November is National Diabetes Month

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Diego Ponieman, M.D., M.P.H.

by Diego Ponieman M.D., M.P.H.

Millions of people around the world live with diabetes or know someone living with diabetes. Regardless of the type, diabetes isn’t a curable disease yet. However, it is a very treatable disease and easily preventable.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. And without enough insulin, blood sugar stays in your bloodstream, which at a certain level, can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

 

There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1: Due to the body’s allergy-like reaction that stops it from making insulin. If you have type 1 diabetes, you’ll need to take insulin every day.
  • Type 2: Your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. You may not notice any symptoms, so it’s important to get your blood sugar tested if you’re at risk. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, healthy eating, and getting regular physical activity.
  • Gestational diabetes: Develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. It usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk of type 2 diabetes later in life. Your baby is also more likely to become obese as a child or teen and develop type 2 diabetes later.

 

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, it is important to be mindful of certain lifestyle habits to ensure you maintain the best health possible.

  • Eat Well: Work with your doctor or dietitian to make a meal plan for you. You will need to choose healthier foods – a variety of vegetable and fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy foods, lean meats, and other proteins and learn to watch your portion sizes.
  • Get Active: Physical activity is very important for people with diabetes. You should aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity.
  • Be Prepared: In the case of an emergency or natural disaster, people with diabetes must be especially mindful of their health. Should a situation occur, you should identify yourself as being diabetic, so you can receive the care you need. You should also stay hydrated, have something containing sugar on hand in case your blood glucose gets too low, and seek medical treatment if you have any wounds to prevent infections.

While there is no cure for diabetes, by visiting your doctor regularly, balancing the food you eat, maintaining an active lifestyle, taking medicine as needed, and staying prepared, you can greatly reduce its impact on your life.

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