Technology and Diabetes

Diabetes is a major disease and killer in this century. There are 29.1 million diabetics in the US alone, according to a recent survey. This figure is also a representation of the large degree of diabetes prevalence worldwide. Type 2 diabetes, which is the more common form of diabetes, is characterized by obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and a sugar-rich diet. It is not surprising that a large portion of Americans suffer from this particular disorder due to the sugar-rich content of their available diets. Type 1 diabetes, though not as common, is the more dangerous form. This form of diabetes is hereditary, and is characterized by individuals with an inability to produce adequate amounts of insulin, necessitating patients to take insulin daily to survive.

How Can Technology Solve This?

Technology can assist and even solve the problem of diabetes in several ways. Many of these ways are already in effect today, and some of them are currently under development. Here are some of them:

Monitoring

Many monitoring applications are currently available for patients who are susceptible to diabetes or actively trying to manage the disorder. These include smartphone apps which can be used to monitor the sugar intake of the user. These apps are by far the most common of the technologies currently in play. Some examples include Glooko, Glucose Buddy, DBees and many other to fit individual cases and lifestyles. Many of these also include healthy eating tips and recipes.

Reminders

A diabetic can easily set reminders using certain apps that time with his schedule, to remind him to take drugs and injections at appropriate times. This ensures that treatment is followed in the right order to avoid danger situations. The app sends alerts at the programmed times via messages, mails or ping deliveries.

Future Tech

Some of the future technologies being created include the Smart Contact lens from Google. This lens would enable wearers to be constantly updated on their blood sugar levels and this would ensure that they make the necessary adjustments to diet, lifestyle and medication in real time. Others are the Smart pumps, which act as automatic injectors for pumping insulin right into the bloodstream of those suffering from the disorder. Researchers are also developing a bionic pancreas that should ease production of insulin, and various techniques for the genomic control and modification of patients suffering from the disorder to prevent inheritance in their offspring and to stop the exhibition of the disease.

Big Data for Diabetics

The various technological tools available do not simply provide a way to monitor the progress of the disorder and help to manage it. The cloud connectivity of most of the apps also helps to create a big data collation unit, from where a baseline can be created to anticipate the danger areas of the disorder and to note the spread rate of the disease. This is the first time this amount of data can be collated, and it promises a veritable tool in the fight against the spread of the disease. Diabetes is prevalent in many peoples and cultures, not only in America, and a technological approach to its solution stands to be the greatest chance that we may have against the spread of the disorder.

How to Better Inform People about the Truths of Diabetes

Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of the fitness company CrossFit, evoked public outrage with a tweet displaying a Coca Cola bottle along with the caption, “Open Diabetes” and the comment, “Make sure you pour some out for your dead homies.” Glassman’s tweet prompted a number of angry responses, including those from singer, songwriter, and actor Nick Jonas, as reported by People Magazine.

Among those incensed by Greg Glassman’s tweet were parents of children with Type I Diabetes, as discussed in a Huffington Post article. Type I Diabetes is an auto immune condition that has nothing to do with body weight or an inactive lifestyle. With this condition, the body kills off the cells that produce insulin, and those who suffer from it must take insulin every day to survive.

Glassman make no distinction in his tweet between Type I and Type II Diabetes, but even if he had, it would still have been offensive. As stated in the Huffington Post article, although being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle are major contributing factors to Type II Diabetes, so is family history. Some Type II Diabetes sufferers exercise regularly and make the effort to maintain a normal weight, and yet still suffer from the disease.

Consuming Coca Cola and other products consisting of mainly refined sugar and empty calories can lead to weight gain, as stated in a Huff Post Healthy Living article and many other sources, and being overweight is a contributing factor to Type II Diabetes. Nevertheless, how productive can it be to shame and blame diabetes sufferers? The public should be made aware of diabetes, what causes it, and how to prevent it, but with a much more positive approach.

For example, WebMD informs those who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes that there are things they can do to prevent the disease from manifesting, and recommends that they focus on things they can change. Among other preventative measures, WebMD suggests losing extra pounds, exercising regularly, and eating a healthier diet. The U.S. Department of Health and Social Services National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) offers readers more than 50 tips to help prevent Type II Diabetes, such as:

  • Drinking a large glass of water 10 minutes before a meal to reduce hunger
  • Eating smaller portions
  • Eating a healthy snack before going shopping for groceries
  • Dancing, taking the stairs to the office, or catching up with friends during a walk instead of sitting down over coffee
  • Reading labels and choosing foods lower in trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars
  • Finding ways to relax, such as a taking a walk or a long bath, reading a book, or listening to music

It is important to promote public awareness of diabetes and its risk factors. However, there are more productive and certainly more sensitive ways to achieve this than offensive tweets.

Conditions Intensified by Diabetes

When carbohydrates are broken down during digestion, glucose (blood sugar) is produced. This increased level of glucose triggers the pancreas to produces insulin, which enables the glucose to enter the cells and provide energy for the body. Diabetics, however, don’t produce enough insulin, or the insulin that is produced doesn’t perform properly. The result is too much sugar in the blood, and that leads to a whole host of other problems. When a person has diabetes, any other ailment or non-optimum condition can be made worse. Here are some of the more common conditions so affected.

Flu and Related Complications

When your body becomes ill, or you contract an infection, glucose levels rise in response to counter the illness. A non-diabetic’s body produces more insulin in response to these raised glucose levels. A diabetic, on the other hand, is unable to produce insulin to counter the raised glucose levels. Blood sugar levels then rise. This impaired ability to fight illness can make having the flu much more serious and could require hospitalization or result in death.

Skin Conditions

Some skin infections are intensified by diabetes. Bacteria or fungus thrive in a sugary environment, so any infection will be harder to treat due to this factor.

Insulin shots can cause problems with the skin at injection sites. Hypertrophy occurs from using the same site for insulin injection repeatedly. Atrophy is a condition where an indention is created at the injection site due to fatty tissue loss, which can negatively affect how the body absorbs insulin.

Allergies to the adhesive that secures insulin pumps to the skin or reactions to specific types of insulin are another source of skin conditions made worse by diabetes. Itching, swelling or much more severe symptoms can occur.

Eye Complications with Diabetes

Individuals with diabetes are at a greater risk of eye and vision problems than people who do not have it. Glaucoma, cataracts, and retinopathy are the main areas of concern, and avoiding blindness is a primary focus for diabetics.

Kidneys

Your kidneys have the job of getting rid of waste produced in the body and maintaining a proper balance of fluids throughout the body. Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels of the kidneys. The result is more damage and stress to the kidneys, reducing their ability to filter waste and regulate fluids. If kidney disease or damage is extreme, the result can be kidney failure.

Drinking Soda and Your Risk for Diabetes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 29.1 people in the USA with diabetes, or 9.3% of the population, and estimates that 8.1 million people have the disease but have not yet been diagnosed. A recent study of European adults revealed a significantly increased risk of diabetes for those who drink sugar-sweetened drinks such as soda, the L.A. Times reports. The research study evaluated the habits of more than 25,000 people in England, and raised a red flag regarding preventing diabetes and the dangers of drinking sodas as well as other sugar-sweetened drinks.

Drinking soda is a habit many people develop in their younger years, which continues into adulthood. Others may switch to milk and coffee sugar-sweetened drinks, which the study showed had an even higher risk. The added calories and sugar to a daily diet, in the study results, showed an increase of new cases of type 2 diabetes by 18%.

For those who have concerns about developing diabetes or other dangerous health conditions, monitoring your sugar intake is an important point. Watching the amount of sugar consumed daily appears to be a factor in avoiding developing diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the level of sugar intake per day to 100 calories from sugar for women (6 teaspoons) and 150 calories from sugar (9 teaspoons) for men. One soda contains 132.5 sugar calories per serving – beyond the recommended limit for women and almost reaching it for men. When you add in any other sugar consumption, such as hidden sugars in many products such as cereal, bagels, yogurt and countless other foods, most Americans who are unaware of the risks are consuming far greater levels of sugar-based calories, and putting themselves at risk of developing diabetes, as well as other diseases.

Many people developed bad eating habits at an early age. Cravings for sugar can indicate that your body has a deficiency, according to The Daily Mail. For example, this source reports that craving chocolate could indicate that you have a magnesium deficiency, which could be solved by eating nuts, wholegrain breads and leafy greens. Craving sugar treats could mean you are deficient in chromium. Chromium is a mineral that works in conjunction with insulin in moving glucose from the blood into the cells. Eating or drinking sugar-laden foods make matters worse, as the body then produces even more insulin, with a “sugar-crash” occurring shortly thereafter. Chromium-rich foods include beef, chicken, carrots, broccoli, whole grains and eggs, among other healthy food choices. Train yourself to reach for something else if you find yourself craving soda or other sweet treat that could have a very negative impact on your health. Listen to your body – it is talking to you, and all you need to do is how to respond with the right foods so you don’t compromise your health.

How Your Past Can Affect Diabetes

Diabetes is a potentially life-threatening chronic medical condition that has received a lot of attention in recent years because it currently affects one out of every ten U.S. adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recent research indicates that there may be risk factors previously unknown for Type 1 diabetes, which most commonly develops in children between the ages of 4 and 7 or 10 and 14, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Type 2 diabetes, formerly known as “adult onset diabetes,” is the form of the disease that has received the most attention. It has been linked to obesity and is considered preventable or manageable through life style changes — weight loss, exercise, diet, and medication. Researchers have recently determined that life events may affect the risk of Type 1 diabetes, as well.

Traumatic Life Events May Raise the Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

As reported in a recent article in Time Magazine, a study published in the journal Diabetologia revealed that children who experienced traumatic events, such as divorce of the parents, death in the family, accidents, or a move to a new home in early years had triple the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. The study involved 10,495 families who had children born between 1997 and 1999. Researchers asked the families to participate in follow-up sessions when their children were between the ages of 2 and 14.

Previously known risk factors for Type 1 diabetes stated by the Mayo Clinic include genetics, family history, geography, and age. The clinic also names other possible risk factors that have not been proven, including exposure to certain viruses, low levels of vitamin D, exposure to cow’s milk early in life, cereal and gluten in a baby’s diet, drinking water containing nitrates, and preeclampsia during pregnancy. Scientists engaged in the study adjusted for known Type 1 risk factors in arriving at their conclusions.

The Time article speculates that certain children may be genetically predisposed to develop Type 1 diabetes but the genetic triggers are not activated until the children experience major stress or trauma, such as the loss of a loved one. According to the article, high stress levels may cause a boost in the hormone cortisol, which causes the beta cells to work harder and produce more insulin. The immune system may see the excess of insulin as harmful and proceed to attack and destroy the beta cells.

Family Support May Help Reduce the Risk of Disease

Stressful situations and difficulties are part of life. Accidents and deaths in the family are not always within our control. In some cases, divorce is the best solution, and a move to a new location may be in the best interests of the family. The Time article suggests that supporting families who help each other through life’s difficulties may make help young children stay healthier and give them a better chance of avoiding chronic diseases such as Type 1 diabetes.