7 Products That Make Living with Diabetes Easier

My top recommendations from the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE19) annual conference.

When OnTrack Diabetes asked me to cover the annual meeting of the American Association for Diabetes Educators (AADE) meeting, I jpacked my bags. Over 3,000 diabetes educators—now called diabetes care specialist—attended the meeting which took place last month in Houston, Texas.

For the past four years, I've enjoyed attending the conference. It's a great way to get the latest diabetes updates, connect with colleagues, and get educated on the latest and greatest tools for people living with diabetes. The convention floor was full of useful products, diabetes-friendly foods and high-tech innovations designed to help you live better with diabetes. Here are my top recommendations.

#1.Vivi Insulin Cooler

This storage container is simple and uncomplicated—just the way I like it. Developed in Israel, Vivi keeps insulin cool with safe in temperatures below 85 for up to 12 hours. It designed to hold pens as well as vials and will protect your insulin whether your lying on the beach or skiiing in the mountains. Fellow OTD contributor and type 1, Quinn Nystrom told me about this product when I bumped into her at the convention. An avid skier and resident of chilly Minnesota, Quinn worries about her insulin freezer. But I have the opposite worry since I live outside of Miami. Either way, this little gadget is a winner.  

Vivi Insulin CoolerVivi Cap 1 Insulin Cooler. I'm sold on this nifty gadget that keeps my insulin at the right temperature whether I'm at the beach or the ski slope.

#2. Diabetes Tech: Sensors & Pumps
One of my favorite topics to write about is diabetes technology. From continuous glucose monitors like Freestyle Libre, Dexcom, Eversence and Medtronic's Guardian, to automatic insulin pumps like Tandem IQ, Medtronic 670 and—pending FDA approval, the Omnipod Horizon—we are now moving toward more integrated closed-loop technologies. However, this year, I did not notice as many "new" devices as in previous years. Most of these products have been on the market for some time, but some exciting devices are awaiting FDA approval.  What I did see is more automatization that enables insulin pumps to communicate to sensors with less human interference. Without a doubt, technology is improving the lives of people with diabetes.

Omnipod DASH view appNew Omnipod DASH view app allows both users and caregivers to view diabetes data on the iPhone. The display app allows provides information such as the amount of insulin on board, last bolus and the current basal rates.

#3. Lower Carb Foods that Actually Taste Good

The most popular booths on the convention floor are always the ones with food. No suprise there, right? But I'll confess, in many case the "diabetic-friendly" options don't taste that great. Below were my favorites:

  • Cali'flour Crust. Made with just 3 ingredients, this pizza crust contains 8 grams of protein and only 2 grams of carbohydrate per 1/3 of a crust. Even though I do like a regular pizza, this can be an excellent option for those interested in lower carb options that still taste flavorful.This product gives a new meaning to thin-crust pizza! It's delicious.
  • Siggis Icelandic Yogurt. One of my favorite yogurts for some time. Wholesome, creamy and satisfying. This yogurt is naturally lower in carbs and higher in protein because it's a traditional skyr yogurt. It takes four times the milk to make 1 cup of skyr yogurt. Skyr is a cultured dairy product made with less whey which results in a thicker, creamier and somewhat tart yogurt. 1 cup of flavored 2% Siggis yogurt provides 140 calories, 14 grams of carbs, and 15 grams of protein.
  • Wonderful Pistachios. Plant-based protein snack that won't budge your blood sugars. One of my favorite foods in our household. Excellent source of healthy fats, protein, and fiberall of which are so important in people living with diabetes. They recently released new flavors including chili and lightly salted. Great to snack-on or include in a dish.
  • Nugobars. High protein, gluten-free, vegan bars with a variety of flavors including dark chocolate, brownie, peanut butter, coconut, and mint. Their slimline bar contains 180 calories per bar with 18g of total carbs, 7g of fiber and 17g of protein.

 

Food booths are my favorite places to stop and sample, of course. The Cali'flour Food products are delicious--especial the pizza crust.

 

#4. Probiotics for a Healthy Gut

Increasingly research has demonstrated the importance of the gut microbiome in blood glucose variations. In other words, our gut's health and the presence—or lack thereof—of certain kinds of bacteria can play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes and even obesity.

A 2019 research by Sanford University, it found that people with insulin resistance had a different set of bacteria compared to those individuals who were more sensitive to insulin. The rise of probiotics in addition to fecal tests have become popular trends all aimed to improve gut health and in turn diabetes management. I noticed this trend throughtout this year's conference with medical probiotics for people with diabetes by Pendulum. As well as personalized nutrition based on microbiome testing by a company called Day Two. The research is still unclear, and no specific microbial compilations are known to help or avoid diabetes.

#5. New, Easy-to-Use Glucagon Formulations for Hypoglycemic Episodes

If you live with type pre-diabetes or 2 diabetes, you might not be familiar with this medication. Glucagon is an injectable medication given only in severe cases of hypoglycemia. Think of this like an epi-pen, used only in cases of a severe emergency. People living with type 1 diabetes, or those on insulin for other reasons, are instructed to carry it in the "diabetes kit" because you never know when an emergency is about to happen. But hopefully, glucagon is something you never have to use. 

Two new glucagon products are available today: Baqsimi and Xeris. Baqsimi is the first needle-free, inhalable pre-fixed dose of glucagon approved for children, age 4 and older. Made by Eli Lilly, Baqsimi is administered like a nasal spray and does not need to be inhaled which enables another person to administer the medication in the event of a hypoglycemic episode which can cause a loss of consciousness. Xeris is a pre-filled auto-injector of a stable form of glucagon. It's still pending FDA approval, so I wasn't able to see the packaging but it's intended to be used as a single-formulation and is also needle free.

#6. Diabetes Coaching
Nowadays, everything is becoming digitalized—grocery delivery, home good, cosmetics and more, all delivered to your door. Medicine is no exception. Diabetes management is going digital, too, with the one-on-one virtual coaching. Some interesting digital health management platforms at AADE were: Cecilia Health, Livongo, and Mysugr. These services aim to empower people with diabetes by making diabetes educators accessible and available 24/7 to answer questions and provide individualize treatment. You even get text reminders to help you remember to take your medicine and get your steps in.

#7. Apps/Resources

With over 2 billion apps available, it's hard to differentiate the ones that can really make a difference.

 

Tidepoll Diabetes DataTidepool is involved in a much-anticipated project to help build and support an FDA-regulated closed-loop system.

 

The following resources were a few that caught my eye:

  • My Sugr App. A digital food and medication tracker on your smartphone. It can track blood sugars, HgA1C, medications, and deliver reports you can then give to your health care provider. Plus, it even offers personalized coaching. The company's cheeky motto is right on point: Make diabetes suck less.
  • Diabeteswise. Will this device work for me? A common question for people with diabetes navigating new devices; this resource answers the question. Diabeteswise.org is an unbiased and free resource to learn about devices that fit best. Not an app but a fantastic resource for people living with diabetes who can't understand which device will best work for them.
  • Tidepool. This free software (for individuals and clinics) makes diabetes-related data accessible, actionable, and meaningful. It combines data from all diabetes devices, including sensors, pumps, and blood glucose meters in one place.
Updated on: September 4, 2019
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