Andrei suffers from type 1 diabetes
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Saanichton, British Columbia
Claim to fame
What do you do when you have questions about your body that no one has the answers to?
You can sit back and hope that scientists will one day find the answers.
Or you could do this science yourself.
This is what Andrei Marti did earlier this year with his scientific project on diabetes.
Her work not only won three top prizes at this year’s Canada-Wide Science Fair, but it’s also helping her play sports more effectively and safely.
“I learned that a science fair project can be more than just a project. There are a whole bunch of life lessons along the way. – Andrei Marti, 13 years old
Choose a project near you
At the start of the school year, Andrei and his class at St. Michaels University School were tasked with developing a science fair project.
To stay motivated, the 8th grade student decided to tackle a subject that was close to his heart.
“Football is my favorite thing in the world, but I have type 1 diabetes and it can really affect me during matches. I wanted to see if I could change that,” he told CBC Kids News.
Andrei is holding a device called an insulin pump that many diabetics use to survive. He discovered that diabetes is difficult to manage in sports like football, his favorite pastime. (Image submitted by Annelies Browne)
He decided to make diabetes the center of his project.
Wait, what is type 1 diabetes?
Every time we eat sugar or carbohydrates, our body breaks them down and turns them into energy.
A hormone called insulin is responsible for this process.
This energy is stored in the blood and is called our blood sugar. It is the main source of energy for our body.
People with type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, cannot produce insulin and therefore cannot process sugars.
Therefore, they have to take insulin manually using syringes or a device called an insulin pump.
Okay, I got it. Back to the project!
In the past, Andrei found that his blood sugar levels were really out of balance when he played soccer.
Andrei explains his project to spectators wearing his gold medal at this year’s Canada-Wide Science Fair. (Image submitted by Annelies Browne)
This is because exercise lowers blood sugar levels, but high-impact sports like football can also increase it by releasing a hormone called adrenaline.
Additionally, Andrei cannot wear his insulin pump when he plays because it is fragile.
For his project, he wanted to see if eating a specific food before a football game would help stabilize his blood sugar.
Which food was the best?
Andrei chose three food groups:
Complex carbohydrates like potatoes or quinoa.
Simple sugars like fruits and vegetables.
Proteins like meat and dairy products.
For months, he would eat one of these foods 30 minutes before his matches and record his blood sugar.
“Whenever I ate complex carbs, I became weak, probably because they take a long time to break down. But then it would go high after the match,” Andrei said.
He hasn’t had much luck with simple sugars either.
Protein, however, seemed to do the trick.
“I found that when I ate things like nuts or a hard-boiled egg before football, it helped keep my blood sugar levels better.”
Andrei said this may be because, like complex carbohydrates, protein takes a long time to break down.
However, unlike complex carbohydrates, proteins contain very little sugar and therefore do not increase one’s blood sugar after the match.
Winning was surreal
Andrei’s project made it through a regional tournament before heading to the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Edmonton, Alberta on May 18.
Andrei, far right, poses with other winners at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Edmonton on May 18. (Image credit: Youth Science Canada)
He competed against more than 400 finalists from across Canada.
After seeing all the brilliant work being done across the country, he wasn’t sure how his project would turn out.
After the bronze medals were announced and he didn’t hear his name, he thought he hadn’t placed.
“By the time they won the gold medals, I was almost exhausted. But then my name was called. I was shocked! I saw my picture up there, I saw my name. It was surreal,” he said.
In total, Andrei won a gold medal in the junior category, as well as the platinum prize for the best junior project in the discovery category and the challenge prize for the best project in the illness and disease category.
Reni Barlow, Executive Director of Youth Science Canada, spoke about Andrei’s success.
“Andrei Marti’s insightful (project) demonstrated a practical application that can improve athletic performance and overall health, which stood out among his peers,” Barlow said.
Better yet, the knowledge he gained allowed him to better control his diabetes.
“I learned that a science fair project can be more than just a project. »
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TOP IMAGE CREDIT: Submitted by Annelies Browne