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November is National Diabetes Month, and what’s a better time than the holiday season , with all the sugar-laden, high-carb treats, to bring awareness to diabetes and pre-diabetes. In the United States the CDC says 10.5% of the population lives with diabetes. That translates to about 34.2 million people. About 24.2 million people 65 years of age or older have prediabetes.
A quick breakdown: Diabetes has to do with blood glucose, sometimes referred to as blood sugar. Diabetes occurs when blood glucose is too high. Blood glucose is what gives the body energy, and it comes from the food we eat. The pancreas creates a hormone called Insulin. Insulin helps transfer the blood glucose from food to cells to be used for energy. If the pancreas does not create enough insulin, or any at all, glucose remains in the blood instead of being transferred to cells. Over time, high blood glucose will cause health problems.
There are a few different forms of diabetes, but Type 2 is the most common form. Although Type 2 diabetes can develop at any age, it most often occurs in middle-aged and older adults. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. The term pre-diabestes means that the blood glucose level in that individual is higher than normal, but not quite high enough to officially be considered diabetes. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that pre-diabetes is okay. Elevated blood glucose is a health threat that should never be taken lightly. There is not a cure for diabetes. However, there are lifestyle changes that can help manage diabetes and help prevent pre-diabetes from becoming diabetes.
What we can do with this knowledge: Remember that all forms of diabetes, even prediabetes, are serious. And, prediabetes (though serious) can be reversed or slowed with the right lifestyle changes. Smoking, being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all risk factors that contribute to diabetes.
Exercise is a simple and effective place to start. Even gentle exercise can make a difference. A walk around your block a few times a week, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, gentle stretches, breathing exercises, and walking around your yard can be a great place to start. Being mindful of the foods you eat, and drinking enough water each day will also make a positive impact on diabetes and overall health. What we eat can lower or elevate cholesterol and blood pressure. Talk with your healthcare providers about your diet. Learn what foods best support your individual health needs. Learn about your body. Talk to your doctor about any physical, mental or emotional changes you may be experiencing. They may be relevant in creating your best possible wellness plan.
Most importantly, do something. If you have unmanaged diabetes, prediabetes, or have been newly diagnosed, start to ask questions. Make a list of the risk factors you have and consider the changes you may need to make to improve your health. The worst thing you could do is ignore or put off your symptoms. They will not improve or go away without the proper care and attention.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.