How much progress has really been made in diabetes treatment?

By Anonymous Latest Reply 2009-10-19 22:47:51 -0500
Started 2009-09-18 00:12:52 -0500

I just have to wonder…My aunt died when she was a child from what is now known as Type I diabetes. Insulin was not yet available at the time of her death. The treatment she was given was a diet as devoid of carbohydrates as was humanly possible. Fast forward now to my day and time. There is no doubt in my mind that Bernstein's low carb management works for those who follow the plan. The great irony is that it is a dietary approach of carbohydrate restriction just like what my aunt was provided so many years ago before insulin. It seems like instead of forward progress, we have come full circle. I would welcome others thoughts on this matter. Best wishes to all who are on the same journey as myself…living with diabetes.

18 replies

John 2009-10-19 22:47:51 -0500 Report

This is a topic that's been on my mind a lot this past year.

Overall we're not where we could or should be. We have a very restricted and slow moving environment for setting treatments. I'll just throw out some nouns and you can fill in the blanks: drug companies, government research, government spending, university research, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, FDA, AHA, ADA, litigation, blah, blah, blah. We do not have an envirnoment where new ideas are easily accepted. It takes years or even decades for an idea to work it's way into practice. It takes milions of dollars and much testing to get new drugs and devices to market. blah blah blah!

Food. We are in the throws of a bad food experiment. Diabetes, obesity, CHD, and a bunch of other western diseases and conditions are rampant. We know sugar and refined carbs are the cause. Many doctors agree, many patients agree, and science agrees — insulin stores fat is proven, cholesterol as a risk factor in CHD has been shot dead, and now VLDLs not LDLs are considered the most dangerous lipid component — yet we cling to our old unproven beliefs. Inertia!

Virtual Networking. In my own case, I have advanced more in the last three years than I ever did in the first 31. My A1C is 5.9%, my hypos are almost non-existant — haven't had a major one in over two years — I'm losing weight for the first time ever, and my retinopathay has been halted in its tracks! My pump was a major factor, ya. But the real advances I made were from what I've learned from other diabetics. I've learned basal testing which is in my opinion the number one thing all IDDs should do! I've learned other testing techniques like meal profiling. I've learned about low carbing and the many reasons why it is good, and I've read many discussions and a few books on it. I've come to appreciate omega ratio imbalances and I've addressed this gap. personally I think I've advanced way beyond what my health team offers. Places like this are where the real practical davances are happening!

GabbyPA 2009-09-28 07:00:54 -0500 Report

What it shows me is that our bodies are amazing machines. What it does with our food in a normal healthy person is incredible, to say the least. It humbles me to know that it is such a wonderful working piece of art, but something is wrong with it.

This my seem harsh, but in nature, survival goes to the fittest....always. There are some showings of compassion and protection, but eventually the weak do not survive. Humans are different because we can choose based on so many other things. While this makes us special, it also makes us suceptible to many kinds of disease that we pass on thru our family histories and prolong with our medical advances. So, it only stands to reason that while we can medically treat many illnesses and diseases, we unfortunately thru bad prolification, continue to make them worse. It is one of the trappings of a civilized life style. Because we see the value of life in general, past the brawn, we are willing to deal with disease more readily.
So yes, the management of diabetes has moved mountains and made longer life spans available to so many. But it is not a cure and with family history being such a large part of it, how can we stop it's advance except thru better choices that way as well? Just a thought....

MissJo 2009-09-28 02:44:20 -0500 Report

I can say that the insulin pumps have come a long way with technology. I had a pump for 15 years, because of medicare guidelines I had to wait 2 months for my upgrade in pumps after my old one failed and I was entitled to the up grade but needed to wait 2 months. Well 2 months has now turned into 2 years! Well I went to a pump class on Friday to see wha is available and I am amazed at how much has improved in as little as 2 years. Now they come with palm pilots, one is tubeless. As well as the fancy monitors (some insurance companies will pay for and some won't) that monitors your sugar level and alarms for those of us that suffer from the dawn phenomanom. It alarms your pump if you go low or high. I will definitley be keeping everyone that wants to read the research I come up with the pros and cons that I find in each of the ones I am looking at making a part of me.

Anonymous 2009-09-19 22:06:48 -0500 Report

The consensus seems to be that diabetes management has come light years and you'll get no argument from me on that. But as far as diabetes treatment I think we have made very little progress because the basic research has not yet revealed the proximal cause(s) of carbohydrate metabolism failure in Type II or in the case of Type I, the proximal causes of the failure of the islets of Langerhans to produce insulin. I advocate for more of my tax dollars to be devoted to basic (not applied) scientific research. Again, best wishes to all on the journey of living one day at a time with diabetes.

Crashnot 2009-09-28 06:45:24 -0500 Report

Well actually I think they have pretty well identified the likely causes, it can just vary so much from person to person you can't give one broad answer. A very likely cause of Type 1's to quit producing insulin is Vitamin D deficiency. I whole-heartedly believe this kicked mine off when I was 11 months old. For Type 2's, an overly rich diet (did I say nobody can eat tons of carbs?) and sedentary lifestyle are usually the culprit. When fast foods are introduced to third world countries, the number of diabetics sky-rockets. Maybe they won't make it their mission statement, but I think the body is just overloaded with calorie-dense foods it cannot possible metabolize. Last straw to break the camel's back, so to speak.

Crashnot 2009-09-19 21:54:12 -0500 Report

Nobody can just eat carbs all day. Even a healthy person can develop cirrosis of the liver (pardon spelling) from accumulating too much fat from over-eating carbs. As a society we've been spoiled with an abundance of the rich foods our ancestors could only get in small amounts. No doubt one reason for the scourge of type 2 afflicting people out there.

I was diagnosed in 1968, and baby, times have improved! Mom had to boil my syringe each day, and dad had to sharpen the HUGE needle periodically. Needles now are microscopic in comparison. Sugars were monitored by putting five drops of urine in a test tube along with a fizzy tablet. And they was only good for telling you if you had too much sugar hours before! The idea of being able to identify a low sugar was unheard of (and far more damaging to experience!). Our lives are so much easier now by comparison. And yes, there darned well should be a cure by now. But I guess as long as it's more profitable for the pharms to sell us test strips marked up 800%, hugely expensive pumps and infusion sets to go with them, etc., that's where we'll be for awhile longer. But it has improved. The old exchange system was much more complex than counting carbs is now, and much less effective, even if my doctor of old invented the first system with his dietician!

John Crowley
John Crowley 2009-09-18 10:44:05 -0500 Report

Back in high school, I dated a girl with diabetes. Her blood glucose meter was about the size of a small laptop. It took an enormous blood sample and then took 1 or 2 minutes to give her a reading.

I look at the tiny glucose meters that my son uses and the 5 second result time and think we've come a long way in just that one aspect of diabetes treatment.

I understand what you're saying that the basic core issues remain the same and no amount of new technology is going to change the fact that eating carbs raises your blood sugar.

But I for one have to say I'm so glad my son is dealing with diabetes now with all the modern tools we have rather than dealing with the disease 25 or 50 years ago.

John Crowley
John Crowley 2009-09-18 10:50:08 -0500 Report

Here's a link to check out a photo of some ancient glucose meters:

Sally Thomas
Sally Thomas 2009-09-18 10:54:58 -0500 Report

My memory of earlier glucose monitoring was putting blood on the test strip, waiting a minute, wipe it off, wait a minute and then compare it to colors on the bottle. Not too acurate and not very fun! I remember the old insulin making it impossilbe for me to eat meat-would become very ill. Have we found the cure all for diabetes? No. Have we come a LONG ways-yes! Thank goodness.

Shark 2009-09-19 21:47:12 -0500 Report

I have been a Type-1 diabetic for over 30 years…diagnosed at the the age of 9. Since my initial diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of diabetes has improved tremendously.
I remember the early days of the insulin pump and at the time refused to get one…for reasons that were dumb. I finally got a pump about 8 years ago and life has become so much easier. Of course carb counting and other factors remain but have provided (for me) a less stressful way of caring for myself.
We have a long way to go and although I'd hope a cure is found in my life-time…I am confident someone out there has the tools to cure diabetes.

Sue Turner
Sue Turner 2009-10-01 08:21:30 -0500 Report

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in April (08) of last year right before my 61st birthday. I have been on the pump since September (08). The pump has made things a lot easier, but I still have problems with my levels going up and down. I can't seem to find a good place and stay there; they go up and down all the time. Since I am newly diagnosed, I am still working on this problem, hoping that one day I will get to a safe place. But, I don't think that anyone who is a diabetic can keep their blood glucose levels at one place all the time.

Crashnot 2009-10-01 10:52:36 -0500 Report

Not unless you live in a glass house, eat the same food every day, do the same exercise at the same time every day, and have no hormonal fluctuations!

Sue Turner
Sue Turner 2009-10-01 12:13:59 -0500 Report

I agree, and that is just not going to happen. I know that you are born with Type 1 Diabetes, and it ususally shows up at birth or at an early age. However, I do know also, that it can show up anytime in your life. Mine didn't show up until after I took the drug Abilify. I don't know if that triggered it or not, and if it did, I have no way of proving it. I have been told by doctors that it can be triggered by a virus or a chemical. The only thing I can do now is live with it, and take care of myself as best I can. I am truly thankful that the Diabetes is just now showing up. God is good, and he gave me a 60 year honeymoon period.

Anonymous 2009-09-18 10:22:06 -0500 Report

Nor are they any where near getting rid of this curse.

kdroberts 2009-09-18 10:28:48 -0500 Report

Again, how can you get rid of something when you don't know where it comes from? There isn't going to be a proper cure until the basics are understood unless somebody accidentally stumbles upon something.

kdroberts 2009-09-18 08:27:55 -0500 Report

It depends on how you look at it. Major developments in understanding diabetes and treatment have been made recently but the underlying cause for any of it is pretty much completely unknown. Until that piece is found there is only so much you can do.

jtausch 2009-09-18 01:03:23 -0500 Report

It depends on who you listen to, Some Dr's say you need carbs to live right some don't. I myself limit my carbs but I don't go absolutely crazy and go zero

Txchristi 2009-09-18 10:39:44 -0500 Report

I agree with the low carbs. I try to watch my carb intake but have found that I can not go to zero or near zero. Carb counting is a key in my success of contolling my type 1 diabetes