Taking Stock on the 4th

Happy Fourth of July to all of our readers!

As with any anniversary–in this case, the 237th birthday of the United States–it’s good to pause for a few moments and take stock.

For people with diabetes, the news these days is a mixed bag:

The not-so-good news is that despite great leaps on several fronts–genetics, drugs, surgery, diet–diabetes is not yet curable. If you have it, whether type 1 or type 2, it’s an unwelcome guest you must contend with and endure the rest of your life.

The good news is that it is manageable. Of all the ancient “wasting” diseases that have afflicted humans, diabetes is the one whose patients have the most power over their condition. While they can’t achieve perfect control, they can do more to directly help themselves than people with most other chronic diseases. It’s a small consolation, but having a sense of some control is an important part of human happiness.

The means of control for people with diabetes is primarily drugs. So, more good news is that new insulins and new type 2 drugs are in the pipeline and will soon be available. The quest for basal insulins that provide steadier control and type 2 drugs that approach blood sugar control from novel directions is one we’ll be reporting on soon on this website.

The bad news is that type 2 diabetes is expected to reach epidemic proportions over the next two decades. Currently an estimated 80 million Americans–25 percent of the US population–have pre-diabetes, the condition of elevated blood sugars that if left untreated almost always morphs into full-blown type 2 diabetes.

However, the nation is becoming more conscious of diabetes and the need to avoid it while searching for a cure. One interesting aspect to Americans’ growing consciousness about diabetes is that it’s forcing a re-examination of the belief that high-fat diets are the main culprit in developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The fact that both conditions have increased in frequency despite two generations’ worth of low-fat menus and diets is leading to an interesting debate on what really are the best foods for people with diabetes.

Speaking of foods, since the Fourth is the traditional official start to the summer picnic and grilling season, we recommend Brenda Neugent’s  article on diabetes-friendly foods for outdoor occasions:  “Some Diabetes-Friendly Food Options for the 4th” (July 3). Brenda knows her way around festive foods that people with diabetes can enjoy without qualms.

Let the fireworks begin!



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