November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. This is when we bring attention to those who battle this disease every day. Today, diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions, not only in the United States but around the world. According to the CDC, it is estimated that over 30 million people suffer, the majority of which have type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 is caused when the immune system destroys the cells that make insulin called pancreatic beta cells. Insulin is the hormone that controls blood sugar. People who have type 1 diabetes require regular injections in order to control their insulin levels.
Type 2 Diabetes
The other type of diabetes that currently affects 90 to 95 percent of diagnosed cases is type 2 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness with more children and adolescents being diagnosed each day. It is expected that type 2 diabetes will rise by nearly 165 percent by 2050 and that one in three Americans will eventually develop diabetes. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called the rise in diabetes “alarming”. Many others have used the term “epidemic”.
Many People Don’t Even Know They Have Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of heart disease, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and early death. Unfortunately, it is estimated that almost one-quarter of sufferers don’t even realize that they have the disease. It is also estimated that one in three have what is known as “pre-diabetes” where blood sugar is elevated but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetic. Without lifestyle intervention, pre-diabetes can develop into type 2 diabetes within 5 years in 15 to 30 percent of cases.
Lifestyle Ways to Manage Type 2 Diabetes
The good news is that we already are aware of the most effective ways to prevent and deal with type 2 diabetes with lifestyle changes. These include:
- Diet – A healthy diet including fruits and vegetable, whole grains, nuts, beans, lean meats, and low-fat or fat-free dairy are advised. Processed foods, fast foods, and those high in refined sugars should be avoided.
- Weight loss – Losing weight is important to improve sugar levels and keep type 2 diabetes under control. Abdominal fat, in particular, tends to increase insulin resistance.
- Regular exercise – Physical activity causes muscle contractions that push glucose out of the blood into the cells. High-intensity interval training is cited as one of the best forms of exercise when trying to manage blood sugar levels
- Control sleep apnea – Those who have type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea are at a greater risk of developing diabetes complications.
- Manage stress – poorly managed stress can often make blood sugar difficult to control.
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