A whole industry has grown up around freeing diabetics to lead less restricted lives. Tubeless insulin pumps, a needleless blood-glucose monitoring system, and diabetic-friendly frozen foods are among the innovations helping people with the metabolic disorder to live lives on the go.
With the number of diabetics growing worldwide – 246 million at last count, according to the World Health Organization – businesses are motivated. In 2011, diabetes therapeutic products were a $23.7 billion dollar industry feeding a growing population that’s starving for a better quality of life, says Chef Robert Lewis, “The Happy Diabetic,” author of two cookbooks for people with the metabolic disorder.
“It wasn’t long ago that Type 1 diabetics had to be sure they packed ample sterile syringes and insulin, whether they were going to work for the day or on a road trip,” he says. “Monitoring blood sugar levels, which is crucial to keeping vital organs healthy, was painful, primitive and hit-or-miss.
“And food? That’s been the hardest. A diabetes diagnosis can feel like a life sentence of bland eating.”
Among the “firsts” Lewis says diabetics can look forward to: The first tubeless insulin pump; the first needless glucometer, and the first diabetic-friendly frozen meals.
Diabetics who do not watch what they eat may wind up suffering kidney damage, stomach problems, heart disease, pneumonia, gum disease, blindness, stroke, nerve damage, complications during pregnancy, loss of limb and other health problems, according to the CDC.
But many Americans are trending toward healthier diets, eating less meat, gluten, salt and sugar, Lewis says. Tasty foods developed for diabetics will be excellent choices for them, too. “What’s good for diabetics is good for everyone,” he says. “And you don’t have to give up one teaspoon of flavor.
“There’s a reason why I am called ‘The Happy Diabetic’; I have discovered the joy of nutrition-rich food.”