NOVEMBER IS TIME TO BRING ATTENTION TO DIABETES AND REDUCE YOUR RISK
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 34.2 million people in the United States have diabetes, with an estimated 7 million undiagnosed. The increasing prevalence of obesity in the country is contributing to the rising incidences of the disease. Learning more about diabetes is key in understanding the lifestyle changes that can help lower your risk. Take the “60-Second Diabetes Risk Test” on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) website. Share the information you learn to help spread diabetes awareness this month.
WHAT IS DIABETES?
Diabetes is actually a group of diseases in which the body does not process food properly. It is a condition where sugar or glucose from the foods we eat is unable to be used for energy. This can be from a lack of insulin or the inability of insulin to do its job.
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas. It works to move glucose into cells for use as energy. Without adequate insulin, glucose stays in the blood. Elevated blood glucose is a serious health risk affecting your eyes, kidneys, and nervous system as well as contributing to heart disease.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes vary with the individual. The more common symptoms are excess thirst, excess hunger, and frequent urination. Some experience unplanned weight loss and fatigue or slow- healing wounds. Some don’t notice any symptoms at all.
There are four types of diabetes. These are prediabetes, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
TYPES OF DIABETES
Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugars are higher than normal, but not quite high enough to meet the criteria for diabetes. Your body still makes insulin, however, it is not well utilized. This is called insulinresistance.
Prediabetes may be asymptomatic, and therefore not diagnosed timely. The ADA recommends screening adults at age 45, or earlier when coupled with any of these additional risk factors:
-Family history; a parent, brother or sister with diabetes.
-High blood pressure.
-High cholesterol and triglycerides.
If you have prediabetes you are at a higher risk for developing diabetes and heart disease. However, prediabetes is largely preventable and fortunately, with diet and lifestyle changes, not everyone with pre- diabetes will develop diabetes.
TYPE 1 DIABETES
With type 1 diabetes, the pancreas has slowed or stopped producing insulin. As of now, there is no way to prevent it. Possible causes may be environmental or genetic as well as an auto-immune response by the body. The primary risk factor is a close family member with type 1 diabetes. And, although it can strike at any time, it is commonly diagnosed in children or young adults.
People with type 1 diabetes must receive insulin therapy and maintain close monitoring of their blood sugar levels. In addition, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise is essential for meeting blood sugar goals and avoiding complications.
TYPE 2 DIABETES
Similar to prediabetes, with type 2 diabetes, your pancreas still produces insulin. However, your body does not or can not use the insulin properly, resulting in insulin resistance.
To keep up with elevated blood sugar levels, your body keeps pumping out insulin but eventually can’t keep up, leading to type 2 diabetes.
You are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes if you:
-Are overweight, especially with excess fat around the waist.
-Have a family history of diabetes
-Are over 45 years of age.
Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or avoided by losing weight and getting regular physical exercise.
Gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy. Blood sugar is measured toward the end of the second trimester with a glucose challenge test. The exact cause of gestational diabetes is unknown but may be due to hormone-related insulin resistance.
Risk factors include:
-A previous pregnancy with gestational diabetes
-Having a family history of type 2 diabetes
-Advanced maternal age
-Having polycystic ovary syndrome.
The treatment goal is maintaining good blood sugar control for the health of the mother and baby. This includes careful meal planning, regular exercise, blood sugar testing, and insulin injections.
Gestational diabetes usually resolves after giving birth. However, it increases the risk for both mother and baby for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
When diagnosing diabetes, health professionals consider both blood test results and risk factors. The most common tests are fasting plasma glucose and Glycated hemoglobin (A1C). Random plasma glucose may be ordered when symptoms are present.
Fasting plasma glucose (FPG)
A fasting glucose level is drawn after not eating or drinking for at least 8 hours. The result measures your blood sugar level at that moment in time.
The normal fasting blood glucose level is below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl).
In prediabetes, glucose levels range from 100-125 mg/dl.
For a diagnosis of diabetes, fasting glucose levels are greater than 126 mg/dl.
Glycated hemoglobin (A1C)
For the A1C test, you do not need to be fasting. This test measures your average blood sugar level over the past three months.
The normal A1C level is below 5.7%.
In prediabetes, A1C levels range between 5.7% and 6.4%.
In diabetes, the A1C level is at or over 6.5%.
Random plasma glucose (RPG)
Random plasma glucose is drawn at any time regardless of meals. This test is usually done when symptoms of diabetes are present and the health professional does not want to wait.
Random glucose of 200 mg/dl or higher suggests diabetes.
REDUCE YOUR DIABETES RISK WITH DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES
MODIFY YOUR DIET
A healthy diet is important for lowering diabetes risk. A diet rich in plant foods, low in saturated fats, and high in fiber is best.
-Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables. (salads, carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, or peppers)
-One quarter should include a lean protein (chicken, fish, tofu, skim cheese, eggs, quinoa)
-In one quarter add a high fiber starch (whole wheat grains, oatmeal, legumes, brown rice, corn, winter squash, potatoes, fresh fruit)
-Limit and choose healthier fats (avocado and olive oil)
-Avoid highly processed and refined foods (deli meats, bakery products, chips and fast food).
-Bypass foods with added and hidden sugars (read labels and look for high fructose corn syrup, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and molasses).
-Eat more meals at home.
MAKE THESE LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Losing weight can have a large impact on managing your blood sugars and lowering your risk of developing diabetes. Research finds people with type 2 diabetes have improved blood sugar control when they lost as little as 2% of their body weight.
Try these tips to start losing weight:
-Avoid mindless eating.
-Sit down at meals and eat slowly.
-Keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat increases your awareness.
-Reduce portions. Use a smaller plate and avoid second helpings.
Inactivity and extended sedentary time is associated with poorer blood sugar control and obesity. Studies have found that physical activity can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by between 47% and 58% in high-risk groups.
The ADA recommends:
-Get up and move at least every 30 minutes, reduce periods of prolonged sitting.
-Exercise regularly; 30 minutes per day, at least 5 days per week.
-Include aerobic (walking, cycling, jogging, and swimming), resistance (free weights, or weight machines), and flexibility or balance (yoga) exercises.
Avoid smoking and limit alcohol
Tobacco use may promote insulin resistance. According to the CDC, “people who smoke cigarettes are 30%–40% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who don’t smoke”.
THE BOTTOM LINE ON UNDERSTANDING YOUR DIABETES RISK
Diabetes is a serious and chronic disease. Elevated blood glucose is a far-reaching health risk affecting your eyes, kidneys, and nervous system as well as delaying wound healing and contributing to heart disease and stroke.
Know your risk factors. Learn the symptoms to look for and talk to your health professional about screening for diabetes. Being proactive and taking charge of your health can delay or even avoid the onset of diabetes.
If you would like more information on lowering your risk of diabetes with diet and lifestyle changes, make an appointment with one of our experienced registered dietitians. They can answer your questions and help devise a plan that works for you. Call today 240-449-3094