Justin Eastzer Discusses Diabetes Technology and the Power of Social Media


Justin Eastzer is a content creator and podcaster who discusses diabetes technology.

Justin is the host and founder of Diabetech.

Justin also creates diabetes content on TikTok and Instagram to entertain and educate others about how diabetes works—and is managed.

Before YouTube, Justin worked in Hollywood as a Digital Content Producer at America’s Got Talent, Head Editor for Spotify’s Secret Genius Series, and an Editor/Producer in TV Development at Brian Graden Media.

Justin also produced and hosted tech reviews at CNET for a YouTube channel with over 3 million subscribers.

This interview has been edited from its previous format

T’ara Smith: Tell me a little bit about yourself, Justin. What has your journey with diabetes been?

Justin: I’m Justin Eastzer. I live in New York City. I’m 32 years old, and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2021. At the time I was living in Palm Springs, California, and for a few months I was taking metformin. Eventually, I started taking long-acting insulin, and my doctor had me test my blood sugar a few times a day.

At the time, I was a tech-tuber. I made videos on smart home, tech, VR and AR tech wearables, phones and laptops, and I put those on YouTube. I had  30,000 followers, and I thought, “Okay, I’m using all this diabetes technology. Let me just make some content about this cause because it’s interesting—and new to me.”

So I started making some TikToks of me testing my blood sugar—but my blood-sugar was 350 mg/dl.

Comments on these videos started blowing up. People were writing me and saying, “Justin, you have type 1 diabetes.” Or they would write, “Justin you have latent-autoimmune diabetes in adults [LADA]. You need to go to an endocrinologist! You need to get a CGM! You need to get an insulin pump.”

The influx of information and instructions was overwhelming. I found an endocrinologist and got the C-Peptide test, which came back positive for type 1 diabetes. I made an announcement on TikTok, letting everyone know that they were right. And I decided to continue documenting my experience.

Learning about what this disease is came naturally to me. I was already producing content to teach people how technology works, so learning diabetes technology and how to carb count was easy. Naturally, my focus went in a technology direction, although I also do a lot of experiential stuff—because I love technology so much. I think that a lot of people have difficulty with technology when technology is tied to your health and chronic illness.

Knowing that I can help people feel less stressed over all of that has given me so much excitement and passion over what I do, and hearing from people that I’m helping has just been so rewarding. It’s why I continue to do what I’m doing.

T’ara Smith: So, when you were diagnosed with what you thought was type 2 diabetes, what was your relationship like with your doctor? Also, what was your reaction to finding out that you had type 1 diabetes? Do you have any family members with type 1 diabetes? What has the journey been like for you?

Justin: Let me start with what my relationship was like with the doctor. When I first went to the doctor, I was told that I was pre-diabetic at one point—probably 4 or 5 months before I got my diabetes diagnosis. I was in denial. I didn’t know anything about diabetes. Then, they prescribed me metformin and statins for high cholesterol and sent me on my merry way—convinced that I have type 2 diabetes.

I was totally lost.

What management is there besides taking a pill every day? I was left to figure that out on my own. It was odd to me that that’s how the system works. For 3 months, I was lost in the system having just “diabetes.” So I decided to get a new doctor who prescribed me long-acting insulin. There was no call, however, for getting a simple antibody test, which surprises me now. I was alone with a type 2 diagnosis, and didn’t have any guidance.

Until I did that TikTok video.

Then, I went to an endocrinologist. Once I was diagnosed with type 1, it was a breakthrough. I was like, “Okay, I now know what I have. I can tackle this. I have a doctor, and I also have multiple people in my life who have type 1.”

I reached out to other people with type 1. I asked them what CGM they used? I was able to get information from them. I feel very lucky that I found them.

It wasn’t until I got type 1 diabetes that I fully realized the power of social media and how you can use it to find communities—and get answers. I’ve never felt more passionate about something, and people see that. On YouTube, I’m pulling in the people that want to see it. If I have the question, someone else does, too.

T’ara Smith: Talking about tech is clearly something about which you are passionate, and then diabetes gave you a purpose. I wanna hear more about the types of content you feature.

Justin: I think one of my favorite things that I do is my diabetes podcast—Diabetech. The reason I like Diabetech so much is because I can just email someone and say, “Hey, can you come on the show to teach me about this,” and they do—and I learn so much. The podcast is the biggest investment in my knowledge, and whenever I have a question of,  “What does this new CGM do?” or, “How do you carb count?” I can find someone who can come on the podcast and teach me everything there is to know.

I just had Gary Scheiner on my podcast, and he talked about all of the automated-insulin-delivery systems and insulin pumps on the market. I’ve had the CEO of Dexcom on the show, and learned so much.

My Youtube channel is a place where I can dive deeper into my own experiences using these technologies. I ask the companies to send me whatever they can, so that I can check it out and put it up on Youtube. Sometimes, people have wanted to listen to a 1-hour podcast, and they also want to watch it later.

T’ara Smith: I love podcasts. I listen to—and watch them—all the time. You mentioned TikTok, which is for younger people—or people who are really into that “bite-size” information. Then, you have YouTubers who really want a deeper-dive on the information. It sounds like all types of people with diabetes consume your content. What’s some of the feedback that you’ve received from these different types of audiences?

Justin: A very large percentage of people are very appreciative of the community that I create. Receiving their messages truly inspires me to keep going, and it gives me that affirmation that I think we all need. As an influencer and content creator, you can get tunnel vision. So, hearing from outside that bubble and getting feedback and criticism of your content allows you to grow and get better.

I find that the people on Youtube write very long comments, and it lends to a great discussion. Seeing people talk to each other in the comments is what makes me the most happy.  I’m proud that I’ve created this platform where people can discuss these topics together. I’ve also inspired a lot of people to create their own pages. So, I think it’s awesome that there can be this domino effect of diabetes education.

T’ara Smith: You mentioned at the beginning of a conversation that there are people who really struggle with technology. I think in places like YouTube, you are really branching out to people who don’t have that kind of quick access to information, or people who may not even know that new diabetes technologies even exist. It sounds like you’ve really built that community, and given people with diabetes an opportunity to receive that kind of information?

Justin: If I’ve learned anything from this journey, it’s that you need to be your own advocate. No one else cares about your diabetes as much as you do. So many doctors have preferences of the technology that they like to use—and the processes that they like to use.

So, what I’m doing is creating a platform where I can show people everything that there is that they can use. Then, they can then take that information to their doctor and if their doctor doesn’t want to do that, they can find someone else who will help them. Or, they can educate their doctor about the technology.

I just had someone tell me that their doctor told them they couldn’t use Fiasp (insulin aspart). Then, they listened to my podcast on insulin innovation where an endocrinologist talked Fiasp. So, this person reached out to their doctor and said, “I want to use Fiasp.“

I think getting multiple viewpoints is good. Your endocrinologist or primary-care physician might not always be up to date on the latest guidelines.

T’ara Smith: I was at a conference where one of the panelists brought up a really good point. He said there is such a thing as “guideline fatigue,” where there are a lot of guidelines for people with diabetes, and the practitioner is not able to always implement things as fast as they would like to. So it is helpful to have channels like yours—or resources like Beyond Type 1— creating these resources.

Justin: Exactly!

T’ara Smith: I want to ask you what your signs of diabetes were. What prompted you to get diagnosed?

Justin: My signs aren’t what took me to the doctor. What took me to the doctor was just an annual physical. I took a blood test which found an elevated A1C.

Looking back, I was peeing a lot for years. This degradation of my pancreas was going on for a long time, and I went to the doctor for a regular checkup and was told that I had pre-diabetes. Then, I was told I had type 2 diabetes, and at that time I was experiencing symptoms that then made more sense, like mood swings, extreme fatigue, extreme thirst, and frequent urination. At that time, I was also very skinny. I had lost 20 pounds.

T’ara Smith: Seeing the signs of diabetes is so important. Have you ever discussed the signs of diabetes and had people come up to you and say, “I saw the signs, and now I wanna make sure I’m getting the right diagnosis”? .

Justin: Oh, absolutely! I’ve made some videos where I specifically talk about misdiagnosis and tying it to seeing the signs. I’ve had people tell me, “I had all those signs and symptoms, and after I saw your video I knew I had to get checked because the symptoms didn’t go away after that diagnosis.”

Just creating awareness of what these tell-tale signs of diabetes are means that we can get to people before they have to go to a doctor to get that incorrect diagnosis. If we can let them know they have these signs that could be type 1 diabetes, they can skip 4 to 6 months of living life misdiagnosed. I’ve actually had people reach out to me and say, “Hey, I finally got my type 1 diagnosis because of you …and I’m 56 years old.”

T’ara Smith: I love hearing your story, and I love that you were able to take this and turn it into something that’s educational and empowering. Is there a piece of diabetes tech that you’re looking forward to coming out this year? Something that you have your eye on in particular?

Justin: There’s a large influx of new, tubeless pumps coming out. Omnipod owns that space, but Tandem and Medtronic are both working on tubeless pumps. I’m so excited about this piece of tech, not just because it’s another tubeless pump on the market, but because it’s gonna speed up the innovation happening in the tubeless-pump market. I wear an Omnipod, and I absolutely love it. I’m looking forward to seeing where the tubeless-pump market goes.

T’ara Smith: Thanks so much for joining us, Justin!