November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and we wanted to take this opportunity to support an increased awareness surrounding the global realities associated with diabetes. Our hope is to be a resource for you and your family by sharing important facts and helpful tips for diabetes prevention. Keep reading to learn more.
Did you know?
- There are approximately 199 million women living with diabetes, and the number is steadily increasing.
- It is predicted that by the year 2040, there will be more than 313 million women living with diabetes.
- Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally.
What is diabetes?
You may have heard of diabetes before but may not know exactly what it is or the different types that can occur. Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high.
Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Tweet This! Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps shuttle glucose into your cells to be used as energy. There are different variations of how this may look: your body may not make enough insulin, any insulin or use insulin well. When this happens, glucose cannot get into the cells where it’s desperately needed and becomes “trapped” in your blood.
It is estimated that 23.6 million people in the United States have diabetes, which is about 7.8 percent of the U.S. population. Tweet This!
At one time, Type 2 diabetes was thought to be “adult onset diabetes,” but it is now affecting children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes increased by 30 percent within the youth population between 2001 and 2009 alone. According to the World Health Organization, in 2014 there were about 422 million people living with diabetes globally. Tweet This!
There are three main types of diabetes:
- Type 1
- Type 2
- Gestational diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is sometimes referred to as juvenile diabetes because it is usually diagnosed relatively early in one’s childhood. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin. The immune system attacks and kills the cells that are responsible for making insulin. Unfortunately, people who have Type 1 diabetes cannot prevent its development and have to take insulin every day to utilize glucose and stay alive.
Type 2 diabetes is the more common type of diabetes and usually develops due to poor lifestyle choices. Tweet This! In Type 2 diabetes, one’s body does not make or use insulin well. Although you can develop Type 2 diabetes at any age, most of the time it occurs in middle-aged and older individuals.
Gestational diabetes develops in some women during pregnancy. Most of the time, gestational diabetes will go away after the birth of the baby. Sadly, women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, have an elevated risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Making a few simple changes in your lifestyle now, may help to prevent serious health complications of diabetes in the future. Tweet This! Diabetes prevention can be as simple as making healthier food choices, becoming more physically active and/or losing a few extra pounds (if you have excess fat stored in your mid-section). It’s never too late to start.
Consider the latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association:
- Increase physical activity. Working your muscles more often and making them work harder improves their ability to use insulin and absorb glucose. This puts less stress on your insulin-making cells.
- Increase fiber intake. The bran and fiber in whole grains make it more difficult for digestive enzymes to break down the starches into glucose. This leads to lower, slower increases in blood sugar and insulin, and a lower glycemic index. As a result, they stress the body’s insulin-making machinery less, and so may help prevent type 2 diabetes.
- Choose whole grain over highly processed carbohydrates. Research studies have shown convincing evidence that diets rich in whole grains protect against diabetes, whereas diets rich in refined carbohydrates lead to increased risk. Whole grains are also rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk of diabetes. Tweet This!
- Lose excess fat from your mid-section. Excess weight is the single most important cause of Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight increases the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes seven fold, while individuals who are considered obese are 20 to 40 times more likely to develop diabetes than individuals with a healthy weight. Clinical studies have shown that accumulation of abdominal fat carries a greater risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.
- Live a healthy lifestyle (don’t fall prey to fad diets)! Making a few lifestyle changes can dramatically lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These same changes can also help lower the risk of developing heart disease and some cancers.
Visit diabetes.org to learn more about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.
Mokdad AH, Ford ES, Bowman BA, et al. Prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and obesity-related health risk factors, 2001. JAMA 2003;289:76–9.
Bray GA, Jablonski KA, Fujimoto WY, et al. Relation of central adiposity and body mass index to the development of diabetes in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:1212–8.