Diabetes continues to play a big role in the health of our nation. Over 29 million Americans have Diabetes. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 21 million are diagnosed but another 8.1 million have diabetes but do not know it! There are 86 million Americans that have a condition known as Pre-Diabetes. This is when blood sugar levels are above normal levels but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. To make matters worse, about 90% of those with Pre-Diabetes do not know they have it. Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes are a concern. Having one of those conditions can significantly increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. It is important to find out if you are at risk for Diabetes or Pre-Diabetes. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing it. Remember, there are two types of Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is when the body does not produce any insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps to take blood sugar from the blood stream into the cells to be used for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar levels will continue to rise. Type 1 Diabetes accounts for about 5% of the population that has diabetes. It is thought to be an auto-immune response that causes a destruction of the cells in the pancreas that produces insulin. Because of this destruction of cells, a person with Type 1 Diabetes MUST take insulin to live.
Type 2 Diabetes, is often considered a “lifestyle” disease. The most common type of diabetes typically impacts those that are overweight or obese. As you can see in the slide from the CDC, obesity and diabetes are closely linked. As weight increases, your risk for Type 2 Diabetes will increase as well. There are studies being conducted right now trying to determine why this happens. It has been thought that the extra weight somehow inhibits the body from using insulin correctly. With Type 2 Diabetes, the body may be producing more than enough insulin to manage blood sugars. However, the body is resistant to those actions and blood sugar levels rise. To control blood sugar levels, people with Type 2 Diabetes may need pills or insulin. Diet and activity levels also play a vital role! The elevated levels of glucose and insulin in uncontrolled Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Weight loss, as little as 5-10% of current weight can make a big difference in lowering risk factors. That weight loss may be all that is needed to bring blood glucose levels back into a more normal range.
Regardless of the type of Diabetes a person may have, some things do not change. Proper nutrition and increased activity levels are the main components in any treatment plan! We know that making changes to reach those goals can seem difficult but taking time for yourself can make a big difference in your health outcomes. Small changes to start with can lead to bigger changes in the future. Stay focused on your goal, know your risk factors, visit your doctor, see a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator and do everything you can to to live a healthier life.
Stayed tuned during the month of November as we provide more information and tips to help keep you informed and aware during Diabetes Month!
It’s Your Health. It’s Your Life. Make That Change!