First Use of Insulin on a Human

Today marks 100 years since insulin was first used on a human being to treat diabetes.

A little history on the discovery of insulin.

Insulin was discovered in the pancreas by two German researchers, Oskar Minkowski and Joseph von Mering, in 1889. They also made the connection between polyuria (excessive urination) and diabetes, and tested glucose levels in the urine of animals. Mering and Minkowski also discovered that total pancreatectomy in dogs produces severe diabetes and could not survive very long without their pancreas.

In 1910, Sir Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer suggested that only one chemical was missing from the pancreas in people with diabetes and came to call this chemical, insulin. From the Latin word “ínsula” meaning island, referring to the insulin-producing pancreatic cells known as the islets of Langerhans.

In 1921, a young surgeon named Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best figured out how to remove insulin from a dog’s pancreas. They were able to inject the healthy dog’s insulin in to a dog with severe diabetes and keep it alive for 70 days. The dog only died when there was no more extract to inject. Banting and Best worked with biochemists James Collip and John Macleod to develop a more refined and pure form of insulin from the pancreases of cattle.

A year later, in 1922, a 14-year-old named Leonard Thompson, was dying from type 1 diabetes in a Toronto hospital. On January 11, 1922, he was given an injection of slightly purified insulin and within 24 hours, Leonard’s dangerously high blood sugar levels dropped. However, he developed an abscess at the injection site and still had high levels of ketones.

James Collip continued his work on purifying insulin so it would be safe for human use and on January 23, 1922 Leonard was given a second injection and it was a complete success. Since the very first insulin injections, we have come a long way in diabetes care.

We have access to insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, oral medications, different varieties of insulin, diabetes phone apps, and better research in diabetes now. We also have access to pancreatic transplants. Though they may not be affordable to everyone now, we can only hope that one day it will be available for all.


Mayo Clinic Proceedings
American College of Cardiology

Guest Post: Tips for Newly Diagnosed Individuals with Diabetes

Guess what, folks! We have another guest post from our wonderful friends at The Diabetes App for you lovely people today. These are great tips for our newly diagnosed loved ones. You are not alone, remember that.

If you haven’t already checked out The Diabetes App, I highly suggest you do. It’s free and who doesn’t like free things! Plus, you will have access to resources including recipes, exercises, and a whole community of people just like you, from brand new diabetics to diabadasses. You are so much more than a diagnosis and this app will help you connect with people just like you.

Navigating the world of diabetes management can be overwhelming — especially for those who have been recently diagnosed. Having diabetes means adjusting to a new diet, checking your blood sugar levels, and sifting through occasionally confusing information and resources. Considering all of these new changes being implemented into one’s life, it can cause depression, anxiety, and stress for those with diabetes. Finding ways to manage these symptoms while also managing a recent diagnosis is key towards living a healthier and happier life with diabetes.

  1. Accept your emotions and let yourself feel them all.
    When first being diagnosed with diabetes, many feel angry, scared, and lost. This can include feelings and thoughts such as, “Why me?” It is important to let yourself feel these emotions. Diabetes is stressful, and it is likely to alter your lifestyle. But, remember that that does not mean your life has to change drastically. With proper resources and information from your doctor, you can manage your diabetes. Learn healthy ways to cope with your emotions, and try to let yourself feel whatever they may be. Repressing them can potentially cause issues further down the road, including denial and depression.
  2. Confide in loved ones or professionals.
    During this time, emotions will be high. Some individuals have the instinct to repress how they are feeling or isolate themselves. By talking to family and friends, it can help you work through your feelings. Express yourself, and be honest and open. Let them know that you would appreciate their support, as well as how you would like them to be there for you during this time. This may include help with going to doctors appointments, setting alarms for checking your blood sugar levels, or even just being there to listen. For some, looking into the possibility of professional help may be beneficial as well. Confide in your doctor or therapist to help figure out what is going to work best for you.
  3. Find a community.
    Many individuals with diabetes feel alone or misunderstood when they are first diagnosed, as sometimes they are the only one in their circle of friends who has the condition. Being able to relate to others is extremely important because it can help those diagnosed with managing their diabetes and looking to them for tips and advice. The Diabetes App is a free application that can be downloaded in any mobile device app store. This application is solely for the diabetes community. It has users who are type 1, type 2, and supporters. It acts as a social media platform where users can create a profile, join groups, post, message, and add each other. It also has access to resources including meal plans curated by dietitians, access to professionals, live streams, exercise videos, and more. By joining The Diabetes App, those who are recently diagnosed can receive access to invaluable resources and friends who will all be able to relate to what they may be experiencing and offer insightful advice.

To conclude, being newly diagnosed with diabetes can be a troubling time. It can cause distress and concern about changes that will occur in the individual’s life. This is why it is important to figure out what will work best for you in terms of managing your diagnosis. Some helpful tips include confiding in loved ones such as family friends, and leaning on them for emotional support. Be open about how you are feeling, both to yourselves and your doctors or family. Reach out to others when you need help, and let them know how they can assist you. Find a community that understands you and can relate to you. Download The Diabetes App for free in Google Play or the Apple App Store and create your profile. Add friends, create bonds, and get access to resources that can help you navigate this new chapter in your life. You are never alone in your journey.



Why I Think Seeing a Dietician is Beneficial for Diabetics

Last year, I wrote a blog post about having your Diabetes Care Team and why it’s so important for you to choose the right people. Choosing the right people that support you and are helpful and sensitive to your current condition is so important. I’m part of a diabetes support group for women on Facebook and it’s always so sad seeing some women being mistreated by their doctors and wondering if what they’re doing is even right because their doctors make them feel dumb and inadequate. Having the right people by your side should NOT make you feel less than the amazing person you are.

Your Diabetes Care Team should consist of a Primary Care Physician (PCP), Endocrinologist, Certified Diabetes Educator, Opthalmologist, Podiatrist, Dentist, and a Registered Dietician. All of them specializing in fields that can help monitor and manage your diabetes.

Since I was diagnosed with Type 2 in February 2017, I have really slowly built my team. Like really slowly. I had my PCP who diagnosed me and started me on oral medication in hopes that by losing weight and eating better would naturally bring me back around,which it didn’t.

In 2018, I went to a diabetes education class with a diabetes educator. I learned a lot at that class and I’m really glad I went, but I don’t know if the lady that headed the class is still working there anymore. Also in 2018, I got my opthalmologist and podiatrist. They’ve been keeping an eye on how my diabetes has been affecting my eyes and feet, which so far has been good.

In 2019, I was referred to an endocrinologist who put me on insulin which I’ve been using ever since. My dose has gone way up to the point that he may have to prescribe me another insulin on top of that.

And finally in 2021, I got a dietician. My PCP was supposed to work it out for me but that never happened so I had to do it on my own. Thankfully I’ve been taking classes and other services from a local nonprofit that provides classes about diabetes, hypertension, and healthy eating among other subjects. They also work with dieticians and other specialists to bring their services to the Native Hawaiian population. I’m very grateful for their services.

Nonprofit organization that serves the Native Hawaiian health care system on Hawaii Island. They provide medical, behavioral health, and community education services.

Here’s why seeing a dietician is so important. Going to classes about healthy eating and diabetes will always go over what you should and shouldn’t eat. You can ask the instructor questions but you can’t have a conversation with them during class because there are others there as well. I suggest seeing a dietician so you can sit with them, one on one, and really get to the nitty gritty.

I saw my dietician for the first time yesterday and we talked about when I usually eat, what I ate in the last 24 hours, what my glucose reading was, what my concerns were, if there were any changes recently in appetite or anything really, and she gave me suggestions on what I could change. Talking to someone one on one is really getting the information to sink in better than during all of the classes I took.

I have to go back in and see her in a month to see if any of the changes I’ve implemented are working. The changes I’ve agreed to make are to eat brown rice instead of white rice, try whole grain bread instead of white bread, get more fiber in my diet is the big goal, try to incorporate more vegetables in to my diet, and continue to walk AT LEAST 15 mins for AT LEAST 3 days (the more the better).

I’m going to have to increase how many times a day I check my blood sugar which might now be about six times a day at least. I think my endocrinologist might also want me to check before and after I eat now too. But I’m willing to do this now more than ever! Why? Because I’m so close to breaking 200lbs! I haven’t been less than 200lbs since 2012. There was a short stint in 2019, but I gained it all back because of stress. I want to break 200lbs once and FOR ALL!

If you haven’t seen a dietician, I really suggest you do. They can come up with a menu of things you should eat more of as well as what kind of physical activity you can do to bring your blood sugar down. The one on one experience will also benefit you as well, I think.

I would love to hear your stories about your journey with diabetes. Feel free to submit your story. You can submit it anonymously if you want. I just really want to know that I’m not going through this alone, that others out there are going through similar experiences like I am.

What is the Glycemic Index?

Some of you may have heard the term “glycemic index” thrown around in the diabetes community and you have no clue what that means. That’s perfectly fine, here’s an entrance in to the topic of the glycemic index.

The glycemic index (GI) is a system that ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar levels. The higher the number, the faster the food effects your blood sugar level. However, there is another term that goes hand in hand with glycemic index and that’s glycemic load (GL). The glycemic load is how much of that certain food will negatively or positively affect your blood sugar levels.

For example, watermelon is an 80 on the GI, but there is relatively low amounts of digestible carbohydrates in a typical serving of watermelon, usually 3/4 cup. The GL value of watermelon is then 5, meaning it’s high in sugar but if you control the portion size, it won’t affect your blood sugar too much. You’d have to eat a whole watermelon by yourself for you to experience a negative effect on your blood sugar levels.

The GI helps to categorize foods as either slower-acting good carbs or fast-acting bad carbs. This reflects on how fast your body converts carbs into glucose. The smaller the value, the less of an impact the food will have on your blood sugar levels.

Glycemic IndexGlycemic Load
55 or lower = Low/Good1-10 = Low
56-69 = Medium11-19 = Medium
70+ = High/Bad20+ = High

Food package labels might have the glycemic index for reference. If the labels don’t have anything, you can find a list of common foods online.

If you don’t find the food you’re looking for on the list the general rule of thumb is if the food is closer to its natural form it will have a lower value compared to a refined or processed food which would have a higher value.

There are other factors that can affect a foods GI value such as how it’s prepared, if the fruit is ripe, or what kinds of other foods you eat with it.

For example, carrots are fairly low in value. It’s best eaten steamed or raw. If you boil them, they lose some nutritional value and can break down in to glucose easier when digested than when raw making their GI value go up. If you eat raw carrots with ranch dressing, that increases the GI value. If you eat a whole bad of baby carrots, you can bet that’ll have an affect on your blood sugar.

Other factors that can affect GI is yourself personally. Your age, metabolism, and activity level all affect how your body reacts to carbs. So when looking at the Glycemic Index of a food, don’t take the number at face value just note that if it’s in the low category, then it’s good. If not, then be careful how much you eat.

Portion sizes really matter when it comes to Glycemic Index. Just because something is healthy, doesn’t mean you should eat a ton of it.

To recap, glycemic index and glycemic load should be taken with a grain of salt but do let it guide you to make the right dietary decisions in your life. Be aware of how the carbs in the food can affect your blood sugar level and don’t eat too much. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.


Mayo Clinic

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You’re Diabetic, Now What?

Your doctor gave you the dreaded diagnosis. Your blood tests are in and it’s confirmed. You’re either prediabetic or fully diabetic. What is there left to do? Well you could wallow in your own self doubt OR you could take a stand and get your life in order! Let’s go with the second option and take your life back!

For starters, you can ask your doctor the list of questions from the previous post, Questions to Ask Your Doctor. Those questions can help you get started on the right path. Another thing to ask your doctor for are specialist recommendations. Just like in the previous post, Your Diabetes Care Team, you’re going to need some help from specialists, like a podiatrist (foot doctor) and ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

Hopefully, if you’re just prediabetic, you won’t need a complete team behind you. Your Primary Care Physician (PCP) might be able to prescribe you some of the usual diabetes medication, like metformin, and monitor your numbers from there.

I’m not going to lie. I wish I had been more on it with my medication when I was diagnosed as prediabetic. Sometimes, I wonder if I would be where I am today if I had taken it seriously. Take this time to rethink your life and get serious with your prediabetes before it becomes diabetes. Don’t skip any of your medications, I promise they help. I know with metformin there are some side effects the first couple of weeks, those are normal as your body adjusts to the medication. It’s not normal if it lasts beyond two weeks, consult your doctor if this occurs.

As a prediabetic, ask your doctor if they can refer you to a dietician to help you get on the right diet plan to curb your appetite and lose weight before things get serious. Losing just 10% of your current body weight can drastically reduce your chances of developing full blown diabetes.

If you’re not so lucky and you’re fully diabetic, there’s still hope. The key to diabetes is never losing hope in yourself. Believe in your own strength and seek support from others. If your family and friends don’t understand or you don’t feel comfortable confiding in them, look for support groups on Facebook. I recently joined one and I have been able to share my support with other diabetic women. We also share recipes and advice with each other. It’s a very supportive environment.

If you ever feel like you need additional support, you can always reach out to me and I’ll be one of your biggest cheerleaders.

Now that you’re diabetic, do not ever let this diagnosis and disease define you. Let this one setback show your strengths and make a difference in your life for the better. It’s a long journey to managing and controlling your diabetes, but you can do this! Remember, your Diabetic Care Team is there to support you. And while I absolutely appreciate you reading my content, don’t let this be your one-stop-shop for information. Let my content guide you to your other questions and find your own answers. I hope my content can help guide you to asking the right questions and lead you on your own path. Remember, no one knows your body better than you do.

Spread the Word

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Follow the Young and Diabetic to get a free Diabetic Log download!

Use it to log your medication, blood sugar, exercise, and food every day.

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Questions to Ask Your Doctor

So your doctor has officially diagnosed you with diabetes. That’s pretty heavy, but don’t let this be your downfall. Let this diagnosis be the start of your amazing journey. Here are some questions you can ask your doctor to help you on your journey.

  1. What are the results of my blood tests (especially my A1C)? What was my previous A1C and what should my goal number be?
  2. What is my blood sugar target? How often do I need to test my blood sugar levels?
  3. What diet and exercise changes can I make to be healthier?
  4. Are oral medications an option for me?
  5. Could non-insulin injections help me manage my diabetes?
  6. Why are there two types of insulin (basal, or long-acting, and bolus, or rapid-acting)? Are either of them right for me right now?
  7. What is low blood sugar and what can I do to avoid a low blood sugar?
  8. Can you recommend a diabetes education program or a diabetes educator?
  9. Do I need to consult a dietician?
  10. How many times should I check my blood sugar each day?

These questions can help you and your healthcare team come up with a treatment and management plan. Knowing this information can help you come up with a plan for exercise, diet, and diabetes management.

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Use it to log your medication, blood sugar, exercise, and food every day.

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Healthmonitor, Guide to Diabetes, pg. 16.

What is Blood Sugar and A1C?

Blood sugar is the main sugar found in the blood. We get the glucose from the food we eat. Blood sugar is an important source of energy for the body’s organs, muscles, and nervous system. The insulin produced by the pancreas helps to regulate the glucose in the bloodstream so that it can be stored and processed by the body correctly.

Hemoglobin A1C, also known as just A1C, is the average levels of blood sugar over a 3 month period. Hemoglobin is the part of the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the cells. Glucose attaches/binds with the hemoglobin and A1C tests are based on this attachment and show the heightened levels of glucose in the blood. This means high levels of glucose are attached to hemoglobin and in your bloodstream.

Normal people have an A1C of 5.7% or less.
Prediabetic people have an A1C of 5.7-6.4%.
Diabetic people have an A1C of 6.5% or more.

Check out this chart to get an idea of what your blood sugar should look like whether or not you have diabetes.
It’s also A good indicator to see whether or not you may have diabetes.

Glucose is fuel for your body when it is at normal levels. High sugar levels in the bloodstream erode the ability of cells in the pancreas to make insulin which can permanently damage the pancreas. This could also lead to the hardening of blood vessels.

Getting the A1C test will help your doctor determine if you have prediabetes or full blown diabetes and then counsel you on any lifestyle changes and monitor your condition. If you catch it in the prediabetes stage, you have the chance to reverse it and keep yourself away from diabetes.

I was told for two years that I was on the verge of getting diabetes. My doctor gave me multiple chances and I still didn’t listen. Now I have to work extra hard to lose the weight and fix my lifestyle. I don’t think I can fully reverse my diabetes now, but I can manage it to the best of my ability. It’s just a lot of work now.

I created a printable daily diabetic log where you can keep track of the medication you took, your blood sugar for the day, any workout you had, and the food you ate for the day. Click here to download the log and keep track of your day. I plan to come out with more printables to help keep you accountable with your diabetes, so stay tuned!


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease
Live Science

Some Signs You Might Have Diabetes

DISCLAIMER: There is no true way to know if you have diabetes unless your doctor orders you a blood test that specifically looks at your blood sugar. However, this is a list of symptoms that could help alert you that something might be wrong.

Here is a list of symptoms that could indicate you have prediabetes or diabetes:

  • frequent urination – because there is excess sugar in your system, your kidneys work overtime to expel it but while the sugar is in your system, it soaks up water from all over your body causing frequent urination and leaving you thirsty
  • unusual thirst – ties in with the above symptom
  • blurred vision – high blood sugar causes the lens of the eye to swell
  • extreme fatigue – because the insulin in your body is not working properly, the sugar is not converting in to energy that your body needs to function
  • dry mouth – ties in with the unusual thirst
  • slow-healing sores and cuts – uncontrolled diabetes can affect the circulation of blood causing wounds to heal slower
  • itching of the skin – because the sugar in your blood is soaking up all the water in your body and dries out your skin
  • yeast infections – yeast feeds on glucose and likes warm, moist areas
  • numbness/tingling of the hands and feet – result of nerve damage
  • unplanned weight loss – your body is not getting the necessary energy from the food you are eating
  • nausea/vomiting – your body starts burning fat abnormally thus creating ketones, too much ketones can make you feel sick to your stomach

Sometimes you can have episodes of low or high blood sugar and it makes you feel out of it and you are not entirely sure what is going on. These lists could help you figure out which one you might be experiencing and then you can act accordingly.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Image result for low blood sugar
  • Shaky
  • Nervous or anxious
  • Sweaty, chilly, or clammy
  • Cranky or impatient
  • Confused
  • Lightheaded or dizzy
  • Hungry
  • Sleepy
  • Weak
  • Tingly or numb in your lips, tongue, or cheeks

You might notice:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Pale skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Nightmares or crying when you sleep
  • Coordination problems
  • Seizures

When experiencing a low blood sugar episode, take a couple glucose tablets, drink 8oz of juice or soda, suck on hard candy, or take a bite of a candy bar. Try to get your blood sugar up, but not too high.

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)

  • Heavy thirst
  • Blurry vision
  • Peeing a lot
  • More hunger
  • Numb or tingling feet
  • Fatigue
  • Sugar in your urine
  • Weight loss
  • Vaginal and skin infections
  • Slow-healing cuts and sores
  • Blood glucose over 180 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl)

If you are already diabetic and you have a glucose meter with you, check your blood sugar to make sure whether you are high or low.

There are a lot of signs that could indicate you may have diabetes. I hope this list helps to lead you in the right direction. If you can catch it while it is still close to under control, there is a better chance that you will be able to get it under control and a chance you could even reverse it before it gets serious.

If you have any of these symptoms and you are suspicious that you have diabetes, call your doctor and set up an appointment. Do not let your doctor talk you down, this is your body and you want to make sure it is healthy. Better to be safe than sorry.

Related Content

What is Diabetes?


Medical News Today

What is Diabetes?

The most basic definition of diabetes is “a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.”

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps glucose from food be better absorbed into cells to be used for energy.

Blood glucose is the body’s main source of energy and comes from the food that is ingested.

Diabetes affects the insulin the body produces and its ability to absorb the glucose from the blood and transform it into energy for the body. Either the body does not produce enough insulin for the amount of glucose in the blood or the body does not produce any insulin at all.

There are different types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, gestational, and prediabetes.

Type 1 is when the body does not make insulin. The immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Insulin injections are required every day to stay alive.

Type 2 is when the body does not make or use insulin well. The body may still be able to produce insulin but the body has developed resistance against the effectiveness of the insulin and the blood glucose is not absorbed efficiently.

Gestational diabetes develops in some women during pregnancy. These women did not previously have diabetes. However, if not treated properly, it could become Type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes occurs in people who are at serious risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes. They are showing signs of diabetes and if not taken cared of in a timely manner, will become Type 2. Most times those with prediabetes do not know they are at risk and they do not consult their doctor and change their lifestyle resulting in a confirmed diagnosis of Type 2 that may or may not be out of control.

If you do not know the signs of prediabetes, you might not know you have it until it is too late. It is very important to know what prediabetes looks like. I will do a post at a later date about the signs of prediabetes.

One of the last pictures I have of my dad, when I graduated from high school in 2012. Also one of our last family photos before he passed away.
Last family photo before my dad passed away.

Who is most likely to develop Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes typically develops in men and women over the age of 45, there is no gender disparity. Diabetes does not always care about how old you are or what gender you identify as, it will get you if you do not take care of yourself.

It can also develop in those who have a family history of diabetes. For instance, my dad got diabetes when he was 18 years old, both my grandmas got diabetes in their older age, my dad’s sister got diabetes around the age of 20, and my cousin was born with Type 1. Diabetes is a big chunk of my family so I was not completely surprised when I was diagnosed. BUT at the same time, my younger sister does not have diabetes at all. She is a lot more active than I am but she eats way more sugar than I do.

Diabetes also develops in those who are overweight. I was obese for my height, age, and gender, so it was no surprise. My dad had been pretty hefty at 18 years old, too. Likewise, my sister is basically a muscular twig so she might evade the disease a little longer than myself.

However, do not let this give you a false sense of security. If you do not take care of yourself and watch what you eat, diabetes will get you.

How does diabetes affect your body?

Diabetes itself is just the fact that your insulin cannot do its job sufficiently for whatever reason, but diabetes can really affect your body and lead to many health problems, such as:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • kidney disease
  • eye problems
  • dental disease
  • nerve damage
  • foot problems

In my experience, diabetes is not a direct cause of death, but it can really screw up the body and weaken it to many other diseases and issues that can kill you. We do not know the exact cause of my dad’s death, but we know that had he not been diabetic, we could have had twenty more years with him. He died at the age of 43.

Related Content

Some Signs You Might Have Diabetes


National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease