Elizabeth Gunther talks about living with Type 1 diabetes, her kombucha business, Tea of Life, and her love for surfing and her dogs.
Elizabeth Gunther (35) lives in Muizenberg, Cape Town with a house mate and her ‘two incredible dogs’.
Living her best life
Currently, my life consists of building my business, Tea of Life; walking my dogs; surfing; and managing my Type 1 diabetes. I am single and don’t want any children as I would not know where to find the time!
I do, however, spend a lot of time with my friends and family who are extremely supportive of my chronic illness. Though, it has been said that I was friendlier before having diabetes.
When I surf, I mostly go with a friend in case I experience a low episode. My housemate is also very empathetic and cares about whether I make the correct food choices.
At the age of 21, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was about a year after I worked on a cruise line as a beauty therapist. Two years before that I was involved in a car accident. To this day, I am not sure why I got it. No one in my family has had diabetes.
We always lived very healthy lives as children. We ate fruit salad, nuts and lentil soup versus braai broodjies, lamb, and malva pudding.
Feasting for my family was getting fish and chips once every second month; Sunday drives for Marcel’s English Toffee Frozen Yoghurt; as well as my dad’s health rusks, banana clusters and incredible carrot cake with loads of pecan nuts!
I always had a weakness for sweet things but to find a packet of biscuits or a Cadbury’s slab in our house was as rare as winning the lotto.
Throughout a day, I use more or less 16 units of Apidra and 20 units of Tresiba at night. To test my glucose levels, I vary between Optium and Contour machines. I realise this might be slightly outdated. But, my endocrinologist does not suggest the insulin pump as I surf whenever I get the opportunity.
Kombucha lowers glucose levels
My passion for kombucha started about 10 years ago when I attended a kombucha workshop in Knysna. I instantly savoured the taste, not being aware of the extensive health benefits of this fermented tea.
Soon I discovered that kombucha lowered my blood glucose levels. So much so that I needed to inject less insulin. Fermented foods slow down the digestion of carbohydrates thus stabilising blood glucose levels.
I started feeling great within my body. It radiated my skin and gave me a natural energy boost that was fantastic at that stage. The words of Kris Carr, a wellness activist and cancer survivor, “Gut health is the key to overall health” started making sense to me after introducing the probiotic health beverage into my diet.
And now I run my own kombucha business, Tea of Life.
Feasting as a person living with diabetes
Feasting for me is drinking good Double Flat Whites at carefully selected coffee shops or making my own. I also enjoy dark chocolate and luckily those two things do not increase my glucose levels too much.
Cooking balanced meals with all five food groups as a single person is not that easy. When I visit my parents, and eat home-cooked meals, my glucose levels are way more balanced.
Most times no one would ever know I have diabetes, except an intimate partner. It definitely is hard for a partner of someone living with diabetes and at times frightening. Hence why I have two dogs. It is way less stressful!
I have been to many psychologists to help me cope with the ups and downs of this disease and it has helped as much as it can. I think most people living with diabetes are rebellious (in my experience of talking to many of them) and something about this disease is meant to change that.