To Your Health!
Understanding the Danger of Diabetes
By Liya Moges
Approximately 37 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, which means statistically that about every 1 in 10 people have been diagnosed. It is also said that within this range that about 1 in 5 people with diabetes are unaware of their diagnoses. In our current society, diabetes is a long-standing health condition, and while there are currently no known cures for it, there have been major improvements in preventing the diagnoses for those who have entered the prediabetic stage.
What is Diabetes?
According to the CDC, diabetes is a chronic and long-lasting health condition that affects the way your body turns food into energy. When we eat, our body breaks down the food into sugar, which is also known as glucose, and releases it into our bloodstream. When the amount of sugar increases in our blood it signals our pancreas to release insulin, which acts as a key to let the sugar in our blood be used as energy. So, when a person is diagnosed with diabetes, it means that the body does not make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin as well as it should, which results in an increased amount of sugar that stays in your bloodstream. Having too much blood sugar content can cause serious health problems that follow in the long term perspective such as heart disease or kidney disease.
Prevention at the Pre-diabetic stage
If your healthcare provider as informed you that you or a loved one are bordering the line of diabetes, or pre-diabetic, this means that you (or your loved one) are at the stage before diabetes has been diagnosed, meaning the blood sugar content in the body is high, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. At this stage, progressing from prediabetes to diabetes is likely, however it is possible with some lifestyle changes to avoid or reduce the risk of becoming diabetic.
Some lifestyle changes to note are the following:
Cut out sugars and carbohydrates from your diet. Foods that contain refined or “simple” carbohydrates and sugars inevitably increases the blood sugar and insulin levels in your body, which can lead to diabetes over time. Things such as white bread, potatoes, pasta, white rice, and a lot of breakfast cereals contain these refined carbs and sugars. By making a switch to foods that are whole-grain, you can reduce the risk of increasing blood glucose levels since whole-grain does not affect blood glucose as quickly as refined carbohydrates do.
Be mindful of food portions. By avoiding large food portion sizes, you can reduce insulin and blood sugar levels in your body and decrease the risk of getting diabetes. Eating a lot of food all at once has proven to cause higher insulin and blood sugar levels, so by being mindful of your portion size you are giving your body the chance to digest your food intake at the pace it needs to.
Exercise using the 30-minute rule. Being active is a key ingredient to preventing many health conditions! Participating in any activities that get your heart rate up like walking, dancing, jogging, yoga, swimming, and Zumba for just 30 minutes a day helps the body be more sensitive to insulin, which in turn helps manages your risk of incurring diabetes.
Be intentional with the food you eat. At the stage of prediabetes, it is important that you are intentional and selective about what you eat. Implementing certain food groups such as Fibers in your diet can be very crucial and important in managing and preventing diabetes in the long run. Fiber helps with blood sugar control as well as weight management and can help reduce the risk of other diseases such as heart disease that may be brought about alongside diabetes.
Diabetes and the Future of treatments
If you or a loved one has already been diagnosed with diabetes, then it is likely that you(r) healthcare provider has already prescribed some oral medications, insulin, or some other injected medicines. The treatment type usually differs depending on whether a person is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes.
Currently, new advancements are being made to help healthcare providers be able to identify prediabetic markers in the body before the body can even reach the pre-diabetic state! New articles and research are being collected on the legacy effect of diabetes and are performing experiments to figure out how scientists can prevent immune cells from attacking insulin producing cells in the body. With the direction science is heading, it may be soon possible that more and more people with diabetes can be able to go into remission, meaning that the blood sugar levels may be able to return below the diabetic range, without needing to take any medications to do so.
Liya Moges is a passionate and dedicated junior studying Biomedical Science, Business, and Law at Georgia State University. She works at Emory University Hospital supporting nurses and physicians on a Complex Medicine floor and uses this opportunity to shadow different physicians in different specialties. In her goal to educate the public about health issues and equal access to care, Liya joined Today’s Patient to address topics such as health and wellness, public health, and diversity inclusion in medicine.
January 2023 page 2