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Diabetes Update: Local Support Groups

Number 40; July 1, 2002

By David Mendosa

This newsletter keeps you up-to-date with new articles, columns, and Web pages that I have written. I list and link most of these on my Diabetes Directory at

From time to time Diabetes Update may also include links to other Web pages of special interest.

My most recent contribution is:

    on July 1, 2002
  • Local Support Groups
    The Internet may be wonderful, but so far we haven't figured out how to teleport each other so that we can actually meet. In the meantime, there is no substitute for local support groups. But the Internet is still in most cases the best way to find these important local resources. It was surprisingly difficult for me to figure out where to go. The URL is


    on June 24, 2002
  • Are Dates Low Glycemic?
    I love dates, particularly the soft, juicy medjool variety that we grow in California's Coachella Valley, near where I grew up. But I didn't eat too many of them because their reported glycemic index is so high—103 where glucose = 100.

    But now as I write I am happily snacking on three dates. It turns out that they are probably low glycemic.

    While I was looking for something else yesterday, I stumbled across the abstract of an article in the May issue of the Saudi Medical Journal, which the Riyadh Al-Kharj Hospital Programme in Saudi Arabia publishes. Campbell J. Miller and his associates at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the United Arab Emirates University reported on the Glycemic index of 3 varieties of dates. The university is in Al Ain, the capital of the eastern region of Abu Dhabi, the largest and most populous of the seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates. This federation is on the south-eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula with Qatar to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Oman to the southeast and northeast. Dates are the UAE's leading agricultural product, according to the CIA's World Factbook.

    One type of date, the bahri variety, is readily available here and is smaller, sweeter and a bit firmer than medjools. Dr. Miller and his associates determined that they have a GI of 50.

    Another soft, juicy date that I have been able to identify, the khalas variety, has a GI of 36. They found that the third variety, which I have not been able to identify, bo ma'an dates, have an even lower GI, 31. Neither the khalas nor the bo ma'an varieties appear to be available here.

    Jennie Brand-Miller and her associates at the University of Sydney in Australia were the ones who originally determined that the GI of dates was 103. So I asked her about this new study. Here is what she replied:

    "I always had my doubts about the high value we got when we tested them. It never made sense for dates to be so high when they contain a lot of fibre as well as sugars in the form of fructose and sucrose as well as glucose. I even wondered if those dates had been steeped in glucose syrup.

    "I have a feeling that the values [in the new study] may be correct because they say they tested the carbohydrate content themselves. When we tested them, we relied on the information on the package label. If the product had dried out considerably since packaging, then we would have overestimated the amount need to provide the 50 g carbohydrate portion. Hence we might have fed twice the weight really needed and therefore 100 g instead of 50 g of carbohydrate. Problems such as this come up now and again with GI testing but it is not common."

    When I wrote Professor Miller, he sent me the article. It confirmed that they used standard testing methods and that they compared the GI of dates against that of glucose equalling 100.

    As a result, I have updated my Glycemic Index Lists accordingly.

Book Review:

    on June 25, 2002
    Carol Guber
  • Carol Guber's Type 2 Diabetes Life Plan
    Broadway Books, which published this book in June, is running huge media blitz for Carol Guber's contribution to diabetes knowledge. A week after it was published ranked it between 200 and 2,296. A correspondent tells me than Barnes & Noble had it at number 1.

    So it must be a pathbreaking work, right? Wrong.

    Carol Guber isn't exactly a household word. Yet. But her publisher is certainly positioning her as one.

    I had never heard of her before, even though at one time she was the director of food programs at New York University. While she is a mainstream nutritionist, somehow she came down with type 2 diabetes in September 1998. And now, less than four years later here she is telling us how to fix up our lives.

    I don't buy it. In fact, I didn't buy the book; the publisher sent me a review copy as a part of their media blitz. You can see that the company is pulling out all the stops.

    Actually, there is little to fault in the book, except that it is boring and not up-to-date. The advice here is what you probably already have read a thousand times. Eat less fat, exercise more, stop smoking, etc. Just what you would expect from a mainstream nutritionist.

    That the book is not current is more surprising, considering that it is only in the last few years that Carol has thought intensively about diabetes. She doesn't seem to know about any blood glucose meters that test in less than 12 seconds, although the One Touch Ultra, which tests in 5 seconds, won FDA approval in August 2000. She doesn't appear to have heard of Starlix, which the FDA approved in September 2000. Nor does she mention Lantus, a very long acting insulin, which the FDA also approved in 2000.

    The best thing about the book is the attractive hard cover and printing. Form again wins over substance.

    The book is 288 pages for $25. If this review got you excited about the book, you can read more about it and its author at Carol's Web site,


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