7 Facts You Need to Know about Diabetes
By Claire Kowalchik
Odds are one in three people in the United States will develop diabetes in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s a statistic. The odds could drop to one in four, one in five, or lower if everyone took the right steps toward healthier living. It all starts with understanding diabetes and learning what steps to take. Knowledge is power. Boost your power with these 7 facts.
1. The most common form of diabetes is type 2.
It develops when your body’s ability to use insulin becomes impaired. Insulin is the hormone that helps move glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream into your cells where it’s used to produce energy. When those cells become insulin resistant—meaning they don’t respond to insulin as they should—and your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to overcome that resistance, glucose builds up in your bloodstream.
2. It’s a case of too much of a good thing.
Glucose, or blood sugar, is a good thing. It’s your body’s primary source of energy, but when there’s too much in your bloodstream, it can damage blood vessels, nerves, and organs and over time lead to serious complications. This is why you want to catch this disease early and take care of it immediately.
3. Lifestyle is often the root cause.
Being overweight and sedentary can be significant factors in the development of type 2 diabetes. Excess weight and lack of physical activity can lead to insulin resistance. You can help prevent diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Find an activity you enjoy and that fits easily into your schedule so that you’ll keep doing it. If you need to drop extra pounds, choose a weight loss plan like Jenny Craig, which emphasizes portion control, good nutrition and plenty of produce intake.
4. Metabolic syndrome can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions common among people who are insulin resistant. These include higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, a large waist measurement due to excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, plus abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. If you have metabolic syndrome you should be working closely with your primary care physician to treat these issues.
5. More than 1 in 3 people in the United States have prediabetes.
Prediabetes is defined as having high blood sugar but not at the level that meets the diagnosis for diabetes. Of those people who have prediabetes, 15 to 30 percent will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years if they don’t take action to prevent it through diet and exercise. The CDC website offers a 7-question quiz to help you assess your risk.
6. You can reverse prediabetes.
A large study known as the Diabetes Prevention Program, involving more than 3,000 people with prediabetes, found that those who dropped their weight by 7 percent and got 150 minutes of physical activity each week reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent! Weight loss and exercise can even bring sugar levels back to normal without medication.
7. If you have diabetes, you can keep it under control.
There isn’t a cure for diabetes, but you can take the steps necessary to manage this disease and prevent its complications. Once you’ve been diagnosed, you’ll work with your doctor, diabetes educator, a dietitian, pharmacist, and possibly other specialists as needed to develop the best treatment plan for you. You and your team will focus on controlling your blood sugar as well as maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels to prevent further complications of cardiovascular disease. Stay committed to your plan--to taking your medications as prescribed, eating healthfully, getting physical activity regularly, and losing weight through your Jenny Craig program. You are the most important person in your diabetes care. Control your diabetes and you control the quality of your life. Success depends on you.