Diabetes Awareness Month: November
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Diabetes affects over 37 million Americans.
The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes.
The direct cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown, but certain diet and lifestyle choices usually precede a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider may want to check your blood glucose levels this November if you’re overdue for a screening. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and understanding how your blood sugar levels affect your probability of becoming diabetic can help you make necessary lifestyle changes to stay healthy.
How Does Blood Sugar Work?
When you consume certain foods, like carbohydrates, they break down into glucose. Glucose is essential for your cells to carry out cellular processes. When glucose goes into the blood, the spike in your blood sugar levels triggers your pancreas to produce insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that removes glucose from the blood and delivers it to your cells. Excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, which can be converted to glucose later. Glucose may also be stored in fatty tissue.
When a person has diabetes, their pancreas either cannot produce enough insulin to keep up with the amount of glucose in their blood, or their cells have become resistant to the insulin the pancreas makes. In a type 2 diabetic, both can be true.
What Are the Different Types of Diabetes?
There are three main types of diabetes, along with prediabetes. Understanding each is important to understand your risk factors, as some may be genetic.
Type 1 Diabetes
In Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disorder, the body incorrectly attacks the pancreas, so it cannot produce insulin. Someone with type 1 diabetes is also referred to as insulin-dependent because they will rely on insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar.
Type 2 Diabetes
The most common form of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs over time and is usually diagnosed in adulthood, although this has changed in recent years.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin to remove the glucose from your blood and when the cells become resistant to insulin and do not take in enough glucose.
Type 2 diabetes increases your risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other negative health conditions.
Gestational diabetes is a condition that is diagnosed in pregnant women who did not have diabetes before becoming pregnant. This condition is thought to occur because of hormonal changes.
During pregnancy, the placenta operates like a fully functioning endocrine organ. The hormones it releases can cause excess glucose to be stored in the blood.
If the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to remove the glucose from the blood, or if the cells become resistant to the insulin produced, gestational diabetes may occur.
The American Diabetes Association recognizes prediabetes as a reversible condition. A person is said to have prediabetes when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not at diabetic levels.
Being a prediabetic means your type 2 diabetes risk is higher, but lifestyle changes like weight loss, dietary changes, and becoming more active can help you avoid developing diabetes.
Can I Prevent Diabetes?
Because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, there’s no way to prevent it from occurring. Type 2 diabetes, however, is preventable through diabetes education that includes healthy eating, regular check-ups, and physical activity.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Obesity and inactivity are often precursors to a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Obesity is defined as having a BMI higher than 30.
If you are overweight, adopt a healthy living plan that helps you reach your goal weight. A health care professional, like a dietician or weight loss coach, could be beneficial if you have trouble losing pounds.
Adopt a Healthy Diet
Part of diabetes care and diabetes prevention is adopting a healthy diet. Making every calorie count by choosing nourishing foods helps reduce your risk of gaining weight and can fuel a more active lifestyle.
Making sure you get the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity can be challenging, but breaking it down into manageable increments makes it easier to fit into your already busy life.
National Diabetes Awareness Month is the perfect time to encourage your loved ones to go for a walk, try a new outdoor activity, or even play a sport. Movement can help you avoid unhealthy blood sugar levels.
There’s no need to wait for World Diabetes Day, which is November 14, to start. Make an appointment with your doctor for a risk test to determine if you have an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Knowing your numbers can help you make healthier choices and avoid developing diabetes or prediabetes. Here’s to your health!
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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