SAN DIEGO, Nov. 3, 2015 — Diabetes comes to the fore each year throughout the month of November with National Diabetes Awareness Month.
There are approximately 30 million Americans of all ages living with a diabetes diagnosis.
The health care costs associated with treating diabetes are approximately $245 million each year, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects the body’s ability to produce normal levels of the hormone insulin–negatively affecting the ability of the body to properly metabolize food into energy.
The normally functioning human body metabolizes sugars and carbohydrates consumed in foods and stimulates the production of glucose, which is then converted into energy.
Human cells require insulin in order to convert glucose into energy; otherwise, non-metabolized glucose builds-up in the bloodstream.
Abnormally high levels of glucose in the blood will negatively affect the vascular system and vital organs, over time creating diseases and illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, nerve damage, loss of limbs, strokes and more, if left undiagnosed and untreated.
According to WebMD, there are three major types of diabetes:
- Diabetes Type 1
- Diabetes Type 2
- Gestational diabetes
There are major risk factors associated with developing diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Being age 45 or older
- Being overweight
- Having a family history of diabetes
- Coming from the following family backgrounds: African-American, Hispanic/Latino, American-Indian, Asian-American or Pacific Islander
- Having diabetes while pregnant (gestational diabetes)
- Giving birth to a baby weighing nine pounds or more
The CDC estimates that two out of every five Americans will likely develop Type 2 diabetes during their lifetime; approximately one in three adults (86 million) has prediabetes.
The American Diabetes Association is promoting a healthy lifestyle throughout November through their Eat Well, America initiative.
Eat Well, America is based on the premise that enjoying good food while making healthy choices is a critical component of diabetes prevention or treatment.
Building a healthier plate is their recommendation, and the following foods are encouraged:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean cuts of fresh meat and seafood
- Low-fat dairy products
- Whole grain breads and cereal
- Foods labeled sugar-free, diabetic or dietetic
Making small food choice changes now will lead to even bigger ones later.
Could you have prediabetes? Take the following quiz to predict the overall risk for developing diabetes.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Prediabetes Screening Test
- Take the test online: http://www.cdc.gov/widgets/Prediabetes/html5/iframe.html
- Download and print out: http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/prediabetestest.pdf (pdf-758KB)
Remember to consult a qualified health care provider and discuss family history, symptoms or any concerns to better assess any risk factors for developing diabetes–and what medical treatments might be available if it is diagnosed.
Considering that one out of every five U.S. health care dollars is spent caring for persons who are diagnosed with diabetes, there is simply no incentive for becoming yet another statistic.
Choosing to be healthy is simply a matter of beginning to make positive lifestyle changes today. Those changes will have long-term benefits of greater overall health and well-being and the real possibility of living free from diabetes.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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