Former pro wrestler pins down type 2 diabetes
The views expressed in this article are the speakers’ own and are not intended to be medical advice. Please consult your provider regarding your individual health needs.
“At one point, I was up to 2,100 units of insulin a week. And I have since brought that down to a couple of hundred units a week.”
When Dan Turner wrestled professionally and became the Canadian heavyweight champion, he went by “Dirty Dan Denton.” These days, living in California, and a proud Dexcom Warrior using Dexcom G7, he dubs himself the “Dia-hacker.”
“Instead of biohacking, I’ve termed it dia-hacking and that strategy has really helped me hack my type 2 diabetes with foods,” he said. “For example, foods, stress, exercise – I can see how everything affects me on the spot. Dexcom G7 is helping me really mold what I’m doing as far as a lifestyle goes.”
The 61-year-old owner of Unity Wellness Group in Los Angeles works with schools and businesses to set up wellness programs, including nutrition, exercise and meditation, teaching people how to handle anxiety and better manage their health. He asks himself every day, “What am I doing right now to make myself better today?” That motto became a more personal mantra when he was diagnosed unexpectedly with type 2 diabetes.
“Foods, stress, excercise - I can see how everything affects me on the spot. Dexcom G7 is helping me really mold what I'm doing as far as a lifestyle goes.”
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An unexpected diagnosis
As someone who frequents the gym, he had always been “strong as an ox” and had no diabetes symptoms. He went for a routine physical around 2009, when his doctor gave him the news.
“They told me I had diabetes, they prescribed me some pills, and I was stunned,” he said. “I started to take insulin every day, so it was a total shock.”
In the early days of managing his type 2 diabetes, he was admittedly in denial. Within the early years of his diagnosis, his former tag-team partner and a referee he knew well were also diagnosed with type 2 and later died, leading him to become a passionate and active advocate for awareness in his wellness business.
“It’s about diabetes awareness, symptoms of diabetes, and things available that if you do get diagnosed with diabetes, that may help you cope with it, and Dexcom CGM will play a big role in that,” he said. “It’s all about understanding and being able to track. You have to be able to track your data to make any adjustments to help yourself move forward. It’s the bottom line, so we’re going to do a lot of diabetes awareness.”
Dan’s doctor prescribed the Dexcom G6, but he resisted because he worried the wearable would fall off when he worked out or swam†. But his doctor, who works with professional athletes, knew how to best make an appeal.
“He said, ‘If pro athletes can keep them on while they’re playing, you might want to rethink it.’,” Dan said. “And I just tried it.”
Dexcom CGM key to Dan’s ‘dia-hacking’
It turned out to be one of the best decisions he made for his long-term health.
“It’s like night and day,” he said. “Even now, the first thing is I can manage a lot easier because I can see my glucose numbers immediately. If I have to tweak something, and especially in my case where I’m trying to get off insulin, I can see if I need insulin or I don’t need insulin, and I don’t have to prick my finger* every hour to see where I’m at. With the Dexcom CGM, it’s immediate. And it also helps in my workouts too, so I can watch at the gym as far as where my glucose levels are and stuff like that.”
*Fingersticks required for diabetes treatment decisions if symptoms or expectations do not match readings.
He credits his Dexcom G7 for helping him sleep better.
“Overnight, I sometimes don’t know where I’m at,” he continued. “I would prick my finger before I go to bed, but if I got a low overnight because of insulin, I would have no idea if I wasn’t wearing a CGM. By wearing the Dexcom CGM, if I’m going to hit a low, that alarm will go off and wake me up and I can address it immediately on the spot. Before that, it would just be waking up sweating and shaking.”
By “hacking” his diabetes – using Dexcom G7, choosing to adopt a keto/intermittent fasting diet and doing yoga – he has been able to improve his health. Dan has also lost 112 pounds and has set a goal to lose another 40 pounds and eliminate the need for insulin.
“At one point, I was up to 2,100 units of insulin a week,” Dan said. “And I have since brought that down to a couple of hundred units a week. My goal is to be completely off insulin by the end of the year. My doctor’s my partner in all this, and I’m in there every three months with him keeping me in line. We’re focused on it.”‡
He’s also focused on integrating diabetes awareness in his outreach and in his wellness practice, eager to spread the word about healthier diabetes management.
“I really believe that if you can help just one person, all of this is just so worth it,” he said. “I’ve had a number of people come to me that have just given up and they’ve said they’re going to let nature take its course. I’ve walked them back from that ledge and pushed them toward getting a Dexcom CGM to take control of their situation. And I’ve had a lot of success with people doing that. I think the more awareness that we can create together, I think the better it’s going to be for everyone, and we can help people live longer, healthier and happier lives.”
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†The Dexcom G6 sensor and transmitter are water-resistant and may be submerged under eight feet of water for up to 24 hours without failure when properly installed. The receiver is not waterproof nor water resistant. ‡Individual results may vary. §Compatible smart device sold separately. To view a list of compatible devices, visit dexcom.com/compatibility.
BRIEF SAFETY STATEMENT: Failure to use the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring System and its components according to the instructions for use provided with your device and available at https://www.dexcom.com/safety-information and to properly consider all indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and cautions in those instructions for use may result in you missing a severe hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) occurrence and/or making a treatment decision that may result in injury. If your glucose alerts and readings from the Dexcom CGM do not match symptoms, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions. Seek medical advice and attention when appropriate, including for any medical emergency.