Diabetes is a group of lifelong diseases in which blood glucose, or sugar, levels are too high because the body can’t make or appropriately use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use or store glucose.
Type 1 Diabetes:
Type 1, which can’t be prevented, occurs when the body stops making insulin. To survive, people with this type need insulin therapy. Type 1 is most often diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults.
Type 2 Diabetes:
This type, which can be prevented, is the most common. People with this type do make insulin, but their bodies don’t make enough or don’t respond well to it. Type 2 is most often managed through lifestyle changes and oral medication. Insulin may be added after the pancreas gradually loses the ability to produce insulin.
The 57 million Americans who have prediabetes have higher than normal blood glucose, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Within 10 years, many people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes.
But there is good news: A healthy lifestyle can help the body better use glucose so it doesn’t build up in the blood. Research shows that people with prediabetes can lower their risk for type 2 diabetes by more than half when they lose 5 to 10 percent of their body weight by exercising and eating right.
Check out the At-Risk Weight Chart – if you weigh the same as or more than the weight listed across from your height, you may be at risk for or already have prediabetes or diabetes.
|At-Risk Weight Chart
Small steps do add up! You don’t need special foods or a Pro-Athlete-like regimen to make a difference. You can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes or delay its onset by making some sensible adjustments.
First, eat better. Fine-tuning your eating habits helps cut calories and fat. Use some of the following strategies for a healthier meal:
- Replace some of the meat in your diet with a variety of vegetables and whole grains.
- Replace desserts and snacks with fresh fruit.
- Compare food labels and choose alternatives that are lower in calories, fat, and sugar, such as nonfat milk instead of 2 percent.
- Use smaller plates to help shrink your portion sizes.
- Split large restaurant portions with a friend or take half home.
Get fit and pump up your activity level with these tips:
- Walk every chance you get – to work or on errands, with co-workers during a break, and before or after dinner.
- Socialize with family and friends by being active together. Ride bikes, play soccer or basketball, etc.
- Do housework and yard work with vigor.
- Break exercise into 10 minute segments to fit into your schedule.
- If you’ve been inactive, begin by getting your doctor’s advice about what and how much to do.
Choose one action you can take today to start reducing your risk. Setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals can help you move gradually toward a healthier lifestyle.
Gestational diabetes is the form of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. It can cause many problems, from high blood pressure to delivery complications. The good news is that both mother and baby can often be healthy by having the mother follow a special meal plan and be physically active.
Without treatment, gestational diabetes carries some serious risks, including high blood pressure and sudden high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) in the mother. Also, mothers with gestational diabetes tend to give birth to babies so large that the mother must have a cesarean section. The infant is also at an increased risk for breathing and blood glucose problems after birth.
Many women with gestational diabetes can keep their blood glucose under control by adopting healthy eating and exercise patterns. Some also need testing and insulin injections to control their blood glucose. Work with your diabetes educator to design a plan to keep your blood glucose levels in the target range. Many plans recommend that you:
- Eat three small meals and one to three snacks a day.
- Count your carbohydrates. Your meal plan should tell you when and how many to have at meals and snacks.
- Limit sweets.
- Try to be active for 30 minutes or more, at least five days a week. Walking and swimming are good activities for pregnant women.
Although gestational diabetes often disappears after delivery, those with the condition have an increased risk of developing it again in a future pregnancy and type 2 diabetes later in life. Getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, and being active 30 minutes a day on most days of the week are important preventative steps.
These days, lots of kids – many who are overweight and inactive – are developing type 2 diabetes, putting them at risk for complications like early heart disease. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that can help prevent childhood obesity, staving off diabetes as well as many other health problems:
- Parents should lead by example: Eat healthy and be active.
- Dine together: Regular family meals can foster healthy eating habits. Research also shows that kids whose families eat together get more fruits and vegetables, have improved self-esteem, better grades, and are less likely to smoke, drink, use drugs, or get into fights.
- Encourage exercise: Kids need at least one hour of physical activity every day.
- Ask for help. If you think your child is overweight, talk with his or her doctor.
- Know the symptoms. People with type 2 diabetes often don’t have symptoms, but see the doctor right away if your child shows signs of frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, blurred vision, fatigue, nausea, excessive thirst, or cuts and bruises that are slow to heal.
Kids who’ve been diagnosed with diabetes may feel emotional, stressed, or left out. A little parental support can go a long way. Here’s how you can help:
- Cook the same healthy foods for the whole family.
- Plan family walks to help kids get 60 minutes of exercise a day.
- Give teens some space once they’ve shown they can keep their glucose under control.
If you have diabetes, you need to keep up with several tests during the year to find out how your glucose levels are affecting your overall health. The American Diabetes Association has created a Checkup Checklist to keep track of all the tests you need and how often you need them.
If you have diabetes, you need to keep up with several tests during the year to find out how your glucose levels are affecting your overall health. The American Diabetes Association’s has created a Checkup Checklist to keep track of all the tests you need and how often you need them.
The American Diabetes Association recommends the following for adults with diabetes:
A1C Test (estimated average blood glucose): at least twice a year. If your treatment has changed or you’re not achieving your blood glucose goals, up to four times a year.
Dental Visits: twice a year
Annual Tests, Shots, and Visits:
- Flu vaccine
- Fasting lipid Profile (cholesterol and triglycerides)
- Urine Albumin Excretion (kidney function)
- Serum Creatinine (kidney function)
- Dilated Eye Exam
- Food exam including neuropathy testing with monofilament.
Other Screenings and Vaccinations:
- PAD (peripheral arterial disease) screening for those at risk
- PPV (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine) A one-time vaccine for most, but people over 65 will need to get it again.
Immunization is crucial for diabetic patients. Catching the flu is never fun, but people with diabetes have a higher risk for serious complications, such as pneumonia and even death. Help protect yourself by getting a yearly flu shot. And get a pneumonia shot if you haven’t already – one shot usually protects you for life!
Know your Diabetes ABC’s. Keeping your ABC’s on target helps lower your risk of heart disease.
A: A1C level – your average blood glucose for the past two to three months – should be less than 7 *
B: Blood pressure is best below 130/80*
C: Cholesterol level – the bad type, LDL – should be no higher than 100*
*(individual targets may vary)
For people with diabetes, food, activity, and stress can cause glucose levels to change throughout the day. Watching your glucose level closely can help you avoid hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).
When your glucose level is too high too often, it can lead to problems with your kidneys, heart, eyes, and nerves. Frequent checks can help prevent damage to these parts of the body.
Many people do daily glucose checks before and after meals and at bedtime. Your doctor will help you find the best routine for you.
The American Diabetes Association Blood Glucose Targets:
- Before meals: 70-130 mg/dL
- Two hours after meals: below 180 mg/dL
If you have diabetes, you need an A1C test at least twice a year to give you a picture of your average blood glucose control for the past two to three months. This helps you see how well your treatment plan is working.
Using the chart below, see how your A1C compares with your estimated average glucose (eAG), a new format for giving A1C results in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). This is the same format you see when you check your glucose level with a meter.
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