Sir Frederick Banting: he discovered the insulin that treats diabetes

Millions of people around the world suffer from diabetes, but until the 1920s there was no treatment for it.

Sir Frederick Banting was a Canadian scientist whose pioneering work using insulin to treat diabetes earned him the Nobel prize. He only lived to be 49 but on November 14 – what would have been his 125th birthday – Google has celebrated him with a commemorative Doodle.

November 14 is also World Diabetes Day.


How does insulin work?

For your body to use glucose, the fuel that comes from carbohydrates, it must be transferred from the blood to your body’s cells to be used up as energy.

The vital hormone that allows glucose to enter cells is called insulin and it is normally produced naturally in the pancreas. If this process doesn’t happen, the level of sugar in the blood becomes too high.

Being unable to naturally produce insulin is the disease known as diabetes. More than 4 million people in the UK are diagnosed with it, and it is a major cause of kidney failure, heart attacks and blindness.

Who was Sir Frederick Banting?

Frederick Banting was born on November 14 1891 in Alliston, a settlement in the Canadian province of Ontario. He served in the First World War despite initially being refused while in medical school for poor eyesight since the army wanted more doctors on the front line.

Sir Frederick Banting

Sir Frederick Banting

After the war, Sir Frederick had become deeply interested in diabetes and the pancreas, reading much of the work on the matter that had come before him.

Scientists including Edward Schafer had speculated that diabetes was caused by a lack of a protein hormone produced in the pancreas, which Schafer had named insulin. Previous studies had noted that patients with diabetes had a damaged pancreas.

How insulin came to treat humans

Sir Frederick got to work on looking into the matter further and in 1921 the University of Toronto gave him 10 dogs on which to practise. On one dog, the pancreas was removed, resulting in it getting diabetes.

On another test subject, Sir Frederick removed the dog’s pancreas but ground the pancreas up and created an injection. Giving the diabetic dog a few injections a day kept it healthy.

Frederick Banting with one of his test dogs

Frederick Banting with one of his test dogs

In 1922, a 14-year-old boy named Leonard Thompson became the first person with diabetes to be treated with insulin, and ended up recovering rapidly. Many other patients responded well to insulin injections.

Soon after the medical company Eli Lilling began producing large-scale quantities of insulin.

Nobel Prize recognition

The discovery of the drug was seen as a miracle, saving millions of lives. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Sir Frederick and John Macleod, who had helped the research get funded, in 1923. King George V knighted Sir Frederick in 1934.

The doctor suffered an untimely death in 1941, at just 49, when the Lockheed Martin Super Electra plane he was flying en route to England lost power in both engines and crashed shortly after takeoff from Gander in Newfoundland. Sir Frederick died of his injuries the next day.

Diabetes and insulin today

Today, insulin is produced by growing bacteria, although pig pancreases were used for a long time until the 1980s.

According to the World Health Organisation, 422 million people had been diagnosed with diabetes in 2014 and the global prevalence had risen from 4.7 per cent in 1980 to 8.5 per cent. However, around the world, half of those with diabetes are not diagnosed.

The WHO predicts that it will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 is when the body attacks the cells that produce insulin while Type 2 is when the body does not respond to insulin.

Our service of personal physiotherapy offers individual and private sessions of physical activity foccused on Diabetes. You can check this link for more information.



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How to became a fat-adapted cyclist: Diet

When it comes to fat adaptation, nutrition is the most important piece of the puzzle. Changes in what you eat during the whole day and before and after a training session will have the biggest impact on your success. Let’s look at how it works and what a day of eating for a fat-adapted athlete looks like.

Step one: Limit carbohydrate availability

The main thing you are trying to influence with nutrition is how much carbohydrate is available to your body. Why? Carbohydrates, the highly processed ones especially, have a big effect on insulin production. The hormone insulin allows our cells to use blood sugar as energy and controls adiposity (sends excess sugar to be stored as fat). When insulin is high, almost no fat burning is possible. So, if you are used to eating a diet high in carbohydrates, the first step is to reduce their intake. When your body is short on carbohydrates, both glucose and glycogen, it naturally turns to fat as a source of energy, both stored and dietary fat, and that’s the goal.

Step two: Introduce healthy fats

There is no universal limit on carbohydrates that will ensure fat adaptation, everyone reacts differently. But in general, keeping your carbohydrate intake under 100g a day should produce good results. Imagine 100g of carbs as a large serving of potatoes and two bananas. What is considered a standard diet nowadays often contains over 300g of carbs daily, so you will need to replace what you give up with something: healthy fats! Keep in mind that if you decide to go for it, you shouldn’t half-arse it. You should always feel full, don’t undereat, or you could end up in a no man’s land with no fat adaptation and under-fuelled for harder training sessions.


Where do you get the healthy fats from? Best sources are real wholesome fatty foods like avocados, nuts and seeds, fatty fish, and high-quality organically farmed meats. Good choices are also cold pressed oils, such as olive or coconut oil, and high-quality organic full-fat dairy like cream or ghee. When reducing carbs, eliminate the highly processed ones (sweetened drinks, deserts, baked goods, etc.) and leave only whole-food ones (fruits, root vegetables, legumes, potatoes, squash, etc.).

A day of eating for a fat-adapted athlete

Let’s suppose you are a healthy cycling enthusiast who commutes to work on a bike and does some longer rides on the weekend. What should your day of eating look like if you were fat-adapted?

– Start the day with eggs and some vegetables, let’s say a broccoli. Add an avocado as a great source of fats and a caloric replacement for what would usually be a slice of bread.

– Lunch can contain some meat, ideally a fattier cut if it’s from an organically raised animal. A colourful salad with olive oil will go nicely with it.

– Nuts are an ideal snack food. You can combine them with some berries, dried fruits or a piece of chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.

– Dinner is where you have your main serving of carbs. Baked potatoes with a fish are an ideal choice for winter time.


How do you know if you succeeded?

Can you go three hours without eating? Is skipping a meal an exercise in misery? If the answer is yes and no, then your body is most likely able to extract enough energy from fats to cover your daily energy needs. That’s a great first step and also something that will help in prevention of many modern degenerative diseases. The next step is figuring out how to add training and successfully fuel it. I will focus on that next time in the last article of the series.


Originally pubublished in: We Love Cycling

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When to use ice and heat for pain relief

When you’ve just sprained your ankle or pulled a muscle, all you want is some pain relief. If painkillers are handy, you probably pop a couple of them. If not, you ask for some ice – or was that heat instead?

To sort out this confusion, let’s see what they really do. Both ice and heat relieve pain and help recovery.

How to use ice (cryotherapy)

Ice is useful when you want to reduce swelling. For example, your ankle balloons up after a sprain. This is because blood and fluid collects rapidly, making it both painful and stiff. 

At this point, an ice pack helps to close off those tiny vessels. The blood flow slows down. Small nerves become numbed, so the pain reduces. The muscles also relax. The inflammatory reaction is slowed down. As a result, your ankle is less swollen and painful.

Ice packs are very useful in bruises, strains and joint swellings. Use them for any acute swelling, over the first 24 to 48 hours (except back strains). Ice helps later too, while exercising the limb.

How to make an ice pack
Wrap a plastic bag of frozen peas or ice cubes in a thick cold wet towel. Place it on the injured part. Check after a few minutes to make sure the skin is not red, an early sign of frostbite. Generally, icing for 20 to 30 minutes is enough. Repeat every 2-4 hours.

RICE protocol: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate – and they apply it at the first sign of pain and swelling. Immediate action following an injury. 

The first and best thing to do when an injury occurs is to apply the RICE formula; a treatment for reducing pain and swelling.

Most people who sprain their ankle know of the RICE .

How to use heat
Heat packs, bottles or infra-red lamps can be very useful if you have a muscle spasm or 48 hours after injury. Icing a muscle spasm contracts the muscle fibers, so they would hurt intensely. On the other hand, heat improves the circulation, soothes and relaxes the muscles by carrying away toxins and bringing in healing oxygen. Heat can comfort a back or neck strain, especially if it has been persisting for some time. 

When you use a heat pack, wrap it in a towel and check the temperature so it doesn’t burn the skin.

When not to use heat

Don’t use heat if you have a painful, red or swollen joint. This increases circulation so that fluid collects, worsening the swelling and stretching or compressing the nerves and surrounding healthy tissue. This makes it still more painful. You’d be better off icing it.

When to use neither heat nor ice

Whether you use hot or cold packs, be aware that you can damage your skin and deeper tissues by careless use.

Don’t use it if you have an open or infected wound. If the circulation or sensation level is poor, as in diabetes, ice and heat could cause the skin to break down, get infected and worse.

But in ordinary injuries, ice and heat provide inexpensive, non-toxic pain relief. 

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Walk your way to better health

Walking strengthens your heart
Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by walking regularly. It’s great cardio exercise, lowering levels of bad cholesterol while increasing levels of good cholesterol. A brisk 30-minute walk every day helps to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes.

Walking lowers disease risk

A regular walking habit slashes the risk of type 2 diabetes by around 60 percent, and you’re 20 percent less likely to develop cancer of the colon, breast or womb with an active hobby such as walking.

Walking helps you lose weight

You’ll burn around 75 calories simply by walking for 30 minutes. Work your speed to a light jog and you can burn 150 calories. Make walking a part of your daily routine and you’ll start to shed weight.

Walking prevents dementia

Dementia affects one in 14 people over 65 and one in six over 80. Older people who walk ten kilometres or more per week are more likely to avoid brain shrinkage and preserve memory as the years pass. 


Walking tones up legs, bums and tums

Give definition to calves, quads and hamstrings while lifting your glutes (bum muscles) with a good, regular walk. Add hill walking into the mix and it’s even more effective. Pay attention to your posture and you’ll also tone your abs and waist.

Walking boosts vitamin D

We all need to get outside more. Many office workers are vitamin D deficient, affecting important things like bone health and our immune systems. Walking is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors while getting your vitamin D fix.

Walking gives you energy

You’ll get more done with more energy, and a brisk walk is one of the best natural energisers around. It boosts circulation and increases oxygen supply to every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert and alive. Try walking on your lunch break to achieve more in the afternoon.

Walking makes you happy

It’s true – exercise boosts your mood. Studies show that a brisk walk is just as effective as antidepressants in mild to moderate cases of depression, releasing feel-good endorphins while reducing stress and anxiety. So for positive mental health, walking’s an absolute must.

Getting started

Start slowly and try to build up your speed and distance gradually.

Wear shoes or trainers that are comfortable and provide adequate support. Choose comfortable clothing with thin layers, which you can add or remove depending on conditions. If you’re walking to work, you could wear your usual work clothes with a comfy pair of shoes and change shoes when you get into work.

For long walks, you may want to take some water, healthy snacks, a spare top, sunscreen and a hat in a small backpack. You may want to invest in a waterproof jacket and some specialist walking shoes for more challenging routes.

Note that there are several injuries or conditions related to walking, jogging and running. Consult with us first if you suffer from any pains or medical conditions. We can help you get moving right, so you can continue moving freely, well into your years.

Quick tip

Use the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Try to build up to taking two steps at a time.


Sickness comes on horseback but departs on foot.

~ Dutch Proverb

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Original bones can be replaced by 3D printed elastic ones

Who would have thought a plain white ink could transform bone surgery? The newly developed ink can be used to 3D-print flexible bone implants in any size, shape and form – from cylindrical leg bones to entire skulls. What is more, once inside the body, the implants turn into real bone, giving surgeons a cheap and versatile way of repairing an injury.


When bones need to be fixed or replaced, doctors tend to take bone from other parts of the body, or use implants. Although the less painful option, implants are often brittle, meaning they break easily and can’t be remodelled during surgery. Another option is to use putties made from crystallised bone of variable quality that come from human cadavers – but this is expensive.

Now, Ramille Shah at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and her colleagues have developed an ink that can be 3D-printed into bone implants that are robust but ultra-elastic, allowing surgeons to cut and manipulate them in the operating theatre to form the perfect shape.

Once in place, the implants are rapidly infiltrated by blood vessels and calcium-supplements-benefits-and-side-effectsgradually turn into natural bone. Shah’s team calls the implant material “hyperelastic bone” and says it could heal a multitude of skeletal problems, from fractures and spine repairs to implants that help to rebuild faces after injury or chemotherapy.

Custom implants

“Our vision is to have 3D printers in a hospital setting where we provide the hyperelastic bone ink, so surgeons can make individual implants within 24 hours,” says Shah. “You could make off-the-shelf, or patient-specific implants using scans from patients,” she says.

The ink is made from hydroxyapatite, a mineral found naturally in bone, and PLGA, a polymer that binds the mineral particles together, and gives the implants their elasticity. “We were very surprised to find when we squeezed an implant, it bounced back to its original shape,” says Shah.

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How yoga sequences can help you daily

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3D animation of the respiratory system

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Do you know how obesity affects your health?


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Let’s be healthy!


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Sequence of exercises for shoulder separation


  1. Perform the exercises above in the order of appearance
  2. Perform 1 series of 12 repetions of each movement
  3. Take rest of 30 seconds between series

Note: Muscular pain can occur after 24h of performing those movements. This physical pain is normal and can stay for 2 days. It is not necessary to take any medication in order to aliviate it.

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