How to Prevent Diabetes
With the season changing and the holidays quickly approaching, we might find ourselves thinking more about self-care and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle amid the stress of keeping up with our traditions. In a post-pandemic world wherein holidays with our loved ones are more precious than ever, it’s only natural to reflect on our health and that of our friends and families. One opportunity for such reflection is November’s Diabetes Awareness Month.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is best defined as a chronic health condition that affects how the body converts food to energy. Typically, the body breaks down most food into glucose (sugar) and releases it into the bloodstream. When blood sugar rises in our bodies, our pancreas releases insulin, which allows blood sugar into cells to be used as energy. However, when you have diabetes, your body is insulin deficient or can’t use it well. Without enough insulin, or when the cells stop responding to insulin, the body accumulates too much sugar in the bloodstream. Over time, this has urgent consequences on a person’s health which may lead to loss, kidney disease, or even heart disease.
According to the CDC, there are three types of Diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational. Education about the different types, risk factors, and care involved with each is incredibly important. Thus, the value of Diabetes Awareness Month 2022 cannot be overstated; according to the CDC, roughly 1.4 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed among people ages 18 and older in 2019. With increasing diagnoses, the rising costs of insulin, and the risk this disease presents to our mortality, it is more important than ever to educate ourselves and our communities through engaging in diabetes awareness month ideas and activities.
Am I at risk for Diabetes?
Between 90-95% of people with a diabetes diagnosis have Type 2 Diabetes which usually develops over many years. It is most often diagnosed in adults, though the condition is known to affect children, teens, and the elderly as well. Surprisingly, with type 2 diabetes, one may not notice any symptoms. According to the CDC, Type 1 Diabetes is thought to be caused by an autoimmune reaction, and Gestational Diabetes develops in pregnant women.
During Diabetes Awareness Month, activities centered on our health can help us alleviate some of our anxieties about the risk factors of the condition. Recent research from the CDC states that more than 1 in 3 U.S. Adults have a condition known as Prediabetes; however, most people with this condition are not aware that they have it. Prediabetes is a medical issue in which a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than average, but not yet high enough for a proper diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. Thus, one self-care action we might pursue during this month, in the interest of our health and wellness, is to take a 2-minute Prediabetes risk test, offered by the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/prediabetes/takethetest/.
Completing this test may inspire us to change our habits and improve our health. If we discover that we are, in fact, prediabetic, there are many positive and accessible steps we can take to prevent or delay the condition. One step might be getting in touch with a registered dietician to begin a diabetes prevention diet: studies show even 5% weight loss can dramatically reduce people’s risk for developing Type 2 diabetes—by as much as 58%, according to HopkinsMed.org.
Can Diabetes be prevented?
At this time, prevention is unknown for Type 1 and Gestational Diabetes; however, Type 2 can be treated, delayed, and fortunately, prevented with the correct interventions.
If you are at risk for Diabetes, seek out support offered in our community. One popular community resource is EA Therapeutic Health. EA is an organization working at the local level to increase community health and well-being with a firm belief that Exercise is Medicine as advocated for by the American College of Sports Medicine. Their experienced health coaches will help set you up for success with increased physical activity and exercise, education and encouragement for healthy eating, and the development of plans for lifestyle changes to increase wellness and promote movement. Working with a specialist at EA can help you increase your physical health, achieve healthy weight loss, and assist you in making life changes that increase your vitality and improve your overall health and quality of life.
Although diabetes cannot be cured, we do not have to respond to it with dread and doubt: Diabetes Awareness Month is a valuable opportunity to have hopeful and helpful conversations about a significant yet often overlooked condition. With a little awareness, it becomes easier to open up about this condition and its prevalence to friends and loved ones. During Diabetes Awareness Month 2022, educating ourselves about our own health is the first step to creating valuable dialogues within our communities that help us focus on the importance of diabetes prevention.
To learn more about EA Therapeutic Health, check out our website or call 507-259-7570.