November is National Diabetes Awareness Month
Nov 05, 2019
By Alli DeLay, Dietetic Intern
Did you know that more than 30 million people in the U.S have diabetes and 1 in 4 of them don't know they have it? Over 84 million U.S. adults are pre-diabetic and almost 90% of them don't know it.
So, what is diabetes? It is a disease that affects how the body uses food for energy. Since the body's cells are unable to use food properly, blood glucose levels (sugar) increases. Glucose is important because it is a source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. Blood sugar increases because either the body is lacking insulin or because it cannot use the insulin it is making. Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into the cells for energy. Diabetes is diagnosed when the fasting blood sugar is above 126 mg/dl when tested. The cause of diabetes depends on the type. These different types include type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
Symptoms for type 1 and type 2 diabetes may be different depending on how high your blood sugar is. These include:
- extreme hunger
- increased thirst
- frequent urination
- unexplained weight loss
- blurred vision
Cause of Type 1 Diabetes:
Basically, your immune system attacks and destroys your insulin producing cells in the pancreas causing you to have little or no insulin. Since it is not being transported into your cells, sugar builds up in your blood. Weight is not believed to be a factor for type 1 diabetes.
Cause of Type 2 Diabetes:
This type of diabetes can be caused by your cells becoming resistant to the action of insulin causing your pancreas to be unable to produce enough insulin to overcome the resistance. Instead of the sugar moving into your cells, it builds up in your blood. Being overweight is strongly linked to type 2 diabetes, but that is not always the case.
Cause of Gestational Diabetes:
During pregnancy, the placenta produces certain hormones to sustain your pregnancy which causes your cells to be more resistant to insulin. With gestational diabetes, your pancreas can't keep up with producing enough extra insulin to overcome the resistance, so not a lot of glucose gets into your cells which means too much stays in your blood.
Although type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes can by living a healthy lifestyle.
To live a healthy lifestyle:
- Eat healthy food
- Choose foods lower in fat and calories and higher in fiber.
- Choose more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well as staying hydrated with water.
- Increase physical activity
- Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. This can include going on a brisk walk, riding bike, swimming laps etc.
If you have reason to believe that you or a family member may have diabetes, make an appointment with your doctor.