Category Archives: We are All Connected

Can We Fight Diabetic Neuropathy with Your Help?

Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most hideous symptoms of a devastating disease, and can result in loss of limbs and eyesight, debilitating pain—and even death. I’m about to ask a favor of anyone reading this who is diabetic, but first, a brief description of diabetic neuropathy for those who haven’t already learned about it.

There are various kinds of neuropathies, or damage to the nervous system, that can result from diabetes. In diabetes, neuropathies are believed to be caused by long-term exposure of the nerve cells to high blood glucose and possibly by low levels of insulin.[1] Symptoms of neuropathies depend on the type of nerve damage:

Peripheral neuropathies, the most common, cause pain or numbness in toes, feet, legs, hands, arms, or fingers.

Diabetic autonomic neuropathy  (DAN) affects the autonomic nervous system and may cause changes in digestion, bowel or bladder function, sexual response and perspiration.

Cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy (CAN), one of the most serious versions, damages the nerve fibers that control the heart and blood vessels, resulting in cardiovascular disease.[2]

Proximal neuropathy causes pain in the thighs, hips or buttocks and leads to weakness in the legs.

Focal neuropathy results in the sudden weakness of one nerve or group of nerves, causing pain or weakness in that area. While painful, focal neuropathy usually does not lead to more severe, long-term problems.[3]

The most insidious aspect of diabetic neuropathy is that by the time you experience symptoms, the nerve damage is already done. Various therapies are available for treating the symptoms and slowing nerve damage, but the best of all approaches is PREVENTION. The best prevention is keeping blood sugar under control, but as the nerve damage often takes place long before you notice symptoms, wouldn’t it be great if there were some way to detect the onset of neuropathy before damage has been done?

While neuropathy testing has been added to the treatment recommendations of the American Diabetes Association, testing for diabetic neuropathy is usually not a part of your annual or biannual visit to the doctor. (If it is, we applaud your physician!) Neuropathy is usually diagnosed after you have developed symptoms—by which time, it is too late to reverse the damage; it can only be managed.

There is, however, a way to test for diabetic neuropathy that is non-invasive, not painful, and easy. Heart rate variability (HRV) can be used to identify nerve damage in very early stages, which would allow diabetic patients to seek help from their physicians before greater damage has occurred. (For an explanation of HRV, download our whitepaper on HRV or see the article on HRV in Wikipedia.)

SweetWater Health is working on an iPhone app that would allow diabetics to test themselves at home as often as desired (though twice a year is usually sufficient). The app would require the purchase of a compatible heart rate monitor such as athletes use, usually priced under $100. You would perform three simple physical exercises while wearing the monitor and the app will tell you if you are experiencing damage to your nervous system.

Now for the favor. If you are diabetic and are interested in the development of such an app, please go to http://www.sweetwaterhrv.com/dan.php and let us know. Your input will help us by letting us know there is a genuine need and desire for such a product. You can also sign up for more information about the product and volunteer to be a beta tester if you want.

Sincere thanks for taking the time to help us help you!


[1] National Diabetes Clearinghouse, http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/neuropathies/

[2] “Diabetic Cardiovascular Autonomic Neuropathy,” A. Vinik, MD, PhD, FCP, MACP; D. Ziegler, MD, PhD., FRCPE; Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine, Jan. 22, 2013.

Heart Attack: It’s a Family Affair

A recent study confirms what we probably knew already: the tendency to heart disease runs in families. An international study of about 30,000 adults showed that having a parent that had a heart attack in their 40s or younger made it two-and-a-half times more likely that their offspring would have a heart attack. The risk is six times higher if both parents had heart attacks before age 50. (See http://www.everydayhealth.com/heart-health/news/heart-attacks-are-all-in-the-family.aspx for more info on the study.)

While genetics may be a determinant in heart health, the good news is that lifestyle can help to combat the genes you were handed at birth. Regular exercise, good nutrition, lowering stress, and reducing weight can all help to keep your heart working well. A key vital sign to heart health (and stress) is heart rate variability. To download a short PDF explaining HRV and stress, go to http://beathealthy.com/education/stressandhrv.pdf.

Change Your Brain, Change Yourself

Sometimes we hear people say, “That’s just the way I am,” as though they had been fated to be a certain way, and there’s nothing to be done about it. Nothing could be further from the truth!

“Neuroplasticity” is a term that describes the brain’s ability to change structurally and functionally in response to the environment. Once scientists thought that after a critical growth period in youth, the brain became static. We now know that the brain is capable of change throughout life. We can change in response to injury, when the brain reroutes functions to work around physical damage. And we can deliberately create change, as happens when we learn a new language or how to play the guitar.

This means that for all of us, the ability to change what we know, how we feel, and what we do IS “just the way we are”!

Own a Pet, Have a Healthier Heart

Our pets have a healthful effect on our hearts, according to a newly-released study from Japan. The study looked at the heart rate variability of pet owners versus non-pet-owners, and found that the people with furry (or scaled or feathered) friends have higher heart rate variability (HRV) than those that didn’t, making them less susceptible to heart disease. Read more…

What do you do that affects others?

When quantum particles were studied, it was discovered that we could know where they were OR how fast they were going, but not both at the same time. This is known as the Uncertainty Principle. It means that we can’t know everything in the universe. So much for the know-it-alls!

Einstein discovered that light is a particle. However, when we shine light through a prism, the light waves are separated into rainbow colors. Each color is a frequency of the light wave. So light and other quantum particles are both a particle and a wave!

Einstein could not accept this particle/wave duality of quantum particles so he devised a thought experiment to disprove it. This led to the discovery of “entanglement” which says you can’t talk about some particles without reference to another particle. When you touch one particle it immediately affects the other entangled particle. So what you do affects more than you know! What do you do that affects others?

The New Paradigm

In the old paradigm, the universe acts like a big clock. If we want to understand the clock we have to take it apart and look at the pieces. In the new paradigm we look at the whole clock and how it works and only then can we understand the pieces. So practice seeing the whole to understand the pieces!

We are All Connected

You may think quantum physics has nothing to do with your daily life—but it does. Many of us have heard of the “new paradigm”, but what does this really mean? The old paradigm views the universe as a machine that can be taken apart. Ironically, the continued dissection of matter into parts led to the discovery of quantum particles. These particles, which make up everything in the universe, do not act like a machine and cannot be taken apart. This forms the basis of the new paradigm; that the universe and everything in it is a connected whole. Are you living the new paradigm? Consider for a moment: how are you connected to the rainforest in Brazil?