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Diabetes & Celiac: Being A Double Disease Athlete

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7/19/2011

celiac athlete holly hopwood

Holly Hopwood stays healthy by counting carbohydrates, timing meals, and keeping track of what she eats.  Not only is she a very active 12-year-old, but she is at the activity level of a professional athlete. 

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, this Morgan Hill, CA girl isn’t slowing down for her hockey career as she plays for the San Jose Junior Sharks where she’s won the national hockey title. 

“Jane Hopwood, Holly's mother, said that letting her daughter play sports was scary at first. The Hopwood family didn't know how Holly's body -- specifically her blood-sugar level -- would react to the excitement and strain of competition.

But they've come to realize that ‘playing sports helps us manage her diabetes,’ she said.

Managing diabetes is about regulating the level of glucose, or sugar, in the body's bloodstream. Exercise takes sugar out of the blood to feed the muscles' need for fuel, said Saleh Adi, director of the pediatric diabetes clinic at UC San Francisco. But adrenaline, brought on by the excitement of competition, increases the glucose level in the blood.” 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Holly is among the 0.26 percent of Americans under 20 with diabetes.

Fortunately, there is a way to manage both an active lifestyle and having diabetes. Holly, who was first diagnosed with the condition at the age of 6, doesn’t let her illness stand her way! With the help of her family, Holly has developed and maintained a system to keep her blood-sugar at a healthy, safe level.

“Holly eats three hours before she plays to give the injected insulin time to deal with the sugars she's ingested. Her meals need to include a mix of sugars digested at different rates so that they sustain Holly through her practices and games. They usually include meats such as chicken, potatoes, and other vegetables such as broccoli or carrots.” 

Holly also monitors her glucose levels up to 12 times a day, to ensure she is on track.  She uses a programmable wireless pump to monitor her insulin. The device is sophisticated and sturdy enough for Holly to even surf with it, which she also does in her spare time, along with playing soccer!

Today, Holly is most concerned with staying outdoors and being as active as her diseases will allow her to be.

Read the full article in Mercury News.




 
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