A Dozen Slices of Interesting Info About Diabetes

  1. Almost 6 percent of the world’s population has diabetes. An estimated 40 million of them live in India. One in every 20 deaths throughout the world is attributed to diabetes, which is also the primary cause of kidney failure worldwide. Countries with the greatest percentage of diabetic people are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nauru, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Close to 24 million people have diabetes in the U.S.
  2. The words diabetes mellitus are of Greek origin. Diabetes means “to pass through” and mellitus means “sweet as honey.”
  3. People with an apple-like body shape are more at risk for diabetes than those who have a pear shape.
  4. The first modern diet prescribed for diabetes was likely Dr. Frederick Allen’s (1916). For a few days, his patients were given black coffee laced with whiskey (or clear soup if they preferred) every couple of hours. When sugar was no longer found in their urine, Allen’s patients were put on a strict low-carb diet.
  5. If you lived in ancient times and had the job of “water taster,” it meant that you tasted the urine of doctor’s patients to discover whether it was sugary, indicating diabetes. There were no doubt some doctors who did their own tasting, but it is easy to imagine why many employed water tasters.
  6. Another way ancients tested for diabetes was to pour a patient’s urine on the ground to see whether it attracted ants or flies.
  7. The first portable glucose meters were only available to doctors for use in their practice. These meters were available in 1969 and called ARM, or an Ames Reflectance Meter. An engineer acquired one through his wife (a psychiatrist) and his diabetes symptoms dramatically improved as he monitored his blood glucose at home. Medical journals did not print his findings. So, at age 43, Richard Bernstein went to med school and became an endocrinologist. He wrote a widely-read book called Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. Portable glucose meters became available for home use in the 1980s.
  8. Until close to a century ago, diabetic patients used porcine or bovine (yup, pigs and cows) insulin to manage their illness. Insulin is now a laboratory concoction of bacteria and yeast.
  9. The increase of diabetes is largely attributed to sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits. Too much TV and computer time with snack foods and no exercise puts us at higher risk for diabetes.
  10. Eating cooked oatmeal regularly, at least twice per week, decreases your risk of diabetes.
  11. Diabetes is not just a human disease. Animals such as ferrets, cats, foxes, horses, hippos and dolphins can suffer from it as well.
  12. Some well-known athletes with diabetes are Sugar Ray Robinson, Arthur Ashe and Jackie Robinson. Celebrities with diabetes include Halle Berry, Jerry Garica, Mary Tyler Moore, Phife Dawg and James Cagney. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has diabetes too.

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