetes (of any type)? Now is your chance to share how you manage your diabetes regimen while doing a variety of activities! A new edition of Dr. Sheri Colberg’s book, Diabetic Athlete’s Handbook, is coming out in Spring 2019. Please complete the diabetic athlete survey at the link below no later than […]
There are no prizes for guessing what topic The Diabetic Running Podcast covers… It’s my first diabetic-related podcast subscription, and heck, it’s a useful one.
I’m a long-time podcast fan. As an uncultured Philistine, I don’t find music interesting enough for long walks and runs. A podcast on the other hand can be funny, the News Quiz for example, or educational.
I found the diabetic running podcast on Instagram (@diabeticrunningpodcast). I’ve entered the 2008 Great Scottish Run, a half-marathon that takes place at the end of September. I ran it ten years ago, a great deal younger and on the pump at the time.
The Diabetic Running Podcast is hosted by Jon Foti, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age twenty-seven. I worked out I’ve been exercising with diabetes for longer than he’s been alive, but I still find the interviews useful and informative.
Exercise is tricky with type 1 diabetes, especially anything that lasts long than forty-five minutes. The Diabetic Running Podcast featured an interview with a type 1 from London, Emma Collins, who’s run the London and Berlin marathons. Her first experience, she said, wasn’t great. She’d been wrongly advised to skip her basal injection altogether on the day of the race, so she ran at a lot of it at levels of 20+ (360mg/dl).
The ambulance crew who tested her blood glucose levels at the twenty-mile mark told her to give up, but she couldn’t bear to and ran on. For those of you without diabetes, running or exercising with high blood sugars is unbelievably difficult. Exercise makes you thirsty anyway and a high blood sugar sucks the liquid from your mouth and turns your muscles to lead. Kudos to Emma for continuing. We type 1s have a tendency to stubbornness.
What everyone Jon has interviewed so far has said is that exercise and type 1 diabetes is a matter of trial and error. What works for one person won’t work for another. For us, training for a half-marathon is not just about making sure we can run the distance.
It’s about experimenting with different boluses and basal rates, trying out different foods and drinks, and working out how adrenaline affects you to get it as right as you possibly can on the day of the run.
I’ve joined the Fitbit world. Having dipped my toe in the water via the Jawbone Up Activity tracker, I’m now the proud owner of a Fitbit.
My Up activity tracker vanished in January when the device fell out of the wristband. It must be somewhere in the house. Maybe the system thinks I’m dead thanks to my lack of movement. Hey ho! Anyway, by that point I reckoned I knew what you needed to do to cover 10,000 steps a day, and I was quite happy to live tracker-free.
I didn’t stare at my phone so much. My health didn’t take a nosedive, and the world didn’t end.
On Valentine’s Day, however, my husband gave me a Fitbit Charge 2, the reward for staying alcohol-free so far this year. To be honest, when he hinted the other week that he’d got me a pressie for my teetotal efforts, I thought he was talking about champagne. It always makes sense to reward your giving up something with the very substance you’ve been avoiding, hmm?!
And I was grateful and touched that he’d bothered. He’d done the research, he told me happily. This tracker is the all-singing, all-dancing one! It counts your steps, how often you climb up stairs (you should climb ten flights a day for good health, apparently), checks your heart beat, auto-recognises different exercises and monitors your sleep. You can add in a food tracker and monitor your calorie intake if you want to lose weight.
For someone who tends to obsessiveness, this is good and bad news. To prevent myself repeatedly checking my phone, I downloaded the app for Fitbit onto my tablet instead.
Exercise is very good for we folks with diabetes if you are able to be active. If you have type 2, you might be able to control the condition through diet and exercise alone. If you have type 1, exercise will mean you can reduce how much insulin you need to take overall, and it can be used with diet and insulin to keep your blood sugar levels in range.
At some point, perhaps activity trackers will be prescribed for people with diabetes? In the future, the Fitbit could include blood glucose monitoring, as a story earlier this year reported that Fitbit has just invested in a company that’s developing a minimally invasive glucose tracker. Imagine having all that information available in one place.
I, for one, would love that capability, so fingers crossed.
I celebrated an anniversary earlier this month – one year of counting my steps every day. So, what has it taught me?
I’m very competitive – with myself. So, I have done at least 10,000 steps every day now for a year. I can’t bear to have a day where that doesn’t happen. I’ll get up early, if necessary, to walk.
I’m also boring about it. When I told my husband about the anniversary of doing those 10k steps, he said, “a year of hearing about it too”. My NY resolution is to stop going on about it.
A step counter does make you more active in general. If I’m doing housework, for example, I do it inefficiently. I don’t gather up all the stuff that needs to go upstairs or downstairs in one bundle. I take it up and down in a few trips. Going to the library, popping out for supplies from the shops, bringing in the bins…everything becomes an opportunity to add to the step count.
I’m a geek. The UP app is the one I use most on my phone. Have I done my steps yet? How does today compare to yesterday? What’s my average like for this week? The app also tracks your sleep, though that’s not quite as interesting.
You can use exercise instead of insulin. Proceed with caution here, my insulin-dependent friends. This is an individual thing that won’t work for everyone. But walks after lunch do the same job as insulin for me – sometimes.
Exercise won’t help you lose weight, but it will help you maintain. I’ve kept my weight consistent over the whole year, or at least I think it is as I don’t weigh myself. Everything in my wardrobe fits, though, and some of them date back more than ten years.
I feel better. Being active every day makes you feel TERRIFIC.
I’d definitely recommend one. I use the Jawbone Up, the basic model that costs about £5.99. I didn’t want a FitBit as they are much more expensive, and you need to charge them every five days, whereas my entry level tracker needs the battery replaced every two months. The Fitbit also seems invasive. I’m obsessive enough without something on my wrist bleeping at me if I haven’t moved for an hour or so.
Do you find exercise and activity helpful for the management of your diabetes?
Adapted from Scarlett McNally’s article in the BMJ 21 Oct 17
The NHS and social care are inextricably intertwined. The rising number of older people is frequently blamed. The rising social care costs in this age group can be modified however. NICE in 2015 said, “disability, dementia and frailty can be prevented or delayed”.
The need for relatives or paid carers arises when someone can no longer perform the activities of daily living such as washing, dressing and feeding themselves. For some people the ability to get to the toilet in time is the critical thing between having carers come to their own home twice a day and being admitted to a full time care facility.
The cost of care rises five times for those admitted to residential facilities. An average residential placement costs £32,600 a year and may be needed for months, years or decades.
A cultural change is needed so that people of all ages aspire to physical fitness as a way of maintaining independence into old age. There just doesn’t seem to be the local or national infrastructure to support this however.
Ageing is a normal, if unwelcome, biological process that leads to a decline in vision, hearing, skin elasticity, immune function and resilience, which is the ability to bounce back.
The decline in fitness with age starts around the age of 30 and accelerates after the age of 45. Things move downhill even faster if someone has a sedentary job that involves car driving and computer work. Diabetes, dementia, heart disease and some cancers become more common.
Some may think that fitness in old age is down to genes and luck but social strata differences exist with good nutrition and exercise as major factors in enhancing health and fitness into old age.
Apart from getting older, environment and lifestyle affect disease onset. At the age of 40, some forty percent of people have at least one long term condition and the rate goes up by ten percent each decade. As environmental and behavioural factors stack up over time, more people develop an increasing number of diagnoses. Yet, small habits such as cycling to work, can mitigate the effects of a sedentary job.
As time goes on, a person’s independence can be compromised by well -meaning carers and relatives doing more for their charges rather than letting them do things for themselves.
Genetics are thought to play only 20% of the part in the development of modern diseases. Lack of fitness has more of a part to play than disease and multiple morbidity.
Pain can lead people to limit their activity because they think it could make their illness worse, but strength, stamina, suppleness and balance training are usually needed more rather than less as you get older and accumulate illnesses.
These factors improve cognitive ability in midlife through to a person’s 80s. They can reduce the onset of dementia. Increasing independence results.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges go as far as describing exercise as “the miracle cure”. Improving the time to stand from sitting down, walking, and resistance training exercise all produce a dose response effect with the most frail benefitting the most. Any exercise or activity such as gardening that gets you slightly breathless and is done in ten minute bursts or longer counts as the 150 minutes minimum as recommended in the UK.
Stopping smoking and limiting alcohol are also worthwhile interventions. Gyms, walking groups, gardening, cooking clubs and volunteering have all been shown to improve the health and well- being of people of all ages with long term conditions.
When people are admitted to hospital they often experience a rapid decline in function. Patients are not allowed to move about or go to the toilet themselves in case they fall. The numbers of these are considered adverse incidents and are strongly discouraged. Thus the ambulant end up chair or bedbound. Most inpatients spend 80% of the time in bed and more than 60% come out with reduced mobility.
All patients should be encouraged to start an activity programme and gradually increase the frequency, intensity, and time that they do it.
The outdoor environment can be improved by even pavements, open spaces, tables and seating in public areas, safe cycle lanes and restriction in car use.
Money may need to be shifted from passive care and polypharmacy to activity and rehabilitation services.
People need to concentrate on being active every day. A quarter of women and a fifth of men do no activity whatsoever in a week never mind the minimum recommended 150 minutes a week.
In the UK the total social care bill is over £ 100 billion which is virtually the same as spent in the NHS.
The cost of care doubles between the ages of 65 and 75 and triples between 65 and 85. If everyone was just a bit fitter, the savings would add up.
Individuals need to see it as their responsibility to stay fit or improve their fitness. There needs to be more national coordination regarding the environment, transport and our working schedules so that we can all stay that bit functionally younger into old age. We could be making the difference between staying at home or depending on social and residential care.
Who knows what the next year will bring? There have been lots of exciting developments in the diabetes world over the last 12 months – from the first hybrid insulin delivery system to the NHS’s decision to offer flash glucose monitoring, to the identification of a new biochemical ‘signature’ as a potential early indicator of type 1 diabetes onset, we edge closer than ever before to understanding and properly managing this condition.
One piece of news I spotted recently that has implications for all of us (and is relatively easy to do) was research that has shown that people with type 1 diabetes who are more active have a lower risk of premature death than those who don’t exercise.
Diabetes.co.uk reported that the Helsinki study. It followed 2,639 people with type 1 diabetes, 310 of them had diabetic kidney disease. They were followed up eleven years later. During the course of the research, some 270 people diets. In the least active group, the death rate was 14.4 percent. Only 4.8 percent died in the group who performed more exercise. Activity seemed to benefit patients who had kidney disease and those who didn’t.
The lead study author, Der Heidi Tikkanen-Dolenc from the University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, said: “Doctors have always prescribed physical activity for their patients with type 1 diabetes without strong evidence. Now we can say that in patients with type 1 diabetes, physical activity not only reduces the risk of diabetic nephropathy and cardiovascular disease events but also premature mortality.”
Keeping active is a challenge in this day and age. Our governments and big business have unwittingly conspired to create a world where the default way to live is a sedentary one where cheap, nasty junk food is all-too-readily available. Being active and exercising often takes a lot of effort, unlike populations who lived years ago who were active because they had to be.
But the message that exercise can help prevent premature death IS a powerful one. Let’s celebrate World Diabetes Day with a walk!
Pic thanks to maxipixelfreepictures.com
Why Has the American Approach to Heart Disease Failed?
on April 18, 2017 by Chris Kresser
A recent New York Times article correctly suggests that diet and lifestyle changes are far more effective ways to prevent and treat heart disease than statins and stents. But what diet, and what lifestyle? Is it as simple as avoiding “artery-clogging saturated fat,” as the author suggests? Read on to find out why the American approach to heart disease has really failed.
Jane Brody wrote an article in The New York Times called “Learning from Our Parents’ Heart Health Mistakes.” She argues that despite decades of advice to change our diet and lifestyle in order to reduce our risk of heart disease, we still depend far too much on drugs and expensive procedures like stents.
Too often, the American approach to heart disease amounts to shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped.
To support this argument, she refers to a recent paper published on the Tsimane, an indigenous population in the Bolivian Amazon. The study found that the rate of coronary atherosclerosis in the Tsimane was one-fifth of that observed in the United States (and the lowest that has ever been measured). Nearly nine in 10 Tsimane had unobstructed coronary arteries and no evidence of heart disease, and the researchers estimated that the average 80-year-old Tsimane has the same vascular age as an American in his mid-50s.
I certainly agree with Ms. Brody so far, and her analogy that the American approach to heart disease amounts to shutting the barn door after the horse has escaped is spot on.
The problem is what comes next, as she attempts to answer the question of why the Tsimane have so much less heart disease than Americans:
Protein accounts for 14 percent of their calories and comes primarily from animal meats that, unlike American meats, are very low in artery-clogging saturated fat. [emphasis mine]
Does saturated fat “clog” your arteries?
Artery-clogging saturated fat? Are we still using that phrase in 2017?
As I’ve written before, on average, long-term studies do not show an association between saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol levels. (1) (I say “on average” because individual response to saturated fat can vary based on genetics and other factors—but this is a subject for another article.)
If you’re wondering whether saturated fat may contribute to heart disease in some way that isn’t related to cholesterol, a large meta-analysis of prospective studies involving close to 350,000 participants found no association between saturated fat and heart disease. (2)
Does saturated fat really “clog” your arteries?
Are “clogged arteries” the cause of heart disease?
Moreover, as Peter Attia eloquently and thoroughly described in this article, the notion that atherosclerosis is caused by “clogged arteries” was shown to be false many years ago:
Most people, doctors included, think atherosclerosis is a luminal-narrowing condition—a so-called “pipe narrowing” condition. But by the time that happens, eleven other pathologic things have already happened and you’ve missed the opportunity for the most impactful intervention to prevent the cascade of events from occurring at all.
To reiterate: atherosclerosis development begins with plaque accumulation in the vessel wall, which is accompanied by expansion of the outer vessel wall without a change in the size of the lumen. Only in advanced disease, and after significant plaque accumulation, does the lumen narrow.
Michael Rothenberg also published an article on the fallacy of the “clogged pipe” hypothesis of heart disease. He said:
Although the image of coronary arteries as kitchen pipes clogged with fat is simple, familiar, and evocative, it is also wrong.
If heart disease isn’t caused by “clogged arteries,” what does cause it?
The answer to that question is a little more complex. For a condensed version, read my article “The Diet-Heart Myth: Why Everyone Should Know Their LDL Particle Number.”
For a deeper dive, read Dr. Attia’s article.
Here’s the 15-second version, courtesy of Dr. Attia:
Atherosclerosis is caused by an inflammatory response to sterols in artery walls. Sterol delivery is lipoprotein-mediated, and therefore much better predicted by the number of lipoprotein particles (LDL-P) than by the cholesterol they carry (LDL-C).
You might think that I’m splitting hairs here over terminology, but that’s not the case. It turns out that this distinction—viewing heart disease as caused by high LDL-P and inflammation, rather than arteries clogged by saturated fat—has crucial implications when it comes to the discussion of how to prevent it.
Because while it’s true that a high intake of saturated fat can elevate LDL particle number in some people, this appears to be a minority of the population. The most common cause of high LDL-P in Americans—and elsewhere in the industrial world—is almost certainly insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. (I explain why in this article.)
And what is one of the most effective ways of treating insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome? That’s right: a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet!
News flash: diets high in saturated fat may actually prevent heart disease.
Perhaps this explains why low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets (yes, including saturated fat) have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
For example, a meta-analysis of 17 low-carb diet trials covering 1,140 obese patients published in the journal Obesity Reviews found that low-carb diets were associated with significant decreases in body weight, as well as improvements in several CV risk factors, including decreases in triglycerides, fasting glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, abdominal circumference, plasma insulin, and C-reactive protein, as well as an increase in HDL cholesterol. (3)
(In case you’re wondering, low-carb diets in these studies had a null effect on LDL cholesterol: they neither increased nor decreased it.)
Saturated fat is a red herring.
Instead of focusing so much on saturated fat intake, which is almost certainly a red herring, why not focus on other aspects of the Tsimane’s diet and lifestyle that might contribute to their low risk of heart disease?
They are extremely active physically; Tsimane men walk an average of 17,000 steps a day, and Tsimane women walk an average of 15,000 steps a day—and they don’t sit for long periods. Ms. Brody does mention this in her article.
They don’t eat processed and refined foods. We have been far too focused on calories and macronutrient ratios and not enough on food quality. We now know that hunter–gatherers and pastoralists around the world have thrived on both high-carbohydrate, low-fat diets (like the Tsimane, who get 72 percent of calories from carbohydrate) and low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets (like the Masai and Inuit).
But what all hunter–gatherer diets share in common is their complete absence of processed and refined foods.
Perhaps if we stopped focusing so much on the amount of fat and carbohydrate in our diet and started focusing more on the quality of the food we eat, we’d be better off.
And of course we also need to attend to the many other differences between our modern lifestyle (which causes heart disease) and the ancestral lifestyle (which prevents it), including physical activity, sleep, stress, light exposure, play/fun, and social support.
The Tsimane study illustrates exactly why an evolutionary perspective on diet, lifestyle, and behavior is so important. It helps us to generate hypotheses on what aspects of our modern way of life may be contributing to chronic diseases like atherosclerosis and gives us ideas about what interventions we need to make to prevent and reverse these diseases.