November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and we have some work to do.
In recent years, Type 2 diabetes has become a local, statewide and national problem. This disease affects men, women and children of all races and ethnicities. According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million Americans, both children and adults, live with diagnosed diabetes (Type 2 accounting for 90-95 percent of them). In fact, every 17 seconds someone is diagnosed with diabetes. And, this number doesn’t even account for the estimated over seven million Americans who have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed.
Statistics show that over 10 percent of Richmond County residents have diabetes and this number is only growing. Type 2 diabetes is associated with old age, obesity, family history, history of gestational diabetes, not being physically active and race/ethnicity. However, it is thought that the majority of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented by living a healthier lifestyle.
Diabetes is basically high levels of blood sugar resulting from insulin not being properly produced and/or used. Diabetes can lead to serious problems including eye trouble, kidney failure, nerve damage, amputation, heart disease, stroke, sexual problems and early death.
Fear not, though. Diabetes can be prevented and it simply starts with a healthier lifestyle. Some tips for decreasing the risk for diabetes include:
• Losing weight. It has been shown that people who lose just five to 10 percent of their body weight greatly reduce their risk.
• Regular physical activity. Research shows that both aerobic and resistance training can help control the risk for diabetes.
• Get plenty of fiber. Eating lots of fiber helps make you feel fuller longer, which helps to resist eating tons of refined sugars and fatty foods.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of diabetes can help prevent the disease from progressing, and it can help prevent damage to the body. Be on the look out for these signs and symptoms of diabetes:
• Increased thirst
• Increased hunger
• Fatigue or sleepiness
• Increased urination (especially at night)
• Sudden weight loss
• Sores that do not heal
Even though we cannot change our risks related to family origin, ethnicity or age, studies have shown that people who listen to the listed recommendations for prevention greatly reduce their risk for developing this disease and all of the complications that come along with it.
If you feel that you may be showing some of the signs or symptoms of diabetes, consult your doctor for a blood sugar test. For more information on diabetes or diet changes to help diabetes contact Sarah Mammarella, MS, RD, LDN at the Richmond Cooperative Extension 910-997-8255 or email@example.com.
— Sarah Mammarella, MS, RD, LDN is the Family & Consumer Sciences Agent at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension.