Posts Tagged ‘insulin’

 Today is World Diabetes Day–Nov 14th, birthday of Fred Banting, who along with Charles Best first discovered insulin, revolutionizing the treatment of diabetes.world-diabetes-day

The World Diabetes Day 2014 campaign marks the first of a three-year (2014-16) focus on healthy living and diabetes.

Special focus will be placed on the importance of starting the day with a healthy breakfast. (see below!)

Facebook question for Robin & Meredith: What do you guys have for breakfast? The cookbooks don’t mention anything and I’m curious ~Maire Martello 

To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.

                                     ~ W. Somerset Maugham

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.            ~ John Gunther

Oysters are the usual opening to a winter breakfast. Indeed, they are almost indispensable.

~ Grimod de la Reyniere (1758-1838)

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” 

~ I’m sure my mother said that a few times!

Breakfast–before I set off on my walk–is the same every morning (and no sign of an oyster)!


large organic oat flakes mixed with…

freshly-cracked walnuts (watch out for rogue pieces of shell that crack your teeth)

a dried, untreated apricot–chopped

a teaspoon of linseeds

a prune (cooked),

half a pot of plain organic yogurt

cinnamon–sprinkled on top (Some studies show cinnamon helps lower blood sugar levels.)

and moistened with unsweetened oat or almond milk

Two slices of 100% organic rye bread with a little butter and pear & apple fruit spread (no added sugar)

and a small black coffee

The same every morning?



Not for me. I look forward to it–once a day, at least!

Maybe we are at our most conservative, most in need of ritual, just after waking up. I find the assembling and eating of this bowl of goodies a daily delight.

Meredith’s version of breakfast heaven is cooked oats (she’s eating it as I write!) :


Porridge: small oat flakes cooked in organic milk, organic plain yogurt, a cooked prune, perhaps some seasonal fruit, cinnamon sprinkled over.

Neither of us feel the need to snack before lunch–the oats keep us going.

Latest estimates* suggest that there are 382 million people living with diabetes worldwide.

What makes the pandemic particularly menacing is that throughout much of the world, it remains hidden.

In my case, there were NO symptoms. My Type 2 diabetes was picked up in a routine blood test.

Up to HALF of all people with diabetes worldwide remain UNDIAGNOSED!

A simple blood test is all that is needed for a diagnosis.

If you have a family history of diabetes, as I did, a routine test is a good idea!

Life, within doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast table. 

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

* International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas

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Diabetes is in my family.

My mother, Molly–who’d be 96 today–died of a diabetes-related heart attack at 9 a.m. on December 2nd 1982, while dressing to go shopping. Perhaps a good way to go–but hard for the rest of us. She was 68.

She developed Type 1 diabetes in the early fifties–the result, we were told, of shock at the sudden death of her own mother at our home in north London. Molly was in her mid-thirties. Diabetes was in her family–her Uncle Harry had it.

Enough was known about the disease by then to allow her another thirty years of life–she would often cite  Drs. Banting and Best (http://nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/insulin/discovery-insulin.html ) as her saviours, for their ground breaking work on insulin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin).

When she was pregnant with my youngest brother Jack, the doctors at St. Thomas’ Hospital over the Thames from the Houses of Parliament, were uncertain whether to allow the pregnancy to continue. They went ahead–praise the Lord!–and Jack Ellis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ellis_%28actor%29) thrives to this day!

She injected insulin twice a day for the rest of her life without any song and dance. I was in awe.

From time to time she would have what she called a”reaction“.

This usually happened as result of a low blood sugar level.

If she hadn’t got her insulin balance quite right–at a cocktail party perhaps (this was the fifties!), she’d start acting strangely, sometimes appearing to be the worse for drink. My father would delve into her handbag for the lump of sugar he knew was there and with some difficulty persuade her to swallow it.

At first it struck us ignorant kids as odd that a person whose body couldn’t absorb sugar normally would swallow some to save her from a coma or worse!

These “reactions” would occasionally occur in the middle of the night–a real danger. Miraculously my father always woke up in time to administer the sugar lump–though a couple of times I remember Ma being taken by ambulance to St. Thomas’ in a comatose state.

Witnessing first hand the damage diabetes could inflict, I needed no persuading to take it seriously when my diagnosis came a dozen years ago.

Ma set a great example. She was steadfast, brave and determined to enjoy life–despite her difficulties.


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I came across this comment today from Gerald Bernstein, MD, director of the diabetes management program at the Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, explaining why”belly fat” is bad:
“When those fat cells around the belly swamp the organs that play a key role in regulating blood sugar, that fat works to block the action of insulin, which is necessary to lower the blood sugar.
Insulin normally triggers the liver to take up extra blood glucose and store the energy for future use.
But when the liver is submerged in this fat tissue, insulin can’t get it to respond. As a result, blood sugar can accumulate in the bloodstream, where it can damage organs all over your body.”
It reminded me of what Jill Littrell, in a comment a few days ago, said–in scientific terms– about the link between this visceral fat that lies deep inside the abdomen, surrounding the abdominal organs– the liver, kidneys, the pancreas– and the development of Type Two diabetes.
I’m beginning to understand this better.
Whether you are young, middle or–more middle aged (!)–no fat is your friend.

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