Wil Dubois

Welcome back to another edition of our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1 and diabetes author Wil Dubois in New Mexico.

This week, Wil takes on a trio of brief questions "from our mailbag." If you're interested in the validity of expired glucose strips, the diabetes pros & cons of wine-drinking, and a more serious inquiry about the need for insulin, read on.Ask DMine Mailbag logo

 

{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

 

Carol, type 2 from Wisconsin, asks: If glucose test strips are four years overdue, can they give an unusually high result?

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Like milk, test strips have an expiration date for good reason: They really do go bad. And like milk, of course you can push the expiration date.

But four years?

Ah… No.

A glucose test strip is more like a living thing than a machine. Sure, it’s made up of metals, plastics, and assorted chemicals, but a major component of all glucose test strips is enzymes. Enzymes are proteins that regulate biochemical reactions, and they only “live” so long.

Once the enzymes in a test strip start to break down, there’s just no telling what will happen to the accuracy of the results the strip reports to the meter. As different strip makers use different enzymes in their recipes, old strips react differently from brand to brand. Some run high. Some run low. Some vary from strip to strip in the batch. More frighteningly, some strips suffer accuracy problems only in specific glucose ranges as they age. The strip might give good results in normal glucose ranges, but give faulty readings in the low or high ranges—and I’m sure you can see how dangerous that could be.

All of that said, there’s a buffer zone the strip makers put in to diminish the risks. It’s not as if the strip is going to conk out the day after its expiration date. But the older the strips get, the more likely you are to have problems with them. Personally, I won’t use a test strip that’s more than three months beyond its expiration date. 

Milk? Sure, stretch it a week. Test strips? Go for it, stretch those bad boys three months.

But anything in the fridge that’s four years old needs to go in the trash.

 

Felix, type 2 from California, asks: Is Rosé wine good for diabetics?Rose wine

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: All wines are good for diabetics. Salud! That said, as you’ll soon see, some wines are better than others. But first a disclaimer from our legal team, who want me to point out that too much of a good thing is not a good thing, especially when it comes to alcohol. Needless to say, seven bottles of Rosé a day would not be good for anyone, diabetic or not.

Yet in modest amounts, there’s an entire vineyard of evidence that any sort of alcohol, especially wine, can have a positive health benefit—particularly when it comes to your heart.

While all alcoholic drinks help lower bad cholesterol, wine has an additional secret weapon called resveratrol, which may shield the body from cardiovascular disease and some cancers. It may even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. And as an added benefit, apparently resveratrol increases glucose uptake into fat cells, so in theory, drinking wine could help glucose control.

I’ll drink to that.

Resveratrol in wine comes from the grape’s skins (the compound is actually part of the grape vine’s immune system), and how much resveratrol makes it from the skin to the bottle depends on the type of wine, thanks to the way in which different varietals are made. Deep reds like Malbecs and Cabs have the most resveratrol because they are fermented in contact with the grape skins. Your Rosé has some, but not a lot, because Rosés are only in contact with the skins for a brief time during the wine-making process. Whites have nearly none, because they are fermented away from the grape skins.

So your weapon of choice is middle of the road.

Of course, your heart is only one piece of the diabetes puzzle. How do the various wines affect your blood sugar? Luckily for us winos, wine is pretty low-carb in general, but all wines run the flavor gamut from “dry” to “sweet.” Just as the name implies, a sweet wine has a greater carb load than a dry wine. Generally speaking, reds run the driest, Rosés run middle of the road, and whites are the sweetest.

I’m fond of dry reds, and I never need to bolus for them.

So for maximum health benefit, if you are drinking wine, a deep, dry red is your best bet. It has the least sugar and the most resveratrol. But you know what? If you prefer Rosé, you should stick with Rosé. Because the best medicine is one you enjoy taking.

At least when it comes to the wine Rx.

 

Pradyut, type 1 from India, writes: I am diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and tired with taking insulin. My age is 26 years. Can I survive without taking any insulin?insulin bottles

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: I’m sorry to say that I just tripped over the language barrier and fell flat on my face. You say that you are “tired with taking insulin.” Does that mean that since taking insulin you’ve been running physically tired; or that you’re simply tired of taking shots? Either way we need to find a solution, because—no—as a type 1, you cannot survive without insulin.

If you are feeling physically tired, it suggests to me that you aren’t taking enough insulin. High blood sugars can make people tired, while I’ve never heard of insulin itself making someone tired. Of course, you could be the first! If your sugar levels are OK, you might ask your doc to switch you to a different brand of insulin just to rule out that’s it’s not some sort of reaction to a specific formula that’s leaving your tired. (You should also have your thyroid checked.)

If you are just sick and tired of taking insulin, well, I think we’ve all been in that boat at one time or another. The boat’s name is the S.S. Burnout, and it’s no luxury liner. My best advice for curing therapy burnout is to shake up your therapy. Do something different. Get an insulin tracking app. Or change how you take insulin. If you are using a syringe and vial, get a pen. Or if you are on pens, switch to syringe and vial for a while. Talk to your doctor about an insulin pump. Do something, anything, to simply change how you take your insulin.

I’m sorry, but like the rest of us T1s, barring a major breakthrough, you’re stuck with insulin for a long time. The best you can do is dress it up in a different outfit—just to break the monotony.

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

 

 
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.