Preventing diabetes starts with understanding diabetes
Often times there is a lot of confusion about diabetes…what is it? What are the different types? And what does it mean to be “living with diabetes”? With diabetes diagnosis in America increasing by 50% in the last decade, it is important to understand how diabetes can effect us all.
What is diabetes?
“Diabetes” is a metabolic disorder that leads to high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. This can be caused by a few different things:
- Your body does not produce insulin (Type 1 Diabetes)
- Your body makes insulin, but your cells can’t use the insulin (“insulin resistant”, known as Type 2 Diabetes)
- You are pregnant (Gestational Diabetes)
What is insulin?
Insulin is a hormone in your body that allows sugar to enter your cells. We get sugar from the foods we eat and beverages we drink. The sugar in our bodies is called “glucose“. Your body’s cells want to use glucose for energy, and insulin is the “key” that allows glucose to go into cells. Without insulin, glucose just floats around unused in your body, and your cells don’t get the energy they need. This is called “hyperglycemia”.
What is so bad about high levels of sugar in my blood?
The problem with high sugar levels in your body, or “hyperglycemia”, is that over a long period of time, hyperglycemia will cause damage to the tiny blood vessels that supply blood to your vital organs. This can lead to things like stroke, heart disease, vision problems, and nerve problems. When you are living with diabetes, your body is constantly trying to deal with having high levels of sugar in your blood.
Can I prevent diabetes?
That depends on the type of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes occurs because your body is unable to make insulin. Doctors don’t know exactly why this happens in some people, but they believe it may be in part from genetics, and in part from environmental triggers. It is typically diagnosed before the age of 20 (although it can occur at any age). It is rare, and has no cure, but can be managed with a careful diet and insulin medication. Only about 10% of all diabetics are Type 1.
Type 2 diabetes might be preventable with life style changes. Type 2 diabetes occurs because your cells stop being able to use insulin (insulin resistance). This can happen because of genetics, and/or lifestyle choices (poor diet, foods high in sugar, little or no exercise). Type 2 diabetes might be preventable and/or managed through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Diabetes Fast Facts
From the American Diabetes Association
- Having diabetes can double your chance of having a heart attack.
- Being overweight is a risk factor for developing diabetes, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age may also play a role.
- Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can’t be caught like a cold or flu. There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle factors also play a part.
Chapa-De is here to answer all your questions about diabetes prevention and management. Our Diabetes Wellness Program specializes in helping you achieve your goals for health. Chapa-De’s Diabetes Case Managers are here to help you manage your diabetes and wellness through self-management education and support! CONTACT US today to learn more.
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