November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease, and other health problems if it’s not controlled.
One in 10 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 30 million people. And another 84 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The good news? People who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their risk if they make healthy changes. Examples of healthy changes include eating healthy, getting more physical activity, and losing weight.
How can we make a difference?
We can use this month to raise awareness about diabetes risk factors, encourage people to make healthy changes, and take time to understand the different types of diabetes.
Understanding type 1:
Here’s what you need to know about type 1 diabetes. 1.25 million Americans have it and 40,000 people will be diagnosed with it this year. Type 1 diabetes occurs at every age, in people of every race, and of every shape and size. There is no shame in having it, and you have a community of people ready to support you. Learning as much as you can about it and working closely with your diabetes care team can give you everything you need to thrive.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the carbohydrates you eat into blood sugar that it uses for energy—and insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, everyone can learn to manage their condition and live long healthy lives.
Remember: this is a condition that can be managed. By living a healthy lifestyle filled with exercise and proper diet, you can live a normal life and do everything you set out to do.
Understanding type 2:
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes—and it means that your body doesn’t use insulin properly. And while some people can control their blood sugar levels with healthy eating and exercise, others may need medication or insulin to help manage it. Regardless, you have options—and tools, resources, and support to help you fight.
A key part of managing type 2 diabetes is maintaining a healthy diet. You need to eat something sustainable that helps you feel better and still makes you feel happy and fed. Remember, it’s a process. Work to find helpful tips and diet plans that best suit your lifestyle—and how you can make your nutritional intake work the hardest for you.
Fitness is another key to managing type 2. And the good news, all you have to do is get moving. The key is to find activities you love and do them as often as you can. No matter how fit you are, a little activity every day can help fight type 2 and put yourself in charge of your life.
Help spread the word:
- Encourage people to make small changes, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Talk to people in your community about getting regular checkups. They can get their blood pressure and cholesterol checked – and ask the doctor about their diabetes risk.
- Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by speaking about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity
- Know the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugars, in case a friend, family member, or co-worker experiences a high or low. This will help you feel more comfortable with helping them.
- Support friends, family, co-workers with diabetes – even if that is as simple as lending and ear to listen.