Doctor says gene may give predisposition to diabetes – Las Vegas Review

March 22 is National Diabetes Day, but Jennifer Vaughan knows all too well what diabetes means. Her son, Ryan, was diagnosed with type 1 when he was 9.

The disease is seeing an upsurge in Americans. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed each year. It’s the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Before Ryan, a Las Vegas resident, was diagnosed, there were indicators, but they were always things that could be written off as regular childhood ailments, his mother said.

The family was at Disneyland, for example, when Ryan was 7. He was constantly thirsty during the trip and excusing himself to use the restroom. Even when they’d waited in a long line and they were second from getting on a ride, he had to leave the line to use the bathroom. Was it nervousness? Fear, maybe? That night, Ryan was running to the bathroom for another reason: He was vomiting.

“I thought maybe he caught a bug, ate something bad … your mind comes up with all sorts of possibilities,” Jennifer said. “It doesn’t automatically go to ‘diabetes.’ ”

The family took him to the doctor, and the diagnosis was made. It took almost a year to tweak his insulin intake to the proper amount for him. There were a couple of times he wound up in the ER before it became manageable. Nights, said Jennifer, were the worst.

“I would set my alarm for every two hours so I could go in his room and prick his finger for his (blood sugar) levels,” she said. “There were nights when I’d just sit beside him as he slept, watching him, worried. … My biggest fear was if he got too much insulin at night, and his blood glucose dropped, he could fall asleep and not wake up.”

Ryan has juvenile diabetes, but many Americans develop type 2, or adult-onset diabetes. It used to be thought that the cause was simply due to bad dietary habits. Now, researchers are finding a gene may be responsible.

“We think it’s a gene that gives you have a high disposition to it,” said Dr. Eileen Shi of HealthCare Partners Nevada. “In fact, we think something like a viral infection or an illness can open that gene. And with diet, it’s related. Obesity, when you’re overweight, you’re more likely to develop it. With diabetes, your body becomes less sensitive to insulin, the hormone that your body produces when the sugar level is too high. The job of insulin is to alert your body to take in that extra sugar to keep your sugar levels stable. When you have type 2 diabetes, because your body’s been flooded with sugar, sugar, sugar, sometimes your ability to deal with sugar becomes overwhelmed. So, type 2 is called ‘insulin resistance,’ when there is insulin but your cells are like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, we see you all the time. We don’t want to do what you tell us to anymore.’ It’s like you’ve flooded your body with so much sugar, it’s like the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf.’ The whole time, your body’s not responding.”

The consequences of diabetes reach nearly every aspect of your body, Shi said. One can develop things such as macular degeneration and/or glaucoma, have neuropathy issues, a weakened heart, digestion difficulties, be susceptible to skin infections and experience chronic kidney problems.

“It can affect every organ system in your body,” she said.

Eating properly can help control it. If one is pre-diabetic, it’s possible to fend it off with a diet high in lean proteins, whole grain foods and vegetables, she said.

Shi warned that diabetics should be careful how much fruit they ingest, as too much can spike their sugar levels.

Once one has full-blown diabetes, can the process be reversed?

“The verdict is still out there. Your liver is so damaged, your organs are tired; it may be too late to reverse all that damage,” Shi said. “Every doctor will say that a good diet will help your prognosis.”

The doctor said she eats five servings of vegetables and fish, stays away from processed foods, and never, ever goes to fast-food restaurants. In fact, the one time her bank’s fraud department contacted her under the suspicion her credit card had been stolen was because it was used at a place totally out of character for her: a McDonald’s. Sure enough, it wasn’t her charge.

Shi suggested that if one is at risk for diabetes, it should be the whole family that gets on board with healthier lifestyles.

“How can there be one person making a dietary change when you’re still cooking less healthy options at home? It’s going to be almost impossible for that person because it’s a lifestyle change,” Shi said. “Every diabetic patient does better when they have a support network. Their family can go, ‘Let’s go exercise together,’ or ‘Let’s eat healthier together,’ and that will make (the diabetic’s path) more successful.”

Ryan Vaughan, now 15, wears an insulin pump which automatically injects medication into his system. If you were to see him on the street, you would never know he has a potentially life-threatening condition.

“That’s the thing about diabetes,” Jennifer said. “You can look perfectly normal on the outside, but if your blood sugar level goes too low, you’re out cold. It’s an insidious disease. I mean, in a matter of hours, you could go from walking around to being in the emergency room.”


To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email or call 702-387-2949.

New Minnesota research links low income, diabetes | Minnesota …

Low-income adults in Minnesota are much more likely to develop diabetes than people with higher incomes, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

New research shows that 13 percent of working-age Minnesotans who earn less than $35,000 annually have diabetes. That compares to a diabetes rate of just 5 percent for earners who make more than $35,000.

Income was consistently associated with disease rates even when other risk factors, such as age and education levels, were factored out.

The report does not address which comes first, lower income or diabetes. But the agency found that people who have the condition are much less likely to be able to maintain a job than those who do not have the disease. One in three adults with diabetes is jobless, compared to one in ten who do not have diabetes, according to the report. That could suggest they may have had to leave the workforce because of their condition.

Previous research suggests that having low income in childhood or mid-life can contribute to developing the disease.

Ed Ehlinger, health commissioner, says diabetes is not easy to manage, even in the best of circumstances.

“If you have good income, if you have stable housing, if you’ve got relationships that are supportive, it’s hard enough,” he said. “If you add things like low income and insecure housing and lack of access to food and poor transportation, it’s just going to make it increasingly difficult.”

The report’s findings come as no surprise to Ross Owen, director of Hennepin Health, a managed care program serving primarily single adults who are on Medicaid or MinnesotaCare.

More than 22 percent of Hennepin Health’s patients have diabetes. Many also have chemical addictions, mental health issues and unstable housing arrangements.

Owen says a traditional health care approach to diabetes, one that emphasizes behavior change, wouldn’t work well with his patient population. He says basic needs have to be met first. So providers find out if their clients need housing or food and connect them with services.

“One of the first things that we learned is that we have to ask,” he said. “If we don’t establish a relationship and ask people about what’s going on in their life outside of the walls of our clinic and our hospital, we don’t know.”

The approach has helped Hennepin Health keep its patients on track in meeting statewide diabetes care measures.

But such efforts alone won’t prevent diabetes and bring down disease rates among low income, racially diverse patients, says Moriah Johnson, who runs the health promotion program at Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis. She says lifestyle changes are difficult.

“You kind of get the feeling sometimes that you’re hitting your head up against the wall,” she said. “You’re doing the same things over and over again. We haven’t seen huge, huge improvements.”

The report says the state could do more to prevent diabetes, including dropping co-pays for low-income people, improving access to healthy, affordable foods and creating more opportunities for physical activity.

Type 1 Diabetes Cure? –

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – A medication called Verapamil is a common treatment for controlling blood pressure, but researchers have stumbled onto another possible use for it: curing type-one diabetes. A first-of-its-kind trial is now underway, and it could be the cure for what is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.

Joy Myers didn’t always count carbs.

And she didn’t always have an insulin pump strapped to her hip.

“It calculates how much insulin I get,” Myers told Ivanhoe.

Myers has been doing all of this for just over a year, ever since at 41 years old, a near-death experience put her in a coma for nine days.

“As I woke up in the hospital, I was informed that I was a type 1 diabetic,” Myers detailed.

Even though it’s typically thought of as juvenile diabetes, type-one can show itself at any age. Myers was diagnosed just as a ground-breaking new study was getting underway.

Dr. Anath Shalev, professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Diabetes Center told Ivanhoe, “Diabetes treatment has come a long way. We have different insulins and we have different oral medications, but what we don’t have is any approach that would promote the patient’s own beta cell mass and function.” 

Dr. Shalev discovered that the blood pressure medication Verapamil protects the body’s beta cells, the only cells capable of producing insulin. Verapamil not only prevented type-one diabetes in mice, but reversed it.

“This could potentially be a cure,” said Myers.

As a trial participant, Myers doesn’t know if these blue pills are Verapamil or a placebo. But that’s not what matters to her.

“This data is going to hopefully, have an effect on the future for someone else,” detailed Myers.

Since Verapamil is already FDA- approved and used for controlling blood pressure, it would already be available to prescribe for type-one diabetes if the study is successful.

Dr. Shalev is still looking for people with type-one diabetes to participate in the trial. You can email her at

Copyright 2016 by Ivanhoe Newswire – All rights reserved.

Patch delivers insulin beta cells to control diabetes –

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., March 14 (UPI) — Scientists designed a patch that delivers insulin producing beta cells when the body needs them, which may eliminate the need for diabetes patients to inject insulin or expose themselves to the risks of doing so, according to a new study.

The smart cell patch is a painless, quarter-sized square patch both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients can wear that quickly responds to rising blood sugar levels and can control them for about 10 hours at a time.

Diabetes is caused by beta cells in the pancreas being unable to produce insulin. Although some patients who have received transplants of the cells have done well, including one last year in a clinical trial, many either experience side effects or the cells are rejected by their immune systems. Most people with diabetes manage the disease by self-monitoring blood sugar levels and controlling them with insulin injections.

The new patch is the next step from the same research team’s smart insulin patch, which delivered synthetic insulin, but was not responsive to the body and didn’t solve the problem of dosing.

The goal, scientists said, was to find a way allow beta cells to judge the blood stream but make it impossible for them to be attacked by the immune system.

“This study provides a potential solution for the tough problem of rejection, which has long plagued studies on pancreatic cell transplants for diabetes,” Dr. Zhen Gu, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University, said in a press release. “Plus it demonstrates that we can build a bridge between the physiological signals within the body and these therapeutic cells outside the body to keep glucose levels under control.”

For the study, published in the journal Advanced Materials, using the basic design of the previous patch, scientists filled microneedles on the patch with beta cells and culture media, adding chemicals to help beta cells “hear” rising blood sugar levels and respond.

In trials with mice, blood sugar levels in diabetic mice dropped to normal levels quickly after receiving a patch, and a second patch did not result in excess insulin doses — instead allowing the patches to last about 20 hours.

The scientists said the patches will need to be developed further, and tested with humans, before becoming available.

Best ways to reverse diabetes | Health | Life & Style | Daily Express

Achieving complete reversal may not be possible for everyone, but I saw people who had taken fairly large doses of insulin for several years lose weight with a lower-carb diet and who were then able to come off insulin and control their blood sugar only with the drug Metformin.” 

He’s frustrated that doctors are still telling patients that type 2 diabetes is irreversible, and giving traditional dietary advice to eat a low-fat, higher-fibre diet, basing all meals on carbohydrates, albeit swapping white bread, pasta and rice for whole-wheat versions. 

This is precisely the advice Marie was given when she was diagnosed in 2013, and she followed it to the letter. “It didn’t make one jot of difference: I still felt awful. By 2.30pm, after eating lunch, I would feel sweaty, ill and I couldn’t concentrate,” she says.

Then she stumbled on and discovered lots of people were experimenting with a low-carb diet: eating more good fats but fewer starchy foods.

She tried it – replacing breakfast cereal with Greek yoghurt, berries and nuts, swapping her lunchtime sandwich for soup or tuna salad, and sharing the same dinner as her husband and two daughters, but having a smaller portion of potatoes, rice or pasta. Snacks were the odd plain digestive biscuit and small bar of dark chocolate. Suddenly, her blood sugar levels fell from 12 at diagnosis to about 5-5½, which is within the normal range, and her symptoms disappeared. She’s lost 2st through the diet and from simply being more active.

“I don’t like to think of it in terms of a ‘cure’ or a reversal – although my practice nurse said I was in the reversal zone – because I don’t want to get complacent,” says Marie. 

“If I was to go back to eating rubbish and being inactive, the symptoms might return.” 

They almost certainly would, says Dr Cavan: “I would never use the word ‘cure’ because it implies something permanent. But type 2 diabetes can be reversed and it’s frustrating that the message is not getting out there.”

Diabetes May Raise Dangerous Staph Infection Risk

Diabetes May Raise Dangerous Staph Infection Risk

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 11, 2016 (HealthDay News) — People with diabetes may be significantly more likely to develop potentially deadly “staph” blood infections than those without diabetes, a new study suggests.

As the Danish researchers explained, Staphyloccus aureus bacteria live on the skin and are normally harmless. However, the germs can cause dangerous infections if they enter the bloodstream.

In fact, the 30-day death rate from such infections is 20 percent to 30 percent, according to the research team from Aalborg University Hospital and Aarhus University Hospital.

In their new study, the researchers tracked the medical records of 30,000 people in Denmark over 12 years.

Overall, they found that people with any form of diabetes were almost three times more likely to acquire a staph blood infection outside of a hospital, compared to those without diabetes.

The risk jumped to more than seven times higher among people with type 1 diabetes, and almost three times higher for those with type 2 diabetes.

About 95 percent of people with diabetes have the type 2 form of the disease, which is often (but not always) linked to obesity and involves a dysfunction in the body’s ability to use insulin. About 5 percent of diabetes is type 1, where the body has lost its ability to produce insulin, the hormone that converts blood sugar to energy for cells.

The new study also found that the combination of diabetes and related kidney problems boosted the odds for staph blood infection by more than fourfold, compared to people without these conditions. People with other diabetes-linked complications, such as heart and circulation problems and diabetic ulcers, were also at increased risk.

The study was published March 10 in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

“It has long been a common clinical belief that diabetes increases the risk of S. aureus infection, but until now this has been supported by scant evidence,” study author Jesper Smit said in a journal news release.

His team also found that the risk of staph bloodstream infection rose with the number of years a person had diabetes. Poor control of diabetes was another factor that upped the infection risk.

The findings suggest that long-term diabetes patients may require closer monitoring for infections, Smit’s team said.

“Poor management of diabetes can lead to an impaired immune response,” he explained. “This may be the reason why diabetes patients are at higher risk of infection. Similarly, diabetic patients often suffer associated illnesses — the burden of multiple health care problems can also increase susceptibility to infection.”

Are you pre-diabetic? 46% of California adults are, UCLA study finds

For decades, more and more Californians have put on weight and fallen sick with diabetes, prompting warnings that the disease was spiraling out of control.

Now experts have data showing just how bleak the situation is.

Researchers from UCLA determined that 55% of California adults have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetic, according to a study published Thursday.

Experts already knew that about 9% of people in the state have diabetes. But previous estimates had put the rate of pre-diabetes at about 33%, lower than the 46% calculated by UCLA researchers.

What's wrong with the American diet? More than half our calories come from 'ultra-processed' foods

What’s wrong with the American diet? More than half our calories come from ‘ultra-processed’ foods

Researchers who have analyzed America’s eating habits say they can sum up what’s wrong with our diet in just two words: ultra-processed foods.

These foods — a group that includes frozen pizzas, breakfast cereals and soda — make up 58% of all calories Americans consume in a typical day. Not only…

Researchers who have analyzed America’s eating habits say they can sum up what’s wrong with our diet in just two words: ultra-processed foods.

These foods — a group that includes frozen pizzas, breakfast cereals and soda — make up 58% of all calories Americans consume in a typical day. Not only…

(Karen Kaplan)

“Our genes and our environment are kind of on a collision course,” said Dr. Francine Kaufman, the former head of the American Diabetes Assn., who was not involved with the research. “It’s not stopping.”

Rates of diabetes have increased more than 175% nationally since 1980, according to federal data. It’s now the seventh-leading cause of death in California.

The UCLA researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to create a model that predicts pre-diabetes, based on factors such as race, height and weight. That model was then applied to data from the California Health Interview Survey, determining that 13 million adults in the state have either pre-diabetes or undiagnosed diabetes.

Up to 70% of those with pre-diabetes develop diabetes in their lifetime.

“This study is a barometer that’s telling us that the storm is coming,” said Harold Goldstein, head of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, a nonprofit that supports public health initiatives and funded the study.

Already, 2.5 million Californians have been diagnosed with diabetes, which can cause kidney failure, amputation and premature death. More than 100 diabetic Californians lose a leg, foot or toe every week because of the disease, according to state data.

More expensive soda? Lawmakers want to tax sugary drinks

More expensive soda? Lawmakers want to tax sugary drinks

Alarmed by an obesity epidemic, two state lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a “health impact fee” of 2 cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened sodas and other drinks sold in California.

The proposal by Democratic Assemblymen Richard Bloom of Santa Monica and Jim Wood of Healdsburg would add 24 cents to…

Alarmed by an obesity epidemic, two state lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a “health impact fee” of 2 cents per ounce on sugar-sweetened sodas and other drinks sold in California.

The proposal by Democratic Assemblymen Richard Bloom of Santa Monica and Jim Wood of Healdsburg would add 24 cents to…

(Patrick McGreevy)

But experts say there’s hope of curbing the disease’s spread. The vast majority of diabetes cases in California — upward of 90% — are Type 2, which is preventable. People can stave off developing diabetes by adopting a healthier diet and increasing physical activity, experts say.

The difficulty is that most people don’t take action until it’s too late.

“One of the biggest problems with pre-diabetes is that most people don’t know they have it,” said Dr. Susan Babey, the paper’s lead researcher and a co-director of the Chronic Disease Program at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

About 90% of people with pre-diabetes are unaware of their condition, so most don’t get any treatment, said Matt Petersen, managing director of medical information for the American Diabetes Assn. There are no symptoms of pre-diabetes, which can be detected only through blood tests.

“If you do intervene, you have a successful outcome,” he said. “We just have to have people know they’re at risk and get screened.”

An often-cited clinical research study found that people with pre-diabetes who were overweight and improved their diet and worked out reduced their diabetes risk 58%. Those who instead took a medicine to treat diabetes reduced their risk only 31%.

The UCLA researchers found that pre-diabetes in California increases with age, from 33% of adults ages 18 to 39 having the condition to 60% in those 55 to 69.

They also found racial and ethnic variation in the rates. About 42% of Asian adults have pre-diabetes, 44% of Latino adults, 48% of white adults, 50% of African American adults and 55% of Pacific Islander adults.

Goldstein says he thinks the high rates of pre-diabetes, especially among younger generations, arise from sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. “They’ve grown up in a world that’s designed for the disease,” he said.

He wants to increase access to healthy, fresh foods, and reduce junk food advertising. On Tuesday, California state legislators proposed a “health impact fee,” which would tax sugar-sweetened beverages by 2 cents an ounce. Bob Achermann, executive director of the California Beverage Assn., on Wednesday called the measure the latest in a series of “misguided tax proposals on sugar-sweetened beverages,” and urged leaders to “find real solutions to obesity and diabetes.”

In 2014, Berkeley voters approved the nation’s first citywide tax on sodas and other sugary beverages.

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This Groundbreaking High Fat Diet Could Combat Diabetes and Promote Weight Loss

One diet that has existed for more than 80 years is making a comeback as a way to ease symptoms of diabetes. Diabetes affects the body’s use of glucose, a type of sugar that is found in the bloodstream and a fuel source for cells in the body. According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 1 diabetes affects younger individuals, while type 2 diabetes occurs when an individual can’t produce enough insulin to keep up with the blood’s glucose levels.


The ketogenic diet may slow the effects of the debilitating disease. Originally used to treat children with epilepsy, how can a diet that focuses on high fats possibly be a solution to diabetes?


Read more: How to Eat Healthy and Avoid a Ramen-Only Diet When You’re a Broke College Student


The keto diet is high in fat but low in carbohydrates, according to Healthline. The diet is all about changing the way your body stores and converts energy, burning fat instead of carbs. Carbohydrates are generally converted into glucose, but the keto diet forces the body to use fat as energy for the body instead. Burning fat instead of carbs helps ease the symptoms of diabetes and may decrease blood glucose levels.


Dr. Jay Wortman, a Canadian physician, conducted a study of the keto diet in an aboriginal community in the Namgis First Nation in Canada.


“We designed a study, trying to do something different, because clearly what we were currently doing to manage these problems wasn’t working,”  Wortman said during a dieting summit in Cape Town, South Africa, according to BizNews. “We approached a small aboriginal community and suggested they try on a low-carb, ketogenic diet based on their traditional diet. People lost weight and improved their metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.”

View photo

.This Groundbreaking High Fat Diet Could Combat Diabetes and Promote Weight Loss

Source: Matthew Mead/AP


Of course, this doesn’t seem to mean go out and gorge yourself with every type of fat. According to Healthline, “heart-healthy fats are the key to sustaining overall health,” so dieters should try healthy fats like eggs, fish, cottage cheese, avocados, and almond butter.


Not all researchers believe that low carb, high fat diets are healthy options. But Dr. Eric Westman, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University Health System, has been using the diet for several years.


“While not all experts agree that a LCHF diet is a healthy way of eating (like I do), most experts agree that the LCHF diet is a therapy for many of the chronic medical conditions that we see today: type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heartburn, polycystic ovarian syndrome and fatty liver disease, to name a few,” Westman told Whole Foods Magazine. “I have been using the LCHF diet as a first-line treatment for obesity and type 2 diabetes for eight years.”


The keto diet may also benefit the wallet as well. “I lowered my grocery bill 20% to about $75 a week,” Joshua Schall, a business consultant, told US News World Report after trying the keto diet. “The main difference was being able to buy cheaper cuts of meat from my traditional lean cuts.”

Diabetes: Yet another reason to get out of that chair

Earlier studies have shown that sedentary behavior can lead to type 2 diabetes and many other diseases including cardiovascular problems, cancer and other chronic conditions. There’s a reason physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth-leading risk factor for death for people all around the world, according to the World Health Organization.

So what can you do to reduce your sitting time?

There are some really simple things. Experts suggest one may be as simple as being aware of exactly how much you sit. Make it a goal to get up for a few minutes every hour. Some pedometers will now even send you reminder notes to get up if you get too engrossed in your work. If you do have to sit for your work, switch to a standing desk.

If you watch TV at night, don’t zoom ahead during the commercials with your DVR. Instead walk around or at least stand up during the show break.

Whatever you do get up and move. Your body will thank you if you do.

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Diabetes can be a killer as it targets the heart

His diabetes diagnosis in 1990 was a slap in the face for Robb Ensign, 47, who recalled that “it came out of nowhere; no one in my family had it.” From Day 1, though, he decided “to control it instead of letting it control me.”

Ensign, of St. Joseph, Mo., began by educating himself about diabetes, which makes him two to four times more likely to develop heart disease. In fact, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for people with Type 2 diabetes. Symptoms can be apparent, like angina (chest pain), or silent, like atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).

Diabetes strikes one in 10 Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2050, the CDC projects, one in three Americans will have the disease.

Ensign has the most serious form of diabetes, Type 1, so he needs frequent insulin injections. (With Type 1, the pancreas fails to produce enough of the hormone insulin to regular blood sugar. In Type 2, the body develops insulin resistance, especially because of excess weight and lack of exercise.)

How to attack diabetes at the kitchen table

“If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it’s ‘in the family’ now, so make healthy eating a family affair,” said Lori Zanini, El Segundo, Calif.-based registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy for Nutrition Dietetics. “The right diet helps you control the disease and avoid diabetes complications…

“If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it’s ‘in the family’ now, so make healthy eating a family affair,” said Lori Zanini, El Segundo, Calif.-based registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy for Nutrition Dietetics. “The right diet helps you control the disease and avoid diabetes complications…

(Leslie Mann)

“I have to leave a lot of meetings because it’s time for a shot,” said Ensign, vice president of a cleaning-products manufacturer. A Type 2 patient doesn’t necessarily need insulin. A minority of diabetes victims develop Type 1.5, which has characteristics of Types 1 and 2.

When people are diagnosed with diabetes, “ABC” becomes the acronym they live by. Otherwise, they increase their odds of having heart disease and other diabetes complications, such as vision loss and neuropathy.

“A” is the average glucose level over the last three months, measured by the A1C test. If it’s higher than 7 percent, the heart can suffer damage.

“B” stands for blood pressure, which should be 130/80 or lower. If it’s too high, the heart has to work harder to pump blood, and the person is more likely to have a heart attack.

If diet and exercise alone do not lower blood pressure, a doctor may prescribe medication.

“C” is for cholesterol. Unchecked, diabetes makes “bad cholesterol,” or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), too high. This jeopardizes the heart by clogging arteries with plaque. If a clot forms, a person could have a heart attack or stroke. The goal is to keep LDL under 100 mg/dl.

If diet changes do not lower cholesterol to safe levels, a person may have to take medicine such as Lipitor.

Diabetes complicates Ensign’s life, but managing it is his priority.

“I check my glucose 10 to 15 times a day,” he said. “I give myself insulin shots five to seven times a day.” Because obesity would endanger his heart, he keeps his weight down.

“Even moderate exercise, such as gardening, makes a difference,” said Dr. Robert Eckel, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado and spokesman for the American Heart Association. “Exercise can delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes or even prevent it. But, too often, people are sedentary. There’s a lot of sittin’ going on!”

Doctors urge smokers to kick the habit, whether or not they have diabetes, because smoking taxes the heart.

To help plan a diet, diabetes sufferers should see a registered dietitian who has “certified diabetes educator” credentials. Also, see an endocrinologist, Eckel added, for an individualized plan because every patient’s circumstances are different.

Meals for diabetics should include more fiber and fewer fats, salt, sugar and processed foods. Most of all, diabetes turns a person into a carb counter because carbohydrates greatly affect the disease.

At one time, diabetics went nowhere without their log books, where they recorded their glucose, blood pressure and LDL levels, meals and exercise. Now they can do this electronically.

Jon Meyer, 49, an Arlington, Texas, IT consultant, credits with helping him control his Type 2 diabetes. Since enrolling, he has lost 40 pounds and reduced his needs for insulin and cholesterol-lowering meds.

Through twice-monthly video consultations with Retrofit’s physiologist, behavioral coach and dietitian, Meyer learned to keep heart disease at bay by altering his exercise, lifestyle and diet.

A Retrofit-provided scale transmits Meyer’s weight electronically to his advisers, while he uses his cellphone to relay his food choices.

“I haven’t changed what I eat as much as how much I eat,” Meyer said. “Now I eat half of a restaurant meal and take home the other half for lunch the next day.” Meyer can still indulge in his favorite foods — chocolate cake and milkshakes — as long as he has small amounts.

“It’s well worth it,” said Meyer of Retrofit, which was partially subsidized by his employer. (Individual enrollment costs $248 a month.) Retrofit also provides online classes and a patient-support group.

Monica Loewi, 77, a retiree from Vancouver, British Columbia, uses an online diabetes-management system called Glooko, which costs $59.95 for a year subscription. She consults the Glooko app about sodium, fat and carb content of foods. Like Meyer, she enters her daily data onto her account.

“My endocrinologist loves it because it shows him everything in one place online,” Loewi said.

“My father had heart disease, so I didn’t want my diabetes to lead to heart problems too,” said Loewi, who manages her Type 1.5 diabetes by eating meals regularly, measuring her glucose every few hours and being religious about her walking and stretching routines.

Loewi and Meyer both use Fitbit activity trackers, which measure steps taken, then transmit this information to their online accounts.

“I always walk for at least an hour before or after work, but wearing the Fitbit reminds me to walk during the day too,” Meyer said. “I’m walking while I’m talking to you now.”

Beyond diet and exercise, “new diabetes drugs are promising,” Eckel said. “And metabolic (weight-loss) surgery has evolved, so we’re more often looking at it as a way to stop the obesity/diabetes/heart disease cycle.” But most patients can protect their hearts, he said, by viewing diabetes management as their new part-time job.

“Taking care of my health wasn’t even on my top 50 list of things to do before,” Meyer said. “Now it’s in the top five, along with my family, faith, work and my volunteer responsibilities.”

Don’t be shy about bringing in the pros to help, Meyer tells other patients. “We hire people to advise us about other matters, like investing our money,” he said. “Why shouldn’t we hire people to help us be healthy too?”

A Glass Of Wine A Day May Help Control Type 2 Diabetes

If you’re in the habit of drinking wine with dinner, there may be a bonus beyond the enjoyment of sipping a glass at night.

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine adds to the evidence that drinking a moderate amount of wine can be good for your health.

The evidence comes from a new two-year-long study on people with diabetes.

Researcher Iris Shai of Ben Gurion University says in Israel and elsewhere, lots of people with diabetes get the message that alcohol — even in moderation — can be harmful.

“There is a myth that alcohol is not so safe for them,” Shai says.

In order to test the influence of wine on people with diabetes, Shai recruited about 225 people who already had elevated blood sugar, and they agreed to follow a Mediterranean style diet for two years.

Everyone in the study was eating the same mix of foods but when it came to what to drink, some began drinking one glass of red wine per day, some began drinking one glass of white wine per day and others drank mineral water.

And at the end of the study? “We found that a glass of red wine with dinner can improve the cardiovascular health of people with Type 2 diabetes,” Shai says.

In particular, Shai found that compared to people who drank mineral water with dinner, the wine drinkers — both those who drank white and red — benefited from improvements in blood sugar control.

And the red wine drinkers got an additional benefit: They saw improvements in their levels of good cholesterol.

The effects are not huge, but physician Christopher Wilcox of Georgetown University Medical Center says they could be significant.

“One glass of alcohol per day had these admittedly modest but worthwhile benefits,” he says.

There’s been a lot of interest in the idea that specific compounds in red wine may help protect against heart disease. And this finding — in which red wine improved cholesterol — adds a bit more evidence.

But Wilcox says this study also suggests that when it comes to blood sugar levels, the type of alcohol may not matter much.

“Since both red and white wine were beneficial in terms of blood sugar lowering — it does seem to rather neatly and very cleverly — tie the benefit in probably to alcohol rather than wine itself,” he says.

There’s a big caveat however. The benefits of alcohol can be quickly outweighed by the risks if you drink more than one or two servings per day.

And Wilcox says not all of us metabolize or benefit from alcohol in the same way. Some of us are fast metabolizers, others are slow metabolizers — it’s determined by our genes.

And in this study, it was the slow metabolizers who got significant improvements in blood sugar control.

So, you can’t count on a benefit. Wilcox says if you have diabetes, wine is no replacement for proper treatment.

“Most certainly a glass of red wine does not substitute for good control of blood glucose with one of the diabetic medicines,” he says.

But that nightly glass of wine could be one small part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.