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Diabetes Update: Meter Research

September 1, 2005

By David Mendosa

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Two Ducklings, One Kitten
Two Ducklings, One Kitten

My most recent articles are:

  • Recent Research Reports

    Whatever you think about the American Diabetes Association, you have to admit that this rather conservative organization sponsors conventions where thousands of scientists present the latest research on everything related to diabetes. There is nothing of the kind larger than its 65th Annual Scientific Sessions in San Diego this summer.

    It included 55 abstracts dealing with blood glucose testing. Especially interesting were four presentations that looked at testing on the palm of the hand. For my review of these and the other most important abstracts, please read my current “Meter News” column in the September issue of Diabetes Health magazine or read it on my website at

Glucose Up and Down

My Chinese Book

  • Fourth Edition of My Book

    Now that this newsletter has about 10,000 subscribers, there must be a few of you who read Chinese better than you read English. I have just what you have been waiting for — the Chinese edition of my first book, What Makes My Blood Glucose Go Up — And Down? I wrote it a couple of years with Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell. Taiwan is now the fourth country in which this indespensable reference work has been published — after the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. This book has the answers to the 101 most important questions about foods and other things that can increase or reduce your blood glucose as well as the listing of the glycemic index and glycemic load of about 750 foods that have been tested so far.

    Since I find Chinese hard to read, I can’t tell you how much the book costs. But whatever it costs, I know that it’s worth it. The ISBN is 986-13-034-3.


  • The Dawn Phenomenon
    There’s another way for us to help control the dawn phenomenon (where your fasting numbers are worse than when you go to bed). Initially, I reported on my lack of success with the ExtendBar. Then, in the July issue of Diabetes Update I reported the advice from John Walsh and Ruth Roberts to take a green apple (like a Granny Smith; not an unripe one) at bedtime. Since then some correspondents have reported apple success, while others weren’t so lucky.

    Now, I am happy to report the recommendation of correspondent Renee Gerger. She writes:

    I wanted to share with you that vinegar pills have changed my whole blood sugar control in a positive manner. I have used several brands, but find that GNC works the best. The difference I noted in the GNC product is that it contains cayenne along with some other substances. I have dawn syndrome and by taking two pills at bedtime I have eliminated it completely. I now have normal readings in the a.m. and most of the day. I also take one or two at dinner.

    One has to be cautious because they are so effective that they can reduce blood sugar too much. I have been experimenting with the pills and have noticed that I can reduce my Prandin by taking the vinegar pills. Presently I take Actos once a day and one Prandin at breakfast, one at lunch, and two at dinner. I now don’t take a Prandin at lunch, and if I am having a larger carb intake at dinner, I take both Prandin and maybe one vinegar pill. With a dinner that is really “legal” I don’t take a vinegar pill at that time, but still take two before bed even if my blood glucose is well below 100, because of the dawn syndrome effect. If I don’t take the vinegar, then my blood glucose is over 130, and with the vinegar it has usually been below 110.

    That was so intriguing to me that I immediately followed up with Renee. I asked her where she had heard about taking vinegar pills for the dawn phenomenon. She doesn’t remember, and may well have discovered it herself. She says that she had read about the effects of vinegar and used a lot on salads and did notice a difference. “Then I started taking a tablespoon of cider or white vinegar straight at dinner and at bedtime and saw some difference (balsamic and other vinegars are not recommended).”

    Because I am a rather skeptical journalist, just to be sure I asked her if she has any connection with the vinegar industry or GNC. Her reply was unambiguous: “I do not have any conflict of interest, as this has been a personal investigative journey.”

    At that, I dashed out to the local GNC store and found the same vinegar pills that Renee is using with such success. I made sure to get the same formulation that she uses: apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper fruit powder, ginger root powder, and Garcinia cambogia fruit extract; code 439011. I was especially interested in the cayenne, both because I love it and because it is often used to relieve the pain of neuropathy (I didn’t taste the cayenne — or the vinegar for that matter — and I don’t have neuropathy). Another correspondent suggests that other ingredients besides the vinegar, specifically the Garcinia, might be effective.

    My first trial, alternatively taking two vinegar capsules one night and none the next for a total of 20 nights, was not as promising as I hoped and expected. During that time my blood glucose levels were erratic, but taking two vinegar capsules helped, although they did not always prevent the dawn phenomenon.

    In fact, taking two vinegar capsules resulted in five occurrences of the dawn phenomenon and five times that my morning numbers were lower. During the 10 nights that I didn’t take two capsules, I had the dawn phenomenon six times.

    That was disappointing. But I figured that Renee was on to something, and is a lot smaller than I am, so I would need to take more capsules. I did; I increased the dose to four.

    During this trial of four capsules, I had the dawn phenomenon 19 times and didn’t have it 19 times. Not wonderful and only a little better than without the vinegar capsules. I can only hope that your results are closer to Renee’s than to mine.

Book Reviews:

  • Glycemic Index Weight Loss

    Idiot's Guide

    You Can Lose Weight

    Since I wrote the forward to Glycemic Index Weight Loss, I obviously like it. The people who published the book in turn liked my forward so much that they excerpted a bit of the forward on the cover:

    Written with a refreshing style, this book is not only knowledgeable…but also extremely practical for millions of people.…Unlike fad diets, the glycemic index is based on science that you can follow for a lifetime.
    The lead author, Lucy Beale, is a weight-loss expert and the author of three previous books in the Idiot’s series. The second author, Joan Clark is a registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator.

    In my forward to this book I reviewed the development of the glycemic index and glycemic load for people with diabetes and for those who are trying to lose weight:

    This book is the culmination of the most significant dietary advance of the past quarter century. Scientists developed the concept of the glycemic index in the 1970s. The first article in a professional journal to use that term appeared in 1981.

    It took many more years for consciousness of the glycemic index to seep into the general culture, and I suspect that I had something to do with that. Shortly after I received the diagnosis in February 1994 that I have diabetes, my diabetes educator mentioned that she had read an item about the glycemic index in a professional book. Somehow, that caught my attention, and I never let go of it.

    It led to my 1996 article about the glycemic index in Diabetes Interview (now called Diabetes Health) magazine, which I think was the first article anywhere about it in the popular press. Subsequently, I have written about 20 articles and co-authored one book on this subject alone and about 500 other articles on diabetes in general.

    People with diabetes like me were the first to appreciate the value of the glycemic index, because it helps so much in controlling our blood glucose. Then, people who are trying to lose weight caught on to its significance.

    People discovered that when you eat low on the glycemic index, you lower your insulin levels, increase your energy, and stop storing fat, which you begin to burn. This chain of events leads automatically to weight loss.

    After one of America’s largest magazines featured the weight loss advantage of following the glycemic index in a 2003 cover story, the world at large begin to know about it. That article directed readers to my website,, which was overwhelmed when people downloaded up to 27 billion bytes per week of my glycemic index articles.

    Hundreds of people have subsequently written to thank me for helping them lose weight by avoiding high glycemic foods. Someone even went so far as to write, “Thank God for you and your site. If angels are messengers on this earth, then you will get your wings in the next life.” That seems a bit extreme, but it is true that many people are now losing weight by paying attention to the glycemic index of the food they eat.

    This will work for you too. When you pay attention to a recent extension of the glycemic index called the glycemic load, weight loss and blood glucose control becomes even easier. That’s because the glycemic index tells you tells you only how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into glucose. The glycemic load tells you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food.

    You can reap great benefits from the practical use of the glycemic index and the glycemic load. Working with these concepts correctly will help you meet your goal.

    Alpha Books (a member of Penguin Group) published The Complete Idiot's Guide to Glycemic Index Weight Loss for $18.95 in July 2005. The ISBN of this 332-page trade soft cover book is 1-59257-404-1.

  • Diabetes-Free Kids
    Kids with Type 2

    Type 2 for Kids

    If you have type 2 diabetes, there’s a good chance that your children will get it, if they don’t already have it. That’s because if both parents have type 2 diabetes, each of their children have about a 40 percent chance of getting it, according to Alan Shuldiner, M.D., at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. I wrote about his studies of identical twins in my 2000 column for the American Diabetes Association’ website, Diabetes Genes.

    This is why many subscribers to Diabetes Update might well be interested in Diabetes-Free Kids: A Take-Charge Plan for Preventing and Treating Type Diabetes in Children. Just 20 years ago type 2 diabetes was virtually unheard of in children. Now at least 35 percent of children with diabetes have type 2. Those comparative numbers alone are enough to show parents that they can help their kids from facing the disease that us adults with diabetes have.

    The authors of this book are two people eminently suited to the task. Sheri Colberg-Ochs is an associate professor of exercise science at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and the author of The Diabetic Athlete. She has type 1 diabetes, and because of her expertise I recently interviewed her for a forthcoming magazine article about people with diabetes using calorie counting devices. Co-author Mary Friesz is a nutritionist, a Registered Dietitian, and a Certified Diabetes Educator who specializes in working with children.

    They give us a sound and sensible plan for preventing or controlling type 2 diabetes among your children. I was especially impressed with their wisdom about obesity, which plagues most children and adults who have type 2. They point out that excess body fat is appropriately considered a symptom of insulin resistance (and diabetes) rather than the cause. And they say that you can improve your control of diabetes without weight loss.

    What really works for diabetes control, they show, includes a more active lifestyle and choosing foods for better glycemic control. Using the glycemic index and limiting the glycemic load are key. And there is a lot more excellent advice here that makes this book invaluable for anyone who has or plans to have children.

    Avery, a member of Penguin Group, published Diabetes-Free Kids for $14.95 in June 2005. The ISBN of this 218-page trade soft cover book is 1-58333-221-9.

Product News:

  • True Lemon
    I do hope that you get something of value from each issue Diabetes Update. My goals are to be upbeat without being Pollyannish and to give you what we journalists call “News You Can Use.”

    In turn, I get the satisfaction of helping others by publicizing my work. I also get books, DVDs, CDs, and VCR tapes about diabetes, some of which I review here. And every week or two a company sends me a new product that they hope I will like and tell you about. Frankly, I am not usually impressed.

    But this month Grand Brands LLC in Baltimore sent me something so good that we actually bought more with our own money. Their product is called True Lemon and is simply crystallized lemon. Each packet is the equivalent of two lemon wedges.

    It is easy to use. It has a good, strong, tart lemon flavor. It tastes just like lemon. It is completely natural and kosher. The packets are convenient. It’s good in water, Diet Pepsi, on fish, on anything that is too sweet, like Diet Snapple. Unless you have a big lemon tree in your yard, at about 9 cents per packet, it is less expensive and certainly more convenient than lemons.

    After we used up the free sample that Grand Brands, the manufacturer, sent us, we bought a box of 150 packets (plus 40 “free” packets), from one of the online vendors linked at the website for True Lemon. The total cost was $17.94 including shipping.

    What does this have to do with diabetes? Just two things that I can think of:

    • Each packet has essentially no calories and no carbohydrates, and
    • Using acidic foods, like lemon and vinegar, is an excellent way to control blood glucose, as I wrote in Acidic Foods.

    The website is True Lemon.

  • TempTouch
    It may be old news to specialists in foot care, like my friend Dr. Tom Burke, a former associate professor at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, who is now the MedAssist director of research and clinical affairs. But I read about the TempTouch for the first time in The New York Times on August 30. Barnaby Feder’s article, “New Priority: Saving Feet of Diabetics” has this gripping paragraph:
    And it [a new diabetes management program] is sending them [people with diabetes at high risk for developing foot wounds] home with a new $150 device that makes it easy to check the skin temperature on the bottom of their feet every day, along with instructions to phone immediately if either foot is warmer than 90 degrees or if one foot is 4 degrees warmer than the other. Either reading is an early warning sign that an ulcer is developing.
    I had to learn more, so I immediately wrote Tom. He replied right away:
    “It’s pretty old news. Dr. Lavery did the study and it was published last November in Diabetes Care.”
    Dr. Lawrence Lavery’s article, “Home Monitoring of Foot Skin Temperatures to Prevent Ulceration,” is online. It reported great success in reducing foot complications with the use of a handheld infrared skin thermometer, the “TempTouch” made by Xilas Medical in San Antonio, Texas.

    Xilax Medical recommends that we test each morning. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t cover it yet, Don Lawson, CEO of Xilas Medical, told me. “It’s too early to go to Medicare, because they need more data, which we are now collecting,” he says.

    He sent me a TempTouch, which arrived yesterday. Catherine and I will use it, and I will report on it here.


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