Some Truths About Diabetes

So I’ve been seeing a lot in the news lately on diabetes and the (sometimes) confusion over what Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is. Since I’m about promoting health, wellness, and being fit I think it’s really important for people to understand and be educated on the types, how they develop and more importantly, are you at risk ?

Understanding it can be crucial to your overall health or someone you love.

Type 1 (formerly called juvenile onset) accounts for 5-10 people out of 100 who have diabetes.  Symptoms usually start in childhood or young adulthood. Medical care is often sought when individuals become seriously ill from sudden symptoms of high blood sugar. Episodes of low blood sugar are often common.

It cannot be prevented.

Type 2 (formerly called adult onset  or non-insulin dependent diabetes) can develop at any age.  It commonly becomes apparent in adulthood although there is a rise in children. Type 2 accounts for the vast majority of diabetes. 90-95 out of 100 people will have it. The person may not have symptoms before diagnosis.  There are no episodes of low blood sugar unless the person is taking insulin or diabetes medicine.

It can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly and regular exercise.

Both types of diabetes greatly increase a persons risk for a range of serious complications.  Although managing and monitoring the disease can prevent complications it still remains the leading cause of blindness and kidney failure. It also is a critical risk factor for heart disease, stroke and amputations.

The biggest difference in the two ? One is not preventable.

The other? the individual has much control over as it is lifestyle driven… meaning the choices you make can determine whether or not you will develop it.

Being overweight, not exercising,  & eating poorly all contribute to the development of Type 2.

Ok… I am rather passionate about this particular disease… that people know and understand the serious import of it. My mother nearly died in 2001 with undiagnosed diabetes and had a blood sugar level of 960 when admitted at hospital.  Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a miracle she survived. However, great damage had already been done from years of neglect to her body.

Kidney disease, eye problems, wounds not healing, and ultimately, amputations of parts of her foot before she passed away last year were all things she dealt with. She had also undergone two kidney transplants that had not worked out and was on dialysis for the last few years of her life.

It is a silent, horrible and destructive disease. Living in denial does not stop the damage that occurs. Just because you might feel “ok” doesn’t mean that the disease isn’t damaging your organs and body in critical ways.

If you have diabetes it is so very important to check and manage your blood sugar levels.

I was recently talking to someone who acknowledged that they had  pre-diabetes and then laughingly said… “Oh, but I don’t really do what I’m supposed to or what my doctor says”

It took everything in me …. everything…. to not reach out… grab her by the shoulders… and shake her…. and grit out… “Do you know what you’re saying? Do you know what you’re doing to your body? Why aren’t you taking care of yourself ???”

No… I simply smiled and told her she really needed to take care of herself…  but silently struggled with wondering why someone would be so flippant with such a destructive disease.

Why? because like so many others she didn’t “see” anything going on and assumed it couldn’t be so bad.

Keep in mind there are a variety of risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes

  • Over weight or obese
  • Immediate family members with diabetes
  • African-American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian-American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander
  • High blood pressure 140/90 or above
  • HDL (good cholesterol) level below 35 mg/dl or a triglyceride  level above 250 mg/dl
  • Cardiovascular disease

Keep in mind that those stats…. 4 of those 6 risk factors are heavily influenced by lifestyle. Meaning you have a large level of control over not getting this disease if you take steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

We must be proactive in our own healthcare. To stay on a path of health and (hopefully) avoid this disease consider taking these steps.

  • Consult doctor and understand where your blood sugar level is. Know what your numbers are! Understand what normal is and see where yours line up.
  • If required get a home testing kit to check your blood sugar through the day.
  • If you are overweight, get started to drop a few pounds. A 10-15 lb loss can greatly change your numbers.
  • Get regular and frequent exercise 5 days a week.
  • Stop eating fast foods, sugars, processed or refined foods and stick to healthy nutritionally dense foods This will also help your cholesterol levels.

Taking small steps and using preventive care will go a long way to keeping you healthy for you and your family =)