Author Archive: Chris - The Organic Diabetic

As a type 1 diabetic, I made the switch to an organic lifestyle several years ago after being diagnosed with Diabetes in 2006. Living with diabetes is hard enough, why make it more difficult by consuming products with chemicals, toxins and other harmful, unhealthy ingredients. To me, the choice was easy and just made sense. We hope you enjoy our blog! Feel free to look around and check out all of our products by clicking through the tabs above! Thanks for stopping by and also please be sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter by liking our pages below! You never know what freebies we will be giving away!! Don't forget to check out the website as well at www.theorganicdiabetic.org

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Nov

21

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Help Share The Warning Signs:

Hypoglycemia In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs: As diabetics chances are we’ve all experienced those dreaded lows, but what are they? What can we do as type 1 diabetics to avoid them and more importantly, what can we do to prevent them?  Lets take a closer look and examine hypoglycemia!

The body’s most important fuel is glucose, a type of sugar. When you digest most foods, sugar is released, and that sugar ends up in your bloodstream as glucose.

Your body, particularly your brain and nervous system, needs a certain level of glucose to function — not too much, and not too little. If your blood glucose level isn’t right, your body will react by showing certain symptoms.

Hypoglycemia occurs when a person’s blood sugar levels are abnormally low, and it’s a potentially serious condition. If you know someone who has diabetes, you may have heard them talk about “insulin shock,” which is the common name for a severe hypoglycemic reaction.

People with diabetes may experience hypoglycemia if they don’t eat enough or if they take too much insulin — the medicine most commonly used to treat diabetes with those who suffer from type 1.

Causes Of Hypoglycemia:

Most cases of hypoglycemia in adults happen in people with diabetes mellitus. Diabetes has two forms, type 1 (loss of all insulin production) and type 2 (inadequate insulin production due to resistance to the actions of insulin).

People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin to control their glucose level; if they skip meals or have a decreased appetite without changing their insulin dose, BAM, you guessed it, bring on the low!

Insulin is also used to treat some people with type 2 diabetes. If a person with type 1 diabetes accidentally takes too much insulin, or a person with type 2 diabetes accidentally takes too much of their oral medications or insulin, he or she may develop hypoglycemia.

Even when a diabetic patient takes medications correctly, improper meals, odd mealtimes, or excessive exercise may result in hypoglycemia.

Classic Signs Of Hypoglycemia:

Symptoms of a low blood sugar will vary depending on the individual, but here is a list of most of the common ones that I’ve personally experienced.  It should be noted that low blood sugars can occur suddenly and the most common low sugar symptoms include:

  • blurry vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • sudden mood changes
  • sudden nervousness
  • unexplained fatigue
  • pale skin
  • headache
  • hunger
  • shaking
  • sweating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin tingling
  • trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • loss of consciousness

If you have hypoglycemic unawareness, a condition in which you do not know your blood sugar level is dropping, your blood sugar can drop so quickly you may not even have warning symptoms. When this occurs, you can faint, experience a seizure, or even go into a coma.  I had the unfortunate experience of a seizure a couple of years ago, definitely not something that I want to deal with again.

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Nov

19

The Glycemic Load And How It Helps Manage Your Blood Sugars.

What Is The Glycemic Load?Ok, so I was researching some information the other day when it came to certain foods and I came across a term that was unfamiliar to me.  As diabetics we are so use to hearing about the glycemic index (that’s all that was preached to me upon my T1D diagnoses 11 years ago) and why we need to make sure our foods are on the lower end of this scale to make sure our blood sugars remain more stable and do not skyrocket, but as I was researching these particular foods, I came across something I’ve haven’t really heard much about…the glycemic load

What is this glycemic load?  Is it the same as the glycemic index?  Will it have a direct impact on my blood sugars?All great questions so lets take a closer look! 

Difference Between Glycemic Index And Load?

Just to quickly review,  the glycemic index  is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and are categorized into 3 categories.  

The categories are as follows:

Low = GI value 55 or less

Medium = GI value of 56 – 69 inclusive

High = GI 70 or more

Lower glycemic index foods, unlike high GI, will not cause your blood glucose levels to spike and crash, meaning you get sustained energy from the foods you eat.   So now that we’ve reviewed that tid bit of info, how does the glycemic load compare?

How About The Glycemic Load?

The glycemic load of food is a number (just like the glycemic index) that estimates how much the food will raise a person’s blood glucose level after eating it. One unit of the glycemic load approximates the effect of consuming one gram of glucose, but the difference is that the glycemic load accounts for how much carbohydrate is in a particular food and how much each gram of that particular carbohydrate will raise ones blood glucose levels (now you can see my peaked curiosity).

Foods with a low glycemic load keep blood sugar levels much more consistent, meaning that you avoid experiencing those quick spikes and dramatic lows that we can become accustomed to. The reason being is that you are accounting for that particular carbohydrate with it comes to bolusing for your meals.

By watching the glycemic load of the foods you ingest you can dramatically impact your overall health in many ways.  A diet focused on foods  with a low glycemic load can:

  • Make it easier to lose weight and avoid the dreaded diet plateau
  • Avoid the roller coaster effect and maintain stable blood sugar levels (yes, please!)
  • Help you burn more calories
  • Help with insulin resistance 
  • Lower your risk for heart disease

How Do I Calculate The Glycemic Load?

Ok, so this is probably the most important question.  The glycemic load (GL) is a measure of both the quality (the GI value) and quantity (grams per serving) of a carbohydrate in a particular food. A food’s glycemic load is determined by multiplying its glycemic index by the amount of carbohydrate the food contains in each serving, then dividing that by 100.  Confused a bit, lets take a look at this example of an apple.

So the Glycemic Load = GI x Carbohydrate (g) content per portion ÷ 100.

Using a small apple as an example: GI value = 38.  Carbohydrate per serving = 15g

GL = 38 (glycemic index) x 15 (grams of carb)
                                     100

So the glycemic load of a typical apple is 6.  Great, now your probably asking yourself, what do you do with this information?

Well, similar to the glycemic index, the glycemic load of a food can be classified as low, medium, or high reflecting on how quickly they will raise your blood sugars:

  • Low: 10 or less
  • Medium: 11 – 19
  • High: 20 or more

For optimal health, it is recommended to keep your daily glycemic load under 100. However, the simplest way to use the GL is to choose foods with the lowest GI within a food group or category and to be mindful of your serving sizes.
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Nov

14

What Is A Diabetic Seizure, Warning Signs And Symptoms:

What Is A Diabetic Seizure?As diabetics we should all be very familiar with hypoglycemia but for those who are not, what is hypoglycemia and how can it effect us?

Hypoglycemia is the clinical syndrome that results from low blood sugar. The symptoms of hypoglycemia can vary from person to person, as can the severity as I’ve personally dealt with in the past when my severe low was accompanied with a seizure.

This was the first time this as ever happened to me since being diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic over 11 years ago now.  While I don’t remember the seizure itself, lets just say we made it a memorable experience for the community as it happened at my sons fall soccer tournament.  So what is a hypoglycemic seizure and what are the warning signs of having a seizure?  Lets take a closer look!

What Is A Hypoglycemic Seizure:

So what causes a seizure? A hypoglycemic seizure may be triggered by injecting too much insulin, or failing to eat soon enough after using a fast acting insulin (exactly what happened to me); excessive use of alcohol, skipping meals,or exercising vigorously without adjusting insulin dosages or eating properly.

A seizure may also be triggered by oral diabetes medications that cause the pancreas to produce more insulin. Whatever the cause of the seizure, it needs to be treated as a medical emergency. To identify the onset of ahypoglycemic seizure,look for the following warning signs of seizures and symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Feeling faint or too sleepy
  • Shakiness
  • Feeling cold or clammy
  • Hallucinations
  • Unexplained emotional behaviors
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Unaware of surroundings
  • Changes in vision
  • Loss of ability to speak clearly
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety 

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Nov

12

The Cost Of Fast Acting Insulin, Are There Cheaper Alternatives?

Fast Acting Insulin Side Effects As diabetics, we are all well aware of fast acting insulin and the vital role it plays when it comes to keeping us alive and upright, but for those newly diagnosed diabetics (type 1 and type 2), Insulin is secreted by the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, a small organ between the stomach and liver. This hormone regulates the sugar levels in the human body. When the pancreas stops secreting insulin, it results in hyperglycemia which is a common and lethal symptom of diabetes.

There are several rapid acting insulin brands, and  as a type 1 diabetic, I am extremely reliant upon fast acting insulin, Novolog in particular. When discussing a topic over on The Organic Diabetic Facebook page, we got onto the subject of all the negative side effects associated with insulin and blood sugar regulation.  So for all you newly diagnosed type 1’s, lets take a peek at some of the most dangerous side effects associated with fast acting insulin.  Also, what drives the cost of insulin and are there programs to help defer the costs?  Lets take a closer look! 

Diabetes And Insulin:

Less common, but potentially more serious, is generalized allergy to fast acting insulin, which may cause rash (including pruritus) over the whole body, shortness of breath, wheezing, reduction in blood pressure, rapid pulse, or sweating. Severe cases of generalized allergy, including anaphylactic reaction, may be life threatening. Localized reactions and generalized myalgias have been reported with the use of cresol as an injectable excipient (preservative to keep insulin potent).

Fast Acting And Hyperglycemia:

Hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, or diabetic coma may develop if the patient takes less fast acting insulin than needed to control blood glucose levels. This could be due to insulin demand during illness or infection, neglect of diet, omission or improper administration of prescribed fast acting insulin doses.

A developing ketoacidosis will be revealed by urine tests which show large amounts of sugar and acetone. The symptoms of polydipsia, polyurea, loss of appetite, fatigue, dry skin and deep and rapid breathing come on gradually, usually over a period of some hours or days. Severe sustained hyperglycemia may result in diabetic coma or death.

Fast Acting Insulin And Lipodystrophy

Long-term use of fast acting insulin, can cause lipodystrophy at the site of repeated insulin injections or infusion. Lipodystrophy includes lipohypertrophy (thickening of adipose tissue) and lipoatrophy (thinning of adipose tissue), and may affect insulin absorption. Its extremely important to rotate insulin injection or infusion sites within the same region to reduce the risk of lipodystrophy.
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Nov

7

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes, Is There A Connection?

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes, Is There A Connection?So the other day I fielded a question about celiac disease and if there is a direct correlation between having celiac and type 1 diabetes.  A great question as more type 1 diabetics seem to be diagnosed with celiac disease after their type 1 diagnosis.  So what’s the deal with celiac disease?  What is it exactly and what can be done to help alleviate the symptoms?  Lets take a closer look!

 

What Is Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease is a digestive illness that occurs due to the ingestion of gluten. If you have celiac disease, your intestines cannot tolerate the presence of gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Gluten is present in wheat, barley, and rye. When a person with celiac disease eats foods with gluten, such as bread or cereal, their immune system inappropriately reacts to the ingested gluten and causes inflammation and injury to the small intestine. This results in symptoms such as diarrhea, bloating, and weight loss, as well as an inability to absorb important food nutrients.

Celiac Disease And Type 1 Diabetes:

So what’s the deal when it comes to type 1 diabetes and a celiac disease diagnosis?  While there doesn’t appear to be a direct link between type 2 diabetes and celiac that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to type 1. 

Per the celiac disease foundation:

“The link between type 1 diabetes mellitus and celiac disease was first established in the 1960s. The estimated prevalence of celiac disease in patients with type 1 diabetes is approximately 8%, and about 1% in the general population. Most patients with both conditions have asymptomatic celiac disease, or symptoms that may be confused for symptoms of their diabetes. For this reason, and the significantly higher prevalence rate of celiac disease in diabetes patients, many doctors recommend getting screened for celiac disease after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, as well as celiac patients getting screened for type 1 diabetes.

A recent study in 2013, contributed to by Dr. Peter Green, a member of Celiac Disease Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board found that there were no standard uniform practices for screening type 1 diabetes patients for celiac disease. Of the facilities in the study that did screen for celiac disease, 60% of them only did so if there were symptoms present. The authors of the study suggested that a uniform protocol for screening should be in place, as well as a need for further education on the gluten-free diet in patients with type 1 diabetes for dietitians.”(1)

The unfortunate part of this is that once you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes, you become prone to developing others.  As for the signs, symptoms and treatment options, lets take a look.

Symptoms Of Celiac Disease:

Celiac disease symptoms typically involve the intestines and digestive system. They can also affect other parts of the body and children as well as adults tend to have a different set of symptoms.  Those symptoms are as follows:

Celiac Disease Symptoms in Children:

Children with celiac disease can feel tired and irritable. They may also be smaller than normal and have delayed puberty. Other common symptoms include:

      • weight loss
      • vomiting
      • abdominal bloating
      • abdominal pain
      • persistent diarrhea or constipation
      • pale, fatty, foul-smelling stools

How To Diagnose Celiac Disease In Adults

Adults with celiac disease may experience digestive symptoms. In most cases, however, symptoms also affect other areas of the body. These symptoms may include:

      • iron-deficiency anemia
      • joint pain and stiffness
      • weak, brittle bones
      • fatigue
      • seizures
      • skin disorders
      • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
      • tooth discoloration or loss of enamel
      • pale sores inside the mouth
      • irregular menstrual periods
      • infertility and miscarriage

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Nov

5

What Is Diabetic Hand Syndrome? Signs And Symptoms

handI fielded a question earlier this week on my Facebook page in regards to a fellow type 1 diabetic having diabetic hand pain and issues with their hands being stiff and they seemed harder to move.  

Immediately carpal tunnel syndrome popped into my head, but after she brought this up to her doctor and they ruled out carpal tunnel, they moved on to another diagnosis.  A condition called diabetic hand syndrome (DHS).  Honestly, I’ve never heard of DHS but like most things that grab my attention and not knowing much about something, I decided to see what this was all about.  So what is DHS?  Lets take a closer look! 

What Is Diabetic Stiff Hand Syndrome?

So here we are, diabetic hand syndrome or as its more formerly know as, stiff hand syndrome or cheiroarthropathy. Stiff hand syndrome is one of the most common hand disorders for people with diabetes. Another common nerve and joint problem is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). Granted carpal tunnel is not caused by diabetes, but happens more often to people with diabetes, especially those who have diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic Hand Syndrome Symptoms:

Stiff Hand Syndrome is painless and can effect both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. It usually begins in your little finger. Then it spreads over time to your thumb. This stiffness then keeps you from being able to straighten your fingers fully.

In addition, the skin on the back of your hand may also become thick, tight and waxy-looking. One way to tell if you have Stiff Hand Syndrome is to hold the palms of your hands together as if you are praying. If all of the skin and joints of your palms and fingers don’t touch, there is the possibility that you may have stiff hand Syndrome.

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Nov

1

Blood Glucose Control and Exercise, Get Moving!

Blood Glucose Control and Exercise, Get Moving!Most of you already know that I love to exercise.  My day starts out at 4am, early yes, but its the only time that I get to myself during the day.  As a stay at home dad of 4, I consider this a small sacrifice for my sanity as well as to benefit my bottom line as a type 1 diabetic, my health!  

What makes exercise so important?  Well I think we all know the answer to that question as there are so many benefits including better control of our overall blood sugars.  There is a list of exercises you can do, but lets take a closer look at how you can exercise safely for better control!

Diabetes And Exercise:

Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, diabetes and exercise should go hand in hand, at least when it comes to the management aspect of the disease. Not only can exercise can help you improve your blood sugar control, boost your overall fitness, it can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, provide more stable blood sugar readings, and help lower blood pressure ~ all risk factors that we face.

While exercise is great for us and the benefits are well documented, as diabetics it also poses some unique challenges. To exercise safely, it’s crucial to track your blood sugar before, during and after physical activity. You’ll learn how your body responds to exercise, which can help you prevent potentially dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.

Exercise And High Blood Sugars?

This was one of the biggest hurdles for me when I was first diagnosed.  My numbers would skyrocket after a workout or even during a gym session.  The issue is that exercise triggers the body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline. Adrenaline tells the liver to release glucose, or cortisol which makes you more resistant to insulin, and since strenuous activity triggers an increase in these stress hormones,  chances are (even temporarily) your blood sugars are often increased.

That being said different exercises affect us differently and we also know that we’re all very unique, and lets face it, type 1 diabetes effects everyone differently and no situations are ever the same. Our blood sugar response to exercise will also depend on our level of physical fitness and personal exertion. Generally speaking, 30-40 minutes of high intensity interval training will bring different results than an hour of running, doing the stair climber or even walking the dog so it will be important to closely monitor your blood sugars during exercise and see how these activity levels effect you.

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Oct

30

Type 1 Eating Disorders, What Is Diabulimia?

Type 1 Eating Disorders, What Is Diabulimia?Honestly, when it comes to dealing with type 1 diabetes, eating disorders is not the first thing that comes to mind. As a type 1 diabetic, I was shocked when I first heard about the eating disorder (diabulimia) and its association with type 1 diabetics.

Most people are familiar with the more widely known eating disorders anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and even binge eating disorder, but few recognize the link between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and eating disorders (and yes, I was one of those people).

Curious about what this eating disorder was all about, and thanks to Amy (a frequent visitor of the website) and her sharing her empowering story about her personal battle with diabulimia, I decided to do a little research, so lets take a closer look!

Diabulimia Symptoms:

Although not yet officially recognized as a medical condition, diabulimia is nevertheless a serious and emerging problem.  Experts predict that as many as one-third of young female diabetics could be suffering as a result of this condition.  Diabulimia is an eating disorder in which people with type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need for the purpose of weight loss.  When insulin is omitted, calories are purged through the loss of glucose in the urine.  Individuals with diabulimia manipulate insulin as an inappropriate behavior to prevent weight gain.

How Does Diabulimia Effect The Body:

The side effects of manipulating and omitting insulin from the body can be serious and dangerous.

Blood sugar levels can surge and reach an unhealthy level, leading to fatigue, dehydration and eventually wearing of the muscle tissue. Over a long-term, the symptoms are the same as badly managed diabetes.  Although diabulimia is not a new condition, medical and mental health professionals are becoming more aware of the symptoms of diabulimia.  The following are a few of the warning signs that an individual with diabetes may also be developing an eating disorder:

  • Changes in eating habits (e.g., eating more but still losing weight)
    Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Poor metabolic control despite the appearance of compliance
  • Low self-esteem or preoccupation with body image, weight or food intake
  • Frequent urination, excessive thirst or high blood sugar levels
  • Low energy, fatigue, shakiness, irritability, confusion, anxiety or fainting
  • Purging behaviors (e.g., excessive exercise or the use of laxatives)
  • Discomfort with eating or taking insulin in front of other people
  • Hoarding food
  • Unwillingness to follow through with medical appointments
  • Recurrent diabetic ketoacidosis

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Oct

24

Ketoacidosis In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs.

Ketoacidosis In Diabetics, Know The Warning Signs.As a type 1 diabetic I am quite familiar (unfortunately) with the signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis.  Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) results from lack of insulin associated with high blood levels and your body starts to produce high levels of blood acids called ketones.  Diabetic ketoacidosis is associated with significant disturbances of the body’s chemistry, which resolve with proper therapy.

This usually occurs in people with type 1 diabetes, but DKA can develop in any person with diabetes.  Since type 1 diabetes typically starts before the age of 25, diabetic ketoacidosis is most common for this age group, but it may occur at any age with both males and females are equally affected. So is DKA something that we should be worried about? Lets take a closer look!

What Causes Ketoacidosis ?

So what’s the deal when our results come back showing ketones in urine? Circumstances arise for people with type 1 diabetes when the individual does not have enough insulin, a hormone the body uses to break down sugar (glucose) in the blood for energy. When glucose is not available to feed our cells due to high blood sugars, fat is broken down and used as fuel vs glucose and this is particularly not a good thing.  As fats are broken down, acids called ketones build up in the blood and urine.  In high levels, ketones are extremely poisonous.  This condition is known as ketoacidosis.

Blood glucose levels rise (usually higher than 300 mg/dL) because the liver makes glucose to try to combat the problem.  However, the cells cannot pull in that glucose without insulin.

DKA is often the first sign of type 1 diabetes in people who do not yet have other symptoms.  It can also occur in someone who has already been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Infection, injury, a serious illness, missing doses of insulin, or surgery can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis in people with type 1 diabetes.

Although not common, people with type 2 diabetes can also develop DKA, but it is rare and typically triggered by a severe illness.

What Are The Warning Signs Of DKA?

DKA usually develops slowly. But when vomiting occurs, this life-threatening condition can develop in a few hours. Early symptoms per the American Diabetes Association include the following:

  • Thirst or a very dry mouth
  • Frequent urination
  • High blood glucose (blood sugar) levels
  • High levels of ketones in the urine

Then, other symptoms appear:

  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Dry or flushed skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain
    (Vomiting can be caused by many illnesses, not just ketoacidosis. If vomiting continues for more than 2 hours, contact your health care provider.)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fruity odor on breath
  • A hard time paying attention, or confusion

Any of these symptoms should immediately be discussed with your doctor and they will let you know the next course of action, including treatment options or better yet, a trip to the ER may be in order especially if you can flush them from your system.  Speaking of treatment options, what can you expect?  Lets take a closer look.

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Oct

22

Morning Highs? What Is The Somogyi Effect?

What Is The Dawn Phenomenon?Ok, so what’s up with this term that people keep throwing around called the dawn phenomenon?  As type 1 diabetics we’ve all been there, up at 1:30 in the morning testing our blood sugars and come back with a perfect reading of 100 mg/dl only to wake up a couple of hours later with a glucose level of 400 mg/dl!  Why is this?  

What’s happening to our bodies during that 2 1/2 hour period that sends sends our blood sugars into the stratosphere!  Welcome to what is called, the dawn phenomenon.  Lets take a closer look at what this is all about and what we can do to try and stabilize our blood sugars. 

What Causes The Dawn Phenomenon:

The body prepares for waking up by secreting several different hormones.  First, between 4:00 and 6:30 a.m. it secretes cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrin.  You may recognize these as they are the hormones involved in the “fight or flight response.”  In this case, their job is more benign, to give you the energy to get up and moving.

Besides giving you a burst of energy, these hormones raise blood sugar.  You aren’t going to be able to make any kind of energetic response if you don’t have fuel, and after a long night’s sleep, the fuel your body turns to in order to get you going is the glucose stored in the liver.

So once these hormones are secreted, typically around 5:30 am, plasma glucose and insulin can start to rise.

Though a non diabetic will automatically get a rise in insulin to help cells use this morning glucose, as type 1’s, we know that’s not always the case and instead of giving our cells a dose of morning energy, all we get is a rise in our blood sugars.

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