Double Down

Hello all. After last week’s entry, some may be wondering if I’m OK. I am. Last week was a lousy one, and the blog post was written in the height of some very real feelings of frustration over a recent bout of inexplicably high numbers. You can go back and read it if you like.

The upside is that it might have been the kick in the (fill in noun here) that I needed. And in tackling the issue I’ve discovered some very interesting things that I thought I would share with everyone this week.

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Double diabetes
Just the name sounds terrifying. It sounds like it should be part of a title for a horror movie, Double Diabetes: Glucose’s Revenge! But it’s not a boogeyman. It’s a very real, very alarming thing. As researchers are discovering, people with Type 1 diabetes can and do experience insulin resistance, a key symptom of Type 2 diabetes. Doctors are finding themselves prescribing Type 2 drugs like metformin to people with Type 1 diabetes who are experiencing decreasing insulin efficacy in the face of this insulin resistance.

Can you guess one of the main predictors for insulin resistance in people with Type 1? Yes, you can. Weight!! Ah, good old weight gain. The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to struggle with “double diabetes.” And that puts me and my extra weight right in the crosshairs. Not surprisingly, the likelihood of developing insulin resistance also increases as AGE goes up, so that people who were overweight with no problems in their 20’s might hit a wall in their 30’s (again, that’s 35-going-on-36-year-old me…).

Are we doomed?
Like any good horror movie, there is a way out. Double diabetes can be a real nightmare, but it CAN be avoided, turned around, and bested. Obviously, if DD is tied to weight, then losing said weight is goal number one. I’ve exercised more this week than I did all last month, and while I’ve known for some time that I need to lose weight, the prospect of insulin resistance is proving to be the best motivator for real change I’ve ever encountered.

And there’s more good news. According to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 60 minutes a day of physical exercise decreases insulin resistance by 25%. And that 25% was immediate. It doesn’t mean 60 minutes a day for 7 days, or 60 minutes a day for a month. Sixty minutes leads to an immediate decrease in insulin resistance of up to 25%.

That article was, of course, not specific to people with diabetes. But we can all attest to the insulin-assisting magic of physical exercise. We actively compensate for physical activity by lowering our insulin dosages! That means our insulin is MORE potent when we exercise. And that’s good news for those of us on that long, long road to weight loss. It’s good to know that the steps we’re taking toward that far-off goal also have a real impact right now, too.

Already an improvement
Shifting my eating habits to three smaller-portioned meals and riding my bike to and from work for the past three days, I’ve already seen both a drop in blood sugar levels and a lowering in my insulin ratio back to their normal ranges. Of course, I can’t say for sure that my recent bad numbers were caused by insulin resistance, but it sure would make sense. I fit the criteria for it pretty darned well.

Either way, all of us should take the threat of double diabetes very seriously. I should have been maintaining a regular exercise regimen for a long, long time. I should have been eating less for a long, long time. The good news is it’s not too late. I can turn it around and get myself into a healthy range. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I know I can walk it. And maybe, just maybe, DD is a scary enough monster to keep me on the path for good. Here’s hoping we can all stay on it!

  • Steve Brockwell

    Good blog post. Makes me think more and will cause me to relook my eating and exercising. I was diagnosed type 2 in April at the age of 61. Since then I’ve eaten better and have been putting in over 30 minutes of exercise a day.

    Looks like 60 minutes is my new standard.

    Thanks for explaining the exercise – insulin relationship clearly.

    Good luck and keep on the path,

    Steve

  • Barbara

    Tis is good advice. I take Humulin R before meals, and I notice that if I exercise after the insulin is gone from my blood (approx. 4 hours after injection) however, my glucose reading goes way up. Do you have any idea why? Perhaps my liver is generating more glucose to give me extra energy? Mu primary care doc volunteered to give me an Rx for Lantus or Levemir, but when I told him that I want to try it if he will explain how to use it in conjunction with the Humulin so I don’t go hypo, he changed the subject. Any advice would be appreciated.

    There is no endocrinologist or CDE within 200 miles of my home.